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Thread: Smoking engine

  1. #1
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    Smoking engine

    I replaced a cracked head on my 1950 Commander 4.0L engine. Now the engine blows A LOT of "smoke" after driving the car and parking for a period of time. After installed the new head, I did find the head bolts needed to be re-torqued. But I drove the car again yesterday and it smoked a lot after I parked it. When I got home I checked the headbolts and they did not require torquing. I actually increased the torque to 90 ft-lbs. Still, the engine smokes after I drive the car and park it. Oil looks good. Does not look like chocolate milk. Really feels like the coolant is still bleeding into the cylinders but don't know what to do now that the head bolts are tight.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  2. #2
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    I would guess that it is not "smoking", but rather steaming from coolant getting into the cylinders.
    Did you have the block and head trued or at least checked them before mating them?
    If the head was not properly torqued when you first ran it, the gasket may be damaged to the point of needing to be replaced. I ASSUME that you used a new head gasket.
    Coolant can get into the cylinders and leave via steam out the exhaust without much getting into the oil.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  3. #3
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    What color is the exhaust? An oil burner has bluish white and a distinct oil smell. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and white exhaust.

    I like copper head gaskets and spray Copper Coat on both sides. I always do the fist torque in at least 3 stages, about 1/3 of the final torque, then 2/3 of final torque, then full torque, then recheck the torque after running for an hour or two.

  4. #4
    President Member christophe's Avatar
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    You have to use Perfect Seal (or equivalent) when installing a new head gasket. If you did not, here is certainly your trouble.
    Nice day to all.

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    We don't have enough information to confirm a diagnosis. A compression test and a leak-down test will go a long way to identifying a head gasket leak. If there is a gasket area leak:

    1. Have the head milled by a machine shop. If there were such a thing as a new Commander head, after 60 years on the shelf, I'd still have it milled.
    2. Clean all the threads on the head bolts.
    3. Lightly coat a bottoming tap with grease and run it down each head bolt hole. Clean, regrease between each hole. Amazing how much crud is in there.

    If the compression/leakdown tests do not identify a gasket area leak, well, yes, most old flatheads do smoke a lot.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

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    I did use a new gasket and the copper gasket product. Tightened using the correct pattern. I'll perform a leak down test using my air compressor. But if there are not special tricks for this engine, I will pull the head and install another new gasket. The original head did not have this issue and if not for the crack, I certainly wouldn't have messed with it.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by chlenz62 View Post
    I did use a new gasket and the copper gasket product. Tightened using the correct pattern. I'll perform a leak down test using my air compressor. But if there are not special tricks for this engine, I will pull the head and install another new gasket. The original head did not have this issue and if not for the crack, I certainly wouldn't have messed with it.
    If you end up pulling the head, check the flatness of the "new" head and the block. Also, clean the threads that the head bolts go into (and the bolts if not using new ones).
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  8. #8
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    You can do a low tec test by devising an air hose attached to a spark plug and pressurize each cylinder and look and listen in the radiator for air or bubbles. Also listen down the oil filler for escaping air, you don't need high pressure maybe 20 - 30 lbs. With each piston on top dead center and the transmission in gear to avoid the piston from going down.

  9. #9
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    SI has a pallet 0f 245 heads.

  10. #10
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    My 49 Commander's head was off when it became my shop queen. Like an idiot I bought a new head gasket and bolted it down. Leaked like a seive! Took it off, took it to the shop . It was warped. They trued it up for $30. The gasket I wasted was $50! Sometimes shortcuts aren't so short (or cheap) Have shop check head even if new. They can maniflux it too to find cracks you can't see. You should not be seeing oil smoke with a change of head so coolant is likely. This is hugely not good. Coolant in the crankcase is a major overhaul; ,glycol is cleverly designed to eat bearings. If you spring for an SI head, take it to shop before bolting it on.

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    I pulled the head and it's now at a machine shop. I should have pulled spark plugs and shoved my camera down the holes to see how much water was in the cylinders. But I also know the spark plugs are not centered over the cylinders and I may not have seen anything. At any rate, it will be interesting to learn if the head is warped. Is there a better product for me to use when I re-install the head? I'm planning on using the copper spray product again.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  12. #12
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    Always had good luck with K-W Coppercoat. Apply several coats. Good Luck and Happy New Year!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chlenz62 View Post
    I pulled the head and it's now at a machine shop. I should have pulled spark plugs and shoved my camera down the holes to see how much water was in the cylinders. But I also know the spark plugs are not centered over the cylinders and I may not have seen anything. At any rate, it will be interesting to learn if the head is warped. Is there a better product for me to use when I re-install the head? I'm planning on using the copper spray product again.
    Be sure to also check the block - at least with a steel straight edge.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  14. #14
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    Sometimes bores with lots of miles wear in a pattern that changes when heads are taken off and replaced. The rings may have been mated to the older bore and won't seal. That may cause smoke,

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    Appreciate all the valuable feedback. The engine is rebuilt with just a few miles on it. It doesn't smoke at all when running. But my coolant level is dropping so I'm fairly certain this is a head gasket leak.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  16. #16
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    This smoke or steam is coming from the tailpipe? Or is it coming from around the engine and radiator?
    Original head gaskets were marked 'front top'. Was your new one marked? It is possible to install Commander head gaskets upside down and backwards. All holes line up fine this way except for a by-pass hole at the front. Watch for a smaller hole about 1" to the right of the front center head bolt hole.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/126072612@N08/37495406414/in/dateposted-public/<img src=https://www.flickr.com/photos/126072612@N08/37495406414/in/dateposted-public/ border=0 alt= />

  17. #17
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    Whoa! I was not aware of this small but significant detail! The machine shop is done with the head and when I receive the new head gasket from SI, I will definitely look for this alignment detail. The smoke was from the tail pipe and stopped after running the engine for about a half a minute. But large plumes of smoke. I'll update this posting once I have the head re-installed.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  18. #18
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    I checked the head gasket, it is not marked but it is different from end to end. I will definitely ensure I install it correctly. I just picked up the head from the machine shop. The head was "crowned" in the middle up to 5 mil. That's fairly significant and it appears I have found the source of the coolant leakage into the cylinders. I'll report out again once I receive the new head gasket from SI and install the head.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  19. #19
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    Do look carefully as I'm not sure if that was it. I say that because as as test I once supported a flat head on drill rod at its extremes and could easily deflect the center of the head .002" with my thumb. Hmm.

    In my shop, where flatheads are more common than those excessively complicated ohv devices (a cylinder head with moving parts--who would want such a thing??) I have for years borrowed a tip from the boys who raced Hudsons back in the day. They coated their head gaskets with aluminum paint. I spray mine down on both sides with a heavy coat of the very highly pigmented Rustoleum Aluminum and slap the head on while its is still wet. This has the additional benefit of assisting any little irregularities on a gasket that has been in inventory for 60 years to flatten out nicely, kind of like dampening your best shirt before you iron it. Can't recall a single failure except for a run of Packard gaskets some years back where the center layer just might have been leftover oatmeal. I almost never mill flatheads unless there has been conversation between adjacent cylinders for quite some time.

  20. #20
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    Happy to report no smoke. It appears it might be best practice to check any head purchased from SI prior to install.
    Chuck

    1950 Commander Starlight Regal Deluxe
    1954 Ford Custom Coupe
    1969 Datsun Roadster 2000

  21. #21
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    Glad your problem is resolved. Be sure to re-torque head after it has run for a bit.

  22. #22
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    The head was "crowned" in the middle up to 5 mil.
    We might guess .005"? Which is very little, actually.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ross View Post
    Do look carefully as I'm not sure if that was it. I say that because as as test I once supported a flat head on drill rod at its extremes and could easily deflect the center of the head .002" with my thumb. Hmm. . . I almost never mill flatheads unless there has been conversation between adjacent cylinders for quite some time.
    For true, as Ross says, .005" may or may not have been the problem. But, yes, flatheads will deflect over their length. We do mill them all and one way to mill them successfully is to reference off the top side. Many flatheads were broached top and bottom surfaces at the same time, making the surfaces parallel. We hand scarf the top of the head with an 8" stone to remove any burrs and clamp it to the mill table; it pulls it down flat and thus gives a better shot at getting the bottom back parallel as well as flat.

    Another FWIW, we mill all the block deck surfaces. They can be off more than one might imagine. A freshly milled block and head, with the head bolt holes tapped out and the bolts cleaned and torqued per the Shop Manual, has the best possible chance to hold the gasket.

    Then, there was the Champion block and head some genius had cleaned with a belt sander and the surfaces went off in every possible direction; but that's another story.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

  23. #23
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    Love it: "Then, there was the Champion block and head some genius had cleaned with a belt sander and the surfaces went off in every possible direction; but that's another story."

    Got my laugh for the day.

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