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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, to start, I'd better say that I have been lurking for a few months. This is my first post, I just haven't had anything worthwhile to add. Now I think I might.

I am the current owner of a 2000 town and country, 3.8l, AWD, 89000 miles. When I bought it it was leaking every fluid used on automobiles. I am, therefore, in the process of replacing the majority of gaskets on the engine and transmission. As I said earlier, I have been lurking and have read that others have had leaks develop. So, here is my solution. Let me know what you think.


Here are the o-rings I pulled from the leaking timing cover. These are deformed just as they were in the timing cover. The top two are the coolant passages, the bottom ring is the oil passage.


Clearly the solution to preventing leaks is to prevent the deformation of these o-rings. The question then becomes how to do it and with which materials. I considered jb weld, but didn't want to deal with the mess. A groove could be machined, but that seemed like too much effort and expense. Then it hit me, all it would take is a rigid ring to hold the o-rings in place and prevent deformation. Clearly, aluminum tube would be best for this application. I, however, had difficulty finding a source in my small Alaskan town. I could use steel pipe, but that would rust. Brass could be good, but the walls ended up being too thick. Finally, I found the perfect size in copper. A 3/4 inch for the oil outlet and 1 inch for the coolant passages. The depressions in my timing cover measured 0.116" deep so I wanted the rings to be slightly shorter so they wouldn't interfere with the fit of the cover when reinstalled.
This is one of the containment rings I made for the coolant passages.


And this is the one I made for the oil passage.


It is not super critical that they be flat or look very pretty, but I'm a little bit particular. So, I spent about 45 min making them perfect. A little time with sandpaper on a glass plate can go a long way. Remember to make little figure eights.


It is critical, however, to make sure and remove any nicks or burrs on the outside of the rings as these could cut or tear the o-rings once compressed. Speaking on compression, you will notice in the following pictures that the containment ring is NOT a tight fit. This is to allow expansion of the o-ring as it is compressed.
Here is the coolant passage o-ring and containment ring.


And here is the oil passage o-ring and containment ring.


Finally, here is the timing cover with o-rings and containment rings all around.


Note that the combination of the aluminum timing cover and copper rings is likely to produce some electrolysis. To combat this I plan to coat the copper rings or seat them in some high temp silicone adhesive.

Did I cover all the bases? Is there something I could do better? Sorry for the length, and thanks for your input.
 

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That seems like an interesting solution! The only thing I would do differently would be to use aluminum tubing versus copper. I don't see any reason why it would not be a great solution to this problem. Great job!
 

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That ought to work. Too bad that Chrysler did not do it right the first time.

Mine also leaks, but that looks like a lot of work to get that cover off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys! I'm a little embarrassed, I took those pics before I cleaned up the timing cover gasket surface. I was just so excited to share the idea.
 

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I had to do a timing cover job back in November. My coolant seals were hard, cracked, and a little deformed, and the aluminum around the seals was pitted. The oil seal was fine. My impression is that the seals get old and leak, then the aluminum corrodes, and then the corrosion pushes on the seal causing it to deform. I'd be curious if the copper containment rings will help in the long haul though... let us know what you find!

- G
 

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I had this exact idea several months ago, back in November. Glad to see it come to fruition.

I did that job and replaced the O-rings and gaskets (fel pro) at 174,500 miles (when we first got the van). This fall it had started leaking again at 197,000 miles, only 3 years later. It's been too cold to fix it again because silicone won't cure in the cold, but at least the coolant only leaks to the outside. I've been driving it all winter. It leaked more when it just sat and didn't get driven, so it's been alright.

When I do it again, I will try to use OEM gaskets and O-rings from the dealer since the materials are different. I also was going to make some inner rings to support the O-rings. I was thinking copper, but maybe PVC pipe would be better. It would be a good product to sell as a kit, being that the 2nd through 4th gen vans used the same design and they all leak over time. Hopefully my timing cover didn't corrode any worse since the last time I had it off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had also thought about using PVC, but I was concerned that it would not hold up very well in the heat. I have since painted the rings with high temp paint, baked them to cure the paint, and bedded them in sealant. Only time will tell if it has worked.
 

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Update?

Can the OP or anyone who has tried the same or similar method chime in on the update?

How has it held up?

I'm thinking about the same containment ring as well.

Somebody linked me to this in my thread about leaking timing cover. :)
 

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I did this about two years ago and it is working fine. Made me feel a lot more secure about the cover.
Did you use copper as the OP or aluminum or some other metal?

I have Home Depot, Lowe's and other plumbing supply stores in my neighbourhood. Guess I can source materials from them?
 

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I remember this thread! Nice to have an actual date of when I did the job the second time. I had taken a bunch of pictures and thought I posted them, but they were on photobucket and now can't be seen.

My van has 225,000 miles now and no more leaks of anything! I did make some (copper?) rings for my coolant ports, and also had to repair some alumarot (voids) with JB Weld. Patience and attention to detail made this a successful repair. Looks like it's lasted about 5 years now.
 

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Let me finish the top end fix first--vc gaskets, O2 sensor, spark plugs. Then I'll let check if the timing cover is indeed leaking. If it is, I'm aiming for copper tubes. The OP listed the diameter of the tubing: 3/4" for the oil O ring, and 1" of the two coolant O rings.

Now, don't know if those are OD or ID. I'll measure the ID of the three O rings, then I'll know.

Thanks very much again for your expert inputs, fellas! :thumb:
 

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Hi all,

A few thoughts --

Overall, I'm curious if anyone who has done a timing cover on the 3.3L/3.8L (with or without any changes/improvements in the sealing) has had to re-seal it, and if so what did you find when you opened it back up...

1 - When I did our GV's timing cover back at something like 220K miles, I did not use the containment rings. The only "extra" thing I did was to use some RTV to fill in the pitted areas I had cleaned out and help prevent there from being an air space outside of the o-rings where coolant could eventually seep to and cause rapid corrosion. The timing cover repair was still holding up fine when we parted with the minivan this summer 5 1/2 years later with 360K miles.

2 - I'd be a bit concerned about the possibility of galvanic corrosion with the use of copper in particular.

- G
 
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I had to re-do mine after I had done it in 2009 with 174,500 miles on it. The first time it failed was because of corrosion in the water ports pushing the O-rings inward and causing a water leak to the outside. I cleaned things up, used a little silicone on the O-rings and had used all fel-pro gaskets/seals (which proved to be a mistake).

The second time (the "re-do") was at 190,000 miles with a water leak to the outside at the water port at the front of the engine. Teardown revealed corrosion had again pushed the O-ring inwards, and had eaten into the bore of the aluminum cover. This time I bought MOPAR timing cover gasket and seal set (but reused the Fel-pro oil pan gasket). I compared the O-rings of the two sets, and found the Fel-pro water port O-rings weren't fat enough, or quite big enough. The gasket paper was cheap. The oil port O-ring was the only part of that Fel-pro kit that was better than any of the MOPAR kit parts. Everything else MOPAR was superior. This time I spent more time repairing the timing cover with JB Weld and making the copper rings. I figured since the original radiator was copper it would be okay to use. So, did the repair along with a new oil pump and cam timing chain set for good measure, and all has been well ever since.

I, too am curious what the copper looks like today. I thought as long as the coolant gets changed regularly it should be alright. It isn't broken, so I'm not about to "fix" it! :biggrin:
 

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I agree, RR, the Mopar gasket set is superior. I had bought both and ended up using the Mopar gasket and o-riing seals. The Mopar gasket was NBR (I think) impregnated paper, whereas the Felpro gasket was just paper. The Felpro oil pan and valve cover gaskets are great, but not so much the timing cover gasket and seals.

My hope was that filling in the air space surrounding the o-ring seals with RTV would help reduce the corrosion tendency to push the seals out of position. Of course we parted with the van this summer, so I won't know unless the new owner has to do that job someday and gets in touch.... (the new owners are friends of ours)

Thankfully, due to the bolt pattern, the first leak that happens will typically be externally on the front side of the engine at the cover seam, as opposed to happening internally where it'll contaminate the oil and kill your bearings.

FYI, one of the challenges with copper is that it will be a cathode relative to iron and aluminum -- having it in there won't cause the copper to corrode. Instead, it'll accelerate the corrosion of nearby aluminum, and to a lesser extent, iron. Unless of course the corrosion inhibitors in the coolant are strong enough to prevent that from happening.

- G
 

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I am having a hard time sourcing some aluminum tubes--3/4" and 1"--for this job. There are a LOT of copper tubes at Home Depot, Lowe's and plumbing stores and for very good prices.

I am looking for the aluminum tubes because of the galvanic corrosion issue that some have pointed out.

Any recommendations?
 
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