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How much money to replace cylinder head gasket?


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Steam and oil leaking from side of BMC 1500 engine. From what I can see I strongly suspect I'll need head gasket replaced.  Anyone had this done? What sort of cost am i looking at to get it fixed?

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31 minutes ago, David Florence said:

Steam and oil leaking from side of BMC 1500 engine. From what I can see I strongly suspect I'll need head gasket replaced.  Anyone had this done? What sort of cost am i looking at to get it fixed?

 

If you are asking how much to get someone in to fix it, a lot depends on where the boat is. In a marina where the technician can get the van up close? Stuck on the towpath two miles from the nearest road? Or something in between? 

 

Also depends if the head has warped and needs surface grinding flat again. Has the engine badly overheated?

 

 

I guess if you're in a marina and just want the head whipped off and replaced with a new gasket under it with no other checking or investigation, perhaps £250. 

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37 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

If you are asking how much to get someone in to fix it, a lot depends on where the boat is. In a marina where the technician can get the van up close? Stuck on the towpath two miles from the nearest road? Or something in between? 

 

Also depends if the head has warped and needs surface grinding flat again. Has the engine badly overheated?

 

 

I guess if you're in a marina and just want the head whipped off and replaced with a new gasket under it with no other checking or investigation, perhaps £250. 

I would say £250 is a tad low to do anything like a good job. A days labour, head gasket set, replacement antifreeze, new oil and the inevitable other sundry costs. My bid £300 to £350.

 

Edited by Slim
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9 hours ago, Quattrodave said:

How mechanically savvy are you, do you plan on doing the work yourself or are you asking how much somone else might charge?

I'm asking how much someone else may charge. The boat is moored where you can drive up to it.

9 hours ago, Quattrodave said:

How mechanically savvy are you, do you plan on doing the work yourself or are you asking how much somone else might charge?

Im asking how much someone else may charge.  The boat is moored where you can drive up to it

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Whereabouts can you drive up to it?   Slim has a fair estimate of the minimum  work involved but you can expect a hefty premium if the boat is anywhere near London, and twice that if the congestion charge or the LEZ are involved.

 

Just replacing the gasket is risky. You should really test the head to check it is still flat, and I always want them pressure tested for cracking.    Otherwise the gasket lasts about 20 minutes.  No tests means no workmanship or gasket guarantee to many mechanics.

 

Whilst the head is off it is also sensible to check the valve seats and grind in the valves, or the exhaust valves at least.  This takes a few hours and is best done on a bench rather than the boat engine space.  A rough decoke is also a good idea.

 

Once the gasket is done, allow for a return visit after 25 or so hours to re-torque the head bolts.  A special spanner is needed for some of the bolts, so it wont be DIY.  Neglecting the re-torque does not make for a long -life gasket.

 

So allow 2 days labour plus £200 for parts, consumables,  tests etc. for a proper job which might be expected to last. Say £700, or at least a Bag of Sand in the Smoke.

 

N

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In addition to Bengo's detailed post I feel a degree of unease about the OP's self-diagnosis in the first place. 

 

Yes steam and oil coming from the joint suggests head gasket failure but WHY it failed is not being taken into consideration. Answers to questions such as the one I asked 'Did it overheat, or not?" along with some recent history of the engine (e.g. when was the head gasket last changed, and was the head torqued down later and tappets re-set?) will affect whether just a head gasket swap is a suitable course of action.

 

 

 

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Not really.  It is the difference between a quick fix and wave the owner goodbye and a job that can reasonably be expected to do several more years boating/battery charging.

 

It is also a reminder that "How much?!!!" is influenced by the location.  London is a bloody awful place to do jobs like this, and has extra costs all of it's own.

 

N

 

 

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Its not a huge job, its a simple engine and easy to work on so Joe Bloggs with some rusty spanners could do it. Thing is that Joe Bloggs would just bung another gasket in and wind the head bolts down really tight and never mind the torque settings. As others have said it really needs to be checked for flatness and cracks as oil and steam escaping is a bit unusual and checking for that is not that easy and stripping the head down - valves out and so on - if it needs the head skimming is bothersome and lost collets is really bothersome. You need a real mechanic and I would reckon £ 500 would be about right but cracks or warping could add to that so fingers crossed that its all OK.

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Also (as Tony first pointed out), Joe Bloggs with the rusty spanners probably won't be coming back after 20 hours to re-torque the head down and re-set the tappets after 20 hours, as it needs a special crow's foot spanner. 

 

 

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Not that long..........my advice...,spend 50 quid on tools and do it yourself ....head off in an hour ,clean it up ,take it out and have it faced,back on and engine running in 3 hours...................however ,its not uncommon for these kinds of engines to have multiple cracks in the head if theyve been run hot.

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13 minutes ago, john.k said:

however ,its not uncommon for these kinds of engines to have multiple cracks in the head if theyve been run hot.

 

Quite, which is partly why I keep asking if its been overheated. 

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11 hours ago, David Florence said:

Steam and oil leaking from side of BMC 1500 engine. From what I can see I strongly suspect I'll need head gasket replaced.  Anyone had this done? What sort of cost am i looking at to get it fixed?

 

I think that description could fit a worn 1.5 with the breather hose missing from the side cover or oil leaking from the rocker cover gasket and running over the exhaust manifold. The stream would be smoke.

 

If the OP needs more help photos would perhaps allow us to see exactly what he is describing.

 

Unless he has a crows foot socket/spanner, a torque wrench and straight edge I don't think it would be very sensible to try a DIY job.

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My twopenneth. If it is a buggered cylinder head. I would buy a recon one from Calcutt and have it replaced properly. I havnt looked at the price but it will be all sorted and true and no bodges. That way its a straightforward remove and replace job that can be done in situ, eliminates several hours of other work and gives piece of mind. Probably still be done all in for less than a grand including labour. Do it right, do it once in this case. The op does need an opinion from someone else to see if it is actualy the head/gasket that is the problem??

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12 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

I think that description could fit a worn 1.5 with the breather hose missing from the side cover or oil leaking from the rocker cover gasket and running over the exhaust manifold. The stream would be smoke.

 

If the OP needs more help photos would perhaps allow us to see exactly what he is describing.

 

Unless he has a crows foot socket/spanner, a torque wrench and straight edge I don't think it would be very sensible to try a DIY job.

 

None of those are difficult to obtain, and given them removing the head and replacing the gasket isn't difficult, neither are things like regrinding the valves if you're at all handy, there's are plenty of online videos nowadays -- and yes I've done all this (and a lot more) when we rebuilt the engine of our Chevette in my MILs garage many years ago, with just a Haynes workshop manual... 😉

 

The problem is being handy enough to do all this, having the knowledge to check for things like head flatness or cracks, and knowing what to do if you find them. If you don't, pay a mechanic -- and be prepared for nasty (and possible expensive) surprises, for example we knew the big ends had gone (bottom end rebuild needed, including crank regrind) but it turned out the engine also needed a rebore, which meant new pistons and rings... 😞

 

From the OP's post I suspect skills for a DIY engine stripdown may be lacking, a mobile mechanic may be the only sensible option, with the possibility of a big bill if it's not just a gasket replacement.

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I  knew a guy who knew nothing about engines put an 8L3 together in his loungeroom......we got it going with a motor scooter on the flywheel......and the local Gardner agents bought it and rebuilt it properly.

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5 hours ago, MtB said:

In addition to Bengo's detailed post I feel a degree of unease about the OP's self-diagnosis in the first place. 

 

Yes steam and oil coming from the joint suggests head gasket failure but WHY it failed is not being taken into consideration. Answers to questions such as the one I asked 'Did it overheat, or not?" along with some recent history of the engine (e.g. when was the head gasket last changed, and was the head torqued down later and tappets re-set?) will affect whether just a head gasket swap is a suitable course of action.

 

 

 

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Yes that's right.  I'm the OP, and not very tekkie. The boat  is occupied by someone even less tekkie, I dont sail in it and I don't knowthe engine history. My "diagnosis " is based on simple observation and knowledge that the engine has often been run on low coolant levels and not been topped up. Ive been told it often overheats so im pretty confident that overheating has blown the gasket.  I have a few ideas about the cause, probably the water pump or stuck thermostat but given that it looks likely we'll need a new head gasket and as its not a job I'd like to do I just wondered how much that bit is likely to cost. 

Thanks for the helpful pointers i have an idea about costs now so my question is answered. Anyone who wants to hazard a guess at diagnosis can watch this video, but quite honestly I ll be getting an expert in now i know likely costs to confirm diagnosis.  Much better than online diagnostics. 

 

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Vid does not tell me much. The smoke could be coming from the exhaust gasket which is behind the manifold with the Calcutt logo.   I am not sure about the liquid drip.

 

If the engine has regularly been overheated you are quite likely to be looking at a warped head as well as a duff gasket.  I would look out the cost of a recon head, fully populated with valves etc. and ready to drop on. Otherwise you may  be able to get it planed/milled/ground flat by a machine shop, depending o  the degree of warp.

 I would also look out the cost of a recon engine.  As it is easier to work in the warm and  dry  this may be a similar price to paying someone to work in a cold damp engine ole.

N

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1 hour ago, David Florence said:

Yes that's right.  I'm the OP, and not very tekkie. The boat  is occupied by someone even less tekkie, I dont sail in it and I don't knowthe engine history. My "diagnosis " is based on simple observation and knowledge that the engine has often been run on low coolant levels and not been topped up. Ive been told it often overheats so im pretty confident that overheating has blown the gasket.  I have a few ideas about the cause, probably the water pump or stuck thermostat but given that it looks likely we'll need a new head gasket and as its not a job I'd like to do I just wondered how much that bit is likely to cost. 

Thanks for the helpful pointers i have an idea about costs now so my question is answered. Anyone who wants to hazard a guess at diagnosis can watch this video, but quite honestly I ll be getting an expert in now i know likely costs to confirm diagnosis.  Much better than online diagnostics. 

 

Thanks for the video. The haze looks more like smoke than steam to me - too bluish, but that could be to do with the camera and lighting.  It is from the side where either crankcase fumes would  exit the side cover or a leaking rocker cover gasket would allow oil to run onto the hot exhaust stubs on the manifold. I can see the water you talk about, but the shot is too short and not wide enough to see where it might be coming from.

 

The more you can find out for yourself the less likely you are to be ripped off so if you want advice I would suggest that you need a light and mirror, so you can search the area below the manifold and the block to head joint to be sure the haze and water really are coming from the head gasket joint.

 

My feeling is that it is running too well to be a major head gasket problem, but who knows without being there.

 

There is a red knob thing in the shot with the "water" and I don't think it could be on the same side of the engine as the air cleaner because I have never seen anything like it before. If it is on the other side it might be coming from a core plug.

 

Edited to add, I agree it could well be a leaking exhaust manifold gasket.

Edited by Tony Brooks
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Looks like steam to me, its even fogging up the camera lens.  Head off, take it to a reconditioning place for a full refurb, new gasket and jobs a fish.  Might take a week or so depending on their workload but actually swapping the head is only a few hours work on an easily accessible engine like that.  Working on one in a car for example is a whole other ball game! 

You'll get change from £500.

You do need to find out why it overheated in the first place though.

For info a fully reconned head for a modern four cylinder car engine can  be had for £350 exchange.

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