: Here is my dilemma

04-25-10, 01:16 PM
I purchased a 1997 deville with bad head gaskets in July of last year. ($900.00 cost and only 59,000 miles) I have many years of working on aluminum block racing motors so I thought doing head gaskets would be a piece of cake. It was a lot more work than I expected, but after 3 months of sporatic weekends, I got it finished. I was extremely thankful for this forum. There was a lot of useful information on here that was not included in the FSM. I used Norm's inserts and followed the directions religiously. It ran like a champ for about a thousand miles.
On a recent trip to Miami, I passed another car going up a hill and accelerated to about 80 MPH. Shortly after that, I noticed the temp was up to 255. I was able to nurse it home, and did the coolant test which showed exhaust gasses in the coolant. (I already knew that, but didn't want to believe it)
I removed the front camshaft cover yesterday and found some of the head bolts were loose. (I checked them with a torque wrench set at 65 lbs.)
Since the tap size of Norm's inserts and the suregrip studs are the same, can I remove the inserts and install studs with no problems??
All of the aluminum removed during drilling and tapping were nice shiny chips.
I would prefer not to spend more money on this car, but my wife really loves the car.

04-25-10, 03:34 PM
I'm truly sorry to hear that happened to your car. I know you probably don't wish to do that job again or go through the expense of it.

After reading about the the various "inserts" and sizes that come along with them I reached the conclusion that I'd rather have the stud in the block and turn the nut/washer to torque the head down.

I don't know if the kit was available at the time when you were doing your car, but to me this seems the only choice. I haven't gotten the stud kit yet, but to me it's the only logical choice.

I'm just hoping that the thread pitch on the portion of the stud that stays in the block is "very coarse" to get a good "bite" on the aluminum block. The inserts to me are nothing more than "heli-coil", which I wouldn't use on anything.

If your wife loves the car, you basically have your answer. Like the saying goes , "If momma isn't happy, no one will be".

Good luck.......

04-25-10, 07:59 PM
How many bolts were loose? what torque specs did you use during assembly? Did you remove the bolts and what did they look like? Were the bolts replaced?. It seems strange that the bolts came loose so I am wondering what else you found. sorry for all the questions but I am very curious as many people as well as myself have used norms inserts without any problems. I would also urge any one interested in bad mouthing inserts tocheck out this months issue of Hot Rod as they talk about hot rodding the N*. Cadillac Hot Rod fabricators(CHRF of california) says that for thread repair they use timserts with new head bolts or ARP studs. They are putting turbos and nitrous thru thes setups and claim to recalibrate the computer and rev them to 8000rpm. They are building 800 horsepower engines with Timeserts !And sorry but i disagree that an insert is anything like a helicoil,as it is absolutely nothing like a helicoil,not even close

04-25-10, 10:20 PM
I'm just hoping that the thread pitch on the portion of the stud that stays in the block is "very coarse" to get a good "bite" on the aluminum block.
Jake's studs DO have a coarse thread on the block end.

The inserts to me are nothing more than "heli-coil", which I wouldn't use on anything.


04-25-10, 10:21 PM
CHRF are building 800 horsepower engines with inserts. That's nice if you happen to trust them. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet, I doubt your 800 hp car is possibly going to be a daily driver........ Anything man made can possibly fail. It's a question of preference, not bad mouthing.

04-25-10, 10:49 PM
Ranger, nice picture of the heli-coil and insert.

They sure do look similiar. Yet, that is the story of progress.

We use want we can to solve a particular problem, then someone eventually improves on it.

At this time (this is my preference for this particular problem) the stud is better than the insert. Less parts. ( inserts, and the head bolts). The torque factor. (you turn the nut which applies the clampling force). With the insert, it's quite possible that when you tighten the bolt, that the insert might move to. Worse yet, what if it splits when tightening it down? That's way too much engine work for me to "wonder" if it went well. Put the stud in correctly. (one solid piece of metal ). Install the head, tighten the nut, and forget it.

High performance engines have been studded before, and will continue to be until the next break through in fastening appears.

04-25-10, 11:03 PM
I'm not disagreeing or arguing with you eldo. Just trying to point out that there is a big difference between a Helicoil and a Timesert. The Helicoil is just threads. If you look closely at the Helicoil picture, you can actually see through the threads, almost looks like a slinky while the insert is a much beefier piece of steel threaded internally and externally.

04-26-10, 12:29 AM
Thanks Ranger.

I understand the "physical" difference between the two. Yet, even though the inserts are "solid" are they strong enough, over a period of time to withstand the constant ever changing thermal cycles of the engine and continue to stay put and hold the torque necessarry to seal the head?

I understand that they have been used with success and I'm not taking anything away from them. Yet, if you're going to tell me after hearing the stories of pulling the engine out, cradle and all. Tearing apart the engine, the cost of gaskets, seals etc. One plans to "insert" instead of using a stud, I'm trying to figure out why?

The workplace is trying to use less people(parts) to get the same job done, are you saying this doesn't apply here?!

Instead of the insert AND the bolt, you have just the stud with threaded bottom and top and a nut to supply the force.

It makes sense to me, but that is just my opinion.

We love these cars so much, why cut corners now?

04-26-10, 08:23 AM
I agree its just a daily driver and not an 800 hp car but i simply am trying to show that it works in that application and a street car will not be abused in the same way. It just troubles me when people bad mouth the inserts. I know the timeserts fail but Norms are much better and have a 5/8 11 course thread as do Jakes studs. The reality is that most of my customers are paying me to do the work and when given the choice they want to keep the costs down. When you do the work yourself its another story since your not paying the labor costs. People do love these cars but most have a love hate relationship,especially after spending $2000-3000 on a repair. I understand the theory of the stud in the block and the force applied the nut but now the pressure you speak of is in the fine thread stud/ nut. Is it really that much better? Thes cars are not going to last forever and are we going to be fixing them when their 20-23 years old? The factory fine thread bolts lasted in the block for 10+ years in most cases. As far as less parts theres 1 insert and 1 bolt =2 or 1 stud and 1 nut= 2. .Also the insert is threadlocked into the block and cannot move and believe me they are tough to get out once they set up. Another thing is that you mention the insert cracking when the bolt is put in and I do not see how thats possible since the insert is threaded to accept the bolt. The force is applied to the threads in both applications and in both applications the threads are 5/8 course. not trying to argue with you but when people are given a choice to save money ,especially in this economy they usually go with the inserts. If the studs cost the same money which do you think people would choose? Most people think its absurd to spend 2 grand on 10 year old cadillac and just walk away talking about going back to an import. I guess we could go on forever but like you say its a matter of preference and i have not been able to "upsell" anyone the stud kit so I cant say its good or bad. Maybe jake will send me the jig and sell me the studs for the same price as inserts so i can try them out . Whats there to lose in his case? maybe I will prefer them after I use them and he will have another customer. Listening Jake?

04-26-10, 11:33 AM
I think Joe pretty much said it all. Like I said, I'm not arguing. If mine went, I could go either way Norm's or Jake's. Cost would probably govern the decision.

04-26-10, 03:07 PM
Here's my take:

Timeserts were the original solution - I think they they worked most of the time - at least in the short term, as long as properly done and in a block with solid aluminum. Sometimes, repairs with Timeserts failed - sometimes immediately, sometimes a short while later, sometimes quite a while later - but the failures could always be attributed either shortcoming of the the Timeserts design, the block aluminum, or incorrect installation procedure. Then Norm's came out - it seemed like it addressed some of the shortcomings of the Timesert system; it had larger, coarser, and longer threads, and a harder, steel insert. That's what I used 2+ years ago, with success. I am not aware of any failures of a Norm's repaired install, when properly done, in a block with solid aluminum, but then Jake's came along; it's a more robust, yet elegant solution - seems like less opportunity for something to go wrong, from a stand up guy, so why not us it?

I guess if you have used Norm's, even once, with success, that might be a good reason to use it - after all, you've already learned the process and proved you can master it, with good results. Why have to learn a new system, when the old system worked? Also, if you've done Norm's before, and all you need to buy are the inserts, and so there is a significant cost difference to continue using Norm's, and Norm's is working, that is a good argument in favor of Norm's. On the other hand, if it is your first HG project, I can't think of a good reason NOT to use Jake's, except maybe if you're trying to do the job with the block left in the car.

04-27-10, 12:21 AM
:yeah: Tateos, well stated.......

you just stated the evolution to the northstar head bolt solution......

I guess whichever solution one feel comfortable using, that will be the one of choice.....

04-27-10, 06:24 PM
where did the thread starter go? he wants to remove inserts and install studs? so take off the heads and find out what is wrong with the current inserts.

04-27-10, 09:53 PM
Yea, I want to know what he found

04-28-10, 07:15 PM
I'll be tearing it down this weekend and will post what I found.

05-23-10, 11:27 AM
I'll be tearing it down this weekend and will post what I found.

Have you done the teardown and found the problem(s) yet?