I broke my engine :(

Sad day for me today. Put my car back together after a headgasket job and now my engine stalls out and sounds like this. Did I royally screw up my engine?

Check the spark plug wires are in the correct firing order.


I agree with Robin. I’d start by looking at the ignition components.

Stran …

Was the engine running alright before you did the head gasket job and are you comfortable that the timing chain was installed correctly. If that’s the case then Robin and Brett are probably correct, something to do with the ignition (probably the distributor setup).

That is unless you happened to drop a screwdriver or a slinky (remember those) in one of the cylinders … :dizzy_face: There’s an urban myth that it will increase compression.

Yes the engine was running perfect actually before I tore into it, it did require topping off with coolant every week but other then that it ran perfect. I want to say I timed everything correctly by lining up the crankshaft carat and making sure when that was lined up that cylinder one was at the top using a screwdriver. I also used the Jaguar cam timing tool to line up both camshafts. Finally I put the distributor in with the rotor pointing towards the “notch” which represents sparkplug #1.

I do currently have this vacuum hose disconnected because I cant find/remember where it goes, can someone take a picture of theres please. I also have the EGR valve (the thing that sits above the chrome exhuast shield) disconnected as well. But I don’t believe those would cause the hard start and stalling, etc.

Any updates? What do you need?

“I was never able to locate the pointer on the crankshaft pulley.”
Were you able to do this? It confused me greatly when you wrote it and now you have timing issues?

No updates since I last recorded the video of my engine running rough. So before that video at the final stages of reassembly I decided to look for the carat at the crankshaft pulley, I found it! After finding it, I lined everything up, carat and camshafts. Haven’t had time to work on it, so it has just been sitting. Going to take the valve cover off again and check again if everything is lined up (again x3), but It should be correct as far as I know.

Anyone have any ideas? Might end up replacing it with a used engine which will take me awhile to complete

Did you remove the cams when you replaced the head gasket?

I did remove the cams, yes

You might switched them up.

I’m pretty confident that I didn’t switch up the cams (it is a possibility though). I will check again when I get a chance to work on it this weekend but I believe there are “E” and “I” markings on the cams that indicate exhaust and intake manifold side that matched up

If the cams were on the wrong side he wouldn’t have any firing whatsoever. Brother had that happen from an engine builder back in the ‘80’s he had the cylinder head rebuilt and the guy didn’t get them on the correct side, that didn’t even look like firing.
Have you rechecked the firing order to ensure that its correct?

I did recheck the firing order, and it was correct. I have a new distributor cap that I am going to install and try out. The old distributor cap, the little metal “pin” in the middle fell out, where the spring is.

I’m going to recheck crankshaft carat is lined up.
Check camshafts are lined up.
Check cylinder 1 piston is on “top” firing stroke.
Check firing order is correct.

Assuming the above is squared away the car shouldn’t stall out correct, atleast run rough?? Unless the engine is royally F*d

Have you done a compression test?

'Twould seem to me this is a key bit of information, thinking about how the electric gets from the coil to the spark plugs. I would try the new dizzy cap first thing.

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You haven’t broke it. It’s turning over and starting right up. Distributor cap is the most obvious place to start now.
Then a compression test.

I haven’t done a compression check since the head gasket change. Last night I rechecked the timing and it looks like my intake manifold side camshaft is off by just a hair (1 tooth?). Going to Order new cam shaft lock tabs since the current ones have been rebent too many times now

Sorry forgot to mention that but the pin did fall out after the fact. New distributor cap installed. Looks like my intake manifold side camshaft is out of alignment a hair (1 tooth?). Don’t know how that happened since I’m positive it was in spec when I lined everything up. Ordering new lock tabs for cam shafts

You may remember that I JUST finished my job also after swapping out a bad corroded engine.
Some clarifying questions - did you find the carat on the pulley and line it up with the bottom edge of the tab, as found in the forums? AND THEN set about putting the cams on? Or did you put the cams on with tension, then find the carat, then adjust the cams?
You say the intake cam is off by a hair, which direction? You mean a tooth on the chain, right?

When you reassembled, you used the alignment tool to get the cams straight up and then started with the intake side? Correct?
Per Haynes:
27 Align the intake camshaft with the special
camshaft positioning tool as described in
paragraph 5. Engage the outer sprocket with
the chain, slip the sprocket over the end of the
camshaft, then turn it until there is no slack in
the chain to the right of the camshaft sprocket
(facing the front of the engine). Now align the
inner sprocket with the camshaft until the bolt
holes align and mesh the splines between the
two sprocket halves (see illustrations).
Tighten the inner sprocket bolts to the
camshaft and bend the locking sheetmetal
tabs over the bolts.

The tension you create by starting on that side should “lock” (for lack of a better word) the chain on the right (intake) side of the chain with tension.

Did you use any kind of tool to simulate chain tension when assembling the exhaust sprockets? Without tension you might have turned the cams when tightening them and/or bending back the tabs - thus creating the slack you now find in the intake.

It may be harder for you now with everything reassembled, but you might need to reset the sprockets with a focus on getting the right tension on both sides.

Attaching a pic of when I did mine. You’ll see I’ve created my own tensioning tool - a spare bolt and a clamp - to hold tension on the tensioner. I’ve already set the right sprocket in this pic.