Sunday, March 14, 2010

Anatomy of a Breakdown #2 - Simca Spark Plug Ballistics

Something terrible has happened. Tired of my unreliable soup can exhaust fix, I was on my way out to drop the Simca off at Phil's Undercar in Clinton, MI this afternoon for some new tubing. Then something broke in a large and substantial way, resulting in me being flat-towed home with a knotted up air hose.

I was driving up a hill when I decided to see what wide open throttle felt like. As a punitive measure, A loud bang came from under the hood and the motor dropped a hole. Although things were now really loud inside and I was running on three, I kept pushing on. About 2 miles later, another bang occurred, the motor smoothed out, and I was down to just enough power to motor the vehicle along at 30mph.

When I popped the hood, the spark plug leads for cylinders 2 and 3 were dangling loose and there were little ceramic chunks everywhere. Some enormous amount of pressure caused for the spark plug center electrodes to be launched into the back of the hood. Prognosis? Maybe a blown head gasket caused the cylinders to hydrolock at speed. A compression check revealed even compression across all cylinders, ruling out bent connecting rods at least. A look under the oil fill cap revealed a delicious milkshake.

Surprisingly, head gaskets are readily available so this isn't the end for the ol' 1204. Needless to say, the car won't be receiving an exhaust any time soon.

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