Bad Luck (Piston Damage) - First Generation Forum

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Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 4:40 AM
Nothing I can do about it but I've been getting a noise midway up the engine on #1 cylinder. I had checked it out months ago and found some "peeling" on top of piston but thought that might be carbon flaking off.

Last night I checked it again and found a chip missing from side of piston and an indention on center; pictures attached.

Just curious if anyone has heard of this happening before. This is on my 1985 Cavalier Sedan w/2.0 I4.
Attachments
IPC_2018-07-02.20.39.25.4990.jpg (64k)
IPC_2018-07-02.20.39.04.7920.jpg (49k)


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV

Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 11:37 AM
Is this the original engine or the one sourced from LKQ?

Never heard of or read any post on here of such a problem. Head removal and inspection might be in order - wire wheel cup brushing of piston tops. Those pieces of metal have to be somewhere. Don't need them scoring up the cylinder walls.

I cleaned up the piston tops on th '84 J2000 & '94 Cavalier RS and never saw anything like that. (Aluminum Heads make one have to replace head gaskets unlike good ole iron heads...LoL)

At least the OHV head removal is a piece of cake!!







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Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 4:09 PM
This is the engine that was sourced from LKQ. Unfortunately between my slow mechanic doing the swap and needing to change wheel bearings after that... it sat in my garage for 4 out 6 months of the warranty and is no longer covered. It would've only covered the ~$350 for the part though.

I drove it to work today and the noise got a bit louder. I'm letting it cool now and will take the camera out again.

I've had a lot of work done to this one, but it made me realize most of it could be removed and reused on another. The bad motor swap has made me wary of junkyard motors. I figure if I can find another 1st generation with a sound motor, I could piece the two cars apart and end up with one better... and a ton of spare parts. But that's just me thinking... would rather fix this one if I can.

I assume removing the head is just removing the intake manifold, exhaust manifold, pulling the rockers, removing push rods (and keeping them in order) and unbolting the head? ... its been 20 years since I last did one with my step-dad...


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 4:38 PM
I've attached a few more pictures. I found this at the back side of the piston, only place it is present. It looks like something between the piston and cylinder wall. A ring perhaps? I do have blow by... Had two mechanics tell me it was "normal" for this car... But pulling oil cap sounds like a second exhaust. I don't remember that in either my 87 hatchback nor 84 Sedan.

I don't have a picture of it atm, but that center piston debt has a lot more bare metal around it. Like it blew off a chunk of carbon.

I'm going to look in adjacent cylinder tor comparison.
Attachments
IPC_2018-07-03.18.27.00.3240.jpg (46k)
IPC_2018-07-03.18.26.46.8110.jpg (47k)


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 6:49 PM
I didn't make any headway with it. Engine cold; no noise. Warms up; noise. I recorded two ~30 seconds videos of the knock and blow-by separately. Neither is promising.

Engine Knock
Blow-By

Bleh...


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 6:15 AM
Piston replacement time. Been there done that on a 2.5 Iron Duke in a S10 before.

Blow by was so bad that I had to vent the valve cover hose under the truck. Piston had a big hole in the center of it.

Try www.car-part.com for a used replacement motor.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 147K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 7:35 AM
I did an oil change on my old Wagon today and out of curiousity , once running , opened up the Oil Cap on mine - sounds and looks exactly like yours. I wouldn't worry too much about the blow-by unless it is causing you drivability problems at higher speeds. I drive mine on the highway from time to time without any issues. Mindful I have had a Rod Bearing making its presence known for many years - mainly at light throttle in 1st gear at 15 MPH just before the tranny shifts. I simply drive a little harder letting the transmission shift into 2nd sooner and all has been well. In the summer I run 20w50 + Lucas Oil Treatment & keep the cooling fan on when driving around town and keep the temps down. I have gotten many miles out of this engine over the years by babying it. Change the oil every 6 months regardless of milage. History of my engine is unknown as it was a rebuilt job somewhere in its lifetime - has a plate over the factory Serial Number. Car has about 250K on it though.

Sorry for all the above - just some info from another 2.O OHV owner to another. I too drove mine as a daily but several years ago shifted this to an occasional work driver on pretty days because the engine is getting tired. (Plus trips to the store that a Wagon is perfect for! ) I am by no means a mechanic, but I do concur with your 2 mechanics that advise you not to fret over the blow by. As Doug mentioned it can get a whole lot worse than that - I had a Chevette one time that I had to take the air filter off because the blowby soaked it with oil and clogged it up till the engine shut down. I can't tell much by the noise in your 1st video just what you got going on there. Might be piston slap. Mine has the famous lifter tick.

You have not mentioned and I assume your engine isn't belching smoke out the exhaust. Until you can afford engine replacement/repair I'd advise to run thick oil in it this summer and add a switch to the cooling fan relay between the washer bottle/battery. It cuts on via ground and all you need is to run a ground wire to a switch and out the the ground side of the primary side of the relay . A mechanical temp gauge is a big plus!! It might benifit you to simply remove the TStat for the summer to help keep things cool this summer too. If you get froggy and jump in to pull that head, you can leave the intake manifold on. Just disconnect the exhaust side. An inspection would tell you exactly what you got going on in there.

Lastly - just relax and don't panic out - you got a car that is roadworthy and not eat out with rust. Time and money can cure your blues with this one - and it is far far easier to tinker on than these computerized money pits today. Baby it and I bet you can weather your storm my friend!

BTW I am jealous of your air cleaner cover!! LoL


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Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 10:27 AM
I feel a bit better driving it now at least. It has 2,000 miles on the current oil change so I'll swap to a thicker grade myself this weekend. I've had bad luck with oil change places putting in an incorrect grade or not changing the filter. I'll be doing this one myself.

As far as using csr-part, I'm just worried about getting another junkyard motor that was someone else's problem. If I can find a place to rebuild motors (that isn't awful), I still have access to the first motor that was in it. That's for a later day though. Worst case... Car part does have a $150 motor in the area.

You're right on the exhaust, no smoke. I get an occasional miss and hesitation but that's it.

As for the air cleaner cover... That's from my (and my dads) first Cavalier. It's long story, but I kept a few pieces from it and still use them. There was a recall on them where they could get loose and fall onto the exhaust manifold. This led to the dealers just throwing them all away.

I'm actually jealous of your wagon. I've been looking for one for awhile but they are pretty rare around my area. I'd like the cargo area.


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 10:59 AM
On car- part, look for low mileage and an "A" in condition and warranty.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 147K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 11:10 AM
There is good stuff out there, short story: bought the Sunbird here with a slipping trans, found a used trans on car- part in Tuscon with 88k miles, had it trucked to a yard in Phoenix, drove 55 miles to pick it up, sent it on a container with all our stuff here to PR, waited 7 months to install it, been working great for 6 years now.

Alot older folks dont drive much, so there is still low mileage stuff out there.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 147K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Thursday, July 05, 2018 10:19 AM
The noise wasn't noticeable this morning while driving it.

There are three things that come to mind...

1) Cold front, 10-15 degrees cooler.
2) Slightly retarded the timing yesterday.
3) I changed where plugs were installed.

On the #1 cylinder the plug had carbon build up on small portion of the plug. So I moved it to #4. These are new plugs that have been installed for ~2-3 months. No other plug had carbon build up. I should note that after swapping the plugs the day before however the knock was still present (when warm). All plugs already had a slight white film on them... typically a symptom of running hot.

I'll do the oil change this weekend, try to get an old temp gauge working again (prior owner) and install the fan override switch. Good or bad, I'll report the results in a week or so.

Thank you everyone for the help.

PS. When I checked car-part recently, neither motor near me included a condition rating. I will keep the condition rating in mind if I go that route... but I've thought I might instead try to find a wagon with a decent motor if this Cavalier in fact starts to go south on me. I figure I can pull all of the reusable parts off this one and/or resell/trade the excess I don't need.


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV

Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Saturday, July 07, 2018 12:50 PM
I did the 20w50 oil change; knock got worse -.-

I'm not really sure how that's possible unless there's a restriction somewhere...


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Monday, July 09, 2018 8:55 AM
Just an update and plans. I apologize for the previously vague reply; I was in a pretty sour mood at that point.

Prior to the 20w50 oil change, I had two noises that I thought were unrelated. An initial clatter that disappeared after 2-3 minutes of driving and a heavier knock on #1 cylinder that would occur at higher temps.

After the oil change, the initial clatter became permanent and the heavier knock occurred even at moderate temps. In addition, the initial clatter could be heard distinctively through the oil dipstick tube using a hose. The car was run/idled this way for ~45 minutes.

Sunday I changed the oil back down to new recommended spec (5w30) and the noises reverted back to how they were previously (at least they're not louder). I drove the car to work today to test a few things. Initial clatter was noticeably quieter and disappeared in 2-3 minutes of driving. The heavier knock occurred most during constant stop and go traffic or after long idle conditions. But running a higher RPM in neutral at a light, then switching to drive on green produced a significantly reduced knock.

All signs now point to a oil flow restriction. The car is getting parked tonight. I'll leave earlier today to avoid stop/go conditions.

On Friday I was not able to see the pick up screen with my USB camera. I will be attempting it again. Goal is to drain oil, inspect and clean screen and refill. If noises are not reduced or I'm unable to see/clean the screen... I will drop the pan (which I REALLY hate doing... stupid 4-part gasket).

I will report my findings here.


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Monday, July 09, 2018 11:28 AM
Yeah the thicker oil baffles me too - usually provides better clearances. I have a coworker that had a 1 owner Ranger 4.0 with over 400K that was really loose in the end and he ran 50Wt Racing oil in it to keep it from blowing on him for the last 50 K - the frame actully broke in half but the engine still ran. I haven't gotten anywhere that desperate. I tried running STP Oil Treatrment for awhile - do not recommend it - STP does not hold up to high temps well. Lucas has done well for me.

I see you are well versed on the oil pan gasket legend. If you do go in that deep it would be a good idea to at least inspect the Rods and fell arouund for any free play while in there. Have you noticed any metallic particles in the old oil when you are changing? That's a dead givaway you got major trouble in there. No need to do much if you find your engine is turning into powder... Keep digging and you'll turn up something!



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Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Monday, July 09, 2018 10:05 PM
Can't upload too many photos but I spent 6 hours in it tonight. I readjusted valves and while doing so the #1 collapsed on me early. Had to put it back together to run it and reset it.

After that I dug into the bottom end. Not too much to report... A pain to get everything out if the way. I swear the previous owners mechanic damn near used glue on everything instead of gaskets.

I can note something. The oil pump screen had only minor debris. When I removed the bottom of the pump assembly the gasket just blew apart. One of the years of the pump had a lot of play in it. There was a grit in the pump that seemed to be part of its gasket. When I removed the actual pump... The worst smelling oil I have ever witnessed came out. Jet black. Smelled liked something died. Actually got a gag reflex.

Aside from that, minor scoring and scratches in the pump. The teeth of the gears weren't chewed up though. I'm thinking if the gasket for the pump tube/screen was blown out, it may have been sucking some air...

This oil is too new but I did check the previous oil before putting in the 20w50. Had 2,500 miles on that oil. No metallic particles.

Im not ordering anything to fix the car until I check the rod and crank bearings. If I'm down here... I'll replace them. I at least know how to do that...

Thanks for the advice so far. Much of it seems close to what I was thinking... But sometimes I worry I read too much into things.


Attachments
20180709_235013.jpg (737k)
20180709_234948.jpg (479k)


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 7:04 AM
Jumped in with both FEET - you did!!

Sometimes the best thing to do is exactly what you don't want to do. Now you know what you are working with. It looks awfully clean on the bottom end too! I wouldn't be a bit surprised you will find everything in spec down there. Hopefully a new oil pump will fix your symptoms and the worst of your experience just might be fighting those infamous pan gaskets.

Ron Love had some great advice for getting those pan gaskets sealed up on a post long long ago on here.

Keep up the Great Work!!






Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 7:51 PM
I did more digging. The rod bearing closest to the pump had a single scratch but hardly of note. However, the crank bearings are worn and there's some heat scarring. The two pictures of crank bearings are the same bearing just opposite sides of it. The picture makes it look worse than what it is.

I should note that I found that particular crank bearing cap on slightly off center. Not much but enough it could've slid into the connecting rod next to it. It was cranked down and by no means loose so it looks either installed that way or I'm not the first person to remove them since it left the factory.

I've seen enough though... It needs crankshaft bearings if I'm going to give it a chance. I'll do the rod bearings since they're like... Right there
Attachments
IMG_20180711_213504-979x1305.jpg (226k)
IMG_20180711_213449-979x1305.jpg (259k)
20180711_204018_crop_368x471.jpg (150k)


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Saturday, July 14, 2018 10:37 AM
http://www.j-body.org/forums/read.php?f=28&i=11331&t=11331 Here are some tips for the oil pan gasket reinstall for a NO leaking problem.You should ONLY use the side gaskets and the rubber seal at the trans.The seal at the crank end will squeeze out under pressure if (used).However you still have to run a bead of (The right stuff) permatex(my recommend) on the trans end then install the rubber seal and then coat the seal that touches the pan.The whole right up is on the first page of the subject.



Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Saturday, July 14, 2018 10:40 AM
http://www.j-body.org/forums/read.php?f=28&i=16637&t=16637 Unrelated subject,but you may want some tips and or just good visual pictures for future reference.



Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Monday, July 16, 2018 9:21 AM
I was hoping you'd pop on here Ron!! Good to see you here my friend!

Hope things are going well in you neck of the woods.

Miss seeing you around the forum like you used to be


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Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Monday, July 16, 2018 9:37 PM
Thanks Orlen.I have recently just started to check back in and will be around a touch more.




Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 12:08 PM
I apologize for the late reply.

I was able to get the pan on without it leaking. After I realized the rubber/cork gasket variant I have actually assembles far easier than I imagines (one side sticks with RTV, other side has lips on the edge to hold it in position on the edge of the block.

I sunk 40 hours into the car in one week (20 hours during weekdays, 20 on the weekend) as I had to continue driving my wife's car. On first reassembly I installed the new oil pump with the shaft upside down. Its apparently designed in a way that if you do so, there's a rounded edge so that it won't catch the distributor shaft and you get no oil pressure. It wasn't ran long; ~10-15 seconds. Luckily I did apply generous assembly lube to everything prior so it wasn't run completely dry. Disassembled and corrected; had to replace oil pump gasket after that though as I reassemble it with the pan half-dropped due to clearance issues with the pan/pickup screen. First gasket tore on disassembly.

It idled great after that; no noise and verified good oil pressure throughout. But it went downhill from there.

As the engine reached engine temperature, a knock became present that was louder than before and the lifters rattled. I readjusted the valves again, though I had to come up with my own routine to tighten them down. Following Haynes/GM Service Manual, the valves always ended up too loose and would rattle at operating temperature. I was able to eliminate that without performance/dogging issues so I know they're not too tight. My routine involved tightening to manual specs, then turning engine 360 degrees and doing the off cylinders just tight enough that the rockers couldn't move by hand. Turned motor over with starter with plugs out/fuel disconnected to pump up lifters again and then readjusted one more time. Hope that helps someone...

Performance wise, car runs good. Damn good for a Cavalier. But that knock... and after spending that much time with it... I broke down and just bought a new (2018 new) car with a warranty.

That said... I'm going to tinker with the car more. A true rod/engine knock should occur 100% of the time or on cold start until oil circulates through the system. The oil isn't thinning out; knock was worse with thicker oil. Typical piston slap should occur cold then get better; opposite of my issue.

I know I've got heavy carbon buildup on the piston heads. I can't see the valves though I checked that the top of the valves are relatively clean (when I had the manifold off). I'm going to run throttle body cleaner through it on a high idle and see if I end up breaking up the carbon and if knock changes at all. I'm also going to change the plugs again as each time I run them, half of the bottom of each plug (threaded portion) ends up with a black ring that appears to either be carbon or heat damage. The electrodes are also have a slight white film, which returns after 1-2 days of operation even after cleaning them.

... I was prepared to get rid of it. But I can't seem to leave it alone; it gnaws at me...

I also apologize for the lengthy post. Its been a crazy week and a half...


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan
2.0L I4 TBI OHV
Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, August 01, 2018 2:12 PM
For about 1/10 the price of a new car - Powertrain Products Inc. will sell you a reman long block 2.0L with a 5 yr. unlimited milage warranty. $2575.00

However.......this solution does not include the new car smell you get with , well , a new car......LoL



https://www.powertrainproducts.net/CHEVY-2-0-121-L4-83-86-OHV-FI-p/864.htm

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Re: Bad Luck (Piston Damage)
Wednesday, August 01, 2018 4:30 PM
What did you buy? Another GM?

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 147K miles. Hurricane Maria Surviver! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




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