I've been on tenterhooks about this engine.
See, all through the overhaul and etc. I've been plagued by the thought that I was missing something obvious.
This van was sold cheap because the #1 cylinder was full of (fresh!) coolant and the engine had hydraulic-ed ("just a little") when somebody tried to run it. I guess I shouldn't have insisted on seeing it turned over before buying it.
The engine compartment was extraordinarily dirty. So was the engine...from about the top of the block downward. Still is.
There was no obvious damage to the head gaskets. In fact, they appeared to be new O.E.M. gaskets.
There was no obvious damage to the head.
There was no obvious damage to the block or cylinder liner.
There was no leakage I could detect across the manifold gaskets. They were near-new O.E.M. as well. There was quite a bit of gasket residue on the head side of the intake, but not from those gaskets.
The cylinders have been honed. Recently. By an amateur. Someone used a de-ridging tool on them as well. That part, at least, was properly done. I don't know if the rings and crank bearings were replaced...but it isn't really important now.
Someone attempted to overhaul this engine just before it was sold to me...and it went wrong.
I'm almost certain it was a D.I.Y. job, as well.
I'm using updated and upgraded aftermarket gaskets (Fel-Pro "Permatorque" brand). I've carefully cleaned all the mating surfaces on the head and block, in addition to having the heads themselves "shaved" at Heads Unlimited Machining in Whalley. I've replaced the seals on the coolant transfer pipe and even replaced one of the pipe sections. I've also put a new seal on the outboard head timing shaft where the distributor drive is. I'm having a little difficulty with the seal on the inboard head. I may have to leave it where it is.
In short, I'm doing everything I know how to do to make sure the job goes right. Take the torque settings for the head, for instance: the instruction sheet that Federated includes with the Fel-Pro gasket set gives the head bolt torque as 80 ft-lbs. That is indeed the correct torque...
But the Haynes manual AND the Chrysler shop manual both recommend torquing the heads in three separate stages: to 50 lbs first, then to 65 lbs, and finally to 80 lbs. Going straight to the final torque using the pattern that Chrysler recommends might actually warp the heads, once the engine is under operating load and pressure.
And heaven help you if you don't torque them according to the pattern...
Anyways...wish me luck people, I may need it.