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Russianblue 06-22-2021 10:51 AM

Yet Another 3.0 Head Gasket Thread
I tend to be very long winded so i will ATTEMPT to keep this brief.

In, January, the expansion tank blew, car overheated and spilled coolant everywhere. It was repaired and has been fine for 5 months. As the weather warmed, started losing coolant. A coffee cup per week. No leaks. Then last week it started overheating again and now overheats within 5-7 minutes of starting. Dynamic Auto Tune in Charlotte kept it for several days and we determined there was a cyl head problem.

I pulled it apart to assess and check for stripped block threads and below is what I found.

ONE bolt, with two threads deformed from warpage. At least that's what it appears to be.

I haven't actually lifted the head off yet. I made what I hope is not a critical mistake by not keeping track of which bolt went in which hole and i haven't done the re-torque test yet. I goofed on that one I suppose but I didn't even notice the stripped thread until this morning. I thought all of them had come out perfectly clean and i was golden....and I didn't see WHICH hole was damaged..

Also, i don't have a torque angle wrench and must borrow one.

you guys think it's pretty likely i will strip some additional holes once the re-torque is done?

some of the stripped hole jobs i have seen look a LOT worse than this. is it possible to tell anything else from the pictures of the bolts?

i'm not buying a $500 timesert kit. i may attempt to just hand tap a timesert or two or try the Mercedes 11mm bolt trick. but if this takes more than couple of block hole repairs and the head is not able to just be skimmed, this car is done. i really just need it to be able to beat around town for another couple of months before my kid goes to college (withOUT a car). I am willing to spend about $750-$1000 to fix this. if it's gonna be more, it's junked.

https://i.postimg.cc/4yMJ7qmZ/IMG-2471.jpg https://i.postimg.cc/Zn0bq4YV/IMG-2473.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/hvnBJYWQ/IMG-2469.jpg https://i.postimg.cc/tJd92jtz/IMG-2468.jpg

andrewwynn 06-22-2021 11:53 AM

I'm a fan of the 11mm upgrade. If the thread pitch is the same it should be an easy tap job.

TTY will add a fair amount of clamping force, not sure how to evaluate that (will it warp the head?) People do it so it should be a solid option and what I would do.

80stech 06-22-2021 12:41 PM

I would think that Heli-Coils would be better than going to 11mm bolt or am I missing something?

Russianblue 06-22-2021 12:57 PM

Heli-Coils are a no-no apparently for this block. Timeserts are the ticket. But the timesert kit is $500. Blows up my budget. Plus i hear it takes damn near 30 min to timesert a hole.

I suppose i could spend $100 for the timeserts without the pricey jig and just give it a try.

andrewynn, i'm having trouble finding much on this 11mm mercedes bolt thing. do you have any links? most i have seen are anecdotal.

also, how on earth would you torque those things?

80stech 06-22-2021 01:28 PM

Why are Heli-Coils a no-no ?? Are there not long enough ones available? did somebody install them incorrectly? If done properly, I can't see them not being better than the 11mm bolts.

oldskewel 06-22-2021 01:53 PM

some random comments:

on the overheating within 5-7 minutes - was it actually getting extremely hot, or was it just that the coolant coming out of the cap on the expansion tank? In my case, it was the latter. Due to a warped head, combustion gas would get past the HG, into the cooling system, building pressure until the 2.0 bar release was tripped, at which point coolant would start to leak. But engine temp was still lower than would normally be needed to trigger an overheating overflow.

That might matter when evaluating just how how it got and whether things are worth rebuilding.

I would not be super concerned about the single coil of thread material in there on one bolt. Maybe you should still be concernd about a heat-weakened block, but not just because of that.

Don't worry about the angle wrench. Eyeballing the torque to angle should be sufficiently accurate, well within all the other uncertainties involved.

You cannot re-use those head bolts anyway, so not a big deal that you did not keep them numbered. I numbered mine, but ended up not needing that. You can't re-use them since they stretch, which changes the material, and you can't follow the same torque+angle sequence. But as a rough attempt, you could re-use them and torque to a specific torque setting, higher than the initially specified torque, but without any additional angle. A set of OEM (not Genuine BMW) head bolts is surpisingly cheap = $20 or so.

Whether you risk stripping block threads depends on how hot the block got, and for how long. If you were set on keeping the car (as I was), it makes sense to assume it got hot. If you're looking for a quick and easy attempt that may fail ...

I used the $100 timesert kit. I believe @effduration has the $500 kit for rent.

If you're looking for a quick and easy attempt, I'd consider the M11x1.5 Mercedes bolts. Not sure what TTY procedure you'd follow there, though. If you do go that route, even if you already had the $500 TS kit, the 11mm solution will be far easier to implement. Just tapping slightly bigger threads, no need for alignment concerns, no counterboring for the timeserts, installing the timeserts, etc. But hey, if the M11 bolts just pull out your project is over quickly ... So that may fit your goal of trying something easy and seeing if it works, ready to abandon the project if it fails.

Machine shop will inspect, pressure check, clean, and fly-cut the head. All that cost me about $150 out here in $$$$ California. After they do that, they can tell you what was wrong (mine was just warpage, no cracks, no valve issues), and depending on how much material was removed to flatten it, they'll tell you whether you need a standard 0.7mm thick HG or a 1.0mm one.

From your photos, it looks like one of the head bolt washers is not there. They like to stick in their locations in the head. Get it before it falls out and gets lost.

Finally, I'll say it can be a really fun project. I did mine in summer 2018, took my sweet time, following the 50sKid youtube videos and the Bentley, learning about all the cool things in this great engine, rebuilding auxiliary components along the way as needed, or for fun while I was in there. And the rest of the car is solid, so I knew it was a keeper. Having time pressure would have ruined all the fun. Your situation may make yours very different. And the way you're talking about it, it sounds like having it professionally rebuilt is not even considered; but you might find a DIY mechanic wanting to buy it for more than you think, so they can go ahead and repair it for themself or to flip.

Russianblue 06-22-2021 02:38 PM


Originally Posted by oldskewel (Post 1205637)
some random comments:
if you do go that route, even if you already had the $500 TS kit, the 11mm solution will be far easier to implement. Just tapping slightly bigger threads, no need for alignment concerns, no counterboring for the timeserts, installing the timeserts, etc.

this is the crux of it. the BENZ bolts would seem to take a lot less time to implement. I do have a bit of time pressure here unfortunately. but not a TON.

i'm not finding much detail on the Mercedes solution though. among other things... which bolts to use and obviously a verified TTY method. i mean, if you are stretching those bolts to spec, it's going to take a good bit more torque than the stock setup. now you've got two bolts clamping harder than the others. i was originally thinking just use the MB bolts in the repair holes but that might be a bad idea. would probably need to do all of them. so the TTY issue might be a deal breaker in that it takes as much time as timeserting 3 or 4.

so...i suppose the next step is to torque those head bolts again tonight. 40NM + eyeball 90 + eyeball 90. I know i am missing a washer btw...good catch. it disappeared somewhere under the car. I'll find it.

after that, lift the head off and check block and head for warpage. i think this budget is only gonna work out if my existing head is repairable and i can get it skimmed and tested for $200-$300, which i THINK i can. i know i can prob find a junker head for cheap and put all my parts on it but i've rebuilt a 12 valve M20 head before and that's no fun at all.

btw oldskewel, i tried to PM you yesterday to ask you some questions about your experience (namely, re-timing the cams/vanos) but your mailbox is apparently full! i'd love to hit you up with some questions.

Effduration 06-22-2021 03:01 PM

Not many have tried the Mercedes 11mm bolt trick on the M54..It probably works, although you're still using alum threads with a ton of torque applied as a DIY'er, not under the controlled conditions of the factory. My vote is use steel time-serts using kits 1090 or 1090BS, which I do occasionally rent out to forum members

Helicoils are not a good solution in this application. They're not as strong as time-serts and they are more likely to be a one-time use. Time-serts, once installed can be torqued again and again.

OP I suggest you do all 14 holes as time-serts...I do all 14 every time I pull a head.

A head gasket on an E53 3.0 is not too bad. You have good access and the car stays on its wheels the whole time. I used an engine hoist to remove/reinstall the Cylinder head while attached to the intake manifold. For years I used a paper degree gauge to measure the 90 degree pulls, but the last few head gaskets I used the harbor freight electronic torque wrench.

Russianblue 06-22-2021 03:13 PM


Now we're speaking my language. Harbor Freight MUST be involved at some point in this project to make it a legit shadetree mechanic job, lol!

I loosened my headbolts last night with a 10 year old HF extending ratchet! It's my favorite!

Anyway, my engine bar arrives today. i got the 50sKid type with the whirly wheels on top. I'm leaving the downpipes attached so i will definitely need that.

so...about how long does it take to TimeSert 14 holes? depending on if the head is damaged, and the time commitment extends, i wouldn't be against doing all 14. The additional monetary cost is negligible.

ahlem 06-22-2021 03:20 PM

I have a couple thousand miles after doing this project and there is a thread you might find helpful. I found the Harbor Freight engine brace to be extremely helpful.
I dodn't see your compression numbers. Did I miss them?
Be sure to look at the two hard coolant lines under the intake. I think that was where mine was losing coolant initially. This is one of the "while I'm in there" projects.

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