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in dire need of an organic chemistry lesson
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If valves have been hit by piston tops, they are likely to bend, and not retract back to their valve seats. So every revolution, the same pistons and valves would be in contact, which is kind of what this felt like, before the tightening up. However, when valves don't return to their seats, the cam followers also don't stay in contact with the heel of the cam lobes, and this can be seen by watching the followers as they rise and fall with cam rotation. Everything looked perfect while I could the crank rotated, and all marks (crankshaft pulley, camshaft pulley, and cam chain sprockets) lined up just right.
Although unlikely, could it possibly be that one (or more) valves got lose from their end and thus jammed the whole area? I guess, no one can tell unless someone tears the beast apart and look inside.
 

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in dire need of an organic chemistry lesson
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I know from observation that he and his buds have no problem keeping some big cases of assorted IPAs and craft brews on-hand.
That's the plan! Let's go get your car but meanwhile throwing a party at your dad's house. :lol:
 

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With all this speculation, have you checked the oil to see what lurks within?
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Just by the dipstick, which is normal and looks fine. But if it was drained and a bunch of sparky flakes came out, that would be a clue.
 

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Found a parts car if needed $80 just a stones throw away from your son. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #46
So I put the socket on the crank bolt again, to see just how locked it is. This time I added a cheater bar which I usually use for axle bolts. The crank will turn, but in jerks with lots of friction.
 

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The crank will turn, but in jerks with lots of friction.
:thumbdown
That could be any number of things.
How curious are you to find out what really happened with this? I know I am, especially since my hand prints were scheduled to be all over that thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #49
Do you remember pointing out to us the dried coolant residue on the radiator side tank? Well, I cleaned that thing up, and guess what; now it's leaking there. Yes I'm curious about the stuck crank, but I'll bet that whatever is the problem will be time consuming and maybe expensive. My son gave me a rear-view camera for my A4's new touchscreen NAV system, I'll probably work on that first.
 

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When you’re turning it, are the plugs out? Assume so , but you left us hanging somewhere in the thread.

The “friction” part doesn’t sound like bent valves. Since I’m really skeptical you have anything that spontaneously seized (come on, has anyone really ever seen that?), I think we need to look at some more logical causes. If it’s not the top end, the bottom end would be things attached to the crank. I would pull the SERP belt and probably the starter, to ensure it’s not a stuck solenoid, before committing to more teardown. Then I would still check the water pump next.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
Plugs were out before I started the engine, and naturally when I first put the belt on and gave it two easy revolutions to check marks. Regarding the starter motor, PZ suggested that. At this point, I guess it wouldn't hurt to unbolt that thing to see.
 

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in dire need of an organic chemistry lesson
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Then I would still check the water pump next.
Even if one or more fan wings of the WP are broken causing a jammed water pump, how would that cause friction on the crank? Or may be you have something else in mind.
 

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Extra force to turn transmitted through the timing belt. It’s a stretch, but just worth ruling out before making the final dive into the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #54
The AEB has the pump driven separately by the accessory belt (actually by a V-belt from the power steering pump), and the crank is super tight with the serp belt off. But I do appreciate all the suggestions.
 

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Another long shot -- slightly clogged injector makes one cylinder run lean, causing detonation.

"... If, however, the misfire is caused by an injector problem, you could seriously damage your engine. Running that cylinder too lean will cause it to overheat and potentially damage the valve or the piston." The low-octane gas in the tank could indeed have caused a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #56
An update of sorts on this '99 1.8T wagon; After sitting for many weeks in the garage, we dived in once again. My son-in-law was in town, so as PZ had suggested, we pulled the starter motor off, but no improvment, engine still very hard to turn. Next we took the valve cover off, since he wanted to see the cam action for himself. That looked completely normal, so finally we unbolted the tension roller to disconnect the cam sprocket from the crank, in case there was a seizing cam or something. We avoided turning the crank enough to contact valves, but that also wasn't the problem. He thinks that there is something seriously wrong inside, so it would be an engine replacement if we do anything more to it at all.
 

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Have you drained the oil yet? Curious to see if it's got sparklies in it. Sounds like a bearing went bad and is holding onto the crank.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
No, but I think that now I'm going to trailer it out to our companies's back lot, and decide what next. If I can get a used engine installed for say $2K or so, a Passat wagon is still a useful spare vehicle to keep.
 

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I think if it were me and I didn't want the full expense of a completely rebuilt engine, I would tear the engine completely apart, wash it cleanse it, whatever, to get out what I'll assume as a spun bearing.
Pick-up a used crankshaft for around $150 or less, polish the journals, deglaze the cylinder walls, put in a set new bearings, new oil pump, a set of new rings and complete rebuild gasket set, check out the head to make sure the valves are sealing properly and put it all back together.
You could do that for less than $1k easily. While it wouldn't be a rebuilt engine, it certainly would get the job done and be a strong performer for years to come.
 

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… and on a side note,
If I can get it together, I'll have a place to do some wrenching some time this summer. That's if all the stars align properly.
 
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