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Exhaust manifold repair


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The search is on for a crack free 31-32 Buick 60 series manifold 1239956 but I would love to try a temporary fix so I can drive the car. After searching the site it sounds like welding may or may not work. In fact the picture shows it was partially welded (what you can see is all that is welded) but is now cracked all the way around. Any ideas on possible repairs? One of the parts vendors suggested stitching but I wonder if that would be possible with the lump of weld on the edge of the crack. Thanks for any suggestions or opinions.

 

Dave

exhaust manifold break.jpe

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I had a crack on the one for my Cadillac, and took it to a guy that normally specialised in aviation repairs at the local airport. It took him a while to get it right but manage to repair it just fine

 

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Notice the crack is next to the weld........a heat stress crack.........the manifold wasn't heated before welding......and if it was, it would probably fail anyway. The problem is the carbon content of the cast iron. Stitching it would be fine.....if a guy like Frank does it, and there is enough material to work with, and most often there isn't. It is a bummer, but you can drive the car the way it is and look for another manifold........which are all prone to cracking the minute you start the car. Manifolds are a NON STOP issue for all pre war cars.......we lost three exhaust manifolds on our cars in the last five years...........it's expensive, and often a difficult and time consuming repair. There are no short cuts. Making a manifold is not impossible.......but it will be difficult and expensive. Matt made his own manifold for his similar year Buick with modern steel headers. Looks good, and works well........Matt....chime in please.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed is spot on. The problem with welding exhaust manifolds is that all the issues that come with welding cast iron (which is never easy) are magnified by the heating and cooling cycles. By now, the actual chemical composition of the iron has changed. As a temporary repair I might try brazing it but that would call for making a fixture to hold it perfectly flat and the broken faces would have to be antiseptically  clean. You can't do it on the car and it's probably warped in any case. I suspect that a lot of the cracked manifolds are the result of warping putting immense stress on the casting. The faces of the ports have to be absolutely flat. Brazing is a temporary fix at best but likely a better bet than welding which is almost certain to not work. In the past, I've had about 50% of the braze repairs break again and when I was challenged with one on a RR pre-war Wraith I just made the entire thing. It looked good but not like the original.

 

If I were stuck for a solution I'd make one from steel...but that's a lot of work too and it would not be suitable for a "show car" because it would not look like the original.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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This never ends well. Brass is fine further down the pipe, but up there it is just going to fail. Always better to replace if you can, exhaust manifolds are such highly stressed parts.

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I just bought a replacement one for my 1951 Dodge.  Very common car and that wasn't very easy to find.  I was told I should just weld it up and send it down the road,  but I wanted to do it right.  Well $640 later for such a common car and I have the parts I need to install it.  Doing it right is never cheap,  even on a common newer car.  But at lkeast it will be done right and the next guy won't have to pay for a cobb by the previous owner.

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Good info. I was thinking of Matt's custom header , it is beyond my skill level but I may be able to find someone here to make one. It is an original 44,000 mile car so I am willing to buy a engine or parts car to get the right manifold.

 

I do like the idea of stitching it together, can anyone provide Frank's contact info so I can see if that is a possibility? 

 

Thanks again for the help. 

 

Dave

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Edinmass posted it a few months ago... look through the thread on the 1903 Cleveland. It came up in the discussion of repairing cracks in the block of that car. In the end the gentleman who is restoring the Cleveland did it himself but he's very good and he's in the Netherlands so shipping it to Massachusetts was a major undertaking.

 

The problem with an engine or parts car is that there is a good chance the manifold is no better...though if you did go that route it would be critical to get the faces planed perfectly flat before installing it...and, (though you probably know this) Buick used Bellville spring washers under the manifold nuts. These allow slight movement as it heats up and I'll bet that if left out they are a major contribution to cracking.

 

 

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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There is hardly a more inappropriate material to use...you'd be better off with some of the old fashioned "muffler cement" but that doesn't work either. The original manifold on the RR I repaired was a complicated and poorly designed casting. Only about 700 of the cars were built and all the remaining spare parts were destroyed in the only German bomber attack to actually hit the RR plant. The manifold was literally held together with muffler cement, tin cans and hose clamps.

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Ed, Thanks for Frank's info. Joe, I still have the special washers except for the far end where the one stud was replaced. When I replaced the leaking gasket I coated the new copper gasket with a graphite/oil mix and gently tightened it up but the crack finally let go. Good advice to plane the replacement manifold if I find one.

 

I must admit I did consider JB Weld and epoxy putty for a moment but was worried it might have a negative effect on a proper repair.

 

Dave

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You could call the Lock-n-stitch company in Turlock CA.  They do any kind of cast iron repair and also sell equipment and supplies to many other people.  I had an overhead valve four cyl. head to a 1915 olds that had six big cracks.  It was either try these folks or spend ten or more thousand dollars to have a head made.  They did a bang up job for a reasonable price and I have had no problems for the last eight or nine years. 

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Frank Casey. Period. Pull it off, call him, mail it to him, and you'll get it back ready to use. No brainer. He fixed my Lincoln's block and I expect zero problems ever again. It's the only way to fix cast iron. Welding/brazing/epoxy are not permanent given the way cast iron has to move.

 

Alternatively, build a header. Mine doesn't look quite stock, but it doesn't look out of place, either. The '41 is a bit easier with two manifolds and two outlets, but you could build a pretty convincing log-style tubular header that replicates the original manifold fairly well. I'd have to take a closer look at the '32 manifolds, but it shouldn't be difficult. A decent fabricator could make one up for you. And it'll never fail again, you won't have to worry about whether you've got it secured properly with just the right pressure, and decoupling the exhaust from your carburetors will make the car immune to vapor lock. 

 

I'd be happy to help if I can. I really enjoyed the header project, it was a lot of fun (mostly). 

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Couple different angles of some ancient wizard blacksmith's work on the R.H. exhaust manifold of the '24 Cad. 50? 60? 70? years ago ? How many thousands of miles ago ? Some say cast iron rod is getting a bit scarce.    -    Carl 

 

 

 

 

0EF19FEA-25D1-4B7A-B461-9B583D3BD888.jpeg

58CCEA80-AC44-46AF-A373-0672A3A2EA47.jpeg

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Carl.......done back when the cast iron still had carbon in it. Also, lucky location that stresses evenly. Sometimes you can get away with welding cast iron.......but design of the casting is 80 percent of weather it will crack or not. I had a Pierce twelve head welded five times, in an oven, and properly clamped in place......failed every time. And it certainly didn’t take heat like an exhaust manifold.....

 

 

I think the biggest problem with welding cast iron is the skill set of the people doing the work. The Cadillac factory stick welded V-16 blocks that had defects.......BEFORE they ever machined the block. They also heated the entire block red hot to do the weld. Anyone want to heat a 16 block to glowing red today? You will never get the crank or cam back in it.....never mind having a single flat surface. Like my stitching guy, who I believe is the best in the Western Hemisphere, I know one guy who I let weld cast..........a third generation welder who’s ONLY business is welding cast iron. He makes up his own rods by melting down material and adding or removing carbon is the family’s special process. He is successful much more than anyone I have ever seen, and he still has a high failure rate, and passes on lots of jobs that experience taught him will not hold up. Under perfect circumstances welding cast is a roll of the dice.....welding 100 year old exhaust manifolds is probably a 20 percent chance of working out ........if your lucky. Add in the machining costs IF the part can be resurfaced......and you get lots of money spent for poor results. Whenever possible, stitching is the way to go.

Here is a freeze crack the length of a block, repaired without disassembly which I am not a fan of, that said, it held 40 psi for 24 hours..........repair cost under five hundred dollars, and no risk to turning the part into junk.

27481D51-6289-4F12-8E7D-644D4F32AF36.png

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I agree with Frank Casey, he has stitched two heads for me and the results have been great.  Both were cracks in the compression dome of a cylinder, have held up well.  Always like visiting him too, nice guy to talk to.

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Frank is a great guy........when he retires we will be in a world of hurt. There’s a young guy in Ohio that will probably pick up all the work Frank is doing now. Craftsmanship is becoming a rare thing in the US.

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Good advice and information. I have a plan starting with Frank and his decision of taking it on or not. Just wish I did not have to ship it.

 

Thanks for all the replies.

 

Dave

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If you do end up shipping it, I recommend securing the manifold to a 2x4 before wrapping it up. Yes, it'll add weight, but you don't want it bending or getting dropped and damaged. Use a substantial bolt through each mounting hole on the manifold to keep it secured. It would suck to get it back and have it cracked because someone dropped it. 

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Ed and all- The last time I talked to Frank about a year and a half ago he said his son was starting to help him and learn the business/ skills.  I really hope Frank is doing well and his son is continuing his craft.  What he knows and does is amazing.

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Yes, his son was getting involved.........but it’s a trade you need to live every day, and like the work. I have no clue if his son will be like the old man........a true craftsman who understands technology and how castings changed over the decades. 

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Talked to Frank and he wanted me to send pictures. It did not sound real encouraging due to the prior weld and casting thickness. We will see.

 

It seems like he is still involved and running the business but wanted me to send the photos to his son. 

 

Thanks again for the advice and information.

 

Dave

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It should be at least 3/16" thick to stitch and as Frank told you being it was welded makes it hard to work with. Arc welding makes the cast very hard and can not be drilled and tapped. I just did a stitching job, about 48" of crack, some of it was previously brazed. The heat from brazing made it very hard to work with. The manifold might be a candidate for oxy/acet. torch welding with cast iron filler rod.

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1 hour ago, Paul S said:

It should be at least 3/16" thick to stitch and as Frank told you being it was welded makes it hard to work with. Arc welding makes the cast very hard and can not be drilled and tapped. I just did a stitching job, about 48" of crack, some of it was previously brazed. The heat from brazing made it very hard to work with. The manifold might be a candidate for oxy/acet. torch welding with cast iron filler rod.

 

I've seen Paul S's work. He knows of what he speaks.................Bob

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It looks like it is 3/16 to a 1/4 where I measured it. He said he would have to cut out the weld, he is getting back to me on where to send the photos.

 

PaulS, where are you located?

 

Thanks

 

Dave

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