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Ford Tractors Discussion Forum

Thought it was head gasket!?

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01-19-2019 09:44:47

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1985 yr. model, 540B. Had antifreeze was mixing with crankcase oil. Did a head gasket replacement just like your suppose to. All other components looked fine. Reassembled as far as reattaching head, intake, radiator hoses,etc. Before replacing engine oil drain plug and adding engine oil, decided to add antifreeze to radiator. After adding about one gallon of AF, noticed the antifreeze trickling out of crankcase drain. :shock: Now What? Should I read it it's last rights?

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01-20-2019 17:10:06

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to MrBreton, 01-19-2019 09:44:47  
Thank you to everyone that gave some feedback regarding this issue I'm having with this machine.
First a little history about this tractor. It is owned by a state agency and has been since new. That may tell you alot as far as it's maintenance record goes. The 540B has been used mainly used for pulling a 60" Woods mower deck. Mainly used in the winter months, cutting fields and trails used for bird hunting in one of the New England states. Other than that, sporadic use as a loader, or with an attached chipper, or post hole auger. In the off seasons, these machines (there are two of them, the other of which in the same time frame, broke a connecting rod.) would sit idle for many months at a time. Maintenance consisted only of oil changes and grease jobs. Radiator changed out once in the twenty years of my experience with these units.
When the antifreeze first appeared mixing with the oil, I thought for certain it would be a simple head gasket job. with my basic mechanics background, I decided to try to save the agency a little money and do the job myself. Otherwise the tractor would likely have been abandoned as the other 540 was.
I was thoroughly disappointed to see antifreeze dribbling out the oil drain after doing what I thought what was a necessary head job. I tend to believe that cavitation erosion is the most likely issue with this machine. I never even knew that was a thing until I found this forum. (Amazing what you can learn here.) It makes the most sense considering the way this machine was used and not properly maintained. Likely internal rusting in an air pocket in the water-jacket rusted thru and caused this failure. Unfortunately, this tractor will not be salvaged. Nor the other with the broke connecting rod. They will be deemed beyond repair and sent to the boneyard despite being ultimately fixable.
Shamefully the state agency will find it easier to replace them with a half plastic/half electronic P.O.S. that will never last half as long as these fine machines have.
Thanks again for all your feedback!

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Destroked 450

01-19-2019 14:34:03

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to MrBreton, 01-19-2019 09:44:47  
Drop the pan and find where the leak is coming from.

Could be a pin hole in a cylinder, hole in the bottom of the water jacket, ect.

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01-19-2019 10:49:46

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to MrBreton, 01-19-2019 09:44:47  
You have cavitation erosion. Doesn't mater which hole it is. Strip it down and send the block to a machine shop for sleeves.

There is a very *remote* possibility that the soft plugs in your head (under the rockershaft) are leaking. Check for that first.

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01-19-2019 13:21:30

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to Bern, 01-19-2019 10:49:46  
I rebuilt an engine in a 3930 last year and had it sleeved, after reassembling it had oil going in the coolant when running and coolant going into the base when it wasn't. I removed the base and pressurized and found coolant coming from one of the main journals. Sent it back to the machine shop and they bored the oil galley and installed a tube. I suspect it might have had a casting flaw that finally gave out. That was a first for me.


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Ultradog MN

01-19-2019 18:10:03

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to mhb@ufe, 01-19-2019 13:21:30  
The old machinist who does our work swears he's done a lot of the fixes you describe.
On 3,4 and 6 cyl engines.

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01-20-2019 03:05:59

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to Ultradog MN, 01-19-2019 18:10:03  
Did he give any indication of what he thought caused this type of failure?


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Ultradog MN

01-20-2019 04:10:57

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to mhb@ufe, 01-20-2019 03:05:59  
It's been a few years since I talked to him about it so I don't remember.
Bern and I talked about this a bit.
I gave him the old machinist's # but don't know if they ever talked.
I have his # here if you ever want to call him.
I do remember him telling me how back in the 90s? a dealer had several blocks that were in their scrap pile because of it. Ron (the machinist) bought one for scrap, pressure tested it then used a grinder to cut open the oil gally on it and discovered the cause. Then he bought some more blocks and did as you said and bored them and epoxied in a tube.
He made good money doing it and selling them. I think? they were mostly 6 and 4 cyl blocks but he's seen it on 3 cyls too.
He tried to explain where the hole occured but without a block to point to I didn't quite understand.
Ron is an old school engine rebuilder and is very knowledgeable.
That's all I know about it.

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01-19-2019 13:27:50

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to mhb@ufe, 01-19-2019 13:21:30  
I've heard of that happening before, but have never seen it myself. I suspect that it is a very rare type of failure in Fords.

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01-19-2019 10:32:25

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to MrBreton, 01-19-2019 09:44:47  
pressurize the cylinders one at a time and see where the air leaks out.. Always diagnose before disassembly! Otherwise, it is just a guessing game.

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01-19-2019 10:21:18

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to MrBreton, 01-19-2019 09:44:47  
Get a bore scope the ones for a phone are cheap pull the injectors

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Roger in Iowa

01-19-2019 10:05:00

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 Re: Thought it was head gasket!? in reply to MrBreton, 01-19-2019 09:44:47  
Remove the oil pan if you can and see where the drip is coming from, past a piston, sleeve or block. May have to turn engine over 1/2 turn to see. Could be from the head, but maybe unlikely with only one gallon installed.

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