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2001 Sportster Block/Head Gasket Problems - Engine Replacement only Option?


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Troubleshooting a 2001 Sportster with standard 5.7L Indmar, I found zero compression on cylinders 4 and 6.

I pulled the head and found that in addition to the expected blown gasket between these cylinders, there is a groove worn in both the head and the block at the same location.  A photo is attached showing the groove in the block.  The groove in the head is a mirror image to match.  I am guessing that with a groove in the block, the only option is to replace the engine.  Can anyone offer any insight or any other possible options as I decide on the best course of action.

Thanks for any advice that can be offered!

YBDEZ1F.jpg

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@Stik- It depends on how deep the groove is**.  The head and block can be decked (material removed from the surface) which has been the procedure when engines were typically rebuilt*.  This would then require new pistons and/or connecting rods to correct the change in piston deck height to maintain the original compression ratio.  Cylinder head decking is also common and then also requires the same piston height matching for compression ratio.  With all that, and depending on your resources, it might be better to source a replacement long block or if you have resources, find a used block / cylinder head to do an R&R.  Note: head gaskets are marine grade, stainless steel firing rings for corrosion protection and marine blocks have brass core plugs.

* Used to be very common to rebuild any broken engine and use a local machine / speed shop as the go to for all the machining work.  With the advent of the 'crate engine' and the supply of low cost rebuilt engines, the plug and play method tends to be the go to option.

** That is the typical small block GM head gasket failure mode due to siamesed exhaust ports on the two adjacent center cylinders.  The other side is probably also in jeopardy of the same fate.  A note to anybody reading this, if you hear any popping or engine misfire particularly through the intake side this is probably happening since there is an open intake valve when the adjacent cylinder is firing and if caught early in the gasket failure, the block and head may still be ok.

 

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Woodski - Thanks for the great information!  I was not aware of the the "Decking" option.

I am pricing long block replacements now.  First quote was for $11k installed - I'm hoping this is high, but really don't have any reference.  I am waiting on a few more estimates before deciding if I look to replace the block or just upgrade the boat.  I had originally used this boat on the intracoastal while living on the east coast, but am living on a fresh water lake in TX now -  so I would also want to replace manifolds, risers, engine mounts and trailer to erase all those years of brackish water.

Any recommendations from anyone on where to find a rebuilt engine?

Thanks again.

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11k seems really high for a long block.  If you're handy enough to pull heads, you're probably handy enough to switch over the parts you'd need to move from the donor engine to the new engine provided you have the space to do so.

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And as you are capable of pulling the heads, you are capable of pulling the engine with a couple of friends.  A local auto parts store probably has a cherry picker you can rent.

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Michigan boarder

Something to consider here.  Let's say you are $12k deep into the engine, mounts, and any other bilge components to erase the saltwater aging, plus $3k for a trailer, now you are at $15k.  How is the rest of your boat - guages, interior, gel coat?  If it is a perfect 10/10, then it might make sense to keep the boat and make the engine and trailer repairs.  But if not, and those other items need attention too, then maybe it's best to sell the boat as-is for $4k and put $15k towards a boat that is already pretty much ready to go that has lived its life on fresh water.  I guess it depends on time, ambition, emotional connection to the boat, etc.  Also assuming the boat is paid for.

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32 minutes ago, Stik said:

Can't say for sure as the Sportsters (at least this one) did not have hourmeters on them.  It has been a well used boat and I would not be surprised if it has several thousand hours on the engine.

If you are curious, the hours are stored in the ECM.  For 6K you will have a great boat, too!

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2001 sportie should have hours in the tachometer if it's original.  If it's not, you can build up a cable and check it yourself for under $20 and some soldering.  Check out the Let's Talk MEFI thread on here for more.  If you need the software, LMK.  I think I have the EXEs lying around.

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Thanks for the info.

I have the perfect pass tach in place of where the original tach resided.  I had forgotten the hours were on the original tach.  I had also forgotten the hours could be brought up on the pp display.  That shows 208 hrs if anyone is interested in a low hour 2001 sportster!  Since that is so clearly incorrect, I will enjoy going through the MEFI thread and investigating how to read the ECM.

Now, I suspect I will have another conundrum I hadn't considered - Will I be able to reset the hours on the ECM once I have installed a new engine?  And, if so, is it ethical to do so?  Or do I need to install a separate hourmeter to keep track of the hours on new engine?  I will be interested in peoples' thoughts...

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11 minutes ago, Stik said:

Or do I need to install a separate hourmeter to keep track of the hours on new engine? 

You can zero out PerfectPass when the engine is replaced.  Or set it to the ECM hours.  The ECM hours should probably be left the same as they are at switchout.

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No way to reset ECM hours that I'm aware of.  Perhaps if you would send it off to mefiburn they could do it, but the question is, would you really want to?

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Since I have a carbureted engine, I will display my ignorance and ask if the 2001 Indmar carbureted engines have an ECM?

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33 minutes ago, Stik said:

Since I have a carbureted engine, I will display my ignorance and ask if the 2001 Indmar carbureted engines have an ECM?

What do you find above the transmission bell?  Should be a square metal cover that you can remove and see the ecm if you have one. 

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My 99 carb doesn't have an ECM and I don't think any carb'd engine would regardless of year. There's no metal cover above the bell housing as mentioned above - just a distributor and coil.

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@Stik - It does not need an ECM as there is no need to send a signal to the fuel side or provide an injector signal.  All that is needed is a timing map which is probably a small module on the side of the distributor.  I have not seen one so can't be certain on how Indmar did the marinization but clearly no need to add an expense to a base carbed engine.

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