View Full Version : oil pressure problem on a 430

11-27-2011, 08:02 AM
Just installed a rebuilt 430 and have very little oil pressure and only one head is getting oil and very little at that. This motor was rebuilt 6 years ago and was never installed, I bought it as kind of a basket case. Motor was in a create and all the parts where in the trunk Any ideas?

11-27-2011, 10:44 AM
You might try contacting Theo at the MEL forum http://ford-mel-engine.com/index.php It's not a real active place but there are some knowledgeable guys there. Good luck, Bob C

11-27-2011, 11:56 AM
I bought a 430 that had an engine that had been rebuilt 25 years ago and never run. What I found when I pressurized the oil system before starting it was that several of the oil galley plugs had not been installed, particularly the ones at the back of the block above the cam. There is also another at the front of the block behind the cam gear. I would check these.

11-28-2011, 11:44 AM
Are you running the original 430cid "vaccum assist" oil pump?

Or did you do away with it (like most) & install a regular 352-390cid oil pump with a new (shorter) drive shaft?

11-28-2011, 09:08 PM
I Don't know, There is a extra tube that comes off the bottom of the pump. I don't know if thats stock of after market.

11-28-2011, 09:32 PM
check to make sure you have a good seal at the the pump and the pickup and that there is sufficient clearance between the pickup screen and the bottom of the pan. Could also be incorrectly installed cam bearings. Not that familiar with the MEL's so I can't say for sure, but it could also be a pressure relief valve issue. Could also be to much bearing clearance on the rods and mains. If the MEL forum has a tech section I would check there first. Are you using a 1/2 inch drill to prime? Turning the right direction? Mike

11-28-2011, 10:31 PM
I used a 3/8 drill to prime but it was all it could do to spin the pump.

11-28-2011, 10:47 PM
a half inch drill if you don't want to burn up the 3/8, and if the MEL is like the FE you need to turn it counter clockwise. Check your manual or online for Dist rotation. Mike

11-29-2011, 04:02 AM
skikemp, I have to commend you for doing the correct tests before you run into trouble (an ounce of prevention...). Redstangbob, partsetal (Carl), tbird430 (Jon), and gaffney1951 (Mike) all have lots of experience with FE's and MEL engine. They are very similar.

Your engine must have plenty of oil or it won't last long. Buy a cheap oil gauge and screw it into one of the oil plugs on the side. If the drill motor turns hard, you should see lots of pressure on the gauge. (Pressure IS resistance to flow.)

I suggest you pull your rocker arm shafts off (take 20 pictures of this process) and pay attention to the notch on the lower front of each shaft. Then, slide each rocker arm off. Look for obvious galling on the shaft. Wire brush each rocker and run a small drill through the oil holes (my Y-Block arms had two holes each). Then pull the end plugs off the shafts. (I drilled and tapped a 10-32 hole in one plug end, screwed in a screw and used that to pull the plug out.) Do that to each shaft, and run a rod through to knock out the opposite plugs. You can tighten and leave the screw in after you're done. My shafts were a mess with what looked like heavy black grease inside. I replaced both shafts.

Both the 352 and 430 have the same firing order (1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8) and both distributors rotate counterclockwise (looking down). Before re-assembly, run your 1/2" drill motor in reverse on the oil pump drive shaft, and see if oil comes up to each head. I have a sneakin' suspicion it does, but dirt has packed all your rocker holes shut. If you don't get oil at all, I will go with Mike's suggestion that the cam bearings were installed wrong.

Sometimes the rocker arms don't align straight with the shaft's oil holes on the bottom. We use a Dremmel tool with a skinny cutoff disk to widen the oil hole like this:
That way the rocker arm can be a little off either way, and still get plenty of oil.

I hope this helps. - Dave

11-29-2011, 08:02 PM
I really appreciate all your guys help, It sure makes it easier to diagnose the problems. I uploaded a picture of the oil pump that came out of the motor, but it's not the same as the new one. I called Bakers Auto today and they said they never one like this. (Notice the lower pump) Any idea's?

11-29-2011, 08:26 PM
Mike, it looks like you have an original 430 oil pump. They were made by A-C and they had a vacuum pump on the bottom with an oil pump on top.

The bad news is, they aren't available any more. I was at Howard Prout's and he showed me his because I had never seen such a thing...
Howard made the top (output) flange and 'snorkel' so he could run it in a bucket.
The horizontal flared tube is, 'vacuum in', and the short vertical tube is, 'vacuum out'.


Notice, "A-C" trademark on the bottom.
The good news is, you can replace this with an FE oil pump and shorter drive shaft (as tbird430, Jon suggested), and it will work just fine. That is what other 430 owners have done.
Hope this helps, and Thank You, Howard Prout for the pictures. - Dave

11-29-2011, 08:42 PM
Check with Carl ~ partsetal here on the Forum. Send him a Private Message (PM) and see if he has one in stock. As Dave said, they are hard to come by, but he might have one. If not, check with Bob at Bob's Bird House in Delaware and the guys at the Bird Nest in Oregon. They all have parts cars and might have one. Also check with John Draxler of Thunderbird Ranch. John has a lot of parts. You can get the contact information by checking out the Advertisements Forum below this.

Howard Prout
12-03-2011, 10:41 AM
One of the places I have found to be a good source for hard to find parts is Turner's Auto Wrecking, 4248 S.Willow Ave., Freso, CA 93725. That is where I found my spare oil/vacuum pump. Tel. 559-237-0918. They literally have thousands of older cars.

12-03-2011, 11:15 AM
Thank you, Howard! I have posted that information, including their website, and phone number, in the Advertisements Forum! Howard said this about them.

"If you want to see something mind blowing, go onto Google Earth and enter their address. Their spread is amazing. And I found them very knowledgeable. When I asked about a vacuum pump for a 430, the guy knew exactly what I was asking about. I was impressed."

12-04-2011, 03:32 PM
Ok Guys
I put in a new pump got 65 lbs pressure at the new gauge but still no oil in the heads (well very little in the drivers side) but none in the passager side. I did pull the intake and run the oil pump with a 1/2 drill and got oil in all the lifters. Any ideas before I pull out the motor and check the cam bearings?:confused:

12-04-2011, 04:58 PM
...Buy a cheap oil gauge and screw it into one of the oil plugs on the side. If the drill motor turns hard, you should see lots of pressure on the gauge.How many psi are you getting?
...I suggest you pull your rocker arm shafts off... ...Before re-assembly, run your 1/2" drill motor in reverse on the oil pump drive shaft, and see if oil comes up to each head...What oil did you see when you pulled the rocker shafts?
If your problems are on top, it doesn't make sense to do cam bearings. - Dave

12-04-2011, 05:42 PM
Dave got oil out of the at number 1 and number 5 should I be getting more? Just removed a plug out of the hole over number 1 and got oil there. Should there be a plug there? By the way I got 60lbs of oil pressure.

12-04-2011, 08:09 PM
never worked on a MEL engine, but from a quick goggle search it says same oiling system as the FE. That being the case, I would do as Dave suggested. If you have oil at the rocker stand bolt holes check to make sure that the bolts in those holes are the necked down ones to allow oil flow. Then follow Daves directions. Good hunting, Mike

12-04-2011, 09:27 PM
Do you know if the bolts are different from each other? Just read about some bolts with sides cut out of them. Also does anyone know the best oil for these engines. I been reading about Rotella because of the lack of zink in other oil's. Any Thoughts

12-04-2011, 10:00 PM
the aftermarket studs I use on FE's have two necked down studs for the stands that supply oil to the shafts. The stock bolts may be all the same size. To check torque down the other three bolts and put the oil supply bolt in but leave it a couple of turns loose. If you get oil flow out around the bolt head you should be good to go. If memory serves you should be able to move the rocker stand side to side with the bolt in loose. I use Rotella in all my flat tappet engines, but you should still use a zinc additive. Hope this helps. Mike

12-05-2011, 02:25 AM
Do you know if the bolts are different from each other? Just read about some bolts with sides cut out of them...Pardon my frustration, but if you had attempted to follow my suggestion (taking pictures along the way) many of your questions would be answered, you would have a better understanding of the system, you would have actually inspected all the parts for wear, and you probably would have fixed all your oiling issues for FREE.

Mike Gaffney is correct on all points regarding the MEL/FE oiling system and rocker shafts. Any engine this old needs attention and should at least be cleaned and inspected or it may not work for very long. If we see your pictures, we will all identify something that isn't right.

Per your request, here is my phone number:
(248) 544-8834
I also wrote a PM to you with my number included. Call anytime, or give me YOUR number and I will call you. - Dave Dare

12-05-2011, 09:30 AM
Thank you for your responce and I meant no disrespect, When I got this motor it was a complete rebuilt longblock so clean parts where not an issue, everything was new. My finding was a screw in plug in the left in the head by the machinist who rebuilt the motor. Agian I Thank you all your help I have leaned alot along the way. My number is 360-507-3674

12-05-2011, 02:51 PM
Mike, I called your number a few minutes ago but it went to voice mail. (So, I left a message.) - Dave

12-07-2011, 12:13 AM
Hey Guys
Thank you for all the help!!!! After pulling the rocker arms I found the problem, A plug in the oil galley left by the machinist, don't know why but after pulling it I have 65 lbs of pressure and it runs great. Check out the picture. Thanks again

12-07-2011, 01:10 AM
Mike & I discussed this situation, after Mike found the problem on his own. Only one head had threads in the oil hole, and that head was plugged with a set screw.

I remember posts about limiting the oil supply to FE heads. They would drill a hole in a set screw and thread it into this oil hole.

I think Mike bought an engine that was partially done. They tapped one head but never drilled the set screw's oil hole (orfice). They left the RH head stock. Since Mike is running a high volume oil pump, it doesn't matter if the heads get extra oil flow, so he is leaving the set screw out. I agree.

Another issue is the two 'special' undercut bolts for oil stantions. He has none. All of Mike's bolts are identical. Mike says he will take pictures of the stantions (to show machined oil passages, I think). I'm anxious to see them. - Dave

EDIT: I found it... (http://www.carcraft.com/techarticles/ccrp_0808_ford_390_fe/viewall.html)
"Oiling System
Early 428 Cobra Jet Mustangs had oiling problems because with only 5 quarts in the passenger car pan, 3 quarts were circulating in the engine while it was running, and a hard launch would shoot the remaining 2 quarts to the back of the engine away from the pickup, resulting in bearing carnage. To save your FE from oil starvation death, you must use a good oil pan and windage tray, have 6 quarts of oil in the 5-quart pan, and restrict the oil flow to the rocker arms."

I knew I read it somewhere. These guys are using a standard oil pump, too.

12-07-2011, 07:17 AM
I run a high volume Melling pump on all of my FE's along with a 7-8 qt pan, windage tray, and restrict the the oil passages to .070 to prevent flooding on the top end. That being said, these are high performance builds and the stock engines seemed to run just fine as built. The restrictors due not have to be threaded into the head. you can use a holley carb jet of the appropriate size or a piece of drilled round stock. If you have excessive rocker and shaft wear you could have problems flooding the the heads and if not using positive valve guide seals (not a factory item) this will lead to oil consumption, smoking exh., and carbon deposits on valves and pistons. Mike


12-07-2011, 04:42 PM
YES!!! Aluminum heads with STUDS & nuts holding the rocker shafts. This is the setup everyone should enjoy. It costs around $1,500 but well worth every penny.

I can't say enough good things about these heads:
Pre-ignition and detonation - GONE
Higher compression ratios (for much higher HP) - any time you like
Heat transfer - a natural with aluminum
Exhaust Seats - Hardened for today's gasolines
Valve Stem Seals - made with spring-loaded Viton (not those cheap OEM umbrellas that don't work)
Valves - Stainless Steel for today's gasolines
Springs - new, so they resist bounce and floating valves
Valve Guides- Manganese Bronze (the right stuff for Stainless stems, and they last)

You can spend as much on your cast iron heads, but aluminum works so much better and all the parts are precision finished with the right materials (something they didn't have back in the day).

Marry these heads with a 1961 mild street cam and a true roller chain, and instantly breathe ~400-hp in your 390. If you have a little extra cash, pop for the aluminum intake manifold and save at least 40 more pounds under the hood. You can subtract over 100-lbs weight by using aluminum heads and intake, then ADD big ponies by raising your compression ratio to 10:1. This combination makes a HUGE difference in your Thunderbird's performance and steering/braking agility.

Beautiful Edelbrock setup, Mike Gaffney. - Dave

03-15-2012, 04:50 AM
Do you know if the bolts are different from each other? Just read about some bolts with sides cut out of them. Also does anyone know the best oil for these engines. I been reading about Rotella because of the lack of zink in other oil's.

Any Thoughts

All of the MEL rocker stand bolts are the same and not necked down. This was a feature on some FE HIPO engines to insure oil flow @ HI-RPM (Solid tappets would maybe not require these). One would have to monitor oil flow volume to the valve train to insure adequate but not excessive oil supply, especially for a solid HP engine.

There was a thread on another forum where a MEL teardown found necked down rocker stand bolts @ the oil supply positions. It was determined these were modified (not OEM) to insure adequate oil supply to the shafts. Most likely there was a supply problem and this was the method used to insure more volume.

As for modern engine oil (SL-SM-SN), there is no high zinc content oil available (despite advertising claims) other than racing oil or restricted use diesel oil. Find the best quality 10W-30 or 10W-40 you can and add a proven zinc additive (or go roller).