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Old 12-12-2005, 01:25 PM
G2IC_Wraith G2IC_Wraith is offline
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Headgasket issues on an 88 2.3L

I have another post in the Ranger forum that started out looking like I might have an ignition problem, but now it is pretty clear that my headgasket is trashed.
Original thread:
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=427281

From the last post on there:
Now I am really confused with this POS. I was able to test the compression over the weekend and the results were not good:

Cyl 1 - 190psi
Cyl 2 - 45psi
Cyl 3 - 45psi
Cyl 4 - 185psi

I don't know how this happens just from sitting. I also found that my radiator was a tad low, so this should also support the headgasket diagnosis. This made me remember that before all this happened I added a bit of water during the last couple weeks before I parked it, but at that time it was running good. Also, when I pulled the plugs to do the test, 2 & 3 looked very dirty for being in such a short time.

Who wants to be the first to say that it is the headgasket?

What brand HG would you recommend and why?
Any other parts I should replace while pulling the head off besides the obvious IE- timing belt & tensioner? I am not looking to hot-rod it, just be reliable.
I am going to have the head surface checked at a machine shop, but do you have to have the block deck surface checked? How? Feeler gages and straight edge?
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Old 12-12-2005, 08:47 PM
Bart99GT Bart99GT is offline
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I'd just go with the stock replacement FelPro 8993 gasket. There are folks out there running 20+ psi boost with the $12 head gasket. If it holds up fine in turbocharged applications then its more than enough for a n/a engine.

I'd also reccomend replacing the valve stem seals while the head is off. Although your motor doesn't have the heat issues of the turbo engines, it isn't a bad idea to go ahead and get this out of the way while the head is off. Also pick up one of the steel reinforced rubber valve cover gaskets from your local dealer or an outfit such as Forced4.

The block deck in my 86 SVO was well within specs when I took it to the machinist this past summer. It had been run hot before I bought it, which did warp the head, but the block itself was fine. Usually its just the head that has issues as there is a greater propensity for hot spots forming in the head than in the block.
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Old 12-13-2005, 08:16 AM
G2IC_Wraith G2IC_Wraith is offline
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Thanks for the reply. I was considering just getting the Fel-Pro "kit" so that I would have all the gaskets I could need. My question of what brand to use is not to try and go cheap, just trying to get the best seal I can.

The valve stem seals is a good suggestion. I figured I should have the head checked out at a machine shop while it is off. I will see what they have to say about any worn parts.

I do have one of those Fel-Pro (blue) rubber valve cover gaskets on there now. It has those metal rings around the bolt holes if that is the one you are talking about. It is only about a year old, so I think I can just reuse it.

Good to know the block "should" be ok. It has not run hot, it is just "eating" a little coolant that I think is going into the cyl at the leak point.

Any other parts you guys could suggest need servicing while the head is off?
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88' Ranger XLT Supercab, 4x2
2.3L, 5sp "dirt brown color"

In loving memory of Dr. Carl R. Swenson - R.I.P. Cigarettes DO kill.
In loving memory of Geordie - R.I.P. You are deeply missed each and every day.
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Old 12-13-2005, 08:28 AM
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I'll second the nomination for FelPro. I always use them and have always had good luck with them.

It does indeed look to me like a blown head gasket from the compression readings, but before you go pulling the head, just to verify you might want to do a cooling system pressure test. With the spark plugs out you can listen at the holes with a piece of hose or tubing for any hissing when the cooling system is pumped up.

With the loss of compression on 2 adjacent cylinders, I'm sure it's the gasket rather than a crack. It sure can't hurt to check the block with a straightedge but as Bart said, you probably won't have a problem there.

Of course, be sure to clean everything up well. Might not hurt to have the valves touched up while you've got the head off.
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Old 12-25-2005, 09:02 PM
G2IC_Wraith G2IC_Wraith is offline
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HELP!

First off, I know it is Christmas, so Merry Christmas all.

I will try to keep a long story short.
1988 Ranger XLT Supercab, 2.3L, 5sp, 4x2, 112K.
The Ranger was running like garbage. Eventually found that I had low compression in cylinders 2 & 3. IE - blown headgasket. I go to take everything apart and now I am stuck, so I need your help. Am I missing something or is this normal.

I have removed the following: Alt, serp belt, idler pulley, timing belt + tensioner, rad hose, heater hose, upper intake mani, fuel rail, spark plugs, cap -n- rotor, wires, exhaust mani, valve cover, and all 10 head bolts......... well, kind of. I think I may have found the root cause of my troubles. In the following pic, can you see what is wrong? This happened long before I tried to remove it and this is the bolt on the exhaust side right between 2 & 3.

Click the image to open in full size.

Now the things I have left are the lower intake mani, distributor, and p/s. As far as I could tell, none of this "should" affect me removing the head. The problem is, the head is REALLY stuck on there. I am not sure if I just missed something that I didn't see in the repair manual.????? What can I do? If I had a hoist, I would try to lift it off.
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88' Ranger XLT Supercab, 4x2
2.3L, 5sp "dirt brown color"

In loving memory of Dr. Carl R. Swenson - R.I.P. Cigarettes DO kill.
In loving memory of Geordie - R.I.P. You are deeply missed each and every day.

Last edited by G2IC_Wraith; 12-25-2005 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 12-25-2005, 09:52 PM
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Well, the one broken bolt of course means that the head will have to come straight up till it clears it, but first you have to break the head loose. Sometimes it can really be stuck on there. I don't really like to try to drive a screwdriver between the haead and the block, but it has been done. By me even, in my younger, more impetuous days. Now, I like to find a casting flange or bolt head, somewhere that I can get a prybar in between without actually getting it into the head and block surface and apply some leverage to break that seal loose. Once it moves a little, it should come right up.
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:22 AM
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TigerDan - Thanks for the reply. I was going to try to "soak" the remaing bolt with some penatrating lube before I try again. The last thing I tried before I packed up was to use the claw of the hammer on a over cast flange. Up near the alt bracket is the p/s bracket that I used for leverage. It still wouldn't budge even a fraction of an inch.

I had considered buying or renting a hoist to attach to the "lift points". My thinking was that it will pull it straight up. If that didn't work then the whole engine will have to come out.
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88' Ranger XLT Supercab, 4x2
2.3L, 5sp "dirt brown color"

In loving memory of Dr. Carl R. Swenson - R.I.P. Cigarettes DO kill.
In loving memory of Geordie - R.I.P. You are deeply missed each and every day.
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:17 AM
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Try something with a little more leverage in that pry spot. A big, long-handled screwdriver or prybar, or even a crowbar. I think the force needs to be concentrated on one area or you may find you could lift the whole motor by the lift points and just that stuck head gasket...might bust a motor mount or something!

I'm thinking that, looking at the rust on those head bolts, you might have some rust around the bolt that's broken off in there and that's causing an extra amount of resistance. Is there any way you can concentrate your prying leverage in the area of that broken bolt? Maybe by screwing some short bolts into the head and using the boltheads to pry on (but you have to be careful not to bend or break those bolts).
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:58 PM
G2IC_Wraith G2IC_Wraith is offline
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Believe it or not, that is not rust you are seeing. It is just a lot of built up crap.

I will see if I can get something with more leverage and try that. On a side note, I was talking to a mechanic today and he seemed to think there could be a bracket under the lower mani that is still connected. I couldn't really tell since it is so well hidden.

I told him about another member's suggestion of turning the engine over a few cranks to use the compression to "pop" the seal. He said that should work too. Any thoughts on that?
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In loving memory of Dr. Carl R. Swenson - R.I.P. Cigarettes DO kill.
In loving memory of Geordie - R.I.P. You are deeply missed each and every day.
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Old 12-27-2005, 12:34 AM
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Sure couldn't hurt. Try a mirror and a flashlight to see if you can see this bracket he's talking about.
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Old 12-27-2005, 07:21 AM
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Don't forget to put the spark plugs back in... heh.

Even with a bracket still attached, the head should still be able to move around, at least straight up from the block. You can use the exhaust (or intake) manifold for leverage by rocking the head from side to side to break it loose. A bare head is harder to maneuver, as you have less hand-holds to grab on. 'Tis heavier to move around, though.
On some 2.3s, there is a 'slug' at the rear drivers-side that is stuck up into an oil feed passage. Looks like a metal cylinder that fits inside the head (if I remember). I think it is used as a check valve to stop the oil from flowing back out of the head after shutdown. (or maybe to limit flow?) Just want you to know that thing may be there, and it is not documented anywhere I could find...
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Last edited by tomw; 12-27-2005 at 07:27 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 12-27-2005, 09:21 AM
G2IC_Wraith G2IC_Wraith is offline
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TigerDan - Yea, I think I will have to try the compression trick. I will try the flashlight, and I guess I can look through the wheel well too.

tomw - No I won't forget the plugs. That is why I haven't tried it yet. I still have some more "junk" to move around before I do this. Believe me, I tried lifting up on the intake mani with no luck. There is also 2 lift hooks on the sides of the head that I was using to rock the whole truck back and forth trying to break it free. I can't say I am a power lifter, but I am 6'2" 225lbs, so I was putting some force to it.

On a separate issue, does anyone know how to separate the metal fuel rail from the rubber hoses? There was some sort of metal clip that I pulled off, but when I try to pull down on the rubber hose it doesn't seem to want to come off. Do I just need to "persuade" it a bit more?
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2.3L, 5sp "dirt brown color"

In loving memory of Dr. Carl R. Swenson - R.I.P. Cigarettes DO kill.
In loving memory of Geordie - R.I.P. You are deeply missed each and every day.
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Old 12-28-2005, 06:44 AM
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Ford has special tools to separate the fuel connectors, fuel filter connectors and some heater hose connectors. Swell. Check NAPA, etc for the tools. Or Ford.
tom
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Old 01-02-2006, 07:31 AM
G2IC_Wraith G2IC_Wraith is offline
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I am just about at the end of my rope! I tried the compression trick, although now that I think about it I will have to see if the valves are closed on cyl 1 & 4 (if possible). It still didn't budge an inch.

Next I tried a 2 1/2ft pry bar to lift up on the exhaust ports of cyl 1 & 2. Yet again, no movement!

I haven't got a dead blow hammer yet so I tired to use what I had..... I tried using several pieces of wood and the largest hammer I had. Same thing, no movement, just a lot of broken wood.

Is this to the point of throwing in the towel, or is there something else I should be doing? I also thought of filling the bolt holes with penetrating lube to see if would work itself under the gasket. I could also try borrowing an air compressor to pump air into the cyl if possible??? If nothing else works I will have to try borrowing a hoist to remove the whole engine. Will I have any more luck with it on an engine stand?
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2.3L, 5sp "dirt brown color"

In loving memory of Dr. Carl R. Swenson - R.I.P. Cigarettes DO kill.
In loving memory of Geordie - R.I.P. You are deeply missed each and every day.
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Old 01-02-2006, 11:18 AM
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Now that I think about it, the compression trick wouldn't work unless you had the timing belt on and the cam timed correctly. And you've already removed the timing belt, correct?

In order to build compression the intake valve has to open at the proper time to allow air into the cylinder to be compressed, otherwise it just creates a vacuum within the cylinder as the piston goes down, which returns to normal as it comes back up again.

This is perplexing though, it shouldn't be holding that tightly. I'd hate to see you have to pull the whole motor for this, although the process of engine removal might reveal the problem. I wouldn't count on though. Yeah, try the penetrating oil...it can't hurt!

And get a bigger hammer...they make a 20# sledge, that oughta do it...
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Last edited by TigerDan; 01-02-2006 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 01-02-2006, 11:18 AM
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