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Practical Engine Building: Step 2: Stripping & Inspecting

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Step 2: Stripping & Inspecting


00:00 - In this module we're going to disassemble our GM LS1 V8 engine and we're going to see what exactly we've got to deal with.
00:08 Now in this case we have purchased an engine sight unseen from a wrecking yard and one of the things when we are looking at any engine project is the condition of that base engine.
00:19 We obviously want to know that the engine is at least in a condition where it can be rebuilt.
00:24 Now in our situation, we are fortunate enough that we are replacing almost all of the components inside the engine, the crankshaft, connecting rods and the pistons, however it's still worth checking that the overall condition of the engine at least lends itself to being rebuilt.
00:41 Now there are a couple of things that you can check if you are looking at a variety of engines and deciding on the particular one you want for you project.
00:49 Obviously in some instances it's going to be a little bit difficult to disassemble the engine too far in order to inspect it.
00:56 A really good first port of call is simply to remove the oil filler cap and visually inspect down the oil filler cap.
01:04 So ideally on a high mileage engine that's been well maintained, what we're looking for is a light honey glaze colour down inside that rocker cover.
01:12 This would indicate that the engine has been maintained well and it's had regular oil changes.
01:18 Likewise we shouldn't be seeing a build up of deposits on the underside of the oil cap.
01:22 Now unfortunately in the case of this particular LS1, this is actually completely the opposite.
01:29 What we can straight away see is that we have a lot of deposits inside that rocker cover, it's very dark, it's very gungy.
01:36 So this wouldn't really be the ideal scenario.
01:39 However this is what we've currently got to work with.
01:42 In our case we've also been supplied the engine with the sump removed and again, straight away, by looking inside the sump, inside the crankcase, we can see that this engine sadly has not been a well maintained model.
01:56 Now again, because we're replacing most of the components, this is not going to be a huge concern for us but there's definitely going to be a lot of cleaning that's going to be required for this particular engine that wouldn't be quite so necessary on one that's been well maintained.
02:11 Now the next step as well, if you want to go a little bit deeper is we can relatively easily remove one of the rocker covers to inspect a little bit more thoroughly.
02:20 So let's do that now.
02:30 With our rocker cover bolts now loosened, we'll be able to pry that rocker cover off.
02:34 This might take a little bit of effort because there is a gasket sealing the rocker cover to the cylinder head.
02:40 Now again once we've got the rocker cover removed, we can inspect the underside of that rocker cover and again this is really not looking like an engine that's been well maintained.
02:51 And likewise we can inspect the inside of the rocker cover.
02:54 What we can see is a large buildup of oil sludge, again just indicative of an engine that really has had poor maintenance.
03:02 So again while this isn't ideal, for our circumstances, this is what we've got to deal with, it's not going to affect our build but as I've said, it's going to require significant cleaning and it's probably also going to require a few of the parts that maybe we wouldn't typically be replacing on a normal build with a good condition, low mileage engine, these may now need to be replaced in this particular engine.
03:26 So these are just a few inspection processes that you can go through prior to actually parting out with your hard earned cash in exchange for an engine.
03:34 Of course you also need to trade off that, obviously you're likely to be paying less for an engine that's been poorly maintained like this and that's the exact situation we're in, we go this LS1 for an absolute steal so we're prepared to accept that it's going to require a little bit more work than a lower mileage, well maintained engine that's going to command a much higher value.
03:54 OK with that out of the way, we can now start stripping our engine, so we're going to rotate it back over on the stand and we're going to have a look at some of the aspects we're going to need to deal with.
04:05 It's really important when you're disassembling any engine to take special note of where individual components have come from and make sure that they're labelled as such.
04:14 This is particularly important if you're planning on reusing any of the components such as connecting rods, pistons, rings, etc.
04:20 Now in our case we're not going to be reusing any of those components but in terms of the rocker gear and the pushrods, this is something that we potentially may be reusing so we want to take note of where they've come from.
04:32 In order to do this, we also need to know which cylinder is which on the engine.
04:36 Now this can be found either using Google or through the workshop manual.
04:41 In this case we have cylinder one is the front most cylinder and on the left bank of cylinders here we have one, three, five and seven.
04:49 On the right hand bank of cylinders we have two, four, six and eight.
04:52 So that's how we're going to number everything that's going to come off the engine.
04:57 What we're going to do is start by removing this valley plate and again, straight away we can see just the general lack of maintenance and probably the fact that this has sat for an extended period of time in a wrecking yard, there's a lot of corrosion on this valley plate, we have the two knock sensors that would normally be located down inside of this valley plate, it's clear that we've had a lot of water sitting in there, there's a lot of corrosion that we're going to need to deal with as well.
05:21 So let's start by removing that valley plate and what I'm going to do for a lot of this disassembly here, particularly with components like the valley plate that aren't mission critical or torqued to high specifications, we're going to be using our electric impact gun to remove them.
05:37 And just a little tip here if you are going to be using an impact gun for disassembling your engine, it's always a good idea to make sure that you're using a single hex socket.
05:48 If you use a multi hex socket, it can potentially strip the head of the bolts so we want to be very careful that that doesn't happen.
05:55 Alright let's get our valley plate undone.
06:05 With all of the fasteners and the parts that I am removing from the engine, I'm going to be storing them in these little snaplock sandwich bags.
06:13 These are cheaply available and it makes it really easy to keep track of all of these components when it comes time to reassemble your engine.
06:20 What I do is I store the parts in these bags and then using a sharpie marker, just write what those parts are or where they've come from.
06:27 Now it can be tempting as well when you're stripping the engine to put all of the fasteners into one single bag and while this might seem sensible at the time, when it actually comes to reassemble the engine, it can be really time consuming trying to figure out which of those fasteners of different lengths and sizes goes in what location.
06:45 So my advice for the few extra cents it's going to cost, use more of these bags, you'll be thankful when it comes time to reassemble the engine.
07:02 Once we've got the fasteners for our valley plate removed, we can pry that valley plate up using a screwdriver or a pry bar.
07:08 There are a couple of rubber seals that seal around the location where the knock sensors fit and these can be a little bit fiddly to slide up and out of place, so let's do that now.
07:28 OK so with our valley plate free, again we've got exactly what we expect here, another indication that this engine has been really poorly looked after, we've got a lot of built up oil sludge on the underside of the valley plate as well as inside the valley itself.
07:44 We can now also see down onto a few of the lobes of the camshaft to give us an indication of the condition of that camshaft.
07:54 Now again in this situation because we're replacing the parts, we're not overly concerned so let's continue.
08:00 And the next step, we're going to go through is to remove the cylinder heads.
08:04 We'll start by rotating the engine across so we can deal with the left bank cylinder head.
08:12 The first step of removing this cylinder head is course to remove our rocker cover, so let's do that now.
08:24 Once we've got our rocker cover off, we can go ahead and we can remove our rocker gear.
08:29 Now again we want to keep this in order so we know where the rocker gear as well as the pushrods have come from.
08:35 So it's important to make sure that we remove these and place them in a logical order or number them so that we'll be able to reassemble them in the correct order later on.
09:13 With our rocker gear removed, the next step is to simply extract the pushrods.
09:18 Again, if we're going to reuse the pushrods we want to take note of where they come from and keep them in order.
09:33 OK with our rocker gear now out of the way, we've got access to our head bolts.
09:37 So we've got a set of larger head bolts down through the inside of the cylinder head as well as across the outside of the cylinder head and then we've got a set of smaller bolts across the inside of the cylinder head.
09:50 So what we're going to do is go ahead and remove those.
09:52 I'm going to start by removing all of the smaller bolts first.
10:08 With all of the smaller bolts removed, we're now going to remove the larger bolts so that we can actually life the cylinder head off the block.
10:15 What I'm going to do here is start at the inside and I'm going to work my way out.
10:19 I'm going to initially just crack these off or loosen them using a strong arm and then after they're initially cracked, then we can use our impact driver to remove them the rest of the way.
11:02 With the factory head bolts removed, these can simply be discarded.
11:05 Now we're going to be fitting an ARP head stud when the engine goes back together however the factory head bolts are a torque to yield fastener so these can't be reused anyway.
11:15 So if you're rebuilding your LS1 using stock components, you'd need to source a set of new genuine head bolts if you're not using a stud kit.
11:23 We'll get rid of our head bolts and we can remove the cylinder head from the engine.
11:28 Now provided that we have removed all of the head bolts, it should be a reasonably straightforward job to lift the cylinder head off the engine block.
11:34 You may find that the head is a little bit stuck down on the head gasket, this may take a little bit of freeing up but we should be able to easily do this by hand.
11:50 It's important to remember that when we're dealing with a cylinder head that the deck surface of the head that mates to the head gasket is very sensitive, we want to protect this when we're removing and dealing with a cylinder head.
12:02 What I mean here is that when we remove the head, we don't want to place it on that deck surface down on top of our workbench.
12:09 If there's any debris on our workbench, this could mark or score that deck surface of the head, affecting its ability to seal correctly when the engine is reassembled.
12:18 Now again, while we aren't saving or reusing many of these components, other than the raw castings for the block and the cylinder head, it's always a good idea when we remove the cylinder head just to inspect our head gasket and just to ensure there aren't any signs that the head gasket has been leaking.
12:34 If the head gasket has been leaking, this could affect the condition of the cylinder head surface and the block and we would need to look a little bit deeper, have our machinist check the hardness of those surfaces.
12:46 In this case there is no indication that our gasket has been leaking, so we can remove that, again we'll be replacing our head gasket so we can discard that.
13:03 Before we move into the right bank cylinder head, we can also remove our lifters.
13:08 Now these are located in a pair of trays which makes it really easy to remove the lifters and to retain them in order.
13:15 Now again, straight away we can see just another indication of a lack of maintenance this engine has had, a huge amount of sludge and gunk build up in those lifter bores or in those trays so let's get those out of the way now.
13:50 Now given the condition of everything we've pulled out here, we're going to be fitting a new set of hydraulic lifters when this engine goes back together.
13:58 However if you are reusing the lifters, again we want to maintain the order of these lifters, make sure that they go back in the location that they've been removed from.
14:07 So now we've got our complete cylinder head assembly off our left bank of cylinders and we also want to take the opportunity here to have a quick inspection of the piston crowns.
14:17 What we're looking for here is any obvious signs of damage at this stage.
14:20 Again more relevant if we're expecting to reuse any components but at the same time if there is significant signs here of detonation on the piston crowns, this could be an indication that there's a problem with the tune on the engine and this is certainly something that we would want to have addressed if we're going to be rebuilding this engine with better components because it's likely to happen again.
14:43 OK with our left cylinder head completely removed, I'm going to now rotate our engine across and we're going to repeat the process on the right bank.
16:42 With our second cylinder head removed, we can also take a moment just to visually inspect our cylinder walls.
16:47 Now we're going to be doing a more thorough examination of the bores once we've got our piston and rod assemblies out as well as we've removed the crankshaft, however visually at the moment we can see that there is some water staining in some of the bores, this is pretty common on a high mileage engine that's spent some amount of time sitting in a wrecking yard, however the important thing is that there is no scoring that we can feel with our fingernail.
17:10 So at the moment I'm confident that these bores will clean up with a light hone, however it remains to be seen if we can remove enough material to clean them up while maintaining the piston to wall clearance that we're looking for.
17:22 The next step of our process, we're going to remove our crank pulley.
17:26 Now on this particular LS1 it's important to note that the crank pulley is not actually keyed to the crankshaft.
17:33 So if you're going to be replacing this, it's always a good idea to mark the orientations so that it can be reassembled in the same location that it is now.
17:42 Of course during the balancing process, this will also be taken into account.
17:46 Now in this case, we're going to start by using an impact driver to remove the crank bolt.
17:52 You may find that this is insufficient and there's a couple of options we've got there.
17:55 If you have a positive stop that you can place on the ring gear of our flywheel or flex plate, this will bolt to the block and prevent the crankshaft from rotating.
18:04 This will allow you to put a lot more force onto the crank bolt.
18:07 Or alternatively if you don't have this sort of product, if you've got the sump removed, what you can do is use something like the end of a pry bar which is nice and soft and sandwich this between one of the crank throws and the side of the block, this will allow you to undo that crank bolt without the potential of damaging your crankshaft or the engine block.
18:28 So let's get our crank bolt undone now.
18:35 Now in our case the crank bolt came out nice and easily, as I've said that's not always going to be the case.
18:40 We can now remove the crank pulley from the crankshaft and this can be quite tricky in itself.
18:45 Now there are some special service tools made specifically for removing GM harmonic dampeners however you should be able to make do quite easily with a universal three jaw puller.
18:56 And that's what we're going to use here.
19:01 With our three jaw puller now fitted to our harmonic dampener, it should be a relatively straightforward job to extract the dampener from the crankshaft, let's go ahead and do that now.
19:19 With our harmonic dampener removed, it's also worthwhile taking the time to inspect the surface of the harmonic dampener that runs against the front crankshaft oil seal.
19:28 We've found from time to time that this will exhibit quite high levels of wear and in this case we're very likely to have the front crank seal leak once the engine's reassembled.
19:39 Because it's almost inevitably going to sit in a slightly different location on that harmonic dampener once we replace the crankshaft oil seal.
19:47 Depending on the condition of that surface, we may be able to have it polished by our machinist or if the damage to the surface is quite significant we may actually have to replace the harmonic dampener.
19:59 With our harmonic dampener now removed, we can remove the front cover from the engine and this will expose the oil pump assembly as well as the drive assembly for our camshaft.
20:16 With all of our bolts removed from the front cover, we can simply use a pry bar or a flat bladed screwdriver to gently pry the cover off the engine block.
20:40 The next step of our process is to simply remove the oil pump assembly from the engine.
21:05 Next we're going to remove the three bolts from the camshaft that attach the cam drive sprocket to the camshaft, this will allow us to remove the cam chain and the cam drive sprocket.
21:14 Following that we can remove the plate that holds the camshaft in location and we can then finally extract the camshaft from the engine block.
21:40 In order to remove the camshaft from the block, I'm going to take a bolt and wind it into the front of the camshaft and we're going to use this to help extract or pull the camshaft out the front of the block.
21:49 While we're doing this, particularly if we are intending to reuse the camshaft bearings that are in the block right now, I want to be quite careful and make sure that we don't nick or damage those bearings as we remove the camshaft.
22:02 So let's go through and do that now.
22:21 The next step is to remove our rear cover off the engine block which is basically a repeat of what we've looked at with our front cover.
22:27 In order to demonstrate this, we're just going to flip the engine block around so we can view what we're doing.
23:06 Now with our engine block turned upside down, we're going to remove our piston and conrod assemblies form the block.
23:12 And when we're doing this, it's important to make sure that we retain the conrod and piston assembly in its correct location in the block.
23:18 In order to help organise everything we're going to be using our piston rack here, even though in this case we aren't going to be reusing any of the components.
23:25 It's also worth pointing out here that the connecting rod and the cap are a matched pair so it's really important that we make sure that these remain in the same location or the cap remains with its matching conrod body, otherwise we're going to have problems if we do want to reuse those components.
23:42 So we want to start by cracking the caps on our conrods and removing those and then we're going to extract the piston and conrod assemblies out through the top of the bore.
24:00 Now when it comes to splitting the cap off the connecting rod, what we can do is just wind our conrod big end bolts out a little bit and the conrod cap will actually be located quite firmly into the body of the connecting rod so this can make it a little bit challenging to remove and if we just try and simply pull up on the connecting rod cap, it's not going to move.
24:19 So a little tip here is just to use your extension and your socket, place it on the head of the connecting rod bolt and a gentle tap with the palm of your hand will remove the cap from the conrod body.
24:46 I'm now going to remove the caps completely from the conrods.
24:57 This also gives us an opportunity to visually inspect the bearing shells.
25:02 And while obviously we're replacing these and we're also replacing the crankshaft, it gives us some more indication of the conditions the engine's been run under, which we already know, probably wasn't great.
25:12 Surprisingly these bearings actually look remarkably good despite the obvious lack of maintenance.
25:23 I'm now going to just gently push the number one piston and conrod assembly out through the block, now while I'm doing this, I'm going to support the conrod from above or actually inside the underside of the block.
25:35 And this is just going to help make sure that it doesn't end up scratching either the crankshaft journal as I remove it or also the cylinder wall.
25:43 Let's do that now.
25:49 So with our first piston removed from the engine block, we can inspect our piston, particularly if we were intending to reuse this component.
25:56 So what we're looking for here is the wear on the skirt.
25:59 We also want to make sure that the rings remain free in the ring grooves.
26:04 Now this will be a particular problem if the engine has been suffering from detonation, often we can find that the ring lands can collapse and this makes it hard or impossible to rotate the rings in the ring grooves.
26:15 Again we're not too worried here because we are replacing all of these components.
26:18 What I'm going to do is take the cap for this particular rod, we'll place that back on the rod and then we can place the conrod and piston assembly into our rack.
26:33 We're now going to go through and remove the remaining conrod and piston assemblies from the engine.
28:02 With our piston and conrod assemblies now out of the block, the next step of the disassembly is to remove the crankshaft from the engine block.
28:10 So this requires us to remove all of the main caps and in the LS block these are a six bolt cap so it's really important to make sure that you undo the side bolts as well as the four bolts that are obvious from underneath.
28:22 Let's go through and we'll remove all of the bolts now.
29:07 With all of the bolts removed from our main caps, we can now remove the caps from the engine block so we can extract the crankshaft.
29:14 Now this particular step is a little bit tricky because these caps can be difficult to remove.
29:19 You're not going to be able to remove them simply by hand.
29:22 And there are special service tools that make this job very easy.
29:26 However if you're only building one or perhaps two LS engines yourself, it's unlikely you're going to have access to a special service tool, it's probably not going to make much sense financially.
29:38 It's OK though, with a little bit of care, you can remove these caps with a strongarm or pry bar.
29:44 What I'm going to do is use a long pry bar here and we'll start by removing our centre main cap.
29:50 And there are locations on either side of the cap for the extraction tool to be located so what I'm going to do is locate my pry bar through there and I'm just going to locate it inside the block there and I'm using the flat of the pry bar just so it's not going to do any damage to our alloy block.
30:06 And then with a gentle tap upwards, we can remove our cap.
30:11 It's also important to note that these caps need to be relocated in the same place in the engine block that they came out of.
30:19 The orientation where they come from in the block as well as which way they're facing is critical.
30:25 You will notice however that there are numbered markings on these caps so that makes it easy and you can't get them mixed up.
30:32 Let's go ahead and we'll remove the rest of the caps.
30:47 With all of our bearing caps removed, we can now remove the crankshaft.
30:50 Of course if you're reusing any of these components, this is also a good time to inspect the main journal surfaces of the crankshaft.
30:57 What we're looking for here is any scoring that would indicate that the crankshaft may need to be ground.
31:04 Again despite the obvious lack of maintenance with this particular LS1, the journals actually are in surprisingly good condition, as were the main bearings and it would be likely that we would be able to reuse this crankshaft with no problems with just a simple polish on the journals.
31:20 Now when we are removing the crankshaft from the engine block and placing it on a workbench, it's also really important to make sure that we don't allow that crankshaft to rest on the reluctor gear on the end of the crankshaft.
31:31 If we bend that reluctor pickup, this can end up affecting the engine's operation.
31:36 Let's take the crankshaft out now.
31:47 With our crankshaft out of the block, I'm now going to go through and remove the remaining bearings that are in the block.
32:04 So at this point we've essentially got our LS1 stripped down and ready to send off to our machine shop.
32:09 One more aspect of the disassembly process that we're going to cover is inspecting all of our brand new parts.
32:16 This includes our crankshaft, our connecting rods and our pistons as well as some of the consumable parts such as the engine bearings.
32:23 Now obviously we would like to be able to assume that these parts coming straight out of the box will be in perfect condition, ready to fit.
32:30 But of course that's not always the way and we want to be absolutely certain.
32:35 Let's start by looking at our Wiseco pistons.
32:38 And one of the tasks that we want to do when we take the pistons out of the box is to carefully inspect the sides and the crowns of all of the pistons.
32:48 What we're looking for is any sign of damage on the piston skirt or the crown, any sign that potentially the piston has been dropped or scratched.
32:57 Particularly with aluminium this is normally quite easy to spot because the alloy is quite soft so it's going to mark or dent reasonably easily.
33:05 Once we're confident that all of our pistons are in good condition, we can move on, the next component we'll talk about is our connecting rods.
33:14 Now again we want to inspect these rods quite carefully.
33:18 it's a little bit harder to see any damage with the rods because the material, understandably is a little bit harder than the aluminium of the pistons.
33:27 But we're looking for any marks on the beams of the rods, any marks on the caps that would indicate that potentially they've been dropped or knocked against another conrod.
33:37 Any bruising marks, or anything that breaks the surface or scratches the surface, would be a good reason to discard that particular rod Next we can inspect our K1 Technologies stroker crankshaft.
33:50 Again, being brand new we can expect everything to be in good condition here, but we want to start by inspecting the surface condition of all of the journals.
33:58 What we're looking for here is any scratching or scoring which will need to be addressed during the machining process.
34:05 We also want to carefully inspect the fillet radius of the crankshaft.
34:09 Now particularly with a crankshaft that has been stored for some period of time, it is possible we can see some signs of corrosion here so this is something that can cause a stress raiser, we want to be very careful to look into that.
34:21 As well as this, we also want to have the crankshaft checked to make sure that it is straight.
34:27 Now this can be done in the workshop if you have a set of V blocks and a dial gauge however it's one of those steps that we can also leave to our engine machinist.
34:37 This step just ensures that the crankshaft is straight or at least within the manufacturer's recommended tolerance.
34:44 We'll also inspect our bearings here and in this case we are using King bearings for our build.
34:50 One of the first key points is to have a look at the box the bearings are delivered in and we want to look for any sign that the that the box has been damaged by the courier.
34:59 If that check passes we also want to inspect the bearings themselves.
35:02 Now in this case, with the King bearings, they do come packaged really well, they are actually sealed and separated.
35:10 So at this point, as long as the packaging is in good condition, we can move on there, we can be confident that our bearings are in good condition.
35:18 If the bearings are delivered separately, we want to inspect the surface finish of each bearing, just to make sure there's no nicks, scores, or marks that could affect the performance of the bearing in service.
35:30 So at this point, we've got our base donor LS1 engine disassembled and we've inspected all of the components that we're going to be reusing, we've also inspected all of our brand new components that we'll be fitting to this engine.
35:43 At this point we can move on with the next step of our process.

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