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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Engine parts cleaning during overhaul in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; Originally Posted by mtflight on a Northstar engine, per the manufacturer's instructions? 150,000 miles or 5 years? I WOULDN'T EVEN ...
  1. #61
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by mtflight View Post
    on a Northstar engine, per the manufacturer's instructions? 150,000 miles or 5 years?
    I WOULDN'T EVEN DREAM OF TRYING THAT.

    THE HEADGASKETS BARELY SURVIVE HALF THAT MILEAGE........

  2. #62
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by Submariner409 View Post
    I said nothing that would indicate that basic head gasket technology had not kept up with engine design over the years - I said that felt-graphite-whatever head gasket material, in contact with coolant for long periods, looks nasty. Head gasket manufacturing technology has not changed radically over the years - the basic system works and works well if the cylinder head is securely held to the cylinder block. Yes, some head gaskets use Teflon coatings or some such - but the basic gasket appears to be the same as 25 years ago. Look at the CF pictures of different Northstar overhauls - see any exotic gasket materials there ?

    If a portion of the gasket material is in contact with coolant/a cooling passage it has nothing to do with sealing a cylinder - it's simply excess material hanging out in the breeze. The compressed areas of the gasket form the "seal" - the uncompressed areas are simply along for the ride.

    Alloy and power ????? The Northstar is a little engine in terms of pure size and NA power - any kid on the street can hand-build a Chevy 327 that will eat a Northstar alive for power and torque, an use cheap good ol' JC Whitney FelPro gasket sets to do it. The 1967 Corvette 427/435 actually put out just over 500 hp and the whole engine was assembled with paper, cork and felt gaskets - there are still original 427's running today. I daresay that you and I both have several square feet of cork and paper gasket materials in our shop drawers.

    It's not the gaskets in and of themselves - it's the bolts, the threads, the open deck, and the siamesed cylinders that don't support the gasket in doing its job.

    EDIT: "Power" - The Northstar is a 279 C.I. small displacement high-winding engine. The old Chevy 283 is almost the same C.I. in an OHV pushrod configuration. Given the time and proper parts, a roller cam NA 283 can be built that would easily surpass the VIN 9 Northstar "power" (and torque) by over 50%.......... and not blow head gaskets............but 283's and 327's are disappearing - everyone's building the later 350 version of the SBC.
    I understand what you're saying, and it's cool stuff. However aren't those engines you mention iron blocks? I'll bet they also have a closed-deck design with a smaller area in contact with coolant?

    As I said, I'm sure the Northstar passed the rigorous stress tests with that gasket. But it appears to fail the real world test of time, more often that we would like to hear. Newer designs move away from those gasket materials. The modern HO engines that GM is putting out today have MLS gaskets, probably for a good reason.

    The Northstar engine design calls for a better gasket, that is hard to argue. It is a combination of factors, aluminum heads and longblock, open deck with a very close proximity to a large area that soaks the gasket in coolant that admittedly does not get along with the felt gasket very well. Add stretch to yield bolts to that formula and you have to walk the fine line with lady luck because HG failures are not only limited to neglected cooling systems. Maybe if the vast coolant passages weren't so close to the fire rings the story would be different--but this isn't about what the engine isn't, it's about what it is. The head gasket's fire rings are an island literally surrounded by coolant that is deteriorating the felt and possibly graphite component in them.

    I wouldn't discard the Dex-Cool vs conventional green coolant argument, because otherwise, what makes 93-96 Northstar's have better "luck" with the head gaskets? The typical advertised pH of Dex-Cool is lower than traditional antifreeze/coolant (8.3 vs 10.5). The pH level is very close to that of sea water, typically pH 8. Conventional green typically has a pH of 10.5 pH. So it's possible that the lower pH contributes or enhances the deterioration the "wet" part of the gasket, which you say factually, has nothing to do with the seal of the headgasket in the compressed areas. Fluids do tend to permeate felt, however, so I am not so sure why your'e so confident about the compressed area staying dry? Furthermore, heat enhances the permeability of water, and the lower coefficient of viscosity of ethylene glycol in there further facilitates permeation of the felt materials and fabrics. Is this ideal, in sealing two critical hot aluminum surfaces over time? *NO*

    Then there's potassium 2-ethylhexaonate and it's ability to dissolve nylon 6,6 and natural silicone rubber, and the lack of silicates which typically coat and protect other materials besides alloys by competing with more harmful corrosive oxides.

    So I don't deny that organic acid technology coolants are fine for copper, brass, cast iron, steel and aluminum but to be safely deployed in different applications with other materials one would have to test them with other materials such as the felt in the head gasket, which will be soaked in the case of the N*.

    No issue with OAT and an MLS gasket but not so sure about with a felt/graphite composite gasket. Silicates are used to coat carbon and therefore graphite and protect it from other oxides and thus deterioration. There are no silicates in Dex-Cool--so what's protecting the graphite?

    Below is the head gasket of the LS9 engine.
    '

    Edit: after writing the details about graphite being protected by silicates, and coolant with its low viscosity coefficient soaking into the felt gasket, it makes sense that better clamping would better isolate the compressed, wishfully "dry" area of the gasket from disintegrating [failing]. At least it would buy it some time. This is probably why the bolts became longer, and then coarser over time. Still I believe the missing silicates are helpful in protecting the integrity of the felt/graphite composite gasket.
    98eldo32v and 98eldo32v like this.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Pete and RePete were on a fence. Pete got knocked off with a baseball bat.

    WHO WAS LEFT?

  4. #64
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    MtFlight,

    I'm going to say this and this is just my opinion nothing more.

    This has been an EXTREMELY informative post on the dex-cool, head bolts, and open deck design of the northstar engine block. With the wealth of information in this post alone, I've decided to go the MLS route for my headgasket job on my eldo.

    I "was" on the fence, but now I'm convinced that this is the correct way to approach this issue. Everyone knows by now this isn't a user friendly engine to work on, so why set myself up for a "possible" mishap down the road.

    Yes, the studs and the inserts have proven themselves to repair the bolt issues, but the gasket and dexcool issues remain. I'm going to alleviate all the possible culprits. Block will be studded, MLS gasket will be used, green antifreeze is going in..........done.

    Ironically, all the info posted here, are you saying the engineers didn't have this info at the time of the development of the northstar engine? Or was this the case of "we"ll just use what has been getting by all along" ,it'll hold together.
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Hi Submariner409, I think you pick and choose what to read on a thread. I said if you change the Dexcool VERY OFTEN I think that covers properly maintained as you put it. Was there not legal action taken against GM over Dexcool? I have had all GM vehicles = 8 in total and had cooling problems with 7. Love GM not knocking them I don't even want to go there to relive the past. By the way my daughters taught me how to post pictures so I post a picture with a thread it seems they are vanishing. I wonder if someone on this board doesn't like looking at Cadillacs?

  6. #66
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Several people (not just me) are tired of looking at the same blurry Deville over, and over, and over. Make a picture album and post a slew of decent pictures there - that's what the Community tab is for instead of taking up server space in the daily threads. FWIW, I look at Cadillacs every day, all types, and never get tired of the scene.

    Staff is here to keep this place clean, speedy (as possible) and act as field umpires. Things get overly dicey, it goes to Admin and it's out of our hands.

    You are a full-fledged CF member - if you don't like the way the site is run from the field, you are free to read the Forum Rules and Guidelines down in Site News and post a complaint to Admin in the Site News Forum.

    Everyone has their pet opinions on DEX-COOL as well as other fluids - No one is knocking your "change it frequently" procedure - matter of fact, I am a staunch proponent of changing coolants at least every 3 years......................Post #60, Post #58, and several hundred other coolant posts since early 2006.

  7. #67
    mtflight's Avatar
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Thank you for the good words, 98eldo32v. My HG is holding so far, and I've only been running silicated green for a few months. Silicated coolants almost immediately coat the surfaces they are in contact with, so they offer instant protection against corrosion. The way the hexanoic acid (organic acid technology, extended-life coolant) variety works, is different, and I've read it takes a few thousand miles to begin offering protection.

    I should note that color is just a dye nowadays, so make sure it is "conventional" silicated coolant if you're after the carbon graphite protection in the head gasket. It probably won't matter what coolant you use once you have MLS head gaskets. The Cometic MLS gaskets have a viton coating (fluoroelastomer) which is also used to make chemical-resistant gloves for labs etc.

    Tom is correct, in that the hexanoic acid that comprises the anti-corrosion package in Dex-Cool was responsible for the catastrophic failures in intake gaskets for a few engines a few years ago because they had nylon 6,6 in them, which culminated in the large class-action lawsuits. I think hexanoic acid is also responsible for many of the the leaking water pump cover gaskets, and any other failed silicone rubber gaskets that come into contact with coolant. Take note that most revised gaskets in the later years are made of other polymers that are resistant to hexanoic acid, thus they had no further issues in the later years of production. *edit: and Tom, I guess I wasn't going crazy thinking your car was there, and then it wasn't. I thought it had something to do with me using the iPhone cadillac owners app.*

    If my HG fails on my 99 ETC (It did on my 98 at 116K a few years ago), I too would do exactly what you've decided: Studs with MLS gaskets. I don't plan to neglect my cooling system so I'll still be using conventional green as well, and changing it once a year. Thanks again for the kind words and I look forward to reading about your studded MLS-equipped Eldo. There's another member here that has gone with MLS, but I can't remember his name.

    I have no idea what the engineers did or did not know. It does seem like there was a strong effort to make cars that were very low maintenance, thus the extended life coolants, the OLM, the platinum spark plugs, etc were part of the effort. I think a lot of it was experimental and either there wasn't time to get a lot of homework and testing and research done or there wasn't enough of a case to present to the "penny counters" to justify the decisions to go with more modern but costly parts? I don't think this was a deliberate boo boo. I agree with your ideas that it corporate may have been involved--they weren't doing very well so they had their reasons. If they were all quality and reliability, then our cars would be like Rolls Royces, and would cost a helluvalot more.
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  8. #68
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Remember: Suspended silicates in good ol' green coolant have been radically reduced in order to lessen water pump shaft seal wear - most 'green' coolants are now "no silicate" or "low silicate" formula.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Thanks for you're honesty sub you won't hear from me again or see the poor pictures my wife and daughters took, sorry I upset so many people. Believe me I never knew, I try not to upset anyone, sorry again.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by Submariner409 View Post
    Remember: Suspended silicates in good ol' green coolant have been radically reduced in order to lessen water pump shaft seal wear - most 'green' coolants are now "no silicate" or "low silicate" formula.
    This has been addressed before, by a re-named source:

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnewell View Post
    ... Simple answer: USE THE COOLANT SUPPLEMENT PELLETS ....

    The green silicate coolant has two undesirable side effects that bear mentioning:
    • One is that the silicates are very abrasive and shorten water pump seal life by abrading the surface of the seal.
    • Also the silicates can build up on the seal surface and "unseat" the seal causing seepage.
    The seal is fine but the silicate contamination does cause a leak. The coolant supplement pellets tend to prevent the latter situation by cleaning the surface of the water pump
    seal and preventing the silicate build up. The little fibers in the supplement literally "scrub" the surface preventing the silicate buildup. It doesn't seem to prevent erosion of the seal
    by the abrasive silicates unfortunately. The second situation is more pronounced in occasional use cars that might also get a higher than the recommended 50/50 concentration of coolant (more coolant than water). The silicates can "congeal" in low flow areas like the heater core forming this green "jello" that plugs the heater core. The lower the flow, the greater the coolant concentration and the longer the down times the greater the tendency to form the green jello. Usually it can be flushed out with a strong water flow from a garden hose but it is a pain.
    Both of these problems prompted the use of DexCool from the factory as well as the long term corrosion protection compared to the green coolant.
    And regarding the water pump, I'd rather replace it every 5 years when it leaks than tear the engine down to replace a head gasket and bolts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Cipriano View Post
    ...The water pump will be the easiest you've ever changed. It's hard to believe the dealers can somehow justify charging $570.00 to change one. That's about $450.00 profit I'd say. With the special tool it's a snap. Remember that the water pump cartridge is removed by turning it clockwise as viewed from over the left front fender looking into the water pump cavity from the backside after removing the cover. It is installed by turning the special tool counterclockwise - a "left handed thread" install. When the old pump is out remember the o-ring seal that is in a groove in the water crossover casting. Look inside the housing when the water pump is out and you will see it. Put a new o-ring in the groove (should be in the kit with the pump) and make sure it is seated and lubed with antifreeze when installing the new pump.

    Check the water pump drive belt and tensioner. The tensioner may need to be exercised and the pivot lubed to keep it moving freely.


    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom's Caddy View Post
    Thanks for you're honesty sub you won't hear from me again or see the poor pictures my wife and daughters took, sorry I upset so many people. Believe me I never knew, I try not to upset anyone, sorry again.
    Tom I think the pics are just fine, and I commented how nicely your car looks. I hope I'm misunderstanding what you're writing and you won't leave the forum over this. They weren't bothering me at all and I found them a nice distraction. It's not like you post that much, but that's just my $0.02 USD. Edit: if it's not evident, I wasn't one of the ones that allegedly complained.

  11. #71
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    I dont find a problem with them either. No worse than the ugly, repetitive avatars and signatures used here.

    The beauty of an internet board is that you can sift through the pages to your liking, retrieving only the info you are interested in. If you don't like the pictures, skip over them. Effortless, and no drama required.

  12. #72
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Well, I'm going with studs and regular FelPro gaskets, Dex-Cool and all new seals possible. I took the oil pan apart and I got to see a wonderful scene of gel-like oil deposit everywhere, probably due to severe overheating. I'm surprised this engine even ran, and glad I didn't run it after that overheating episode. After further inspection, the oil leak seems to be from the oil pan, but not the halfcase. I'm resealing the half case anyway.

    I am having difficulty removing the main bolts, they act like they are sealed up there good and may break upon removal. I was successful removing none of them. Does it just take quite a torque, or am I doing it wrong?

    Also the rear crankshaft oil seal... removal I can do without tools carefully, but the installation tool is over $200 and that's ridiculous for one time use. Is there any alternative, or other tools available for this work?

  13. #73
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Main bolts are a huge pain.

    You better have a 1/2'" breaker bar with only 6 point sockets and an extension for the breaker bar. The way some of them came loose when I took apart the bottom end on the STS motor, I thought every last one of them snapped when they came loose.

    I was lucky and got all of them loose. Better get new bolts for the bottom end.

    I didn't take any chances, nor do I think you should either.

    ----------

    Get lucky on ebay for the rear main tool.

    Got mine for cheap a while back, practically brand new.

  14. #74
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Maybe I was too afraid of breaking a bolt. I used my favorite breaker bar and all came right off. It was much like the head bolts coming loose, except lesser torque needed. And yeah, I will get new main bolts. Too much of a horror story to have one break in my block.

    Where would be the best source for the main bolts (and rod bolts too)? Dealer?

    I snapped some pictures during disassembly that I will post later. The oil sludge is just a pain. More cleaning I guess....

  15. #75
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Hit up Chris @ Rippy.

    I got new main and rod bolts from him. Eldorado_Red came over to my house to see what he's about to get into. At least teardown and necessary parts.

    My advice on rebuilding one of these things, if you THINK it needs replacement do it now and forget it.

    Chin up on the oil cleaning. Yes, it a mess and a pain, but when everything is clean things will go a lot smoother.

    Hang in there.

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