Loosening a couple head bolts

As I continue to tear apart and freshen up under the bonnet, I’d like to repaint the gold on the head, but I’m order to do so, I need to remove the spark plug wires and the conduit they are in. That requires removing two head nuts for the conduit and one of the head pulling thingies (another two head nuts).

They don’t all need to come off at the same time, but can I remove two at a time without causing a head gasket leak?

My guess, probably you can, but there is no guarantee. You know Murphy’s law. What do others say?

I have done it, but I take one off, loosen the other, put the one back, pull the item, tighten back down the other…dont leave 2 nuts loose for any longer than needed…ie 5 mins

Remove one at a time, take off plug and hanging brackets, replace with old nuts, torque to spec.

Reverse when painted.

Generally there will be no issue.


I was hoping you’d weigh in as well Paul. I might wait until next winter, just in case Murphy creeps in. I’d like to get it back on the road after doing everything this winter. Don’t need more to do if it doesn’t quite work.

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I was thinking of doing this a while back and asked a very experienced Jag mechanic about it. He said it should be OK but recommended dropping the coolant level to below the level of the head-block interface as a precaution. I didn’t go ahead so have no personal experience.

The conduit was missing when I bought my car. I bought a new one for it. I do not think my engine has ever been apart so I was nervous about removing acorn nuts for something somewhat trivial like the conduit. I ended up drilling out the bracket rivets and just left off the brackets. With the spark plug wires in place it really cannot move around in the head valley. Maybe you could drill out your rivets for the paint job and pop rivet them back in rather than risk the problems that might come up removing the head nuts ?? Just a thought.

68 E-type FHC

Perhaps but still not sure I would be able to remove it with the lifting pieces in place. Looks like one would have to come out. Did you installing yours with the straps I’m place?


On a fair percentage of XJ motors aged over 30yrs, at least one, usually more of the head nuts doesnt come loose, but unwinds the entire stud instead (from dismantling used motors), this is cannot be permitted on a running motor (scum drops in the stud hole)

The last motor I loosened the nuts had huge amount of anti-seize and came off easily

When I last rebuilt mine in 2011, I used Neversieze, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Shouldn’t be. Overall, I think I’ll put this off until I feel really lucky.

Thanks to all for their comments.

I had been thinking about going to do some clean up as have time on hands. I’ve decided to go for the “leave in situ” option for painting and will try and chrome paint the dome nuts in situ. Sods law says a stud would come out. Lots of careful cleaning in masking in my future.

For anyone with a long stud engine you really need to think is it worth the risk of a stud snapping in the block…its not uncommon…Steve

And mine is a long stud.

That or they break in two: if the E has seen regular coolant changes, it will be fine (but Murphy!).
I have driven with a loose stud, and I talked to somebody banger racing XJs and they broke a stud, glued it in with silicone and it did many races.
So I‘m saying remove the nuts, but pray that the stud doesn’t come out with it else you must drain the coolant and blow out the threads.

Rebuild in 2011, by you, the studs will look perfect. No risk of snapping.

Larry after drilling off the brackets I was able to get the conduit in place under the lifting straps without removing anything. My memory is it was a little difficult but I was going to leave it off if it involved messing with any of the head nuts. Here is photo. If you look close you see a couple of holes where I removed bracket from conduit. Not sure if having conduit brackets in place will hinder things. I can see what appears to be the remains of the rear bracket broken off under the acorn nut under the cross over pipe.

68 E-type FHC

Good advice: unless one is very confident the studs are not corroded, best to leave’rm.

My advice was aimed at short stud engines.

Thanks for the picture and comments David. I’ll take a look today and see what I think I can do.

Larry here is another option in the photos in this thread. I kinda like it better than down in the valley but in my case with the rear crossover pipe it probably would not work well. Just a thought.

68 E-type

Thanks David. But it would still require removing the brackets. Just looked further into things. If I remove the plugs,I think I can probably bend the bracket so the conduit is far enough from the sides to get a small paintbrush in and around without disturbing the acorns. At least that is the direction I head in. Again thanks to all!

Should you not want to remove them, just tape everything up… quick and easy…