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Old 02-15-2021, 06:52 PM   #1
Ccrussell
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Default Sl1 engine rebuild

Hello,
Just started my engine today after a rebuild.
Had the block honed, head serviced, everything checked and cleaned by machinist.Did the assembly myself with the factory shop manual, taking my time and triple checked everything as I progressed. Checked clearances, used torque wrench as required. Used assembly lube, packed the oil pump with Vaseline and pre-lubed as per Oldnuc procedure. When starting I had a flooding condition twice until I sorted that out corrected it and installed a fresh set of plugs .
Motor started ran about 1000 RPM then settle down into a nice idle I ran it this way for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Temperature gauge started to climb noticed I was not getting any coolant coming back around to the coolant tank via the small pipe from the far side of the engine.
Shut the car off decided to let it cool took the dog for a walk. Came back 90 minutes later double checked that I had installed the thermostat ,
started the car back up it started immediately. This time however it had a horrific sound as though something a tool for example had fallen down into the serpentine belt . shut it off immediately.
Investigated sound, found nothing mechanical happening, started it again the noise was still there. Shut it off immediately. Checked the oil which now smelled fuel diluted.
Shut it off within about 10 seconds dumped my oil which as I said smelled fuel diluted and looked a bit cloudy.
I have since pulled the oil filter and drained the oil.
Please advise have I damaged a bearing at this point? Right at this moment I am so disgusted I feel as though I need to throw in the towel what did I do?
Anyone please weigh in would be appreciated.
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Old 02-15-2021, 07:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

First thing to do is take a deep breath, then be thankful for all the good luck you do have. Yes, the bearings may be ruined, but they are not all that expensive and the crank is probably still OK. Changing bearings is not all that horrible a job.

I am wondering about the "flooding". What was the extent of that (symptoms) and what caused it? Bad, engine-damaging flooding is pretty rare with FI. Even back in the carb days damaging flooding was not common. And, I did have engines flood to the point of hydraulic lock and not get damaged enough to notice. Point is, we need to understand as well as possible to make the best guess of what to do next. Obviously, an engine tear-down for full inspection is the safest course of action; but I think you would like to avoid that if possible.

Likewise, there is concern about the coolant not seeming to circulate and the oil now being "different". The t-stat would not cause much problem, whether stuck open or shut, so lets ignore the t-stat. I hope you still have the oil you drained and can put it in a clear container to let it settle; see if it separates into distinct layers of oil and coolant.

I would remove the valve cover and turn the engine by hand, looking for anything obvious there. I would also remove the accessory drive belt and run it briefly with the belt off, see if the horrible noise is gone. That is a bit risky, though, as any running, if the noise is a rod coming loose, is a gamble. It is a risk I would take, but want you to be aware it is a risk...

There is also a chance the noise is in the clutch/trans (auto or manual), even a starter not full dis-engaging; but disassembly is going to be required to find something there.

I would also install a mechanical oil-pressure gauge to watch on the very next attempt to crank and start this engine.

I may be going off in the weeds here, but I am focused on your hints the oil may have been contaminated. If that is the case, further running of the engine could convert this from a "problem" to a "disaster".
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Old 02-15-2021, 08:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Billr,
Thank you for the quick reply I have calmed down considerably . Sometimes I guess you just have to step off.
Yes I have kept the oil I did not put it into a glass container yet although I do not believe there is any coolant mix with the oil. Itís color could be from the Vaseline in the oil pump and the red lube I used on the journals.
Guess we will see when I let it settle out in a jar tomorrow.
Your suggestions of pulling the valve cover and taking off the serpentine belt are good ideas.
As to why coolant was not flowing in that part of the head is a curiosity. When I pulled the CTS to have a look it relieved pressure much as when you open say a soda bottle. Had that rushed sound of air being relieved . I started to think the head gasket was installed incorrectly but thatís not possible it only goes on one way.
I tried cranking the engine perhaps as many as 10 to 12 times, after the oil pressure light had gone out, but before the engine first fired. (Waiting for the starter to cool down. ) Thatís my thinking that I introduced a lot of fuel to the crank case. Twice the plugs were wet, before switching to new plugs.
Also wondering when I cleaned the intake manifold with brake clean ,if some of it had still remained inside? But Iím thinking that most of it probably should have flashed off. I blew it out with compressed air.
Shall I refill oil/re-prime , new filter and try again? After spinning by hand?
Crazy thing is car was running nice for that brief 15-20 minutes.

If motor has to come back out if noise persists it wonít be end of the world,
Just big pita.
Thank you many times for taking the time out to think about this. Russ
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Well, if you are going to try running it with the belt off, you certainly should replace the filter and oil! I'm hoping the noise is from something driven by the belt. Post a picture of what you see in that oil jar after it has time to settle.

Are you sure you have the correct head gasket? I don't know why, but it looks like the SOHC and DOHC have different gaskets, but either would physically fit, since the block is the same. It would have to be passages for coolant, oil, or EGR that are different.

Last edited by billr; 02-15-2021 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

I'd definitely turn it over by hand and see if you could isolate between motor internals and something external. Second thing I'd do is look under the cam cover. Good luck!
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 02-17-2021, 07:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Hello,
Pulled the valve cover last night, cam lobes look unblemished, couple drops of water under valve cover. Oil shows no water or coolant at all, it has been sitting for 15 hours, no separation, but is showing suspension of metal , that I can see while holding a strong drop light right next to it. Could not get a good photograph ,camera just would not show the oil clearly.
Spun motor by hand ,Motor turns over smoothly With no restrictions.
Based on oil alone, I am going to pull the engine, open it up for a better look.
Hoping damage will be limited to just the set of bearings.
I have not been yet able to verify if the correct head gasket was installed however based on the Fel-Pro part number I would say yes although I wonder if I missed something upon installation . Hope that was not a real newbie kind of move.
Question: do the rockers need to be pulled from the head to verify their integrity?
Ie back to machine shop?
I will update my progress
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Take a deep breath... probably nothing that bad.

Oil being cloudy, it's probably just the assembly lube you used.

While the valve cover is off Definitely take the belt off and rotate the engine by hand a few revolutions to make sure all is good. I'd do it with the plugs out and then again with the plugs in. Check to make sure the timing chain is tight.

Make sure something didn't fall into the engine bay and is rattling between the engine and the body. Check the exhaust, shake the muffler by hand, etc.

If it's an auto make sure the torque converter bolts are tight and the sheet metal inspection cover is not hitting anything.

Once everything gets the all clear I'd pull the plugs and repeat the oil prime procedure.

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Old 02-17-2021, 10:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Highmile,
As was suggested by Billr , I am going to put on A oil pressure gauge already have the adapters for that. Are you suggesting that I re-prime and just try to start this motor ? After doing the inspections you folks have recommended of course. the squealing sounds that emanated from this were pretty disturbing. Also going to pull the trans inspection cover no harm in that.
May get to this tonight as there is another winter blast headed our way,
Probably no work tomorrow .
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Old 02-17-2021, 01:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

If you think there is metal debris in the old oil, I would not risk trying to run it again. Put that oil through a coffee filter and see if you can get/post a better picture of what the debris looks like. Dip a magnet in the oil and see if it picks up a fuzz of ferrous dust.

I think you could remove the rockers by yourself, it is usually only removing valves/springs/keepers that gets tricky. (Talking about engines in general, never worked on a Saturn SOHC).

PS: If you do catch anything on the coffee filter, and it is not attracted to the magnet, dry it out for a better look and to feel its texture with your fingers.
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Hello,
Couldnít get to it last night all that much. Did put a magnet into oil. So far it picks up nothing. What I am seeing as a glint of suspended metal debris may be an illusion. (Looked brassy colored )
Coffee filter idea is great, Iím going to try that this afternoon. Good/bad that I am working A lot of overtime lately.
Fingers crossed hoping for the best will post ASAP. Thanks
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Old 02-18-2021, 02:19 PM   #11
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

OK, keep us advised. I may be having you be overly cautious here, but I think that is wise. There may be a benign issue here, like a belt-driven part or the trans flex-plate, but running that engine any more if there is serious bearing damage could ruin everything.
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Old 02-19-2021, 04:49 AM   #12
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Hello,
Ok filtered the oil samples. Multiple times through a paper filter as suggested. Happy to report that there was zero metal content or debris of any type! I did this not believing the result, but glad that what was in the oil appeared to be an
illusion . The oil did smell like fuel, or maybe the residue from the brake clean used for cleaning the intake.
Onto the drive components, I think I found the culprit, the alternator, which was in service and a known good unit. Sure enough spinning by hand produces the same sound I heard while the engine was running. Only at a much lesser rate. I donít know if itís a bad bearing or if the brushes are worn out not sure going to replace it anyway. Strange because before engine replacement, it was working and in service.
Finally I spun the engine over once again with the ratchet, both with the plugs out and again with the plugs back in no obstruction noted no unusual findings under the valve cover. Once the alternator arrives and is installed I will fire it again after the same prime sequence spoken about earlier. Will post with the result.
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Old 02-19-2021, 01:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

No need to prime the oil system. You have only done the usual oil/filter change. Be sure to find out why there was no flow from that small coolant hose.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:29 AM   #14
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ccrussell View Post
Highmile,
As was suggested by Billr , I am going to put on A oil pressure gauge already have the adapters for that. Are you suggesting that I re-prime and just try to start this motor ? After doing the inspections you folks have recommended of course. the squealing sounds that emanated from this were pretty disturbing. Also going to pull the trans inspection cover no harm in that.
May get to this tonight as there is another winter blast headed our way,
Probably no work tomorrow .
Yes repeat the oil prime but not for the reason of priming the oil system but more for listening for strange noises. I'd start with plugs out and then repeat with plugs in and fuel pump relay pulled out.

I had something similar happen to one I built and it turned out to the be the rocker shaft bolts had pulled out of the head, taking the threads out with them, on the exhaust side. I helicoiled them and engine has been running perfectly for several years now.

I'd also take a very close look for anything that could have gotten overlooked, like a wrench or screwdriver that has gotten stuck somewhere and is now making a racket. Same goes for exhaust. Shake the tailpipe to make sure no strange noise like it's hitting something.

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Old 02-26-2021, 07:13 AM   #15
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Ok,
Well finally got and installed a new alternator. Bosch unit from RA close out.
Car started immediately, I tightened up the loose down pipe, car settled into a nice idle. Noise no longer present, thankfully. Today , Friday, after work I will let the car come up to full temperature and take it for a neighborhood cruise.
Seems the coolant flow issue was just low coolant. Keep my eye on that.
Thanks to all that weighed in.
Hoping this amateur garage rebuild will serve another 150 k.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:05 AM   #16
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

That is awesome! Congratulations. Good job not losing it when all seemed hopeless.
...
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'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 02-26-2021, 12:29 PM   #17
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Hey thanks,
Guess I panicked somewhat , especially since the wife was not happy putting money into an ďold carĒ.
But Iím into these same reason you folks are. Lol
Will update as car breaks in. Hoping oil control mod proves successful
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:41 AM   #18
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Hello,
Ok, just completed the first long drive since the rebuild. 80 miles in fact to where I park my car for work. Kept it mostly at 65 mph or less, temp gauge stayed just slightly below the 1/2 mark on the gauge. The fan works as it cycled the other day while I was warming it up.
The only hiccups felt occurred twice, once during cruise, and another after leaving a stop light. Car felt like a slight ďmissĒ had occurred. Only briefly, but, being hyper vigilant during this ride it was noticed.
Thinking maybe tps. No codes popped up .
Will check codes when I return later if any.
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Old 03-03-2021, 04:36 PM   #19
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ccrussell View Post
Ok,

Hoping this amateur garage rebuild will serve another 150 k.
Glad it's working out.

I think you have your sights set too low at 150k... I'd aim for 300K but that is just me

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Old 03-04-2021, 05:28 AM   #20
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Default Re: Sl1 engine rebuild

Hello
Ok, second trip, motor now has 300 miles. There is still oil in the cooling system from back when the car blew head gasket during summer. Guess between heater core and radiator I didnít flush it all. On TODO list for Saturday.
Reservoir was low on coolant , temp gauge running at 1/2.
Threw a po1404, cleaned the egr, cleared fault. Backing into garage I saw oil light flicker. Strange, will hook up an oil gauge this weekend.( new oil pump btw)
Seemingly engine runs nice. Wondering if the machinist could have overlooked a crack in cylinder head? Didnít I hear the 99 sohc was prone to this? Not that I think there was a crack ,afaik , it just blew a head gasket.
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself, lol.
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