coolant spray on drivers side head


high on gas fumes
I'm trying to find the source of this coolant spray on the drivers side head. Before you ask, yes it is coolant...or what's left of it. The cooling system was left in pretty terrible shape by the previous owner. Any ideas where this could come from? The headgasket looks fine and the nearest coolant passage is at the top of the head, so I'm baffled. It also sprayed this rusty water on the exhaust manifold and steering shaft.
Following the staining, it looks like porosity in the casting at that casting line right below the Champion insignia. Tilt the head over and pour some acetone in the water passage and see if it weeps through.
Is it possible that coolant is being pushed up from the head bolt and somehow squeezing out from under the washer/nut? After I removed the nuts, the 4 studs nearest to the firewall weren't as tight as the rest of the studs. Maybe they loosened a bit when I broke loose the nuts?
I'll try what xlr8ngn suggests and report back. Would alcohol or methanol work just as well as acetone?
Yes, there is a higher probability the fasteners were leaking than a porosity issue with the casting. It sure looks like the coolant is leaking down, but looks can very much be deceiving. I personally would take a table outside, lay the head on its side, tape/seal up the lowest ports, fill the passages with solvent and observe.
Got it filled up with acetone/methanol and haven't seen any seepage yet, but it's only been 5 minutes. Will check it in a bit and see. Also got some closer pics. It sure does look like a Crack huh? Amazing yall could see that.

Yup, it's definitely a crack. I ran a dry finger along it and got a moist residue from the rusty scale left behind. Looks like I need to find a welder now. Is it safe to weld on this head or is that something that could create issues later on?
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Yup, it's definitely a crack. I ran a dry finger along it and got a moist residue from the rusty scale left behind. Looks like I need to find a welder now. Is it safe to weld on this head or is that something that could create issues later on?
Welding cast iron is possible, but it's difficult. There's a process that has to be followed or you'll crack the whole piece in two.
And you may not be able to fix it. If the crack goes deep enough to make it to the water jacket and you can't stress relieve the crack or weld both sides, it's just going to propagate and the water will start coming out somewhere else.

Which is a lot of words to tell you that head is probably scrap.
Take the dissembled heads to a DIESEL machineshop. Have them Magnaflux it, pay them for that and to grind out the area of the crack and let THEM tell you if it's fixable. If they pronounce it repairable, they will also Magnaflux the rest of the head before welding it. Also, have the other head magnafluxed at the same time. Both heads were made by the same foundry, at roughly the same time, and if one head has issues, the other one may have issues too.
If the heads were "poured cold," the molten iron coming in from multiple sprues may not have been hot enough for the metal to completely fuse together before cooling. That is what it appears to me as. But I am not actually looking at the head.
Those shops weld a LOT of cast iron and have to be good at it.
We have a great cast welder at a local Diesel shop here in the Phx,Az. area. He welded up a pair of Olds 455 heads over 3/4" higher on the exhaust, and a half inch on the intakes so we could raise the runners. The same guy is still there. We use them often.
It's worth the $$$ you pay them to know if it is fixable, so you will never have to second guess your decision.
We, as most shops, will credit the cost of inspection towards the total cost of the repairs, if it is repairable, they would have to do that first anyway.
Know you will have to:
Surface, touch up the valvejob, and lightly ream/check the valveguides, after the welding.
Put a couple ACDelco cooling tabs in the radiator and let it rip. Keep an eye on it but they work really good. If it leaks again put a couple more. The small particulate in the tabs will plug that leak well.
Just got off the phone with Richie at Champion and he advised that it'd be better to just replace the head and send them the cracked one fully assembled so they'll do all the work involved in setting up the new head.
Did you ask him how far behind they are and when you can expect the replacement? And how much the TOTAL cost will be?
Record the call.....
Mention the date your calling......
Mention that someone on this board said to call, that may help......
I own a shop, and I started doing my Turbo Coupe's motor, trans, rearend, and interior, January 15th. 2020.
I finally recieved all of my parts around the end of April this year (2023.)
Have a backup plan...
Good luck!
When I order parts for my customers, I do it in front of them, tell them the supplier I am ordering it from, then repeat the name and extension # of whom I am talking to, and when they will ship.
That way, if things don't work out, they know it isn't my fault. I have worked hard for my repLS
Richie mentioned that he had a lot of work ahead of him, but didn't give me a specific date to get the work done. I actually found his contact info through Hartlines website with the little "live chat" box on the side of the page. I asked if I could buy just 1 cylinder head and such, and whoever was on the other end of the chat suggested I give Richie a call and gave me his number. Richie gave an approximate quote of around $900, which I am ok with. I would hate to put a bandaid on this head and have it come back rearing it's ugly head after I get everything buttoned up. He also mentioned that these iron heads are cast pieces from the 80s...for some reason I thought they were newly cast pieces by Champion. That makes it a little more understanding that this head cracked. After all, it is a stock(yet warmed over) piece from the 80s and is running on a motor that put 597 to the tires....probably triple the power of what they were designed for. He also said that this cracks location is sometimes caused by over torquing of the head bolts/studs. I did mention that I put up a thread on turbobuick and the gurus spotted the problem instantly.
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The last local customer that was going to have his heads ported there was quoted 4+ months to get them done. I ended up doing them here for him.
Good luck!
P.S. I have never had a failure with any welded iron from where I send them. He has been a trusted vendor for 40+ years for us. Ya stay with who takes care of you.
Find a reputable Diesel shop, see what they say.
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Havent heard about porosity being an issue on Champion heads but it used to happen all the time with the old M&As. We used to use the sealning tabs from GM to fix the issue. There might be something better out now tho.
If you have the time, you have a good plan. If you don't, I would run them with the coolant tabs with zero concern. I have had excellent results using the ACDelco tabs with small or weeping leaks. They work, plain and simple.
He also mentioned that these iron heads are cast pieces from the 80s...for some reason I thought they were newly cast pieces by Champion
Champion couldn't do an alum head without the sides cracking out, seats & guides falling out, columns collapsing...Cast production type heads are no better. Port them and keep your fingers crossed.