Cylinder Head Disassembly

The drill varies between makes and models, and is described in the manufacturer’s manual. Here, I merely wish to add some general information, which might not be included in the factory literature.

It is good and sometimes necessary practice to align the timing marks before the head is dismantled. Bar crankshaft over—in its normal direction of travel—to tdc on No. 1 cylinder compression stroke. Tdc will be referenced on the harmonic balancer or flywheel; the compression stroke will be signaled by closed intake and exhaust valves on No. 1 cylinder. In most cases, the logic of timing marks on overhead cam and unit injector engines will be obvious; when it is not, as for example, when camshaft timing indexes a particular link of the drive chain, make careful notes. A timing error on assembly can cost a set of valves.

Experienced mechanics do not disassemble more than is necessary. Normally you will remove both manifolds, unit injector rocker mechanisms, and whatever hardware blocks access to the head bolts. Try to remove components in large bites, as assemblies, by lifting the intake manifold with turbocharger intact, removing the shaft-type rocker arms at the shaft hold-down bolts, and so on.

Miscellaneous hardware should remain attached, unless the head will be sent out for machine work. In this case, it should be stripped down to the valves and injector tubes. Otherwise, the head might be returned with parts and fasteners missing.

Examine each part and fastener as it comes off. If disassembly is extensive, time will be saved by storing the components and associated fasteners in an orderly fashion. You might wish to use plastic baggies, labeled with a Sharpie pen or Marks-A-Lot for this purpose. Keep the old gaskets for comparison with the replacements.

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