Engine parts cleaning during overhaul
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Engine parts cleaning during overhaul in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I'm currently on my mission to rebuild a 99 Northstar that was in my Deville. I originally planned to repair ...
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    maeng9981's Avatar
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    I'm currently on my mission to rebuild a 99 Northstar that was in my Deville. I originally planned to repair what's necessary, but after I got the engine out, I changed my mind. I'm pretty much going to disassemble this engine, replace as much as I can as needed, and put it all back together.



    (I know, that cv axle went south.)

    The engine has the infamous halfcase leak and the bottom half is basically all oil residue. It pretty much looks like an iron block due to the stuff. As the engine gets disassembled, I want to clean all the residue and make it look like a new engine in the cover of a magazine. The question is: how would one approach this, with the parts all disassembled? (For instance, block exterior and interior, pistons, various accessory components and also the heads) The cleaning method must not mess with the internals and should be safe for all components. What good techniques have y'all used to clean it while rebuilding?

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    automark is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Hi, It's really hard to clean the aluminum really well, but still maintain the factory finish. Often, in the Little British Car world, people will glass bead the exterior of cases. But that is really not likely in this case due to size, disassembly needs, and your location. Perhaps, once the grease, dirt and oil are thoroughly cleaned you could try certain softer "wire brush attachments" mounted in a variable speed drill.
    I've seen it make the LBC tranny cases look really good. I think the wire brush used was new, copper bristles. ( The reason they used copper was that they'd heard that steel or coated steel wires could leave some of "themselves" behind, and thus rust when exposed to the elements later.) One other case I'd seen was ultimately coated with a hi heat clear coat after all of that cleaning. It looked really great and shiny, and beautiful. But, it certainly didn't look stock.
    You must have, of course, by now, heard about keeping the scotch brand ( ?3M?) products away from engines for fear of that product imbedding itself in metals in the internals of engines. So thus, I head towards metal brushes.

    Actual grease removers; that remains personal preference and tolerance for vapors or smells.

    I wish you the best of luck and would like to hear / see what works best for you.

    Best, MSH

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    rodnok01's Avatar
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    If you want it really clean have it hot tanked at a machine shop. Has to be completely apart. Costs a few bucks but it'll look good, as for keeping that way good luck. Paint the VC's.
    I've painted a few trans and engines and if perfectly clean it'll stick and last, the clear is gonna yellow some no matter what you do.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Completely disassemble the engine down to block, pan, halfcase and heads. Have all 5 hot-tanked, then come home and scrub it all with HOT water, soap, and a set of long engine cleaning bristle brushes - oil passages and all. Rinse thoroughly with HOT water, blow dry (80# air compressor), and coat the cylinder bores with 30W oil while you begin the rebuild. Use assembly lube on all new bearings and valvetrain parts.

    If you really get anal you can mask off the block, halfcase and pan and prime/paint it your favorite engine color - there are primers and enamels specially for engines. Clean out the exhaust crossunder Y-pipe (excess pipe flash) and have it and the manifolds done in a chrome JetHot finish.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Remember the VC's dont get painted, they get powdercoated, and um...go with red :P

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Gold metalflake Candy Apple Red.
    vincentm and vincentm like this.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by Submariner409 View Post
    Completely disassemble the engine down to block, pan, halfcase and heads. Have all 5 hot-tanked, then come home and scrub it all with HOT water, soap, and a set of long engine cleaning bristle brushes - oil passages and all. Rinse thoroughly with HOT water, blow dry (80# air compressor), and coat the cylinder bores with 30W oil while you begin the rebuild. Use assembly lube on all new bearings and valvetrain parts.

    If you really get anal you can mask off the block, halfcase and pan and prime/paint it your favorite engine color - there are primers and enamels specially for engines. Clean out the exhaust crossunder Y-pipe (excess pipe flash) and have it and the manifolds done in a chrome JetHot finish.

    Then sell that Deville to me, actually i might be getting a mint condition 99 Deville for $600 in the next month or so that has bad HG's.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    And you're gonna take it to CCC to have it studded....

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Maeng, you're a glutton for punishment.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Yes, I am aware of the "no-no" on scotch brite products. I guess I'll try the various de-greasers first. Wire brushing the block outer surface? Would that be safe? (Never tried) If not satisfactory, then I can try "hot tank" method. I like the way Sub suggested.

    Anyway, the engine is off the transmission and is ready for teardown.













    You definitely see which cylinder was leaking


    The gasket actually looked much better than what was in the Seville, except that one spot-


    Head bolts all came out clean


    Honing pattern (110,000 miles)


    Here's the head bolt length difference between 93-99 and 00-03 engines. (Shorter 93-99, longer 00-03)


    One mistake I made during the installation of the engine on the stand - I forgot to take the flywheel and the oil seal off. And that made me thinking - I have no tool to remove the crankshaft rear oil seal. Getting the engine off the stand is no problem - but any suggestions how to get the rear oil seal off? Do I have to have the two removal/installation tool? Those are like $150 for one time use.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by CadillacLuke24 View Post
    And you're gonna take it to CCC to have it studded....


    Hell yea, Tim would love to get his hands on it.

  13. #12
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Maeng9981 has studded his daily driver Seville and he plans to stud this one too. All in house!

    As far as cleaning, I would think any food or laundry detergent will degrease very well, and standard engine degreasers probably use the same technology. CHR Fab has some fancy parts, but $$$ http://www.chrfab.com/cam_covers.htm








    Well no bolt hole failure on this one, at least not this bank. The missing chunk on this gasket is in the uncompressed area hanging down into the open deck coolant passage/water jacket. Sub didn't you imply that if the fire rings are not blown out/open, then coolant went around them from loss of clamping pressure - and that those fire rings clamp around the entire circumference of the cylinder on both sides of the gasket - you mentioned coolant did NOT run "through" the gasket material into a cylinder.

    No evidence of nasty thread damage and porosity in these bolt holes either..... let's wait for the other bank.

    If this had been an MLS gasket, with no possible hole in the water jacket... would it have failed? Rhetorical question.

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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by mtflight View Post
    Sub didn't you imply that if the fire rings are not blown out/open, then coolant went around them from loss of clamping pressure - and that those fire rings clamp around the entire circumference of the cylinder on both sides of the gasket - you mentioned coolant did NOT run "through" the gasket material into a cylinder.
    I didn't "imply" anything - I stated a fact.

    A bit of fly in the ointment - get into the ARP website and read their theory on "torque to yield" head bolts vs. studs or bolts that are stressed (torqued) to 75% - 90% of their yield strength and what that difference means in retained clamping pressure.

    Even in that gasket picture, do you see any evidence that coolant migrated from a bolt hole to a cylinder ??? My opinion is that the open deck design coupled with a bolt that was initially torqued past its maximum clamping ability (torque to yield) is the culprit in most northstar head gasket failure. NO engine is immune to head (or any) gasket failure - but not at the rate that seems to plague the 1996 - 1999 Northstar.

    Think rubber band - a bigass rubber band stretched 75% will hold a LOT longer than a thinner one stretched to 110% ("stretch to yield").

  15. #14
    dkozloski's Avatar
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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    I start an engine project by going to the local DIY car wash, covering the electrical stuff with tape and plastic bags, and washing down everything before I start with the pressure washer.
    Don't mess with Binky Bear!


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    Re: Engine parts cleaning during overhaul

    Quote Originally Posted by dkozloski View Post
    I start an engine project by going to the local DIY car wash, covering the electrical stuff with tape and plastic bags, and washing down everything before I start with the pressure washer.
    Would've loved to do that, but this car was not able to move on its own before the teardown. Interesting approach though, I could do that next time.

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