Jump to content

Recommended Posts

When I first got the 55 running after all the work this winter it sounded great, I changed the oil yesterday and drove it about 40 miles afterwards and when I parked it last night it was still sounding good, it had quite a bit of blowby but ran smooth and had good power. This morning I drove it down to another town to the body shop that was going to put in the new floors. It didnt run very good and seemed to be missing. While driving it was smoking quite a little and when I stopped to look it had a lot more blowby than before. It used 2 quarts of oil in about 70 miles and was blowing so much blowby out of the valve covers they were covered with oil. When I took the oil filler cap off the passenger side valve cover I can feel compression coming out of it. So now after all this work I really don't have it in the budget to overhaul the motor so

I will probably just have to park it for a year or so.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Blown piston. Common happening. If you just want to drive it a bit and not spend much money do a compression test to find the bad cylinder and just put a new piston in that hole. It can be done with the engine still in the car in a day for the cost of the gaskets. I would bet there's folks here who would donate a piston. I know i've thrown enough of them away................Bob

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a Roadmaster piston I'll donate. that oughta really get you to rockin;).

seriously, there are some NOS Buick ones on ebay right now, can't recollect what engine though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will check the compression, thinking broken ring or blown piston. Never thought about just putting one in but that may be an option. Also wondering about finding a different engine and dropping in. Will I have to find a 264 or 322 or could I drop in a 364 or even 401. I have seen some of them advertised on here for much less than a total overhaul. Will go in and get a compression tester today and see what I can figure out. Thanks for the ideas.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are the compression readings from my motor. Drivers side front to rear 90 / 80 / 0 / 100 passenger side front to rear 50 / 100 / 90 / 30. I put oil into the cylinders that were low and of course the 0 stayed 0, 60 went up to 80 and 30 went up to 60. If the rest of the cylinders were better I would be more comfortable just changing one pistion but with one reading 30 PSI and another at 60 those 2 cylinders are pretty weak too.

Edited by sintid58 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

With two weak ones and one "dead" one, I would think that thing should have been missing pretty badly, especially with the "dead" one.

I suspect the two weak ones might be due to valve issues (i.e., burnt exhaust valves), so that would require pulling the head on that side. On a V-8, you can pull just one side's head, but it's not that much more work to pull both of them--you'll have the necessary intake gaskets anyway. Plus the weak ones are on the other side from the "dead" one, so that's both heads off anyway, pretty much.

Depending upon how much wear's on the cylinder walls, you might just replace the rings and do a valve job, provided that oil pressure and such are still good "as is". But you'll not know until you get things apart and look at them.

When doing a "re-ring" situation, it's not necessary to hone the cylinder walls as is usually done in a "rebuild" or "rebore" situation. It might be good to check the end gap, though, and adjust it as might be necessary.

As mentioned, there are probably many disassembly/re-assembly functions which can be performed with the engine "in chassis". Some sturdy jack stands and a good jack would be needed, plus "space" and a comfortable creeper.

So, you might find a place for it to stay for a while or go ahead and get the floors fixed--at least it still runs somewhat reliably, so it can be moved around. Then, after doing that, you might pull the one head off and see what the cylinder wall and piston look like, measure to see how much wear is on the cylinder wall, and then plot an extended plan of action.

Using a replacement piston from a production motor would mean the "balance" would still be "factory", but using a new aftermarket piston would mean that it would be best to match the replacement piston to the original piston's weight.

In the mean time, also, once you know the bore size, you might purchase some rings and the necessary gaskets . . . as funding permits.

I know that some might advocate a complete rebuild, which might be desired, but if the pistons go back in the same bores, putting new rings on them (after also checking the end gap in the respective bore), existing wear patterns would still be matched for the piston/bore combination. Same with the rod bearings and such. Therefore, if it ran without cylinder/piston noise before, it should be likewise afterward . . . at least in theory.

It might be embarrassing to drive, smoking and all, but at least it's still mobile. At least if you go ahead and get the body work done, progress will still be being made on the project . . . the engine can happen anytime later on. In the worst-case-scenario of having to sell it, it would probably sell better with good floors and a motor that needs work, I suspect -- repeat "worst case scenario". I certainly HOPE that you can make progress on the project rather than otherwise!

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sid, I'll add my condolences on this event, but just out of curiosity, what work did the engine recieve over the winter?

On the engine we flushed the coolant system and cleaned the radiator, replaced the carburetor, plugs, points, condensor, thermostat, spark plugs (with stock plugs), plug wires, distributor cap, rotor, valve cover gaskets, intake manifold gaskets, cleanout plate and gasket on intake manifold, passenger side exhaust manifold, heat stove pipe and insulation from manifold to carb, put on spark plug covers. In addition to this we replaced all components of the brake system, repaired parking brake, replaced rear springs and front shocks, replaces motor mounts and transmission mounts, repaired or replaced rear window regulators so they work properly, repaired heaters, defroster and got them working properly and replaced belt and all hoses and rebuilt fuel pump.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I looked online and can get a NOS stock piston for around $30 and a full NOS stock ring set for $91. The gasket set is $95. That is all manageable as far as cost but of course when dealing with motors there are always unknown things, was the motor overhauled before and does it have standard or oversize pistons. The car has good oil pressure so that is not a problem and I would probably put in new bearings while apart (once again standard or ovesize). I haven't had a valve job done for years so not sure what that will cost. I think I will pull it apart and see what I can find, if it is not repairable I will haul it to my storage shed and park it for now. On the Buick V/8 forum there was a complete 322 and dynaflow for sale for just $500. Of course it had to be in GA, too far away to go get it. If it had been less than 500 miles away I would have been on the road yesterday to pick it up.

Edited by sintid58 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Prices of valve jobs depends on what else needs to be done. Oftentimes the exhaust valves are bad, and guides may need to be replaced. It seems like the last few I had done were around 800 dollars with parts and labor--me buying the parts. BUT, one of them was on a straight 8, which has more expensive parts than a nailhead. Good luck--maybe it's just the valves!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sid,

A 322 will bolt right up and the parts are cheaper. Performance is much better, and if you keep the two barrel, it will still get 15-16 mpg. Of course then, you would possibly be putting an unknown (condition) engine in your car. A big block nailhead would need a lot of fabrication.

Good luck, either way.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems odd that without removing the heads or going deeper into the block that all of a sudden you'd have low compression in 3 cylinders, and 0 in one. Of course strange things can and will happen, but is there anything else that is common between the work done and what's happened? Any possibility of debris falling into the intake while the carb was off? If the carb was off for a while any possibility of a mouse nest or something else in there? How about loose carbon from opening and changing the exhaust passage cover? I guess that does not cover the blow-by, but I'd pull the carb and intake and see if there isn't something blocking the valves open on those weak cylinders.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd pull the valve covers first, pull the coil wire and plugs, and crank it over to make sure all valves are opening and closing and pushrods are'nt bent. How long was your engine sitting while you did the work on it?

kaycee

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the valve covers off and the valves seem to opening as much as on any of the other cylinders. It drove into my garage in November and ran a few times this winter. It ran good when first started this spring but had a lot of blowby then also so maybe this was a problem before I started. I had never checked the compression until after it started missing. I do know that when i first drove it after the work this winter it seemed to have good power and then went down hill from there. I plan on pulling the heads off on Sunday afternoon when I get off work so will see a lot more then.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate to be the nay-sayer here, but I find that patch jobs are a giant waste of time and money. You always spend more than expected and the results are usually poor and short lived. The old Buick is tired and needs a complete overhaul. I am sure that you will be unhappy with any interim measures and the money will have to be respent down the road, anyways. If you have to push it aside for now, that might be the best thing to do for the engine and your wallet!

Just my opinion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

With all due respect, the definition of "patch" can be variable in this situation. Also, how it would have been repaired in earlier times can be considered--back when many "overhauls" were done "in chassis" (due to the manner in which the vehicles were constructed AND locally-available resources). A "patch" might be pouring some magic elixir in the oil to fill in the cylinder wall wear marks, or it might be only doing a valve job on ONE cylinder rather than all of them, or it could be anything less than a complete rebuild. Many different points of reference.

In the case of a valve job, I was advised by a dealership engine mechanic (in the later 1960s) that only "servicing" the one cylinder that had the burnt valve was just fine to do. That if you did a complete valve job on all cylinders (or at least the ones in that one particular V-8 cylinder head), it could cause problems with oil consumption on the other cylinders. The universally-increased potential compression migth also result in more blow-by past the existing rings. I'm sure he would have liked to have been paid to do a complete valve job, but his restraint in that case was from prior experiences of having dissatisfied customers in similar situations. So, only the affected cylinder was repaired with no further problems (or increased oil consumption or blow-by).

In the design and construction of vehicle engines, there are many things which are necessarily "balanced" (not "weights" of the rotating assembly, but by "designs"). As the rings wear against the cylinder walls, as the valves seat each time, a little wear happens (past the original "break-in" period). Consider that wear pattern a "matched set". If a failure occured during the initial vehicle warranty period, all warranty paid for was to repair the affected cylinder, which might sound a little chintzy, but in reality, that's all that needed fixing as the other items were still well within specs.

As the engine wear progresses, the wear patterns will become more singular to each cylinder or combustion chamber. Compression is still in good shape and blow-by in minimal. In the case of a repairing a burnt valve situation on one cylinder, you'll restore the valve/valve seat seal condition to "new" which can unbalance the relationship between valve sealing and piston ring sealing. If the rings' tension against the cylinder wall have become a little weaker due to the slightly larger bore (from wear), the issue can be more intense. The upper ring can do what it can to hold the compression as the oil rings can do what they can to keep oil control issues what they need to be. Putting more stress on them from the better valve seal, on ALL cylinders, can multiply any single-cylinder issues. Hence, the customer dissatisfaction with the work done and increased oil consumption which resulted. Sometimes, trying to fix things as good as they can be has led to unintended issues from such a zealous approach--why the mechanic only wanted to repair the one cylinder with the burnt valve and not do a complete valve job on all cylinders.

At first, I questioned what I considered to be a "short cut" approach, but as it turned out, the repair of the one cylinder put things back to where they should have been.

In many cases of higher-mileage vehicles back then, it was not uncommon to do a valve job and a re-ring job rather than a full-blown rebuild or "overhaul". Piston clearances were matched to the bore, just that the rings had worn. No issues with lower-end bearings (usually, the bearings might have been close to the upper wear limit, but with good oil pressure and no knocks, they were usually fine to replace in the same rods and associated rod journals--put them back as you found them), typically . . . or the rod journals might have been freshened up "in chassis" to the appropriate size. So . . . you re-used as much as you could and still perform a credible repair on the engine, plain and simple . . . AND without removing the engine from the vehicle.

The issue of not re-honing cylinder walls on a re-ring came form my machine shop associate. A resident of a shop in the same building was a used car wholesaler. He had a Chevy C-30 two-car hauler with a 454 V-8, later 1970s vintage. It was using oil and such, but he didn't have the time or money for a complete rebuild. Other aspects of the engine were fine, just oil consumption was too much. So, he got an aftermarket set of OEM quality rings, chrome-type rings with a moly insert on the compression ring, and put them in. He was a decent mechanic and did the work himself one weekend.

I asked my machine shop associate about that. He noted that a chrome-moly ring needed a smooother surface, so the existing smooooth wear on the cylinder wall was perfect for that type of ring material. If he'd scuffed it up with some red Scotchbrite (which another race engine builder associate did when doing a between-races freshening of his drag jet boat engines), he would have put more grit into the mix, plus have put a rougher surface for the rings to break-in against. As it happened, the rings seated much quicker and worked great--no more oil consumption issues afterward.

In these cases, were these repairs "patches"? From some perspectives, "Yes". Were they an efficient use of resources (time and money)? "Yes", again, as they were done by people who knew what they were doing AND also knew what they were looking at to make judgment calls as to if they might need to go a little farther to make things right--quite different from the vehicle owner who is more worried about feeding his family, needs the vehicle to get to and from work, believes that he'll find a better vehicle within a year, so therefore does not have or need to spend a lot of money at that time..

A "poor" patch job usually results in more expenses down the road, either from lower-quality gaskets and related parts or poorly executed repairs. These are the ones that come back later on or need to be done over later on. No real progress.

A "good" patch is one that we all compliment each other on making happen. It addresses and fixes the problem with decreased (not necessarily minimized) time and money orientations. It stays fixed and reliable into the future. A "cost-effective" situation. If it should begin to fail farther into the future, other options might be investigated.

In some cases, even the best intentions of "patching" something, or at least starting in that orientation, can become derailed when sufficient disassembly is performed to indicate larger issues that were previously unknown. Like a minor fender repaint that turns into a fender replacement due to pookied-over rust, for example.

In the case of the engine of a vintage vehicle, which has developed "issues", the best-case scenario might be to head straight to the "rebuild" orientation and be done with it. In some situations, this makes sense. The KEY FOCUS then shifts to finding an engine builder who is competent to do the work on a BUICK engine, has a good source for any needed parts, has industry-standard machines to do the work on, will stand behind what is done in the shop, is reasonably close by, AND is reasonably-priced. For some, getting involved in such a search can easily point them toward "Let's see if we can make it work with what WE can find and do ourselves."

Just some thougths,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow!

Still stand by what I say because:

1. Do not like to throw good money after bad.

2. Like the machine to be as reliable as possible, run as good as possible.

3. Do not like to do a job more than once.

And that means...do the repair as it should be done the first time and you will enjoy the results long after the cost is forgotten!

But then, maybe that's just me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't like to spend money needlessly, either, and do prefer to "do it right, do it once, do something else". Reliability is always a consideration, too. Sometimes, limited monetary resources can influence the decision, though. The decision of "What to do, when to do it, and WHO is going to do it". Everybody has their own perspective or point of reference on these issues, which I respect.

Your car . . . Your money . . . Your priorities

Enjoy!

NTX5467

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great perspective NTX. Times were tough back "then". IE 30's-50's. Folks didn't have $$ to spend on total rebuilds when replacing one part would buy you another 50k miles. The engines were made with changing out parts in mind. Times are tough again, why not take advantage of the way they were built and save some dough.

thanks for another well thought out and no BS post NTX. With your permission I'd like to use it on the 54Buick forum in reply to a thread we have going on there about rebuilding 322's.

sfair, I'm not saying what you said is wrong, you make a good point about doing it right and one time and all. I just see NTX's point a little better. Cool...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Patch repairs? Ive done a few myself...but these days, they have to be reserved for the farm on that rusted out pick-up that only runs in the stubble field. Times have changed since that Buick was new. The roads and conditions demand a vehicle that is operating reliably. If the car is to be driven around the block only, then patch away, but if you would like to take for a Sunday drive, well you paid your money and now you take your chances. One towing would probably pay for a new set of pistons!

Link to post
Share on other sites

It not just the cost of a new set of Pistons, if I do it really right it needs to be bored. Then you get into the added cost of pulling it out and taking it somewhere to get that done and you can go on and on to get it just right. All I need is for the car to run and drive a few thousand miles. If I put 1500 miles a year on it that would be a lot. I did get it apart and the cylinder with no compression has a chunk missing, evidently when my son was working on it he droped something down the intake. The heads look great and I don't think they will need anything. Normally on a motor I would be using daily I wouldn't think of pulling heads with out at least freshening up the valves. I think at this time I am going to replace all the rings and get a gasket set and put it back together and hope for the best. If it doesn't work I will park it, if it does and I get 4 or five years out of it then great. It really needs to be painted and in 4 or five years I can pull the motor and do a complete overhaul.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sid, thanks for the update and additional information.

Now that you know that one piston is probably .010 oversize, that could cause issues with the piston rings . . . or only needing 7-standards and 1- .010+.

Take care,

NTX5467

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sid

Good choice. On my first nailhead rebuild in the mid 1980's the machine shop called and said that the engine needed to be bored 0.030, but could not find any pistons. I couldn't either, or at least I should say pistons at a reasonable price (Kanter was selling at the time a set for $480). So I asked if there was another way. He said that since Buick pistons were stout and full skirted that we could patch if I could put up with a little noise. It turned out that 3 of the 8 pistons were aftermarket and all different brands; there was a ridge at the top that had to be cut to remove the pistons and even a ridge at the bottom. All of the pistons had the top rings broken and the top ring grooves were wallowed out. The cylinder wear was 0.010 to 0.012. The pistons were cleaned, the top ring grooves were re-grooved, a spacer installed and standard good quality moly rings installed.

The engine ran 25,000 miles driven all over the country to Buick meets before being rebuilt because of cam and lifter issues (56 lifters on the stock 55 cam). The pistons were all in good shape and the cylinders still had hone marks. The engine had good power, some piston slap noise when hot (20w-50 castrol), no perceptible blowby, and negligible oil consumption (but the oil did get dirty sooner than expected).

The engine now has the 0.030 pistons and has 50K on that rebuild. This is an extreme example…another extreme example: my first Buick a 55 Special finally died at 365,000 miles with only a few valve jobs on the engine.

If the 0.010 piston is intact, just put some standard rings on it an drive it. Find a piston from a late production 264 to match the others. If the bearings look good, they probably are good, so reuse them...confirm with plastiguage. Use the best currently made moly rings---nos or nors cast iron rings are junk.

Willie

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I ordered parts for the 55 last night and they should be here next week. Of course I have been off work at my part time driving job the past 2 weeks and go back to work Monday so will have to work on putting it together as I have time. Got a lot done while I was off and have been driving the Skylark and working on it also.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sid,

One suggestion I'd make is to carefully measure each cylinder for roundness and taper. If they are out by much your new rings will not seat properly and you will have blowby and go through oil like you are an Arab sheik. Learned this the hard way on my '54 in '64 and it has stuck with me. My '55 shop manual says the maximums are: taper - .005" and out-of-round .003" - exceed either measurement and they say to bore and replace the piston.

Good luck and happy driving!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sid,

One suggestion I'd make is to carefully measure each cylinder for roundness and taper. If they are out by much your new rings will not seat properly and you will have blowby and go through oil like you are an Arab sheik. Learned this the hard way on my '54 in '64 and it has stuck with me. My '55 shop manual says the maximums are: taper - .005" and out-of-round .003" - exceed either measurement and they say to bore and replace the piston.

Good luck and happy driving!

Gene

That's why I suggested modern manufactured moly rings. They will conform to out of round cylinders and will tolerate more taper. Just be sure the upper ridge is removed so that the top ring will not slam into it an break the ring land, hone with 400 grit stone---I would use a 'dingleberry' stone if doing the engine in the car.

Willie

Link to post
Share on other sites

To help miminize the possibilities of blow-by, be sure to STAGGER the ring end gaps about 180 degrees from the one above it. If you align them all in a line, it's a direct route for blowby issues to travel on.

As long as the ring end gap is not too tight at the bottom of the piston-travel-taper, rather than about 1" down from the deck (where they typically are measured on a freshly-bored/honed engine), the spring tension in the ring should do pretty well. "Out of round" would be more of an issue, but something the ring will wear into.

As mentioned, removing the "ridge" at the top of the cylinder is necessary to getting the piston/ring/rod combination out, PLUS the other reason Willie mentioned. The tool is a "Ridge Reamer".

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...