Grit Removal from Cylinder

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Dumb, dumb, dumb mistake. I began a head gasket replacement on my '92 Cavalier (2.2L) without cleaning around the spark plugs. :doh: Enthusiasm got the better of me, I guess. Anyway, now there is a small amount of sand down in a couple of the cylinders. I've pondered various means of removal: I have no air compressor, but WD40 and a rag might help. On the other hand, I might leave some grit around the edges. I really, really don't want to pull and dismantle the engine. Any suggestions for removing sand from open cylinders? What ridiculously simple method am I overlooking?

posted by  Lothar

use a clean oily rag
put some oil in the cylinder turn the motor over bring the piston up just before the top then back it off the piston rings will bring the crap up then you can wipe in out. you may not get it all but next time you know

posted by  osborste

Many Thanks.

posted by  Lothar

shop vac...

posted by  dodger65

Shop vac or vaccum cleaner, fairly stiff piece of plastic hose or platic pipe that will hold a bend with suction on it about half the diameter of the plug hole, with a 45 degree bend in it feed it into the hole hold it in the suction of vac within hand as you cover the end of vac with hose held in the vac suction tube, then proceed to work all around inside with the bent hose in the cylinder. A white or light colored rag allowed to be sucked into the vac hose before the proceedure I described before will allow you to catch the results of your efforts and repeat until no dirt is picked up and will give a fair idea of the success and lessen the risk of damage if you just don't want to go the whole route and take the head off.

posted by  jackslap

Negative on most of the things posted. Shop vac, yes, after you dry out the area 100% of oil so the vacuum will actually be able to pull out the debris. Get some gas in there, soak it up with a paper towel, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat until your blue in the face. Then use the vacuum. Dont forget to oil the cylinder walls (completely - up and down) and leave some oil for the rings.


- Do this with the head off. Sorry, only way unless you want to go another route and have an oil burning engine.

posted by  DodgeRida67

Just a thought, if the cylinder was not bone dry when it was opened up, there is already a problem so not to worry, the suggestion was as requested, possible remedies that pose the least amount of risk and avoid taking the head off, it should have been dry when the materials found their way in so the bent tube or pipe would work perfectly, it does because I had the misfortune of having a sparkplug socket stay in threads and did pactice my own suggestion.

posted by  jackslap

Thanks for the good advice. I swabbed out the cylinders between many manual rotations of the engine and got them as clean as I could, then finished the job. The car at least runs now, though I have other concerns about the consequences of this head gasket failure/replacement that don't seem to have been addressed in other threads. . .most immediately, is it likely that I have air trapped in the head (again, '92 Cavalier, 2.2L) and, if so, how do I purge it?. . .Think I ought to start a different, appropriately titled thread with this, or just leave it here?

Hlotharius, Rex Missouriensiorum

posted by  Lothar

Why not leave it here... go ahead and tell me what's going on with it now?


First off, why did you replace the gasket in the first place? What's it doing now?

posted by  DodgeRida67

...sit down on uncle Dodgerida's lap... :laughing:

posted by  dodger65

Haha well he's right, and if he can help then why not. Just dont mind that bulge you feel, its just a roll of quarters, so i'm told :hi: j/k.

posted by  car_crazy89

oh, i'm sure there's help to be had here. the syntax of his response made me chuckle, though... :laughing:

posted by  dodger65

I dont really know what that means or who its too but i know i can be stupid or say stupid things but i try to refrain MOST of the time so that i dont get flamed or something. I would rather be on some peoples good sides incase i need a question answered. :mrgreen:

posted by  car_crazy89

no offense to anyone, really. when i read his (DR's) response, my "bad joke actuation system" kicked in and turned it into something potentially perverse... i just thought it was kinda funny. but i didn't mean to imply that one couldn't get help here at CF...

posted by  dodger65

Well you gotta keep it interesting. Sometimes when an 'opportunity' awakens like it did you gotta go for it and maybe get a few laughs, what really do you got to lose. I hope no one feels that this forum isnt helpful and that people arent serious enough to wanna help. You can always find someone willing to help out here, you being one of them from what i've seen. CF can be an enjoyable place, it gives back to you what you put into it really.

posted by  car_crazy89

Heya. I didn't mean to leave you hanging; the day job got in the way.
About a year ago this time, I replaced the head gasket on suspicion of an internal coolant leak. Once the head was off, it was clear that there was a leak around cylinder 4. That was my first attempt at a head gasket replacement, so a post-mortem analysis by you guys might be helpful. I had the head professionally tanked, tested, and resurfaced, cleaned everything up, and reassembled it. I used the cheaper gasket set from a parts retail chain, and I couldn't find anyone in my small town to sell me an 11mm tap to clean the bolt holes, so I slit an old bolt with a small cutoff wheel and did my best to clean them with that. I reinstalled the head with new bolts (of course, since they are TTY), followed the torque sequence, and guesstimated the final, post-torque 90' twist.

That was the first attempt. It held for almost exactly a year. I began to suspect internal coolant leakage early this spring, then the gasket failed spectacularly about two weeks ago. The great white cloud of exhaust on starting, stench of hot coolant, occasionally leaping temp. gauge, etc. I drove the car about 50 miles farther than I should have. At the end, it began to stumble at stop signs. I finally parked it and, when I got back to pick it up with a trailer, it was hydrolocked.

Disassembly revealed a soaked, shredded gasket and coolant in cylinders 3 and 4. I cleaned it all up, had the head proffessionally tanked, tested,and resurfaced, then put in a better gasket than before. This time I used a tap to clean the bolt hole threads, was absolutely sure to dry them out, then used an angle gauge to be sure I got the final torque right.

I also cleaned the block surface better than before; on the advice of the machinist who redid the cylinder head, I used sandpaper. He claims to use 180 grit on cast iron: I stuck with 800 grit and went easy. I was careful not to alter the finish on the surface, just to get the baked-on old gasket bits that wouldn't scrape off.

The car has been running fine for three days (including two 100 mile round trips to work), but I fear for its future.

Now, the questions I have are these:

1. Does it sound like improper installation caused the recent failure, or is there some other cause for repeated head gasket problems?

2. Are there any obvious errors in the first job that I may have repeated in the second attempt?

3. Is it likely that I damaged the lower parts of the engine by running it with coolant leaking into the cylinders? Note that it didn't actually lock until it was shut off, though it did stumble some.

4. How much damage did I probably do by driving the car with coolant-emulsified oil?

5. The lifters were worn flat (not concave yet), but this wasn't the time to buy a camshaft kit or pull the engine. Mistake? How much does having retorqued the rocker arm nuts compensate?

6. Is it likely that air remains in the head? If so, how do I purge it?

Thanks for your input. I know this is long :sleep: , but I wanted to provide all the detail I reasonably could.

posted by  Lothar

800 grit didn't do you any good.




You're on your 3rd head gasket, you decide. I'll say nothing is abnormal if operating temp. is in the normal range.




The only errors you could have made to cause head gasket failure during installation is improper torque sequence and lack of cleanliness.




You'd better believe it's likely. Good-bye bearings.




Ruined bearings.




Worn flat but not concave should be OK.




None of this exists, don't worry about any of that. There's no such a thing.

posted by  DodgeRida67

just thinking back to the last 2.2 with cooling issues had a bad air lock in the cylinder head, and made me chase for a bit but there should be a bleeder nipple on one of the coolant pipes that goes across the front of the motor, it's really obvious and probably has a sticker on it that even says something along the lines of bleeding, the trick is to find the other hidden nipple, i think(don't quote me on it) but near the thermostat housing should be a hiding nipple that will purge most of the air out. or i could be way off

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

that's always the problem, isn't it?

posted by  dodger65

No kidding.

posted by  Lothar

By this do you mean that it didn't have any real effect or that it might have had a bad effect? I confess that I chickened out when it came to using regular sandpaper on the block. Having seen how it can remove metal from hard woodworking tools, I didn't want to sand divots into my block going after little bits of dirt. What's your experience with this?






Crossed fingers--maybe I got it right this time. Anyway, two home replacements are still cheaper than one pro replacement (in this case, not in all, I know, and maybe not in the long run, but just how long can the run be for a '92 Cavalier with 190K?), and I get lots of life-enriching experience along the way. Plus, it inspires me to get out and really work on my cussing.






Crankshaft, rod, all? I guess I've always wanted to rebuild an engine, anyway. How do I catch it before it self-destructs?






Having seen no hidden nipple (so many times. . . :drool: ) I'm going to go with your assessment here, especially since I see no way that the thing actually could be purged (remove the radiator, stand the car on its rear bumper, and gently rock it back and forth as you pour coolant ...)

posted by  Lothar

That's what I ment, it had no real effect. My experience with replacing head gaskets in an automobile in a situation has been to clean the surfaces with a gasket scraper and use a special touch to feel if I got everything removed. For anyone asking I'd tell them to spray on gasket remover, scrape with a gasket scraper, and used 180 grit sandpaper ON a sanding block. (after stuffing cylinders with rags. A funny trick is to actually use play-dough and seal the cylinders up - then vacuum the sandpaper grit out when you're done and remove the play-dough - that way nothing gets the grit) and then feel it down (not looking for the nipple) to make sure everything has been removed.




Main bearings, rod bearings, cam bearings. The whole 9 yards. How can you catch it? Low oil pressure - knocking. Don't worry - it's not going to blow up in your face one afternoon - you'll probably get alot of miles out of it - all you did was shorten the life.

posted by  DodgeRida67

Lothar did you oil the gasket and the head bolts?

I don't think it was wise to have any grit paper near the bores. You should have put a smear of moly grease around the piston ringland area, some lint free rag on top and used a bearing scraper to remove any surface deposits.

After you ran the engine to hot driving around the block you should have shut it down, let it cool and checked that the bolts were still holding tension.

Coolant is extremely corrosive and will eat into cast iron quickly. It will munch trimetal bearings in no time and you can expect some ticking happening followed by bigend knock a little down the track if you allowed the coolant to stay in the sump for any period of time.

posted by  Wally

Oil the gasket? :doh: Why don't the books tell you these things? At least the head bolts came pre-treated in their own little plastic bags. The gasket went straight from Napa into the car.

I may be too afraid of messing up the gasket surface for the wrong reasons. All the scrapers I've seen have a big razor blade in the end, which seems perfectly capable of making (relatively) big gouges in the block. I use flattened, filed copper pipe on Aluminum, but on iron it lays down as much copper as it scrapes off anything else. I see where grit is always bad--but couldn't a razor-blade scraper be pretty bad, too? Have I not seen the right scraper?



The head bolts are torque-to-yield, so I can't accurately measure their final torque. I guess I could have installed them with a beam-type torque wrench--but still. . .does this test work on TTY head bolts?



It's had a tick for a while, though I had assumed it was a lifter. Will the old "listen down a screwdriver and take out one plug at a time" trick help isolate this?

posted by  Lothar

That's the way it should have gone in.




http://www.shopcreator.com/mall/SeriousFun/customerimages/products/36923.jp g




Don't worry with this. No need to check anything really.




I say don't worry about a little tick here and there. If you must locate it then I'll type out the long proceedure for you.

posted by  DodgeRida67

If you aren't using aluminium paint or copper mate on the gasket, it pays to oil the gasket to allow it to settle as you tension the bolts. It is vitally important that not only the threads, but the head and washer of the bolt are lubed.

Use a bearing scraper for white metal next time.

You have gone through 3 head gaskets and you still cling to faith that the TTY will hold. Sure the bolt has stretched, but that is no guarantee it will hold. Testing with a tension wrench for minimum will at least eliminate it as a concern, on the other hand it may reveal woofs in the head/block mating or bad gasket install method. It good practice to test after the first start and I'm sure your head reconditioner would have second thoughts about warranting his work if he found out you haven't done it.

Sure even modern cars can tick, but there is still something not right for it to happen. Does the tick disappear when you load the engine, like going up a hill?

posted by  Wally

what kind of gaskets do you use for heads wally?

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

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