Kill the Head, and the body will NOT DIE
Over the past few weeks I've noticed the Ibex does not idle smoothly when starting from cold. While there could be several reasons for this, previous experience with both 200Tdi and 300tdi engines made me suspect the head gasket was failing. I started to investigate what parts would be required, and perusing the Powerstroke workshop manual in preparation for the expected failure.
Suddenly one morning, the engine locked solid (seemingly hydraulic lock) when cranking the cold engine. After a few minutes of trying, I was able to get it to turn over, at which point it started and ran normally. Restarting later that day, the exhaust seemed a little steamy, but otherwise ran normally. I reckoned I was pushing my luck, so I laid up the truck to await investigation at the weekend. It seemed likely that coolant was leaking into a cylinder overnight, and if that cylinder hit compression before exhaust, it would lock up.
The first stage of investigation was to remove the glowplugs. If one cylinder was being polluted with water continually, I expected I might find a reduction in soot on that cylinder. Really the hope was to find some evidence of the problem before removing the head, and it's not cheap and it's a lot of work Smiley This plan went badly awry though, as the #4 plug snapped flush with the head. I tried a few attempts at removing the plug and failed, so off came the head anyway. After which I failed again to remove the plug both by welding a nut onto the stub, and by using left-handed drills.
I swallowed my pride and dropped the cylinder head off at the excellent Banda Engineering in Portsmouth, to remove the offending plug, and since the weekend was a full 5 days away, a crack test and skim if required. The news next day was good and bad - Banda successfully removed the plug, and as somehow I hadn't damaged the head with my efforts, no helicoil was required. Sadly, the leak test showed a crack from the coolant jacket to the inlet port of cylinder #1. A**e!!
Well, there's no question that the Ibex is worth repairing, and at 140k miles, the Powerstroke is still in very good condition - it burns no oil, generally manages around 25mpg (though can achieve 33mpg if driven carefully!) and the bores are smooth and unworn. So there's nothing to do except brace yourself, grab a friendly credit card, and get spending.
(Replacement head proved easier to source than I feared, being a stock part at Motor & Diesel, where I originally purchased the engine.)
The saga continues...