Diesel Engine Troubleshooting

Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Resurfacing

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Minor surface flaws and moderate distortion can usually be corrected by resurfacing, or “milling.” However, there are limits to how much metal can be safely removed from either the head or the block. These limits are imposed by the need to maintain piston-to-valve clearance and, on overhead cam engines, restraints imposed by the valve actuating gear. The last point needs some amplification. Reducing the thickness of the head retards valve timing when the camshaft receives power through a chain or belt. Retarded valve timing shifts the torque curve higher on the rpm band. The power will still be there, but it will be later in coming. The effect of lowering a gear-driven camshaft is less ambiguous; the gears converge and ultimately jam.

Fire deck spacer plates are available for some engines to minimize these effects, and ferrous heads have been salvaged by metal spraying. These options are worth investigating, but one is usually better off following factory recommendations for head resurfacing, as in other matters.

The minimum head thickness specification, expressed either as a direct measurement between the fire deck and some prominent feature on the top of the casting or as the amount of material that can be safely removed from the head and block. Detroit Diesel allows 0.020 in. on four-cycle cylinder heads and a total of 0.030 in. on both the heads and block. Other manufacturers are not so generous, especially on light- and medium-duty engines. For example, the head thickness on Navistar 6.9L engines (measured between the fire deck and valve cover rail) must be maintained at between 4.795 and 4.805 in., a figure that, when manufacturing tolerances are factored in, practically eliminates the possibility of resurfacing. As delivered, the exhaust valve might come within 0.009 in. of the piston crown, and the piston crown clears the roof of the combustion chamber by 0.025 in. Admittedly, these are minimum specifications, but it is difficult to believe that any 6.9L can afford to lose much fire deck metal. Navistar’s 9.0L engine, the Ford 2.2L, and the Volkswagen 1.6L engines simply cannot be resurfaced and remain within factory guidelines. Thicker-than-stock head gaskets are available for the VW, but are intended merely to compensate for variations in piston protrusion above the fire deck.

The cardinal rule of this and other machining operations is to remove as little metal as possible, while staying within factory limits. Minor imperfections (such as gasket frets and corrosion on the edges of water jacket holes,) should be brazed slightly overflush before the head is milled.

Precombustion chambers, or precups, are pressed into the head or Caterpillar engines, threaded in. In some cases, precups can remain installed during resurfacing; others must be removed and (usually) machined in a separate operation (Fig. 7-22) When it is necessary to replace injector tubes, the work is done after the head has been resurfaced and is always followed by a pressure test.

precombustion chamber install Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Resurfacing

Most shops rely on a blanchard grinder, such as the one shown in Fig. 7-23 for routine resurfacing. Heavier cuts of 0.015 in. or more call for a rotary broach, known in the trade as a “mill.” When set up correctly, a mill will give better accuracy than is obtainable with a grinder. Some shops, especially those in production work, use a movable belt grinder. These machines are relatively inexpensive, require zero set-up time, and produce an unsurpassed finish. However, current belt grinders, which support the workpiece on a rubber platen, are less accurate than blanchard grinders.

grinder Diesel Engines Cylinder Head Resurfacing

Typically, iron heads like a dead smooth surface finish in the range of 60 and 75 rms (root mean square). Some machinists believe that a rougher finish provides the requisite “tooth” for gasket purchase, although there is little evidence to support the contention.

Written by Ed

February 16th, 2011 at 5:21 am

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