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Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

 
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Old 10 Nov 2009, 02:43 pm
WalterZoomie's Avatar
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Default Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

A revolting development, made all the worse by the fact that it was like this when I bought it and didn't know it.

It was making a chugging/puffing noise when I first looked at it, but it seemed to run fine, and not being familiar with these cars, I dismissed the noise and made the buy.

Well...it seems I've been running on 3 cylinders for quite some time!

I've had some intermittent driveablity issues recently, so today, I dove in to replace the plugs and wires. (keep in mind I've done plug replacement work for decades on my cars, so I kinda know what I'm doing)

Starting with #1, I immediately noticed when pulling the old plug that something didn't feel right. It came out partially, then wobbled around and wouldn't come out any further.

After messing with it for some time, I finally got the old #1 plug out and notice the electrode was gone, and looked like it had been missing for a while!

Perfect. I stuck a narrow magnet down into the cylinder to see if I could retrieve any pieces of metal, and found none.

The other three plugs came out as normal, and the new plugs went in fine in cylinders 2,3, and 4.

The new #1 plug did the same old song and dance. It threaded in fine part-way, then wobbled and slopped around. I couldn't get it to seat very well after messing with it for quite some time.

I got #1 plug as tight as I could, and put the engine back together, figuring I'd try my luck and see how she does.

She fired right up, but the chugging and puffing from #1 was very apparent, as I had not re-installed the "modesty" cover.

I could see the rubber boot blowing with the compression of the #1 cylinder, so I know I'm getting all kinds of blow-by around the loose spark plug.

I am not a happy man!

So....

What are my options?

-replace the head

-remove the head and have the #1 cylinder threads re-tapped

-replace the engine

Any others?

Can the threads be re-tapped with the head still on the engine? This would be a best-case scenario, I imagine...

I'm buggin' big-time!

Thanks in advance for your help and advice.
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Old 10 Nov 2009, 02:59 pm
cruserdad1976's Avatar
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Default Re: Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

i have had good luck with using a heli coil??? ok spelling is not my best thing any way it is basically re drilling and inserting the heli coil into the block and putting in a plug
Im sure some will ay its no good but I have used them in several cars and have never had one come back out they usually sell them at auto parts stores

The only thing is when re drilling you have to try not to get any shaving down in the cylinder

good luck
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Old 10 Nov 2009, 03:00 pm
WalterZoomie's Avatar
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Default Re: Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

Toolmonger Blog Archive Re-Tap Spark Plug Threads Safely

Anybody use this?
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Old 10 Nov 2009, 05:34 pm
quicksilverdon's Avatar
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Default Re: Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterZoomie View Post
No, but what do you have to lose? Try that, then Heli-coil, then - used head....
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Old 10 Nov 2009, 05:53 pm
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Default Re: Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterZoomie View Post
That sounds good... looks good. I'd try it!

As a double precaution, you might want to 'dry' the cylinder as much as possible - like with compressed air. This would hopefully prevent any chips that might sneak in from sticking to the piston or cylinder wall. Then after the re-thread job is done, reach inside with a slender magnet to pick up any remains. Then chase with air one final time before installing the plug.
Good luck!

EDIT: OOPS! orgetfay ethay agnetmay uffstay. Aluminum shavings simply stare back at magnets!
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Last edited by cdynaco; 10 Nov 2009 at 07:31 pm.
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Old 11 Nov 2009, 04:02 pm
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Default Re: Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

Sounds like the spark plug hole is fubar beyond a thread chaser or back thread tool. You want to install a tangless insert. Check out timesert.com.
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Old 12 Nov 2009, 02:45 pm
WalterZoomie's Avatar
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Default Re: Spark plug threads stripped in head. What are my options?

Thread chaser wouldn't work. Had to go the Heli-coil route. She runs like a scalded cat now.
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