Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood? - MyTractorForum.com - The Friendliest Tractor Forum and Best Place for Tractor Information
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post #1 of 47 Old 02-14-2017, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

I just recently put my 1957 L back together after replacing the worn cylinder with one in much better shape. I am getting quite a bit of blow-by in the area between the bottom of the head and the top of the cylinder. Assuming that the head gasket was new, what is the likelihood that the head is warped? I am not looking for actual numbers; instead, I am interested in the feasibility of a warped head condition actually occurring. For instance, is it something that NEVER happens or could it occur given certain circumstances? As beefy as these heads are it seems to me that warpage would be very unlikely; however, I am still very new to these machines and I do not know the intricacies.

I have went through two heat cycles with this engine and just went back and checked the tightness of the head bolts - all was well there (new bolts were used) but blow by is still occurring. What methods are used to see if the head is warped? Can I just remove the head and set it on a smooth table (like glass) and look to see if gaps are present?

Daryl G

1957 Gravely L
1974 Gravely C8
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post #2 of 47 Old 02-14-2017, 06:14 PM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

More likely the jug is cracked, I've had that happen to me twice.


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post #3 of 47 Old 02-14-2017, 07:25 PM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Daryl
Did you use a torque wrench and tighten in the recommended pattern? Usually a circle starting from the center working in clock wise pattern 18-20 ft.lbs Loosen the bolts and re-torque in this manner. Make sure your new bolts are not to long. If you still have a problem, it has to come apart. The head or the cylinder can be warped. Inspect the area where it leaks closely. You can bolt the head to the cylinder without a gasket and check with a feeler gauge. Trying to true up the head with a large mill file or a piece of sand paper on glass would be a first step. Doing the same on the cylinder will require removing the valves.
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post #4 of 47 Old 02-14-2017, 11:40 PM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

I'd pull the head. There's usually a "tell", usually on the gasket, but sometimes on either other surface. It could just be a piece of smutzch (technical term) that got sandwiched in there, but unlikely knowing your thoroughness.
I like the suggestion to lap the head a little bit with some high number grit wet/dry sandpaper on glass. Just a few swirls will tell you what you need to know about the head. And the cylinder? well,...bummer is that that's the part you just recently replaced right? If that's the only "new" part to the equation,...that's not good. Hope it's not an issue with that because I know you went through a time trying to find one.

Steve in Auburn
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post #5 of 47 Old 02-15-2017, 12:52 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Sorry to hear this stuff Fireant, like a poster said the gasket could have some oil or carbon or tell-tale stuff on it, could just be a bum gasket if your lucky. Maybe give the head a slight re-surfacing to flatten it out if its not much. Good luck man because I know how happy you was finding that replacement jug. I hope its just a small thing as Im sure you are as well. I got a positive feeling about this one because like a poster said you are tedious in your work.

Oh and P.S., I keep seeing/hearing 18 to 20 lbs. torque on head bolts and when I put mine back on that means 19 lbs. to me. As far as numbers go anyway.
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post #6 of 47 Old 02-15-2017, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

I removed the head this afternoon. Next, I placed the head on a known flat surface and did a few swirls on some 240 grit sandpaper. It became very evident that the surface was NOT flat... I cannot definitively state that the head was warped but I can firmly say that the surface needed some help! After continuing with the 240 grit, I saw that this did not have enough 'meat' to get the job done so I switched to 150 grit. This grit also proved insufficient to get the job at hand done so out came the 60 grit. It still took be a solid 30 minutes to get the underside of the head flat. Once the perimeter was flat I went back to the 150 grit and finally finished up with the 240 grit. I cleaned the head's freshly revealed and uniform surface with kerosene and a toothbrush. This was followed with brake cleaner to endure all the old grit was removed.

Reassembly was started with applying K&W Copper Coat Gasket Compound to both sides of the head gasket. The head was positioned and the bolts were torqued to 19 ft/lbs (just like Gerrard as well as many others, I shoot for the middle!). I cleaned my hands and went and walked the property lines on an adjoining property that we are going to purchase. Tomorrow, I will fire up the 1957 Gravely and see if the problem is corrected. I will report my findings then.

Daryl G

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1974 Gravely C8
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post #7 of 47 Old 02-16-2017, 01:43 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Good goin Daryl/fireant. If its level due to the resurfacing w/no leaks and the piston isnt hitting the plug (from taking off to much like a buddy of mine did on a motorcycle) all should be well. But then again he used a belt-sander lol.
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post #8 of 47 Old 02-16-2017, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

I started the 57 this afternoon and it does not appear to be leaking the precious compressed gases from the bottom of the head so maybe it might be fixed (I only ran it for about three minutes so the jury is not entirely convinced...). There was quite a bit of smoke from the exhaust that was not present before so I may still gave some more work to do???

I did not state this yesterday but wish to include a bit of additional data now. I alluded to the fact that I was not sure that the head was warped BUT definitely it was not level. Visualize the cylinder being held so that the inner side is facing you and the outermost bolt holes are in the top/ bottom position. When I was leveling the head, it was almost like the upper half of the heads sealing surface was in contact with the sand paper while the lower half was not making any contact. Rotating the head 180 degrees simply reversed this pattern (yes, I was careful about ensuing the head was level). It took a lot of sanding to get the entire surface on the same plane... it was almost like half of the head had a step cut into it. The step was not visible nor could it be felt but was revealed ONLY when the surface was bring sanded.

Daryl G

1957 Gravely L
1974 Gravely C8
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post #9 of 47 Old 02-17-2017, 01:08 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Hard to "splain" Fireant, almost sounds like it was flexable or bendable or something. Hope it all works.
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post #10 of 47 Old 02-17-2017, 09:18 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Sounds like someone in the dim past installed the head without the benefit of ::

1) Tightening sequence pattern

2) Torque wrench

I am amazed sometimes by how tight some things are on existing machinery I've encountered. Some people think everything has to be "gorilla tight" when the actual proper torque is considerably less. I think it's because a lot of people try to get by without actually getting the right manuals with the right data and procedures.

Glad you got it sorted.

Now all we need is some warm weather to kick start the growing season so you can put that beast to work !
(30 deg here in Auburn this AM)

Steve

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post #11 of 47 Old 02-17-2017, 12:26 PM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

The field check for compression is turn it by hand clockwise if it takes effort to get past compression with plug in it has enough compression to use for some things. If the trans axle was a unknown I'd run it around to check clutches for slippage. Put it right up against a wall or tree and gently see if it is locking up in all settings h/l and f/r worn clutches cause slippage. As a general approach to old L gravely sometimes buying complete tractors makes more sense money wise than going on ebay or other sources for parts I don't recall history of how this went good luck with it though.
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post #12 of 47 Old 02-18-2017, 12:20 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

About the over-tightening things I think some shade tree thumb-busters like to crank-up the air tools when they should get a wrench out so they can feel whats going on.
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post #13 of 47 Old 02-18-2017, 01:19 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Agreed Gerrard.
I've got just about every tool known to man, and the only thing I use an air tool for is lug nuts on road vehicles,.. period.
And even then I go back with a cross wrench and check the tightness. Air tools have virtually zero use as wrenches. What's the use of having a bunch of power if you can't feel it or control it? If something is giving you trouble with whatever wrench you're using, just step up to the next bigger/(longer) size.
And the "It saves time" deal is just silly. Who would be messing around with 50 year old machinery if they were into conserving every nanosecond?
Sorry for the hijack Daryl, it just makes me wince when I think of all the wrenched off bolts, (and warped heads).

Steve in Auburn
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post #14 of 47 Old 02-18-2017, 08:45 AM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

I would run it like I stole it for at least an hour. Maybe like 4 fifteen minute runs allowing a cool down period between runs. Checking for good oil pressure / return. Unusual noises or leakage. Tune in your carb. Basically you want your idle speed screw out or, the throttle closed as much at possible at idle. Use the idle mixture screw to to find a point that works from the basic setting. Then adjust the main or high speed needle at about 2500-3000 RPMs to find a midpoint between a lean or rich setting, or where it runs smoothest. Its better to have the attachment in gear when adjusting the main jet. You will likely need to alternate between both low and high speed settings for the best result. You might have some white smoke until the engine gets "broken in". Black smoke would indicate a rich mixture. Check carb settings or float / needle and seat problems.
Good Luck Todd
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post #15 of 47 Old 02-18-2017, 01:16 PM
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Re: Warped Head on an old Gravely L - what is the likelihood?

Thanks Toddnails, I just snapped a pic of the above post so I can use it when I put my rebuilt carb back on.
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