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Discussion Starter #1
This concerns a 1989 7.3 idi E-350 cutaway converted to a flat bed truck.
I am installing new glow plugs and I have run into an issue. While trying to remove one, it gets to the last few threads and just spins. I can re-tighten it down, but can get it to come completely out when loosening.
First question is, any idea what is going on, and any ideas on how to get it out.
Second question is, if I can't get it out, can I leave the one non-functioning glow plug and just replace the rest.
Unfortunately, it is the one that is under the rigid fuel injection line junction where a few come together and I can only get a socket and universal on it. I don't have a straight shot at it.
Thanks for any help!
Bob
 

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It sounds like it is backing out of the threads all the way if it spins. I would bet the GP has major carbon buildup.

Brake or Carb spray should help loosen/dissolve the carbon. You may have to remove the injector lines do you can grab the GP with a set of needle nose vise grips.

With the vise grips locked on, spray the GP and twist while pulling. Continued spraying and working should prove successful.

If this seems like too much, then yes you can leave one GP in and the engine will still start. You may get white smoke, and sooner or later that GP will have to be dealt with.
 

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What brand GP is it, Champion, Autolite and some other brands the tip will swell making them hard to remove if at all.
The ZD9 Motorcraft/Beru seem to hold up a long time and hardly ever swell, DieselRX is the next best brand by my testing a few others.

As chuckster said spray and keep turning counterclock wise. If the tip is swelled it will take a long time to remove.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A little more background on this truck. It is a retired ambulance. I bought it with the box removed as a cutaway. It only had 47k documented miles on it and it only has about 50k on it now. It may have some idle hours but it doesn't have an hour meter.

Well, all the glow plugs are replaced. The one that was a problem, has either bit the dust or waiting to cause me problems down the road.
I tried the carb spray as Chuckster57 advised and I think that was an excellent idea, but it didn't work on the problem one. A couple of the ones that I was able to remove, were swelled as Bill1013 suggested. They were all Autolite. There wasn't much carbon on any of them, which I take as a good sign for the engines health. I think the problem one was swelled so much that there was no way it would come up out of the hole. After turning it for hours and then with a 1/4 in air wrench at speed to see if that would help, the tip below separated from the top portion. It was visible in the hole and I spent another hour with some long needle nose pliers trying to move it back and forth while pulling up. No luck.

I read on another post with this issue that International told him that it would probably be ejected through the exhaust. I know this is a long shot and it could cause damage, but at this point I have two choices. (No way I am removing the head)

One push it down and take my chances with it being expelled and hoping for no damage. Two, crank the engine and see it would expel itself out the top from combustion. I put some towels over the hole and fired it up from outside the van. A loud explosion, some smoke, a burned towel and the tip disappears into the engine. I can't see anything in the hole so I decide to put a glow plug in the hole and fire it up again. This time, just after it fires up, a pop on that side and the engine is running fine.

I am hoping that it expelled it through the exhaust. I ran it to temp, raced the engine a few times and that's the end of the story for today.
Thanks for all the help guys! I can only hope this turns out well.
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Bill1013, I like your avatar and you might appreciate my headrests on another truck I am building. It's a 1948 International Harvester KB-1 resto-mod. It's on a 96 Dakota chassis and running a 327ci Chevy, with a 5 sp manual trans.
Here is a link to my website for that truck if you are interested in looking.
Bob Home

I CANT BELIEVE I POSTED THE SAME THING TO Bill1013 LAST YEAR AND COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT DOING IT. SORRY BILL. I PLEAD 70 YEAR OLD BRAIN CELLS.
 

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It does sound like you successfully passed a tip. In my opinion you got lucky, and I hope you didn't put Autolites back in.
 

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One push it down and take my chances with it being expelled and hoping for no damage. Two, crank the engine and see it would expel itself out the top from combustion. I put some towels over the hole and fired it up from outside the van
That method works well, but FYI you DON'T want to fire the engine up, you should pull the wire at the shutdown solenoid and just crank it over a bit. I watched a guy blow out 4+ of them years ago. He acted like it wasn't the first time he had to do it. And they DO shoot out like a bullet. I suggested it here a time or two and it worked well for some members here. Glad you got it done.
and the tip disappears into the engine.
I bet the tip is down on the valley pan somewhere where we've all dropped a nut or bolt at one time or another. :)
 

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I put some towels over the hole and fired it up from outside the van. A loud explosion, some smoke, a burned towel and the tip disappears into the engine. I can't see anything in the hole so I decide to put a glow plug in the hole and fire it up again. This time, just after it fires up, a pop on that side and the engine is running fine.
WOW, lucky it didn't start a real fire and burn up all the wiring. If you just covered the GP hole, more than likely the tip didn't come out there, the precups have a very small hole in them to the cylinder, hole is oval, about 5/16" x 7/16", the pop you heard was probably the piston squeezing the tip, at TDC there is only about .040 thousandth clearance, pistons extend .040 above the block deck, head gasket is .085 thick, gasket squeeze is nominal .005.
 

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If you just covered the GP hole, more than likely the tip didn't come out there
There's a difference between theory (guesswork) and actually seeing it done (not by the OP, of course). I have seen it and evidently you haven't. And after seeing it, an old blanket over that particular bank works fine. Otherwise there may be a dent in the hood or loss of an eyeball. It's not rocket surgery, the glow plug is stuck in the threaded hole due to swelling/carbon and as the piston comes up on the compression stroke, the plug blasts out like a bullet, it's not down in or through the precup hole. Another slower option is the clever tool made by OTC which grips the exposed threads, allowing the plug to be screwed out forcing the swollen tip up through the GP hole.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Another slower option is the clever tool made by OTC which grips the exposed threads, allowing the plug to be screwed out forcing the swollen tip up through the GP hole.
As I was turning the gp over and over with no results, I actually thought about making a tool to do this. If there had been room under and around the injector tubing, I would have made that attempt. I eventually turned it enough that the tip separated from the upper portion and with some very long needle nose and setting up a leverage point, the upper portion pulled away from the tip. It probably was separated for quite a while and all I was doing was just spinning it. I took one of the old gp apart and the tip is pressed in with the contact wire encased in porcelain. It really doesn't take too much to twist them apart and separate them. I am sure that tip was really bulged and swelled to the point that it would have never come out the top.
Thanks everyone and I hope the next guy can learn something from these posts.
Bob
 

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Yessir, it definitely depends how badly the tip is swollen. I've never had the pleasure myself. My last set of Motorcrafts were in 11 years and 80,000 miles and when I pulled them they were all working and looked like new. If you're bored sometime, look up the OTC glow plug removal tool. It's a slick design there again if the tip is not too swollen.
 

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My 1987 f250 had the glow plugs replaced a few yrs ago and the mechanic broke one off so it was just left in. The truck ran ok, but cold starts were a little rough. Recently, When I started it up at the mall, I heard a loud pop under the hood. It was the remainder of the broken plug blowing out the top. Put a new one in and its fine.
 

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On my 1987 f250, the mechanic broke off a GP so we just left it in. A few yrs later I heard a loud pop as the broken plug shot out of its hole. Just put a new one in .
 

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I am new to this forum and the diesel world, but I have already picked up so much information I am astonished. I recently bought a 1989 F350 7.3l IDI. It wouldn't cold start and the previous owner said that he'd replaced the glow plugs less than two years ago and that it should just need a new glow plug controller. I swapped that out last weekend and was rewarded with the telltale click of failure to engage. I did some research and decided to swap all the plugs. The first one was showing some signs of swelling but came out with little prompting from my vicegrips... with a broken tip. The rest I changed without difficulty. I've tried to get some light down the glow plug hole and it doesn't look like the tip is lodged in the hole. If I find it is, I've read on these boards of several techniques to blow or pull it out. But if I'm right and the tip has fallen down, how likely is it that

a) it somehow happened before I pulled the GP while the engine is running
b) it will pass through with the engine without causing any issues

Option a seems unlikely because the exposed interior section doesn't look the same as the outside of the GP, and I figure if the engine had been running when the tip broke there would be similar deposits instead of what looks like rust. So what I'm really wondering is based on how small the broken tip is what are my odds? I have read through the procedures to remove the head and it looks like a total pain that I am not exactly equipped to do in my gravel driveway (where the truck currently sits until I feel I can safely run it). I know I can try removing the injectors (which I was going to diagnose for leaks anyway once the truck was running. There seems to be considerable deposits of carbon all over the block, especially around the GPs) so that I might suck or fish the tip out which seems like a long shot. So again I ask the experts, what are the odds this tiny, clearly brittle, tip causes any damage? If you can't recommend it in good conscience, do I have any other options? I really appreciate all the info I have seen on here. I've included a picture of the GP. They were all Diesel RX, so I was kind of surprised to find any swelling issues, but Motorcraft is what I've put back in.
 

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I had that happened last march and i pull the engine out to get the piece out

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Good lord I can't even go down that road. What made that necessary? Forgive me if I'm mistaken but once it's descended wouldn't it get picked up in the filter? I was thinking that the danger was in the tighter tolerance space in the cylinder during the movement.
 

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When i removed the glow plug, i found the whole tip was missing and stuck in the head. On top of that it was the #7 cyl so not much place to play around. I was waiting on some parts for my diff so I decided to pull the engine,have look in it and reinstall new gasket and seal with some upgrades at the same time


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