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It happened - zero compression on cylinders 1 & 2

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John Gervais:
I was on the highway cruising at around 65 - 70 mph when it happened, my fishing gear loaded up and looking forward to a day's trout fishing when my engine suddenly lost power, gave a short 'puff' of black smoke out the exhaust and began running extremely rough. 

Fortunately there was an offramp literally right there, so I was able to limp off onto a small 1-lane rural road and found a gravel parking lot and called for a tow back to my garage.  After I got it home, I pulled the plugs and did a compression test - cylinders 3 & 4 had 175/180psi, cylinders 1 & 2 had about 15 psi.  I only did one test per cylinder, because the results seemed pretty obvious.

The plugs didn't look too bad either, a slight greasy sheen on number 1, nr. 2 was a bit sooty, and 3 and 4 didn't look too bad at all - of course, I had driven on them to find a place to park, so I have no idea what they looked at at the moment that the engine lost compression.  But it looks like they were all firing, so hopefully the face of the block is ok.  The plugs look darker in the photographs than in reality - I haven't studio lighting in the garage.  The ceramic is very light grey, the ground electrodes are also greyish, and there's a bit of carbon on the steel.  So if anything, a tad rich after having driven at idle speed for 2 or 3 miles at the time I turned it off.

It was running strong at the time, with good oil pressure, 85C temperature and smooth as silk.  I'll be pulling the head off tomorrow (hopefully - the garage has far too much stuff in it to move around in), but I'm not looking forward to seeing the damage.

Well that's a bummer.  Hopefully just the gasket.

John Gervais:
I'll be happy if it's just the gasket or even the cylinder head - I haven't had the space to rebuild the 'spare' engine that's been sitting buried in the corner for the last 10 years, let alone try to pull this engine out.

It would have been a great day for the trout too; didn't even make it there, and then it started raining when I got picked up.  To add insult to injury, it was a long walk home in the pouring rain from the garage.

Check the block carefully, and you might need to have the head skimmed so it will hold the gasket better.

I've never had one fail between 1&2 or 3&4, for me it's always been in the center between 2&3....

Good luck, can't wait to see the pics.

John Gervais:
Thanks - I can't wait either...   ::)

I haven't had a chance to get in the garage yet to look at it, and it'll probably have to wait until Monday before I can start on it. 

I've been kicking myself that I didn't at least drain the coolant before I left it on Wednesday.  If the head gasket is compromised, I hope it's not weeping coolant into the cylinders...   :-[


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