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'53 Buick Straight 8 water jacket crack - repair options?


Aaron65
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Hi moderators - could you please leave this here rather than moving it to the Buick section?  It's a general technical question and I'd like more eyes on it if possible.

I found a cooling system leak on my '53 Buick with a 263 Straight 8; I made an amateur error by tearing the head off before pressurizing the cooling system to double check.  I figured it was a head gasket leak when I first saw it, but looking at the location of the cooling passages and where the leak was, I now suspect it's a crack in the water jacket.  I've included pictures below.  

A few questions:
1. Anyone have a good way to make this crack show up better?  

2. I'm going to come right out and say it...is this a situation where JB Weld might work? 

3. I'm not keen on shipping the engine of my $12,000 car to someone who stitches blocks, so is there anything else that's perhaps less expensive that I might be able to do?


Obviously, this has been going on a while.  I even brought something up about 10 years ago because I noticed a slight drop in antifreeze, but it was so slow that I just ran it.  In hindsight, there were a few other clues like a milky breather that wasn't milky when I ran a hotter thermostat.  

Anyway, any help, even if it's just talking through options, would be helpful.  Thanks!

Aaron

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1 hour ago, Aaron65 said:

1. Anyone have a good way to make this crack show up better? 

one way is to clean it spotless and dry, (and no antifreeze leaking out, so drain it)  Then when perfectly dry and super clean, give it a thin coat of latex white house or ceiling paint. Then after that paint dries, add water and run it, it should leave a rusty stain right at the crack over time. 

 

1 hour ago, Aaron65 said:

2. I'm going to come right out and say it...is this a situation where JB Weld might work? 

JB Weld is used by some of the early CJ2 1940s Jeep forum guys, as those engines typically have block freeze cracks near the distributor.  I did it to my sons 1946 Jeep, but we don't use a pressurized radiator cap on his farm-use-only Jeep.  Can't hurt to try it.  It has to be ground super clean to shiny metal, and totally free of antifreeze creeping though the crack while you are using the JB Weld on it.  I don't know if it will hold with pressure. It might?

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There is NO free lunch, and that weld job(sure looks like a weld job, maybe just the photo?)was an asinine attempt to fix it for free if it is a weld. I appreciate the spot you are in. Pull the engine, and stitch it assembled. Not a great option..........right now you have a paper weight in the garage. Fix it right, or sell it.........an undependable car is just as bad as a paper weight. You do it for the love and enjoyment, not the dollar signs. Best of luck......

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I just called up Lock-N-Stitch in California, and they asked me to send a bunch of pictures, a measurement of the length of the crack, and the thickness of the wall.  I have to drill into the wall with a drill bit that's less than 1/8" and take a thickness measurement.  

It looks like a pretty good system, and I don't have a lot to lose at this point.  

Ed, I don't think it was previously welded; it's probably just the picture.  It does look like there is some kind of light casting line near the crack.  It's not really a paperweight until April or so when I get it out for the summer, so I have a little time to figure it out.  It's my favorite car, so I'll fix it one way or another...it may take a few attempts. 

Edited by Aaron65 (see edit history)
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I talked to a rep at Lock-N-Stitch, and those guys seem on their game on the phone.  I had to send several pictures of the crack and I had to drill a hole to get the wall thickness.  Then they'll put together the necessary items and give me a quote on materials.  So far, it looks like the most plausible option aside from finding another block.  Wish me luck!

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That crack looks like it ends at the three core support wires........what some would call a cold flow crack. Usually from a later metal fill in when the casting was made. They can be very thin, or normal thickness. Lock & Stitch is a process sold to anybody who has a credit car. It’s more art than science. It’s NOT easy to do. If your. It talented I wouldn’t recommend trying it at home. I would only use a FULL TIME stitcher. There are several,around. A good stitch is a fine repair and will last longer than the block. Not all areas can be fixed. That said, it’s possible to cut out a bad area and stitch it closed with a new chunk of cast. Sometimes it perfectly fine to stitch it assembled, sometimes not. Location and availability of a known GOOD block would be needed to help more.

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