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  • Getting Rid of Sludge

    I am currently restoring a 1951 Land cruiser and the car hasn't been on the road for about 25 years. There is black sludge baked on the rocker arms and push rods, but I'm unwilling to pull the heads just because of that. How can I clean the sludge off without pulling the heads? Any advice will be appreciated.


  • #2
    I would be hesitant to try and remove it while keeping it on the engine, there is a great chance of getting sludge debris into the push rods and causing more problems


    1964 Daytona Wagonaire


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    • #3
      I thought that would be the case. I'm getting a little impatient about wanting to drive it. I've been wanting a '51 Land cruiser for about 16 years. I've never driven a Studebaker in my life. This will be the first time at the wheel but I want to do it right. Thanks for the warning.

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      • #4
        If the top end is THAT bad, I would pull the pan and get the possibly inch or more of sludge cleaned out of it also, and just remove the rocker arm assemblies and clean them, you would have access to the push rods as well then, but you want to put them back in the same holes if possible.
        Just re-torque all the head bolts in the proper order and to 60 Ft. Lbs. per the Shop Manual when you are done.

        It sounds like this may be an engine that has not seen much High Detergent Oil, if any, so a [u]single weight</u> SAE 30 (Det) oil with a good ZDDP anti-wear additive added, might be a good choice to run so as NOT to cut loose too much sludge and dirt to go through the bearings.
        You can change the Oil and Filter using a good WIX or NAPA replacement Cartridge, or install a filter if done.

        This may cause you to delay your "fun" a bit, but will be worth it in preventing further damage.


        StudeRich at Studebakers Northwest -Ferndale,WA
        StudeRich
        Second Generation Stude Driver,
        Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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        • #5
          Once I knew it was there I'd never be comfortable with just putting the covers back on and ignoring it. I'd say pull the rocker assemblies (keep the pushrods in order), plug off any holes the best you can, and go to work cleaning all that out. Once that's done, then remove the pan and clean it as well.

          To me, sludge is comparable to plaque in the arteries- if you ignore it and do nothing to fight it, it WILL come back to haunt you!

          Robert (Bob) Andrews Owner- Studebakeracres- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys!)
          Parish, central NY 13131

          "Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions"- 311

          "Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"



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          • #6
            One of the worst slugged up engines i've ever had was an engine in a 1954 Buick. and the owner said all he had ever run in it was Havoline motor oil. My favorite oils are Pennzoil, Quakerstate, and Valvoline.I'm sure there are other good oils.




            101st Airborne Div. 326 Engineers Ft Campbell Ky.

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            • #7
              AS a new owner of Studebakers you may not be aware of something others are....The rockers are oiled through the oiling system, the oil then drains back into the crank case through two holes, one in each end of the head. These holes are about 5/16 in in diameter. DO NOT push the sludge in them downward. use a drill of the proper size, held in your fingers and twist it into the sludge until it stops. Pull it out, clean, and repeat until the hole is clear. Better yet, pull the heads and really clean them. When removing the push rods (keep them in order) be aware that they are probably stuck in the lifters and the lifters should NOT be removed from their bores, certainly not mixed up.

              To verify this you have to pull the intake manifold.....it's starting to sound like a lot of work.

              Unless you run into really bad stuff, you can do all this in under 20 hours, two to four at a time. IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

              [img=left]http://www.alink.com/personal/tbredehoft/Avatar1.jpg[/img=left]
              Tom Bredehoft
              '53 Commander Coupe (since 1959)
              '55 President (6H Y6) State Sedan
              (Under Construction 571 hrs.)
              '05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
              All Indiana built cars

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              • #8
                Tom, good advice. I'm not sure on the 232, but I know on the later engines, there is a drain hole on each end of the heads themselves, but the passage in the block is drilled only at the rear. Of course, that is so one head casting can be used on either side.

                Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
                Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                • #9
                  John Clary
                  Greer, SC

                  SDC member since 1975

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                  • #10
                    I would be in the camp of making sure there is a sludge-free powerplant before I starting driving. 25 years is a long time, and the likelihood that oil seals and other critical materials are just OK seems slim to me. Get a complete gasket set and see if anything needs attention. If not, you're in luck; but just cleaning the sludge out of where you can see doesn't mean that you've made the motor sludge-free.

                    '53 Commander
                    Art Morrison chassis
                    LS6 ASA/4L60E
                    '53 Commander
                    Art Morrison chassis
                    LS6 ASA/4L60E

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                    • #11
                      Right you are, Gord. I recently rebuilt an engine, quick and dirty, traded clean heads for grungy ones. What a slimy mess. I did use the drill method on the one in the block on each bank, too. The pan had recently been off and I didn't want to damage any seals so never pulled it off. I hope that whoever did the pan cleaned it.

                      [img=left]http://www.alink.com/personal/tbredehoft/Avatar1.jpg[/img=left]
                      Tom Bredehoft
                      '53 Commander Coupe (since 1959)
                      '55 President (6H Y6) State Sedan
                      (Under Construction 571 hrs.)
                      '05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
                      All Indiana built cars

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The 289 I'm currently cleaning up had been out of service for 35 or more years. The oil galleys were sludge free, but the pockets in the valley were level with sludge with the consistency of firm jello and could be removed as a lump with a paring knife. The oil pan sludge had the consistency of adhesive paste and was full of broken bits of hardened valve seal rubber. The only safe way to clean up a sludged-up engine, is a complete disassembly. Be sure to clean out the coolant jacket and replace the core plugs as well.

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                        • #13
                          Thank everyone for all your advice. I asked the question mainly as I reinforcement of what I really should do, and that is to pull the heads and have them cleaned and perhaps get a valve job as well. If the car is going to remain on the road, I better make sure it's ready. I've already pulled the oil pan to check out crank shaft. The crank shaft looks pretty clean considering how dry the oil was. I've already put brand new oil, but I was curious and pulled the rocker arm covers and discovered the awful truth. I still have the exhaust pulled so taking off the exhaust manifolds shouldn't be a big job. I have my work cut out for me, but hell, It's a Studebaker and it's worth it.


                          1951 Commander Land cruiser

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                          • #14
                            Glad to hear you pulled the pan. Now you can remove the intake and valley cover and really douse the whole top end with solvent and it will wash thru to the floor. I'd replace the rod bearings if you're going to do a valve job. The best way to get the heads really clean. Starting to sound like it might be time to pull the motor and check out the clutch too. Detail it all and drop it back in all freshened up. Oops, better check out that timing gear too. Maybe have the crank mic'd. Some new rings? Maybe knurl those piston skirts just to make sure you don't have piston slap in the near future. Find the thin head gaskets since that motor is so low comp as it is. And that's all there is to it and you're ready to go!

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                            • #15
                              Yah, nothin' to it. I'm for pulling the intake and valley cover so you can be sure you don't suck the lifters out of their holes, and while it's open cleaning as best you can. (If the valve covers are full, the valley will be, too.)

                              [img=left]http://www.alink.com/personal/tbredehoft/Avatar1.jpg[/img=left]
                              Tom Bredehoft
                              '53 Commander Coupe (since 1959)
                              '55 President (6H Y6) State Sedan
                              (Under Construction 571 hrs.)
                              '05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
                              All Indiana built cars

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