Vortec Lower Intake Gaskets for Dummies - requested in another group

In response to a request to post a collection on the replacing lower intake gaskets on Vortec CPI engines....
Comments and corrections appreciated.
Legal Disclaimer
My experience is on a 99 (old style) Tahoe 5.7. Your experience may be different. No warranty expressed or implied. Quantities may be limited. Void where prohibited. Offer may expire without further notice. Yadda yadda yadda.
You should look up all the torque values in your manual. I can post mine should anyone desire.
Preface
I bought the complete Felpro intake manifold set which was not complete at all and very expensive. The Felpro design is great. I suggest buying the gaskets you need and not the kit. I used the lower intake gaskets, the RTV, and the fuel line o-rings...that was it. There was only one valve cover gasket, but I took both covers off for cleaning. So I had to buy the valve cover set. There is a part number for only one gasket, but at Pep Boys, it was a dollar more than the pair and special order. The kit comes with the upper plenum cover seal and the throttle body seal but no fuel line to metering block o-rings so you are short if you need to take the plenum cover off. I think it is also short 8 o-rings for the injectors, but I'm not sure how those work because I didn't go there. Remember..this project is to fix a coolant leak...not a air/fuel leak. The kit doesn't come with the thermostat seal but your new thermostat should. No EGR gasket either. The EGR gasket and thermostat are not needed to fix your cooling leak, but you should replace your thermostat and clean your EGR ports while you are there. The intake is more fun to work on at the bench than under the hood.
1. Disconnect negative battery cable.
2. Drain the engine coolant (if there is any left:) to at least a level below the intake. If you have original coolant..drain it all and discard.
3. Remove the air duct from the mass meter to throttle body (cover the mass meter opening with a shower cap or zip bag. Same for the TB or stuff with a lint free rag.
4. Now is a good time to take lots of digital photos...in case you run out of beer before you get it all back together.
5. Remove the upper radiator hose and three heater hoses. One of the heater hoses has the quick disconnect that may crumble in your hands like powdered Gatorade. Have a spare on hand if you don't want delays. The hose with the quick connect can be popped out of its holder and folded back out of the way. The aluminum bypass tube can also be loosened. I can't remember what it gets in the way of...but some slop helps.
6. Remove the top radiator shroud and get it out of your way - especially if you are going to remove the P/S pulley...discussed more later.
7. Remove the vacuum booster hose from the intake and rotate the check valve in the booster so this hose is out of your way. Tuck it over by the booster or down by the driver's upper control arm. This hose will constantly be in your way if you don't.
8. Take the wires off the cap and remove the cap. Mark with a Sharpie where the rotor is pointing - exactly. Also index the distributor shaft housing with the hold down clamp or intake with a Sharpie. You might need a small mirror to do this. Better to roll the engine to #1 TDC compression stroke and line up the timing mark on the balancer with the indexer on the block. With the cap off, you don't need to pull the spark plug. The rotor should point "near" the cast "8" next to cylinder 1's electrode. You should mark the difference between the rotor and the "8" so you can re-create it...else you will probably throw a P1345 code upon restart like I did. I used a 13mm stubby combination wrench for the distributor hold down bolt. There is not enough room for a full size wrench...there is to break it loose but not make quarter turns. An old fashioned distributor wrench in 13mm would work good too, especially if you can put a ratchet/torque wrench on it to set the torque. The distributor housing is plastic. Be careful when you put the hold down clamp back on it. It likes to be in every position but the right one. Use a small mirror to see it in the right spot before you tighten it down. Also, book says the cap's screws are good for one time use only. Maybe you could just put on new thread-lock paste - not drops. The housing is plastic. If you haven't changed the cap and rotor before, now is the time and you will get new screws with the cap and rotor.
9. Disconnect all electrical connectors and the necessary loom clips. I disconnected the alternator's plug but not the main battery lead. Do not attempt to remove the big wiring harness. Just disconnect everything and move the little pig tails out of the way to a safe area. Bungee cord the two big looms over the middle so that they are suspended above the intake. I didn't bungee.but should have. The intake will slide out from underneath the wires...hence my later term "re-entry."
10. Be careful with the tangs and such on the electrical connectors.they may be old and brittle. (I did find them to be in better shape than those on my '99 Navigator.) Note one of these loom clamps near the EGR to intake connection is a nut on a nutted-stud fastening the plastic upper intake. The stud will probably turn when you try to loosen the nut and you can't back up the stud with an open end wrench. See notes at end on what I did. Also note, all the electrical connections are different so you don't have to mark them. My looms were stiffened from the heat enough to lay back into their original positions. There is a ground wire on the thermostat cover. It has its own nut.
11. There is a bracket that holds the wiring harness at the passenger side rear of the engine. Don't bother trying to get it completely out of the way. Just unbolt it where it is secured near the coil and then just lift it up and out of the way. There is no need to attempt to unbolt it where it is secured to the rear of the head. (I had no problem with this bracket but here is a tip others have noted.... You will note though that the bracket has a small tab right where it intersects the cylinder head/manifold area that sticks forward over the intake. You need to bend this tab out of the way, before you re-install the intake, otherwise it can interfere with the manifold as you are moving it into position.) Also with respect to this clip....if you are going to take off only one valve cover...removing the driver side cover my help the intake slip under this tang.
12. Remove the Evap line from the passenger side solenoid. Don't break the clip like I did. Push on the one side of the clip with the nipple "into" the slot and pull on the hose just after depressing the clip. The hose should slide right off. I broke the clip which is not available from parts. The entire hose with EVAP test port was twenty-something at GM. If you break a clip, post a request and I'll sell you one for $10;)
13. Disconnect the throttle cable and cruise cable. One has a clip. The other just slips in a stop and the cable wraps around. Then squeeze the plastic casing locks out of the bracket and tuck the two cables out of the way.
14. Remove the drive belt.
15. Remove the four A/C compressor mounting bolts. DO NOT DISCONNECT THE HOSE ASSEMBLY. When the time comes, you'll slide the compressor FORWARD to access the driver/front manifold bolt.
16. Disconnect the EGR pipe from the intake near the front and the bolted hold-down bracket in the back. Don't remove the connection from the exhaust line...that is not necessary and could lead to trouble.
17. Somehow disconnect the PCV valve hose. I pulled on the molded elbow on the manifold connection so I could just swing the tube around and not have a hole in the valve cover. When I did, it peeled apart like mozzarella cheese. Replacement tube with valve was only $7 at GM. You might just pull the valve out of the cover and remove the intake with the tube and try to remove it on the bench. It is best to clear it out of the way for a smooth re-entry. Or just buy the tube and valve the day before.
18. Disconnect the two fuel lines at the rear of the manifold. Do not remove the fuel lines where they go into the upper plenum in the middle. Once you have the distributor out, it's easy to disconnect the lines right back at the firewall. You should replace the o-rings. One is big and one is small. (The o-rings in the Felpro kit were black. I've never used black o-rings in gasoline service. Usually, they are red. Hopefully black won't be a problem. I should have picked up some red o-rings from GM like original and on my '93. Black usually means Buna-N which is not the best choice for aromatics.)
19. Disconnect the electrical connector from the P/S pump if there is one. My pump had no connector. There is a clip on the P/S bracket holding the A/C compressor high pressure switch wire/loom. I delayed taking that loose but eventually did and was glad. It allowed that entire pig tail with the A/C clutch plug, temp plug, and ground to be cleared out of the way.
20. Remove the P/S pump pulley and loosen the P/S pump bracket nut and three bolts on the front of the bracket. One bolt is hiding way down at the bottom. Don't remove the two pump fasteners behind the bracket. Leave the longest bolt in three or four threads so the bracket doesn't fall off. I forget which bolt is the longest but you will figure it out. Two are only about 2 inches long. The long bolt is 4+. This will allow you to slide the bracket and the loose A/C compressor forward to get to the driver/front manifold bolt. The compressor bolts might not have to be removed but it helps to get the compressor more forward than the bracket.
Note: Cuda says you don't have to remove the pulley.just the upper fasteners and pry the bracket forward when you need it. If Ian says it works, then it does.but the newbie without a helper should borrow the P/S pulley tool from AutoZone (the day before) and remove the pulley and the four fasteners. It will truly give you more working room for cleaning and re-entry which the newbie will appreciate. It takes only a few minutes to remove and replace the pulley.
21. The intake gasket kit ships with only one valve cover gasket. You have to take off at least one valve cover to get the intake off. The cover lips sit over the intake so there is no choice but take one off and slip the intake out from under the other. I removed the intake with the passenger cover tilted to the side but then went ahead and tilted the driver's side to the side as well for re-entry. It just looked easier with more space...and it was. Plus, I took both covers off and gave them a good cleaning. That black patina sure looks better than gunk in all the crevices.
22. Remove the intake manifold bolts and remove the intake. You will have to pull up on the wire looms and slip the manifold out the front. I did it even with the coil and ignition module on. Four of my intake bolts where corroded to an hourglass shape. I went ahead and replaced all 8 bolts.4 bucks each at GM. (Yeah, only 8 bolts! I don't know how many bolts a legacy small block V8 has, but my 4.3z has at least 12. 8 on the vortec.another dumb mistake by GM.)
23. Clean the threaded holes where the intake bolts fasten. Clean the heads and intake with a solvent saturated rag. If you scrape, be careful not to scratch. Do not use abrasives, emery, stones, whatever, to clean the heads. All the aggregate will fall into your valley/block and ruin your engine. Before I started cleaning, I dabbed up all the antifreeze, fuel, and oil from the valley area and cleaned the deposits from the low spots. Then I cleaned the gasket areas on the heads and block. Then shop-vac'd the valley. Then cleaned again with a lint free rag. Then I poured a quart of oil over the entire valley to rinse any remains to the pan and leave a protective coating. I covered the valley with heavy aluminum foil to keep the crickets out while I slept. I also cleaned the manifold with solvent only. Maybe there is a better way..like a cloth polishing attachment on a drill or roto. It was pretty easy to clean even by hand. Plus I cleaned all the non-gasket crevices just to make it look good and be clean. (I don't know if a shop mechanic would do this .because I've never hired one. But I do it because my dad taught me to. Yeah, he likes things clean.so I got to do the cleaning. I guess scraping gaskets kept me out of his way. I'll be glad when my son can scrape gaskets and chip welds.)
24. Check the intake faces with a straight edge like a nice level to be sure they haven't warped.which is unlikely if you didn't overheat it. If you see light along the straight edge, use a feeler gauge to measure and compare to specs.
25. For most people, this job is to replace the lower intake gaskets to fix a coolant leak. If you aren't having trouble with the upper intake, save that job for another day. HOWEVER, there were a couple of bracket/loom hold down nuts I had to remove that in turn loosened plenum cover studs. The Felpro kit does not come with all the gaskets you need to remove the plenum and the fuel pipes from the metering block. SO DON'T take all that apart unless you need to and you have all the o-rings. Here is what I did on the bench. Since a couple of the studs came loose, I went ahead a loosened all of them one turn. Then took one out at a time, applied some loc-tite medium, and returned that stud to near snug. After they were all done, I torqued them in stages to spec in a crisscross pattern from the middle to the outside. I did not replace the elastomeric gasket since I didn't pull the cover.just loosened the bolts/studs. Had it been paper or such, I would have. So far, so good.
26. With the intake on the bench, you might want to remove the EGR valve and clear the carbon from the EGR passages. Buy the gasket the day before..it is not in the set.
27. I pulled the intake off with the coil and module in place. They snagged a few times on the loom so I removed them for re-entry. I went ahead a removed the module from its holder and cleaned the heat sink with alcohol and applied a thin layer of Ceramique heat transfer paste which is very similar to what was there.unlike my 93 which had the remains of silicone.not a metal/stabilized oil based heat transfer paste. Actually, silicone is not a heat transfer compound at all.)
28. Remember to clean the threads of your intake bolts if they are not new.
29. Clean all the oil off the gasket surfaces with a light solvent like thinner or alcohol. RTV won't stick if you don't. Follow the directions in the Felpro box for applying RTV. They include Felpro brand black with the intake gaskets. The gaskets have nipples on them to push into the heads so they won't move around. The RTV is applied on the block and one-half inch up the gaskets (both sides/both ends).
30. If you are re-using your intake bolts, apply loctite medium strength threadlocker before you install them.
31. When you install the manifold you need to be able to move it into position while keeping slightly above the gaskets and the RTV at either end. Otherwise you can wipe the RTV off the ends and then you end up with a leak after it's all together. One thing I might try next time is to put a small stud in the passenger/front hole and a taller stud in the driver/second from the back hole. The third bolt hole on the drivers side has a slot in it. With the tall stud, you could index that hole to the tall stud then lower the manifold indexing to the short stud on the passenger front. Then put the other bolts in and finally swap the studs for bolts. The weight of the intake is not very manageable when you're all hunched over.so either make it fool-proof to install or get a helper or both.
32. Torque the intake in three to four stages in the proper order per the gasket spec.
33. By this time, you will be an expert and will know how and the order to put it all back together. One thing to remember is to properly index the distributor. If you miss it by more than plus/minus 2 degrees, you will throw a P1345 code which means your camshaft sensor in the distributor is not in sync with your crankshaft sensor. You will have to trial and error adjust it clearing the code as you go or connect a scan tool with extended data. Remember...no timing light required. The distributor does not control ignition timing or advance.
Finally...before you start engine...change your oil and filter to get all the crud out of your pan. If you are doubt about your cleanliness or didn't drench your valley with a quart of clean oil..Drive your vehicle to Hooters and back and change the oil and filter again!
Skimmer
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News Skimmer wrote:
Nice post! Couple of comments.....

I flop the entire compressor unit over to the passenger side of the truck.

Excellent advice! I've seen lot's of tech's attempt to remove the fuel lines at the plenum and end up bending the shit out of the lines.

This is a waste of time. You only need to remove the bolts, nuts that hold the aluminum bracket to the head/block and then it will slide forward on the studs that are still screwed into the engine.
Only other comment is that I will index the distributor housing with the cap "in place". You notice that the cap has two ridges on it that usually point almost straight back or slightly to the passenger side of the firewall. I simply line up a screwdriver with the ridges and scribe a light line in the firewall, then I remove the cap and mark where the rotor is pointing to. So far, only one cam code in the 12 years of working on these engines.
Thanks for taking the time to document the repair. I think it will be very valuable for the DIY'ers that come along and need to do this job.
Ian
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Thanks...please see return comments and questions...

Yes the hoses look long enough....but I had a fear of man-handling the hoses and muffler. That baby can be pulled forward a few inches more than the P/S bracket. Without the bolts...it is just floating there loose. My way, the hoses are a bit in the way...but less so than the wire loom.

Plus...the multi o-ring set for the plenum does not come with the gasket set...even if you disconnected both. I really wanted to replace the upper plenum and TB elastomers but gave up trying to find the rest of the parts in my neighborhood. I did find the part numbers on delco.com. The Pep Boy guy couldn't find the parts in Felpro or BorgWarner...but I don't think he new what he was looking for. The plenum and TB seals left over are in a zip bag in my garage. Can you get the plenum top off without removing the fuel lines from the metering block....even when out of the truck. It doesn't look like it to me. If not, maybe Felpro should try to bake the cake before marketing the cake mix.

I believe we are talking about the same fasteners. There are three bolts and one nut on a stud. You are right they fasten the big aluminum bracket to the block/head. But can you get to all of these fasteners without removing the pulley? Maybe just the long bolt that goes into the block has to be loosened...but I thought the pulley was in the way of getting to the fasteners. I know you do not have to remove the pump.

That would have been good. Also could have indexed to the cap screws or the flat side of the cap parallel to the intake plenum. When I stabbed mine from scratch the rotor and "8" aligned and the flat side of the dist/cap was new parallel to the skewed angle of the plenum. However, this angle failed the test. Turns out it needed to be a few degrees c-clockwise looking from the top...so those two lines are not parallel on mine.
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Just flop the compressor over and lay it on top of the battery, the hoses have plenty of flex.

Re-use the O-rings in the metering body. Most times, I re-use the O-rings at the fuel lines also. If they haven't been smashed to smitherenes by some ham fisted moron before, they are perfectly serviceable. How many replace the O-rings when changing a fuel filter?

Pulley is not in the way. Use a 9/16" deep socket for all the front ones, a 15mm for the one on the back of the PS pump. The more you disassemble that doesn't need disassembly, the more you expose yourself to something getting messed up.

I roll the engine by hand until the rotor is pointing straight forward and mark the distributor housing with a silver sharpie. The one time I didn't do that, it set the code because I was one tooth off on the drive gear. I like Ian's method though... gonna try it on the next one.
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wrote:

I'm concerned about Ian's method. Ian...how do you keep the shaft from turning or mark how to index the shaft when stabbing it back in.
Neal...I like your way...this engine is easy to turn with that big nut on the fan clutch.
skimmer
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News Skimmer wrote:

The shaft will always turn when you remove it. Nothing you can do about that. I assume you are talkin about the main shaft of the "distributor", not the oil pump drive shaft.
I've been doing these so long that it's fairly simple to figure out what you lead angle should be when you install the dist so that it ends up where it should and it engages the oil pump drive shaft. If by chance the oil pump drive shaft has moved slightly, I stick a screwdriver down the hole, and move the shaft slightly until the dist seats all the way down.
Ian
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Yes..agree and talking about the distributor's shaft.

But how do you index the shaft (not the housing) with the cap on. Just after pulling the distributor out, do you sharpie the shaft housing marking where the dimple on the gear is so you know where to start before you stick it back in. Follow me?
skimmer
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Ian wrote;

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wrote:

Neil to the rescue....his polite way of saying "read it for the fourth time." LOL I was so friggin' excited somebody had invented a way to do it ALL with the cap "in place" I guess a lost focus. I knew it was too good to be true. Well, you can't so I just roll over just agree.
skimmer
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News Skimmer wrote:

I can only "wish" that I could do that! (laugh)
Again, in my case, I'm working against time. So whatever little procedures I can develop to save me time is what I will use. I don't bother turning the engine to TDC #1 for this very reason.
Same reason that I do not remove the ps pulley. All of the bracket bolts and nuts can be accessed with the pulley in place and the bracket only needs to be moved forward far enough to get that one manifold bolt out.
It doesn't always work this way though! There are plenty of jobs/procedures where you actually save time by taking more "stuff" off. I try to teach the newbies this concept, but they don't always get it. "More is less"
Ian
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I wasn't trying to steal your thunder but it looked like you were a bit busy with Mr. Ragsdale, so...
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aarcuda69062 wrote:

You are always welcome to chime in on whatever thread I'm in, Neil!
I'm done with Rags, for the moment! I'm just waiting for his posse to swarm me! I've gotten a number of positive private e-mails....seems there are a lot of folks who have no time for his antics, but aren't willing to spend the time to "stand him up". I totally understand where they are coming from, as he is the slipperiest fellow I've ever had to trade blows with on a forum.
Ian
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