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Bigger hammer

Every picture tells a story

Here is the blown head gasket. Note the missing piece of metal between cylinders 3 and 4 and the soot between the other cylinders.
Lintilla's blown head gasket

This is the damage to no. 4 cylinder bore, presumably caused by the piece of metal from the blown gasket. I had a lot of difficulty getting a decent photo of this - it actually looks a lot worse in reality. There is a lot of scoring and aluminium from the piston welded to the surface. No. 3 bore is very similar.
Scoring in no. 4 bore

And this is what it did to the pistons. The top two are from cylinders 1 and 2 and are how they should look in a well used but healthy engine. The bottom two from the cylinders either side of the blown gasket are ruined - the aluminium of the pistons has melted and welded itself to the steel piston rings.
Lintilla's knackered pistons

Here is what I think caused the gasket to blow. What you're looking at is a calibrated straight-edge sat on top of the block with a light behind it. If the block was truly flat you wouldn't be able to see any light between the two.
Lintilla's warped block

Now for a scenery chaser - Fenchurch parked up near Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland.
Fenchurch at Malin Head

Comments

Mine was actually silted up completely. There was essentially no cooling going on around cylinder 4 anyway; and the bypass hose was also solid. It's one of the reasons I love the A-series so much. I did 60k on an engine which clearly had barely the minimum cooling it could cope with and it only died after the cooling system actually failed and lost all it's coolant. Before then it was the quickest standard minor I've ever encountered.
I don't think cooling failure was the cause in Lintilla's case. I removed all the core plugs tonight and there was very little silt in there. I jet-washed the block anyway just to be sure but not much rust came out.