Any Tips on Removing & Replacing an ALH Cylinder Head?

Nuje

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2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2003; 2016 A3 e-tron
The turbo I was going to unbolt but leave attached to the downpipe and flop it back against the firewall. I think I read one can do that. Once the heads out, I'll pull the turbo and clean the actuator. That's the plan anyways.

Good luck with your work! Interested in hearing what you find, and also how good the mating surface is on the head when you clean it up.
I don't really care about the surface of the head; with the coolant loss we've had under high engine load, there have been a number of overheating events, so I"m assuming warpage and not trusting any machine shops around here, just ordered up a new head (AMC).

Reading the post above about the little canopy reminded me (at 8pm) that my local Costco was supposed to have gotten in some more free-standing canopies this week, so I quickly ran down there was glad they still had a few in stock - $170CAD. If it prevents me from melting after a couple hours working on the car...money well spent. Also going to drag out the old pile of crap fan that we've had since the GHW Bush administration - getting some air moving around will help a lot, too, as we don't get much in the way of wind here unless a storm is blowing through.

As for the process itself, I was going to leave the turbo attached to the downpipe as well, but with a 2.5" downpipe, it doesn't have much flex in that big meaty flexpipe, so that's not happening. Got everything else out of the way today - just have to get the turbo off the downpipe and timing belt out of the way tomorrow, then yank the head, clean up the block, plop down the new head and bolt it down.

We'd tried solving the coolant escaping with ARP head studs (removing one bolt at a time, replacing it with ARP stud), but that failed to work; at least they're re-usable, unlike the stock head bolts.
 
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csstevej

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north nj
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2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Glad you were able to get the canopy , I too originally tired the ARP stud one at a time… it did slow it down but not stop it.
Only after complete head removal , cleaning up the block and serviceable used head install with the arp studs along with A MLS head gasket cars been fine for almost 60,xxx miles.
 

Nuje

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Yep - that's the desired outcome here, too. Love the way the car drives - has had a lot of work put into it, so we want to keep it going for many years to come.

Back to the head studs: Did you get more ARP grease for installing the head studs when you did the head re-install (after, I presume, already using all the grease when trying to stop the coolant loss with the one-at-a-time in situ replacement)? The ARP grease just looks like straight forward moly grease, and I already have loads of that, so if I can save another trip tomorrow, that'd be a plus. :)
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
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north nj
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2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Yes I did order a small can off Amazon I believe…… for me it’s worth it …. I have 5 TDI MK IV spread through the family.
As the heads need replacement , I’ll be swapping to APR studs…. At least for me …

You probably can use what you have, it’s not a lot of torque that’s holding the studs in , all your clamping is at the top.
 

Nuje

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Thanks. Might as well get the right stuff - no sense spending over $1000 on a head and then cheaping out on $10 worth of grease.

With a new head install, I don't know what it looks like coming out of the box; do you put assembly lube on everything that moves? Like, take the camshaft out and put some on the bearing caps and seats, all the lobes, etc.?
 

csstevej

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Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
north nj
TDI
2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Thanks. Might as well get the right stuff - no sense spending over $1000 on a head and then cheaping out on $10 worth of grease.

With a new head install, I don't know what it looks like coming out of the box; do you put assembly lube on everything that moves? Like, take the camshaft out and put some on the bearing caps and seats, all the lobes, etc.?
I can’t speak for new heads as I’ve only installed used ones or ones I’ve repaired ( changing out valves ) .
I usually do pull the cam bearing caps and dump half a quart of fresh oil over everything then reinstall the caps back.
I also disable the fuel shutoff solenoid and crank the car for 10 seconds or so a few times just to get the oil through the passages before and engine start , but that’s just me.
 

Nuje

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Did the swap earlier this week. First big help for me was getting a little four-pole canopy thing so I could work in the shade; I had to help someone else in my driveway for about 20minutes at one point out in the sun and I was shocked at how hot it was. Well worth the $170 at Costco.

Anyway, here's some of the things that I did along the way:
  • Removed everything attached to the head - intake, EGR cooler, etc.
  • Also removed injectors and glow plugs - everything looked decent enough
  • Big 2.5" downpipe, so there was no "just pull it off the exhaust studs" going to happen with the inflexibility of that thing. BUT, in that same idea, I undid the band clamp on the mid-pipe under the car, slid the downpipe back a bit, and the turbo/manifold came off nicely and just rested there comfortably while I worked on the head.
  • Head came off easily enough - a couple whacks from the heel of my hand and I could see it move a bit. Then just picked it up and slid the TB tensioner stud out of the hole where the tensioner resides.
  • Went with new head, so had to install new exhaust studs and little coolant pipe (included with new head)
  • What's *NOT* included is the little oil port screw plug thingy that's right around where the vacuum pump bolt holes are, and which one could easily overlook and not plug resulting in a non-trivial amount of black oil oozing out as you start cranking the engine. Ugh.
  • So yeah - transfer that plug over; has captive copper sealing washer on it, so I imagine it's supposed to be one-use only, but parts dept. was re-used and it's working fine.
  • Cleaned the block first with a razor blade to get any solid chunks (not much), then green scotch-brite pads and brake cleaner.
  • Blew out all of the head bolt holes; didn't have a thread chaser to clean them up, but they seemed fine putting the ARP studs back in.
  • Put the tensioner stud back in the head before installing. I stuffed a couple of shop rags in the timing belt cover opening to catch anything I might drop, then realized I could prop the tensioner there, hopefully / maybe in the right position, and as I dropped the head in, catch the tensioner hole with the stud. And maybe I just got lucky, but it went in first try. Caught one of the positioning dowels perfectly, second one took a wee bit of manoeuvring, but it dropped right in as well.
  • ARP torque spec is 125ft.lb., so I cranked down the head studs in 5 stages (followed the OEM 30Nm-60Nm-90° for the first three stages, then went to 110ft.lb and 125ft.lb for the last two.
  • Realized that, even though I mentally noted it a couple times and knew I had to transfer it over to the new head, totally forgot about the engine lift point by the timing belt cover....bolt access for which is blocked by that same timing belt cover. 🤦‍♂️
    • So, had to put a bolt in from the "wrong" side and hold it with a nut on the timing belt-cover side...with roughly 1mm of "extra" room available for said nut. Good way to add an hour of work to the job.
  • Injectors and glow plugs back in.
  • Got rid of EGR cooler and installed by-pass lines
  • Re-attached the rest of the stuff
Writing this down so I can hopefully remember next time:
How to successfully bleed air out of the injectors without melting your battery and/or starter:
  1. Disconnect fuel return line from injector #4; pull vacuum on that into a little reservoir until you get some kind of fuel flow - won't be a steady stream, but something more than just foamy bubbles.
  2. Clamp the return line
  3. Re-attach to injector #4
  4. Remove clamp
  5. Crack top nut on injector #3, crank until you get some fuel spitting there (never more than 10sec at a time); once you get some fuel, lock it back down.
  6. Crack top nut on injector #2, crank until you get some fuel there...and you'll probably get the engine starting to catch.
  7. Lock it down, try to start the car for realsies....if not, repeat above for injector #1, #4.
Them's the highlights that pop to mind right now. If I did this more than once a decade, it'd be much easier to become proficient at it and not have to re-learn things every time. But a good exercise nonetheless. Car's running great.
 
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Genesis

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Sevier County TN
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'03 Jetta Wagon
IMHO the "easy prime" method:

1. Attach oil sucker to RETURN line from IP to fuel T, plug other end (going into the fuel filter.)
2. Pull vacuum with oil sucker as if changing oil.
3. Crank until fuel is in the oil sucker hose; it will NOT take long. Have a helper doing it while you watch the hose -- seriously, it usually only takes a couple of seconds of cranking.

Put return hose back on, hit starter.

I've never had this fail.

Oh, and I already have the sucker as it's a LOT easier and faster changing oil in these cars from the top with one.
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
Joined
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Location
north nj
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2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Congrats Nuje !
 

Nuje

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Oh - indeed!
With that said, I almost wish I had another one to do soon just to get in another rep to become more comfortable with it. I'm sure I would/could do it in probably half the time I spent on this one simply due to having the recent experience and a workflow cemented in my mind, instead of playing the "not sure which I should do next" game on continuous loop.
 

03TDICommuter

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So laziness won out. I’ll still be doing it but in 2-3 months. By then Franko6 will be available in case I take it off and see that indeed the head needs to be decked. I’m not having any luck finding a good machine shop near me. They’ve all gone out of business or have never worked on a diesel head.
Well now its definitely 3+ months out. broke my left wrist badly - surgery tomorrow.
 

Nuje

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Oh damn! Sorry to hear that.
Having just done head replacement working around a hangnail and one blister....definitely not a job you'd want to tackle with a goobed-up wrist.
Heal well!
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
north nj
TDI
2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Well now its definitely 3+ months out. broke my left wrist badly - surgery tomorrow.
Oh damn , hope things go well for you tomorrow, too bad you went closer I’d help you out.
 

03TDICommuter

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Oh damn , hope things go well for you tomorrow, too bad you went closer I’d help you out.
thanks - it was another horse riding incident. Jump lesson and was doing great until the horse got too happy after one jump and started bucking. totally thought i was staying on but he must have darted. got up and felt fine but then looked at my left wrist and it was obviously broken.

wife broke both wrists and had surgery 10 yrs ago so we're familiar with the recovery routine. looks like i'll be driving the egolf for a while. full dexterity/strength is going to take a while.
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
north nj
TDI
2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Yeah surgery is the easy part……physical therapy was a bear……had rotator cuff surgery on right shoulder. Took 6 months before I could go back to work.
My prayers are with you for speedy recovery.
 
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