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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all!

Finally got my 289 fired today. She lit after two seconds of cranking. Had some backfire in the carb but all resolved itself and she was running great for about 8 minutes (video is HERE!-- thanks Dad! Pardon the messy wires, please). Only problem is, at around the 8 minute mark, the radiator started puking-- a LOT. I shut her off and let her cool down, and decided I should take to this wonderful forum before trying again and again with hopes of a different outcome-- wasn't that Einstein's definition of insanity? 馃槃

I've done some research and I come to you all with my scenario. I will try to address all the issues I've found with cooling and give you my information before asking questions. Any and all input is appreciated!

So, as per my engine rebuild book and some online sources, I decided to break the engine in with cold hose water; I opened the petcock and matched the flow of water in to the flow out. However, the flow out was measly-- it was more of a dribble than a flowing source. Should I just use coolant/distilled water with the cap on instead? The radiator is a 3-row Champion radiator pictured below:

not-such-a-champion.PNG

First question: Does the cap need to be on to circulate coolant effectively? The coolant was churning in the radiator, so I assume it was being circulated. Would sacrificing the cold water intake from the hose for the pressure provided by the cap be worth it? The lower hose was not collapsing as far as I could tell. ALSO WITH THE RADIATOR-- how does the petcock work on yours? Mine seems weird. You unscrew it to stop the flow out, and tighten it to allow the coolant to drain. Is this normal??

I have a high-flow water pump from NPD. Installed with no issues and haven't found anything that would indicate it's a problem. However, this leads me to my next question. I read somewhere earlier that it's bad to have the heater hose looped without the heater core. This is what I have done-- one continuous hose from the fitting on the intake to the water pump. Is this really bad? I thought I recalled people who live in hotter areas and don't need the heater just bypassing the heater hose like this.

Thermostat: I am 100% sure I installed it correctly, and not backwards like people do sometimes. It's a 180 degree thermostat, I think. People talk about drilling holes in the thermostat but I did not do that. Thoughts on my thermostat setup? The upper radiator hose definitely had coolant coming through it, so I assume it opened?

What I'm most concerned about is the head gaskets. I was very tedious about assembling my engine and would like to believe I put them on correctly-- their markings indicated which side was front, and which side was to go on the block. I know I could have made a mistake, though. I could run a compression test to see if I blew out a head gasket, but I don't think this is the case. I didn't see any foam or signs that hot exhaust was getting into the coolant. Any way to verify I have them on correctly without pulling the engine apart?

Other than these points, I can't think of much that could lead to overheating. I had my timing correct, as far as I could tell-- engine TDC, got the rotor all lined up, etc. The engine fired almost immediately. Only thing I didn't do was fiddle with the advance on the distributor while it was running; I was more concerned with searching for leaks, maintaining RPM, the ungodly amount of scalding water shooting out of my radiator, you know 馃槄 EDIT 2: I have a Pertronix II installed. Is there a way to static-time the engine without bringing it down to an idle or something?

So, I'm at a loss. Any and all input will help immensely! Why am I overheating? Is it simply because I'm running a virgin engine at 2000 RPM? EDIT 3: I should mention that I checked the oil dipstick and found TINY slivers of metal in the oil the first time I checked, and non the second time-- I'm talking really thin pieces. Is this normal for break-in?

Thanks in advance! I hope you all are doing well in this uncertain time. My apologies for the length of this post, but I'm in urgent need of help.

Cheers, Alex

EDIT: No, I did not forget to put the break-in oil into the engine. LOL!
 

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First question: Does the cap need to be on to circulate coolant effectively?

how does the petcock work on yours? Mine seems weird. You unscrew it to stop the flow out, and tighten it to allow the coolant to drain. Is this normal??

one continuous hose from the fitting on the intake to the water pump. Is this really bad? I thought I recalled people who live in hotter areas and don't need the heater just bypassing the heater hose like this.

Thoughts on my thermostat setup?

Any way to verify I have them on correctly without pulling the engine apart?


I had my timing correct, as far as I could tell-- engine TDC, got the rotor all lined up, etc. The engine fired almost immediately. Only thing I didn't do was fiddle with the advance on the distributor while it was running; I was more concerned with searching for leaks, maintaining RPM, the ungodly amount of scalding water shooting out of my radiator, you know
Hi Alex, here is what I think:
-Scalding hot water shooting out of the radiator and running with no cap? I think you should give the engine a fighting chance and put in 50/50 antifreeze with a 13psi radiator cap. The coolant has a higher boiling point at ambient pressure and even higher under pressure.
-My petcock works like yours does. In to drain, if I recall correctly. It does more than dribble (at first), but just a light flow.
-Bypassing the heater core doesn't hurt the engine as long as the loop doesn't leak. Some cars were sold with heater delete.
-Sounds like your t-stat set-up is just fine. The burp hole is good to have but not 100% mandatory. Some folks raise the front wheels to burp the block.
-There is an easy way to verify your head gaskets are installed correctly. Look for the gasket tabs peeking out at the front of the heads.
-Everything I've read indicates factory timing is too retarded. Shoot for a setting as advanced as you can get, closer to 18 - 22 degrees.
 
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi Alex, here is what I think:
-Scalding hot water shooting out of the radiator and running with no cap? I think you should give the engine a fighting chance and put in 50/50 antifreeze with a 13psi radiator cap. The coolant has a higher boiling point at ambient pressure and even higher under pressure.
-My petcock works like yours does. In to drain, if I recall correctly. It does more than dribble (at first), but just a light flow.
-Bypassing the heater core doesn't hurt the engine as long as the loop doesn't leak. Some cars were sold with heater delete.
-Sounds like your t-stat set-up is just fine. The burp hole is good to have but not 100% mandatory. Some folks raise the front wheels to burp the block.
-There is an easy way to verify your head gaskets are installed correctly. Look for the gasket tabs peeking out at the front of the heads.
-Everything I've read indicates factory timing is too retarded. Shoot for a setting as advanced as you can get, closer to 18 - 22 degrees.
  • Bill, thank you so much for your prompt response. While I love the idea of having cold water constantly being added to the system, I think I'm beginning to realize that what you are suggesting is probably the way to go.
  • Thanks for the information on the petcock. I was slightly worried mine was messed up somehow.
  • Good to know that I shouldn't be worried about the heater hose loop. Seeing as I couldn't find any leaks on the engine anywhere while running, it seems that I should continue without messing with the heater hose.
  • Raising the front of the car might be a good idea. I will do this when I go to finish the break-in process!
  • What do you mean by gasket tabs peeking out at the front of the heads? Where on the head?
  • Thanks for the information on the advance. I've also heard that the factory 6 degree advance is not enough, with 10-12 degrees being good for most 289s; sometimes up to 13-14 if you have pertronix or pointless ignition.
Thanks again for the great response. This was s u p e r helpful. I appreciate it very much!
 

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I'll address your items in order.
1. Adding water and draining while running. Never heard of doing this. Always have used hose water for 1st start, get every6right, then drain and do 50/50 water (distilled) and coolant mix.

2. Water pump. What water pump did you get? What timing cover do you have (what is the casting number on it, located below the water pump, above the crankshaft seal)?

3. Thermostat. Ok of you didn't drill a hole. The hole helps to burp the trapped air easier.

4. Head gaskets. They have a tab that will stick out beyond the head mating surface. If you are standing at the driver side tire, looking at the left side cylinder head, it will be sticking out on the bottom left corner of the head/block mating surface. Same on right side except standing at the right tire, it'll stick out of bottom right of mating surface.

5. Timing advance. Unless you have the mechanical advance locked out on the distributor and the vacuum hose disconnected from the vacuum advance it will not show you bas timing. Best you can shoot for is disconnect the vacuum advance and then with engine running, set total timing about 20 degrees. This should get you in the ballpark of correct initial timing. This is best accomplished with an advance dial timing light. Mark your 0 degree mark on the balancer and pointer, then turn the advance knob on the light to 20 and adjust the timing to get the Mark's to line up again.

There are a bunch more questions to ask also such as how much the block was bored? Did you have it sonic checked to make sure the cylinder walls weren't too thin?

As far as metal in the oil, it will happen on a fresh build. That's why it's best to run a break in oil and change it at 500 miles or earlier and cut open the oil filter to see what it looks like inside.

That ought to get you started troubleshooting.

HTH

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  • What do you mean by gasket tabs peeking out at the front of the heads? Where on the head?
Check out this post by "machoneman". There is a photo that shows the tab peeking out at the front of the head. You should see this on both sides of the block. Looking on the left/passenger side, just behind the alternator, use machoneman's photo as a go-by. Once you see what it looks like, the other side will be easier to find.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
I'll address your items in order.
1. Adding water and draining while running. Never heard of doing this. Always have used hose water for 1st start, get every6right, then drain and do 50/50 water (distilled) and coolant mix.

2. Water pump. What water pump did you get? What timing cover do you have (what is the casting number on it, located below the water pump, above the crankshaft seal)?

3. Thermostat. Ok of you didn't drill a hole. The hole helps to burp the trapped air easier.

4. Head gaskets. They have a tab that will stick out beyond the head mating surface. If you are standing at the driver side tire, looking at the left side cylinder head, it will be sticking out on the bottom left corner of the head/block mating surface. Same on right side except standing at the right tire, it'll stick out of bottom right of mating surface.

5. Timing advance. Unless you have the mechanical advance locked out on the distributor and the vacuum hose disconnected from the vacuum advance it will not show you bas timing. Best you can shoot for is disconnect the vacuum advance and then with engine running, set total timing about 20 degrees. This should get you in the ballpark of correct initial timing. This is best accomplished with an advance dial timing light. Mark your 0 degree mark on the balancer and pointer, then turn the advance knob on the light to 20 and adjust the timing to get the Mark's to line up again.

There are a bunch more questions to ask also such as how much the block was bored? Did you have it sonic checked to make sure the cylinder walls weren't too thin?

As far as metal in the oil, it will happen on a fresh build. That's why it's best to run a break in oil and change it at 500 miles or earlier and cut open the oil filter to see what it looks like inside.

That ought to get you started troubleshooting.

HTH

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
Thanks for the detailed response!

  • I got an NPD water pump (see it here).
  • Good info on the timing, I will definitely use that.
  • The engine was bored 30 over. Machinist reconditioned the heads for me and checked that all was well. He didn't report any problems, so I trust that all is fine there.
Thanks again for pitching in! That's all great info.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
756956
756957


Hey guys, here's what I found on the head gasket tabs. I do indeed see a tab sticking out, but it doesn't look exactly like the one posted in the linked thread. I'm hoping it's just the difference in gaskets... let me know what you think.

Cheers, Alex
 

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If you open the drain petcock full open that should not be a trickle. Don't know if that has anything to do with the cooling problem unless it is indicating that the radiator is partially clogged up.
 

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It's going to puke a lot if run without cap on the radiator. There always starts building pressure when the water heats up, that's why the caps got a pressure rating. The pressure makes the cooling water able to hit higher temps without starting to boil.
 

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I will usually start the engine with the Radiator cap off so I can top it up as it "takes" water. When it starts to heat up and the level rises to the overflow I put the cap back on. It definitely helps to have a decent temperature gauge so you can keep an eye on things.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If you open the drain petcock full open that should not be a trickle. Don't know if that has anything to do with the cooling problem unless it is indicating that the radiator is partially clogged up.
That鈥檚 what I thought, but the radiator is brand new.. it鈥檒l be discouraging if it鈥檚 clogged somehow. Thanks for pitching in!


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Discussion Starter #12
It's going to puke a lot if run without cap on the radiator. There always starts building pressure when the water heats up, that's why the caps got a pressure rating. The pressure makes the cooling water able to hit higher temps without starting to boil.
Yeah, I realize this in hindsight as the amount of cold water going in wasn鈥檛 nearly enough. To finish the break in, I will definitely use coolant and a cap!


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Discussion Starter #13
Can anybody pitch in on the photos of the head gaskets I posted? Are those correct?

Thanks!
Alex


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Yeah, I realize this in hindsight as the amount of cold water going in wasn鈥檛 nearly enough. To finish the break in, I will definitely use coolant and a cap!


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I don't use coolant for the break-in, just distilled water from Walmart. Corrosion is not an issue during the 20 minutes of break-in, so coolant is not needed. Water will cool your engine more efficiently compared to a 50:50 coolant mix and in case of a leak it is not a big mess.
+1 for the cap

Overheating can be an issue during break-in. You can always stop, let the engine cool down completely and continue the next day. As long as you get your total of 20 minutes @2000ish RPM.
Do you have a fan shroud?
What are the outside temperatures?
Can you place a strong fan in front of the radiator to help cooling?
 

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I don't even bother with distilled water for break-in....it isn't staying in there long enough to leave any mineral deposits. I also advance the timing to obtain the highest manifold vacuum reading and leave it there until break-in is complete... the engine will run much cooler. Don't forget to place a fan in front of the radiator blowing in to help.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I don't use coolant for the break-in, just distilled water from Walmart. Corrosion is not an issue during the 20 minutes of break-in, so coolant is not needed. Water will cool your engine more efficiently compared to a 50:50 coolant mix and in case of a leak it is not a big mess.
+1 for the cap

Overheating can be an issue during break-in. You can always stop, let the engine cool down completely and continue the next day. As long as you get your total of 20 minutes @2000ish RPM.
Do you have a fan shroud?
What are the outside temperatures?
Can you place a strong fan in front of the radiator to help cooling?
More great info here, thanks for pitching in again!

I do not have a fan shroud. It was probably 80掳 F out yesterday. I had a big wire fan in front of the radiator blowing air onto it.


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...the radiator is brand new.. it鈥檒l be discouraging if it鈥檚 clogged somehow.
I know it is like closing the gate after the horse walked off, but you should consider adding a screen/filter in your upper radiator hose. (Search for Gano, among others.) Your radiator is new and deserves protection from wads of gasket sealant and other nasties flowing out of your block.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I know it is like closing the gate after the horse walked off, but you should consider adding a screen/filter in your upper radiator hose. (Search for Gano, among others.) Your radiator is new and deserves protection from wads of gasket sealant and other nasties flowing out of your block.
You鈥檙e right, I鈥檝e been meaning to get one of those. Thanks for the reminder and for all your help!

Cheers, Alex
 
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