: Stud Kit Success!!

09-14-09, 12:45 AM
Hi All,

Been awhile, but I've got good news - I have successfully completed a stud kit head gasket repair on my '98 Deville.

It took two months between waiting on parts, other extra-curricular activities, and traveling for work, but I stuffed the engine in yesterday, finished hooking everything up today, and other than a couple of head-scratching moments she fired off just fine.

At first, it wouldn't start. I would turn the key and nothing. Turns out I didn't have the transmission cable back in the original position and the transmission was actually in reverse when the column shifter was in park. Got that fixed and then I didn't have any oil pressure.

I think I still need to replace my oil pressure sender because I get the oil pressure idiot light at idle after driving at highway speeds. Tap the throttle a little and the light goes out.

I remember several comments about the friction-driven oil pump so that's where I went first. I had installed the crankshaft balancer per the factory service manual, but it was evidently still too loose. Once I took the right front wheel off, removed the splash shield, and tightened the bolt some more (maybe 3/4 or 1 complete turn is all), I fired it up and got oil pressure.

Took it for a 30 mile drive and changed the oil. Will change the oil again next weekend after I have about 500 miles on it. Hopefully I didn't get anything into the engine that will cause premature failure.

Thanks to all the folks on the forum that have answered questions (especially Ranger), provided insight, and gave me the courage to try the repair myself. And a big kudos to Jake and his stud kit. He was always willing to answer questions and give advice. Jake, if you read this, Thanks!

If anybody has any questions, feel free to ask. I will try and post a few pictures later this week showing the project.

Thanks again, all!!

Palmer, AK
1998 Cadillac Deville

09-14-09, 12:14 PM

Be very sure that the crankshaft balancer is torqued to the proper specs (quite high as I recall). As you know, it drives the oil pump. Don't want that puppy slipping . :tisk:

09-14-09, 07:43 PM
You're very welcome Scott, My staff and I thank you as well! I hope you get years of pleasure out of your '98 Deville. It wouldn't hurt changing the oil and filter yet again. Even a very short time without oil pressure can start engine wear, hopefully nothing began to wear yet. It only takes 5 psi to get that oil pressure warning light out, at 2000 RPM it is supposed to be pumping oil at 35 psi. 5 psi will turn the oil pressure warning light off., but will likely cause damage at 2000 rpms....

5 psi at idle minimum
35 psi @2000 rpms

Most Northstars, when still cold (ambient temp), pump 65-70 psi at speed, and sit at around 8 psi at idle when warm.

09-14-09, 10:29 PM
congrats..i'm right behind you. I should have mine together late tomorrow. Been a couple of months for pretty much the same reasons.

09-15-09, 12:17 AM
Taspeed - I wish you all the best luck. Nothing like hearing that motor turn over and run after having it spread all over the shop!

Jake - Thanks for the info on the oil pressure. When I first start it up, I don't get the oil light, I can drive for awhile and when I slow down to idle I still don't get the oil light. But, after a period of time (I don't know how much) when I slow down to an idle, I get the oil light.

I changed the oil pressure sending unit tonight and I'll see how that works for me tomorrow. I have a 45 mile commute (one-way) so I should be able to rack up the miles and see just how well I did.

Again, thanks for all your help, and I'm spreading the word about the stud kit!

Palmer, AK
1998 Deville

09-15-09, 10:40 AM
Hey Scott, Charity is planning to call you back soon...

I just completed the new jig to manufacture the tap / drill fixture about 15 minutes ago. This will speed up production and ensure accuracy of the hole spacing. So who ever is still waiting for their kit, there's a reason there was a minor delay. There's quite a few kits out the door at 2:30 PM

Rebuilt and reconditioned engines are available for anyone who just wants to do a swap. 3 are due for shipping now, as soon as the Customs office will clear the shipment. We have a meeting with a Wilson's Custom's Brokers this afternoon to hopefully take care of thise issues.

Be careful when ordering from accurate engines, I'm sure their quality is good but I know of someone who contacted them and they said the engines had new camshaft bearings as well- if they know that much about Northstars I'd be careful about ordering one from them. Northstar cams run on the head without bearings. They also advertise new camshafts but when I called to confirm this, they said no, camshafts are a dealer only option and cost over $400 each (around there) and said they install good used ones. So do I, but I won't advertise new ones.

Also, one customer from California had sent up his engine for us to do the work on, from a 2000 Caddy. We did the seals, head gaskets and studded the block, and it's being shipped back. The cost is approx. $1000 for the labor and parts (shipping extra).

Northstar Performance is growing rapidly, and we owe a big thank you to all of our customers who have done business with us and those who have had patience when things don't always go as planned.

09-15-09, 11:47 PM

It's been a pleasure working with you, even if shipping to Alaska was bugger!

I'm glad you've invested the time, energy, and money to get Northstar Performance where it is, my hat's off to you.

I'm sure any improvement you made to the drill/tap jig will only speed production. As I told you, I spent quite a bit of time trying to make sure the holes were lined up and tapped square to the block.

I changed the oil pressure sending unit last night and it didn't fix my oil light at hot idle. I'm going to go crank down on the crankshaft balancer a little more and hope that helps. If not, I suspect I've got worn bearings.

If I do have worn bearings, is that something that can be done in the car or do I have to pull the engine again? And do you think it would be main bearings or rod bearings? Probably should just replace them all while the pan is dropped.

On the bright side, I put my foot into it a couple of time tonight on the way home - what a blast!! And it didn't even get hot!

Thanks again, Jake, and anybody out there thinking about inserts or studs, go with studs!

Palmer, AK
1998 Deville

09-16-09, 01:59 PM
What brand/grade of engine oil are you running?

09-16-09, 10:03 PM
I'm using Wal-Mart 5w30.

Also, I went and cranked on the crankshaft balancer bolt some more and got another 1/4 turn out of it. It seemed to help this morning so I'm going to try and crank it up a little bit more.

Can you get the crankshaft balancer bolt too tight?


09-17-09, 01:00 AM
Okay, so I went and took the crankshaft balancer bolt out. I didn't remove the balancer itself. I put the bolt back in and torqued it to 37 lb-ft. Then I turned the bolt another 120 deg. This time it took all I had (and a small cheater bar) to get the 120 deg.

I'll find out tomorrow if it works.


09-17-09, 09:57 AM
.............look at your other thread on the same subject - I just replied to that bolt question.

09-17-09, 03:19 PM
Scott, I don't mean to be rude in any way - GET RID OF THAT OIL!

Walmart brand stuff is ok for your lawn mower, your Honda, your Toyota, sure. This is one of the most advanced American engines ever produced.

Quaker State is all I use, Valvoline will be fine, Castrol (not my choice but GM uses it), Mobil 1, but get that cheap stuff out.

Oil, when warm, thins out- and from my experiences long ago, the cheaper the oil (low quality name brands) the more it thins out. The Northstars run at 225-230 degrees at times, and you need good oil to keep things lubed at those temps.

Please take my advice and see if it helps any.

Oh, you can snap a crankshaft balancer bolt. Not very easily, but it can be done. If you do, it will likely turn right out with a hammer and a punch.

09-17-09, 08:47 PM

I've been using Walmart conventional and Syn oil with no problems - yet - changing every ~5,000 miles.


I think you never had the pulley on all the way - you were pressing it on more and more as you tightened the bolt, but maybe never got a true pinch fit to the oil pump drive. I bought a pulley installer at the recommendation of someone else here on the forums - the followed the 37 + 120 you wrote about - worked just fine for me - even with Wally oil.

I must say, however, that I use the recommended oil weight of 10W-30 - the 5W30 you are using might be too thin to maintain proper oil pressure at idlel

09-17-09, 09:49 PM
I have also been using Walmart Super Tech oil for years. Walmart does not make their own oil. Don't knock it just because it is sold by Walmart and does not have a big name on it. If you do some research on it you'll find that it is rather highly rated. I switched only recently because I found a better sale and it was on an SL rated oil (new stuff is SM with less ZDDP), so I bought 10 cases.

09-18-09, 12:56 AM
Just from my observations, the cheaper oils like that tend to thin out more when the engine is warm/hot.

Nobody has to take my advice, I may be wrong. But it's just my .02. My cars have always been running the $4/quart stuff, not the $2/quart stuff. From my supercharged Oldsmobile LSS to the 403 powered Parisienne, to the 455 Olds Delta, the trucks, and all the Northstar toys. Cheap insurance. Oil has a big job to do - 6000 RPMs under load at 230 degrees; it has to maintain a film between the bearings and the crank, the lifters and the head & cams...etc.

I think Sub agrees with me on this one 100%.

Drain that oil out of the crankcase at 200 degrees engine temp. Do this with Super Tech oil. Then do this with Quaker or Valvoline. You should notice if you get some on your finger how the cheap stuff seems to have hardly any lubricity and it's really breaking down. The other stuff is still slick and of course thinner at those temps, but doesn't drip like water. I've seen the difference and I'm convinced, but to each his own.

09-18-09, 03:25 AM

I'm using 5w30 'cause I live in Alaska, and most of the time in the summer the temps are in the high 60's and some days even in the 70's. So, 5w30 is 30 weight when warm, and only 5w when cold. I don't have any cold temperature oil pressure issues, just warm (hot) oil.


I'll try some other oil and report back to you. But, the brand of oil shouldn't matter since it's all API Certified. The Wal-Mart stuff has the API Starburst symbol so that tells me it meets minimum quality. If the Northstar requires something more than minimum, I'll use it, but I wouldn't think so.

You have a lot of experience with Northstars and I would defer to your judgement over my previous experience.

I'm due for an oil change again, I've got just over 450 miles since the last oil change and since I had the thing all opened up I figured I'd change the oil a little sooner than normal one more time and then get closer to changing oil at the regular interval.

Thanks to everybody for your input/ideas. BTW, I still had low oil pressure this morning when the oil was hot, but not so much this evening when the oil was hot. I really can't figure this out.

I'll monitor the situation again tomorrow and see what happens.

Palmer, AK

09-18-09, 11:52 AM
I know that stuff is API certified. It's probably the last time I'll mention it on the forums now but there is a difference. Just like cheap transmission fluid to the more expensive stuff. Note the burnt smell that cheap stuff seems to have, even when it's new- sometimes.

Did you lubricate the bolt when you installed the harmonic balancer? Did you spray some penetrating oil on the inside of the balancer where it meets the crankshaft? Anything that reduces friction will aid in getting that balancer on the shaft to where it needs to be- far enough to drive the oil pump.

Let us know the outcome and the best of luck! :thumbsup:

09-19-09, 12:46 AM

No worries about the oil. I know some people have had bad experiences with just about everything. I've been using the oil in our minivan for 7 years now and we have over 160K miles on it with no oil issues. I don't even have to add any between oil changes, yet.

On to your other questions. Yes, I put some oil on the bolt before I installed the bolt. No, I didn't put anything on the crankshaft or inside the crankshaft balancer - didn't even think about it. And now that you mention it, I'll bet that contributed to the problem.

Now the update. I drove to work and home and got just a couple of flashes from the oil light, but nothing like I had earlier this week, even yesterday. So I can't figure it out. I'm going to change the oil this weekend (600 miles since returning to service). I'll see what happens after the new oil is in. Because it got better, I think I'll use the Walmart oil again and see if the same problem happens again. If it doesn't, then I think I can safely assume that I just didn't have the balancer on tight enough. If it does, then I'll try different oil.

Lastly, I aligned the car last night and this morning on the way to work I was averaging 31 mpg at 65 mph on the highway. Cool!!!!! My door to door average is around 25 mpg.

Again, thanks for the input, advice, and just listening. I'm talking your studs up to everybody I talk to about the head gasket job. Keep up the good work and good luck with the continued growth of your company.

BTW, do I need to re-torque the studs after a certain amount of time or miles?


Palmer, AK
1998 Deville

09-19-09, 03:00 AM
Years ago I saw the difference in oil usage between premium oils and "house brand" oils. Premium is usually substantially better than minimum quality.

09-19-09, 02:00 PM
I don't doubt that the premium oils have additional additives that may or may not make it better. But really, oil gets changed every 3,000 or so miles. If oil meets the minimum specification and does the job of lubing the internal parts, do we really need all of that extra stuff?

Also, there's only a handful of refineries left in the US that produce all the motor oil. I know for a fact that the Exxon refinery in Billings, MT was under contract to produce oil for local co-ops etc. I wouldn't be surprised if Walmart oil is supplied by all the major brands - Pennzoil, Quaker State, Castrol, etc.

Also, having driven tanker truck for several years, I also know that all gasoline brands are the same, as in it all comes from the same 6 million gallon tank and just has different additives added to it.

Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding for me. I've been using the Walmart oil for about 10 years and other than putting this Caddy back together, I haven't had any issues with the oil (and I still don't think it's the oil. I've got over 160K miles on the family minivan using nothing other than Walmart oil every 3K - 5K miles (sometimes I don't get it changed when I should, I know, my bad)


09-19-09, 03:28 PM
160K on a '96 Bonneville 3800 with SuperTech. 107K on my '97 Deville when I sold it (with SuperTech). 125K on my '92 when I sold it, with SuperTech.

09-22-09, 05:17 PM
I know that stuff is API certified. It's probably the last time I'll mention it on the forums now but there is a difference. Just like cheap transmission fluid to the more expensive stuff. Note the burnt smell that cheap stuff seems to have, even when it's new- sometimes.

Did you lubricate the bolt when you installed the harmonic balancer? Did you spray some penetrating oil on the inside of the balancer where it meets the crankshaft? Anything that reduces friction will aid in getting that balancer on the shaft to where it needs to be- far enough to drive the oil pump.

Let us know the outcome and the best of luck! :thumbsup:

Jake - I wondered about lubricating that bolt (I did) I used an installer to press the pulley back into place - coated the crank and pulley mating surfaces and seal with motor oils first. Next, I installed the bolt - again with a light coating of motor oil; I think I slathered on some oil, them wiped off the bolt with a clean rag, so only a little oil remained on the threads. Finally, I torqued to 37 foot pounds plus 120 degrees. It was SO hard to break loose the crankshaft bolt, and then SO easy to do the tightening that I thought I must have done something wrong. I loosened the crankshaft bolt and redid the sequence, but with the same result. I only used the torque wrench to tighten to 37 pounds, then a regular breaker bar for the 120 degrees, but it didn't feel really tight - maybe 80 to 100 pounds? I've seen torque reading of 300+ mentioned here to tighten that bolt; maybe I just don't know my own strength?

09-27-09, 12:07 PM
i had a oil pump relief valve issue. but i did not drive with low oil pressure. car seems ok now. you can't undo bearing wear from driving with low oil pressure if that is your problem. if your balancer is tight than the next step would be to put a mechanical oil pressure gauge on car. find out what pressure you have.

09-27-09, 03:58 PM
It's been several days, but I finally got a low oil pressure flicker again, so my problem is not fixed.

I've already replaced the oil pressure sending unit ($15 at my local Cadillac dealer). My next step will be to install an oil pressure gauge to monitor just what is going on. I'm also thinking of installing an oil temperature gauge as well to see if there's a correlation between oil temp and low oil pressure.

I'll keep you posted.


09-27-09, 06:49 PM
Oil temps should run around 180 - 225 degrees on the highway, and it takes a while to get there and stabilize. Oil is the only coolant for all the internal rotating/reciprocating machinery in the engine. Ideally you want the oil temps to stay just above 200 because that's what vaporizes moisture and acids created by combustion and allows the vapor to be burned by the PCV system.

If the rest of the lubrication system is functioning properly, oil pressures, hot, should run from about 8 psi at idle to around 40 - 45 psi at 2000 rpm. (GM specs). Cold oil pressures are useless for determining the condition of the oil, the filter, or the engine.

There is correlation between oil temps and pressures: It's the nature of the beast and perfectly normal for hot oil to circulate at lower pressure. Sort of like the difference between honey (cold oil) and transmission fluid (hot oil).

09-27-09, 09:40 PM
When I'm trying to figure the engine out, I really miss the gauge package I had in the Peterbilt 379 Extended Hood I used to drive in the mid-90's. I had water temp, oil press., oil temp., trans. temp, front rear temp, rear temp, fuel vacuum, fuel pressure, turbo boost, pyro, and of course ammeter and voltmeter. I'm probably missing one or two, but that's pretty much the gamut.

Biggest reason I was wanting to see what my oil temps are running was to determine at what oil temp. do I get the oil light flicker. Being able to correlate that with the actual oil pressure would allow me to get a better handle on what's going on.


09-28-09, 08:58 AM

Darn trouble is that an oil temp sensor needs to be in the oil pump discharge side for most accurate readings. Might be done in a Northstar without an oil cooler if you could find a sensor with the proper thread to fit a cooler boss on the oil filter adapter (but I doubt it) , or remove the oil level sensor, jump the connector with a resistor, and screw the temp sensor into the level sensor boss in the oil pan. Not as accurate as the first example, but close enough because the temp sensor thermocouple would be 2 quarts down in the oil.

Your '98 Deville uses OBD-II protocol, so take a look at www.scangauge.com for a way to monitor multiple gauges and functions in your engine.

Pyrometer is tough, too because of the plug wells. Wrong......CHT is difficult because of the plug wells. Pyro could go in a welded O2 sensor boss.

09-28-09, 01:19 PM
i am not worried about oil temp. if you have bearing wear it usually will show up as low oil pressure. add a tee on the pressure sensor port and run the stock sensor and a port for a mechanical pressure gauge. hard to fit an electric sensor there.

09-28-09, 02:13 PM
Over a few years of oil pressure questions it's curious that no one offered this, but here goes...........

We agree that connecting two oil pressure sensors - the original and a second electrical or mechanical gauge - is a PITA when it comes to the oil filter adapter location in a FWD Northstar package.

There's a more elegant solution: Move the sending units away from the filter adapter. Using a length of 1/8" ID pre-made jacketed flex hydraulic hose with the proper fittings, make a brass pipe T, brazed to a bracket of some sort, and mount the senders up in the engine compartment. One end of the hydraulic hose goes to the old filter adapter port, the other end to the pipe T. BINGO ! Remote sensing that you can play with to your heart's content. Just make sure the T and bracket has a good engine ground.

I did just that to two 60's Corvairs and it worked like a champ.

09-29-09, 02:41 AM
I was wondering about some sort of remote mount. You've got me thinking I need to do that.

09-29-09, 08:50 AM
Most commercial hydraulic shops and large old-style parts stores (not AZ or O'Reilly's) - a big old NAPA - carry various sizes and lengths of s/s braid-covered pressure hoses in a variety of end fitting configurations. The brass pipe T's and fittings come out of the Weatherhead drawer stacks. DO NOT run a nylon tube pressure capillary from the T to a mechanical gauge - use copper - the nylon will let go at some point and you'll wind up with oil all over the driver's floor. In this case it might be better to run a 0-80 psi electric gauge. You just need to find an ignition ON hot wire to splice the gauge power/light into.

If you do run nylon capillary from the T to a gauge, don't obsess over the fact that you can see bubbles in the line. Normal, and impossible to bleed out permanently. Not a problem.