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Thread: New SC Owner needs advice-HeadGskt-Updated Video Inc

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    New SC Owner needs advice-HeadGskt-Updated Video Inc

    I am glad to say i am the proud new owner of a very nice 1990 sc thunderbird.
    This car has a blown headgasket but still the power it has is amazing, i cant wait to finish it up and get it on the road.

    I have a bunch of questions i will just rattle off, i have read alot of things here but alot of posts were older so i just wanna touch base on whats current and best for my situation.

    First off, what should my list of supplies be? Gaskets, tools, and anything else i may need. By tools i mean specialty tools, and or torque wrench (inch or foot pounds?). things of that nature. I do all my own work but this is the biggest job i have done nevertheless i have all the tools a normal backyard mech would have.

    2nd, what other things should i do being this job will have the top half of motor opened up? I dont have a check engine light but would changing the o2 sensors be a good idea? Heavy gas smell coming so i have to assume they are fouled.

    3rd, Any dos or donts in this job, things i should be very carefull about, pay special attn to?

    4th, in regards to parts any specific name brands i should look for or stay away from?

    I look forward to being around here for awhile, my name is Tony, i live in michigan and i thank you guys for the site and any or all help/advice you may give me.
    Last edited by Bluntz; 02-21-2010 at 03:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Use ARP head studs from a 2.8 liter chevy v6. They are under 100 bucks an dwell worth the investment. Do not get the studs for a 3.8 tbird....

    I use standard felpro gaskets and it keps costs down. New 02 are a good idea if you had blown gaskets

    I reccomend geting the heads checked out and new valve springs wouldnt be a bad idea as the stock ones are barely good enough.

    Now how do you know the gaskets are bad?
    They don't call me "SLOWPOKE" for nothin!
    Quote Originally Posted by ricardoa1 View Post
    I love the filter. Its pimp. paper element and 10Mircron filtration, 12" long cause size matters.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    muskegon michigan


    where in mi bro... i live in muskegon.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    New Orleans, LA
    basic stuff

    get the heads resurfaced with a fine finish, might as well throw some mls gaskets on there and not have to worry about it for a good while

    the head gaskets for a 97 f150 4.2 v6 are the ones i use, be sure if you do use the MLS gaskets you drill out the bottom center rivet else the gasket won't seal, you'll see it won't clear if you don't drill it out when you try to put the head on

    good idea to change o2s anyway, NTK last alot longer than OEM

    do yourself a favor and tap on all the head bolts with a hammer before you remove them, I had a head bolt strip out on me in my red 90 5spd, it was a headache I ended up welding a socket to it to get it off

    you might just want to get yourself an m8x1.25 clean out tap and helicoil kit incase something happens

    be sure you clean out all the threads for the rocker arms

    get the molded valve cover gaskets not the cork type

    it would be a good idea to clean out the carbon buildup from the throttle body

    check all vac lines, or you can just change them all out for a few bucks

    also while you have the heads off CHANGE the heater hoses, trust me on this, if you don't want to change them at least take them off and put them back on that way their not as hard when they do decide to go

    its pretty straight forward, have fun and enjoy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Ottawa, Ohio
    I second what Damon recommended. MLS is not really needed for a stock replacement, the standard Fel Pro gaskets with the head studs will last a long time. If you go MLS use the 98 Mustang, 9262 and 9263 gaskets as they fit without any modifactionan and come with the rubber coating.

    Chase the threads in the block with an M11x1.5 tap, and you will need a torque wrench that is good up to 90 ft-lbs..
    SCCoA Member#: 2515
    1990 SC AOD 2.1L Kenne Bell
    11.676 @ 121.35 mph
    My Garage

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Roanoke, Virginia
    As mentioned the 2.8 ARP hardware is a good idea, if your going to stay stock the Felpro Blue gaskets are just fine in most applications. I've used them on several SC's with bolt ons and have yet to have an issue...if you're bolting on stock heads and so forth I wouldn't go the extra personally. Now my birds with ported heads, big valves etc have the MLS.

    Good to change anything you can't reach easily normally...plugs, wires, check the motor mounts...things that are a pain to replace other wise.

    Special tools - you'll need a power steering pump pulley puller (20 bucks at a parts store) and a proper torque wrench for the head torquing sequence.

    As for gaskets I usually just get the head gaskets, valve cover gaskets and intake manifold need for the upper engine kit as theres a lot in there thats overkill honestly.

    Current Collection
    1994 Thunderbird SC - Auto converted to 5spd

    1995 Thunderbird SC - Auto

    1994 Thunderbird SC - 5spd
    1989 Thunderbird SC - 5spd - Daily Driver
    1990 Thunder/Cougar XR7 - 5spd
    1994 Thunderbird SC - 3v Project

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Get a set of teflon inner cooler gaskets....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Eastern (nee Western) PA
    The suggestions on here are really good. There are a couple of "gotchas" I think I should mention.

    The thing that I found most annoying about doing this job on my base model car was the difficulty of removing the exhaust manifolds. The nuts and studs at the downtubes were completely rusted. I wound up having to cut the studs with a hacksaw from under the car. Then I had to drill the studs out of the manifold and replace them with bolts. The exhaust manifold bolts in the head can be weak after years of corrosion, so go easy on them, or you might end up with one snapped off in the head.

    Another one is that the upper bolt and bracket holding the lower intercooler tube is a pain to get to. If I remember right, you have to get it after sliding the accessory bracket forward. A lot of people (including me) actually leave that bolt out when putting it all back together.

    Another thing is that the earlier cars have a heater hose passing through the casting of the throttle body. This makes it difficult to remove the blower and inlet plenum. It's there to prevent throttle body icing in the winter. If you are comfortable with going without it, you can just bypass the TB by installing a short barb connector. In any case, you can cut the hose to make removal easier, and just replace it with some heater hose from the parts store.

    Also, definitely replace plugs and wires while you have it apart. No easier time, and the Motorcraft parts are pretty affordable.

    Motor mounts are likely to be worn out. I just had mine replaced (sorry, I wimped out and let the shop do it), and the car has been driving SO much smoother. I shold have done it years ago, even though they didn't really seem to be bad until recently.

    I am probably going to use all this advice in my own life soon, as my car blew the HGs a couple weeks ago. It's been parked since ... hoping to get it running soon.
    God bless!!!

    Former Birds:
    1990 SC auto ... red outside, gray cloth inside ... ~225,000 miles ... Sold.
    1990 SC auto ... white outside, gray cloth inside ... ~150,000 miles ... wrecked.
    1989 Base auto ... Crystal Blue metallic outside, dark blue inside ... ~160,000 miles ... Sold.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Spokane Wa
    dont forget to think about a replacement water pump at this time also. and if front cover is leaking to repair that when the motor is torn down.

    also i would suggest replacing the snout seal onthe supercharger and fill with some fresh oil.

    get a complete gasket set, like many i recommend the fel-pro upper engine set (napa sells it as do others) it has almost every gasket (not including supercharger) that you will need to replace all seals on motor.

    make sure the PCV hoses are not blocked. clean clean clean everything and keep your work area nice and organized. these motors are very complex with the amount of crap ford bolted on in various locations with every different size bolt imaginable.

    dont rush your work and it will be fine.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Republic of Texas
    Here's an excerpt from a post that I put up after completing my own head gasket replacement project three years ago. Basically, in addition to the head gaskets themselves, I replaced everything that was difficult or impossible to get to with the heads in place. Prices may be different now, but most everything is still relevant...

    Head Gasket Kit, FelPro, HS9642PT, O'Reilly, $92.99
    Head Stud Kit, ARP, 233-4003, Jeg's, $81.99
    Expansion Plug, Cylinder Head, Brass, CEP, 219-8041, NAPA, $1.39 ea. (4 req'd.)
    Spark Plug, Motorcraft, AGSF34FM, O'Reilly, $3.99 ea. (6 req'd.)
    Spark Plug Wire Set, Motorcraft, WR4101, PartsAmerica, $51.88
    Belt, Drive, Dayco, 5080900, Advance Auto, $26.96
    Belt, Jack Shaft, Dayco, 5070425, Advance Auto, $15.94
    Belt, Supercharger, Dayco, 5080393, Advance Auto, $19.88
    Pulley, Tensioner, Dayco, 89016, Advance Auto, $22.96 ea. (3 req'd.)
    Coolant (heater) Hose, RH, Gates, 19687, O'Reilly, $8.99
    Coolant (heater) Hose, LH, Gates, 19686, O'Reilly, $10.99
    Motor Mount (pair), N/A, EM100, Spinning Wheels SC, $50.00
    Transmission Mount, N/A, TRB1058, Spinning Wheels SC, $29.00
    Crossmember Mount (set), N/A, TM100, Spinning Wheels SC, $32.00
    Manifold Stud Kit, BK, 600-1816, NAPA, $4.99 ea. (2 req'd.)
    Oxygen Sensor, Bosch, 13942, O'Reilly, $38.99 ea. (2 req'd.)
    Supercharger Snout Seal, SKF (was Chicago Rawhide), 7968, NAPA, $6.49
    Supercharger Fluid - 4 oz., GM, 12345982, GM, 7.96 ea. (2 req'd.)
    Intercooler Seal Kit, Tinner105, N/A, Tinner105, $17.00
    Ultra Grey RTV Sealant - 3.5 oz., Permatex, 599BR, O'Reilly, $4.49
    Copper Anti-seize Lubricant - 1 oz., Permatex, 765-2568, NAPA, $4.49

    1) Prices are as of February, 2007
    2) Tax not included
    3) Part numbers are for 1989 Super Coupe. Other years may vary.
    4) Listed manufacturers and sources are those that I used. Other brands/suppliers may work equally.
    5) Parts listed are those that I replaced. Not all are required for head gasket replacement.
    6) Reader may want to include additional parts to this list to suit their individual project.

    In addition, I paid $84.00 to have my pair of cylinder heads dip-tanked and the decks resurfaced. They were otherwise perfect, requiring only hand-lapping the valves.

    I also had a pair of cat-less down tubes fabricated and installed for $120.00. This included fitting, and installation of the RH O2 sensor fitting.

    You may find better parts/sources/prices, etc. These are what I was able to find locally, and/or obtain quickly. I'm sure this will vary regionally. I hope this helps others on their project. Many of the P/N's listed above were used because of thorough use of the "search" feature on this site, and at the advise of several recognized SCCoA experts.

    Good Luck,


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Wow, you guys are great, im overloaded with info now.

    The previous owner just called me, he said i need to look into something called a DIS Module, he states that if this goes out it causes the same kind of troubles the car is experiencing now, gas it real hard revving and let off when it idles down it stalls.. Heavy gas fumes, etc etc. Basically running, but runinng rough as rough can get. He seemed as though i should check this out before i go into this headgasket job. My only doubt in regards to this theory is when i drove the car home the temperature shot up halfway and the intercooler kicked in and it dropped, but that spike in temp leads me to think i am still needing a head gasket but you guys are the pros i will listen to you.

    I will answer your questions,

    I reccomend geting the heads checked out and new valve springs wouldnt be a bad idea as the stock ones are barely good enough.
    Now how do you know the gaskets are bad?
    I already had plans to get the head machined, a friend told me if i am looking to make it bad ~~~ i need to get the heads port and polished, i looked into this and it was 5 to 600 bucks. More than i can afford, is this port polish neccesary?

    I assume the headggasket is bad cause the previous owner said so, and also the coolant spiked halfway on my way home when i bought the car till the intercooler kicked in.

    where in mi bro... i live in muskegon.
    I live in Coopersville, about 15 minutes from ya, small world.

    The rest of you guys i read every post and wrote everythign down, thank you very much for the info i will definately put it to use.

    I am now anxiously awaiting thoughts on this DIS module. How awesome it would be this car just needs a module and a windshield, i cant be that lucky though lol.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Ottawa, Ohio
    The spike in the temp has nothing to do with your intercooler. The purpose of the intercooler is to cool the air from the supercharger. Sounds like you have some basic troubleshooting to do. First off is it throwng any codes.
    SCCoA Member#: 2515
    1990 SC AOD 2.1L Kenne Bell
    11.676 @ 121.35 mph
    My Garage

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    No sir none at all, i have no check engine light.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    St. Charles, MO
    Doesn't really sound like a blown HG.

    1991 SC AOD 4.2..2.3 Whipple..........10.910 @ 125.61
    2016 SRT Challenger Hellcat.............10.597 @ 135.78

    My Garage

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Ok then my next question is what are the symptoms of a blown headgasket?

    If i recorded some video of me revving and idling the car help?

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