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Engine


  • Suggested articles, sometimes including step-by-step procedures, are indicated with orange colored text. You can also submit YOUR Opel TechTips, for consideration by the Editor of the OMC Blitz, to: joinomc@opelclub.com
  • Opels require accurate tuning for maximum performance. Specific areas of concern are maintaining a consistent distributor point gap/dwell reading, setting timing accurately, eliminating all possible sources of vacuum leaks, and doing a compression check for reference to what the expected power output should be. Another requirement, is to identify which type and year of engine block and cylinder head your vehicle has, for accurate parts and service specifications. Opel 1.9 liter engines have a reputation for front timing cover oil leaks, but re-gasketing and following proper instructions can solve this problem.

How to Order: Reprints of Individual OMC Blitz issues, can be ordered by mail from the OMC Treasurer (3824 Franklin Ave, La Crescenta CA 91214) for $2.00 each (cost includes postage). This offer is subject to availability.

Mar - Apr 2008

Opel GT Drivetrain Procedures; 11 pages (illustrated) (Includes Engine/Trans removals, External Hardware, Engine wiring schematic (1970-1973)

Mar - Apr 2008

Opel CIH R&R; 6 pages (illustrated)

Mar - Apr 2008

Article Reprint (Block assembly); 2 pages (illustrated)

Mar - Apr 2008

Machining Specs (bearings); 2 pages (illustrated)

March/April 2008

ZDDP Article (Motor Oils with Zinc) Clcik here for FREE .pdf download

Sept/Oct 2007

Engine Rebuild article - a part by part review of components involved in a rebuild of the 1968~1975 Opel 1.9 liter engine. Includes suggested machining and assembly techniques, and upgrades for additional power. (19 pages)
FREE Link! "Click here for FREE SAMPLE EXCERPTS from article" Click here for corrections

Oct 2006

Opel GT Tune Up, Part II: Click here for FREE Acrobat .pdf download
Maintenance: Parts to Inspect and Replace
Radiator: Mounting and Upgrades
Water Pump and Connected Components (fan, belts,bushings)
Thermostat and Thermostat Housing
Temperature gauge sending units
Opel GT Heater: Components, hoses and valve
"Better Living Through Chemistry" Additives, lubricants and sealers

June 2006

Opel 1.9 liter engine tune-up (Part 1) Click here for FREE Acrobat .PDF download (first 5 items)
- Introduction: Replacement parts list, and list of required tools
- Engine compression test and diagnosis
- Valve lifter type identification (solid .vs hydraulic)
- Valve adjustment procedure: solid lifters
- Valve adjustment procedure: hydraulic lifter
Click here for FREE Acrobat .PDF download (the next 5 items)
- Ignition system introduction and setting #1 TDC timing
- Opel distributor installation, adjustment, and identification
- Opel ignition point set gap and dwell adjustment
- Weber 32/36 DGEV Carburetor installation
- Weber 32/36 Carburetor adjustment
- Opel 1.9 Vacuum system operation

Dec 2003

A Leak Free 1.9 Engine (Assembly Tips), 1 page
Tips include spraying gasket with Copper Coat, and using a thin layer of Silicone/RTV sealer on the top edge of timing cover.

Sept 2003

Dual Canister 1968-69 Distributors, 1 page
Mention that advance port is toward radiator and retard is towards rear of car on 1968-1969 1.9 liter Opel engines.

Sept 2003

Approximate Timing (& Screwdriver Starting), 1 page
Multipart discussion and instruction, on setting the distributor timing by retarding at idle then accelerating (and listening for engine pinging), also known as distributor timing "by ear." Also includes instruction on how to use a screwdriver to crank the engine, allowing distributor rotation to find correct starting position.

July 2003

Engine Break-in Speeds, 1 page
Bob L. suggests cam break-in at 2000-3000 rpms for 20 minutes, with a complete exhaust system in place.

March 2003

Synthetic Vs. Conventional Oils, 3 pages
Article reprint covers comparison of viscosity and performance specs, of various oil brands: Castrol, Valvoline, Quaker, etc.

Dec 2002

Oil Pump Leak Repairs, 1 page
Discussion suggests to install thin green Opel gasket (NOT the black Felpro gasket) with spray-on copper gasket sealer (NOT silicone RTV or other gasket sealers). Also mentions to repair stripped-thread timing cover holes with 6mm studs epoxied into place, for more secure oil pump cover attachment.

Nov 2002

Intake & Exhaust Valves in 1.9, 2.0, 2.2 heads, 1 page
Bob L. suggests 1.84"-1.88" intake valves or stock 2.0 liter valves in a 1.9 head for improved airflow, and also notes the stock 2.2 head exhaust ports could be upgraded (suggestions vary with intended vehicle driving applications).

Aug 2002

GT Valve Cover Breathing Hose, 1 page
Otto B. suggests inserting 1" length of 1/2" hard copper tubing into valve cover port, to secure rubber breather hose to air filter.

March 2002

Request Reply: Engine Stalling, 1 page
Reply to 1/2002 letter suggests inspection of muffler, as a clog from a broken internal metal flap, will cause stalling that is hard to diagnose.Later 8/2002 update determined it was caused by a clogged fuel screen filter on the fuel outlet port of the Manta's gas tank sender unit.

Feb 2002

Troubleshooting Low Power Output, 2 pages
Dennis G. provided 17-step diagnosis checklist, to Opel that won't exceed 40mph.

Jan 2002

Spark Plugs, 1 page
Recommendation of Bosch Platinum and NGK plugs, for most Opel applications, and AC/Delco R42FS for concours stock.

Dec 2001

Car won't start (water in distributor), 1 page
Suggests spraying WD40 inside distributor cap, installing internal "dust shield" in distributor, and/or using cut-off latex glove 'fingers' over spark plug boots at distributor cap, when driving in excessively humid or wet conditions.

June 2001

Distributor Maintenance, 1 page (illustrated)
Reminder to lubricate distributor breaker plates and timing advance plate weight assembly (below the plates).

March 2001

GT Won't Start (Reset Distributor on #4 TDC), 1 page
Checklist includes resetting distributor from #4 TDC to #1TDC, verifying #1 TDC on crankshaft pulley timing mark and both #1 valves' rocker arms can be rocked slightly (= both valves are closed).

Aug 2000

Leak at Oil Pressure Sending Unit, 1 page
Discussion and reminder to ensure that copper washer is on sender.

Jun 2000

Engine Oil selection and Crankcase leaks, 1 page
Discussion of oil brands, viscosities and additives. Crankcase suggestion describes installing a T fitting with a metered valve, into the brake booster vacuum hose.

March 2000

Engine and Transmission Installation Tips, 1 page
Suggests procedures using come-along cable wrapped around engine mount brackets for engine placement, and using a rope wrapped around a crowbar above the body's shifter hole to lift a transmission to correct height. (NOTE: Please use caution when doing any heavy lifting!)

Dec 1999

Low Oil Pressure Diagnosis, 2 pages
Covers possible causes such as inaccurate gauge, need to prime oil pump housing, changing oil pump cover, checking for stuck pressure relief "ball" avobe oil filter, and turning keyway at bottom of shaft in timing cover for distributor to prime the oil system. Also discusses methods of sealing oil pan gaskets and need to clean baffle screens in the upper valve cover to prevent pressure leaks.

Dec 1999

Oil pressure sender removal; 1 pages
Suggests using shortened 19mm open-end wrench.

Sept 1999

GT engine removal; 4 pages
Extensive multi-part discussion of techniques to pull a GT engine, including which devices to use and how to remove the engine up through the hood and down below the car. Also features discussion on how to loosen flywheel bolts by securing the flywheel and how to remove a stripped bolt by grinding down the edges with a dremel tool.

Jun 1999

Low oil pressure solutions, 1 page
Suggests using thicker oil and some oil pump modifications.

May 1999

Rough running engine, troubleshooting, 1 1/2 pages
Excellent multi-part checklist of common (but not well known) problem areas that will make an Opel run rough. Includes camshaft timing, valve settings, ignition parts (points, condensor, rotor, coil), distributor breaker plates, and vacuum leak at the manifold.

April 1999

Oil pressure drop (place washer behind spring), 1 page
Mike P. mentions that oil pressure may drop from various causes, including a clogged oil filter, and wear of the spring plunger/oil bypass valve in the timing cover.

Nov 1998

Remote oil filter, 1 page (illustration)
Elliott B. describes Perma-Cool brand kit from JC Whitney, relocating the Purolator PER-1A (plymouth 318 V8?) filter forward to the battery area. This requires some mount plate fabrication, hoses and fittings, and uses about 2 qts extra oil.

Jul 1998

Oil Filters, sources, 1 page
Alternatives to FRAM: Purolator L10028, Hastings LF155, AC Delco SD.

April 1998

Pro-Long Lubricant, 1 page
Dave W. discussed Pro-Long lubricant's effect on noisy hydraulic valve lifters.

April 1998

Front Crankshaft Pulley repair; 1/2 page
Vince G. suggests sanding down end of pulley 1/32", and not fully seating timing cover seal by same 1/32"length.

Feb 1998

Replacing a cylinder head: step-by-step; 3 pages (illustrated)
Excellent procedure on 1.9 cylinder head or head gasket installation. However graphics reproductions are too few and only fair quality, and don't clearly illustrate tricky camshaft sprocket timing mark (pictured in 11/1995 ignition timing article) and the flywheel "ball" mark.

Feb 1998

Rebuilt engine won't start; 1 page
Gary F. provides handy checklist of areas to check: compression check, valve timing, valve adjustment, and ignition spark and ignition timing.

Jan 1998

Engine suddenly won't run, 1 page
Suggestion to check if timing chain has jumped 2 or 3 teeth.

May 1997

Some handy uses for RTV silicone; 1 page
Larry S. suggests silicone for upgrade of motor mounts, heater box seams, dash vent hose connections, and dash gauge mounts.

April 1997

Opel Start No Good, 1 page
Lepo A's reminder to clean battery terminals and replace battery cables.

Feb 1996

Distributor Advance Mechanism maintenance, 1 page (illustrated)
Suggests cleaning the breaker plates, for smoother advance operation.

Feb 1996

"OMC Member Writes" (Opel 1.9 Engine dress-up tips); 1 page, (illustrated)
Anthony G. describes upgrades from aftermarket companies like the Eastwood Company, Jegs, Earl's, Summit and AeroQuip, to dress up the look of your under-hood compartment.

Jan 1996

"The Opel Vacuum Solution"; 1 page (illustrated)
List of inspections and part replacement procedures, to solve the very common Opel 1.9 vacuum leak problem. Includes notes on installing and sealing the "thick" carb gaskets, and checking the more "hidden" problem areas like the brake booster hose, manifold vacuum fitting, booster seal, etc.

Jan 1996

"Where Do the Hoses Go?"; 1 page (illustrated)
Lists where the Opel 1.9 hoses connect to, including those from the engine valve cover, manifold fitting, carburetor, distributor, and the coolant system (heater, water choke, thermostat) hoses.

Dec 1995

Opel 1.9 Liter Engine Notes (Pistons/Years); 1 page (illustrated)
Illustrates the difference, between "early" 1968-1970 high-compression and "late" 1971-1975 stock Opel 1.9 low-compression pistons.

Dec 1995

Opel 1.9 Engine Assembly Notes (gaskets, seals); 2 pages (illustrated)
Notes on the various gasket and sealer modifications, that you need to know, to reassemble an Opel 1.9 engine so that it works properly and doesn't immediately leak oil. Important information not found in any of the service manuals. With illustrations.

Dec 1995

Retrospective on Opel USA Club Newsletters 1982-1993, (illustrated)
A collection of "highlights" from the "Opel USA" newsletter, as distributed by C & R Small Cars of Connecticut @ 1985-1992. Includes 6 pages of various maintenance and tech tips.

Nov 1995

Engine Compression Testing, Setting Ignition Point Gap & Ignition Timing "More Power"; 2 pages (illustrations)
Tips on performing a Opel 1.9 compression test (to judge engine quality), setting ignition points ("dwell") and distributor timing correctly.

Nov 1995

"Who Says You Don't Have to Adjust Hydraulic Tappets (Valves)?"; 1 page
Nick W. describes his experience setting the hydraulic valves on his GT.

Aug 1995

Cylinder Head Installation & Tech Tips "Know Your Head"; 1 page (illustration)
Article describes how to identify the different styles of cylinder heads and components from the 1968-1975 1.9 liter engine, including different camshafts and solid/hydraulic valve lifters, camshaft bearings, valves and different seals and keeper/retainer applications. Also includes cylinder head removal, machining, and reassembly tips. (Some of the assembly tips are pictured in the December 1995 Blitz illustrations).

Feb 1995

Opel Engine Primer Tool Tech Tip; 1 page (illustration)
Larry S. describes using the shaft from a disassembled distributor, as a tool, inserted into a power drill, to turn the oil pump gears (at bottom of the distributor housing) for oil-priming a reassembled engine prior to starting.

July 1994

Oil Pressure and Oil Pump Priming Tips, 1 page (illustrated)
Notes from Opel parts supplier, about newer style oil pump cover (with built-in pressure valve) and making sure ball bearing (above oil filter when filter is removed) is immobile, also note to never use the thicker black oil pump cover gasket (only use the green Opel factory gasket), oil pump gear interplay spec's of 0.10 to 0.20mm, and necessity of priming oil pump (through square-headed plug) before operating engine (when oil pump cover or gears are replaced).

Oct 1993

Cylinder Head Leak Diagnosis "Crankcase Under Pressure"; 3 pages
Preston C. describes his experiences, searching for the source of excessive oil leakage (caused by an overpressured engine), and ultimately determines it was caused by a warped cylinder head.

Feb 1993

Secret of Camshaft Timing (Correct Sprocket Installation); 2 pages (illus)
Valuable tip, illustrates how to correctly align the "dot" timing mark on the upper (camshaft) sprocket DIAGONALLY (e.g. at "7 o-clock," through the center of the sprocket, to "1 o-clock") with the indented "notch" in the curved plate which sits immediately below that upper sprocket.

Jan 1993

Changing Hydraulic Lifters to Solid (Letter & Reply); 1 page
Preston C. replies that you must make sure your camshaft grind matches your lifters, whether you choose solid or hydraulic lifters, or it will cause premature lifter failure and damage the camshaft too.

Dec 1992

Engine Overhaul 101 (Letter/Reply); 1975 Rods, Compression Ratio, 3 vs. 4-bearing Camshaft Heads, Large Valves & Porting); 2 pages
Bob L. replies to Nov. 1992 article, emphasizing that engine rods from 1975 Opel should not be used in performance application, as they are larger sized because they used a weaker metal cast technique (earlier rods were forged). He also mentions that true Opel 1.9 factory compression ratios were lower: 9.0 is actually 8.38, and the 7.6 is actually 7.13:1 compression. A 3-bearing camshaft can be installed in a 4-bearing head, if the 3rd cam bearing is installed so that the oiling hole is blocked off. Finally, installing larger valves in a 1.9 head requires porting and head work to improve actual flow.

Nov 1992

Basic (1.9 Liter) Engine Overhaul, Volume 5 "The Final Chapter"; 3 pages
Final section of a 5-part series by Cal H., examines part choices you can make, before rebuilding a 1.9 liter Opel engine. Describes 1975 engine blocks and rods vs. earlier blocks and rods (Note: 1975 rods are larger but weaker), need to install a pilot bearing in crankshaft of a manual transmission Opel, advantage of earlier 1968-1970 9:1 compression-ratio pistons over later 1971-1975 7.6:1 pistons, three types of cylinder heads of 1969-1970, 1971-1972, and 1973 and later heads, solid vs. hydraulic lifters, and original vs. performance camshaft choices. This is a good general introduction, but is not all there is to know about choices for assembling a higher performance engine.

Aug 1992

The Dreaded Smog Check "Car Tunes"; 3 pages (illustration)
John M. suggests checking function of the vapor recovery system (on 1970-72 GT's this is the charcoal can next to the battery), the positive crankcase ventilation system (the 2 hoses to the valve cover), the distributor advance/retard vacuum diaphragm, ignition timing, EGR valve (equipped on 1973 & 1974 Opels), correct carburetor idle jets, carburetor mixture & idle settings and main metering circuit functions, in preparation to pass a state emissions "smog" check. Note: Check your state and local regulations, to determine requirements for vehicle registration in your area. (1958-1973 Opels are now exempt in California).

Nov 1991

Oil Pressure Gauge Tip; 1 page
If the gauge light works but not the needle, check the wires to the sender.

Dec 1989

Engine Rod & Main Bearing Modifications Tips; 2 pages
Blaine S. suggests use of a small 1/8" rat tail file to remove bearing surface (following installation of plastigauge to gauge clearance of main crankshaft bearings), and consideration of cross-drilling the crankshaft for racing installations (as well as installing fully grooved main bearings: Michigan 77 #CB837P rods & #MS988P mains).

Oct 1989

Basic (1.9 Liter) Engine Overhaul, Volume 4; 4 pages (illustrations)
(note: final volume 5 of this series was published in 11/92). Part IV covers timing chain cover and attached components: oil pump, timing chain and tensioner rails, front seal. Then the oil pan is installed, then the cylinder head and distributor, then the valve lifters and rocker arms are installed.

Sept 1989

Opel GT 1969 Model Smog Equipment Required (Letter); 1 page
Rough description of 1969 GT 1.9 emissions-control system: air pump, manifold hoses, double groove crankshaft pulley.

Aug 1989

Basic (1.9 Liter) Engine Overhaul, Volume 3; 6 pages (illustrations)
Part III continues with engine block preparation (flex honing, block cleaning, crank cleaning, rod and piston cleaning), ring installation (note: illustrations show both a 3-ring and a 5-ring installation), assembling crank to block, check main bearing clearances with plastigauge, and piston installation into the block.

May 1989

Basic (1.9 Liter) Engine Overhaul, Volume 2; 4 pages (illustrations)
Part II describes preliminary procedures; Cylinder head removal (rotate to #4 TDC, clean tops of head bolts before turning, including the 2 allen head bolts to timing cover on 1973-1975 engines), Block teardown (mark rods by number before removing, use a ridge reamer if needed), Timing Cover removal (remove crank pulley with impact wrench, unscrew large 1 1/16" tensioner bolt), Crank (inspect for grooves in journals). Then perform measurements for wear exceeding tolerance. Cylinder head inspection and magnaflux procedure (checking for cracks between #2 & #3 cylinders should be performed by a machine shop). Cylinder block should be checked for wear, higher-compression pistons can be swapped for more performance. Ring grooves on pistons and crankshaft journals need wear measurement as well. List of commonly needed replacement parts includes: Piston rings, rod and main bearings, timing chain and tensioner guides, freeze plugs, and gasket set.

April 1989

Basic (1.9 Liter) Engine Overhaul, Volume 1; 5 pages (illustrations)
Part I of this series by Cal H. illustrates the components by name: Cylinder block, crankshaft (main and rod journals), pistons, connecting rods, cylinder head, timing cover (including timing chain and tensioners).

Dec 1988

Installation of Intake/Exhaust Gasket to Cylinder Head Tip; 1 page
Roger L. suggests coating both sides of gasket with white grease before installation, so it will not stick to the surfaces during a future disassembly.

Aug 1988

RTV/Silicone Sealer Use on Timing Chain Cover (Dangers); 1 page
Cal H. mentions that silicone/RTV sealer should be applied only as a thin bead on the timing cover to engine surfaces, as excess will squeeze out and can block oil pump passages (which will burn the engine eventually).

July 1988

Timing Chain Tensioner Removal Tool (1 1/16" socket); 1 page
Roger L. mentions that a non-metric 1 1/16" socket is needed to turn the large bolt for the timing chain tensioner on the lower front of engine.

June 1988

Reading Your Oil Gauge (What #'s Mean); 1 page

April 1988

Rocker Nut Loosening (Solution); 1 page
Roger L. suggests installing 8 metric nuts as "jamb nuts" on the M10 x 1.0 pitch rocker arm studs, with a 20 ft. lbs maximum torque. An alternative is 8 used rocker arm nuts (upside down on the studs).

March 1988

Ignition Circuit Ballast Resistor Installation, 2 pages
Tom E. explains that when the original (transparent) ignition circuit resistor wire wears out, the ignition coil receives excessive voltage causing the ignition points to experience pitting, and he diagrams a schematic to illustrate how to add a "point ignition ballast resistor" to this circuit. Test specs are: 3.8 amps with engine stopped and 2.3 amps with the  engine running (measured at the inputs to the ignition coil), when the charging system output is within the operating range of 13.5-14.5 volts).

June 1987

Repairing Stripped 15mm Manifold Bolt, 2 pages
Roger L. recommends using a 3/8-24NF bottoming tap, to repair a stripped-out 15mm manifold bolt hole, then a grade 8 or 12 3/8-24NF 1 1/4" bolt as a replacement (NOTE: We do NOT recommend using non-metric parts in an Opel! This is for reference purposes only).

June 1987

Opel Factory Service Bulletin (Connecting Rods), 1 page (illustrated)
Opel FSB #74-I-21 (05/07/1974) discusses "new" type engine connecting rods, installed in 1973-1975 engines (from serial #1.9S1103265 through #1.9S1104178 and all engines after serial #1.9S1138064). These new rods can be recognized by the altered (bump on) shaft shoulder (new part #622123, part #9275885 is old) and the 2 types should not be mixed.

June 1987

Oil Filler Cap of Valve Cover (All Models Interchangeable); 1 page
Gil W. notes that the valve cover caps are interchangeable among Opels.

June 1987

Opel Factory Service Bulletins (Thermostat Gaskets & Engine Rods)Opel FSB #74-I-26 (10/29/1974) notes that the replacement "new" type thermostat housing gasket has 2 holes instead of the "old" 3-hole type.

Jan 1987

Head Gasket to Use on 1.9 Liter Engines (Part #); 1 page
Roger L. suggests FelPro #FS21139PT print-seal gasket kit. (Note: Do NOT use the thick black oil pump cover gasket from this kit!)

Oct 1986

PCV System of Engine and Oil Leak Prevention; 1 page
Maintenance suggestion of cleaning thin hose to valve cover with carb cleaner spray (and blowing through it when installed, to verify it remains unclogged), to eliminate gasket leaks from internal overpressure.

Aug 1986

Oil Filters that fit 1.9 Liter Engines (Reply); 1 page
Fred L. mentions longer oil filters that will fit (tightly on the Manta, or if there is a remote mount on a GT) Fram PH3600/Purolator FC064.

Oct 1985

Serrated-Head Bolt Type Removal Tips; 1 page
Tom E. emphasizes cleaning out the top of a serrated bolt head before removing it to avoid stripping the weird bit surface.

Sept 1985

Finding #1 TDC Ignition Timing, 1 page
Tom E. describes hand-turning the distributor, with the ignition key in the "on" position (not the "start" position) to view a spark at the tignition points, to find the #1 TDC firing location for tuning.

Aug 1985

Intermediate Gasket Replacement (Square Exhaust Gasket); 1 page
Tom E. lists procedure for replacing intake manifold-to-exhaust manifold square gasket on 1968-1974 1.9 liter Opel engines.

July 1985

Oil Pressure Problem Tip; 1 page (illustration)
Tom E. diagrams and explains operation of oil pressure relief valve, and its role in low oil pressure on high-mileage engines when the pump is too worn (for just shimming the relief spring to be able to fix).

June 1985

Tom E. suggests using 3M fast-tack trim adhesive (NOT weatherstrip adhesive), on valve cover surfaces.

Feb 1985

Hydraulic Lifter Adjustment Check (Warning); 1 page
Warns that lifters can loosen as soon as 40,000 original miles.

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