One step backwards: Headgasket

I dug into the engine to remove the thermostat housing, so that I could put the fan switch directly into the head’s coolant passages so that it gets a more accurate reading on coolant temp. To pull the t-stat housing the cam gears and the timing-mark plate have to come off. I figured while I’m there, I’ll pull the cams and find the bad HLA (Hydraulic Lifter Assembly) that’s making a bunch of clatter and replace it. So far so good, that all went fine.

Here’s the Flyin Miata cam tool coming into its own. I love it. You set cylinder #1 at Top Dead Center, and then slide the tool in and secure the cam gears, so they’ll pull off and go back on without needing to mess with setting the timing again.

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This is the T-stat housing blockoff plate, and with the sensor installed:

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Here’s where things go a bit south. While I was working, I noticed the oil looked (and smelled) a bit off. I thought maybe because it was sitting in the engine so long without much movement, but, while I have things apart, you might as well check, right? Right. For the uninitiated, that isn’t what oil look like. Looks like it’s mixed with something it shouldn’t mix with (namely, coolant).

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Houston, we have a problem. So, SITREP:

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I’m glad that I found it now. Gonna get the head decked if all the valves check out, because I might as well do it right while I’m there. I’m also contemplating switching to solid lifters while I’m here, but that expense might have to wait.

I’m definitely switching to an MLS gasket, and probably will swap in ARP head studs. Budget at the new year will determine how much further I can go with it while I’m this far in it.

At least now I have plenty of access to swap the starter out, since it’s got a dead spot that’s been getting bigger. Yaaaaaaaay! /sarcasm

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