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1980 Civic 1500GL Burning Coolant

Old 10-01-2015, 08:27 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
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Default 1980 Civic 1500GL Burning Coolant

I've been puttering away at this project but it has been plagued by some annoying engine problems that I just can't seem to resolve. When I first acquired it about 6 years ago, it seemed to run OK but soon began to deteriorate, even before I got it on the road. The #1 and 2 spark plugs were always wet with coolant, and there was excessive steam in the exhaust once the engine was warmed up. It was also very difficult to start and ran poorly when cold, so the engine had to be warmed before it could be driven anywhere. Even then, it was badly lacking in power and struggled to get up hills. I only drove it about 200km before parking it in 2012, and have since worked at the engine in my spare time. The first thing I did was clean and rebuild the carb but that made no difference. I then removed the cylinder head and checked the head gasket, but there was no obvious damage. I did notice a bit of corrosion on the head bolts near the #1 and 2 cylinders. The oil in the valve train also had a white film on it. The cylinder walls themselves looked pristine, with no visible wear at all or signs of cracks. I assumed the block was OK, and sent the head to an engine shop. It passed a pressure test but they said it was slightly warped, so I had it planed. The cam, however, had some badly worn lobes so I had it and the rocker arms reground.
This took place over the last couple of years and I just finally put it back together this fall, installing new head and manifold gaskets and resetting the valve clearances. Once I got it running, it began burning water immediately just as before. The only difference this time is that the engine seems to have a bit more power, possibly due to the valve train problems being resolved.
At this point I'm not sure what to do next. I'm on the east coast of Canada so finding another engine is just not going to happen, and I can't afford to have one shipped from somewhere else. I assume there must be a crack in the block too small to see, and I'm wondering if there's any kind of easy fix for this; would it really be as simple as adding some radiator sealant to the coolant? And is there any way to confirm where the leak actually is, such as pressurizing the coolant system while looking inside the cylinders with a fiber-optic camera?
If I sound new to this it's because I am, this is the first car engine I've ever had apart and frankly I'm surprised I even got back to square one. Of course the thing could still blow up yet.....
Thanks for any advice you can offer.
packrat79 is offline  
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