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Old 07-15-2003, 20:23   #1 (permalink)
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EL XR8 Head Upgrade (E7-> GT40p) - A looooooong Post

Hey Guys and Girls, I thought I would post my "experience" with the upgrade of my EL1 XR8 from the bog standard E7 heads to the "Tickford Enhanced" GT40p's ( with ST 2027 Roller Rockers).

(Moderators, move this to wherever you reckon it should be . . . )

Its a little messy and disorganised . . but then, so am I Also, I didn't take photos of the work, since I couldn't lay hands on a digital camera at the time - anyways, I'm sure we've pretty much seen heads of a car before anyways . . .

In general terms, while no expert mechanic, I've had a few cars, and built a motor up before (albeit a little 4 cylinder ), so while no genius, I'm reasonably mechanically minded and experienced. Overall, it wasn't a hugely tough job, apart from the few hassles we had along the way - which hopefully anyone else planning this can avoid ! I would recommend that you be at least reasonably conpetent in mechanical terms before trying this - since some bits do require knowledge.

Anyhoo, I'm going to tackle this one in sections, and cover some of the problems that I encountered, and some recommendations. Please remember, this was my experience, and your car may not be exactly the same!

1. Financial.
Plan !
I thought I had planned Ok, but as it turns out, hopelessly miscalculated on a bunch of things, and outright forgot others. For example, I didn't count on gaskets - which ran to $200, I also didn't realise the plugs were going to cost me $130 (NGK Iridium).
All up I spent ( in rough terms ):
Heads $1200
ST2027 Rockers $500
Gaskets $200
Leads $65
Plugs $130
Head Bolts $150
Also plan on spending more money on miscellaneous gear like tools, fatigued hoses, hose clamps etc.

2. Time.
Kinda obvious to most mechanics, backyard and professional - You can't count on things going smoothly. I had planned on it taking a weekend to do, but because of the problems I hit, it was closer to 2 weeks.

This was largely because the weekdays were eaten by work, and delays in getting parts. While I expected problems and that I would run later than the 1 weekend, it still sucked having to catch the train :(
I wish I still had the second car
On the whole though, I think if I had had all the required tools and parts, and had otherwise run smoothly, it could have been completed in the one weekend.

3. Documentation.
OMG - I would not recommend trying this without a workshop manual ! I luckily had the manual, and it made life a lot easier - knowing all the right torques and assembly order. I do't know about the thoroughness of the other service books ( Haynes / Gregories ), but I think it would be worth having or borrowing a Workshop manual for the job. . .

4. Tools.
You will need certain tools. A good 1/2" drive socket set is a must, as is a bunch of spanners. And I mean GOOD tools. Thank god that Dad used to be a motorcycle mechanic, and has Sidchrome gear ! I expect that cheaper tools will most likely break or bend in some areas. After 6 years of work, some of the parts on the old thing were incredibly tight . . .
As well as all the sockets and spanners, I needed a 1/2" drive T-50 torx bit ( for the Serpentine Belt Tensioner ), and some gear to pull off the Power Steering Pump Pulley. You can get professional gear to do this, but we managed to "alter" an old ball-joint puller to allow us to remove the pulley, and use a Whitworth Bolt and some nuts to push it back on ( Remember its a whitworth thread, rather than a stock one ).
I would also recommend getting a length of pipe to extend some of the wrenches spanners. It makes it easier to undo some tight nuts, and beats shredding knuckles when the 50kg of force your putting on the panner suddenly isn't required (ouch). Just be careful not to force stuff, or with the extra torque you're applying you'll either strip the bolt / thread or break your tool . . .
Oh, and of course you'll need a torque wrench !
Finally, have some 1/2" or so aluminium pipe handy. You'll need to remove the fuel lines, and they use a circular spring that catches over a flange. To pull apart the lines, you need to expand this spring so its larger than the flange. I had some 1/2" or so Aluminium piping, cut off about 2 cms, slit it down one side, and was then able to put it over the fuel line. Compress it close again, and you can then use it to expand the spring. Cheaper than getting the appropriate Ford tool ( not even sure where you would find one ).

5. Recommendations.
Ok, there are a few things I would suggest....
a) Clean the motor before you start. Might be obvious, but I forgot It will make you life heaps easier in avoiding crap diving into the motor. You might even finish each day a little cleaner.
b) Coolant. Don't forget to drain it - and you probably want to do it better than I managed. While getting coolant into the cylinder wasn't the end of the world, ( I was able to get it out again ), I would have preferred not to. Its also much easier being under the car without the threat of coolant drips landing on your noggin.
c) Prepare - make sure you have all the parts, and all the tools required.
d) DO NOT HAVE THE ORIGINAL FORD EXTRACTORS ON THE CAR. As above - it will suck mightily for you. I changed the extractors as soon as the car was moving, so I would stop melting leads.
e) The EL1 ( but I would suspect most later Falcons ), do use TTY ( Torque to Yield ) head bolts - so you WILL need new head bolts.
f) Give yourself heaps of time... Rushing will cause you pain and problems...

6. The job & the problems. The Story.
Things got off to an ok start, and then hit some walls.
The night before I was due to start, I drained the coolant by popping off the bottom pipe on the radiator... ( Remember to open the heater valve ).
First niggle was my general unfamiliarity with the motor and its components. I spent a lot of time reading the workshop manual "Remove Xyz", and then looking up XYZ to find out where the hell it was :)
Two particularly tricky bits in this section were the Fuel Pump relay, which hides deep beneath the coolant resevoir. The other was the carbon canister. I had pictures of its location, but still couldn't find the sod - until I traced back to under the front guards . . . bugger ! You don't actually need to find it, but I wanted to confirm that a certain pipe was connected to it...
After this I hit a snag with the Fuel Lines . . hot to remove them without the XYZ tool ? They use a circular spring that catches over a flange. To pull apart the lines, you need to expand this spring so its larger than the flange. I had some 1/2" or so Aluminium piping, cut off about 2 cms, slit it down one side, and was then able to put it over the fuel line. Compress it close again, and then used it to expand the spring.
I basically got the upper and lower manifolds off without too much trouble, and also the rocker covers, and extractors.
Brick Walls.
Then it was time to remove the accessory components ( Power steering pump, Alternator etc ). At this point I got screwed badly. To remove the Alternator Bracket, you have to remove the belt tensioner ( which sits right on top of one of the bolts ). This required a T-50 Torx Bit. We had a T-50 Bit, but only for a screw-driver style set. On our first attempt at using this, we turned the bit into a pretzel - bugger :( On the other side was the power steering pump, and the pulley was obscuring the bolt required to remove this bracket. WHile we tried open ended spanners, we couldn't shift the bolt. We moved onto the pulley. The pulley has a hex shaped bolt in it, as if to suit a largish allen key. We tried this for a while, using a large key and pipe to get xtra torque, but nothing was moving. At this point, it was 5 on saturday, so we gave it up for the day.

The next day we tried some other methods, including heat - to no avail.
Monday, I doscovered that the pulley pulls off, and that there is a thread deeper into the "allen keyhole". Bugger. It seems that the thread is a whitworth thread, and by modding a ball-joint puller, we were able to get the damn thing off. I was also able to buy a 1/2" drive T-50 Torx Bit, and was able to remove the Tensioner ( its a RH thread, so anti-clockwise to remove ). It was very tight, I was actually fairly concerned I was going to break the new tool before it actually moved . . .

Hokay, Once past these problems (which sucked a great deal more than they sound like they do), off came the heads !

At this point I found the block hadn't drained of coolant fully, so cylinder 8 filled with coolant. Yaaa ! On the other bank, I used some small tubing to siphon out the xtra coolant below the level of the heads. This bank came off dry.

Amazingly, the cylinders looked pretty good, no scoring or damage. There was some carbon deposits on the pistons, but not too bad.

At this point I should mention that I had previously had to do some significant cleaning on the new Gt40 heads, since they came complete with sand / grit from the porting and cleaning. Not happy jan :(

Time to put on the new heads. After cleaning up the top of the block, the new heads were ready to go on. At this point, I found that 1 of the 4 locating dowels was rusted / jammed into the old E7 heads, and couldn't be removed ( short of destruction ). Once I had obtained some new dowels ( about $5 each ), The new heads and gaskets went on. The main problem here is that they are bloody heavy, have very sharp
edges, and the position you are aiming for is pretty awkward. However, by turning the neighbourhood air blue, I got them on without damaging the gaskets. Phew !
I got the heads torqued up OK, and now it was time for the Roller Rockers. Threw them on ( remember to rotate each cylinder to TDC before tightening its Rocker ), and then the Rocker Covers.
Wacked the Lower Manifold on, and then the upper ( There was some associated cleaning and crap amongst all this ). Wacked on the Extractors ( since the pacemakers I had would require cutting and welding of the rest of the system, I was putting the original extractors back on.
Ok, Now for the plugs.
BUGGER !
The original extractors fouled the plugs something chronic. I mean bad - realllllly bad - you couldn't put in the plugs cause of the extractors in the way. On some cylinders you could get the plugs in, but the leads fouled.
The solution was the Oxy torch + 5 pound hammer. I was cringing the whole way through. However, after seeing the extractors off the car, I wasn't particularly concerned about flow being constricted - they suck soooo badly :(
After modding 3 pipes, we can (just) get the plugs in and leads on. Bad news is that the leads are so close to the extractors, they are likely to melt. We figure to give it a run anyways & see how it goes.
First start - some significant farting going on from the motor. Further investigation discovers the extractors loose after the oxy treatment. Tighten them up and try again.
It runs - badly. Like 7 cylinders badly. We traced it to Culinder 8, which had extremely low compression. Conclusion was the rockers were too tight, and the valces were not closing completely.

Using the recommended washers, we increased the height of the rockers.
VOILA !
It was perfect. After a quick drive round the block, I called it a night.

Next Day - 7 cylinders. WTF ! Turns out I'd melted a lead.
New Leads, still 7 cylinders, WTF ! This time it was a dead plug(!) Replaced and all is good.
Permanently.
Woohooo !

I will probably think of more crap laters . . . but for now, I'm typed out.
I will also give details of how the car runs once I get the rest of the exhaust system done properly.
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Old 07-16-2003, 05:36   #2 (permalink)
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I did the same conversion a couple of months ago. It goes much easier with a set of pacemaker or genie extractors, they fit on fine. Why would you go to the expense of putting on the heads while keeping the stock headers which don't flow well at all?

Also, to save a bit of time, you dont need to remove the fuel lines. Just remove them from the lower intake and swing them out of the way.

One last thing, are you still using the stock EL1 intake. If you are you will find that the intake is actually more restrictive than the old E7 heads. Once you upgrade this and allow those heads to breath you will see a huge performance gain.
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Old 07-16-2003, 11:49   #3 (permalink)
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Re: EL XR8 Head Upgrade (E7-> GT40p) - A looooooong Post

XR8 Lamah,

Good work, real life experience is better than reading it out of a manual.

cheers
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Old 07-16-2003, 13:52   #4 (permalink)
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I was leaving the stock headers on while I did the work only ( had the pacemakers ready to roll in the garage) - I'd been told that the stock headers would fit on with the new heads I also wanted to get the most major work out of the way first. Plus I was figuring if the pacemakers didn't fit the new heads for some reason, It would be much easier to return them unused that if I'd been running round in them for a while . .

Removing the Fuel lines, yeah, I just disconnected from the intake and pushed aside . . .

As for the Intake, Insurance Co won't let me mod it atm ( which I found bizarre - Go the heads or a cam and they are Ok, but mention intake and they freak ). I'm considering getting the stocker flowed in the meantime . . . Once I make some more significant upgrades I'll ditch the stock intake. . .
Got to get a larger TB and Maf as well I'm thinking . . . Ah well . . . onward we go :)
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