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very disco
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I agree. There’s too much guessing and hoping involved with a used swap. If you plan to love the truck forever I would also suggest a new engine. I went that route and it’s awesome to have the new-car confidence.
May not be worth it to you tho
 

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I had a long fight with my '89 over a lack of power, trying everything from better plugs and wires, better exhaust and intake, better newer fuel injectors, even a high performance cam and new timing set, but all of it did absolute diddly squat. My compression numbers were very similar to yours, and despite it running perfectly smoothly, not burning oil, and passing CA smog like a champ, it was just beyond gutless. It really is about the compression, and a drop like that from stock (about 150-160psi for the 8.3:1) results in a huge loss of power, and cannot be overcome by anything short of a rebuild. 85-90psi is actually the lower limit at which the engine will actually properly combust fuel and run, so despite not showing the obvious signs, what you have is an extremely tired motor. Buying one with 120K may not be a good idea either, as it entirely depends on how it was cared for. Yours lasted 250K which is fantastic. Mine, which I bought with 140K, was nearly as tired (despite being in very nice shape), so your 120K engine might not have all that much life left in it. Despite the high expense, a fresh motor is really the way to go if you want to keep the truck.
A problem with a lack of compression in your motor is using the wrong head gasket. The early 3.9's were designed to operate with a steel head gasket, which is 30 thou thinner than the composite gaskets. However, people use composite gaskets and it drops compression ratio by about 15% and makes them lose a lot of power. If you are going to use composite gaskets on the older motors you need to make sure your heads are the correct thickness for them.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I appreciate the reply.
I ended up buying that engine.
I am going to try to clean it up and do everything I can to it with it out. Also do a compression test with it out before I waste all that time and energy.

I almost purposely drove it off the cliff yesterday (if I could have gotten it there).
I have an EFI light on recently. Now when I start her up she has very very low idle for the first 4-5 seconds and then seems to be fine.
Went to the store and then tried to leave and had an extremely hard time starting and then put into gear, it would die. Took me about 30 minutes to get 1 mile but I did not need to go get my hauler.
Seems like a lack of fuel, but I don't think that is what will trigger an EFI light
 

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very disco
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I have received EFI warnings due to low power conditions in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Think you were right not to buy a used engine. Hopefully I am wrong, but stuck in a predicament. I got it home and put on a stand.
Removed plugs and tried to look in each hole. Couldn't see much.
Didn't want to try to turn a motor by hand if it had been sitting a while, so I oiled the cylinders. Put in a decent amount, but not crazy.
Few days later, went to turn engine by hand and it was easy and smooth. Then heard a big splash. It was in cylinder #s 1 and 3 or 3 and 5. To be honest, it was a few days ago.
Seems like fluid (water or coolant mixed with oil) was getting into the cylinder and shooting out the spark plug hole. Was this old water in the heads?
The oil in other cylinders had already moved down and was no issue.
Predicament is what to do now.
How can I tell if liners are slipped "IF" I remove heads and go that route?
Could it just be head gasket?
Did I purchase a really cool anchor for my boat?
 

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oh man what a drag. It could be anything, everything, or nothing... the only way to find out is with money and/or time /-:
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Its my fault for trusting what someone says and not getting proof that it is was he said it was.
Now I have 3 rover V8s in my shop haha
1 4.0 in the Rover, and 2 3.9s in the shop. (all poor condition)
Ive got time. Money is a different story. I have money to do the job, however is it worth putting in?
 

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very disco
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“Worth” is in they eye of the beholder. If you love the truck and LR lifestyle then yeah. Dig in. Level up.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
OK I think i just need to vent a minute and hopefully I just need to stop and think. (kinda doubt it)

I tore down that 3.9 that I bought off of Craigslist that was supposedly "GOOD" with low miles.

The engine looks like new now - yee haw.
Spent 3 days pulling out my 4.0 in there and installed the 3.9.
Replaced freeze plugs, head gasket, head bolts, cleaned up the heads and valves

Tried to finally fire it up today at end of the day. Nothing, just spins. Maybe my timing is off. I ran out of time. I swear I put the rotor at #1 at TDC
Was running out of time and decided to check a couple cylinders compression.
Cylinder #1 was 70 and cylinder 2 down toward firewall was 100

Now I did not replace cam, rings, bearings while it was out.
It has not run in years. While heads were off. I let the rings soak in the cylinder with Marvel mystery.

Am I over reacting? Do I need to get it running before I make assumptions?

I have had this rover for 2 years and have yet to have a good strong runner.
I think I have aged 15 years due to this thing.
 

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OK I think i just need to vent a minute and hopefully I just need to stop and think. (kinda doubt it)

I tore down that 3.9 that I bought off of Craigslist that was supposedly "GOOD" with low miles.

The engine looks like new now - yee haw.
Spent 3 days pulling out my 4.0 in there and installed the 3.9.
Replaced freeze plugs, head gasket, head bolts, cleaned up the heads and valves

Tried to finally fire it up today at end of the day. Nothing, just spins. Maybe my timing is off. I ran out of time. I swear I put the rotor at #1 at TDC
Was running out of time and decided to check a couple cylinders compression.
Cylinder #1 was 70 and cylinder 2 down toward firewall was 100

Now I did not replace cam, rings, bearings while it was out.
It has not run in years. While heads were off. I let the rings soak in the cylinder with Marvel mystery.

Am I over reacting? Do I need to get it running before I make assumptions?

I have had this rover for 2 years and have yet to have a good strong runner.
I think I have aged 15 years due to this thing.
I would get it running before making too many assumptions. After not running for years it may need to get a good heat cycle though it first.
 

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Agreed. Get to where you can properly assess the situation before making rash decisions or assumptions.

besides after you master this you’ll finally have your solid running rover
 

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Discussion Starter #32
I was off by 1 tooth on the timing. Eventually got her to fire up and run.
Got her nice and warm (actually it seems to want to overheat)
Compression is up to an average of 90 and have a slight tick.
Vacuum gauge reads steady around 11
If thats the case, it says late valve timing.
Does that mean-
1. My cam is worn?
2. Rings are shot?
3. all of the above?
 

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I was off by 1 tooth on the timing. Eventually got her to fire up and run.
Got her nice and warm (actually it seems to want to overheat)
Compression is up to an average of 90 and have a slight tick.
Vacuum gauge reads steady around 11
If thats the case, it says late valve timing.
Does that mean-
1. My cam is worn?
2. Rings are shot?
3. all of the above?
As you have just had the motor apart, low vacuum will most likely be a vacuum leak somewhere
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Since I have pulled the 4.0 motor and put in a dumpy one, Ive decided to try to do some work to it.( the 4.0)
I just dont like the one I put in. Makes some noises that sound like something is not right deep inside.
The 4.0 sounded great. Just not much power.
I plan to replace the timing chain, replace the head gaskets. The cam and lifters look brand new actually. I am trying to get a hold of the previous owner to see what was done prior.
Should I do rings? The car does not blow any smoke. I get no blowby and it does not use oil.
I am going to do valve job as well.
Anything else you guys can think of?

Even though it is taking a lot of time, I am enjoying learning how to do this. I just hope Im not spinning my wheels.
This will prob be my last try before I sell everything and move on, which I really really DON'T want to do
 

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I would do rings. If you’re doing a deep dive, you should knock out all the common stuff while in there, because going back in would suck.

having a fully rebuilt engine makes a man feel good, but having done it himself is even better
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Yeah you are prob right there.

Next question.
How much play should be in the timing chain?
When I installed the timing chain on my last engine, it was so tight, I could barely install it.
This has some slack. Not a ton, but if I am dealing with late valve timing, isnt this super important?

To be honest, I am a little worried about what I am finding when I pulled this motor apart. The cam and lifters still look brand new. The head gasket was still in excellent shape.
The timing chain has some but only a little play in it. I will replace rings, but if it did not smoke or eat oil, I am not sure that is what it is.
The heads and valves look real good. Although today I tore all apart and cleaned and lapped the valves.
The liners seem real good, but I dont know what a failed one looks or feels like.
Pistons fit in the cylinders nice and tight.

Whats up with the terrible compression readings?
 

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very disco
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I would first look at bad pistons/rings, valvetrain, and timing.

if the top end looks brand new, it’s possible there was an “event” and the engine was repaired? Maybe they missed or messed something up?
 

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Discussion Starter #38
I ordered new chain, gaskets, rings, etc...
how tight should chain be?
I will make a vid and post soon of what I have currently
 

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how much play does your chain have at midpoint? Here’s a thread with a video of massive play:


im not sure if the “book” has a designated amount of allowed play to the chain... I can’t fit my disco in the garage so I let the young spry guys at the shop do my dirty work these days...
 

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I don’t think you have a choice on how tight it is ...it is set... over time you will have stretch... but it will be tight... watch a few videos...
 
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