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Ke30 Top End Rebuild


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Hi all


Bought a Ke30 from a guy who kept the car in completely original condition, sold it to me for cheap, with the cleanest interior and the straightest body ive ever seen



However, judging from the cracked head and milky oil, he probably never looked under the bonnet :bash:


Ive bought a new cylinder head, gasket set and in hindsight I'm planning for a radiator recoil and new water pump because the head might of cracked due to cooling issues


So a few questions first, should i buy a new radiator or get mine fixed?

And I'm getting a mechanically competent friend to take a look at replacing the head, is there anything i should look out for/tips?

Also, i heard from a mate that theres no point rebuilding the head if the bottom end is going to be left intact because the head will just crack again, what can i do to the bottom end that provides me with 100% certainty that the engine wont blow up again?


Could i please get help? Thank you!

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Take your radiator to a radiator shop and have it flushed and tested. If it flows ok and holds pressure, it's fine. If it's blocked or if it leaks, they can re-core your radiator for $200-$300 or they might try sell you a new one.


You can get big fat Chinese aluminium radiators for $300 off eBay if you have the patience to wait for postage.


For 100% certainty you can pull the engine out, and either completely rebuild it, or replace it with a rebuilt engine that comes with warranty. I get the feeling you don't want to go to that much trouble.


For pretty good certainty you could put some coolant flush and oil flush through the motor before taking the head off and radiator out, then flush the coolant and oil again a week or two after putting it all back together.


I disagree with your mate that an engine with a cracked head will always crack heads. Many engines of different types all over the world have had heads replaced and gone on to live long and healthy lives.


However, the engine did crack the head for a reason. It would be nice to identify that reason so you can stop it happening again. If there is a blocked water passage, that might be hard to identify, you might even free up a blockage when flushing the engine. Maybe the previous bloke let the motor run low on coolant, or maybe the head is just old and a slight defect in the 40-yearold metal finally let go.


Changing the head is pretty simple operation.


Make sure your new head matches your old head. There are engines with dished pistons in a circle pattern around the top of the piston, there are engines with dished pistons with a big deep D pattern, but the most common engine is flat-top pistons. You need the head which matches your engine. If your car has the original 3K motor, as far as I know they're all flat-top piston, it was only some 4K and 5K motors which had dished pistons. If you're in doubt you can use oil/petrol/degreaser and an eyedropper to measure the capacity of your old head and new head. Just turn the head upside down and use the dropper to fill the combustion chamber until the liquid meets the deck. They should be within a few cc of each other. If the head volumes are drastically different, then you need a different head.


There are half a dozen different pushrod lengths, you might want/need to swap your existing valve gear onto the new head so it all fits properly.


You can buy new head bolts if you like. Make sure you torque the bolts up in the correct order and to the correct torque.


Check your valve clearances cold and warm a few times once you get it going again.


While the rocker cover is off the car, give it a polish with really fine wet-and-dry sandpaper and metal polish so it looks fancy when you put it back on :D

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I've just replaced the head gasket on my 4k with very little mechanical knowledge. Get a workshop manual (or download the Toyota 4k manual http://www.retrojdm.com/ScanViewPDF.asp?ScanID=29 ), think clean clean clean, and follow the instructions.

I had the head reconditioned, $300, bought a gasket kit $50, and borrowed a torque wrench. Make sure the surfaces are flat and clean.

It was quite easy. There's enough information on this site, great people here who will hold your hand and lots of YouTube videos.

My only problem was a leaky manifold gasket which made the car idle rough and lose power when I put it in gear.

It was really rewarding when I got it going again. Its a 4k. Basically you undo bolts and tighten them up. It wasn't rocket science.

Good luck.

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Hi Joel,

Welcome aboard & congrates on getting hold of such a clean & orginal KE30. There are a few guys on this site that would be very jealous. To get a 40 year old car that doesn't need lots of major "body work" is a real bonus. The mechanicals are really the easy bit. The aluminium heads suffer after 40 years, as the chemistry of the aluminium changes with age. It softens and corrodes badly, due to the block & head being different metals. Much will be revealed once the head is removed, as to why it cracked.


Where abouts are you located ? There might be a RollaClub member close by that can assist you. How many Klms are on the speedo ? Is it a manual or automatic ? Depending on how many klms are on the car, and assuming the engine is original. I would be removing the whole engine, taking off the sump & doing a full inspection, before I spent a lot of money on parts. You may find if a lot of work is required, it may be cheaper to fit a second hand 4K motor that is good condition, which will cost less than parts & labour on fixing up a very "olde 3K", that may not have been looked after, as you elude to.


Let us know how you go, and we'll see how we can help.


Cheers Banjo

Edited by Banjo
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Wow, thanks for the replies guys! A really supportive community, especially Jamie, i love it!


Ill upload some pictures of the head once i get it off, which might be within the next week or so if things go to plan

At the moment, ive taken the grill and protective plate off ready for the radiator to be removed. Still waiting on the water pump.


Good news to hear about the bottom end, alot of my mates told me to cut my losses and sell the car (lol no)


And Banjo, I'm located in Adelaide, South Australia. The km's on the clock are 88,xxx but the clock only goes to five places

unfortunately, its an automatic so its slow; really slow. but I'm always looking for a good deal on a 4 or 5 speed manual to chuck in

but for now I'm focusing on the motor


Thanks so much for the help!

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Cool, keep us posted on the head. Like Banyo said, if the head swap goes south, you can get running 4K motors from the wreckers for $500 or so. Engine swaps in these cars are easy. Everything is easy :)


With manual gearboxes, there are three shifter positions. KE1x has the shifter up the front, KE2x/3x/5x has the shifter in the middle, KE7x has the shifter at the back. As you're changing from an auto, you'll have to cut your floor anyway, so it might be easier for you to bolt a flat plate over the auto shifter hole and get a KE70 5-speed and cut a new hole.


The other things you'll need are a manual pedal box (bolts in as far as I know), manual flywheel and clutch, drill a hole in the firewall for the clutch cable, the clutch cable itself (eBay Phil's Rotaries or any parts shop), and a clutch rubber and circlip which you can get at the wreckers. Your auto firewall won't have the metal cup which the manual firewall has to sit the rubber in, but I don't really think you need it. I'm not sure if auto and manual tailshafts are different lengths.


I've actually got to change my clutch cable soon, so I'll remember to get a photo of my manual firewall while it's all apart, so you can see where to drill the hole and how the rubber and circlip go together.

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Hi Joel,

If the 88K klms is genuine, then you've scored a bargain ! The fact that it is auto, usually implies that the car has never been "thrashed", which is another bonus.


Once you get the engine sorted out, the manual conversion is one of the best conversions you can ever do, especially if you go 5 speed.


I've done a KE30 2 door auto conversion to manual, and it is really quite easy.


The KE body shell was not different between manual & auto versions, to my knowledge. The hole/cup in the firewall for the clutch cable was, I believe included in all auto versions, despite it not being used on the auto.




The hardest part of a auto / manual conversion, is swapping over the pedal box. It's a pain if you are big in stature. Always take out the front seat completely before attempting, is my advice.


Good luck with the head & engine. Keep us posted & plenty of pictures. Pictures tell a thousand words.


Cheers Banjo

Edited by Banjo
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Definately a nice clean car!


I also haven't heard that one cracked head leads to another.. The chances are high the head is not cracked at all, but you need to find out why the motor overheated and warped the head. If you find a new thermostat in there its a clue, or a new water pump, or either of those items ruined. Does the rad leak at all? If everything checks out OK then maybe it is just blocked up.


We lifted the motor out to do head work, but while I had the block out I tipped it on its side and cleaned out piles and piles of rust scale from the waterways. We've never had it heat up since then. Too many people didn't use antifreeze.


Take a look through here- You might want to include other odd mods while you have the head off, and make sure you get a one-piece manifold gasket.



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All these replies, i feel loved!


Me and a mate did some head work today, took the head off and what a shocker. Although not cracked, it was corroded like buggery full of blocked passageways.

I ripped the radiator out, I'm just going to get this one fixed, i don't see the point in buying a new radiator if this one can be remade like new

The thermostat was corroded shut in the original head and the one in the new head had the guts taken out of it. I'm still waiting on that water pump, but as soon as i get the radiator and water pump done i can put all back together.


Its costing me alot, I'm only a student working at a pizza bar, but the car was cheap ($500) and its only costed me an extra $400 so far so I'm still motivated


Took plenty of pictures while i was at it too, all on my iphone, so i need to take them off there first. Next post will be pictures. A manual conversion would be awesome but ive got enough to work on to keep me occupied.


Too keep you guys posted, heres some more pictures of the car





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OK here goes


Milky rocker cover anyone? (surprisingly enough, the previous owner replaced the 3k-c rocker cover and put a 4k one on)



Heres just what it looked like with its cover off so you have an idea of where i was with it



Got the head off, Looks fine (just dirty) until you get closer than 1km to it



Heres more proof of its crap factor, next to a head nut i gave it a light poke with a screwdriver and it just collapsed.

Probably a collapsed water jacket



This is the valves (sorry for bad pic, a better one will come soon) You might actually see some blocked water jackets here



The water jacket was heaps corroded! like decayed tooth it just fell apart



A picture of the cylinder block before it was cleaned up



Heres another blockage, however, checking the head gasket, it may of supposed to be like that. Well it got unblocked anyway




Found some pitting formed around a water jacket on the engine block. don't know what to think about this but cleaned it up.



Still some work to do on the block but ran out of sandpaper



Some pictures of the head, old and new. Put together so you have an idea of just how filthy it is (plus a better photo of the bad head)





So again, waiting on the water pump and radiator to be fixed (forgot to take photos of that part >.<)

Ultimtately, i actually don't think the head was cracked, but there were massive holes and most likely the head was warped.

Corrosion was starting to form but i got that sorted now. What do you guys reckon?

Edited by Dzhoel
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Hi joel,

Good pics ! Much better idea of what you are up against. Throw that head away. It's shot. There are a couple of things you now have to consider. If it's that bad in the head water jacket, it will likely be just as bad in the block. If it was me, I'd be pulling all the Welsh Plugs out, and cleaning the block out also. However, I understand your financial limitations, so suggest the following.


After you've clean the top of the block, get it checked with a straight edge to ensure it is perfectly flat. Reassemble the engine with new head & one piece manifold gasket, and leave the thermostat out initially. Once you get the engine running, put a really good radiator cleaner in the water, and run as instructed on the bottle, then flush out by removing the bottom radiator hose. You might have to do this a couple of times.


The milky brown & white sludge on the inside of the rocker cover indicates it may well have got water in the oil. Again if it was me, I'd be taking out the block & removing the sump. However, I suggest, after getting it going, you buy some flushing oil and run through the system as instructed. Then drain & replace with good oil. Replace oil filter. The reason the previous owner replaced the 3K rocker cover is that it has a rubber push on oil cap. These are notorious for popping off when the rocker cover becomes pressurised resulting from a blocked or sticky PVC valve. The 4K rocker cover has a screw on lid. However, that doesn't fix the basic problem, so PVC valve should be removed & soaked in degreaser & thoroughly cleaned.


The original whelsh Plugs were mild steel, and often corrode from the inside out, as you would expect. While you've got the head off & easy access to them, check for visible rust or leaks. Also push the centre of each Whelsh Plug with a screwdriver. If they are just about corroded then you screwdriver will break through.


We'll probably think of a couple of other things to suggest, but I would do the above as a minimum.


Good luck ! Let us know what you find.


Cheers Banjo

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Thanks for the reply Banjo,

as a side question, would you happen to know what the tappet adjustments are for the exhaust and intake?


Once i get everything together, a good hard rinse and repeat is in order for the oil and the cooling fluids. No more straight water for this motor!

Ill keep the old head, it'll look good on the shelf

Edited by Dzhoel
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Hi Joel,



3K Tappet Clearances.



Exhaust valve:

0.009in or 0.23mm

Inlet Valve:

0.006in or 0.15mm



Exhaust valve:

0.012 or 0.30mm

Inlet valve:

0.008 or 0.20mm in


Lots of technical data & settings available on this site in our WiKi section.





P.S. On second thoughts, saw up olde 3K head into small chunks; chemical clean each piece with aluminium cleaner, and sell at your local market as desktop paper weights. Advertise as coming from a very "olde" car. Better still, advertise on ebay. Someone once paid $ 100s of dollars for a piece of toast once ! Never know, might help finance the rebuild ? Ha Ha !


Cheers Banjo

Edited by Banjo
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Again if it was me, I'd be taking out the block & removing the sump


Absolutely! Don't take the pistons out, but get the waterways scraped out and the crankcase cleaned as much as you can. Pop the oil pump out and check it, and strip the oil filter housing and clean it, including the relief valve.


I would epoxy-fill that corrosion at the back of the block, just to support the head gasket. Put a suitable bolt or dowel to plug the hole, epoxy around where it has corroded away then sand it back flat. As you noticed, the water holes near the front are not used, so water is forced to circulate through the back of the block, the furthest from the pump.


You can do a lot that takes time but not money and makes it trouble-free in the future.


When it all goes back together, put a lady's stocking across the top radiator pipe and put the hose over that. It will filter out the crap dislodged for the first few weeks that would otherwise block the core tubes of your newly cleaned radiator.

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Got the radiator done today, only costed me $80 too which was a bargain. With that money he tested it, flushed it, cleaned it, patched it and even painted it


An air filter and a genuine toyota oil filter came in the post, but no water pump yet.

When it all goes back together, put a lady's stocking across the top radiator pipe and put the hose over that. It will filter out the crap dislodged for the first few weeks that would otherwise block the core tubes of your newly cleaned radiator.

What happens if the stocking disintegrates? i'd imagine i would be in heaps of strife then.

Also, i'll pop down to the shop and get some epoxy for patching, but i do have knead-it on hand, can i use that?


I will probably end up selling the entire rooted head, start bidding at $30 and see how it goes


The cars at a mates place while its being fixed up, i can get some work done+pictures next weekend

About swapping the valve train over; Is this needed? couldn't i adjust the tappets to suit the new valve train or is that out of the question?

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