1995 LX 1.9L intake manifold electrolysis problem | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

1995 LX 1.9L intake manifold electrolysis problem

Discussion in '2nd Gen 1991-1996 1.9L SOHC' started by Thipdar, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    In the process of dealing with a dropped valve seat, I've removed the intake manifold and cleaned it up some.

    There is serious pitting between the openings for cylinders # 2 and 3. The deepest pits go about half way through the flange.

    Here's the maniflod:

    [​IMG]

    I've scrubbed at this stuff with soap & a toothbrush, after removing the silicon sealant that covered up most of the pits. What comes out seems to be a powdery residue of some sort.

    I slightly worked over the flat surface of the flange with a knife sharpening stone (a "bench block" stone) and some clean 10-40 engine oil as a lubricant. I didn't take it down much, but knocked off the high points of some of the crud.

    This is a close up of the problem area:

    [​IMG]

    I don't want to put this back on my engine as it is, because I'm afraid that the gasket will fail to seal adequately for the long-term.

    New aftermarket intake manifolds seem to be scarcer than moon rocks.

    I've ordered a JY unit as a back-up part.

    The local machinist says they could mill out the effected area, weld it up again, then resurface it, but I'd be looking at about US$350 or more.

    I asked them about milling down the entire flange, then adding a shim between it and the head when I install it, but that idea didn't seem to go over too well.

    Another suggestion was for me to drill it out, then fill it with JB Weld; once it's set, I'd have to grind/sand down the excess and make sure it's flat again. I'm afraid if I take this approach, the problem will continue to grow underneath the 'fixed' area - and it won't be visible any more.

    I'm pretty-well convinced that this is an electrolysis problem - and I think that the culpret is the steel spring clip that holds the dipstick tube. It is immediately ajacent the problem area, on the back side of the flange.

    I came to this conclusion because the area to the right of the hole for cylinder #4 is mechanically similar to the area between the holes for cylinders # 2 and 3. Both areas face a gasket, and on the other side of the gasket there is a water channel for engine coolant. Had both areas shown pitting, I'd have suspected a common cause; since only one area shows pitting, I suspect something a little more unique.

    This is the kind of problem that will continue to degrade auto parts even if the car is not running. Pulling parts off of cars that have been in junkyards for twenty years might not be a guaranty of getting a pit-free manifold.

    The ultimate solution is to have a better intake manifold made. Were it me making them, I'd also provide each manifold with a non-conductive support for the dipstick tube as well - perhaps something made of a plastic that can endure the relatively-high temps found in that area under the hood. A simpler solution might be to make a U-shaped clip of some appropriate material (thin brass sheet?) and slip it over the mounting flange, then mount the dipstick tube's clip over that. I know there are materials that will interfere with electrolysis.

    If anyone has a solution for this problem (other than banning Engineers from designing engines), I'd like to hear about it.

    (9-17-2011 - fixed a typo)
  2. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    JBWeld sounds like a good idea. When aluminum alloy heads corrode, they do turn into a white powdery substance. A certain amount of this is unfortunately natural. That much does seem a bit excessive though. I wouldn't be concerned about whether the affected area is perfectly flat because it's that part that will be in direct contact with the coolant; not the head. As far as the outer parameter where it is more important, you can probably just secure the thing in a perfectly up-right position, (use a level,) smooth the epoxy, and let it cure for at least a day or two. Then you can check it with a straight-edge and sand-down any high spots. Doesn't matter if it's a little low here & there. Only reason your doing this at all is to preclude the possibility of it eating all the way through after several years. But the JBWeld might be able to hold up to this.

    Out of curiosity have you had to replace the heater core or radiator yet ? I neglected the coolant for several years and though still green, smelled like cat-piss when I drained it out. I used distilled water so build-up wasn't at all an issue. (radiator perfectly clean on the inside) I'd imagine old acidic coolant can be pretty corrosive regardless.
  3. 2scorts

    2scorts New Member

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    do not use jb weld (you can i just dont trust it)

    get a mapp fuel torch and a spool of solder

    flow the solder (use flux first) and fill the holes, then an hour or so grind and block it smooth. make sure you use a solder that is compatable with aluminun. it is not very hard to do this job just take your time.
  4. Benlightnd

    Benlightnd FEOA Donator

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    You are correct that this is the affect of electrolysis. You need to
    undertand what causes electrolysis before you know how to combat it.

    http://www.arrowheadradiator.com/Electr ... rticle.htm

    http://awrracing.com/media/electrolysis.pdf

    http://www.heatercorereplacement.com/in ... -06-21-19/

    http://www.fordforumsonline.com/forum/f ... lysis.html

    These article are short and sweet but are a simple explansion relative to our
    engines.

    What your seeing really has nothing to do with your dipstick or where it
    mounts. But rather the chemical reaction that occurs on any metal when
    it comes in contact with a fluid and is subjected to heat.

    Your manifold is eat up in that area because it's the center of the engine
    and it's hotter there than the front of the manifold. ( the front section
    is out on the end and has better air flow / heat dissipation )

    You will also note this is a larger area of contact between the manifold
    and the coolant. This was Fords attempt to control the center intake
    tube temps. More contact with the coolant pulls more heat from the
    area where it may be concentrated. Can't have the center tubes being
    hotter than the end tubes. That would cause an improper A/F mixture in the 2
    center cylinders because the air is hotter when it enters the cylinder.
    ( hotter means less oxygen )

    The anti-freeze we buy these days, have additives in them designed to
    reduce the affects of electrolysis. Makes it important to change your
    anti-freeze as part of your maintenacne routine. OR you can buy an
    additive to add to your anti-freeze. Both are good but niether helps as
    much as having good clean grounds on your engine.

    You remove the static electricity or stray electricity in your coolant and you
    will have no eletrolysis.

    Obviously, any liquid will have some static electricity in it. Normal !
    We'll never eliminate static electricity from our coolant but we can reduce
    it's affects a great deal with good grounding and maintaining our cooling
    systems.

    Your right to be concerned about that manifold and the pitting it shows.

    Maintain your cooling system and make sure all your grounds are clean and
    tight and this manifold will likely last a long time.
    zzyzzx likes this.
  5. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    Yes, the heater core has been replaced, but I don't remember if the radiator has.

    This is the second transmission (Jasper), the second engine (junkyard), and the first time I've decided to DIY. As such, I can't tell the provenance of the intake manifold. It's likely the original.
  6. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    I actually have a mapp gas torch around here - I bought it to use for jewelry. I'll have to talk to the welding supply guys about what sort of solder would be appropriate.

    I think if I take this approach, I'll try to drill out the garbage first.
    zzyzzx likes this.
  7. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    I first learned about electrolysis years ago, as a Navy aircraft elecrtician.

    This is the first time I've ever encountered it, at least as a serious problem.

    Thanks. I'll check them out when I have a little more time - got an important birthday party for a 14-y/o girl this afternoon & evening, then an all-night BBQ party tonight, and sailing on the bay tomorrow. But I'll get to it, I promise.

    I'd go along with that theory except for the lack of serious pitting behind the opening for cylinder #4. Presumably, it should be hotter than the areas near 2 & 3. As I said in the OP, those two areas are mechanically similar, so there's some other factor causing the problem between 2 & 3.

    From what I learned as a sailor, electrolysis can occur even without the presence of any liquid (although some liquids can greatly accelerate the damage). At its essence, it is a flow of electrical current that naturally occurs when the right kind of materials touch. Using those materials as conductors accelerates the damage, as does the presence of an ionized solution.

    Thanks for adding your input. I appreciate it.
  8. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    Ok, it's time for an update. I'm sorry I haven't gotten to this sooner, but I've been dealing with cable internet problems (I thought my cable provider might be pregnant, since the symptoms included morning sickness, but it turned out to be the cable modem going intermittant flakey).

    I bought some new bits for my Dremmel tool, one was what they call an "End Mill" and a couple of others were bullet-shaped abrasive bits. The abrasive bits were nearly useless, but the "End Mill" did the job.

    It took a while.

    It seemed like every time I went to mill out a little black spot, it led me to another pit. It was like drilling out swiss cheese, or maybe exploring a cave system. I felt somewhat like a dentist at times.

    I took this on a break from my milling expedition:

    [​IMG]

    This was about where I stopped with the milling bit. I don't remember if I did any more after taking this picture. It looks like I might have missed a place or two. It's still W-A-Y better than it was.

    [​IMG]

    My next step was to throw together a highly-sophisticated "Alignment Fixture" (which, if you'll notice, is almost as sophisticated as my work bench) from some scrap lumber I had laying around.

    [​IMG]

    So I brushed flux onto the milled-out part of the flange. I didn't think about it, but I later realized I should have used a flux that's designed for aluminum alloys. What I used is what I had - the sort of stuff that's appropriate for soldering copper pipe.

    [​IMG]

    I dug out my MAPP gas torch and tried to solder with some aluminum welding rod that I'd obtained from Ace hardware. The gas didn't heat the materials sufficiently to do a good soldering job, so I went to Home Depot and bought an Oxy-MAPP torch. Reading through the manual, I decided I should also get some safety gear... and a tool chest to hold all of this stuff. I already had a welding apron from when I was casting metals at the gem club, so what I got was the helmet/visor and gloves. In order to err on the side of caution, I also got a spare can of Oxy (I like putting Murphy's Law to work FOR me, if I can).

    After playing around with the new torch, I finally started trying to solder the pits. I got nowhere. The rig doesn't get hot enough to make the aluminum welding rod flow into the holes like it's supposed to when you solder things together. I've soldered printed circuit boards, copper pipe and gold/silver jewelry, and I know a flow when I see it. Everything I got was what I'd call a "Cold Solder Joint".

    After filling as much of the hole as I could (I think I used four or five welding rods), I finally started to file away some of the excess. Filing took forever and seemed to not work. I can't stick with it if it's this boring!

    [​IMG]

    I was finally able to retrieve my belt sander, and carefully tried to take down the excess. It went a LOT quicker with the electric belt sander.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, the heel of the sanding belt made contact with the manifold flange long before the excess aluminum was removed, so I decided to stop at this point, lest I do too much damage.

    [​IMG]

    I took the manifold to a machine shop I've used before with good results, and they charged me US$30 to resurface the flange. This is what it looked like afterwards.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Also, surfacing the flange revealed some problems near the opening for the #4 piston which I hadn't noticed before. There's at least one pit I should have milled out and filled.

    [​IMG]

    The machinist that resurfaced this manifold suggested that I fill in the gaps with JBWeld. He recommended two coats, with enough time in between to allow the first coat to set. He suggested that I use a single-edged razor blade like a putty knife in order to work the stuff into the cracks. I probably will, since I'm not entirely satisfied with my "soldering" job. I would reject it if I were a Quality Control Inspector (well, I used to be, but I'm not any more - besides, that was for other stuff).

    So it looks like I saved myself US$350 (by not having the machine shop mill it out, weld it and resurface it), but I've spent nearly that much in new tools, new safety gear, new junk storage and machine shop charges anyhow. If I'd have paid the machine shop to do it, it would have probably been a better job and taken less time.

    I can't help but think that it would be cheaper to just buy a new aftermarket manifold - but they don't seem to ba available at any price.

    This isn't done yet. I'll let y'all know what's what when I post the next installment. This has been interesting, but I may end up getting an "F for F-ert".
  9. 2scorts

    2scorts New Member

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    man it was a huge whole to fill so you really did not do a bad job at all.

    and with what you have left jb weld would be the way to go. also since your repair did not fall out whie sanding or at the machine shop it is good and soild and should last the rest of the time you own the car with little to no problems.

    what did the mahine shop say about you using solder?

    oh and thanks for the update
  10. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    I have to admit that I was curious to know if the solder plug would be worked loose while the flange was being resurfaced. I'm glad it didn't, but that still doesn't mean it was "done right". I'd have been mucho happier if I'd have been able to get the solder to flow into the pits like solder is supposed to flow.

    First machinist suggested welding, second machinist had no comments about it.
  11. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Suprised it went as well as it did. Aluminum serves as a fast heatsink. Solder by nature is a soft alloy metal (much more than the intake alloy) and will deteriorate very very quickly. Routing a rectangle dip then welding in a plate would've been the more appropriate route. This also runs the risk of warping the intake contact surface. Seems either way, it would have to go to the machine shop just to have them tru it out.

    EDIT: (two posts since I refreshed the page - commenting on the pictured post)
  12. Thipdar

    Thipdar New Member

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    That was my opinion exactly.

    I may have shot myself in the foot when I decided to "save some money". C'est la vie.
  13. 2scorts

    2scorts New Member

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    i id not sujest this because if not done right it would have damaged the flange beyond useability. though and after thought here, this may be something you might want to look into. hit the junk yards and find another intake to clean up and put on a shelf somewhere until you either want to or need to swap it out.
  14. 59bruzer

    59bruzer New Member

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    So i am not the only 1.9 victim , i have cured my cavity with PERMATEX 82194
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  15. Marvin

    Marvin FEOA Member

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    I just wanted to add a comment about electrolysis. Already mentioned regular coolant changes are important. But what really makes these go quickly is coolant leaks and low coolant. If you have any air in the system what happens is that the metal is now not covered with coolant that has protectant in it. Worst yet a hot engine cooling down will create water condensation in any air pockets. It's like having areas of straight water in the engine due to evaporation. I have seen water pump impellers that have completely rusted off despite the antifreeze testing to a 50/50 mix.
    zzyzzx likes this.

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