Ford 390 FE Engine Overhaul


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Rocker shafts are the same for both sides but they have a top and a bottom.  Notice the 'rocker shaft support' screws are not all the same.  Oil must go up the head and around the second bolt from the RH side.  This was covered in OIL MODS.


Notice the notch on the end of this OEM shaft.  It only appears on one end.  When properly assembled, the notch should be at the 5:00 O'clock orientation and the rocker arm tips should face the left.  That ensures the oil holes are at the bottom.  Don't get this wrong or your oil holes will be at the top and NO oil will lube the rocker arms.  As a side note, aftermarket rocker arm shafts do not have this notch.

Time to strip the rocker arms and shaft supports off the shafts.  Start with the bolts and cotter pins. Notice this end has no notch.  It's the opposite end of the same shaft.

End rocker arms have spring washers to ensure alignment to the valve. Center rocker arms have springs between them.  Every time a push rod relaxes, springs push the rocker arms back against the shaft support.

Slide all the rocker arms and supports off.

To remove the end plug, I drilled a hole and tapped it for a common #10-32 machine screw.  Using a couple washers and a claw hammer, I simply pulled it straight out.  To get the opposite plug out, I sent a long rod down the hole and pushed it out.  Save all your parts to be reassembled later.

Warning... The inside contains dinosaur muck that will get all over you.  It resembles dirty, light grease that stops oil flow to all the rocker arms.  If you get it on your clothes, it won't come out.

Please do not use a bore brush.  They always shed bristles that can quickly ruin your overhaul.  Use plenty of solvent and a rag on a stick but wash it out very well.

After a good cleaning, hold the shaft up to the light, and look.

Clean the rocker arms and notice the oil groove inside.  Worn rockers have these grooves 'washed out'.  The groove directs a small flow of oil from the shaft to the pushrod and valve tip.  Use a drill bit to ream the two holes, clean.

I use a Dremmel tool with a diamond saw to regroove the rocker arm oil slits. Now they're good as new.

I plug the tapped hole with a screw and knock the plug back in the hole.

The screw head neatly fits just under but doesn't touch the cotter pin.

Time to reassemble the rocker shafts.  Both shafts, all the supports and all the arms are identical.  One shaft's notch will face the front and the other shaft's notch will face the rear.  Just make sure the notch is at 5:00 O'clock.

Now that the valve train is ready, BEFORE bolting the rocker shafts down, it's important to measure valve-to-piston clearance on a new setup with different pistons, valves, lifters and pushrods.  There is NO way to calculate this measurement beforehand. 

Notice the #1 spark plug has an air hose fitting screwed in.  100 psi will seal the valves shut while I remove the keepers.  I'm about to remove the springs from #1 cylinder's valves and measure the valve-to-piston clearance.

These valves proved to have over .085" clearance, with the camshaft advanced by four degrees.  Excellent.

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