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Old Sep 10, 2004, 04:03 PM
Single-task at best...
tim hooper's Avatar
Telford, UK
Joined Feb 2000
7,508 Posts
I hate cars. Really.

Mrs H loves her little Ford Ka. It's 3 years old, economical (50 mpg), cheap to insure etc. She also loves the fact that muggins here will service it and keep it on the road............

So having easily renewed the front brake discs yesterday, I set about the easy-peasy job of changing the spark plugs. The recommended interval for this 5-minute job is 30,000 miles. OK, so we're a bit over the interval here, but I really wasn't expecting one of the plugs to have seized in its location and to shear off like it did!

With the centre ceramic insulator removed I figured that an 'easy-out' extractor would fetch out the remains of the plug, but no. In disgust I drove the (now) 3 cylinder car to the local garage for them to have a bash at, confident they could resolve the problem. Nope. Not even welding a nut to the remains of the plug was successful; seems like my tapered easy-out has just jammed everything together.

A quick Google search reveals that this is a known issue with this engine. The motor is a throwback to the 1950's; the crossflow Kent engine has been around for donkeys years now, although it's now disguised with sensors, injectors, emission-control gubbins etc, but it seems that to save a few quid on warranted services Ford (bless em) have lengthened the service interval for the spark plugs to a ridiculous 30k, during which time the steel plug gets to weld itself into the cast iron cylinder head.

So this weekend I shall be spending lots of time removing the cylinder head from a 3-year-old Ka, just so I can either drill the mess out myself or take it to a specialist engineer.

I just wanted to share.

tim
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 04:13 PM
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Farnborough, Hampshire, England.
Joined Jan 2002
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Tim, There is a saying............'if it aint broke.............you know the rest!!!.
I feel for you Tim, as a couple of weeks ago I did a simple oil and filter change on my younger daughters car. It is a very clean low mileage Fiat Bravo.
It took me the best part of 3 hours to get the filter off.........yes, 3 hours.
The wrench slipped and I smacked my nose on the rocker box, and cut two fingers, and grazed my forearm.
I had to peel back the filter casing, untill there was nothing left but for the threaded ring(inner and outer bit).
Even this took some wacking.............got it in the end.
Question is? how many oil changes has this car had WITHOUT a filter change cos they could'nt be bothered to spend the time I HAD to spend on it's removal!!!!.

Ian
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 05:20 PM
Mitch G's Avatar
Naperville, IL USA
Joined Nov 2000
1,886 Posts
Don't they have Jiffy Lube in the UK?

Seriously, though I respect you guys that know what a spark plug looks like and are willing to try to remove one from your very own car. Even though my dad is a retired (large machinery) mechanic, none of his ability rubbed off on me. I open the hood to check the oil and add windshield wiper fluid and that's all.


Mitch
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 07:19 PM
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United States, MI, Commerce Charter Township
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If it's a cast iron head, I'd try an acetylene torch on the plug and insulate the surrounding area with heat cloth. Get it just-started red and let it cool to where it's not red anymore, then try and get it out with the wrench. I do this all the time at work, the heat will allow the plug to become smaller because it's being squeezed. The head should be ok with the heat because it won't take long to get the plug hot.

Dave
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 10:08 PM
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the lake
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell
If it's a cast iron head, I'd try an acetylene torch on the plug and insulate the surrounding area with heat cloth. Get it just-started red and let it cool to where it's not red anymore, then try and get it out with the wrench. I do this all the time at work, the heat will allow the plug to become smaller because it's being squeezed. The head should be ok with the heat because it won't take long to get the plug hot.

Dave
I don't doubt this works but heat causes metal to expand, Heating the plug would make it bigger and therefore tighter. Perhaps it is the cooling part of the operation that actually does work?
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 11:57 PM
Single-task at best...
tim hooper's Avatar
Telford, UK
Joined Feb 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lakedude
I don't doubt this works but heat causes metal to expand, Heating the plug would make it bigger and therefore tighter. Perhaps it is the cooling part of the operation that actually does work?
Dude,

I think the idea is that the castiron head expands at a greater rate than the steel plug, thus loosening its seal. I would have thought that when the garage welded a nut to the plug, then it would have loosened anyway. Anyway the car is back at home now, and I've no access to burning gear.

I'll spend this afternoon on it, so wish me luck!

tim
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 07:55 AM
RIP Ric
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Marietta, GA
Joined Jun 1999
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What kind of warranty does it have?

My sis has one of these. I've forwarded this thread to her as a warning. "change 'em often!"
..a
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 11:41 AM
Guest
Santo, Tx.
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When you go back in with new plugs, put a dab of 'Never-Seize' on the threads. Jim
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 12:04 PM
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United States, TX, Webster
Joined Nov 2003
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I feel for you. You could try squirting some brake fluid on it and give it a few smart whacks with a hammer...it might come loose then. Hey...be glad it's only a 3 cylinder, or else you may have had to pull 2 heads!
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 12:26 PM
Single-task at best...
tim hooper's Avatar
Telford, UK
Joined Feb 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy W
What kind of warranty does it have?
3 years. Ford aren't daft are they?

I managed to get the cylinder head off this afternoon. It seemed sensible to leave the induction system in place until the head was on the bench.

The screwdriver in the second pic shows the plughole in question with the outer sleeve of the plug jammed in place. The 3rd pic shows the business end inside the combustion chamber.

This is a bit like a build thread, isn't it?

I had no joy with drilling out the remnants though - it'll have to go to a local specialist, I'm afraid.

tim
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 01:01 PM
Ninja of the Nasty
KingOfTheHill's Avatar
Joined Jan 2004
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u think you have car problems? lol....

although that looks like a pain... i know EXACTLY how you feel... lol

goodluck..

JOe
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 02:33 PM
Balsa to the Wall
Deep in the East Texas Piney Woods
Joined Dec 2001
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If you use much heat on the head, be sure to check for warping afterward.
In fact, check for warping anyway. It's always a good thing to do .

Chuck
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 03:01 PM
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United States, MI, Commerce Charter Township
Joined Dec 2000
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Eww... that looks worse than I thought!


The idea with the torch is that right now the plug is not really welded in the threads of the head, it is partially corroded in place and held in tension between the first thread and the hex head of the plug. Heating it will allow the tension to stretch the metal between that first thread and the hex head as it relaxes and help break the corrosion free of the rest of the threads as they expand from heat. Not too many screws or dowels won't come out with heat, and I mean from little to big-like all the way to 1x9's. Bigger than that you need a cutting torch head (without cutting it) to get enough heat on the bolt to glow.

Dave
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 03:29 PM
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tim hooper's Avatar
Telford, UK
Joined Feb 2000
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Thanks for the advice lads!

I know it's hardly a life-threatening situation I'm in, but I'm just a bit miffed that Ford should specify such a long service interval just to save themselves a few quid on 'free' services.

tim
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 03:39 PM
Go get them Meg!
lrsudog's Avatar
Cabin 21...
Joined Jan 2001
2,118 Posts
At this point, you may be able to get a good sized Easy out through it.

If it were me after seeing the condition of the combustion chamber, I would seriously consider getting the head done anyway. The machine shop will get the plug remains out in the normal course of work, and chase the threads so you don't have to go through this next time.

What kind of poopy gas do you English guys have, anyway? That head looks like it has 80k miles on it.
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