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7.3L IDI Diesels (Not Power Strokes) Technical discussion of topics related to vehicles powered by the 7.3 Liter In-Direct Injection Navistar engines.

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Old 12-06-2012, 12:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Block Surface Question

I know you're not supposed to sand off the gasket material when you are reconditioning a block and that the machine shop should do the surfacing because they have exacting tools for it. But do you really think a little light sanding with a random orbital sander with high grit is really going to "round" over some of the surface, warble it just enough to cause a problem with the gasket conncetion?

I'm going to check the block surface with a feeler (0.003 in) and the machine shop's straight edge. What do you think?
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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depends- i would if it was alot of old material i would use no courser than 150 grt than when i got almost to metal i'd do the rest by hand with finer grit OR i would soak old with carb, brake clnr or general degreaser and let it soak awhile. i have done it both ways and the soaking w a cleaner and a good scraper works really well.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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For prepping gasket surfaces, I always use my 90* die grinder, and run a 3" 3M Roloc disk. Its like a scotch brite pad on crack. There's 4 different abrasive levels. I use the maroon pad, or the brown pad. If you're worried about removing too much material from the deck, then use the green pad. The green pad is for aluminum. Its very soft.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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3M part number for the 3" Roloc pad:
Brown pad (very coarse)- 07485
Green pad (very fine)- 07513
I don't know the p/n's for the other two
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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thanks. I used the machine shop's straight edge and 3/1000 gauge, surface looks perfect. Doubt a litttle sanding made any problems with it.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Was your engine completely disassembled? If it was you may get away with it after a very thorough cleaning.But if not, the slightest amount of aluminum oxide, and I mean just slight amount that slips thru piston edges or oil gallies will migrate to the sump,thru the pump and take out your main bearings first. 40 years ago believe it or not power tools existed that would obviously do this job much easier, but would earn you a clip in the ear from an old-timer because it wasnt the right way to do it. Use a phenolic or plexiglass scraper, gloves and elbow grease and vacuum often. You obviously feel guilty for it and have your doubts. Your block and head surfaces should show much less than .003 waviness cold for good gasket seat.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Your block and head surfaces should show much less than .003 waviness cold for good gasket seat.
No it shouldn't, like most other diesels, you're allowed up to .006 using a straightedge diagnally, end to end and side to side. You're perfectly safe lightly surfacing the heads and block with fine sandpaper or pad wrapped around a block of wood or whatever, before your final cleaning. Standard practice in any truck shop.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by LMJD View Post
No it shouldn't, like most other diesels, you're allowed up to .006 using a straightedge diagnally, end to end and side to side. You're perfectly safe lightly surfacing the heads and block with fine sandpaper or pad wrapped around a block of wood or whatever, before your final cleaning. Standard practice in any truck shop.
True if the engine is still installed for a field repair,but if I have delivered it to a machine shop I expect an attempt at .0015 and if I cant have that, then an optional gasket for a really bulletproof install. My point being, be aware of what abrasives you use and efforts pay off.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Unless I request that the part be "surfaced", the Machine shop I use will check and if within service limits won't perform that service.

I happen to own my own machinist straight edge, and I do check EVERY head I remove, and so far (12 years) the machine shop and I have used has been in total agreement. He is co-owner of at least 5 land speed records, and has been running that shop for over 30 yrs. shaving a head or block ISN'T a given, and I have put together tons of engines with "regular" gaskets and .005 warp. NOT one has come back in the 35+ yrs I have been doing that, and FWIW I have used fine sandpaper, and a clean rag with brake spray for about the same time, without any failures.


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