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How to Weld a Cast Iron 53 block

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Mike,

These pics come from a new aerospace test facility that they are constructing at the University of Notre Dame. The SSF-6 is working great.

 

aluminum welding and metal repair

I am attempting to make all of these fittings air tight as they are used for pressure measurements. We can¹t have any leaks. I had very little warpage of my base metal and I think this is really going to work out very well.

 

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David Hipskind
Turbomachinery Technician
The University of Notre Dame
Institute for Flow Physics and Control (FLOWPAC)
The Hessert Laboratory for Aerospace Research

 

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I found this post on a Dieselram.com bulletin board from April 6, 2004. We receive several calls about this process each week, so I thought it might be of interest to our viewers.



Oregonpharmer:
I have had a lot of e-mails and questions about the process I use to fix the dreaded cracked "53" blocks, so I will post it for everyone's reference.



To do the fix, the engine has to be in the truck and able to run and have coolant added after the work and the block heater plugged in, to get the heat stress distributed properly.



There is a relatively new cast iron welding product on the market from a company called Muggy Weld, and it is their #77 cast iron welding rod. You need at two lbs of that on hand before you start.



First is Muggy's process, off their website, and following that is how I do it to make it last on the baby Cummins:



Muggy:
Our 77 cast iron electrode has super elongation which acts as a built-in stress reliever. Cast iron engine blocks and cast iron exhaust manifolds can now be repaired using this procedure:



Locate the crack in the cast iron and bevel it halfway through the thickness of the wall. With a file or grinder, clean the scale from the cast iron 13 mm on either side of the crack. BE SURE TO DRILL A SMALL HOLE JUST BEYOND BOTH ENDS OF THE CRACK TO STOP THE CAST IRON FROM FURTHER CRACKING AS HEAT IS APPLIED.



In the center of the crack, drill a hole and tap it to accept a 6 mm cap screw. Screw the cap screw up to the thread ends. To leave a flush surface, be sure to saw off the excess screw. (The bolt will keep the crack from "breathing" and will prevent the movement of the cast iron when heat is applied).



Dry crack with a oxy-acetylene torch. (Be careful to not heat above 330 degrees F). Drying the crack prevents water from interfering with the cast iron weld.



Using a back-step procedure, weld the cast iron. Start 2 inches from one end of the crack and weld to end. Then step back 2 inches and weld into proceeding weld. Continue until weld is completed. This procedure helps to eliminate the stress cracking normally attributed to heat traveling in front of the weld.



Now for my spin!



I use a helper and a propane torch instead of the Oxy-acetylene, and have them keep everything hot for 6" above and 3" beyond all my welds. I also have them use a laser thermometer and keep track of the temperature so it does not get too hot or too cold.



My process:
Leave the engine in the truck.



Pull the right side fender and inner panel (assumes the cracking is in the normal location, but this can be also done on the Driver's side is it is cracked below the lifter gallery). If you need a procedure for fender removal, Jacobs has a PDF file on their website for their Jake Brake installation in an 03 Dodge - the process is similar on the earlier trucks.



Put a jack and block under the engine, and remove the right side motor mount and brackets.



Now, start the truck and let it get fully warm. Then shut it off and drain all the water from the block. Start heating the crack with a propane torch (you can use Oxy-acetylene, but it takes a rosebud to generate a broad enough flame to do any good, and that is dangerous with a helper).



Heat the block with enough heat to dry all the cracks.



Keep heating the block, and be careful, you are working with a 300 degree cast iron fry pan at this juncture.



Keep a CO2 fire extinguisher handy and a bucket of water, just in case!



Drill both ends of the crack, tap and install the bolts. On the Cummins you only need to drill the first end and the last end on the entire lower end of the block. AND you are going to do this with it hot, so be careful! Never drill deeper than 9 MM, so tape a reference mark on your drill bit. You should be through a "53" block in about 6 mm, but some are a bit thicker.



Grind a shallow V in the entire crack, from end to end, even through adjoining small weep cracks. Keep the block hot! Keep heating to 300 degrees! You want the V just reaching into the water jacket, but do not actually open it up more than just a fraction of an inch.



Take a high speed hand grinder with a flap wheel and polish the side of the block, from the crack to about an inch above and below, which will take you to the pan gasket flange.



Weld the crack with the Muggy Weld #77. This will take about 2 lbs of rod, so be prepared to burn a lot of it. Clean all the slag and use the flap wheel between weld passes. Only weld as deep as the 6 or so millimeter casting, no deeper. Keep your sidekick heating just enough to keep the temperature at 300 or so!



Lay on a second pass of welding rod above and below the original crack that you welded. Keep heating so it stays at about 300 degrees.



Polish the welds with the flap wheel. Weld a heavy bead between the flange for the oil pan and the side of the block, use the back weld technique and 2 segments. This will look like a third grader has spread peanut butter, but is needed to distribute stresses from the cylinders as they vibrate, so you do not re-crack the block.



Polish again, weld again, polish again, and weld again. You want a total buildup of about 3/8" above the existing casting and it will taper into the block about an inch above the crack and nearly conceal the pan gasket flange on the bottom.



Let the engine block cool to about 200 degrees, no more and it can be as low as 150 F. You want it too hot to touch, but not hot enough to boil water.



Do a final polish with the flap wheel, and fill the cooling system with preheated antifreeze solution. You want it boiling on the stove when you dump it in. You will be going into a still warm engine, just dump slowly and let it sink into the engine.



Fill the cooling system and plug in the block heater. This is important to let the stresses slowly relieve.



Reinstall the motor mount and bracket while the engine is still warm, let the engine weight rest on the mount, and remove the jack and bock from under the engine. Then reinstall the fender liner and fender and wait for the remainder of the 24 hours with the engine heater still plugged in heating the engine.



The Cummins block cracks from two factors, one is harmonic vibration of the cast-in cylinder walls as they work against the block skirt, and the other is cavitation from the coolant allowing bubbles to form as it vibrates, which slowly eats through the block. The "53" only seems to crack when the power is taken above 230 horses, and that is why it was discontinued in motor homes.



When you are done and have waited the 24 hours for the heat stresses to work their way out, put a large jar of Bars Leak in the radiator and let the engine run and distribute the material. The Bars Leak solves future cavitation problems, and seals the threads on the two bolts you installed, so they do not weep to the weld and cause a pocket.



Sometimes it is necessary to replace the pan gasket if it gets hot enough to burn. Most times it is not a problem.



I have also used this 77 on dry engine castings, but they have to be buried in at least 14" of chopped fiberglass for 24 hours after the welding, to slow down the heat loss so the stresses work out. That, in conjunction with using an oven large enough to heat the entire block is a pain. Plus the engine has to be disassembled when it is dry welded because all the seals tend to burn out in the oven.


So, there is life after death for the infamous '53.



Good luck.

 

 

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Save those expensive parts: cast iron exhaust manifolds, cast iron engine blocks, Caterpillar parts..

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Save those expensive parts: cast iron exhaust manifolds, cast iron engine blocks, Caterpillar parts..

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Save those expensive parts: cast iron exhaust manifolds, cast iron engine blocks, Caterpillar parts..