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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,
First post, and this truck is my first experience with mechanics so I apologize in advance if these are stupid questions..
Ive got a 77 360 Ramcharger.
backstory: The previous owner pierced through a water jacket when connecting the headers to the cylinder heads. I had a mechanic helicoil it a while back. Recently took the headers off to replace the starter and the helicoil came right out, guess he didn't use anything to keep it in.. Gonna see if I can put another helicoil in myself, for now, since its already tapped.

tl;dr I'm sick of band-aiding and need a new head, but I don't know anything about it (the autozone guys are starting to give me dubious looks and sighs when they see me)
If I replace one head, does it matter if I keep the old one on the other side?
As I understand there are "performance characteristics" from getting "performance heads"; I just want the thing to run.  Besides material composition is there any difference in the cheap-o heads?
Is there any danger in getting a remanufactured head?

EDIT: this side has also had an exhaust leak before\after the helicoil
 

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totj said:
Hey guys,
First post, and this truck is my first experience with mechanics so I apologize in advance if these are stupid questions..
Ive got a 77 360 Ramcharger.
backstory: The previous owner pierced through a water jacket when connecting the headers to the cylinder heads. I had a mechanic helicoil it a while back. Recently took the headers off to replace the starter and the helicoil came right out, guess he didn't use anything to keep it in.. Gonna see if I can put another helicoil in myself, for now, since its already tapped.

tl;dr I'm sick of band-aiding and need a new head, but I don't know anything about it (the autozone guys are starting to give me dubious looks and sighs when they see me)
If I replace one head, does it matter if I keep the old one on the other side?
As I understand there are "performance characteristics" from getting "performance heads"; I just want the thing to run. Besides material composition is there any difference in the cheap-o heads?
Is there any danger in getting a remanufactured head?
Well first off 360, 340, 318, 273 Mopar small block heads have the exhaust bolts/ studs penetrate the water jacket... it's normal.
If it was me (other than putting a 440 in the truck ;D) I'd replace the Helicoil with a little dab of epoxy on the outside of it's threads. Make sure it's dry in the bolt/ stud hole. That should keep it from backing out again.
Then a "key ingredient" for small block exhaust bolt/ studs- put some High Temp Copper Silicone sealant on those bolt/ studs threads. This will prevent coolant leaks from those bolts/ studs. And it will make them easier to unbolt later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply! That is definitely what I'll try next.

This is just to clarify, as I've read a few other posts stating that the front and back bolts lead to a water jacket, and the last shady mechanic said this leak was abnormal..
It is only the last bolt closest to the drivers side that leads to the water jacket? This is the only one leaking coolant.

I have had an exhaust leak coming from this problem side, that I can distinctly hear and see when I take the gasket off, from before the helicoil was put in. Thought this was because of the stripped hole, leading to the helicoil..
Will this still fix that? The headers are still pretty new, so I'm ruling out warping on its part.
 

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buy good gaskets FOR headders , yes the 4 "end" studs for exhaust go into water jacket  , not a " problem ".
you could also buy "step" studs ... 5/16 on long headder end , 3/8ths on head end , retap head for 3/8ths , sink 3/8ths end just below surface of head , you only need about 3/8ths-7/16ths inch of threads into head , seal the stud in place with some locktite "gasket maker" ( thick red squeeze tube locktite brand ) . the flat(?) flanges of headders often warps , allows gaskets to blow , folks try to "tighten" bolts , make MORE problems like your experiencing . Mechanics ( oops , tech's) who are NOT use to  dodge may NOT be aware of this stuff ....
 

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Any time I break an exhaust bolt in a head I just drill it out and tap new threads in the hole.

Sometimes if you start with a small pilot hole and then follow it with larger bits you get to a point where most of the broken bolt or stud is gone and the rest of it can be backed out or chiseled out in pieces. If the planets are aligned right, all you have to do is chase the threads with another bolt.

The bolt holes are supposed to be open all the way through to the water jacket. Use gasket sealer on the threads as mentioned above. One hassle is getting the hole completely dry before assembling. I had one on one of my trucks that I had to do a few times before I got it sealed.
 

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his hole has been enlarged with a helicoil sized tap , so replacing the coil or going oversize is the only options left . a 5/16 bolt will be TOO small for threads for the helicoil 's hole in this case .  so replace the helicoil and use loctite gasketmaker is whats left ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
dodge82273 said:
the 4 "end" studs for exhaust go into water jacket
This is still confusing me, since when i take all the bolts off only one leads to a water jacket.
Regardless, If\when I put another helicoil in correctly it will still have an exhaust leak, meaning either new heads or new headers right?
 

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ya pull one bolt out, the coolant runs out down to the level of that bolt hole. When ya pull the next one, ya get a trickle at most. Depending on depth of the bolt in to the hole you can have a small rust dam behind it.

An exhaust gasket leak is pretty common with headers and not uncommon with manifolds and a bolt or two that isn't torqued down enough. aka helicoil grabbing nothing. Headers with a loose bolt is gonna leak and especially with the econo paper gaskets they used to ship with headers. Look up Mr. Gasket header gaskets - like $25 for the pair and more like actual exhaust gaskets.

the real take away here should be: there are much better ways to spend your money than by paying somebody to work on yer old Dodge.
 

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know that the 2 heads on your dodge V8 are identical , left and right , and that on ALL small block L/A heads the end exhaust bolts were originally studs who's threaded holes are drilled thru INTO the water jacket . (plain fact).
there are a coupla reasons one end may have coolent comming out and the other end ones don't . could be something clogging the hole down in there , could be as stated water level . exhaust leak is not comming from the  bolt hole , its either warped headders and OR a bad gasket ..( Its ONE reason I don't bother with headders on mine , I just use the cast iron manifolds they come with )  if you have headders, buy the "good" gaskets as advised , drain out some coolent so the holes can "dry" install a new helicoil with Loctite Gasketmaker (brand name and product type)  on the threads of new end studs , or if necessary a step stud with gasketmaker applied . With new nuts . it is only the holes on the end that go thru into water jacket , so only those 4 need sealant .    check the forward most exhaust bolt hole and the rearmost exhaust bolt hole , poke a stiff wire in there , is it open ? is a bolt broke down in the hole ( LOOK , Mirror ? camera? )  if there IS a broken bolt how deep in is it ? can a new stud be threaded in far enough to hold ? or will it bottom out on the broke chunk? are these aftermarket heads ? I  agree with this too ......  Depending on depth of the bolt in to the hole you can have a small rust dam behind it.

 
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
RWG75 said:
the real take away here should be: there are much better ways to spend your money than by paying somebody to work on yer old Dodge.
Yeah, hard lesson learned for me, I'm doing everything myself from now on.
These are hooker headers the previous owner put on them.
Going to take it off today and see if they are warped and check the holes for bolts (they all tighten down besides the one though), then apply the loctite and helicoil to get it running for now, ordering new gaskets too. Thanks for the help and explaining these things guys, the coolant level thing makes sense. Sounds like I shouldn't need new heads after all! ;D ;D
 

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I have run headers on my truck for almost 43 years now.
With three Small Blocks and two and a half Big Blocks.
To stop exhaust leaks with headers get some copper gaskets https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-111420/overview/make/chrysler
This is Summit's brand... so I don't know if their as good as the Mr. Gasket ones I've run now since '95.
I'm a firm believer of spending the bigger bucks up front for quality. Rather than saving a few bucks on cheaper stuff that dies way sooner. ;D
Copper gaskets last forever and don't blow out.
And you can reuse them over and over.
The key here is to again use Ultra Copper High Temperature Silicone Sealant.
I put a nice bead around each port and then let it dry over night.
Install.
I haven't had any exhaust leaks since I started using this setup.

I would put that same silicone on all your bolts/ studs.
I keeps them from seizing in the respective holes when you need to remove the headers later.
 

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depending on your location , headers can work . todays stainless steel ones may even be better where I'm at . If there already on it ,use 'em , and    YES copper "good" gaskets are required in any case . Some folks have enough engine work done that allows them to take advantage of their benefits , so they make sense . 
 
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