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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys I am new here and I am sure this has been covered many times but i have a few simple questions.

I bought a 1991 Escort wagon 1.9 for 200 bucks, I bought the car knowing this was probably the problem.

Now the car runs perfectly fine, doesnt miss or anything, the only thing is the really loud ticking sound coming from inside the head, which gets faster as you rev it. Since the car runs perfectly fine is it possible there is no damage done to the bottom end? I am going to pull the spark plugs in a couple days when I get a chance to see them, I am not driving it though.

My plan is to just buy a reman head from ebay assembled. Anyone have anything to say about these heads? They come with a 1 year warranty.

I have a couple questions on the install. First if I buy the head assembled do I have to take the cam out and put grease on it or can I just bolt it on and run it? Also I am new to this vehicle so i am a little confused on how I will get the TDC aligned when I get the new head. Does the cam have some sort of dowel pin to align it with the cam sprocket? Last question, how do you prime the oil pump on this car? Thanks guys
 

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If the noise is an inlet valve seat coming loose/apart,and the car still runs on 4 cylinders, I consider it very likely there is no damage below the head gasket level. I wouldnt wait long to find the cause of the noise though - by pulling the head or examining each lifter. If the valve seat has already broken up - it will be obvious from the damage to the piston tops. And more work would then be needed.
The reman head from ebay: - check the feedback on that seller. If its a bargain price, it might not have the best of valve jobs, might have been milled quite a bit, etc. It would be a little bit of risk - but a head from your local machine shop wont necessarily be perfect either; you just get to ask them questions about it, face to face.
About your 91 Escort.... They had two type of timing belts; early and later. On those built prior to April of 91, the belt had square teeth, to match the square teeth of the camshaft sprocket, water pump sprocket and the sprocket on the crankshaft. So be sure to use a cam sprocket (and belt) that matches the w. pump and crankshaft sprockets. I changed my early 91 to the later type of sprockets (rounded teeth, used from 91 onward) because I had a new water pump and an extra camshaft sprocket with rounded teeth - and bought a crankshaft sprocket from the local Ford dealer for under $18.
Since you are putting on a new head, it will be easy to put on a new water pump too; and a new belt tensioner can be ordered as part of the water pump. Along with the new belt, you can forget about the pump and belt for 100k miles.
I always replace both radiator hoses when I replace a water pump; can depend on them holding up for about ten years too. There are two heater hoses I like to replace too.
A 'complete head' would normally come with a camshaft in it. You would need to install the pulley from your old one I expect. If it comes without a camshaft, you take out the lifters, slide the camshaft in (well oiled), and put the lifters back. Be careful, the lifters have to fit in so the tiny tiny oil feed hole into the lifter matches to the oil feed hole in the side of the lifter bore. These holes alternate position, left/right.
The camshaft sprocket has a 'pointer' cast into the side of the hub for locating the TDC match-up. It will be obvious when you look at it. There should be a 'dimple' in the side of the head, and the pointer needs to be right at it. The pointer will also be -almost- straight up when its in the right position. I use a mirror to see this when the head is on the engine. And the camshaft pulley is keyed to the camshaft with a woodruff key. I think the bolt is to be tightened to about 70 lbs-ft. To keep it from turning, I use the old timing belt wrapped around the pulley, and a flat piece of bar stock, plus a pair of vise grips to clamp the bar stock against the belt - which protects the teeth from scratches. This gives me a sort of handle (the end of the flat bar stock) when tightening that pulley bolt.
Since you will have a set of ten old head bolts (You know the Escort bolts done get re-used, right?): I have hacksawed the heads off of two of the bolts and ground away the burrs. I thread them a couple of turns into the head, and use them as a guide for lowering the head onto the headgasket/block. This saves me the trouble of possible scratches on the head when trying to lower the head directly onto the two 'dowel' locators.
Afterward you can easily unscrew the two headless bolts.
I like to put both manifolds onto the head after the head is in and its new bolts torqued down. I think the exhaust manifold wont fit - if the alternator and a.c. line are already in place. So I do the exh. manifold install before I put those in. The nut for the exhaust manifold stud that is closest to the timing belt is also -Hard To Reach-, if the alternator is in place. At least its hard with the wrenches I own.
I have rebuilt 3 Escort 1.9L motors. If you havent dismantled the oil pump, it will have a film of oil in it from the last use. That seems to suck up the oil perfectly well; so I dont prime the oil pump. I dont even pre-fill the oil filter nor use any assembly lube other than 10W30 motor oil on bearings and such. I squirt oil over all the moving parts on the top of the head before I put the cover on it. If you want to soak the lifters in motor oil for a couple of hours - it wont hurt. But if the head is really completely assembled, the main point in taking the lifter out (to me anyway) would be to check that they are installed correctly facing the oil-feed hole in the head.
Anyway, expect a LOT of valve train noise for the first 5 to 10 minutes, until the lifters work out all the air. Avoid high revs during this period. You will have to push the gas pedal down a little when first starting it after a battery disconnect, for the computer to 'relearn' its low speed job.
When getting the crankshaft to TDC, dont go by the mark on the vibration damper. Use the mark on the timing sprocket on the crankshaft, which is invisible once the vibration damper pulley is in place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow thanks for that post, lots of good info in there.

I got a video of the noise so you guys could hear it.

I work at a parts store so I get discount on parts, so I will pretty much be replacing everything i take off.

I took out the spark plugs today and there is no damage to them. Should i take off the lifters first and inspect them before I take off the head? What should I look for.

Here is the link tot he video and pic of spark plugs.


 

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Yeah, that sounds horrible. A quick compression test on a warm engine will probably tell you if it's a lifter or valve seat.

another check is to pull the valve cover and see if anything is FUBAR.

You're sure that the sound is from the head? Internet audio isn't good enough to ID it from the sound alone, but I've head bottom-end knocks that sounded similar. wiped crank bearings are NOT fun.
 

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Its fairly easy to get the cam cover off - then you could start the engine just to see if all valves were opening and shutting. A lifter noise would normally happen once per each two cranshaft rotations. One of the telltale signs of a failed/broken-up inlet valve guide is that the noise happens once per each turn of the crankshaft; the noise of the metal bits getting crunched between the pistons top and the head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK, I am going to take off the valve cover tomorrow and see what I can see. From what I can tell I am pretty sure it is coming from the head.

So if it is a lifter I should be looking to see that all valves are opening and closing, right? What should I be looking for it is a valve seat/guide.
 

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It will be hard to notice - but a broken valve seat could let the valve come further 'up' when he lifter isnt holding it open. I would think you would only see it if you turned the engine by hand, to examine the position of each valve in the closed position. But ANY difference in spring height (higher or lower) on a valve that is 'closed' (the came lobes facing away from the lifter) is a problem.
There was a guy who recently posted about a noise in his Escort engine, (even provided a recording of it), and the noise went away after he changed a lifter whose roller was no longer smooth, but had a badly ptted surface; pits like a failed ball bearing has. I would never had thought a failed lifter roller could have caused that - though his engine may have also had a failure in the guts of the lifter too I suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok well I took off the valve cover and everything looked normal, each valve was opening and closing, I couldnt tell if one was closing less than the other or anything all seemed normal.

I also did a compression check and this is what I came up with.

cyl 1: 70
cyl 2: 120
cyl 3: 145
cyl 4: 155

I know they are all supposed to be within about 20% of each other or something like that, cyl 1 seems real low, what do you guys think that could be?
 

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Burnt valves seem kind of rare of Escorts, as do broken compression rings; so my other guesses would be....
Inlet valve guide beginning to crack and flake away.
Head gasket beginning to let go.
A lifter that is sticking, not properly bleeding down.
??
 

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the1nicko said:
Ok well I took off the valve cover and everything looked normal, each valve was opening and closing, I couldnt tell if one was closing less than the other or anything all seemed normal.

I also did a compression check and this is what I came up with.

cyl 1: 70
cyl 2: 120
cyl 3: 145
cyl 4: 155

I know they are all supposed to be within about 20% of each other or something like that, cyl 1 seems real low, what do you guys think that could be?
2,3,4, all look good. #1 is definitely LOW.

Did you do wet compression tests or dry?

Another thing to try, is a leak-down/blow-by test:: pressurizing the cylinder either from a compressor or turning the engine over by hand with a wet cylinder. listen with an open stethoscope (or a piece of hose) in the intake, exhaust (can pull O2 sensor for a good listening spot) and in the crank vent (pull pvc valve, stick hose in) and listen for the sound of an air leak. Louder in the intake or exhaust indicates valve damage, louder in the crank vent says piston/ring failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sod o you guys think the low compression in that cylinder might not be directly related to the ticking? The ticking isnt intermittent or anything either.

I am going to pull the lifters and inspect them individually. Is there anything special that needs to be done when installing the rockers? I know on my mustang I have to torque the rocker down when that lifter is on the base circle of the cam. Anything similar or is it bolt down and go?

Also the middle valve cover bolt snapped in the head, looks like I am going to have to take the head off anyways to get it drilled if i dont get a new head.

I am not sure what a wet or dry compression test is. I did do it when the motor was cold, I know it is better to do it when its warm but I didnt want to run it anymore.
 

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the1nicko said:
Sod o you guys think the low compression in that cylinder might not be directly related to the ticking? The ticking isnt intermittent or anything either.

I am going to pull the lifters and inspect them individually. Is there anything special that needs to be done when installing the rockers? I know on my mustang I have to torque the rocker down when that lifter is on the base circle of the cam. Anything similar or is it bolt down and go?

Also the middle valve cover bolt snapped in the head, looks like I am going to have to take the head off anyways to get it drilled if i dont get a new head.

I am not sure what a wet or dry compression test is. I did do it when the motor was cold, I know it is better to do it when its warm but I didnt want to run it anymore.
Well, the extremely low compression on #1 means you're pulling the head anyway.

A wet test is when you squirt some oil into the cylinder via the spark plug hole prior to the compression test.

Something to think about: you might consider dropping the oil pan and taking a good look at the bottom of the rods to make sure that they are tight and that there is no metal shrapnel in the pan.

HOPEFULLY, the noise and compression problem both stem from a damaged/ cracked valve or seat. WORST CASE, is that you have a busted valve seat and a cracked piston and need to replace the piston and head. (actually, worst can be a lot worse, but we're assuming that the noise and compression problem are related)
 

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It might be better to torque the rocker arms down when the valves for each rocker are shut - but I didnt bother to do it. The valve spring pressures arent that high on this engine.

Something to think about when you drill out the center bolt that was to hold the valve cover down. Put a thread insert into the center hole - AND the other two holes. The insert makes the thing stronger than the original M6 sized threads in the aluminum head were. Not that those 3 hold down bolts have to be super-tight. Tightening them usually wont stop an oil leak up there, a new gasket is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well denisond i gotta say you called it with the lift and flat surface. I am not sure how bad that guys lifter was but here was mine.

Looks like what happened was the retainers that keep the lifters aligned broke into a couple pieces and the lifters probably went crazy. I cannot find the missing piece, I wonder where it went.

This was in cyl 2, the surface of the other lifter was fine but when I pulled it out with my magnet the top popped off as shown in the pic and was broken.

I guess this doesnt explain the low compression in cyl 1, the last pic I am posting is a pic of one of the lifters in cyl 1, it looks pretty marked up, the other lifter was fine though.

I think I am still going to pull the head and just buy a new one. From what I could see from the lifter hole in cyl 2, the cam looked to be pretty grooved up, at my work each lifter costs 25 bucks, so I figure by the time I change all of them and get a new cam, I would be close to 200 bucks so I mine aswell by an assembled head for 240. Heads coming off anyways to fix that cyl 1 compression problem.









 

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The other guy's lifter was about like the last of your pictures. Your first picture is a sight I hope never to see in an Escort of mine. I agree, another head would be worthwhile. Please let us know what you find in Cylinder #1.
I wonder if the damage you have resulted from someone putting the lifters in facing the wrong way - oil inlet hole in the lifter not facing the oil feed hole in the head.
Any missing pieces will likely be found in the oil pan - if the pieces were small enough to drop down through any of the 3 large drain holes that run down from the backside of the head/block. They are about the diameter of my pinkie finger. On the other hand, its likely they will just lie there not causing any problem, if this car is a street driven car.


I like your photos too. Arent dig. cameras great?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks, yea I love my camera, I dropped the freaking thing and it broke, I ended up just pulling the the lens out, so everytime I need to take a pic I just pull it out, the auto adjust doesnt work as great as it used to but sometimes the pictures come out better than they used to.

I am off tomorrow so I will see if I can pull off the head. The part that is missing is the other circular part of the clip that actually goes over the lifter, I dont think that can fit anywhere unless it broke into more pieces, I will look again a little closer in the lifter valley, I didnt have much time and when I took that lifter out I started cracking up and said "OH MY" and just called it a day cause I had to leave, so we'll see what I find tomorrow.

I dont think the lifters have ever been touched on this car, the person who had it before me is my friend and she said it just started ticking one day. I wonder how that clip broke though, when I took the rocker off it just fell apart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Do you need to take off the alternator bracket to take off the head or just the bolt that connects it to it? It seems ridiculously difficult to take off the bracket, seems like there's bolts I cant even see or reach. I really dont want to remove the a/c comp and power steering pump.
 
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