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Bad Freeze Plugs 1956 Skyhawk 289 - 4 Barrel

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  • Cool/Heat: Bad Freeze Plugs 1956 Skyhawk 289 - 4 Barrel

    Been dripping anti-freeze on the floor all summer, getting much worse lately. Put the Stude in the shop yesterday and wiped everything down under the engine and then started it and let it warm up. Then I could see the freeze plugs (drivers side) front and back were dripping. Today I drained the fluid and removed the front plug. It was brass and most likely were installed when the engine was rebuilt in 2002 (before I got the car). Here comes my problem.

    The top 1/3 of the flange is missing and when I cleaned the hole up with a wire brush, it became obvious the hole (mating plug surface) is not smooth, or completely round. Is this a normal condition for an older block?

    Will the standard brass plugs seal in these conditions?
    Might I have a better chance if I used the "Dorman Brass expandable Core Plugs"?
    Do I need to pull the engine and grind the flange out and used pipe threaded plugs?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Jerry Johnson

  • #2
    When I did the Champ some of the plug holes were rough. Because the cooling system is very low pressure compared to today's cars, I use "Permatex 1" a hard setting sealant and put behind the new plugs. It's not leaking.

    While your there its an opportunity to rod, sand flush and perhaps vinegar soak if it hasn't been done before.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Jerry Johnson View Post
      The top 1/3 of the flange is missing and when I cleaned the hole up with a wire brush, it became obvious the hole (mating plug surface) is not smooth, or completely round. Is this a normal condition for an older block?
      No. That hole has been abused.

      Will the standard brass plugs seal in these conditions?
      Unknowable. If it took eleven years for a brass plug to begin to drip, it might seal up again.

      I have a better chance if I used the "Dorman Brass expandable Core Plugs"?
      I'd probably go with the expandable.

      jack vines
      Do I need to pull the engine and grind the flange out and used pipe threaded plugs?

      Any help will be greatly appreciated.

      Jerry Johnson[/QUOTE]
      PackardV8

      Comment


      • #4
        I would use the expandable plugs as a last resort. I had put them on my 61 Champ. Then a couple years later had it blow out on me while getting on the freeway. Try the brass plug first with Permatex. Tap it in with either a flat brass punch or a 3/8 inch drive socket. Don't use excessive force- the block is only cast iron, just enough to flatten the plug.
        59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
        60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
        61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
        62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
        62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
        62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
        63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
        63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
        64 Zip Van
        66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
        66 Cruiser V-8 auto

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        • #5
          To each his own , but I have no fear of using Dorman rubber expandable plugs .
          I have used them for 100,000 + miles. They can be easily checked after a few heat cycles
          and snugged up a bit if necessary. Do not overtighten in the first place. Rubber is forgiving
          on a somewhat rough sealing surface
          I have them now in my race engine , and as stated, for many, many miles on the road in
          several Studes.
          Last edited by shifter4; 08-17-2013, 04:36 PM. Reason: needed improvements.
          Bill H
          Daytona Beach
          SDC member since 1970
          Owner of The Skeeter Hawk .

          Comment


          • #6
            These are not "freeze plugs". They are core plugs that allow the casting sand to be removed. It is true that if a block freezes up that these plugs will be the first to go. With that said, how many will let their Studebaker V8s freeze. I have used the expandable plugs, both metal and rubber, many times with good results. I find them especially good in some locations where the engine is in the car and not out of the car.
            Gary L.
            Wappinger, NY

            SDC member since 1968
            Studebaker enthusiast much longer

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by shifter4 View Post
              To each his own , but I have no fear of using Dorman rubber expandable plugs .
              I have used them for 100,000 + miles. They can be easily checked after a few heat cycles
              and snugged up a bit if necessary. Do not overtighten in the first place. Rubber is forgiving
              on a somewhat rough sealing surface
              I have them now in my race engine , and as stated, for many, many miles on the road in
              several Studes.
              I second this for a block in this condition.

              Comment


              • #8
                I just had this happen to me on Sunday. Was headed to a show and just as I got on the entrance ramp I heard something Ping under the hood and instantly smelled antifreeze. Engine has less than 300 miles on it and I had a local shop rebuild the motor. I'm going to put in an expandable one for now
                sigpic

                Packardbakerly,
                J.D.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Final Solution

                  Final solution to my problem. Pulled the engine, ground out the remaining flanges, scrapped the heck out of the rear of block at the clean out holes, massive flushing, threaded the core plug holes and put in 1 1/4 inch brass plugs from grangers.
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Congrats on doing it as well as it can be done. You'll be glad you did.

                    Just a correction of a common misconception.

                    These are not "freeze plugs". They are core plugs that allow the casting sand to be removed. It is true that if a block freezes up that these plugs will be the first to go.
                    Correct, they are core plugs; but no, they don't provide any protection or relief from freezing. I just got in a Packard V8 block which had been filled with pure water. It is the worst-burst I've ever seen. Both sides of the block are completely blown out. All six core plugs are still in place. Not one of them moved before the sides of the block gave way.

                    jack vines
                    PackardV8

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PackardV8 View Post
                      Congrats on doing it as well as it can be done. You'll be glad you did.

                      Just a correction of a common misconception.



                      Correct, they are core plugs; but no, they don't provide any protection or relief from freezing. I just got in a Packard V8 block which had been filled with pure water. It is the worst-burst I've ever seen. Both sides of the block are completely blown out. All six core plugs are still in place. Not one of them moved before the sides of the block gave way.

                      jack vines
                      Hate to lay this one on You Jack ....but the blown out block sides are not uncommon on Packard V8 engines that have been neglected and allowed to freeze over. I've seen many engines treated this way up here in New England....but most engines will pop their freeze plugs when coolant freezes and expands. Studebaker V8's will almost without fail pop their freeze plugs before the block cracks.....but Packard V8's, in particular, and probably due to what I believe was a very thin casting, practically EXPLODE before the freeze plugs 'pop'. I have purchased parts from three Packard V8's, a 374 and two 352's, all with burst sides due to freeze ups....AND ALL THE FREEZE PLUGS IN THESE RUINED ENGINES NEVER MOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Hard to believe, but absolutely true)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jerry Johnson View Post
                        Final solution to my problem. Pulled the engine, ground out the remaining flanges, scrapped the heck out of the rear of block at the clean out holes, massive flushing, threaded the core plug holes and put in 1 1/4 inch brass plugs from grangers.

                        Are you sure they weren't 1 5/8" or 1 3/4" Plugs? They started out at 1 1/2 inches with the shoulder that you cut out.

                        WOW! That is a beautiful job Jerry. That looks a bit beyond the usual half day job of popping the Core plugs out and replacing them! Way to go.
                        StudeRich
                        Second Generation Stude Driver,
                        Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
                          Hate to lay this one on You Jack ....but the blown out block sides are not uncommon on Packard V8 engines that have been neglected and allowed to freeze over. I've seen many engines treated this way up here in New England....but most engines will pop their freeze plugs when coolant freezes and expands. Studebaker V8's will almost without fail pop their freeze plugs before the block cracks.....but Packard V8's, in particular, and probably due to what I believe was a very thin casting, practically EXPLODE before the freeze plugs 'pop'. I have purchased parts from three Packard V8's, a 374 and two 352's, all with burst sides due to freeze ups....AND ALL THE FREEZE PLUGS IN THESE RUINED ENGINES NEVER MOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Hard to believe, but absolutely true)
                          Well, Ed, you've found yet another way to run down the quality and engineering of the Packard V8.

                          No, it's not just the Packard. I've seen many Studebaker V8s with freeze-cracked blocks where the core plugs didn't move.

                          Each spring here in the frozen northwest, my engine machinist gets a trailerload of freeze-cracked boat engines from the local marina. These are Buick V6, Chevy V6 and V8, I4, Ford V8, the occasional Volvo and whatever. They all have broken blocks with the core plugs still in place.

                          jack vines
                          PackardV8

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You did a very nice job with those pipe plugs it looks great and will last without worry. The original issue with the flange is not a big problem really. The cup style core plugs are made to flatten out and seal against the sides of the hole, think of the flange as more of a guide or as a way to let the plug expand evenly when it is hammered in. I always use the round end of a ball peen hammer against the center of the plug and tap it with another ball peen, not really hard so there is no danger of damaging the tools. as long as you dont tap the plug past its center point the seal will be excellent. Just adding my 2 cents like I said you did a great job with those pipe plugs.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PackardV8 View Post
                              Well, Ed, you've found yet another way to run down the quality and engineering of the Packard V8.

                              No, it's not just the Packard. I've seen many Studebaker V8s with freeze-cracked blocks where the core plugs didn't move.

                              Each spring here in the frozen northwest, my engine machinist gets a trailerload of freeze-cracked boat engines from the local marina. These are Buick V6, Chevy V6 and V8, I4, Ford V8, the occasional Volvo and whatever. They all have broken blocks with the core plugs still in place.

                              jack vines
                              Facts are facts...And I'm really not trying to run down the "Quality and Engineering" of Packard V8's.....Packard did that themselves by releasing a flawed engine to the public. "Ask The Man Who Bought A New One" Jack! And please drop the 'Core plug' thing.....When one of these little round beauties 'pops' out from a freeze up saving a Studebaker, etc. engine block....They become 'FREEZE PLUGS'!!!!!

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