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Rob's 97, nothing crazy

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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/18/2015, 1:29 pm

Parts are out for paint. Now I gotta start on replacing the exhaust and brake lines. Figured I may as well while I have good access to everything. Taking the inner fenders out is a game changer!

So I'm thinking about replacing the head gasket. I don't have any known issues at this time, but I broke 200k miles and since I'm replacing the exhaust manifold anyways, I'm thinking it's probably not too much more work at that point. What do you guys think? If I do, should I get the head decked? If so, where are the good machine shops and what would I expect to pay? Or if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

Anyway, still pluggin' away a little bit at a time. Sorry there's nothing to really show for it yet.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  onlytopher on 6/19/2015, 10:11 am

I would leave the engine together if it is not showing any problems. My wife's jeep is at 260000 and still no head gasket issues. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  THOOPY3 on 6/19/2015, 12:53 pm

I'm with Topher on this one. The engine that was swapped out of my Cherokee had 275,000+ known miles and no head gasket issues. It came out because it sounded like it was about to throw a rod through the side of the motor, but zero signs of contamination associated with head gasket problems.

I'm not sure what year this 'new' TJ is, but did the TJs end up having the same problematic head castings (0331) that the later-year (2000-2001) Cherokees had? If that was the case and yours falls into that category it may be worth keeping an eye on things and just doing a head swap if/when the times comes.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/19/2015, 1:18 pm

It does slowly consume coolant, but I'm not sure where it's going exactly. It's not leaking external and it's not getting into the oil. So it's possible it's being burned off? But I don't really know for sure. It seems to run fine and the exhaust doesn't really smell or look like it's burning coolant.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  THOOPY3 on 6/19/2015, 1:47 pm

I had that same issue once the replacement motor was swapped in (and still do sort of). The first issue was a leaky freeze plug on the side of the motor that happened right before Christmas last year. Before I discovered what it was I was worried it was a head gasket also. I had been seeing small puddles of green here and there but because I had overfilled my air conditioning/defrost system (oops) I assumed the puddles were from that. I had all the plugs on the side of the block changed out and things have been mostly good since. The leaky freeze plug on mine would also only leak once the Jeep was off and there was no pressure in the system which also complicated things. There is a freeze plug on the back of the motor that could be leaky. You'd never really notice it either because the coolant would be finding its way onto the bellhousing.

(For reference the motor I swapped in was from a 1997 Cherokee with roughly 160,000 miles on it. I have no idea how long it sat around for at Jack's in Billerica before it went in to mine, but seeing as it has fewer miles than your motor I'd say it's possible it could be a freeze plug.)

Every once in awhile I'll notice that I'm down some coolant, last time was after the trip to Go Topless Day. I check all the fluid levels at least once a week since I'm anal and worried about coming out to a Jeep without any coolant. I think I nailed my issue down to a bad clamp on one of the hoses leading to the heater core, but again there's no trail of coolant to definitively say. That and the engine bay gets so hot on the thing that any fluids have a tendency to just vaporize before you get a chance to even know they were there at all.

You could have a pressure test done and see if there are any weak points in the cooling system. Hell I had a shredded hose on the YJ a few years ago that had no visible signs of issues until I touched it at the clamp with the Jeep running the night before I left for a trip to D.C. Coolant everywhere. I've also heard of head gasket tests that you can buy at AutoZone or Advance that tell you if your coolant or oil is contaminated with the other substance. I don't know anything about how it works or if it's reliable though.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/19/2015, 2:20 pm

THOOPY3 wrote:That and the engine bay gets so hot on the thing that any fluids have a tendency to just vaporize before you get a chance to even know they were there at all.

This is the most frustrating thing because it's quite possible that's it is leaking external and drying up before it creates a puddle. confused
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Mark on 6/20/2015, 10:38 am

Using a radiator/cooling system pressure tester is your best bet and you can borrow one from auto zone.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/22/2015, 7:22 am

Oh neat I didn't know something like that existed! So, just based on pictures, it looks like you pressurize the cooling system via the radiator cap, yes? And then you just monitor the pressure gauge; if it holds steady, no leaks; if it drops, you have a leak? So let's say it IS the head gasket leaking, will I be able to hear that? Will it fill my cylinder(s) with coolant?
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/22/2015, 9:38 am

Made a little progress; my new "front bumper" setup that I'll be rocking at least temporarily:



Kinda dig it. The front end will be very minimalist once the fenders are on. Hoping to get those puppies back this week or early next. Gone for the weekend and I'm working on a double-secret project for my old man while he's away on vacation so....so much for progress. lol!
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Mark on 6/22/2015, 11:41 am


How fast are you using coolant ?
Some times if you have a bad head gasket and it leaks into a cylinder the spark plug insulator will be cracked or busted at the electrode.
Sometimes the insulator will be discolored compared to the others.

If you have a crack in the cylinder head the coolant could escape out the exhaust and the plugs will look ok
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/22/2015, 12:13 pm

Mark wrote:
How fast are you using coolant ?

It's really hard to say. I haven't really been tracking it. The plugs are probably due to be replaced, so I'll take a look at 'em before I get this back together.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  THOOPY3 on 6/22/2015, 2:14 pm

Not sure if you've been following my thread Rob, but my coolant leakage came to its climax this weekend in the form of the heater core letting go. There were no visible signs that it was the culprit up until Sunday morning when I noticed small drops of coolant on my passenger floor for the first time. Not what I was hoping for but still better than a head gasket. I think you doing a pressure test is a solid idea.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/22/2015, 2:19 pm

Interesting. I actually was looking at it earlier today, like back to page one. And then I was like...shit this is a lot of reading. So I closed the tab. Embarassed lol!
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  THOOPY3 on 6/22/2015, 2:36 pm

Rob Cote wrote:Interesting. I actually was looking at it earlier today, like back to page one. And then I was like...shit this is a lot of reading. So I closed the tab. Embarassed lol!

Yeah I'm a wordy guy and there's been a lot of shit to fix, haha. I write for a living so I can't break the habit.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/22/2015, 3:08 pm

I can't argue that it's not well-written. I just don't have the time today. Someday.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/23/2015, 8:08 am

I swapped to JK turn signals in preparation for tube fenders. I swapped to JK headlights because why the hell not? (They were free dollars!)

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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  dongalonga on 6/23/2015, 11:18 am

I love the JK turns.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/23/2015, 12:01 pm

Thanks! It's the first thing that actually went on this Jeep without a hitch. No stuck bolts or any kinda BS.

If anyone else wants JK turn signals mod, I'll do it cheap.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 6/24/2015, 7:26 am

Okay, now all the lights actually work. Should have checked that out before I put everything together. D'oh!

Kinda dragging my feet because up next is exhaust work and I hate it. Evil or Very Mad
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 7/13/2015, 12:14 pm

I have a picture, but my phone is from 2001, so I'm having some problems getting one uploaded in full size. But stay tuned, because it's coming.

I just had a very productive weekend. I got all the brake lines replaced with stainless (thanks Kev!) and bled. I pulled the exhaust manifold which I knew was cracked, but learned it was cracked almost 360* on one of the tubes. While the intake was off to do this, i cleaned all the gunk out of the runners in the head, and cleaned the manifold as well. Exhaust manifold replaced with a bellows design manifold. Manifold-back exhaust swapped over from old jeep, with a new muffler installed (I had to destroy the muffler to get the exhaust apart). MetalCloak fenders painted and installed, and a new hood painted and installed.

I still have lots of details to take care of, like putting hood latches and bumpers back on, installing MC arches, and things like that. BUT! I can drive it again. And it's amazing. The combination of cleaning the intake and replacing the exhaust manifold has breathed a whole new life into the Jeep. It's much stronger now, and sounds far better.


Soo....when's the next trail ride? I missed the last one by like 8 hours. Embarassed
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Mark on 7/13/2015, 4:49 pm

WOW Rob! you have made alot of progress, keep up the good work.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Ryan McKee on 7/13/2015, 5:05 pm

You were missed yesterday buddy.

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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 7/14/2015, 7:25 am

Ryan McKee wrote:You were missed yesterday buddy.

I know I wish I could have gone out with y'all. I was working pretty much nonstop from about 9-6 both days over the weekend though. I'm still recovering. lol!

It's a lot slower progress than I anticipated because as I've been putting stuff back on, I try to chase all the threads with a tap/die, and apply anti-seize compound to all the bolts. In the event I ever have to remove anything again, hopefully it'll be much easier. Also, I lost a couple hours because the PO bought a serpentine belt. I had to go to the parts store for something else, so while I was there, I double checked that the belt was correct. And it was/is, supposedly. The tensioner was kinda crusty and wouldn't adjust easily, so I removed that to chase the threads and loosened it all the way. The belt was still too short. So I ended up putting the original one back on anyways. But at least now I can tension it easily I guess, so there's that. Lots of dumb stuff like that that I've had to work through.
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Rob Cote on 7/16/2015, 9:37 am

Got a working under-hood light. Thinking about getting one of these. Anyone ever tried 'em?
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Re: Rob's 97, nothing crazy

Post  Ryan McKee on 7/16/2015, 9:39 am

Rob Cote wrote:Got a working under-hood light. Thinking about getting one of these. Anyone ever tried 'em?

Didn't know under hood lights ever actually worked. Never used those, but I've never had a problem with SuperBrite LEDs as a whole so I vote go for it.

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