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Hagerty Employee

Piston Slap: Heading off broken bolts?

G.D. writes:

My 1971 Buick GS 350 four-speed has a 49-year-old original, never-touched engine but needs an exhaust system. I would like to put headers on it with a completely new aluminized system and Walker turbo mufflers ...


Sajeev answers:

Sadly, there’s no magic trick to remove frozen exhaust manifold bolts. Your concerns are valid and likely to come to fruition. I’ve had the same problem removing bolts from an ancient T3 turbocharger: The only option was to light it up nice and hot with a torch and hope it didn’t break. If/when it does break, try a bolt extractor on what’s left. When all else fails, pay a machine shop for their expertise ...


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Pit Crew

I'm baffled by the originality fetish, particularly in view of the apparent fact this Buick is going nowhere. 49 years of ownership? Those needle **bleep** valves and exhaust logs effectively choked those engines. Surely with the explosion of the hobby and aftermarket accoutrements an alternative exists? I guess my bitterness has risen to the fore due to a ghastly experience with a '72 Cutlass ragtop. Time for my meds......

Intermediate Driver

I'm the guy with the Buick. The car has 92,000 miles and gets driven regularly though not far. It is in good shape overall but needs more work I've owned it 6 years and I'm working on it as I go. It is very original but I'm not overly concerned other than cutting it up beyond returning to original appearances. 


I've considered the aluminum head option. It is appealing now that TA Performance makes a really nice set. 

Community Manager

Those TA performance heads look pretty awesome, you should do it!!!


Sajeev has covered the bases.


I know some old-timers that swear by "let it soak in a bucket of diesel". In some cases this was a bucket of diesel in the corner of the shop for months or years till they bothered to get around to the item again. Just clean the part off real well, especially if going at it with a torch for heat...


If budget isn't an issue... I concur with the new heads + headers. Then you can shelf (or diesel bucket!) the old heads until you need them --which might be as an item in the trunk if you ever sell the car.