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Piston/connecting rod assemblies - inspection
Engine removal and general engine overhaul procedures / Piston/connecting rod assemblies - inspection

Note: Always check first what replacement parts are available before planning any overhaul operation; refer to Section 1 of this Part. A Ford dealer, or a good engine reconditioning specialist/automotive parts supplier may be able to suggest alternatives which will enable you to overcome the lack of replacement parts.

1 Before the inspection process can be carried out, the piston/connecting rod assemblies must be cleaned, and the original piston rings removed from the pistons. The rings should have smooth, polished working surfaces, with no dull or carbon-coated sections (showing that the ring is not sealing correctly against the bore wall, so allowing combustion gases to blow by) and no traces of wear on their top and bottom surfaces. The end gaps should be clear of carbon, but not polished (indicating a too-small end gap), and all the rings (including the elements of the oil control ring) should be free to rotate in their grooves, but without excessive up-and-down movement. If the rings appear to be in good condition, they are probably fit for further use; check the end gaps (in an unworn part of the bore) as described in Section 16. If any of the rings appears to be worn or damaged, or has an end gap significantly different from the specified value, the usual course of action is to renew all of them as a set. Note: While it is usual always to renew piston rings when an engine is overhauled, this of course assumes that rings are available separately - if not, it follows that great care must be taken not to break or damage any of the rings during the following procedures, and to ensure that each ring is marked on removal so that it is refitted only the original way up, and only to the same groove.

2 Using a piston ring renoval tool, carefully remove the rings from the pistons. Be careful not to nick or gouge the pistons in the process, and mark or label each ring as it is removed, so that its original top surface can be identified on reassembly, and so that it can be returned to its original groove. Take care also with your hands - piston rings are sharp!

3 Scrape all traces of carbon from the top of the piston. A hand-held wire brush or a piece of fine emery cloth can be used, once the majority of the deposits have been scraped away. Do not, under any circumstances, use a wire brush mounted in a drill motor to remove deposits from the pistons - the piston material is soft, and may be eroded away by the wire brush.

4 Use a piston ring groove-cleaning tool to remove carbon deposits from the ring grooves. If a tool isnТt available, but replacement rings have been found, a piece broken off the old ring will do the job. Be very careful to remove only the carbon deposits - donТt remove any metal, and do not nick or scratch the sides of the ring grooves (see illustrations). Protect your fingers - piston rings are sharp!

12.4A The piston ring grooves can be cleaned with a special tool, as shown
12.4A The piston ring grooves can be cleaned with a special tool, as shown here . . .

12.4B . . . or a section of a broken ring, if available
12.4B . . . or a section of a broken ring, if available

5 Once the deposits have been removed, clean the piston/rod assemblies with solvent, and dry them with compressed air (if available). Make sure the oil return holes in the back sides of the ring grooves, and the oil hole in the lower end of each rod, are clear.

6 If the pistons and cylinder walls arenТt damaged or worn excessively - refer to Section 11 for details of inspection and measurement procedures - and if the cylinder block/crankcase is not rebored, new pistons wonТt be necessary. Normal piston wear appears as even vertical wear on the piston thrust surfaces, and slight looseness of the top ring in its groove.

7 Carefully inspect each piston for cracks around the skirt, at the pin bosses, and at the ring lands (between the ring grooves).

8 Look for scoring and scuffing on the thrust faces of the skirt, holes in the piston crown, and burned areas at the edge of the crown. If the skirt is scored or scuffed, the engine may have been suffering from overheating and/or abnormal combustion, which caused excessively-high operating temperatures. The cooling and lubrication systems should be checked thoroughly. A hole in the piston crown is an indication that abnormal combustion (pre-ignition) was occurring.

Burned areas at the edge of the piston crown are usually evidence of spark knock (detonation). If any of the above problems exist, the causes must be corrected, or the damage will occur again. The causes may include intake air leaks, incorrect fuel/air mixture, incorrect ignition timing, or EGR system malfunctions.

9 Corrosion of the piston, in the form of small pits, indicates that coolant is leaking into the combustion chamber and/or the crankcase.

Again, the cause must be corrected, or the problem may persist in the rebuilt engine.

10 Check the piston-to-rod clearance by twisting the piston and rod in opposite directions. Any noticeable play indicates excessive wear, which must be corrected. The piston/connecting rod assemblies should be taken to a Ford dealer or engine reconditioning specialist to have the pistons, gudgeon pins and rods checked, and new components fitted as required.

11 DonТt attempt to separate the pistons from the connecting rods (even if non-genuine replacements are found elsewhere). This is a task for a Ford dealer or similar engine reconditioning specialist, due to the special heating equipment, press, mandrels and supports required to do the job. If the piston/connecting rod assemblies do require this sort of work, have the connecting rods checked for bend and twist, since only such engine repair specialists will have the facilities for this purpose.

12 Check the connecting rods for cracks and other damage. Temporarily remove the bigend bearing caps and the old bearing shells, wipe clean the rod and cap bearing recesses, and inspect them for nicks, gouges and scratches. After checking the rods, replace the old shells, slip the caps into place, and tighten the bolts finger-tight.

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