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Re: Estimate $$$

Subject: Re: Estimate $$$
From: (James Fischer)
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 1996 18:38:13 -0500
    Tim Moses asked:

>Fearing the worst, what is a "reasonable" estimate to have a head gasket
>replaced for a 79 MGB:
>        1. just the gasket replaced =

                NOT an option!!!  The head must at LEAST be checked
                by a competent machine shop.  I would estimate that
                the costs would be:

                    New (Copper!) Head Gasket  $60.00
                    New "Head Set" Gasket Kit  $45.00
                    Tourque Wrench             $30.00
                    Appropriate Beverages      $18.00                    
                    Machine Shop               $20.00 - $75.00
                    Labor (yours)              $0

            You should consider the copper head gasket, which
            I feel is a good investment.

            If a friend owns a tourque wrench, you don't need
            to buy one, and the friend may provide sage-like
            advice on removal/replacement process.  Anyone
            who has pulled a head on any car would find an
            MG "temporary decapitation" to be very very similar.

            You can pull your head in 3 hours tops.  Do it
            Sunday afternon, so the head is ready to go to
            the machine shop Monday morning.  Don't be
            pushy about the question of when your head
            will be inspected, as good machinists tend 
            to be prima donnas.

            By Friday at the latest, your head should either
            be blessed or fixed, and can go back on Saturday
            morning.  Every single book ever written on MGs
            has a decent set of instructions on the head
            R&R process, including the all-important nut-
            loosen/tighten sequence.  Adjusting the valves
            could take the rest of the day, or the rest
            of your life, depending upon how picky you are.

            Try it, and learn what you need to know.  Depending
            upon your budget for appropriate beverages, you
            could have more experienced hands than wrenches
            involved in the process, which would teach you
            more than you can absorb. 

            If you must be a whimp, go ahead and try to find 
            a decent mechanic.  Expect to be billed for at 
            least 5 hours of labor to do the deed.  Also 
            expect to be told that copper head gaskets are 
            "snake oil", since few mechanics can get them 
            wholesale- they want to buy a single cheap 
            "head set" kit at a discount, and sell you the 
            gaskets at full retail.  Also expect to be 
            charged $15 for anti-freeze, another popular
            mechanic's trick for having you put his kids
            though Harvard.

>        2. replace the gasket and machine the head level =

                This scenario is covered in the $20 - $75 
                price above.  Most decent machine shops 
                have two flat prices, one to "check" a 
                head, and another to bring it into spec.
                Any valve work would be extra.
>        3. replace gasket,  machine head and replace rings =

                Rings?  What do you need new rings for?
                If the problem is a blown head gasket,
                the rings would not be hurt, even if the
                head warped into a doorstop.

                If it is time for rings, you might as well
                pull the entire block, strip it down, and
                let the machine shop look at the bearings,
                shafts, and other major "wear" components.
                This could run roughly $250-$300 if the
                machinist buys the parts.  Let him, as you
                will have no idea which size shell bearings
                would be required.

        A good machinist is hard to find, harder to communicate with,
        and harder still to get to "understand" that your head/block/
        whatever is the most important item he has ever seen.

       No software will ever be able to compress information to the 
       extent a human female does when she merely raises an eyebrow.
 james fischer             

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