: Head Gasket Repair in Alaska



olsonscottm
01-14-09, 10:39 PM
Does anybody know of a good independent Northstar mechanic in Alaska?

I need a head gasket job, not sure if I can do it myself (I've done a 350 once, a long time ago) and 97Eldo is just too dang far away!

Called one shop and they wouldn't touch it, called the local dealer (Alaska Sales and Service, Wasilla, AK) and haven't heard back from them yet, but I'm expecting $3k-$5k.

Can a guy really do the head gaskets himself?

Thanks,

Ranger
01-14-09, 10:47 PM
Several people here have done it.

zonie77
01-14-09, 11:29 PM
I've done a few. They are long and tedious, not extremely difficult. Perseverance is you most important requirement. Keeping the parts well organized is important also. There are several threads. Tateos did his and has a pretty big thread with tips. Here's my writeup:

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/northstar-performance-technical-discussion/5052-n-head-gasket-repair-part-i.html

olsonscottm
01-15-09, 01:56 AM
What's long and tedious? 20 hours? 30 hours?

Are the studs manufactured by 97Eldo worth the hassle saved from not having to do the timeserts?

What can one expect to pay for parts? I think head gaskets are what, $50 ea., timeserts are ? studs are $500 I think, misc. supplies etc. maybe $1,000?

I'll read some more posts, thanks for all the help.

97EldoCoupe
01-15-09, 08:55 AM
Head gaskets are about $22 each, studs are $549 for the set including all the hardware/drill bit/tap/fixture/threadlocker/etc. No need to buy new bolts when using the studs. If you go with time-serts or Norm's serts, use new bolts.

If you don't need to replace too many parts you can do the whole job for around $800 yourself. It's time-consuming, You can probably get it done in 30-40 hours, that's my guess.

zr1mark
01-15-09, 11:20 AM
97EldoCoupe,
I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I have a question.
When the headgaskets went in my Son's '99 Eldo I had a very reputable shop here in Mass. put another engine in. It came with a 2 year warranty and it ran flawlessly for those 2 years. They are considering giving me another 2 years of warranty for another $325.00 which sounds like a no-brainer, but here's my question. Do you know anyone closer than 600 miles away that will do the headgaskets for $1500 like you ? I'm in this car for the longhaul and I really wouldn't mind putting that much more money in it if this engine develops the same problem, which unfortunately is a good possibility :crybaby:

I would take my chances on this engine being okay for a while, but then have a backup plan to get them done properly if they do fail....

Any thoughts ?
Thanks, Mark :worship:

97EldoCoupe
01-15-09, 12:55 PM
ZR1, At the moment, no I don't know of anyone else. But I'm seriously looking into expanding into the US somehow, either through franchising or directly setting up shops, or offering contact work to existing shops.

That $325 would be VERY well worth it. That is, if they're serious about keeping their word because if those are the original gaskets in the replacement engine, more than likely they will fail in the next two years. That's a very bad gamble on their part but a very good deal for you.

The $1500 HG job will remain the same price for as long as I can. If parts go up in price I have to raise my price, but luckily I've managed to negotiate some parts discounts. What I need is to expand into the US and further into western Canada. Maybe in the near future.

Part of the reason I can do the job for $1500 is because if GM does it, all of a sudden you need a long list of new parts. I've seen a customer charged for a new exhaust manifold because the old one was warped. OK- there's 8 bolts holding the manifold to the head. Very doubtful they'll ever warp at all. Sure, it's nice to replace almost every part with new, but most of the time you don't need to.

tateos
01-15-09, 04:41 PM
97EldoCoupe,
I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I have a question.
When the headgaskets went in my Son's '99 Eldo I had a very reputable shop here in Mass. put another engine in. It came with a 2 year warranty and it ran flawlessly for those 2 years. They are considering giving me another 2 years of warranty for another $325.00 which sounds like a no-brainer, but here's my question. Do you know anyone closer than 600 miles away that will do the headgaskets for $1500 like you ? I'm in this car for the longhaul and I really wouldn't mind putting that much more money in it if this engine develops the same problem, which unfortunately is a good possibility :crybaby:

I would take my chances on this engine being okay for a while, but then have a backup plan to get them done properly if they do fail....

Any thoughts ?
Thanks, Mark :worship:

Hi Mark - my wife is coming your way to visit family in Cambridge - I heard it is cold there - single digits - too bad - it is in the 70s and sunny here in Phoenix for Zonie and me- Ha-Ha!

olsonscottm
01-15-09, 10:30 PM
I just checked with a junkyard, and can get a used engine with about 90K miles on it for $1500. I'm thinking of swapping the engines, then replacing the head gaskets in the original engine, then I'll have a spare. What do ya'll think? I know it means pulling an engine twice, but I'm getting the feeling that's actually not the bad part.

97EldoCoupe, when it comes time, I'm pretty sure I'll go with your studs, thanks for the information.

I await the groups collective wisdom with an open mind.

Destroyer
01-15-09, 11:07 PM
Head gaskets are about $22 each, studs are $549 for the set including all the hardware/drill bit/tap/fixture/threadlocker/etc. No need to buy new bolts when using the studs. If you go with time-serts or Norm's serts, use new bolts.

If you don't need to replace too many parts you can do the whole job for around $800 yourself. It's time-consuming, You can probably get it done in 30-40 hours, that's my guess.What about the special tools he will need to do the job?

Ranger
01-15-09, 11:13 PM
I just checked with a junkyard, and can get a used engine with about 90K miles on it for $1500. I'm thinking of swapping the engines, then replacing the head gaskets in the original engine, then I'll have a spare. What do ya'll think? I know it means pulling an engine twice, but I'm getting the feeling that's actually not the bad part.

97EldoCoupe, when it comes time, I'm pretty sure I'll go with your studs, thanks for the information.

I await the groups collective wisdom with an open mind.
The other option would be to stud the yard engine before installation and do it once.

97EldoCoupe
01-15-09, 11:39 PM
Why not do the one your car has and save some money? So many people insist in getting a junkyard engine. Only beneficial if your engine is no good. Could you give us some details on what's wrong with it? Just the HGs?

zonie77
01-16-09, 12:08 AM
Q. What's long and tedious? 20 hours? 30 hours?

A. I'd say at least 40 on the first one, significantly less as you do more. 97Eldo has it down...he probably does them in his sleep by now.

Q. Are the studs manufactured by 97Eldo worth the hassle saved from not having to do the timeserts?

A. That's up to you. Timsesrts, Norms, and 97 Eldo's are each different. I think the strength is much better on 97Eldo's and Norm's but the process is similar.

Q. What can one expect to pay for parts? I think head gaskets are what, $50 ea., timeserts are ? studs are $500 I think, misc. supplies etc. maybe $1,000?

A. I'd change some of the "reuseable" gaskets as they get hard with age. I think in the lower 48 it cimes out about $800

Some of the tools can be loaned from Checker or Autozone. Not sure what you have there.

I'll read some more posts, thanks for all the help.

I put the answers above.

olsonscottm
01-16-09, 02:53 AM
The car has 128K miles on it. I don't know what kind of life to expect out of the transmission and front end, etc.

My thinking with the junkyard engine is that I can then leisurely (and as money comes available) fix the original engine.

To put some dollars on it, I paid $2600 for the car, which I hope to get some back, but I'm not counting on it (posted in another thread). Add $1500 for a used engine and I'm up to $4100. If I do the head gaskets on the original engine, do I need to worry about the air conditioner compressor failing? the blower motor? I just don't know where it will all end.

I don't mind tinkering, but usually it's for some economic benefit (even if only in my mind). The other key factor, which I may not have mentioned, is I was planning on using the car to commute about 100 miles a day. While it doesn't get 30-35 miles to the gallon, it does get 25 or a little better, which if the vehicle is paid for, is fine with me. So, in about 4 years, I'll put about 100K miles on the car. Maybe I'm asking for too much.

It's late, and I'm rambling. Thanks for listening, and providing insight. I am digesting everything everybody has said, it may just be a week or two before I can make up my mind. Indecision can be so time consuming.

I'll post more later.

zonie77
01-16-09, 10:54 AM
Indecision can be so time consuming.





Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, give me some time to think about that... LOL:histeric:

97EldoCoupe
01-16-09, 11:02 AM
You'll get way more life out of that car than what you're planning to. The transmissions almost last forever. Personally I'd just fix the engine that's in there and be done with it. You'll save money and time that way.

zonie77
01-16-09, 11:04 AM
Olson, Not knowing all your circumstances but just considering what you said about the car. All of this is based on reasonably good maintainence.

Estimated life of the engine when repaired, at least 250K

Trans if fluid replaced, at least 150K and probably 250K

Front end, depends on roads and conditions but here the struts go about 100K but are usable another 25K,just getting mushier. The suspension itself goes 200K.

You know the condition of your car, is it worth fixing if you get another 75K out of it?

olsonscottm
01-16-09, 12:00 PM
My bride and I talked some more about the whole deal and I think I've come to a conclusion or three.

First: I need to separate the value of the car and what I paid for it from the fact that I was lied to about the condition of the car.

Second: If I can expect 200K miles out of the transmission (possibly more) then spending $1000 now on an engine that by all accounts only has the head gasket issue as it's weak spot, makes sense.

Third: I haven't checked, but I would assume that a front end rebuild (struts, CV joints, ball joints, tie-rod ends etc.) probably could be done for $1500-$2000, thus getting even more miles out of it.

So, to summarize, I paid $2600 for the car, I spend $1000 repairing the engine, $2000 on the front end, and I drive the car for 100K miles. That's $5600 dollars for a cadillac that I get to drive for four years (assuming 25K miles a year). Seems it's worth it to me.

After that, maybe I re-engine the car and get another 100K-150K out of it. Then again, maybe I can upgrade to a newer caddy.

Just my $0.02, from somebody who has yet to complete a head gasket job.

Thanks for listening, and providing insight.