2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!! - Page 3
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!! in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; Originally Posted by bradmo Check out this website for some pretty good indicators: http://www.northstarperformance.com/main.php Thx Bradmo! Read the FAQ link ...
  1. #31
    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by bradmo View Post
    Check out this website for some pretty good indicators:

    http://www.northstarperformance.com/main.php
    Thx Bradmo! Read the FAQ link "Is It Reall Your Head Gasket?". The article is dead on with no straight answers and many others points/areas I've struggled with is my attempts to diagnose to a definitive determination...remove all doubt. You should see a now MONSTER thread of mine on another caddy owners site in my attempts to reach that diagnosis...wow. Really great responses and really smart guys, but it's continued to be a very long and foggy road.

    I will perform the highway road test EXACTLY as the article defines and see what happens.

    I've asked this multiple times on both sites but let me ask again.

    IF (I say if) issue is in fact my head bolts/gaskets then CAN I make the repairs with engine in car IF I go with Norm's inserts? I am a very able individual under the hood but I do NOT have facilities to allow me to pull OR drop the engine...absolutely cannot do either with what I have at my disposal (tools NOR garage). I've heard all the cons against such an "in car" attempt, but my question is still based on determining can I do it myself or MUST I farm the job out from lack of facilities for engine removal? To be clear...it's NOT lack of my mechanical abilities/experience here in my resistance to pull/drop the engine. I have no engine lift or stand, no car lift, no engine hoist, no ceiling clearance even if I had a car lift/hoist, etc. Each time I ask this I get back a host of caution on how much easier the job is once engine removed. But...as I said, my question is focused on can I do it myself or must I hire the job out...not how easy or difficult it will be.

    I do have a 1/2 angle drill btw and I do understand why that would be needed...that's the easy part. I understand all about there being no proper clearance for in-car repair with the studs for back head (even if engine tilted forward to its max limit, avoiding damage to other things?), so I'm talking about Norm's inserts as my selection if done in-car. If answer is really, "Yes, but very difficult", then can anybody that's "been there - done that" provide some insight on specific areas of great struggle I would/will face for performing in-car repair?

    Many thanks!

    Howard (HMS)

  2. #32
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    yeah the owner of that site is Jake aka 97EldoCoupe here and he is a supporting Vendor and advertiser here (you might see his banner ad at the top every so often)

    he is highly respected here for saving many cadillacs with his patented stud kit
    (and for other reasons, but i digress)

    my advice would be to not repair in the car... very hard to do and higher chance of mistake that can't be fixed
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    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Thx Rippy...your advice noted sir...thx much.

    But, I'm also trying to understand specific difficulty areas I'd face if I must in fact make the repair and if attempted in-car. I do understand the precision or exactness required for drilling and the need to shelter everything from the aluminum shavings. What I'm wondering is access issues to be faced and dealt with on disassembly and reassembly (which I assume is where "very hard to do" comes into play?)...and any other associated access issues and how best (or IF) they can be overcome.

    Norm's serts vs. Jake's studs...there is a very strong fan base on both sides for each solution...so I don't think that should really factor into a decision of yes/no on in-car, which I know you're not doing here...but others have with prior opinions/advice. Obviously Jake has a GREAT solution, but I believe so does Norm...each solution considered on its own merit and circumstances. I've even mapped out the drive from Lone Tree, CO to Jake's place if I simply trailered it to him...17 hrs 17 mins / 1148.43 miles. So, point here is that I'm looking at all options here IF the HG's are in fact blown, and that's not yet been proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Just looking ahead for if/when worst case is proven.

    Thx

    HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    you can't do jake's studs without pulling the engine... there is just not enough room the studs stick up too high to get the heads over them while the engine is in the car - at least on the firewall side

    jake's solution is the best - and having him do the work for you is the best of the best... if you can afford it and can afford to wait (i understand he's got quite a few cars backed up waiting)
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Thx Rippy...yes, I had pretty much understood that studs are completely out of the question if engine not pulled. From Jake's website I didn't get a sense of a long backlog. It actually said to pull her in on a trailer and then suggested go hang out at hotel for a few days while the job is done. Thx...appears I'll need to confirm on that if the repairs are required and if I lean toward that option of having him do the job. Lots of "ifs" at play here. But better to collect all facts and options in advance from my perspective...part of having eyes wide open.

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Yes, it can and has been done in the car. Not easy from what I hear though. Do a search for any posts by Mike Lawson. I believe he is in Ky and does them in the car.

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    well i can't speak for Jake's current situation, but that's the feeling that i got from some of his recent posts... he's been moving his shop and still hasn't fully transitioned so he's doing more travelling that he should... plus he doesn't have a receptionist yet (still) - once he's back to 100% i'm sure you could get it done in just a couple days
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Here's a couple of videos of Mike Lawson doing both the front and rear banks in the car.





  9. #39
    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Thx guys...and thx for the video links. Guess that's pretty good proof! Anybody have Mike's email address or know best way to reach him? I'd sure like to ask for any tips on disassembly, like tilting the engine forward for rear access to disconnect exhaust manifold and other hard to reach items back there. Also what does Mike do with heads once off to verify condition? Does he have the heads resurface, pressure tested and valves inspected? Also timing chains...tips for disassembly and reassembly...getting the timing right and tools needed.

    Well...I failed the highway test as defined here...so I take this as my final validation I guess...unless there is radiator blockage, but I've seen nothing to make me really suspect that. I believe it's the HG's. Road test performed as defined in this link took temp up to and slightly beyond 145 degrees, though recovering quickly as driving intensity eased up. What blows my mind is how fast the temp recovers. I've never seen that before...very strange.

    Here's the highway test conducted...

    http://www.northstarperformance.com/hgfaq.php

    HMS

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    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    My post lacked detail...so here is more info. I meant 245+...oops on that typo. All my prior highway road tests were fast and sustained, but were not really hard and aggressive. This time I buried my foot in the peddle, let off (not to 30 mph, but I slowed) and then buried it again...over and over. The inclines were best indicators...accelerated hard all the way up and that needle then would really start to move on me. I never took it far beyond 245 degree mark but I could SURE get it to that point and beyond easily enough, at will. I'm still surprised by how easily I can control the temp to either direction...that just seems so bazaar. When I ease off, the engine temp recovered immediately and completely. Never did I experience any bad engine performance as well (it always seemed happy), though never took it past slightly beyond 245.

    Upon return to garage the car was back to normal temp, which as I said, it took little time for it to recover back to norm. Popping the hood, that engine simply was NOT red hot, not cooking...it was normal operation temp. Tank was warm to the touch...far from red hot...and same for the cap, though there was some minor residual smell of prior coolant steam when I popped the hood...minor, not extreme. There was no boiling activity/noise from within the tank...and no steam pouring from the cap or overflow tube. After cooling for a bit (maybe an hour) I released final pressure (small amount of remaining air pressure only, no major coolant discharge, other than maybe a few drips (new cap I had installed is the pressure release lever type). Sniffed the tank...yep, sure smelled of exhaust to me. I verified coolant level in tank (3-4 inches from top, not dry but seemed a bit low...did NOT add any coolant), reapplied the block tester to tank and it went from blue to green in short order once the bubbles started appearing...then to yellow...then water surged from tank and up into the tester as well...test over...popped the cap back on to stop the surge overflow onto my garage floor. I don't believe the coolant surge threw off test results. I believe it was a surge of exhaust gasses just before coolant surged from tank, like a burp if that makes any sense. Yes, once water hits the tester then all bets are off. When it turned yellow I quickly pulled tester from tank mouth to inspect and there was no water at the top yet...but it did come flowing up quickly from that point. Btw...after popping cap back on I went quickly to turn off engine...temp gauge sitting at high side of normal (~210 mark). I'll do the test again today with even less coolant in the tank this time because I didn't refill it after the surge event. Green isn't suppose to be an indicator of exhaust unless its diesel as I understand it. But it did turn yellow when bubbles started surging extra strong just before it overflowed. The tank smell was sweet and pungent, not that of just coolant.

    So to me, all the outward signs and conclusion I'm sitting with at this stage appear to be a minor sustained head gasket leak under normal operation and major leakage under extreme load. That seems to be similar pattern described by others as well, which makes this such a tricky thing to diagnose, contrary to most vehicle blown gaskets where it's a true blow out rather than head bolt induced. Make sense? I may have forced a more extreme leakage with the intense road test, whereby I was then able to get more definitive outward signs this time. As for the plugs being perfectly clean in earlier inspection, not sure if it's possible, but maybe there is simply a one way leak happening...exhaust into coolant but no coolant into cylinders. Is that even possible you think? I'd say anything is possible from this point with the Northstar based on bazaar test results I've come up with to this point. Btw...I inspected pump belt again and still see out outward evidence of slippage...no abuse to the belt observed and not shiny. Also, no coolant leakage or smell anywhere else within engine compartment other than at the tank area.

    HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    sounds pretty definitive to me

    and N* will almost never mix coolant into the oil ... you will burn some off, but it isn't noticeable until later stages
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    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Yep...very first thing I confirmed was no coolant in the oil. One mystery that still remains though is the near pristine condition of all 8 plugs that I observed when I performed compression test. If there is a coolant/exhaust exchange happening then I would have expected to see charcoal on plugs, or flaking matter or powder white deposits on plugs. I saw none of that...they looked completely normal...all of them...very clean/fresh. But, from everything I've read on this darn Northstar head bolt issue is that "old school" expectations of what to expect seem to be out the window. I even have a shiny new radiator core sitting off to the side, still boxed up, from when I could have sworn I was moving toward proving radiator blockage. I no longer feel that way though and can return the radiator if/when I feel safe/secure in doing so...or if I decide I don't want a shiny new radiator to go along the Norm's inserts repair job. I can't remove the engine, so Jake's Studs are ruled out if I do the repair myself. For me to do it, it'll have to be an in-car repair effort.

    HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    hms, I just want to clarify something. Dropping the cradle only requires an engine hoist. If you have a way to lift the front of the body towards the garage ceiling you could do the work under it. The body without the cradle is surprisingly light.

  14. #44
    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    hmmm...don't have a crane/hoist presently but that's not so expensive really from Harbor Freight. I may study/research that concept. Haven't really given it any study whatsoever so far since I had ruled it out from very beginning.

    So, safely lift and support/secure front of vehicle how and how high? Engine hoist is to lower cradle down onto floor? I/m in a simple garage with plenty of work room but no ability to install a chain hoist to rafters or strong A-Frame. I'm just not well situated at present, huh?

    HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Take a look at the pics in this thread. You don't have to pick up the front end too far, but what's too far? 8' ceiling should be enough.

    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...ir-part-i.html

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