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Old 12-31-2006, 11:32 AM   #1
aggiedave98
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HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

Ok, I've posted on here before about my coolant leak that I couldn't find and I didn't see coolant in my oil, but here are pics the valve covers and the rockers, etc. If I run my finger on the lifter valley, there is a lot of basically I guess it's sludge. It's very thick.

Am I screwed?? How can I clean this?? Does this mean damage to the engine? If so, what??













Last edited by aggiedave98; 12-31-2006 at 11:34 AM. Reason: fixing pic links
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:02 PM   #2
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

I'm guessing newer vortec motor! You probably have a small crack in the head or a water passage somewhere is leaking into oil. Is your oil level up or normal? I've seen some that if the vehicle sits for lengths of time it will get moisture under the valve covers but not that much. If you have been l;osing coolant I'd check into the heads or head gaskets either way I would take them off and have them checked. Just one opinion for you.
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:05 PM   #3
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

There does seem to be a bit of sludge along with the snot from the coolant leak. I'd just use some brake cleaner and clean what you can off of the rockers and valves covers. If you really wanted the valve cover clean you could take them to the car wash and blast them or a machine shop and have them tanked. After a few oil changes what you have in the engine will be gone for the most part. I wouldent worry too much about it.
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:11 PM   #4
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

I guess I should have posted this part... It's a '98 350 in my burb. I'm in the middle of changing my intake gasket because I've been losing coolant and can't seem to find an external leak, although I didn't see coolant in the oil. I bought the burb about a month ago and changed the oil.

I'm changing the intake gasket and that's how I saw this... I took the passenger side valve cover off. I'm about to take off the intake.

thanks for the quick help!! I've got my laptop in the garage right now... and will be online if you guys have more questions/comments...

what causes cracked heads?? could they be cracked without overheating??
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:55 PM   #5
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

After you get it put back together, don't use the factory coolant. Use the common green. Change the t-stat (195), Change the oil. And most inportant, change the PCV valve---it will be plugged up.
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Old 12-31-2006, 12:57 PM   #6
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

Thanks kwmech. What does the 195 tstat do?? What is factory temp??
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Old 12-31-2006, 04:46 PM   #7
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

WOW, LOOKS LIKE THE LAST OWNER WASN'T INTO GENERAL MAINT. OF A VEHICLE. i WOULD CLEAN THE VAILVE COVERS WITH SOME DEGREASER, OVEN CLEANER WORKS GREAT BUT YOU WONT HAVE ANY PAINT LEFT ON THEM IF ANY GETS ON THE TOP SIDE. CLEAN OUT/OFF THE ROCKER AREA AS BEST YOU CAN WITH A RAG AND THEN DO SOME 500-1000MI. OIL CHANGES (TWO SHOULD BE ENOUGH) TO GET RID OF THE LEFT OVER GUNK ON THE HEADS.
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Old 12-31-2006, 07:09 PM   #8
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

that looks a lot like long term sludge buildup due to lots of very very short trips or a lack of oil changes. your pcv probably needs changed as well. i wouldnt reccomend breaking all that stuff loose thats up there because if you dont get all the loose stuff out its going to end up clogging up the oil pump screen. when you get the intake off look at the lifter valley and see if it looks the same or worse. if it looks the same its likely from a lack of oil changes.
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Old 12-31-2006, 07:33 PM   #9
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

I had a old 70's model 350 that had a intake manifold gasket go bad and leaked coolent into the lifter valley I drove it for about a year like that I thought it was burning the water due to a possible head gasket seeping and finally decided to pull the intake off to replace the gasket due to oil leak and it look like white and black sludge all over everything. My dad told me to wipe as much off as I could and install the intake and new gaskets back drain and refill oil and filter but ADD 1/2 CUP OF DEISAL FUEL INTO THE CRANKCASE LET IT RUN FOR UNTIL IT GET WARM AND THEN DRAIN OIL AND CHANGE FILTER I DID THIS 3 TIMES AND WHEN i PULLED THE VALVE COVERS BACK OFF IT WAS NIGHT AND DAY DIFFERANCE He informed me that the deisal cleans the sludge off pretty good. I didn't believe him and laughed at him but hell I was a snought nosed Teen at the time! We all thought we new more than our parents... Again never heard this before my dad told me about it and I tried. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:09 AM   #10
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

Quote:
Originally Posted by aggiedave98 View Post
Thanks kwmech. What does the 195 tstat do?? What is factory temp??

Factory temp is 195. If your cooling system is in good condition the temp will not hurt a thing. The higher temp helps keep the oil moisture free and sludge down. The computor is also set for the higher temp with the sensors and emmisions
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Old 01-01-2007, 01:43 AM   #11
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

I had the brilliant idea of removing some original stock wire looms to have them chromed. The bolts attaching the looms to the intake manifold also happened to hold down the manifold, too. Never seen so much steam and oil as the first time I drove it like that. I thought it was a blown head gasket or cracked head, too, until I realized what I'd done.


Anyway, I pulled the intake manifold and valve covers and saw the same goop in the lifter valley and valve covers, too. The goop was only toward the back of the valley, below the spot where I had pulled the bolts.

I sprayed a little engine degreaser in the valley and the top of the heads, scrubbed the tight places with a toothbrush and wiped it up with some paper towels. I installed a new intake manifold a couple of days ago, so next step is an engine flush using clean oil and filter to catch any junk, then another oil change and fresh filter to drive with.

If you opt to pull the heads, I learned that "magna fluxing" (help me out guys if I'm getting the name wrong) is a good way to check for cracks in heads. The shop dusts a yellow magnetic powder on the heads, then sends a magnetic field through the heads that attracts the yellow powder into any existing cracks for detection.

Below are "goop" and "no more goop" pictures for anyone's reference out there. I'm following your saga and hope you find the real source of your leak. I'll post anything good I learn in case it helps. Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2007, 03:07 AM   #12
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

If you have a shop vac and a screwdriver you can clean alot of it out. Use the screwdriver to break up the sludge and at the same time have the shopvac sucking it up . I do this at work all the time and works great. Then i use castrol 15-40 oil (its a detergent oil, helps break down the sludge) for the first 500 miles the drop it and run your normal oil and regular oil changes.
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Old 01-01-2007, 08:26 AM   #13
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

allright, thanks for all the help! I'm going to try and finish this up today, then start the "flushing...".
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Old 01-01-2007, 10:04 AM   #14
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

allright, so here are the pics of under the intake.

I have the same sludge in there... like snot as I heard somebody compare it to... BTW, the green stuff is some leak detector that i put in the coolant to try and find the leak before I took it apart (to no avail).





and here is the intake gasket... it doesn't look that bad. These pics are the worst I see of the gasket. Could these be the cause of my leak?? It doesn't seem like that is bad enough to cause a leak.








But, here is the bottom side of my intake... so it looks like I've definitely got coolant going in there.




Probably a dumb question, but is there somewhere else that the coolant could get into the oil? Is a cracked head the only way??
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:26 PM   #15
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

any comments?? I've will be trying it tonight, but am curious for feedback!!
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:25 PM   #16
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

Quote:
Originally Posted by aggiedave98 View Post
any comments?? I've will be trying it tonight, but am curious for feedback!!
None really, other than do not over torque the new plastic gaskets. Use a torque wrench
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:09 AM   #17
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

I agree and encourage the use of a torque wrench, too. The Haynes manual recommends 30 ft. lbs for GM/Chevy cast iron intakes (top image), Edelbrock recommends 25 ft. lbs for their aluminum intakes (bottom image).
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Old 01-03-2007, 09:58 AM   #18
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

hmmm... what year is that for?? I've got the vortec ('98 burb) and it should be 11 ft lbs...

but i definitely used a torque wrench...
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Old 01-04-2007, 04:48 PM   #19
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Re: HELP!! lot of gunk under valve covers... is this from coolant?? how to clean??

The Haynes manual figure is for the old 67-87 series Chevy/GMC pick-ups, Blazers and Suburbans. Edelbrock agrees with your 11 ft/lbs torque setting for Vortec heads.
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