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3rd gen > all others
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While I haven't run my 2000's engine in over a year, it still isn't leaking 7 or 8 years after this last, good repair. I used copper pipe sections, so they must be holding. Some people use copper pipe to rebuild the rusted out rear heater lines and it works. Just have to keep up with the coolant changes. I need to do that to mine, as I'm probably a few years overdue!

Let's see what I have for pictures from when I repaired this the last time:

Looks like the front water port was pitted:
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So I applied JB Weld and let it cure for a day.
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Then filed the gasket surface, sanded by hand and used a Dremel with a small cutting disc on it to get the port interior just right.



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Did the same to the rear water port.
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Overall view, fitted with brand new oil pump.
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O-ring differences! OEM on left, puny Fel-pro on right.
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Difference with the custom copper rings fitted inside. Again, OE on left and thinner Felpro on right.
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OE O-ring fitted with copper ring, and high temp orange silicone smeared in where the copper would contact the aluminum for good measure.
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This shows the ONLY good part of the Felpro kit: the thicker square-cut oil port seal that I also fitted with a copper ring. Yes, I actually re-used the old one but it's still working! OE gasket too.
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Everything fitted to the cover. I even left the cam sensor in place.
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I've reached the 10 picture limit on this post. That's basically it for reworking the timing cover. Looks like I also used the RTV to hold the copper rings in place for installation of the cover, so they wouldn't fall out. I also sprayed tack-a-gasket on the gasket to stick it onto the aluminum cover. If the timing cover has to come off again, the gasket will stay with the cover and cause minimal clean-up for the block. Easier to clean old gasket off of something you can remove, instead of in place like the engine! Always think ahead.
 
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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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Thx for the excellent and detailed info, Dan! If I cannot source alum tubes, I might have to settle with copper tubes, as they are readily available in hardware and plumbing stores and are also very cheap. However, I would try to coat them with high temp paint and let it cure, which the OP did, to prevent the direct contact between copper and alum.

I’m doing the research, a little every day, trying to turn this otherwise mis-fortune into an opportunity to learn! :)

And I would def try my best to find a replacement timing cover from the yards, fix its flaws, have it completely prepped so that the actual installation of the timing cover would be shortened in time.

Thx very much again for the info! And others who have info on this subject are welcome to chime in!
 
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Strange that the O-rings weren't captured in channels in the factory timing cover. I removed the cover in my 2002 T&C 3.8L a few years ago. The O-rings were still fairly pliable. Seems I would have noticed if they weren't in channels, but I can't swear to that. Re corrosion, some engines with aluminum heads use copper head gaskets, at least for racing. People on www.slantsix.org got together and ordered custom copper gaskets for the early (1962-63) aluminum block slant-six as a group buy.
 

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3rd gen > all others
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3,533 Posts
2002 did NOT USE o-rings in the coolant ports. That was done only through the 2001 model year. 2002-on use only a gasket to seal those water ports. That is, unless the timing cover was replaced with an earlier one at some point because of the alternator mount cracking off like they sometimes do.
 
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