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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; Great info in the thread zonie, and the pics helped me to understand on lifting concept...thx much! So...not much support ...
  1. #46
    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Great info in the thread zonie, and the pics helped me to understand on lifting concept...thx much!

    So...not much support out there for doing the heads in-car, though there is info and proof that it's doable. My case is lack of reasonable facilities for an engine removal + my engine lower block was dealer rebuilt only 15k miles ago, so I believe/hope that upper end is all that's needing attention. All the lower seals and such were done my dealer when they rebuilt for piston slap. Also had a GM certified tranny replacement by the same dealer on 20K miles ago, so no tranny or associated seals concern me there either. Very hard to accept (mind blowing) that head bolts would fail in 15K miles if dealer had performed a proper repair. CLEARLY they didn't refurbish the head bolts...proof of that soon to come I guess when heads are pulled. I actually have the service order from that repair and I see ZERO mention of inserts. I didn't even spot charges for new head bolts for crying out loud. ALL 8 pistons were replaced though so I can't see how job would have been done without pulling the heads. Maybe the head bolts were buried in the OEM head gasket set though, thus not listed as seperate items. The cost for 20 serts + labor should have been spotted though...not.

    I don't know what condition to expect with my heads since they were pulled/replaced by the caddy dealer prior rebuild, but all indications is that they did NOT perform a valve job or any other reconditioning of the heads. It had 98k miles at that time and now has 114K miles...so I guess I wait to see how they look. Resurfacing is minimum I suppose, but it sure seems like one would want to have complete pro inspection and valve job performed if needed, right? But, I see no mention of such with any of the discussions?

    HMS

  2. #47
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    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.
    Actually it's quite the contrary. A cylinder with a leaky HG will be the cleanest of them all. The plug will be cleaner than the rest. Something about the liquid vaporizing. I can recall pouring a glass of water down the carb of my '69 Road Runner while holding the throttle open to clean the cylinders. Probably didn't need it, but it sounded like a good idea at the time.

    Heads, valves and guides almost NEVER need any work. Just insert it and replace the gaskets.

    Maybe the head bolts were buried in the OEM head gasket set though, thus not listed as seperate items.
    I think that may be the case because head bolts are not to be reused. I think a new set came with the gasket set.

  3. #48
    drewsdeville is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    I don't know. Sometimes while trying to diagnose leaky headgaskets, I find the affected cylinder's spark plug is caked with some white crusty matter (deposits from cooked coolant?).

    But as far as carbon goes, you'll never see any. And when you pull the head off, the affected cylinder will be squeaky clean from the thorough steam cleaning it's been getting.

  4. #49
    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    So no resurfacing of heads required either? I need not suspect heads could be warped? Really...just slap them back on as is with nothing more than serts, clean block/head surfaces and new gasket set?

    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!!

    Very interesting on the squeaky clean...and as I had said, all the plugs were very clean as well...nothing. Well, my brain hurts from trying to figure all this out...must actually be a reverse engineered alian power plant...nothing fits any old school tried and true throubleshooting from all I've seen.

    HMS

  6. #51
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hms200 View Post
    So no resurfacing of heads required either? I need not suspect heads could be warped? Really...just slap them back on as is with nothing more than serts, clean block/head surfaces and new gasket set?

    HMS
    Correct on all three counts.

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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!!

    That's really great news for the ol wallet and for my peace of mind in getting this clearly confirmed. Thx for the confirmation Ranger and others!

    I'm searching dscussion threads now for others that have tackled this in-car for specific gotcha's and disassembly tips. Not a ton of info found so far but I really do appreciate the warnings and advice already received as well.

    So far I'm seeing following tips/warnings...

    1. Strap on rear head to tranny is a bear for access.
    2. To tilt engine forward I must remove front cradle bolts and disconnect front motor mounts and the dog bone brackets, yes? So tilt will NOT happen simply with a GM tilt tool that attaches where dog bone is now? I understand that bracket is mounted on front head...but my thought was to do rear head first start to finish, and then the front one...so I'd have the tilt bracket in place as needed for the rear bank. Today is first I read about removing front cradle bolts and disconnect front motor mounts - but I'm still early in my research.
    3. HVAC Housing may require replacement - not sure I understand exactly what the "HVAC housing" is and I can't find that specific part listed anywhere. Is that the heater fan cover on firewall or what?
    4. Timing effort greatly concerns me so far, but I've done minimal research so far in that area. Will I need to invest in a GM timing kit for this? I've read everything from "no brainer effort" to "very-very difficult to do in-car".
    5. What else guys?

    I don't want to over think this, but I do want to attack it properly prepared and do all in my power to avoid any/all costly or deadly (to the engine) mistakes along the way. I can't remove the engine in my specific circumstances, so I need to focus all my prep research based on the hard way (if that's so) of addressing it in-car. I fully acknowledge all tips and warnings against that technique, but I also see the comments of, "...but it has been and can be done." I'm betting that key is in the engine tilt magic for most access issues...so I sure want to understand that aspect very well.

    HMS

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

    With Cylinder #1 at TDC, firing stroke, here's the timing chain and sprocket mark setup.

    There is a specific sequence to follow when setting and disconnecting the timing chains, chain tensioners, and removing/replacing the cam drive sprockets. It's pretty much straightforward, but you must do it correctly. It's not a no-brainer, but then again it isn't rocket science to a decent gearhead.

    The oil pump, wrapped around the crankshaft snout, is driven by friction from the harmonic balancer torque - 37 ft/lb + 120 degrees. This is a LOT of torque. Lock the flywheel and do it correctly. Not enough torque and you wind up with no oil pressure.

    If you don't have a GM/Helm Service Manual in front of you, either get one from www.helminc.com or ebay. Chilton and Haynes are useless for this level of work. Or, subscribe the car to www.alldatadiy.com.

  9. #54
    zonie77 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hms200 View Post

    So...not much support out there for doing the heads in-car, though there is info and proof that it's doable. My case is lack of reasonable facilities for an engine removal + my engine lower block was dealer rebuilt only 15k miles ago, so I believe/hope that upper end is all that's needing attention. All the lower seals and such were done my dealer when they rebuilt for piston slap. Also had a GM certified tranny replacement by the same dealer on 20K miles ago, so no tranny or associated seals concern me there either. Very hard to accept (mind blowing) that head bolts would fail in 15K miles if dealer had performed a proper repair. CLEARLY they didn't refurbish the head bolts...proof of that soon to come I guess when heads are pulled. I actually have the service order from that repair and I see ZERO mention of inserts. I didn't even spot charges for new head bolts for crying out loud. ALL 8 pistons were replaced though so I can't see how job would have been done without pulling the heads. Maybe the head bolts were buried in the OEM head gasket set though, thus not listed as seperate items. The cost for 20 serts + labor should have been spotted though...not.

    I don't know what condition to expect with my heads since they were pulled/replaced by the caddy dealer prior rebuild, but all indications is that they did NOT perform a valve job or any other reconditioning of the heads. It had 98k miles at that time and now has 114K miles...so I guess I wait to see how they look. Resurfacing is minimum I suppose, but it sure seems like one would want to have complete pro inspection and valve job performed if needed, right? But, I see no mention of such with any of the discussions?

    HMS

    The Caddy heads are well designed and warping,cracking, and burned valves are not common. If the engine is running well now it will run well after, just not overheating.

    Even if you are not touching the bottom end, dropping the cradle makes the valve job much easier, and it makes the doing the timing very easy.The cradle serves as your engine stand, you just drop the cradle and do the heads, then lift the cradle back up.

    The head gaskets came with the bolts from the dealer, I think Felpro sells them separate, but you may not see them on the receipt. If it wasn't an error by the mechanic it's possible the bolt threads were on the verge of going and failed shortly after the rebuild. Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... possibly it started to strip while being torqued and it was just ignored

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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!!

    Thank you submariner...info noted and saved.

    HMS

  11. #56
    hms200 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Thx much zonie...info absorbed and noted.

    That's very good news the heads are unlikely to require reconditioning. I verified with a GM OEM supplier that the OEM head gasket sets do include the head bolts. So your confirmation, what I have read elsewhere and their word answers that mystery. I just need to focus on "what" and "how" rather than "why". The "why" I could speculate all day long on and it would accomplish nothing.

    So you are also for cradle drop as best option...appears to be the overwelming consensus here and the other site. Hmmm...

    Any clue on weights...the cradle based engine assembly and also the car lift dead weight for front minus the engine?

    HMS

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

    I have a question about JimD's temp gauge illustration, in my opinion my temp guage reaches the 1/2 way point rather quickly, after the first 10-15 minutes that the car has been running. Last Friday I took it on an 80 mile round trip drive in dreaded L.A. freeway traffic with the AC running, it was about 80 degrees outside I traveled in periods of gridlock traffic jams and at normal Highway speeds. During Highway speeds and daily driving conditions, my gauge is always right at half way or 210 degrees, in gridlock traffic the gauge sits in-between 210-225 degrees, and goes back to 210 when the traffic lets up, I have never seen it (in two weeks) go past 225 degrees.

    Are these normal/acceptable operating tempatures for Northstar, is it normal that I reach the half way mark on the temp guage so quickly?

  13. #58
    RippyPartsDept's Avatar
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Kefo - sounds normal to me.
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hms200 View Post
    Thx much zonie...info absorbed and noted.

    That's very good news the heads are unlikely to require reconditioning. I verified with a GM OEM supplier that the OEM head gasket sets do include the head bolts. So your confirmation, what I have read elsewhere and their word answers that mystery. I just need to focus on "what" and "how" rather than "why". The "why" I could speculate all day long on and it would accomplish nothing.

    So you are also for cradle drop as best option...appears to be the overwelming consensus here and the other site. Hmmm...

    Any clue on weights...the cradle based engine assembly and also the car lift dead weight for front minus the engine?

    HMS
    Unless you have even more extensions,swivels, and u-joints than I do I would recommend dropping the cradle. If you drop it flat and raise the body you only need some wooden blocks to raise it off the floor. The body feels very light, feels like less than an a V8 engine.

  15. #60
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    plus you're not really lifting the whole body weight... just lifting the front while the back pivots on the ground ... leverage, physics and whatnot
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