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Discussion Starter #1
The service manual outlines how to rebuild the entire head, but is it possible to change the head gasket leaving out several steps. I know you would be able to leave the cams, valves, ect. on, but could you leave on things like sensors, tubes, and even the intake manifold and cam chain, just loosening the chain tensioner enough to slide out the old gasket, and slide in the new one?
 

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No. The fixed chain slipper is bolted to the block at one end and the head at the other, so it would need to be released from the head. To get to the bolt, you have to take off the chain cover. That means you need to remove the crank pulley, water pump, right engine mount, and accessory belt tensioner arm. To get that last item out, you'll need to remove the rear engine mount and jack up the motor about an inch so the long bolt will clear the subframe.

The camshafts must be removed to get to the head bolts. And you'd need to remove the exhaust manifold to make room to slide in the gasket. At that point, you're close to being able to just remove the head. Only a few hoses, fuel rail, harness connectors and intake manifold left.
 

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BTW, it is possible to do this with the rear clam on, but demanding due to working space. Many feel it's worth investing a couple hours to pull the clam, if only for the hassle factor.
With the chain cover off, you might consider replacing the oil pump bolts with studs and serrated flange nuts, to protect the weak threads in the block.
 

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Head has to come off period.
There's no way to properly remove the old gasket material otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thats what I've gathered, and since you have to take the cams off to get to the head bolts, you might as well take it all off then.

Only thing now is it sounds like its not a "good" thing to add a thicker head gasket just by itself to reduce cr when going turbo, which goes against everything I've heard. Hmmmm
 

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While possible, I would not recommend doing a 2ZZ-GE for your first ever headgasket. There are a zillion gotchas learned from experience. Exactly how much RTV do you need on the cam seals what brand to use, how hard or far to push them, how to properly tension the chain. Other things like knowing how to clean the head so you don't scratch it, how clean is clean enough, looking at the valves and wear do you need to service them. How to lay the head so you don't damage the surface on the dowel pins. or do you put the pins in the block or head?

Leave the clam on, the time you save on removing the clam can be spent at your local chiropractor. You can get an overhead creeper, I used these with relatively good success working on a lot of MR2s.

-Michael
 
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