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Old 10-18-2015, 06:41 PM   #1
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Rebuild? Hot 454

1986 p30 454
When first starting the engine, the exhaust pipe near the manifold glows red hot right way. After a few minutes the red color goes away. The previous owner had let it sit for awhile. My friend told me I'm going to have to rebuild the engine because it sat for so long. I'm pretty sure the head gasket or exhaust manifold seal is toast because when idling for 10 minutes or so, air bubbles are rapidly coming thru the coolant reservoir.

Is my only option to to rebuild the engine? Such as, having the piston rings replaced due to sitting for so long? Or can I just replace the head gasket and/or exhaust manifold seal? Of I only replace the gasket and seals, will I run into overheating problems or other issues later on?

thanks you guys
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Old 10-18-2015, 06:50 PM   #2
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Just because an engine sits for a long time, does NOT mean it needs to be rebuilt, The pistons do NOT wear out, when just sitting there.


You say it was sitting there for awhile, that leaves a lot open for determination, HOW LONG was it sitting there?


a Red Hot exhaust pipe could mean the engine is running lean, which might just need a carb adjustment.


If you have bubble in your reservoir, it seems like it is overheating, I would do a coolant flush, replace the hoses, check the fan clutch.


What does the temp gauge read?


You would only replace gaskets if they are leaking, not because how old they are?


Need to know how long it sat before starting, did you check the fluids at least before starting?
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Old 10-18-2015, 07:36 PM   #3
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A glowing red manifold usually means combustion it taking place in the manifold and not in the engine. have your ignition timing checked. it is probably late(retarded)
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:57 PM   #4
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Hi CJ, I'm not sure hoe long it had sat but 4 of the 6 tires were dry rotted when i got it, I'm thinking a year or two. The exhaust smells kinda sweet. Temp gauge seems normal, hoping it's fuctional.
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:58 PM   #5
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Hi Mekanic, thanks I will check that out
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:03 PM   #6
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A couple of years is really not that long to be sitting, but I agree also with Mekanic about the timing could also be advance, put a timing light on it.


timing specs should be


4 degrees btdc @ 700 rpm with vaccuum hose disconected or dist 4-wire connecter disconected

Read more: WHAT IS THE TIMING SPECS ON A 1986 454 ?
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:40 AM   #7
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First things first.

Get a Haynes or other brand service manual for the chassis as it will have all of the information needed to properly setup the engine.

Next before spending a boatload of money do some simple tasks such as checking the spark plugs to see what they look like.

Oil and filter change a must before doing much.

Pull out only the easy ones for now.

Look at the exhaust pipe outlet and place hand on it while running to feel for odd pressures.

Pick up an ir thermometer and start the cold engine then get under and scan the exhaust system looking or hot and cold spots.

A clog will get hot and remain cooler behind it.

If all looks good then full tune up including plugs cap wires and other maintenance parts.

If has a carb run some chemtool through it.

The manual will direct you on tune up and adjustments.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:53 AM   #8
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Rent a tool to test for exhaust gases in the coolant. Usually you can 'rent' the tool for free at most auto parts stores, the solution runs about $8. If the solution changes color, you have a leaking head gasket (which it sounds like you do).
Even so, there is no reason to pull the entire engine to replace the head gaskets.
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Old 10-19-2015, 04:47 PM   #9
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Check and see if the vacuum line is opening the heat riser valve between the manifold and the exaust pipe! If it is sticking at fast idle or not opening at all the pipe will glow red, I know I rebuilt a 400 Pontiac engine for a friend of mine a few years ago! He bought a Competition Cam and lifters for it, they said to run it for like 20 minutes at 2500 RPM to breakin the cam and lifters when first starting it, got it running good no leaks and went in the house for a beer, when we came out the left exaust manifold was CHERRY RED, we forgot to hook the heat riser up! I thru mine away on my 88 Chieftain she runs fine without it! Bobby
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Old 10-19-2015, 05:05 PM   #10
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A Good head gasket set is between 50-60 bucks on ebay, try Rock Auto I buy a lot of stuff from them. Good Prices and quality parts. I would break the exaust pipe bolts off to save hours of aggravation and have them replaced with new studs with brass nuts. Send the heads out to check for straightness but you can do it yourself with a metal straightedge and feeler gauges . Clean everything up put the new gaskets on , making sure you replace any bolts that are rusted to death or rounded off. Torque the head bolts in the proper pattern and put it all together change the oil/filter and antifreeze (I'll bet dollars to donuts that crappy antifreeze maintenance was the cause of a rotted gasket. You should be fine if it ran ok before, my 88 sat for years too, but after fixing rotted brake lines and putting new tires on it , we drove 4000 miles on her maiden voyage from NY to Fla and back last winter, biggest problem was a rotted fuel line to the generator, fixed that in like 20 minutes. Good Luck! Bobby
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:07 PM   #11
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Rent/ borrow a cooling system pressure tester at autozone advance wherever . pressure test the cooling system to see if it lesks down into the cylinders . release pressure and start engine watch gage on tester if it rises up fast you have compression building in cooling system . possible head gasket cracked head or cracked cylinder in block. Then you can remove all sparkplug and pressure up the system let it sit fir awhile have someone crank engine sbd look for coolant bloeing out spark plug hole that will be your problem cylinder
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:31 PM   #12
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If the engine was running ok, not perfect and it needs head gaskets do it and be done with it! If you pull the spark plugs you can see which ones were firing good and which ones were trying to fire antifreeze. If it is on one side of the motor , do both sides as you have to take all the crap off the top and take the intake manifold off anyway! The odds of pulling one head to fix a head gasket are for a straight 4/6/8 cylinder good, to pull one side off a V-8 without pulling the intake not so much! Bobby
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Old 10-23-2015, 12:28 PM   #13
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If you have a head gasket leak, you might find a wet spark plug, or one plug that shows totally white, with no carbon deposits. You can also do a compression check, although that may read a little low until the rings loosen up. Often when an engine sits, the rings will stick in the seats, and not seal very well. The cylinders may have rusted some, so until that wears off, it probably won't have a lot of power. Somewhere between about 500 to 1000 miles, it will loosen up and perform much better.

Do the usually things, tuneup, check for vacuum leaks. Run Seafoam or Techron through it. Before you drive it far, you will need to replace everything that is rubber. This means cooling hoses, vacuum lines, gas lines, and tires.
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Old 10-28-2015, 06:39 AM   #14
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Wow great info, thanks everyone. When I get back home, I'm going to get working on it. You guys rock!!!
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