Thread: Project Io
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Old 05-04-2019, 12:02 PM
MoonX5 MoonX5 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Newman Lake, WA
Posts: 14
MoonX5 is on a distinguished road
Project Io

After what seems like I spent forever disassembling stuff, I finally started back together with Project Io (my 13 y/o daughter named it for me). Project Io started as a simple failed timing chain guide project. I bought the car with the death rattle. No problem... I've done this several times, have all the tools, love the car...I'm in.

Once I got started into disassembly, I found that the driver's side VANOS had come loose from the camshaft. That's not good... Off came the heads, and sure enough, 4 bent intake valves. I replaced the 4 valves, ground the rest of them, cut the seats and reassembled everything with new valve stem seals. Good to go there...

When I pulled the lower oil pan to clean up the mess from the chain guides, I found that the oil pump pickup was pretty much completely plugged, so I got to looking at the rods (that I could see) and, sure enough, the #3 rod big end was black and had about 1/8" of play - spun rod bearing. Oh boy... This project just got much bigger.

I pulled the suspension and subframe, and got the upper pan off to access the bottom end. I had found a rod on eBay (4.4 and 4.6 share the same rod), so I was good there. The only wild card was whether the crank was going to be any good or not. I pulled the #3 piston and rod, changed the rod, and looked at the crank. There was definitely a little trauma on the journal, but the rod and bearing had taken the brunt of the failure. The crank journal polished out quite nicely, and ended up measuring about .0004" smaller than the rest, and within .0002" of being perfectly round after polishing. I can live with that. The clearance on that rod came out to .0018", where the rest were all at .0014". Still within specs...disaster averted.

When I pulled the #3 piston to swap rods, I noticed that the rings were really badly carboned up, and the oil ring passages were completely plugged. They weren't stuck in their grooves, but they weren't happy. The car only has 123K miles on it, but I don't think oil changes were at the top of the previous owner's priority list. I decided to pull all of the pistons and clean them up, de-gunk the rings, and go from there. Since rings for the 4.6 are about $85 per cylinder, I pulled them off of each piston, kept them in order, and soaked them overnight in Berryman carburetor cleaner. This worked VERY well for softening and pretty much completely removing the carbon. I soaked each piston for about 4 hours in the cleaner as well, and this softened the carbon to where it was pretty easy to scrape out of the grooves.

Once all of the pistons and rings were prepped and cleaned, back together it went. The first cylinder went fine. It popped right in using my trusty ring compressor that I've used for decades. The second one...not so much. I would set up the ring compressor, seat it evenly against the cylinder deck, and gently, but purposefully drive the piston down into the bore. I've twisted wrenches professionally for 30 years, and have installed literally thousands of pistons. But this one would start into the bore normally, and then stop at about the 2nd ring. What the....? I tried 4 or 5 times, and it just kept losing that 2nd ring...or so I thought. I finally got to looking a little closer, and found that the big end of the rod was catching the oil squirter at the bottom of the bore. Nice... At least I figured out the problem, but it killed the oil squirter and broke the 2nd ring on that piston. The funny thing is that I had looked at those squirters and wondered if I should pull them off. Nah...they'll be fine. Not fine...

I managed to find a squirter on eBay, and it looks like I'm going to have to buck up and drop the $85 for a single set of rings. Finding parts that are unique to the 4.6 is a real pain in the butt sometimes. The parts that are shared with the 4.4 are dime-a-dozen, but there are some parts that just simply aren't easy to come by.

The project is ending up to be about 5 times the job it should have been, but in the end, I'll have a low mile 4.6is, with rebuilt heads, new rod bearings (with new bolts), new main bearing bolts (pulled them to check the mains - pristine...), new chains and guides, and 2 rebuilt VANOS units. I'm OK with all of that.
2002 E53 X5 4.6is, Titanium Silver Metallic, Black leather/wood grain interior
2004 Dodge Durango, 5.7 Hemi, pretty much stock (except for Scat rods and SRT8 camshaft)
2008 Ford F-350, King Ranch, 6.4 PSD, CCSB
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