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smspaul

322 Nailhead - burning oil more when warm

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I have a '55 322 nailhead that is purring beautifully. Problem is that it's been sitting for a few years before I acquired it recently. I've changed the oil with a bottle of Marvel Mystery Oil and had it running off and on for quite a bit. It has good oil flow, lifters and rods doing their job, etc.

On startup no heavy blue smoke out the tailpipes on idle, little bit when hitting the throttle. However, once it warms up that all changes to heavy blue and I start seeing a bit of blue smoke coming out of the valve cover vents as well. Before I start the tear down, do you think it sounds more like worn valve guides, oil rings, or both? :confused:

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Can you see if this is coming from the draft tube, or is it coming from the exhaust pipe?

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A few years could be considered 5 to 10. That would put the time it was parked somewhere between 2005 and 20010. The car was 50 years old at the time. If the engine had not recently been rebuilt or well lubricated prior to storage, normal wear would be in the cylinders and some carbon built up in the oil rings. The four cylinders resting at the bottom of their cylinders would be tight in the bore and have a good chance if the oil rings sticking and compressed into the piston ring lands. The other four, at the more worn, top of the bore would have rested slightly expanded and more likely to be free.

I have seen this a few times, four cylinders with lower compression and blow by into the crankcase.

About 200 miles of driving has made significant improvement in the cars I have found in this condition. Take it out and drive it. If it doesn't help check deeper. The heads and pan come off that car pretty easy. One could pop the pistons out to check and clean without inadvertently falling into an expensive restoration.

Bernie

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....and "smoke" coming out of the filler caps is normal. (To a certain extent)

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I would be more concerned about the brakes if it has been sitting.

My wife does the bookkeeping for my restoration business and while I was coming up with a bill earlier this morning, she asked me jokingly if I had a receipt for Inline Tube. She knows that the old metal lines go bad and I always end up replacing them during at least half of the brake jobs I do.

I DID have a receipt for new brake lines, btw.

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Maybe you just discovered why it was parked a few years ago. Like Bernie said, just drive it...and drive it like you stole it. If there is good oil pressure and no abnormal noises, do 10 repetitions of full throttle (in drive) accelerations from 20 mph to 70 mph, coast back to 20 mph and hit it again. This might reseat the rings if they are not broken from severe wear...a compression test is always in order.

Willie

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Can you see if this is coming from the draft tube, or is it coming from the exhaust pipe?

It is coming out the draft tube as well but only after it has completely warmed up.

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A few years could be considered 5 to 10. That would put the time it was parked somewhere between 2005 and 20010. The car was 50 years old at the time. If the engine had not recently been rebuilt or well lubricated prior to storage, normal wear would be in the cylinders and some carbon built up in the oil rings. The four cylinders resting at the bottom of their cylinders would be tight in the bore and have a good chance if the oil rings sticking and compressed into the piston ring lands. The other four, at the more worn, top of the bore would have rested slightly expanded and more likely to be free.

I have seen this a few times, four cylinders with lower compression and blow by into the crankcase.

About 200 miles of driving has made significant improvement in the cars I have found in this condition. Take it out and drive it. If it doesn't help check deeper. The heads and pan come off that car pretty easy. One could pop the pistons out to check and clean without inadvertently falling into an expensive restoration.

Bernie

This is hopefully all it is. It is actually out of the car and on a rolling chassis right now so I don't think the cops would like me to take it out for a hundred mile run down the road LOL, but I'll do a compression test this evening (cold and hot) to see where that lands. I'd just like to troubleshoot this before going to the extent of dropping it in the car and then having to pull it again.

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Ok, so here are the readings after tonights tests after running it for about 15-20 min.

Oil Pressure: 32psi @ idle

Cylinder compression:

7-140, 8-150

5-130, 6-150

3-130, 4-150

1-120, 2-160

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I would be happy with these numbers. # 1 a little low as a general rule is they should all be within 10 %. But those numbers don't show anything major wrong.

on # 1, if you put a couple of shots of oil in it, does it come up ?

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There appears to be a disparity in the performance. Get a congressman for a mechanic. Surely they all need to be brought down to 120.

The engine is out of the car. The heads and pan are just inspection covers to the shortblock now. You are a gasket set away from confidence. An engine can be disassembled and reassembled without major machine work if nothing is broken.

My daily driver in the early 1990's was a 1956 Olds that had been sitting for 10 or more years. After doing a brake job, one sticky valve got bent during the first week. I pulled the head and replaced that valve, no 3 angle valve grind to it or the other valves. U just hand lapped a new one in with the other naturally worn 15 valves. It still ran fine a few years later when I sold it and was running good when I saw it in a car corral two years after that.

Inspect and disturb de minimis.

Bernie

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Inspect and disturb de minimis.

Bernie

STRONGLY Concur!

Remember, too, that a compression test will ONLY test the integrity of the interface between the compression ring and the cylinder wall. The "oil" rings aren't usually players in that test.

Kind of interesting that the lowest compression readings were on the same side and "neighbors". Are the spark plugs showing any oil residues? One possible issue might be the action of the Marvel Mystery Oil, as it can be thinning the oil a little. In the earlier phases of its use, kind of like the old ATF addition trick, it could well be getting oil where oil might not have been in quite so plentiful amounts in prior times.

On the other hand . . . with the body removed, this would be a prime time to really do an "in chassis" overhaul or "ring and bearing" job. YOUR judgment call! When you get the heads off and disassembled, you'll probably find wear on the valve guides and valve stems, which can affect oil "use", too, even if the valve seals look good.

You can leave it "together" and suspect things will get better with more run time, which it very well could. Or you could use the opportunity with the chassis "topless" to have an easier job of doing a complete rebuild of the engine. DANG those decisions! NOT to forget complete access to any chassis-related hoses and tubes!

Your judgment call. Please keep us posted on your progress!

NTX5467

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Remember, too, that a compression test will ONLY test the integrity of the interface between the compression ring and the cylinder wall. The "oil" rings aren't usually players in that test.

Kind of interesting that the lowest compression readings were on the same side and "neighbors". Are the spark plugs showing any oil residues? One possible issue might be the action of the Marvel Mystery Oil, as it can be thinning the oil a little. In the earlier phases of its use, kind of like the old ATF addition trick, it could well be getting oil where oil might not have been in quite so plentiful amounts in prior times.

On the other hand . . . with the body removed, this would be a prime time to really do an "in chassis" overhaul or "ring and bearing" job. YOUR judgment call! When you get the heads off and disassembled, you'll probably find wear on the valve guides and valve stems, which can affect oil "use", too, even if the valve seals look good.

You can leave it "together" and suspect things will get better with more run time, which it very well could. Or you could use the opportunity with the chassis "topless" to have an easier job of doing a complete rebuild of the engine.

NTX5467

Excellent points there! Ya, I'm kinda leaning toward just pulling the heads and pan, then its a hop-skip to pull the pistons, change out the rings and measure the bearings. All in a days work while it's sitting there just begging me to! ;-) ....of course I have another nailhead stripped down doing a complete rebuild....better finish that one first. Oh, decisions! I'll keep you all posted.

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Ok, so here's the latest. I pulled the heads and the first thing I noticed was the intake valves and surrounding area was very wet with oil on the bottom side of the head indicating oil getting down the valve guides and into the cylinders. Some worse than others. Also, I did notice that it had the cheap Fel-Pro head gaskets which I'll be sure to use the Best Gasket ones when putting her back together.

Then just to check the rings, I pulled the pistons and they were absolutely gorgeous! New pistons, rings, bearings, etc. :-) Everything was moving and clear, measurements were all excellent. So, I'll test and do measurements on the heads and valves. I'm thinking that at the minimum the intake valve guides (with seals) will need to be replaced and if it has the old 2-part exhaust valves I'd better do those at the same time. I did notice that the push rod holes had been ported larger so they have been worked on as well. What else should I be looking for?

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Another set of heads. Sounds likely those are replaced valve guides too. Original valve guides are already hardened from the factory and need not be replaced. There are no seals either from the factory.

And while I have no experience installing valve guides, it has been said here that the walls around the guides are thin and can be easily punctured in guide installation.

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Slide the rocker arms back against the spring on the shafts and look for wear It is pretty common and gets diagnosed as bad lifters.

Set the head so you can pour a little thinner or alcohol against the back side of the valves. It gets real easy to tell that bad ones. Replace or repair the ones that need it.

The key is keeping everything equal in it's equivalent wear.

Bernie

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New pistons and rings? Check to see if the rings are in correctly. Upside down rings will cause oil pumping and burning

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In addition to looking for worn rockers and rocker shafts, be sure that if someone has "has been in there before" there are not rocker shafts installed upside down or rebuilt assemblies that shower oil. I pulled and inspected cylinder heads on a smoker only to later find that the rocker shafts were upside and slobbering excess oil on the valve guides. A rebuilt assembly had new shafts correctly installed, but the rockers had new bushings and a groove that directed oil to the spurt hole over the valve springs (in this case valve guide seals are necessary!)

What is the problem with Felpro gaskets? I use the higher compression 0.015 head gaskets on all of mine with no issues. The last time I checked Bestgasket had only the thicker head gaskets. The available replacement pistons are a compromise and already lower compression.

Willie

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Final update!!! While having the motor apart, even though the rings appeared new I went ahead and installed new ones. Then while re-assembling tested the heads, everything was beautiful as well. I took old-tank's advice and examined the rocker arm assemblies. Sure enough, the notch was on the bottom (holes on top) Upside-down. So I corrected those. I did also have a set of the Fel-pro gaskets around which I wasn't going to use but went ahead with them anyway. Once fully re-assembled and set up to test in the rolling chassis I got her running and became a bit anxious watching it blow color out of the tailpipes as it took a few minutes for the new rings to set. After about 10-15min, cleared right up and let her continue to run for about a half-hour or so. Beautiful purr, no smoke, no noise. Success!! :D Thanks for all the help and input!

Here's a quick video of it running....

http://www.facebook.com/paul.williamson.549/videos/o.6864028574/10152790088212644

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I have been reading this forum for quite a few years and the most entertaining, drawn out, and usually most expensive stories contain the phrase "my mechanic". You just did what that fabled "my mechanic" would never do. This is post 21 ! Not bad. And that was the whole engine.

I have the domain name for www.pragmaticoperators.com. I haven't developed it yet. When I do you are invited to join the PO'ed. It is a better aproach.

Bernie

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60 Flat Top: I love your "my mechanic" comments. Hitting the nail on the head.

One of my favorite comments I often heard when folks found out I was a car nut. They would say " I have a great car - my mechanic loves it!". I just bet he would!!!

Those of us who can do our own work are fortunate in that we are not at the mercy of many well meaning "mechanics" who do not understand the older cars.

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Oh, I guess I should mention the total costs....(approximate)

Replacement gaskets: $100

Rings: $50

Oil & Filter: $30

Time spent with my Dad: Priceless

(I'm sure 'my mechanic' would have just told me to do a full rebuild at the cost of about $5000

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GREAT conclusion to a potentially-expensive concern!! Thanks for that update!

NTX5467

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