I'm amazed so far. But it's still early. Check back, err, email me and ask how things are holding up.
The culprit: A few months after a head gasket job on my beloved 88 Mitsubishi van, I noticed a buzz in the exhaust. After a week or two, the buzz became a rattle and then all at once it was gone and replaced with a far more unpleasant roar. The van sounded like a Harley. I cringed as I drove the van, secretly apologizing to all I passed by. Though I hoped it was bad exhaust gaskets, my mechanic insisted the manifold was cracked behind the heat shield and suggested a muffler place to weld it. The muffler place confirmed the crack, but informed me that they no longer weld manifolds.
Frustrated, I went online to see if JB weld would hold on manifolds. My research suggested otherwise, but did produce the discovery of a product claiming to stay sealed up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Por15 Fire Seal 2000, no the 2000 doesn't stand for the turn of the century. While reviews weren't plentiful, they were mostly positive, so I shelled out the 23 bucks necessary to have Amazon send me a box (a tube?). The product arrived lightning fast -- I mean, in 2 days.
Skeptical, but too cheap to replace the manifold, I opened the engine hood (which is inside the vehicle on my van), removed the manifold heat shield and to my surprise -- discovered a huge hole! The crevice was 2 inches long by ¾ inch wide (at its widest). Wow! Fire Seal only recommends use for 3/8 inch, so my expectations fell very low - so low, I gave into my laziness and simply didn't prepare the surface properly. Well, I did take a wire brush to the manifold, but I'm pretty sure more rust came off the brush onto the part than visa versa.
Having no wire mesh I used (what I had -- man's best friend) duct tape to give the Fire Seal putty something upon which to bridge the gap. Next, I opened one of the (2) plastic tubes supplied. While designed to dispense the putty through the hole provided, I found this painful and impossible and eventually with all my squeezing the tube busted open. That was actually a big help!
The instructions suggest a putty knife to spread the stuff, luckily I had rubber cleaning gloves and no knife. That worked well, since this product is sort of like ceramic clay with metal bits in it. A knife would have been awkward, especially for my application. Plus, this hands-on method proved both effective and just as important, fun! I was playing with clay and fixing my car at the same time. To my surprise, just one of the 2 tubes seemed enough to patch the entire hole (plus the other extending cracks). See photo below right.
The next day, I gave it a look before setting it with heat. It had hardened and looked pretty good except for a bit of cracking just at its surface. I decided to use the second tube just in case. This time I put it in some hot water to make it a little more workable, then cut it open with a scissors instead of using that little tiny hole. Both steps made for a better applying experience. I used a second set of bright yellow rubber gloves and again had fun using the entire tube.
This time I gave the product just 8 hours to harden instead of 24 in hopes it wouldn't start to crack before I heat set it. But it did show some signs of surface cracking. See photo left. Since I didn't have a blow torch, I heat set it by idling the engine for 15 minutes as recommended in the instructions. I must admit, I was quite worried the stuff would just blow right out upon piston firing. Nope, it held. No loud truck sound. My well-mannered engine was back! The next morning. I heat set it one more time, idling for another 15 minutes -- before riding on it for 25 miles. (All was well as of November 2010. Email to ask if Fire Seal 2000 is still holding strong.)
UPDATE: After about 200 miles it crumbled. That whole was just too big. A valiant effort, but fireseal just couldn't bridge that gap in the long run. I ended up buying a new manifold from MITZ for $225 ish and paying a friend $50 to bang it in there. So far so good (as of 6 months later).
Disclaimer. I'm a hack. I'm not a pro-mechanic. I am not giving advice here, you make your own choices. I'm just letting you know my experience with this product.
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