my popped gasket got started when my civic was new; it had a tendency
to heat up since day 1, i assumed it was because the tiny radiator was
so minimal. after a few years when it couldn't even deliver that level
of cooling, i swapped it out, and was astounded that the new one never
overheated. shortly thereafter, my head gasket paid the price of those
few years of my assuming that the original factory radiator wouldn't
have birth defects.
on a humorous note, i just replaced the replacement radiator after
like 15 years, due to a big leak; it turned out that despite its
really ragged appearance, it was still intact, and the leak was coming
from the innocent looking heater hose which had split down the bottom
the proverbial urban legend that putting a rebuilt head on an old
engine will make the bottom end go, because the increase of pressure
back to spec is too much for it. my theory, based on seeing a couple
of rebuilt heads, is that they come with so much scrap metal and
shrapnel in the cooling and oiling passages that it clogs the oil
passages in the crank. (one of these did indeed end up with a thrown
rod shortly afterwards)
when i needed a rebuilt head, i eventually went with one rebuilt from
PAECO in birmingham alabama, btw, which was clean enough to eat off
of. they're not at all cheap, though; their main market is SCCA
racers. looking at their website now, i don't see head rebuilding, but
for anyone who wants to go that route, i'd advise at least asking them.
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