anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure? in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I'm still debating whether or not I should bother trying the top end cleaning on my engine. I've got an ...
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    mhamilton is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    I'm still debating whether or not I should bother trying the top end cleaning on my engine. I've got an oil change coming up, so it would be a good time to do that, and I could replace the plugs at the same time. But is it worth trying, does it really work? I'm currently tracking my oil use to get an accurate number, but it's about 1 qt/1000 miles. Also still has the cold carbon rap, even after many WOTs and using Shell gas.

    I've got a few questions, if anyone has any suggestions that would be a big help:

    I'm trying to think of what to use to vacuum the solution out of the cylinders. Maybe a mason jar setup with 2 hoses like a brake bleeder? But can I use a shop vac to supply the suction, or is this solvent too flammable for that?

    The TSB says get engine up to temp before starting, but I thought removing spark plugs on aluminum heads was never to be done when hot? Or is it not a big issue on the N*? (I'm remembering the Ford modular engines which would remove the threads with the spark plugs...)

    Also, it says make sure no cylinder is at TDC. How is that possible on a V8? The way I'm seeing it, at least one cylinder will be close to TDC or just after TDC. Can only 4 cylinders be done at a time? And what would it matter if the cylinder is at TDC or BDC for cleaning the rings?

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    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    I'm trying to think of what to use to vacuum the solution out of the cylinders. Maybe a mason jar setup with 2 hoses like a brake bleeder? But can I use a shop vac to supply the suction, or is this solvent too flammable for that?
    That is the exact home made set up I have and would use.

    Not sure why they say no cylinder should be at TDC, but you certainly could do one bank at a time.

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    mhamilton is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Thanks Ranger I know you also commented on my ring cleaning question in another thread, have you ever done the TEC cleaning yourself?

    I've been searching around, apparently the TEC is really popular on the Saturn boards. Of course that's a bit easier on an I4.... but it does sound very simple (more so than the original GM TSB made it sound).

    The Saturn TSB states that one should change the oil with Mobile 1 synthetic after the ring cleaning, because of its better detergent qualities. Anyone hear that for the N*? I know my engine at one point was running synth (written on my cam cover), but I know the PO did not use synth, nor have I because of the obscene consumption.

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    I've never needed the procedure so I have never done it. Any oil should work just fine.

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    mhamilton is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Was going to do the cleaning yesterday, but only had one bottle of UEC... going back to the dealer Monday morning for the 2nd bottle.

    If the only result from the cleaning is no more cold carbon knock that will be fine with me. Say I start with #1 near TDC. Putting 3-4 ounces of cleaner in would fill the combustion chamber and clean the piston and head. But I was thinking, the other cylinders would be near BDC, only cleaning the piston. Should I turn the crank 90 degrees, maybe every 30 minutes, so that all the combustion chambers get cleaned? Or is the majority of carbon buildup on the pistons and not the heads?

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    I've wondered that myself. I THINK the cleaning procedure is for the rings, not the heads. I would not turn the engine. If you do, you'll likely just force the fluid out the plug holes when the pistons at BDC reach TDC. If you do, crank it with a wrench on the crankshaft dampener, not with the key. Personally, if I where to do it, I think I'd fill each cylinder (that would take care of your concerns, whether it does any good is another story, but I suspect it would) . That would probably take a lot more fluid though.

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    mhamilton is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    You're right, the goal is to get the carbon and gunk off the oil control rings so they will seal better and improve oil control... but this is just a really powerful solvent that will supposedly be cleaning everything. From what I've been reading, others that have done it report that their pistons end up shining like new (unless the rings are so bad that all the solvent leaks into the oil pan).

    Haha, filling them all would do it, but I'm not buying 4.6 liters of this stuff at $15/qt! LOL I'll be putting about 3-4 ounces in each cylinder, per the GM TSB. That does not say to rotate the engine, but it seems like it might work okay. I'd definitely be turning it gently by hand so as to not spray the cleaner out the spark plug holes. My thought was let it sit 30 minutes, turn 90*, 30 more minutes, 90* etc, which should get each cylinder to TDC at the 2 hour mark when it gets removed. But, I may be wrong thinking it will do anything to the chambers. At TDC, the combustion chamber should be filled up if it has 3 or 4 ounces, right?

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    At TDC, the combustion chamber should be filled up if it has 3 or 4 ounces, right?
    Probably close, but I'm not sure what volume is left at TDC.

    The purpose is to free the compression ring. It is near the top of the piston and oil that is consumed cakes up where the ring seats in the land. That locks the ring in place and prevents it from rotating and expanding against the wall. Some oil will seep past the rings in 2 hours I guess and that is why they recommend an oil change, but it would probably create a smoke screen if it where bad enough to leak it all out.

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Don't quote me - this is a shot from the hip. Northstar combustion chamber volume is around 50-some cc - just under 2 ounces. So, with the piston at TDC, factoring in deck height and piston clearance above the top ring, you MIGHT be able to get 2.2 ounces of fluid in there with the piston at TDC and all valves closed. There's not much to work with and one mistake with a spark plug in a cylinder head will cost you an engine - guaranteed.

    ME ??? The ONLY time I would EVER introduce liquid into a cylinder head combustion chamber is with the head on a bench, sealed with a glass plate, and doing volume measurements with a pipette measure. (Matching chamber cc's for the Nth degree of performance.)

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Hmm.. maybe that's why the TSB says make sure no cylinders are at TDC. That way there's enough room to get the recommended amount of cleaner into each cylinder. That would make sense.

    The purpose is to free the compression ring. It is near the top of the piston and oil that is consumed cakes up where the ring seats in the land.
    I didn't know how all that solvent would get down to the bottom rings, but I didn't think oil consumption was that dependent on the compression ring. I don't know... honestly I'm not expecting to see any great improvement in my oil usage. If it just cleans the pistons and quiets the cold starts I'll be happy.

    There's not much to work with and one mistake with a spark plug in a cylinder head will cost you an engine - guaranteed.
    I can understand that, but I have to try something to fix this oil consumption (short of re-ringing the engine). I'll be following the GM specs as far as evacuating the liquid and cranking the engine without the plugs.

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Well, just got done with the top end cleaning, didn't want to leave this thread hanging.

    Got 2 (16 oz) bottles of the Upper Engine and Fuel Injector cleaner from GM, new Delco plugs, a new Delco PCV valve, and everything for an oil change. Had just returned from the dealer to get the solvent, about 25 miles round trip, so the engine was nice and hot.

    Old plugs came out nicely, was a bit nervous about removing them hot (heard too many horror stories about the Ford modular engines taking the threads with the plugs). Only a the rear plugs had any oil accumulation in the tubes. Even all the plugs looked reasonably good for 77k miles, gap was just a bit wider than 0.055. Could see lots of carbon on the cylinders through the plug holes.

    I put 3.5 ounces into each cylinder, let it sit for 2 hours per the TSB. I was surprised, the solvent looks like carb cleaner in the bottle (same color), but it's actually less viscous, the consistency of small electric motor oil. It doesn't have a strong smell, kind of like ammonia, but also reminds me of carpet cleaner lol.

    After that soaked, used Ranger's design for an accumulator to vacuum out the solvent. I got pretty much all of it out with the vac. It had turned black, but I could still see the pistons were still covered in carbon as well. With the 2 injector fuses removed, I cranked the engine with no plugs for 10 seconds, 3 times. Each time in between I used paper towels to clean out what was left in the tubes (not much at all came out). New plugs in, new PCV, cleaned boots and coil cassettes.

    An aside to the coil cassettes, on cylinders #2 and #6 both the coil stud and the spring inside the insulator were terribly corroded. That there probably explains the somewhat rough cold starts more than anything else. I cleaned and polished the studs, and removed the springs to clean them.

    Buttoned it all back up, started up with one click. LOTS of white smoke. Took it up my road in 1st gear to warm up the oil (felt comfortable with this because I got 90% of the cleaner back out of the cylinders, I don't think any really seeped into the oil pan). Changed the oil and filter, took it out for a drive in 2nd and 3rd gear. Smoke cleared out pretty quickly. Seems to be about the same driveability wise, just as smooth as ever.

    The real test will be to see what my oil consumption is. It's currently filled (hot) to the middle of the hashmarks. Also I'll see if it quiets on cold starts. I'm actually not holding my breath. After seeing all the carbon left on the pistons, I'm thinking this is just more of the same old snake oil, although very expensive snake oil with a GM label on it.

    Fresh cleaner:


    Used cleaner:


    New and old plugs:

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    The top of the pistons are not really that important. You expect carbon on them and even if you cleaned them, it would be back in short order. Kind of like cleaning out the exhaust system. The part you hope got decarboned and freed up is where the rings seat in the lands so they will free up and rotate. Be sure to give it some good old WOT now. Good luck and keep us posted.

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Thanks for the update - sounds like a job well done - let us know if it helps.

    When I did my HG project, I did remove all of the deposits on the piston crown and on the valve heads and in the combustion chambers - it was quite a lot, and I think the engine has been more tolerant of low octane fuel since then. My oil consumption has always been around 1,500 miles per quart, and I have had and continue to have some leaks, so I don't think I have a sticking ring problem. I never considered doing a ring cleaning procedure, but with the heads off, maybe it would have been a good idea - imagine how easy it would have been!

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?
    Be sure to give it some good old WOT now
    Ranger I have been taking my '94 Concours Deville out about every 2 weeks for a WOT ride. Since this model has no tach, I am wondering, do I continue til the engine cuts out, or sputters at the top speed. I guess I have not actually been WOT. Today I hit 102mph, and she felt like she had more to give. I was running out of road and nerves! In 3rd gear can you or anyone tell me what the top speed would be? And what should I expect from the car/engine once I hit that speed. APpreciate any and all input
    Thanks

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    Re: anyone here done the ring cleaning procedure?

    Depending on what speed limiter is set into the ECM, a car with the 4T80E transmission and 3.71 final drive would theoretically reach just over 130 mph in 3rd gear at Northstar redline (~6300 rpm) - then shift to 4 and keep going until power/drag caused mechanical limits.

    Someone with a 4.9 engine would have to chime in..............

    The speed limiter setting is determined by the original tire speed rating as installed. Look at the sticker on the driver's door and bounce the tire letter designation off this table. When that speed is reached, regardless of engine "power", the fuel supply shuts down and the car will NOT go any faster. Many (most) Devilles are speed limited to 112. DTS (Deville, not the newer wannabe's) is probably 130.

    S = 112 mph
    T = 118 mph
    U = 124 mph
    H = 130 mph
    V = 149 mph
    Z,W,X = 149 mph or greater.

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