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2003 Lariat F350 – 6.0L Powerstroke

I always feel like there isn’t quite enough information about replacing head gaskets on a six liter, even all of these years later. There is always a question unanswered, or a method not yet discussed. I figured I’d start yet another thread to discuss my methods and experience, and hopefully get some answers for myself and others. The more info, the better, right? Hoping this can be another place to discuss everything in the hg replacement process, and if you disagree with me on anything, feel free to say so!

So, first of all, out of the three methods, we chose to do it in-chassis. Cab lifting was not an option, and engine removal seemed like it could have benefits, but wasn’t worth it considering my time limitations. Secondly, I was on a budget. I am not being trying to be cheap, just not rolling in Benjamins. ☹ Third, my job was preventive, not a requirement. I simply wanted to put ARP studs in before anything happens.

Fan Removal: Although this method seems to be a bit more unpopular, I went ahead and removed my radiator, radiator support member, shroud, and intercooler before pulling the fan and clutch assembly. This provides so much more room, and you may even have room to stand inside the engine compartment (very helpful to do so!).
Of course, special tools are available for fan removal. If you have them, or can afford them, use them. If not, there is always the air chisel method that many would suggest. I don’t have an air hammer either though, and I wouldn’t trust myself to do it well on my first use of the tool. It seems as though someone else beat the “you know what” out of my fan’s nut with an air hammer before…
The method I found to be effective was a 24’’ pipe wrench, something to hold the pulley, and a firm whack to the pipe wrench with a decent-size mini-sledge. Popped right off with very little damage to the nut. Adjustable wrench would probably be even better, but mine was just a bit too small and not very long.

Y-pipe Removal: This was the hardest part of the tear-down. Persistence is key. I spent at least four hours on this alone, but it felt great when it was done. First off, use a torch (CAREFULLY) and soak them in PB Blaster to hopefully break up some seizure. Some you won’t be able to get at safely with a torch. My next suggestion would be to find somewhere safe that a wrench can press against. On the passenger side lower set, I used the transmission housing (I think) to put pressure on the ratchet and 10mm socket holding the bolt part, while I put all of my strength into the breaker bar and 13mm nut. This worked well. Trying to divide your strength between two wrenches is very hard.

Install new hardware, you’ll likely break at least one of your current ones anyway.

SCT Fittings: Just use a small (very thin) wrench to pop it free, no need for special tools. Air tools typically come with little open-end wrenches like this.

Engine Roll: Make sure the passenger HPO rail is out! You can videos on doing this, but to sum it up, just break the two nuts on the driver’s side of engine cross-member free and put a tall wood block and jack on the rear corner of the engine (not on the oil pan area at all, too risky imo). When the driver’s head is off, completely remove the engine mount and set it fully down, leave tension on the wood block though, it’ll stay in position for later.
Rockers and Pushrods: With the fan and radiator out, you should have room to stand in the engine compartment. First, break all the 10mm bolts around each rocker arm free. Then, following the sequence, remove the cylinder head bolts (NOTE: If you roll the engine enough, you won’t need the special adapter tool they make for head bolts. I was able to get a deep well 18mm socket on the driver’s back bolt. It would be even better with a short socket). With the head bolts out, I’d suggest getting a helper or 10 to help with head pulling. It is very helpful to hand someone else the rockers, pushrods, and valve bridges while you stay under the hood. Instruct them to lay them out in order! Use a ziptie to hold any bolt the doesn’t fully come out.

Head Pulling: Now, the most tricky part of my experience. I borrowed a 1 ton hoist, and I had absolutely no good angle to approach at and the boom just wasn’t long enough. Very defeating at first. If you can, use a hoist, it is so much better. BUT, since a lot of us are trying to save a buck, here is our method, which worked very well (so much better than trying to lift them alone). We had three people, chains, and a 2 x 4 x 8 board (strong enough to hold the weight for sure). We set up the chains in a way that would evenly distribute the head weight (I’ll post a picture at some point) and looped the chains around the board. Two people on both sides of the truck can lift the head up pretty easily, by putting the board on their shoulder and the third can guide the head around anything in the way.
They make a bracket for head pulling. I found that chains do just as well. If you do choose to use chains, leave the exhaust manifolds in place. This gives you more places to wrap chain for better control and weight distribution. Also, DON’T FORGET to pull your standpipes, I almost did.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at… More to come, but I am waiting on the machine shop now. That reminds me, if you have them off, get them checked. It is crucial that you do so now, or you might be doing it again.

Any tips for block surface preparation? I spent an hour with cleaner and a plastic scraper, and got pretty much nothing done. I am nervous about using a razor, but the seems like the best way to get the old blue gasket material off.

Haven't gotten a chance to snap any good pictures, so I'll post some soon!
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