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Old 07-06-2003, 01:24 PM
New2MBZ New2MBZ is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: San Diego county
Posts: 64
380SEL head or used engine?

Hello all,

Some time ago I posted I guess what was a serious novice question about this 1983 380SEL I have that wouldn't start. I never got any responses here, but after subscribing to a few mail lists, I learned that this engine was known for timing chain problems and indeed my engine turned out to have them. After pulling off the Left Hand valve cover I found rocker arms flopping around, at least 5 bent valves and a broken cam.

Now I understand that this engine requires a $200 tool to set the valve train clearances for the hydraulic lifters, so my first thought was to finding a good used head with cam, and just R&R the bad head for the good.

I read a usenet post from a few years ago, with a guy claiming he could pull one head while leaving the intake in place, replace the valves, etc and have the thing back together and to the customer in 3 days. His email is still active on the web, but of course I got no response to my inquiry about pulling the one head only.

The other thing that concerns me is I have heard others talk about the 380 engines stripping the threads the head bolts screw into in the block, and requiring heli-coil or better inserts and this requires engine removal. Others have said they had no such problems, and yet others said it's only when the engine has been overheated.

So the questions I have now are... is a remove and replace operation of the bad head, replaced with a junk yard head feasible? is it really possible to do this without removing the intake first? And what what about those stripped bolts? I'd be seriously upset if I went to all that trouble and during the 90 degree portion of the tightening phase, a bolt pulled the threads.

My other option is to go to a pull it yourself wrecking yard and try to find a decent 420 or 500 engine and swap it with mine. I really need to get this car going, and I was laid off a week ago so I have the time but not a ton of money. I even offered to sell the car to someone who has a wrecked 420SEL with a good rebuilt engine and trans, but no luck. I had another, supposedly running 380SEL offered to me too, but with no trans and no means to hear it run, I passed on that one. Any feedback from others who have been through this would be appreciated.
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