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89XR7KEL
09-13-2007, 02:12 AM
Hi All,

I have been reading the forums for awhile and want to start off by thanking all of you for your valuable posts.

My brother and I inherited an XR7 from my Dad's estate recently, we have decided to keep the car and own it together, which presents some challenges as he lives 900 km's (560 or so miles) away from me.

The car is completely stock with 150,000 km's on it (92500 miles). The car has been sitting for about 1 year without running. The battery was toast but we got the car running by boosting it then replacing the battery (bad the car had to move before we could get a new battery, we paid for this later).

After a succesful 1000 km drive with the car running great the charge light came on which of course resulted in an alternator replacement, boy those suckers are expensive in Canada, but I was stranded so I had little choice but to cough up the $260 for a new Bosch alternator. Then the real problems begin.....

My brother came and picked the car up to take it out to Alberta for a month to enjoy it for the summer, he drove the 1000 km's home without incident but very shortly there after the car died while he was driving it and would not start again. He was finally able to get the car to start after about an hour of sitting and made the trip home. Very shortly thereafter he heard a thumping from under the hood and pulled over to find out that two of the four bolts holding the crank pulley on had broken and the other two were loose so it was wobbling around. He works at a Honda dealer so he gets a discounted labour rate there and does not have the tools to do the work himself. They pulled the vibration damper and suggested it be replaced, the local ford dealer wanted $610.00 plus tax which we could not afford so they sent it off to a machine shop and they heli-coiled the bolt holes in the damper and everything was put back together.

The car started was driven out of the shop. The next day the car would not start. No spark. I had my brother take the ignition module in to Auto Value to be tested and they said it was toast, he replaced it, no start. I then had him replace the crankshaft position sensor and the car started but he could hear the damper rubbing on the sensor as it was wobbling.

We had no choice but to get a new damper. My brother up to this point had been without a car for 2 1/2 weeks and getting to work was becoming a problem. I ordered a new damper from Ford in Seattle WA (I live 5 hours away) for $322 and made the trip to Seattle Friday night, stayed in a hotel, picked up the damper, drove to Lethbridge AB (11 hours) and replaced the vibration damper and drove the car back to my house in Kelowna BC (10 more hours). It was not a fun weekend. I really wanted the BHJ balancer but did not have time to get it machined if it did not fit or to get the crank pulley balanced and did not know if the machine shop had enlarged the hole's in the original crank pulley etc etc.

I am now home and have noticed that the car has some oil leaks which are driving me nuts, I have a garage and I like the floor to stay somewhat clean. I have discovered that the valve cover gaskets are leaking and that it appears the rear main seal is leaking as well. Also we must have damaged the front crank seal installing the new damper because it is also leaking.

Does anyone have any tips or tricks for changing the valve cover gaskets? I have a Hayne's shop manual but it is pretty vague. I have taken the throttle body off and the big hose between it and the airbox but it still looks like there is a lot of stuff in the way to getting the passenger side cover off. I guess I will have to take the supercharger tube's off to get at the drivers side one. Should I just remove the entire supercharger including the plenum Y thing at the back?

For the front crank seal I am obviously going to have to pull the new Ford damper, which scares me because I have heard lots of guys hear say that they fail very shortly after being pulled. Is this true? Does anyone have any tips on re-installing the damper without damaging the crank seal? It was quite a snug fit and took 50 - 60 small wacks with a 3 lb sludge hammer (wood block in between obviously) to get it onto the crankshaft. Maybe it will be easier the second time.

I am also thinking of pulling the transmission to get at the rear main seal. It is an automatic. Any tips tricks? Does any of the exhaust have to come off to get the tranny out? What about the bell housing bolts? Are they easier to get at from the top with the supercharger removed or from underneath?

I also have a rear output seal leak on the transmission that I am going to replace if it is out, should I take it to a transmission shop or is it reasonably accessable to change myself?

My long term goal is to keep the car mostly stock with maybe the odd upgrade here and there as time goes on, I do have a tight budget right now, but really want to get the thing to quit leaking oil everywhere. The car is in really nice shape overall, I will post some pics when I get a chance in my profile.

Any help/tips/suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Chad

Duffy Floyd
09-13-2007, 06:58 AM
Yes....reusing a stock damper is a bad idea. I can say that I had one fail shortly after it was replaced due to being pulled to replace the crank sensor. As far as your leaking valve cover gaskets I assume you made sure the bolts were properly torqued that hold the covers to the heads correct? You might want to try some heavier oil until you can attack the leaks. It may slow down the rate some.

If you DO end up purchasing a BHJ damper make sure you you borrow the proper install took. Whacking a damper to get it installed is not a good idea....stock unit or with a BHJ.

My biggest oil leak occurred when the O ring between the oil pump and block failed. I had to keep driving the car as it was my daily driver. I travelled from MI back to PA and then up to Dave Dalke's in NE OH for the repair. He mentioned the entire underneath of the car was coated with oil and dripped for several days when he had it on the lift for that repair as well as replacement of the clutch and rebuilding of the manual tranny.

Hopefully others will jump in with their tips. You might want to contact Dave Dalke as he replaced my rear main seal when he had the tranny out. He mentioned a new or special kind of seal he used that was supposed to be less suseptible to future leaking.

XxSlowpokexX
09-13-2007, 10:20 AM
I have removed and replaced the factory balancer with no issues whatsoever. Some havent had that luck.

Being yours is NEW. I wouldnt worry about it. I have never however had to bang mine on as I have used the bolt in teh past to do that. Banging isnt a godo idea even with a wood block..But again its a new balancer so you should be ok.

To change the valve cover gaskets is not an easy chore. You need to remove the lower IC tube on one side and the supercharger for the other (to make things easier. At this point you can check your intake manifold for leaks. To change the front seal I believe you may have to remove the timing cover. Maybe someone will chime in to confirm that.

All that being said..Now is a great time to basically do the follwoing

1) intake manifold gaskets
2) valve cover gaskets
3) front seal and timing cover gaskets(if you need to pull off)
4) Spark plug and wire change


I;m sure more will chime in but if you need to pull a majority of the upper engine off..Might as well do the intake manifold gaskets as well (they are cheap enough).

good luck

S_Mazza
09-13-2007, 12:38 PM
I didn't do the work myself, but when I had a rebuilt transmission put in my '90, I had the shop replace the engine's rear main seal at the same time (no time like the present). However, I do have an occasional drip from there after only a year. I have heard that the seal wears a groove in the crank over time. I think that is what happened to mine and why the leak came back. You can buy a sleeve to correct the problem, and I would recommend it.

89XR7KEL
09-15-2007, 12:39 AM
I have removed and replaced the factory balancer with no issues whatsoever. Some havent had that luck.

Being yours is NEW. I wouldnt worry about it. I have never however had to bang mine on as I have used the bolt in teh past to do that. Banging isnt a godo idea even with a wood block..But again its a new balancer so you should be ok.

To change the valve cover gaskets is not an easy chore. You need to remove the lower IC tube on one side and the supercharger for the other (to make things easier. At this point you can check your intake manifold for leaks. To change the front seal I believe you may have to remove the timing cover. Maybe someone will chime in to confirm that.

All that being said..Now is a great time to basically do the follwoing

1) intake manifold gaskets
2) valve cover gaskets
3) front seal and timing cover gaskets(if you need to pull off)
4) Spark plug and wire change


I;m sure more will chime in but if you need to pull a majority of the upper engine off..Might as well do the intake manifold gaskets as well (they are cheap enough).

good luck


Thanks for your suggestions. I was able to slide the harmonic balancer on a little way but the bolt would not grab the threads. I had to bang on it with a wood block (inside the balancer where the washer sits) a few times before I was able to get the bolt to start enough to "suck" it on without risking damaging the threads. Hopefully the second time it will go on easier.

I will definetely change the intake manifold gaskets and spark plugs and wires. I have a cheap Hayne's shop manual that claims the front seal can be changed without removing the timing chain cover, hopefully it is accurate or someone here can confirm.

Jeremy_K
09-15-2007, 09:03 PM
Sounds like my cougar pissing oil from every orifice:mad:! I installed a new rear main and tranny tailshaft seal when I swapped to 5 speed and they both leak! The tailshaft leaks onto my resonator when I'm on an incline and starts smoking away. I've heard you may need to buy a sleeve kit for the rear main which is like another $50. I wish I would have done that to mine. I think my front main seal is shot because I'm loosing 1 qt. every 2 weeks and the whole front of the engine is covered. As far as the bell housing bolts... you can get to all of them from underneath the car on both trannies if you have a good flexhead ratchet and some ratchet wrenches. For the valve covers I used the blue felpro silicone gaskets and they are working awesome so far.

XR7 Dave
09-15-2007, 09:33 PM
Replace the rear main with the PTFE seal rather than the OE one. It's listed as an alternative part in the listings and it will not leak. You can access all the bolts from underneath but it's a stretch and yes the entire exhaust will have to be removed and the gas tank lowered some to get the driveshaft out of the way. Note: Starter bolts are not metric. They are 1/2" and to avoid possibly stripping the bolt heads use only a 6 point 1/2" socket. Don't try to use a 13mm or you will risk stripping them and then the fun really begins.

For the front you can replace the seal without removing the timing cover, but it may not be a job for the beginner. Note to everyone. NEVER use a hammer to install a balancer and NEVER use the bolt to "pull" the balancer on. There are installation tools for balancers. Get one. If you get the balancer cocked a little while hitting it you will ruin the balancer.

It could also be that you did not seal the keyway on the balancer. If you do not apply silicone to the groove it will seep oil.

Check the valve cover bolts but most likely the gaskets will have to be replaced. Remove the supercharger and intake elbow at the back for clearance.

While you are doing all this work take the time to also do the motor mounts. If they aren't broken yet they will soon be and then the oil leaks REALLY begin.

Good luck with it!

Jeremy_K
09-15-2007, 09:38 PM
So we don't need to "sleeve" the rear main seal if we use the PTFE seal? Where can you get that seal? Do they make one like that for the front?

jludorf
09-16-2007, 03:33 AM
I have found that if the balancer does not slide on easy you may need to clean the shaft with emery cloth a bit. Mine would only go on an inch so I cleaned the shaft with emery cloth a bit and it slid on properly.

If you get stuck for parts again e-mail (jludorf@syban.net) me as I am in Edmonton and may be able to help you and I can run it to the bus so you can get the parts quick.
John

S_Mazza
09-17-2007, 12:33 PM
Good point by XR7Dave - those bolts are 1/2". The top one is hard to get to. I almost snapped (my sanity, not the bolt) while trying to get the top bolt out when I changed the starter recently. Help came from an unlikely source - a 1/2" "wobble" socket (shallow socket/u-joint combination). The set has been sitting in my toolbox for a couple of years and that's the first time I have used it. Boy, it came in handy there.

89XR7KEL
09-22-2007, 02:02 AM
First of all thanks to all of you who responded to my initial "story". I am now well into this project and would like to seek some more advise from you guys.

1) When trying to take the exhaust off I of course broke 3 out of 4 studs between the exhaust manifold and the cat's. Is my best bet to take them off completely and into a machine shop or has anyone had success welding nuts on the studs or other methods.

2) After removing the tranny to get to the rear seal I looked up at the back side of the driver's side head and it appears the head gasket may be leaking, it is a little wet between the head and the block. Is this a common place for the head gaskets to fail or is it likely just oil from "somwhere else"? The car has 155,000 km's right now and if I have to remove the exhaust manifolds and already have most of the top end off (what a chore that is) I'm thinking maybe I should replace the head gaskets at the same time. What are your guys thoughts?

I am going to change the rear output seal on the transmission because I think it is leaking, it is a little wet and prior to taking the car off the road every week or two I would have to top up the transmission fluid and it doesn't appear to be leaking from anywhere else.

Also noticed when I dropped the transmission plan a plastic "plug" with an O ring and a little shaft. I assume this was used to plug the hole the dipstick tube goes in at the factory, is this correct?

Thanks a bunch guys,

Chad

S_Mazza
09-24-2007, 11:54 AM
1.) You should probably take them to a machine shop, unless you have time to cut / drill them out. On one head gasket job, I had to hacksaw through one stud, then take the exhaust manifold in the garage, grind the bolt down, then drill it out. Yech. It's tedious.

2.) I have never really seen a head gasket leak to the outside on these cars. I have seen the rear seal for the intake manifold slip out of place and spew some oil from time to time. I would check that out. Of course, if it turns out that the HG is leaking, it's not much more work to change the HGs once you have the exhaust manifolds and IC pipes out. So I would take my best guess as to whether or not they need replacing.

Two tips to make reassembly / disassembly much easier:
a.) Buy some teflon gaskets for the IC tubes. Much easier than messing with the goop.
b.) Leave out the small bracket that holds the lower IC tube to the block. It's a huge pain. The bracket that holds the PS pump to the water pump, I would keep, because it's much less trouble to remove and I think it has more of a function.