What causes a cylinder wall to look like this?


Old 11-03-15, 01:48 PM
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What causes a cylinder wall to look like this?

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This is from my friends 1991 Lumina 3.1. Car only has 105k miles on it but on a road trip the lower intake gasket completely failed and overheated to the point where the rear head gasket blew before she could get off the interstate. When we pulled the head off the cylinder in the picture was full of coolant and the piston was right up to the bottom of where the cylinder wall damage starts. It looks almost like it's a coating that fused to the cylinder wall because it feels raised to the touch and it did sit submerged in coolant for more than a month before we got to it. I'm wondering if honing out the cylinder might work or is it something more major.
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Old 11-03-15, 04:15 PM
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I would consider honing the cylinder major work. To do it right, don't you have to pull the crank shaft & pistons? You would be better off buying a short block, IMO
Old 11-03-15, 04:44 PM
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Without being there & looking at it & putting my fingers on it, its hard for me personally to say what caused it.

But to reflect & add to Pulpo's post, if you do need to hone it out (basically sand down the cylinder walls), you would/may have to buy new ... oversize... pistons. I agree, by the time you hone the cylinders, get it mic'd for oversize, then buy new pistons, etc.... you would probably (now days) be better off just getting a new short block. Of course this all depends on what your initial problem is, & if you even have to hone the cylinders etc, etc.

Back in the 70's when I was doing a lot of my own mechanic work including overhauls, If it wasn't too bad, we would hone them but, again, that was the 70's. Cars are kinda like cheap flashlights now.. you can just buy a new one for what it cost to change the batteries (buy new engine rather than rebuild/repair).

I'll also add that you will need to get someone that knows how to hone the cylinder walls cause you don't want to "sand" down one place or one cylinder more than the another.

On the other hand, if its something like antifreeze (from the water because of the blown headgasket), or something soft like that, you can probably just get a hone & lightly remove that antifreeze film that formed & be fine without a problem.

To clarify, I haven't done this since the 70's, so much has changed... I could be way off base but just passing along my experiences from the past as a follow up to Pulpo's post.

Hope this helps, good luck.....
Old 11-03-15, 05:41 PM
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I'd say coolant caked to the wall.
Try calcium deposit remover. Like that real stinky thing they recommend for lime/calcium build up.
Honing takes very little metal off the cylinder wall. It's when they take vertical lathe to it and bore, than you have to go for proper match pistons. I'd say, if lime remover - or even sand paper - works, then hone it.
Drop oil pan down, disconnect push rod bearings from the bottom, pull pistons up and out. Replace rings with new ones original size. They will have new leading edge, so that will compensate for minor honing metal removal. If she starts and runs, drive her hard for several hundred miles to set rings well.
Old 11-26-15, 07:49 PM
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Back when a small leak with Prestone would lock up an engine we used Butyl Cellosolve to clean them out. Google it.
Old 11-27-15, 05:04 AM
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Is that cylinder wall aluminum or iron ?

It looks so clean (and dry), it's hard to tell. If it were an iron sleeve, I'd expect some superficial rust after being exposed to the air for just a few days.

Can you replicate that deposit by baking (at 500-600F) piece of aluminum or iron with a deposit of the coolant on it (multiple applications to approach the thickness of what you feel on the cylinder wall) ?

Then you could experiment on it with what abrasive will remove it, or alternatively, what chemical compound might dissolve it.

It doesn't look like there's any build-up below the area traveled by your rings. Maybe you can vacuum out the cylinder and put a temporary gasket down on the top of the piston to seal it while you attempt to clean this material off ?

I used a hone once to remove deposits on the cylinder wall of a bronze water pump. and remember it being "slow" . . . . but it didn't do any damage, and only removed the intended material and burnished the metal. Perfect !

Is it only this one cylinder ?

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