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 Post subject: 1996 SSEi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:00 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Posts: 4680
Location: Dearborn, MI
Year and Trim: '93 SSEi
'05 STS-4
'97 Camaro
'97 LeSabre
This is a mini-project I took on to engine swap a motor that had low oil pressure due to a bad cam bearing. Unfortunately, I don't have the capability to R&R cam bearings, so for me repairing that engine is going to require machine shop work. They won't touch the engine unless you tear it down and clean it up first, so all said and done it's a minimum $1000 project.

So I looked around and found a low mileage 3800 for $400. I figured it would need LIM gaskets, then drop it in and go. Sounds like a plan, right?

Ready for surgery!
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Old motor stripped and ready to pull:
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And it's out!
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Inside the timing cover, where the last of the bearing material resides:
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New engine, torn down and cleaned up, ready for new gaskets:
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Yup, knew that was going to look like that:
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New gaskets:
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Engine back together again:
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Going back in!
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The engine in it's new home:
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Job's done!
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I couldn't tell you why, but every time I worked on that engine I got the feeling like somebody has either had it out already or it wasn't the original for the car. There were a few bolts that were over-tightened, and the b*** bolt was missing... No reason to take that particular bolt off unless you're separating the engine from the trans. The vacuum lines were a mess with extra lines with screws blocking them off, etc... My bet is that the combination of the bad balancer knocking around and the low oil pressure the previous owner offloaded the car before it died completely.

But that doesn't matter. What does matter, is starting the car! The replacement motor came from a W-body, so all the brackets and harness had to be swapped over, and because the '96 has the 4t60 the TCC bolt holes had to be re-drilled to match (easier than swapping flex plates and replacing TTY bolts.) But everything was back in place, all the missing bolts replaced, the battery connected...

And it started right up, as if it had never sat on a dusty shelf for a year! Idle was a little rough though, I figured that maybe a spark plug was bad (the ones on the replacement motor looked new so I didn't touch them). As soon as you revved it up past idle the misfire cleared up, so I'm thinking at that point that one of the cylinders sat with a valve open, a few minutes running and the valve should seal back up again.

Road test showed it was making full boost, and pulled hard, but the misfire at idle persisted. So, it's not timing or fuel or spark. It has to be compression. I pulled the car back in the garage, with it still warm pulled the plugs and started the leak-down test. Cylinder #3, which I had previously determined was misfiring (by pulling the ignition wire), was up first. Set the piston to TDC, and let the air flow. A healthy cylinder usually leaks 10-15%. This cylinder, testing done at 90 PSI, only held 15 PSI. That's 84%. Leaking into the intake. I moved to check cylinder #1, it held 20 PSI... again, out the intake. #5 was at 40 PSI, out the exhaust. Results that bad mean I have no choice but to check the other bank too. Cylinder #6 turned out to be 82 PSI, #4 83 PSI, and #2 was 90 PSI.

I guess at least I knew I didn't have to pull the rear head off! But these engines were "Tested as running and allowed to idle for 45 minutes to verify they had no issues before being pulled". I shouldn't have had to do anything...

So I drained the coolant, and pulled the front head off. Found it had cracks in #1 and #5, and I could see light through the #3 intake valve, likely slightly bent. Luckily, the yard I got the motor from had a pair of heads in stock, so I took it back to them and worked out a deal to swap out the cracked head for a good one.

But you know me, once I get into something this far I'm not going to put that head on the motor without pulling it apart and checking it, I don't want to have to pull it again. So I disassembled it, it looked like the valves were sealing, but the exhaust valves were pitted. The intake valves appeared OK, so I chucked them into my drill and found that one of the intake valves was bent. I guess at least the head isn't cracked, right? I can't use a bent valve, so I got some new ones and got the lucky task of lapping in the valve seat for the bent valve. I say lucky, but it really means that the valve seat in the head is not true anymore, it's worn to match the bent valve, and is going to take some elbow grease to get it to seal again. Then of course, the pushrods had worn into the rockers on this bank..

It's crazy how such a small imperfection could cause a misfire:
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Head out, new head gasket ready:
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Rockers! Left to right - pushrod worn out - 5/16 ball nose mostly cleaned up - no wear
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Lapping the valves:
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Guess what? The cylinder with the bent intake valve also had a bent exhaust valve!
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Nothing even more elbow grease can't handle...
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Finally, back together again, and back on the motor. I chose to do the leakdown test before I put anything back together... #1 was 84 PSI, #3 79 PSI, #5 81 PSI. 12% leakdown is acceptable, so everything can go back together!

Finished up, started the car, and no more misfire. I celebrated by burping the coolant system and taking it home, then of course, grabbing a beer!

_________________
Blow all the things! Wait, I meant boost. Boost!
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The Fleet:
'93 SSEi - Twincharged + manual Build thread
'97 Camaro - Top swap
'05 STS - V8, AWD, her DD
'92 Trofeo - Fair weather DD
'84 Sierra Classic - Twin turbo 3800
'97 LeSabre - Top swap
'99 Montana - top swap 3800

Current project:
upkeep on K2500 and 97 LeSabre

Upcoming projects:
'92 Bonneville SSE
'87 LeSabre T-type
'67 LeSabre

RIP:
'86 LeSabre - pictures
'93 SE - L67


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 Post subject: Re: 1996 SSEi
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:46 am 
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Posts like an L67
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Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 1472
Location: Palm Bay, FL
Year and Trim: 1999 Buick Lesabre Custom
Wow, that sounds like quite the unexpected headache for what should have been a quick and easy project for you! Glad to see it back on the road again. I agree that it sounds like the P/O tried to bandaid it before it died an inevitable death.

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Joseph

Current: 2013 Infiniti G37 Journey
1999 Infiniti G20T - Sold
1999 Buick Lesabre - Race Couch - gone but not forgotten


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 Post subject: Re: 1996 SSEi
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Posts: 4680
Location: Dearborn, MI
Year and Trim: '93 SSEi
'05 STS-4
'97 Camaro
'97 LeSabre
Lots of things learned since I did the R&R on this motor, I never really went back to update this thread but not long after the R&R (like, weeks) the motor developed a ticking noise in the valve train. New lifters cured it for several months, though you could hear it if you listened still. Sometime in 2018 the ticking started coming back at idle or cold start, though it went away as the motor warmed up. Oil pressure on the gauge was 40psi or so, so since it wasn't causing issues we just drove it. And drove it some more. Then kept driving it...

Earlier this year the car was due up for some regular maintenance, but it was also developing a misfire. During the meat meet it was found that the ignition components were weak, several vacuum leaks, etc. I was an observer for most of that diagnostic - and the biggest observation was that the ticking noise had changed from the situational annoyance to a constant problem. Oil pressure on the gauge was still good. Ironically the original motor in this car had low oil pressure but no noises.

A few weeks ago I decided this car was not allowed to make anymore ticking noises, and started the diagnostic process. Only a few days after fixing the head on the Van I was tearing this motor down:
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Nothing was loose on the top end. I ended up pulling the valve covers first and running the motor at idle with the ticking noise and using the stethoscope to listen around - couldn't find anything. So I dug deeper in and pulled the timing set and camshaft, looking for anything at all. What I found was scoring on the cam bearings and lobes, some deeper than normal wear pattern on the cam lobes but it was still smooth. The cam bearings had some wear on the bottom half of the bearings - barely worth mentioning if the camshaft hadn't been lightly scored. I don't have a bore gauge small enough to measure them, but the cam bearings didn't look or feel appreciably different from one of my spares with known good condition. Oil pump has minor scoring as well, but not any worse than the one I pulled from my Camaro when I top-swapped it (I needed an excuse to find out what it takes to get the larger series 1 pump going).
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At this point there's nothing obvious to indicate where the failure is, which most likely means that there's something worn out in the bottom end just enough to starve the #1 lifters but not cause a real problem anywhere else. Maybe? So what's next? Let's just check the Service Manual:
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Yeah, stabby stabby time!

I ended up R&R the motor again. This time using a known good running engine. Not without some interesting failures, like a few subframe bolts and brake lines...
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Fuel injectors cleaned and rebuilt!
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And finally, no more ticking noises later:
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The new motor runs so smooth and quiet it's crazy. There's a lot of little things that needed to be done during the R&R, like new water pump (cast impeller design FTW), new tensioners, all new brake lines, the list could go on but suffice to say, this car is the closest SSEi to 'like new' I've ever driven now. Sometimes I wish my own projects went as well as this one did this time.

_________________
Blow all the things! Wait, I meant boost. Boost!
Image

The Fleet:
'93 SSEi - Twincharged + manual Build thread
'97 Camaro - Top swap
'05 STS - V8, AWD, her DD
'92 Trofeo - Fair weather DD
'84 Sierra Classic - Twin turbo 3800
'97 LeSabre - Top swap
'99 Montana - top swap 3800

Current project:
upkeep on K2500 and 97 LeSabre

Upcoming projects:
'92 Bonneville SSE
'87 LeSabre T-type
'67 LeSabre

RIP:
'86 LeSabre - pictures
'93 SE - L67


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 Post subject: Re: 1996 SSEi
PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:55 am 
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 10:40 am
Posts: 1773
Location: West Point
Year and Trim: 2003 SSEi
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Does anyone know the difference between the part numbers for the eye-poking stick? I wasn't sure so I ordered one of each.

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People think I'm nuts, but Matt proved it.

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Last edited by Sirius on Thu Oct 01, 2020 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 1996 SSEi
PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:16 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 11:14 pm
Posts: 3967
Location: St Cloud, MN
Year and Trim: 06 Grand Prix LS4
Sirius wrote:
Does anyone know the difference between the part numbers for the eye-poking stick? I wasn't sure so I order one of each.


Left eye and right eye? I'm not sure, can't see so great anymore after using my eye-poking sticks...

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*Chris*
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15 Nissan Altima 2.5SL/2004 Honda Shadow 750 Aero
Previous, 07 GP SE, 06 GP GXP, 97 SSE 40th, 96 LeSabre Custom, 93 SLE, 90 LeSabre Custom


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 Post subject: Re: 1996 SSEi
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 10:14 am 
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 10:40 am
Posts: 1773
Location: West Point
Year and Trim: 2003 SSEi
Ahh! You might be onto something. I forgot we have 2 eyes. Lucky I ordered both part numbers. Once again my ignorance proved to be useful.

_________________
gweg_b wrote:
People think I'm nuts, but Matt proved it.

Resident Tightwad
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Screw you, Photobucket.


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