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Old 09-28-2019, 01:46 AM
BillGrissom BillGrissom is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 3,001
Sorry you were cheated out of a 1M mile engine. Me too when my 1985 CA 300D engine failed at 330K miles ~12 yrs ago (probably posted w/ photos). I think it was the earlier non-turbo engines which more commonly made it to 1M. In my case, #1 cyl had the piston's top beat up from something hard bouncing around. Some imprints looked like perhaps a small ball bearing, but no idea how one could have gotten in after the air filter. Only ones I know are in the vacuum pump, so how could they get up to the valve cover vent? Maybe lifted by the timing chain, flung off, and then blow-by carried them? I don't recall that vacuum pump having missing balls on the roller (used it later). The pre-chambers and glow-plugs all looked fine (other than #1 prechamber had pocks on the outside from the bouncer). Two other pistons had chunks missing around the ring grooves but no marks at the top. Prior to this, compression had dropped to ~250 psig in all cylinders and it needed a block heater overnight to start on <40 F mornings. A year prior, I heard something rattling around, like a ball bearing inside the engine. Opened the hood, couldn't find anything, it then went away. When it recurred, I kept driving slowly and after 3 miles when I lifted the pedal, the engine died, then wouldn't even crank (seized). I pulled the head to find above.

I lucked out. I first bought a 1984 300D w/ "cracked frame" after a theft/curb crash for $400 on craigslist from a guy just 1 mile away. Intended to use that engine and part-out the car, but then found the damage was just to the K-frame and the shop's weld-repairs (while ugly) were still OK. It had just cracked at the LCA pivot bracket on L side. The owner assumed their repair had failed so gave up. I repaired it (1st time welding w/ $90 HF flux-wire), adding a support strap around the crack. My son used that car thru college, med school, and still has it finishing his residency. BTW, the shop's shoddy weld @ top of K-frame failed ~4 yrs later 600 mi away in San Diego, but I was able to drive the car home (cleverly secured 2 LCA's together w/ chain, drove perfectly straight) and repaired that, welding an L-bracket across the top to secure it better than the factory's few spot welds. I later repeated that on the other side (to be safe), when parts were off making it accessible (shop had tried to weld w/o elbow room).

Soon after getting the 1984 road-worthy, I found a used engine on craigslist for $300 w/ starter (worth $100). Turned out to be perfect. Indeed the camshaft appeared new w/ a clean paint stripe seen thru the oil fill hole. Seemed suspect since I bought from a mechanic who spoke little English and worked out of a horse barn w/ mostly VW Bug stuff around. I later measured compression >400 psig in all cylinders (like new). I think a 1982 engine. I then had all the accessories from the 1985 engine for the future (vac pump, ... and have used many). I later installed the 5 injectors from the 1985 engine, after pop-testing them. The reason was that the 1982 engine had 3 injectors which were for a non-turbo (popped at ~1600 psig), though it ran fine. The 1985 injectors just needed slight shimming to hit factory pop (1950 psig) and the spray pattern looked good (no leaks nor streamers), so I don't think bad injectors caused the failure. After ~10 yrs driving w/ the 1982 engine, I am having issues w/ overheating, but that is another saga (failed head gasket or cracked head?, tried everything else). All-in, I spent ~$700 plus ~$100 for parts to make a pop-tester and fixed my 1985 plus got a second 300D, plus a lot of my time (wife doesn't value that).

Re rebuilt engines, I see them online for $8500 at the SoCal place which is about the only source. I have seen new pistons for $550 each, but not in a while. A set of 5 sold for ~$1500 on ebay a few years ago. In contrast, the non-turbo pistons are almost affordable, but don't get those by mistake. I got a set of 5 used pistons for ~$100 from member Rollguy here. I started rebuilding the failed engine years ago. I replaced the cast-iron liners (posted how), but haven't taken the block to a machine shop to surface the head and hone the cylinders to the pistons. No need to spend those bucks yet. ~7 yrs ago an OM617.952 sold on ebay for ~$2000. The seller said he was an engineer who rebuilt it carefully (perhaps for a car he no longer owned) and it looked nice in shiny paint. Perhaps someone here bought it. Anyway, you fixed your problem and we all appreciate your sharing and details.
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1984 & 1985 CA 300D's
1964 & 65 Mopar's - Valiant, Dart, Newport
1996 & 2002 Chrysler minivans

Last edited by BillGrissom; 09-28-2019 at 02:12 AM.
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