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Making my '83 2.3Lima dumb - Help!

gtkid2002

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Well I finally pulled tge head yesterday. The HG was gone between the rear two cylinders for about 1/2 inch, and was starting to leak out the front it seemed. From the looks of it, I'm guessing i'll have to have the head milled down a bit.

Before I pulled it, I was able to do a compression test though. 65, 65, 0, 0. The front cylinder did not increase when it was wet. Since the rings should be okay then, am I going to need to redo the top end on this?

And another slightly stupid question: when I have the head milled, am I going to have to remove all the valve train bits as well?

Thank you both Kenneth & Mark for your help so far. It has been greatly appriciated for this first time Ranger owner.
 


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Kenneth S

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The 2 cylinders that only compression tested to 65 psi even when wet means either the piston rings are really bad, or the valves are not seating properly. You can test how the valves seal by laying it on it's side, and pour something like water, solvent, or other super thin liquid, and watch for leaks between the valve, and valve seats. You can also check the piston rings the same way, put the piston about 1" from the top of the block, and top the cylinder off with some liquid to see if they leak. I'd say the engine probably got overheated pretty good, also clean the combustion chambers in the cylinder head, and look for cracks (especially between the valves) before having any type machine work done.
 

Mark_88

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Personally, I always have the head checked (magnafluxed or whatever they call it) to check for cracks. A good shop will do that before touching it, and it does require a complete strip down (valves et al pulled).

As Kenneth said, test the rings with his method before doing anything...the blown head gasket would give you zero compression if it was near the piston opening as the pressure would just seep out there. It's actually pretty common for that to happen on these engines...and I thought that was what mine did but...the head gasket was intact so I figured either the head cracked or the cylinder wall opened up near a coolant passage.

But it's pretty clear cut if the HG is blown...you might be fortunate and the valves/rings are still intact...as long as the previous owner didn't overheat the engine and keep driving...the heads will crack very easily with too much heat...I went through two for that reason...and I was smart enough not to drive once I noticed the overheat...but not quick enough to catch it.

I'm thinking of adding a red light to the dash if I can to light up when the temperature goes anywhere near the H or above...sometimes I just don't pay enough attention to the gauges and a red light would catch my eye faster than a gauge...especially when I'm more concerned with the fuel gauge most of the time.

Milling would be good either way...will give you a bit more bang when you put it back together...most shops do just enough to make sure the head is flat, but if you go an extra bit on that it will increase your compression ratio...you don't want to go too much but I've read on here that going more gives good results for these engines...too much and they become interference engines meaning if the timing belt breaks, there could be damage involved...

If you search this forum you will find a few mentions of the recommended amount...I would say it might get costly as they may charge by the pass...once over so to speak...and I think they can usually only take off .005 per pass...so two passes would be .01 off...probably enough to flatten it out but not really affect performance too much.

A thinner head gasket gets you similar results...something to consider.
 

gtkid2002

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Well I sprayed some carb cleaner on it, then realized that stuff evaporates and wouldn't give me a proper reading, so I tried some PB blaster. I tried it on the bad cylinders, and from what I could tell it wasn't really leaking out of the stems or anything, but I also couldn't tell if it was leaking out of the intake/exhaust ports because of how totally coated in grease/PB blaster this head already was. I'll have to clean it up and try again later. If it's leaking out the stems, needs valve guides, leaking out the ports, needs valve seats?

I'm guessing a proper Haynes manual will tell me how to properly disassemble the valvetrain since I couldn't really find much about that here?

As far as cracks go, I attacked inbetween the valves with a brash brush, and I wasn't able to find any issues really. I usually pride myself on being a good eye, and I couldn't spot any cracks. I'll take some high-res pictures after I get it cleaned up and take a closer look and post them on here.

Although when I did pull the head, two of the head bolts on the exhaust side were rusty, but they looked like they were dry, then got wet when they came in contact with the oil. Like when they were installed they had a good seal and the heat/cooling cycles had taken their toll. I'm fairly confident that it's not a coolant leak since the thing was being run on a very large percentage of antifreeze. I can take pictures if you'd like to see what I mean about that.

As far as the actual pressure readings I got. I'm not sure I'd really put too much faith in the compression tester since it just seemed really, really cheap. You'd bump the gauge slightly and the needle would jump a bit. I know it did get pressure though because it actually vented a decent amount when I hit the release button.

I'm guessing at this point I'm going to have to turn the head over to a machine/head shop and let them go at it, and then just pay the bill. The fun part is I have no idea where there's a shop like that in Anchorage, or how much it'll run me.
 

Kenneth S

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You can do the "liquid test" with some WD40, or other parts solvent that can thin out oil.
 

gtkid2002

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So bit of an update,

The head's pulled, cleaned up a bit. I managed to find a TINY, TINY crack on Cylinder # 4, by the intake port on that lobe of metal.

Album is here: http://imgur.com/a/HC39u

On the last image, by the 4, you can see the remainder of the carbon build up I've been trying to polish off.

The block face has the same similar carbon build-up. According to the surface gauge I was using (machinist gauge that tells differences in height?, it's used for milling) the difference between cylinder walls on 3-4 is .025" taller than the other cylinders. I've read on here somewhere that max difference spec is .03" , and this is -just- under that.

I really can't afford to tear into this thing much more, and I need this thing going badly. If I get the head milled, and that crack removed (drilled out, ground out, milled off, etc), can I get away with (for less than 10k miles), reassembling the engine and going from there?

Obviously the best course of action is to pull the block, mill that, and build from the ground up.

So let's say I go that route. Assuming $200 to chemical bath/mill the head and block, Could I get away with a water pump, rear main seal, and this kit?

http://www.northernautoparts.com/part/ek-ek0326


I know I'm still boned as far as the carb goes. But whoever owned this engine last seemed to do some fishy things. There was blue RTV on the headgasket, and the intake manifold gasket was saturated with it, mostly around the center cooling port.

I have plenty of time, but limited income, and my income is on a limited time as well. I'm having to share a rig, and it's only a matter of time before I can no longer do that. I've got a few things I can sell off for cash, but I'd really prefer not to do that.
 

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Have you considered a used motor? Or buy a different ranger, keeping yours for parts.
 

gtkid2002

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I'd gladly go the used motor route, but I have no idea where to get a used engine in Alaska, or stateside without paying out the nose for shipping. They do have rangers on craigslist for 200-300 that run, but they're different years, and different engines. 90 with no title & a v6, 95 with an auto 2.3 that runs with a bad trans (would my 4-speed work?). I can snag rangers here for cheap, but i don't think I can have two at any given time. Here's the link to the 95 if that helps. http://anchorage.craigslist.org/pts/4573189189.html
 

Kenneth S

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As a replacement engine for your 83 Ranger you can use a 1994, and earlier block (as long as the block has a hole for a distributor) a replacement head would have to come from a 1988, and earlier Ranger. The 95 they changed the block (moved the oil pump, and has no hole for a distributor), and the 95 has the dual plug head so carbureted intakes can't just bolt on. You can also look for 2.3's in 1979 - 1990 Ford Mustangs, if you find one with a automatic your 4 speed will bolt right on using the flywheel/clutch from your 83. The V6 is a totally different animal.
 
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Kenneth S

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So bit of an update,

The head's pulled, cleaned up a bit. I managed to find a TINY, TINY crack on Cylinder # 4, by the intake port on that lobe of metal.

Album is here: http://imgur.com/a/HC39u

On the last image, by the 4, you can see the remainder of the carbon build up I've been trying to polish off.

The block face has the same similar carbon build-up. According to the surface gauge I was using (machinist gauge that tells differences in height?, it's used for milling) the difference between cylinder walls on 3-4 is .025" taller than the other cylinders. I've read on here somewhere that max difference spec is .03" , and this is -just- under that.

I really can't afford to tear into this thing much more, and I need this thing going badly. If I get the head milled, and that crack removed (drilled out, ground out, milled off, etc), can I get away with (for less than 10k miles), reassembling the engine and going from there?

Obviously the best course of action is to pull the block, mill that, and build from the ground up.

So let's say I go that route. Assuming $200 to chemical bath/mill the head and block, Could I get away with a water pump, rear main seal, and this kit?

http://www.northernautoparts.com/part/ek-ek0326


I know I'm still boned as far as the carb goes. But whoever owned this engine last seemed to do some fishy things. There was blue RTV on the headgasket, and the intake manifold gasket was saturated with it, mostly around the center cooling port.

I have plenty of time, but limited income, and my income is on a limited time as well. I'm having to share a rig, and it's only a matter of time before I can no longer do that. I've got a few things I can sell off for cash, but I'd really prefer not to do that.

I don't think milling the head is going to help as far as the crack goes, you can try, it just depends on how much needs to be cut off, the more that it needs to be cut the more $$ it is unless you know someone who can do it as side job for cheap, but once you cut past a certain amount the valves will hit the pistons if the timing belt breaks. Between the 3 & 4 cylinder you mean it's .0025" which shouldn't cause a problem with the head gasket. The blue rtv on the head gasket, and intake gasket was probably done that way because they probably re-used the old gaskets.
 
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Mark_88

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Have you considered a used motor? Or buy a different ranger, keeping yours for parts.
This is a good idea if the project is going to break you...

Having been through this myself a few times (building a truck that you drive or need on the road ASAP) I know it can be a real challenge. Especially if it is an engine or drive train issue...very time consuming sometimes...and expensive~

I meant to ask you about the Ranger frame earlier but the thread was going in the intake carb direction so I just assumed everything else was OK...

Did you inspect the frame and the spring mounts in particular for rust? After spending tons of money on refinishing the frame ten years ago I (recently) found some perforations on the frame just before the rise over the rear wheels...mine was fixable, but some are not...might be worth your time to do a good inspection and poke around with a screw driver...especially around mount bolts/rivets...before investing any more money in this.

If you just want this truck to last another year or so then putting any money into it with frame rot could be a lesson in futility...not sure if they use chemicals/salt on the roads in Alaska, but if they do then rust is your main enemy.
 

gtkid2002

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Surprisingly no major rust issues. Drivers side floorpan was replaced, Passenger side needs it. I've owned a Fiat down the line, so I know to be aware for rust. It does have a few spots, but I could fix them without tearing down the truck completely.

I was told they don't use salt on the roads up here since it attracts animals, but it's still by the Pacific, so there is some minor salt to worry about.

At the rate things are going, I'm tempted just to dremel out that crack, clean up both the faces, and reassemble. Then possibly torquing it down 5-10lbs over spec after a few heat/cool cycles to run on the safe side.

I got lucky and snagged this one for $100. Was told it was the HG, and they were correct. For $100, it's in amazing shape. Few minor issues with the bed (they fiberglassed parts of it for some reason?), and the cabin floorpan/carpet. The driver's seat is a little rough, passenger door trim was chewed on by a dog it appears, but everything's there, and the truck even ran a little after I got it home. Terribly of course, but still ran.
 

Kenneth S

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You have to remember that these are thin wall castings, and dremeling that crack out (unless you plan to have it welded) would cause more harm, than good (you can get into the water jacket). Best thing would be to have it pressure tested to see if it leaks, or not. If it doesn't leak it may last long enough to find a good replacement.
 

bowtieboy77

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I have a 86 ranger with a 2.3 carb engine I just rebuilt. The engine has not been fired yet as like you I am needing a carb. My truck had the aisian 2brl it served its purpose but has a lot of emission on it and I am exempt. I like you did a lot of research as to what carbs were available and got very confused. I know some holley were used as were motocraft carbs and the aisian. Some will need adaptor plates and of course carb jetting will be different for different applications. I finally got in contact with carbs unlimited and just tonight ordered a new weber 32/36 progressive carb kit. The kit has adaptor plate, carb, air cleaner, throttle linkage adaptor, everything needed to install on 2.0 or 2.3. The price is not that bad carb and shipping to my house in Canada Ont is just under $400. I wish I could be more help.
 

gtkid2002

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That's actually a good tidbit right there. The 32/36 Weber. I actually found a 66 Mustang 2 barrel carb for $20, so I figured why not try it. Turns out that thing was WAY to big, to even mount. I had snagged a 1bbl > 2bbl converter for cheap, and the throat is a bit too narrow, and that carb wouldn't come CLOSE to mounting on it. Did you pick up an adapter plate kinda like this?
http://www.honestcharley.com/hot-rod-parts/carburetors/univ-1bbl-2bbl-carb-adapter.html
 

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