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Freeze Plug Frustrations


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Insane.

 

Bought the Melling brass freeze plug kit (MPE-256BR) from Amazon a few weeks ago for $18.17.  When it arrived, I promptly sent it back because they sent steel plugs instead of brass.  That cost me another week of having my truck down.

 

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Finally got the brass ones and then I realized that this kit will not do the whole engine.  Our 4.0s take 5-each of the 2" plugs along the side of the block.  Two more go on the back side of the engine, one at the cylinder head and one under the bell housing.  That's seven total.  Kit only has 6. That larger steel one in the picture also goes under the bell housing but it is for an oil port.  There's extra drain plugs and a couple of small plugs that make this kit fit multiple applications, I suppose.  I reckon that the kit was designed to cover your block, but not your cylinder head.  

 

So now, I've called all over town looking for someone with a SINGLE deep dish, 2" brass expansion plug and I'm coming up with nothing.    Autozone sells a single brass plug....for $24!  https://www.autozone.com/gaskets-and-miscellaneous-fasteners/expansion-plug/dorman-autograde-brass-cup-type-expansion-plug/696380_0_0  I even called them to see if it were a mistake and the parts dude confirmed the price.  I told him that it is obviously priced wrong and i gave my best wishes for Autozone to sell a bunch of them and make millions off of dumb people.  

 

Finally, I called Napa and they can special order one for me.  Will take 3-4 days and I have to pay all shipping charges.  $3.99 plus $5 in shipping.  Good grief.

 

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I'm just shaking my head here.......................

 

 

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/mel-mpe-256br

 

 

 

And yes, in most cases blocks are not heads, order accordingly. 

 

 

My NAPA will get me just about anything that is not special order...........the same day, order by 11am and it arrives by 2pm. 

 

 

Summit is almost always next day to me, two days tops to just about anyone on items like this. 

 

 

Any machine shop will have in stock........anywhere. 

 

 

 

Look at Summit......also order by the piece, count the pieces you need and order accordingly. 

 

 

Also, the steel is for the cam bore, the threaded plugs are oil port plugs. One may be a coolant drain plug. 

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6 minutes ago, Jeep Driver said:

I'm just shaking my head here.......................

 

 

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/mel-mpe-256br

 

 

 

And yes, in most cases blocks are not heads, order accordingly. 

 

 

My NAPA will get me just about anything that is not special order...........the same day, order by 11am and it arrives by 2pm. 

 

 

Summit is almost always next day to me, two days tops to just about anyone on items like this. 

 

 

Any machine shop will have in stock........anywhere. 

 

 

 

Look at Summit......also order by the piece, count the pieces you need and order accordingly. 

 

 

Also, the steel is for the cam bore, the threaded plugs are oil port plugs. One may be a coolant drain plug. 

Good example of shopping around for the best deal and alternate sources (machine shop).  As far as "blocks are not heads", the description at Summit does say it does the block and heads ("heads", plural, in a straight six application:thinking:)

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From what I can see it does take 7. 

 

5 on the side, one behind the trans and one behind the head. 

 

$13 from Summit plus one.....would have been less than $18 and he would have had it the next day. 

 

 

And FWIW, I rarely even go the corner auto parts stores anymore, they have nothing for me. I can get better quality at a lower price online 99.9% of the time online. 

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15 hours ago, schardein said:

 

Yes, this was an option for me.  But more wait time for shipping.  I was hoping to knock it out quickly by finding a local source.  I screwed up initially when I didn't realize that I needed an additional one.  I would had thought that nearly any parts store or machine shop would have them sitting around.

 

15 hours ago, Jeep Driver said:

I'm just shaking my head here.......................

Yea, everyone in this world is an idiot except you.

 

15 hours ago, Jeep Driver said:

Any machine shop will have in stock........anywhere. 

Wrong.  New Albany Auto Parts and Machine Shop, whom I had called had only steel ones in stock.

 

14 hours ago, Jeep Driver said:

$13 from Summit plus one.....would have been less than $18 and he would have had it the next day. 

Wrong.  $12.99 for the Melling brass kit, plus $2.16 for the additional plug.  $7.99 for ground shipping (You have to spend $99 for free shipping).  Total $22.71.  1-2 day from Tallmadge, OH to me.

 

15 hours ago, schardein said:

I just re-read what you wrote.  I am assuming that means Napa mails it to you directly?  They won't order it in and you pick up in the store??  If they are charging you shipping AND you pick up in the store I am calling BS.

 

yes Sir, you nailed it.  It was indeed BS, but not a direct mail to me, store pickup.  After calling about 8 places, I finally found a local source across the river in Louisville Kentucky. They are a wholesale supplier and could not sell directly to me.  The dude there advised me to call Napa and have them call him.  So, I called a different Napa store and they sent a driver over to pick it up, all for a total $3.99 purchase.  I'm happy now.  I think the other Napa store just had momentary H.U.A. syndrome or something.    

1 hour ago, 75sv1 said:

One of my local NAPAs had them in stock and on the shelf. I think it was a Sunday, too. I did order a kit from them. Maybe I had the same problem, and I didn't actually loose one.

   I'm in Hope IN

 

Both Napa stores in my area didn't have them on the shelf.  They didn't have steel either.   I suppose one just has to call around and hope to get lucky.

 

I had really two reasons for posting my frustration here on the forum:  One was just to vent a bit over my surprise that there seems to be no dang single brass 2" expansion plugs in my  local parts stores (and a local machine shop).  I was especially irritated that I didn't discover my mistake until my Mellings kit arrived. I assumed that Melling's description of the kit was accurate and I didn't verify.  I also had already pulled the trans out and had removed the old plugs.  I planned on knocking it all out and buttoning it up in one day.   Plan diverted.    

 

The other reason I posted is to add to additional experiences on the freeze plug topic here on this forum.  I might one day help others know that these kits may not include enough plugs to include the one in the head.  Some of us here enjoy gaining more knowledge about our trucks and are happy to "pass it on" and help others doing this repair.   Newbys must focus on the knowledge and helpfulness of the good guys here and learn to ignore some minor arrogance here and there.   

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1 hour ago, HOrnbrod said:

5.thumb.jpg.bde9a606db88bacb611c97507a06fc81.jpg

 

Man it was a booger to get to with the engine still in the truck.  Glad I bought new motor mounts because I stretched my originals out to the max.  You have to get creative in seating the new expansion freeze plug in there under these conditions.  

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4 hours ago, HOrnbrod said:

So you used one of these for the rear head? The below is what I call an expansion freeze plug. Probably just terminology:

 

No.  Those brass or steel discs are called "Welch Plugs", "Core Plugs", "Freeze Plugs", "Frost Plugs", "Expansion plugs", Engine Block Expansion Plugs", etc.  I called that one in the back of the head a different name as I bashed that sucker in place, but I won't repeat it here.  Lots of names depending on the person messing with them, it seems.

 

The real purpose of the plugs are to fill in the holes made during the sand casting process.  I have a buddy in my band who's an geek engineer.  He corrected me when i called them "Freeze plugs."  Said they are actually "Welch plugs".    He said they're not really for saving the block in times of coolant freeze and expansion like everyone thinks.

 

By the way, the rubber thing in the pic:  I had one of those in my #5 cavity on my block.  That's what was leaking.  Obviously installed by a PO, but I'd never do this.  Just a matter of time before they go.  Just bite the bullet and pull your manifolds and trans and do it right.  Weird--mine was stamped "Made in Italy."

4 hours ago, HOrnbrod said:

 

 

2

  

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3 hours ago, sinkrun said:

Are the steel ones that horrible?

 

The steel ones lasted what around 20 years or more and the chance of them ever going bad again are quite slim if you keep the antifreeze changed.

 

Nickintimefilms replaced his with steel.  Mentioned some concern with different expansion rates of the metals, so I think he feels like he played it safe.  Poor guy installed the five on the block, re-installed his two manifolds, fired her up only to find that the ones behind the engine leaked too.   I learned from him.  My luck is bad, so I didn't gamble.  I pulled my trans at same time and did em all.  

 

As for me, brass was a personal thing.  If I can make an improvement on something, then I usually will   Rare is the dude that chooses zero aftermarket parts on his ride.  Steel is stock.  More corrosion-resistant brass is aftermarket.  So personally, I got my warm fuzzy from the brass ones.  Plus they look really cool too.  

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55 minutes ago, coolwind57 said:

The real purpose of the plugs are to fill in the holes made during the sand casting process.  I have a buddy in my band who's an geek engineer.  He corrected me when i called them "Freeze plugs."  Said they are actually "Welch plugs".    He said they're not really for saving the block in times of coolant freeze and expansion like everyone thinks.

 

Yes, I knew that about the casting sand. And by the time your "freeze" plug moves, the block and/or head is almost always cracked already. Found that out the hard way on a Volvo B18 engine. 

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5 hours ago, sinkrun said:

Are the steel ones that horrible?

 

The steel ones lasted what around 20 years or more and the chance of them ever going bad again are quite slim if you keep the antifreeze changed.

No, there's nothing wrong with steel. 

 

If you are building or rebuilding, it's brass.

 

On a 25 year old engine, it's irrelevant. 

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From the time the steel plugs are installed, if the coolant concentration and change intervals are adhered to, they would last forever. 

 

Putting brass plugs in now, after a PO neglected the cooling system maintenance, is somewhat akin to closing the barn door after the horse got out. 

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1 hour ago, cruiser54 said:

if

I agree with your use of this word.

 

I certainly don't think putting brass in as being silly.  I also am not afraid of steel plugs.  At this point in my MJ's 29 years of life, I would agree that it probably doesn't really matter which you use.   I can't however, can't help but have those that nagging thought that had the factory used brass to begin with, I'd be driving my MJ right now.  I also wouldn't have pulled a back muscle last week working on it.

 

Taken in variables: conditions, aging, cooling system maintenance, chemistry, etc., my opinion is this:  brass is just better for this application. Factory probably saved a few bucks for each vehicle by buying the cheaper steel plugs over brass.  If I were tasked to build a most reliable vehicle from scratch to sell and goals were zero call-backs, then I'd choose brass for this particular application. 

 

This is one of those areas in which opinions differ, but an owner can go either way and still sleep well at night after the repair....providing they don't pull a muscle like I did, then they probably won't sleep so good for a few weeks.  

 

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2 hours ago, HOrnbrod said:

HOW TO to replace Welsh plugs.

 

Sidenote: What do you think the typical auto parts chain store counter drone would do if you asked for a set of Welsh plugs for your rig? 

 

 

Your How TO is good. 

 

Found these last night while searching this site for something else- http://www.clipsandfasteners.com/Expansion_Plugs_s/89.htm

25 2" plugs for $23. Take your 7 and sell the balance on ebay, you'll get yours for free and make a few bucks. 

Anytime I go to the PnP I look for parts that I can pick up quick, sell them on ebay, get my parts for free. 

Same thing with the Summit link, buy two, take my 7, sell the rest and get my money back. 

 

As for shipping costs- if done as shown in the How TO, you'll be buying new intake/exhaust gaskets, coolant, sealer. 

If my wife's XJ started leaking at the rear of the block/head, and I had to drop exhaust/intake/trans....etc...I'd take the opportunity to pull the pan, clean, new pan gasket, new rear main seal- whatever else I can get done at the same time.

Point is, shipping now becomes free, moot point, and if I'm going to do the work, might as well get it all done at once. 

 

Maybe I have a different way of looking at things. Regardless, there is nothing here worth getting frustrated about. 

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