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Thread: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

  1. #1
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    Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Hey guys,

    Stripped the cam from my head and discovered some wear in the cam journals. I didn't notice any issues or extra noise coming from the head when the car was running. What I saw is definitely concerning, but I just don't have the experience with these heads to know if it's acceptable or not.

    Can I still use this head? I've done some mild port&polish work to it, and it's otherwise in really good shape. I really don't want to deal with finding and swapping a new head if I can help it.

    The cam was already getting swapped along with a valvetrain refresh, which is how I discovered this.

    I'll attach some images for y'all to gander at.

    Caps/journals 1 and 5 are the worst, all the ones in the middle barely show any wear at all.

    (I was having a heck of a time getting my phone to focus in the available lighting, but I think it shows enough detail)










  2. #2
    turbo addict
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Not ideal, but they are pretty forgiving. Doesn't have bearings to ride in, so you can expect some wear. You can re-use that. If your feeling any obvious high spots, you can take some 600-800 grit sandpaper and remove the high spots. Sometimes there is embedded dirt and foreign debris in the head or caps. Look for that. Also you probably will find small porous holes in journals or caps. That is pretty normal too and nothing to lose any sleep over.
    The biggest thing is to clean, clean, clean. When you think you have it clean, clean and rinse your utility tub or sink out (if you have water in your garage). Hot, hot, water and soap or degreaser. Careful on using degreasers, as some like Purple Power and others are not recommended for aluminum. Using them may tint your aluminum head colors. A poor mans anodizing (lol)! Scrub it all down using brushes in every hole. Take out and air hose dry it immediately. Since you did some porting work, sand, metal chips, etc. can easily hide in oil and water passages. I knock at least one core plug out of the oil galley so I can run a brush all the way through them. I normally take the drivers side out as it can be changed out without removing the timing belt, pulleys, etc. BTW- Oil galley plugs are 5/8".
    The debris was from foreign material, so last go around something wasn't cleaned as well as it should have been. When you get done, slowly drain the water out, and check the sink to see all the foreign debris that was hiding in your head.
    Good luck!
    Todd
    Last edited by 4 l-bodies; 09-28-2020 at 08:07 PM. Reason: typos

  3. #3
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Thanks for the reply, Todd!

    That is some good news. I think the damage likely occurred about 10 years ago when the car spun #1 rod bearing. I had done my port/polish work before that happened and the head went to a shop to be tanked and freshened, but who knows! Some of that crap could have been hiding in there.

    The important part is it sounds like as long as I'm meticulous about it the head should be usable. I can do that lol.

    I've seen enough of your posts to trust your word on this one. Looks like I'll be hauling it to my machinist then to get some beehives put in

    Thanks again!
    -Zach

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff 135sohc's Avatar
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Run a 3/8 NPT tap into the oil gallery holes and use a threaded plug. On cylinder #4 end dont run it in too far as it will restrict oiling to the cam journals/lifters. The steel core plug into aluminum will not always reliably seal if the bore is even slightly dinged up from past R&R of the plug.
    1994 Shadow Sedan. 2.2 N/A, A568 377,000 miles. (In the family since new).
    1987 Shelby CSX #418. Long term rebuild and restore.

  5. #5
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Yeah what Craig said is my preferred method. You can buy a brass, stainless, or aluminum socketed 3/8" NPT plug for about the same $ as a 5/8" core plug. No need to drill, just run a 3/8" NPT tap. Some plugs are much thicker than others, so like Craig says careful not to tap too far. Flush usually works fine for both sides.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Thanks for the tips guys. I'm not familiar with the threaded plug mod you're all talking about, so I'll have to do a little research.

    My head is already at the shop getting checked over, though. I wasn't planning on making any more metal shavings since it's gonna be cleaned up professionally. How necessary is it really to install new threaded plugs?


    - okay, after looking into it a bit the concept of what you're saying is simple. However, I still don't like the idea of running a tap after the head has been cleaned up. I've never had any problems with the standard plugs. I can't imagine it being a deal breaker to leave the stock style in?
    Last edited by Mudman; 09-29-2020 at 12:33 PM. Reason: Updated post

  7. #7
    Supporting Member Turbo Mopar Contributor GLHS60's Avatar
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Point is you can't properly clean the head without removing the stock plugs.

    You can replace the stock core plugs if you don't wish to use threaded plugs.

    Most shops don't remove the stock core plugs and clean the oil passage.

    Removing the core plugs destroys them so they are not reusable.

    Debris can end up on cam journals and throughout the Engine.

    Check with your shop and see if they remove/replace them.

    Thanks
    Randy


    There is no logical reason to call an Engine a motor.

    Randy Hicks
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  8. #8
    Super Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff 135sohc's Avatar
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    The first time I had my original cylinder head (now RIP) redone I carefully removed ALL of the plugs before it went in to ensure they could not cut corners. What I got back was a mess of hard set permatex goop and those incompetent hacks actually 'staked' the plug in with two big flat chisel marks @ a 45 across the end of the bore hole. Of course it leaked like a mofo from the very first start up... back out it came and it got tapped using my drill press as a guide. Wasted a head gasket on that mess and about a week of my time.

    Same story with the cylinder block and that really boiled me over. Thankfully it all started leaking at the same time and got fixed at the same time but what a mess. I did the block tapping in frame and a few years later when the valve seat dropped on #4 as part of pulling the piston to check for damage I noticed the rod bearing on #4 had some crap in it.. presumibly from that in frame emergency fix. I still have excellent oil pressure (knock on wood) so for whatever damage did occur the soft bearing surface did its job.
    1994 Shadow Sedan. 2.2 N/A, A568 377,000 miles. (In the family since new).
    1987 Shelby CSX #418. Long term rebuild and restore.

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Turbo Mopar Contributor GLHS60's Avatar
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    It was common to stake oil gallery cups on SBC's with their cast iron blocks.

    There are more dud mechanics than dud T-M cars.

    That's my observation.

    Thanks
    Randy


    There is no logical reason to call an Engine a motor.

    Randy Hicks
    86 GLHS60
    86 GLHS 373 : SOLD, but never forgotten
    89 Turbo Minivan
    83 Turbo Rampage : SOLD
    Edmonton,Alberta,Canada

  10. #10
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Hey guys,

    Been busy for a bit but I did get some info from the shop working on my head.

    The head passed pressure testing, so no worries there. They are going to remove all plugs from the head, thoroughly clean all oil gallery passages and replace the plugs as part of the work they're doing. This is my first time dealing with this shop but they do seem to be honest and professional. I think I can have confidence in their work, which is something of a miracle for my smallish town.

    The only problem is they apparently do most the serious headwork for all of my city, and other auto shops send their jobs over to this machine shop. Because of that, my head probably won't be done until another two weeks down the road..but I don't mind waiting if it means quality work.

    Thanks for the help as always!
    -Zach

  11. #11
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Hey as long as your dealing with the cam cap issue, I thought I would mention this. The oil squirter in the cam caps could use a few minutes of work. I have my theory as to why many times one or two lobes wear worse than others on slider camshafts. I think it is because of a oil starvation issue. If you look closely at the caps, you will see metal deviation and distortion on both the inboard and outboard sides of the caps. A few seconds with a fine ignition file or rotary carbide file, and each cap is prepared. Attached below is NOS head cap (first two photos) followed by prepared cap (last two photos).
    Todd
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  12. #12
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    Hi Todd,

    I see what you mean there. I'll certainly have to carefully look over my cam caps and clean them up next time I'm out at the shop.

    I'm actually running a roller cam though (if that matters). Even still, for some reason I had some chipping on one cam lobe which is what prompted me to replace the cam in the first place. I'm really unsure why the chipping occurred, however.


  13. #13
    Super Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff 135sohc's Avatar
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    old age/mileage

    The oem roller cam on my TBI car had a spalled spot on #2, it was minor and I ran it that way for years/150k+ miles before the head itself was just no longer reliable.
    1994 Shadow Sedan. 2.2 N/A, A568 377,000 miles. (In the family since new).
    1987 Shelby CSX #418. Long term rebuild and restore.

  14. #14
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    Re: Can I use my head? (cam journals)

    I just don't want to risk it with this cam, there's considerable material missing lol. I only found out because I was pulling the head off to bore my block - yikes. There was some very minor scoring on the crank journals too. All that's been cleared up but it makes me wonder if those tiny chips of cam lobe have been making a merry circuit of my engine for a while..

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