98 Ram still not starting

Here's a followup to a post from earlier this month.
I picked up my truck from the repair shop and they said it started and ran just fine. I drove it for several days without any problem. Then
one monring it did it again. Engine would turn over and it was making an effort to fire but would never catch on.
This afternoon I purchased a fuel pressure tester and the pressure tests out at 42 PSI and stays constant with the ignition key on. I pulled the front 4 plugs and each was covered in fluid. I held a match to one of the wet plugs to see if it would burn and it didn't. I guess the mechanic was right when he said that the engine had a blown head gasket and the plugs were wet with coolant.
But how could a blown head gasket put coolant on every plug unless the head gasket was totally obliterated? I could see maybe one or two cylinders being affected but all eight? Is there another way that coolant could be getting in the cylinders?
Please help!!
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if your sure its coolant. you could have a intake gasket problem coolant passes through the intake. only way i can think of that would wet all eight cyls with coolant.
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Just before Xmas, we replaced the radiator, water pump, thermostat, and fan clutch. There's a short bypass hose that goes from the top of the water pump to (if I remember) the intake manifold. Where does that coolant go witin the intake. Is it possible there's an area inside the manifold that could have corroded and is leaking fluid? Would this mean replacing the intake or just putting in new gaskets?
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it passes between the heads front and rear. starting from the front there's your coolant passage then the intake runners and another coolant passage)
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i may be wrong but should your oil not be milky and frothy if there is coolant in it? you didn't mention seeing that
rach
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sorry -- meant to reply to Peter's initial post not yours Chris, but, did you check for possible hairline crack in intake manifold -- hoping that is not my problem but my ex suggested that (probably worst and final scenario in my case which probably means take it to the tried and true garage because it is too much work in cold climates and no garage)
hope it is the gasket good luck
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rach im with you on that he didnt mention milky oil so im thinking that possibly a failed gasket into a intake runner. i would think a cracked manifold at a water jacket would leak water into the lifter valley resulting in a overfilled milkshake of a crankcase....but then again stranger things have happened.
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The mechanic that I took it to did mention that he ran a test by using something that caused the coolant to turn blue. He said there was coolant in the oil and immediately suspected the head gasket. But like I said before, how could a blown head gasket get coolant on every spark plug?
So, if it is a manifold problem, what's the procedure? Pull the manifold and look for the leak. Hopefully it's just a manifold gasket that would need to be replaced. Is a cracked manifold a fairly common occurance? The engine has 185m miles on it. If the manifold/gasket is the culpret and they get replaced, what about the coolant that's in the cylinders? Will that burn off if the engine finally starts or is there a way to dry out the cylinders short of removing the heads?
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best other than that you are looking at a lot of time and decide if you want to do it yourself or take it in for replacement -- you do not want to replace the manifold -- at least an hour's shade tree time and not worth the hasssle unless you plan to scrap the truck you took it out of -- so go to a used parts place and get them to do the install and guarantee a new intalled temp themostat and gasket at the same time imnsho rach
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That's what I'd do. Fix the plenum gasket while you have the manifold apart (remove the plenum pan, and replace the factory gasket with a bead of RTV) - they're known to leak oil into the intake, as well. I'd replace the bypass hose at this time, since more often than not you wind up destroying it to get the manifold off. A new thermostat is standard procedure, as well. I'd also change the upper and lower radiator hoses if they're older than 30K miles or so... all this stuff is easily done when the manifold is off (since you're draining the coolant anyway).

Not really - unless it was removed/replaced once before and not torqued properly.

That's impressive. You drive it to the sun and back? :)

After fixing the problem and changing the oil (and plugs - they're cheap), start it up, and any remaining coolant will promptly burn off. Drive it for a bit, then change the oil once more to get rid of any residual coolant.
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i am going to ask a stupid question -- as far as i know a plenum pan / gasket is inside or behind the intake manifold -- would you know if an ol' 86ish d150 would have one? don't know much about this
and i think a cracked manifold is a lot more common on an SL6
rach
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The "beer-barrel" intake manifolds of the 318/360's used in (at least) the '94+ trucks have a belly pan bolted to the bottom of them, that creates the plenum chamber inside the intake manifold. The problem with these is that the belly pan is made of steel, the intake is cast aluminum, and the gasket is of a sort-of-not-too-flexible variety. Over many heat/cool cycles, the different rates of expansion/contraction of the dissimilar metals causes the gasket to fail, and sucks oil from the lifter valley into the manifold.
You can see a picture of it here: http://www.hughesengines.com/general/fasteners/magnum_fasteners.asp

Sorry, no. My hands-on experience is with the '94+ models.
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Water in the oil?? How long has this been going on? How much water in the oil?? Antifreeze and bearings do not play well together at all.
Roy
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Well i jsut went and checked and the oil on the dipstick is nice and clean and smooth with no signs of any foreign liquid. Here's a little history on this thing. Maybe something here might lend a clue to what's going on.
This is my son's truck. About 3-4 months ago, he was having a real overheating problem and was losing his coolant from below the water pump. About a year earlier, he and his soner buddies replaced the water pump. This time he and I did it by the book so I could make sure that it was done properly. We got the new pump installed and everything went fine for a couple of months and then it began overheating again. When i opened the hood, I noticed a white powdery substance all over the front of the engine block, especially behind the pump pulley. It also looked like the radiator had developed a leak too. I sure a lot of this damage resulted from my son driving the thing while it was hot and then coming home and filling the radiator with water.
Anyway, the day before Xmas, we replaced the radiator, water pump, bypass hose, thermostat and fan clutch. After the installation, everything worked beautifully. The truck held the temperature even with the AC on which, before, would send the temp gauge rising. I had suspected the fan clutch early on based on some messages on this board. A call to the Dodge house resulted in a quote of $340 for a fan clutch -- money that i didn't have, so I never replaced it. Later a friend told me that shouldn't cost that much and I found the clutch at PEP boys for about $70. Now that i look back, I'm thinking that the bad fan clutch probably caused all the prior problems.
The truck worked great for until after New Year's when my son went to start the thing and it would turn over but not fire. After the battery died, I hooked the jumpers and turned it until it started. It ran for a day or two and then did the same thing. This time it wouldn't start at all so I AAA'd it to my local mechanic. He kept it for a couple of days and said that it started up for them and kept starting. He said the plugs were covered in coolant and that the head gaskets were bad. I went and picked it up. It started like it should and I drove it home. My son drove it for a few days with out problems and then it reverted to it's problems again.
So, it seems that the coolant is somehow entering the intake and getting into the cylinders. I'm not sure what the mechanic was saying about the coolant in the oil but it appears that the oil is not contaminated. Also, after we installed all the cooling equipment, I immediately took the truck to Valvoline and had the oil changed. I would have thought they would have spotted any liquid in the oil if there was any, so it appears that the problem developed after our weekend mechanic work. I wonder if there was something we did wrong. A water pump is pretty much a no-brainer so I don't know how we could have messed that up.
One interesting note: When I pulled the water pump that my son had installed, there was a hole rusted out between the two chambers of the water pump. I suspect his use of water instead of coolant may have eaten away at the metal. Could it be possible that this has occurred somewhere within the manifold?
BTW: No the truck has not been to the sun but it has been to my son who seems to be in constant motion. In Roman numerals, M stands for one thousand and in the print/advertising business, 185m would be 185,000 miles.
Thanks for the kind help and suggestions from all concerned. This newsgroup is a great help.
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said:

answer you question as to where the water is coming from. I'd do the compression first.
Roy
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