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Thread: Project Danielle - 1984 Cutlass Ciera Diesel - Engine repairs and restoration...

  1. #1
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    Default Project Danielle - 1984 Cutlass Ciera Diesel - Engine repairs and restoration...

    Howdy all! I've been away from the forums for a while due to work reasons and family / friends needing my time. Life gets in the way. But anyway I digress...

    Meet Danielle!



    She's a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham, with the 4.3L OldsDiesel engine. Danielle is a cousin to Camilla. They both belong to fellow forum member Chris, AVTechMan.

    Danielle was purchased as a project car, needing work. Chris brought Danielle down to Alabama on a dolly, with rusted out brake lines and bad headgaskets. Her 4.3 OldsDiesel engine would start and run, but there was lots of compression escaping the radiator. Significant head gasket leakage. The brake lines were rusted out.

    All up on stands.


    Off with the damaged parts!


    The compressor is locked up, so the A/C system will need a complete flushing out. During disconnecting the lines, we found out the road salt had seized up the fitting at the A/C condenser. The threads came off with the fitting. The condenser is junk. Another shocking realization is, the condenser is DIESEL SPECIFIC with both the fittings on the left side, and the early type outlet fitting (orifice tube at the evaporator).


    This week we made 2 trips to Pull-A-Part in Birmingham, AL to get brake lines and other useful parts. Made quite a haul! Expecting to get some large awkward brake lines, I brought the trailer. Ended up with not only brake lines; but also new front bumper, header, condenser and fan, door, and other odds and ends.


    The brakes have been fully rebuilt. Chris had already installed new wheel cyls and hardware on the rear.


    New (used but non-rusty) brake lines installed:


    At the master cylinder. This is a new M/C, with the good/ used brake lines in place.


    The condenser is an 86 model, with the fittings on opposite sides; and the outlet is configured for the condenser-mounted orifice tube. Therefore, the liquid line had to be replaced along with it to keep a compatible set of parts. Also the A/C hoses had to be modified. The discharge hose now must go across the engine bay, under the fan and out at the "normal" right-side position like all the gas engine cars.

    "New" condenser and liquid line.


    After cleaning internally with Zep Ultra Purple:


    Also we acquired and installed a push-fan and brackets from a 1995 model car, and installed this. The condenser, lines, and fan installed:


    Danielle has some rust. She has done hard time in the rust belt and it has taken its toll on some parts. The doors all need repairs. We have a source of Southern non-rusty doors. Chris installed one of the new doors. Miraculously, the window and door actuator both worked without rebuilding! The tracks and mechanisms were all lubed and checked out; and fresh Reflectix insulation installed.


    While Chris was installing the door, I was checking out the fan motor for the main radiator fan. The diesel cars have a much more powerful fan than the others. It has a more advanced motor design. This fan had a dragging sensation to it and it felt like something was wrong with the motor. Upon close inspection, I found that two of the permanent magnets had broken loose from the motor housing and were clinging to the rotor.


    The cause appeared to be.... rust. Rust buildup between the magnet and the shell of the motor had pushed the magnet away from the housing and broken the glue. The glue was hard to get off the magnet!

    First I tried a razor blade. It was not very effective.


    Then I tried a cookie pad grinder. It was very effective.


    Then put some Permatex Right Stuff liquid rubber gasket compound on it. The adhesive needs to be flexible and tough, because the magnets are ceramic and hard as glass. The motor shell can flex and expand / contract but the magnet will not. The adhesive must be able to "give" when this movement happens. If it is brittle and hard (like epoxy) it would separate again.


    Magnets stuck in place with some paper "packing" to ensure they don't slide off position as the adhesive dries.


    Baked all night with heat lamp.


    A little paint to seal out future rust:


    Bearing lubed with Lucas Longterm grease. This is a grease for "lubed for life" bearings that won't get any additional grease added periodically.
    Baked all night with heat lamp.


    And motor is running!


    Going on with the new fender and front end parts:






    The goal was to get the brakes fixed and take the car for a test drive around the block, to check the car for any additional problems. Unfortunately, we found out the headgasket problem is too severe to run the engine even for a few minutes. The few times the engine had been run (for backing off the trailer) it had no water in the cooling system, so the headgasket leak was merely causing compression in the cooling system. Because there was no water to leak into the cylinders or oil, the engine actually ran OK like this. However when the cooling system was filled in preparation for the test drive, the water was going into a cylinder. To prevent any chance of damaging the engine further, we decided to pull the engine out without any further testing.

    In preparation of engine removal tomorrow, Chris washed the engine thoroughly with the Zep degreaser and the pressure washer. It looks great! Hard to believe it is so sick.


    Our goal is to get the engine removed from the car tomorrow, and possibly do some preliminary teardown work.

    Sincerely,
    David

    Look me up on Facebook



  2. #2
    Senior Member babyivan's Avatar
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    Following

    '87 Olds Cutlass Ciera 3.8 SFI V6, 63K miles
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    '84 Chevy Celebrity 2.8 V6 (my very first car!)

  3. #3
    Junior Member XgfXca's Avatar
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    She looks great! looking forward to whats next!
    1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ceira SL 3.3L 2014- Weekend/Summer Car
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    1995 Chevrolet Astro 4.3L Dads 1996-2003 Mine 2003-2005

  4. #4
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XgfXca View Post
    She looks great! looking forward to whats next!
    Thanks, today will be engine removal day. Should have more picts this evening!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Papadopoulos's Avatar
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    Great project! Very nice work and it's great how you post these pictures and detai

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    Senior Member Papadopoulos's Avatar
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    Great work guys! I'm looking forward to see more about this project. Love the detailed pics and description.

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    Member Overclocked's Avatar
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    Looking forward to seeing more progress! Where are you going to buy the engine gaskets? (I'd imagine they're not too easy to come by)

  8. #8
    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbokinetic View Post
    "lubed for life"
    Premium Rail Grease - Timken's Premium Rail Grease is a long-life grease specifically formulated for use in railroad car wheel journals....Fortified with a high-performance corrosion inhibitor for increased bearing protection, even in the presence of salt water.

    Available in:

    35-pound pails - Part#GR117P

    120-pound kegs - Part#GR117K

    400-pound drums - Part #GR117D

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    Senior Member billkandi's Avatar
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    Oh goody!! Another David project!! Learning cap on and adjusted.
    Sold June 2015
    1990 Olds Ciera SL 3.3L 440T4 JA2 (FE3 upgrade underway.)
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    -98 Malibu 15" wheels (205 60 15 tires)

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    USAF (Retired) 1986-2007

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    Senior Member AVTechMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Overclocked View Post
    Looking forward to seeing more progress! Where are you going to buy the engine gaskets? (I'd imagine they're not too easy to come by)
    I managed to find the head gaskets last fall since they are the hardest ones to find. Yesterday I ordered the manifold gaskets from Ebay and the valve cover gaskets from another vendor. Granted it will be a challenge to find some of them but will eventually track them down.

    Lots of progress earlier tonight, more pics will be posted by David soon.
    My A-Body Cars (past and present), meet the family:

    Car With No Name: 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera w/Iron Duke (My first car, R.I.P.)
    Camilla: 1985 Chevy Celebrity Eurosport 2.8L V6 MPFI Iron Head (My new road cruiser)
    Jeanette: 1987 Pontiac 6000 LE Wagon 2.8L V6 (The daily driver)
    Danielle: 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera 4.3L V6 Diesel (Finally getting overhauled)

  11. #11
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    Hey guys! Had a little bit of life getting in the way of my thread posting!

    I have two projects going on at once. I promised another friend I would fix his busted transmission and convert the engine to EFI in his 1967 Chevy Camaro SS. He's been trying to find the time and motivation to bring it to my barn for about 1.5 years. Finally he found time. So I have to work on this one before / at the same time as Project Danielle.

    We started by disconnecting everything between the engine and the car, to prepare for engine removal.

    Chris getting the exhaust bolts out. Miraculously they came out easily! All the years of leaking oil kept them from sticking.


    Put the Porta-Power cylinder in the suspension to force the lower ball joint out of the steering knuckle. This makes the CV shaft disconnect so much easier:


    The CV shafts out. Notice someone had a clue. In the past, they put Antiseize Paste on the splines. This makes it much easier to get the shafts out of the hubs!


    Got the hoist connected. Getting close to lifting it out!!!


    ....And it's out!


    Chris taking off some accessories.


    Separated from the 125C trans:


    All the external parts off the engine. Barn floor is littered with Danielle Bits.


    A little Zep Purple Degreaser on the engine...


    And create a steamcloud with the pressure washer! Watch out for the flying wads of grime!


    All clean!


    Valvecovers and manifold off...


    Heads off. Found the root cause of the problems....


    Close up pict of the blown gasket...


    Bottom end looks good.


    Now for the Bad News. The beginning of the bad news.... Pistons out. Unfortunately, one is cracked. Exactly like the ones in my 4.3 from the Century Diesel Coupe.


    Now for more bad news. The heads are both cracked. One of them beyond repair. Chris found out that someone had REMOVED THE BULBS from the car's Engine Overheat warning light. It had no gauge, only a light. Each cylinder has a crack between the valves. The rear head has severe cracks, all the way across. The head is almost broken in half.
    Rear bank:


    Front bank:


    Now for some good news! I found a shop in Birmingham, AL who specializes in cylinder heads. They had 3 good core heads. So they can build up two heads for Danielle!


    As for the delays and distractions? My friend's camaro transmission was damaged in an accident (struck a curb and broken housing) so this is a straightforward repair. What is not straightforward is the engine. The Camaro had a very ugly situation with the engine. Someone had done a redneck special engine build. They had installed a hogged-out, non-choke, race-only Edelbrock carburetor(pronounced ELDO-Brock, of course...) Then they had also installed some obscenely nasty flat tappet / solid lifter camshaft which would not idle at less than 3000 RPM, constantly backfired, and made the engine emit a clacking raucous cacophony of wildly flailing misadjusted rocker arms and flexing pushrods. So the engine is getting a correctly specified hydraulic roller cam and throttle body EFI system. This is a well restored 67 Camaro SS with perfect interior and NOT A RACE CAR. The engine was a loud, slow, undrivable, untunable dog because of all the mismatched parts.



    While Chris and I were driving back from Birmingham Pull-A-Part with Danielle's new parts; there was a screeching and popping noise that started up from the trailer. Then there was smoke and sparks from one of the wheelbearings. I drilled a hole in the dust cap and filled the damaged bearing with the only thing I had - penetrating oil. This made it quieter and kept the bearing from totally disintegrating. But the trailer was down for the count.

    Then, a cheap ten-cent electrical contact got stuck, and burned out the motor on my air compressor. I had another used motor - but as with most things I have as spares, the motor needed to be opened up, inspected, and "freshened up." So I gave it new capacitors and bearings.

    Then I realized the original motor has a large box on top for the single phase motor capacitors. The new one has the box on the motor's right side. The same right side which is very close to the compressor pump. So the motor didn't fit until I modified the mounting base and moved the motor 6" away from the pump. Then the belts were too short. And the motor shaft was a different size.

    After going to town and getting new belts and a pulley bushing - the 1961 Westinghouse Airbrake / Dresser 800 compressor is running again! This time I made a modification to the motor and installed a fuse that should blow and disable the motor if the starting circuit gets stuck again.

    This compressor has a built-in antitheft feature. It weighs 1200 pounds.


    Then after getting that fixed up, I pulled the trailer bearings out to get them replaced. Notice there are not any rollers to be found.


    Hope for more updates later this week!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Papadopoulos's Avatar
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    Great new report on a great project! Keep these post coming, it's a pleasure to see and read.
    1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera "Lady Liberty" - Under (slow) progress LG3 to LN3 3.8 V6.
    1979 MG MGB Roadster - Running like a dream.

  13. #13
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papadopoulos View Post
    Great new report on a great project! Keep these post coming, it's a pleasure to see and read.
    Thanks! As usual I'll be posting as much aspossible as the project progresses.

  14. #14
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    OK got a small Danielle Update today. I'm working on two engines at one time so this will be a light update. My goal was to get both the blocks to the machine shop today but they closed before I got there. Even though I called and was told that they would be there till 18:00! Darn it.

    Anyway rant over.

    I got the crank and cam out of Danielle's block. The crank and cam are near perfect. This is to be expected with a low miles engine. The only worry was water damage from sitting for so long with blown headgaskets. But thankfully that didn't happen.





    The goal here is to get the engine running and give it a good chance to have a reasonable life. These engines are so obsolete and hard to find parts for it is unreal. If it were an LG3 or SBC or L67 or something common like those, I would just simply have it bored out and new pistons and be done with it. But pistons are unavailable for this one unless you have them custom made. This is where I got stumped on my diesel build. In the case of Danielle, I had 5 good pistons from this engine, and 4 good ones left over from my engine (which will need custom pistons). So I was able to put together a complete set of standard-bore pistons.

    The block has very little wear in the bores, which is typical of a low miles engine. The reason I would bore it is due to the water pitting in the 2 cylinders where the headgasket was leaking water into the cylinder with the engine stopped and let it corrode. The corrosion pitting is not very deep and it should not impair the performance of the engine. I have seen much worse engines work well.

    Going back to the reasonable life goal. The engine lasted 30 years and almost 100,000 miles already. The only part of the engine that failed is the headgaskets. This caused collateral damage. So another stock rebuild should give years of life.

    Since the head sealing area was the life limiting area of the engine, I want to have the heads and the block machined to a fresh, perfectly smooth surface. The new heads will be machined. I am taking the block to the machinist to have the decks shaved (as little as possible) to give a perfect surface for the headgaskets to bond.

    The block honed and ready to be shaved:


    I have cleaned the pistons and they look pretty good. There is some wear but nothing profound. I must have forgot to take pictures of them! That will be tomorrow's update.

    As an aside, those of you who are also my Facebook friends have seen this picture. This is a plugged-off oil filter relief valve, and a blown oil filter. Look into the center of the filter and you will see the crushed filter media and torn paper. This let a load of trapped debris go through the engine and it wrecked the bearings and caused the engine to need a full rebuild. This is a modification done by stupid, ignorant morons. They got some idea that plugging the relief valve was a good idea (which is NEVER a good idea) and the result was unpretty. My friend bought a 67 Camaro SS and it ran for about a month before the engine started knocking.

    Filter relief and blown filter. Note the pipe plug in the filter relief port.


    Every connecting rod big-end bearing is wiped and scored.


    Close-up picture of the grooved and wiped bearing insert.

  15. #15
    Senior Member AVTechMan's Avatar
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    David, will a new timing chain be needed for Danielle? If so I can work on getting one ordered. You should have gotten one of the manifold gaskets today (others are on their way).
    My A-Body Cars (past and present), meet the family:

    Car With No Name: 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera w/Iron Duke (My first car, R.I.P.)
    Camilla: 1985 Chevy Celebrity Eurosport 2.8L V6 MPFI Iron Head (My new road cruiser)
    Jeanette: 1987 Pontiac 6000 LE Wagon 2.8L V6 (The daily driver)
    Danielle: 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera 4.3L V6 Diesel (Finally getting overhauled)

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