Head Removal Questions

Posted by: HJR

Head Removal Questions - 04/18/21 05:33 PM

Hey all! The head gasket on my '97 Vic gave up. Of course it's the right side one. frown I have searched through the forums and finding conflicting information on whether you can or can't pull this head off without pulling the engine.
One thing I am looking at is that it looks like it'd be impossible to pull even the valve cover as it's right up to the HVAC box.
That made me think, what if I can pull the HVAC box? That should give me plenty of room if it can be done, but I can't tell if there are any bolts for the HVAC box behind the engine that would nix that idea.
Any thoughts, tips, tricks would be appreciated!
TIA!
-Niles
Posted by: fordoldfart

Re: Head Removal Questions - 04/18/21 11:30 PM

The easiest way to get the valve cover off is to remove the intake manifold. With that off I think you will find you can get the head off.
Posted by: TheShadow

Re: Head Removal Questions - 04/19/21 12:56 AM

For the a/c box, there are three bolts that I'm sure about, that go through the firewall to the heater core box part. There's two on the bottom and one up top. If you loosen both nuts on each double-ended stud, you might have enough play to figure out which end of the stud to take out - heater side or condenser side (I forgot which is easier). You'll need to pull off the fan speed resistor module, cables, and heater hoses, too, and anything else like that.

I don't know how much room that will give you... It might be easier to pivot the engine up on the driver's side motor mount. Otherwise you may have to discharge and recharge the ac refrigerant, and disconnect the hoses. If you do the pivot thing, all three pass. side bolts have to come out, and one of the driver's side bolts, with the last one loosened a little to allow a swing/pivot without tearing the rubber of the mount.

Quick tip of the day: the two rearmost head bolts might need to be held halfway out, as they won't be easy to pull out all the way while in the car. Use rubber bands, or some such, to hold them up enough to clear the block surface without scratching against it.

Just a note on the gasket failure...these gaskets do not fail often. Make sure you get the head magnafluxed, and/or at least pressure- and warp-checked before putting it back on.
Posted by: 67Comet

Re: Head Removal Questions - 05/07/21 12:52 AM

Watching this one, similar questions.

My son's "96 MGM has so many bad coolant issues we've chased them down to what appears to be a bad head gasket (steam and water out the tail pipe once it's warmed up). It's got around 220,000K miles on it, and the lady I got it from wasn't the most knowledgeable about automotive mechanicals.

It sounds like it'd be easier to jerk the motor, replace the head gaskets, timing chain, water pump, and all the other hard to get to gaskets like the pan gasket, rear main seal, tans pan gasket since it will be out anyhow (the motor looks like it was last cleaned at the assembly plant circa 1996).

I got it for $300, took 7+ hours to drive it 30 miles because the radiator top hose connection was broken at the radiator, so we'd fill it up, drive an exit, pull over, let it sit for 45+ minutes, re-fill it, drive to the next exit, let it sit 45+ minutes .. repeat until home (If the head is warped, that'd be my bad for letting it experience a heating cycle so many times. It only got hot enough to ping once). I also had ProTorque via OBDII showing my the car's vitals.

We put a new radiator in, topped off the coolant and started it (fired right up). Recovery tank was bubbling like mad from the bottom tube w/out the cap. Put the cap on, and it still bubbled but slowed as it built pressure, then went empty (until you loosened the cap, then it'd fill up, and boil). Also the aluminum thermostat housing is leaking where it bolts to the intake (doesn't look like there's a gasket, and it looks like a new intake, with the aluminum front part -and it is cleaner than the rest of the motor- ).

Been searching a LOT about changing head gaskets on the 4.6 (I've built many FoMoCo motors, but no overhead cam motors). The majority of the info is for the F150, and there's a LOT of room to work on it in there. So if the heads are warped, or bad, I think this car might go to where Panther's go to be recycled (pick-n-pull). The motor's drinking problem is the only issue I can see with this car, it is in WAY nicer shape than my 82K mile "05 CVLX was when I bought it for $4000+.