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  • Lifters not pumping up

    This is brand new roller set from Crane, only 300 miles on them. I had to reset the intake and so a new adjustment on the valves. Only four of the 16 lifters act "normal", with the internal return spring holding the lifter to maximum length. I primed the oil pump for several minutes and no change. Lots of oil pumping through the rocker sets.

    This is the second set of lifters that has collapsed. Pushrods are custom length, solid tip, my originals were hollow. I have assumed that the lifters receive oil from the block, through the sides, so the solid tips would not be a problem. Am I wrong?

  • #2
    If we are talking about an FE engine, when you tore it down you will have gone through the oil galleries for the lifters with a brush, like a rifle barrel cleaning brush on a long rod.
    Here is the rear of an FE block:


    The two holes above the cam are the lifter galleries. They go straight through the block:



    From the FRONT of the block they look like this:



    Notice two important facts, the hole on the left of the cam is also a bolt hole for the cam's thrust plate and the one on the right side of the cam is recessed.

    The top hole feeds oil to the camshaft...



    ... and then the crankshaft:


    Typically, Chevy engine builders miss these plugs. You need all of them. After I install plugs, I clinch the edge of the hole with a chisel so the plug cannot push out under oil pressure.

    Let's see pictures of your plugs. If one is missing, how would I know without seeing the pictures? - Dave
    My latest project:
    CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

    "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
    --Lee Iacocca

    From: Royal Oak, Michigan

    Comment


    • #3
      Yeah this is my FE. My local builder did the work. We did several mods to the oiling system consistent with rabodniks recommendations. Galleries were cleaned, deburred, tapped for threaded plugs, cleaned and recleaned. He assembled the bottom end and heads in his clean room, and I assembled the rocker set on up.

      Comment


      • #4
        Spring travel for the "good" lifters is 1.5 turns. Crane recommends 1/2 to 1 turn preload. So this last time I set all 16 at 3/4 up from the bottom, which is the same as 3/4 from the top.

        Comment


        • #5
          Steve, I don't know what screw pitch your 'turns' are following and I see no pictures. But I think you know how I set mine up. These issues you are having are strange to me as I have not had a failure. I set my intake manifold once and done, which is no different than the factory.

          I guess everyone has their own way. To impart my methods only serves to upset others so I've learned to, 'say it once and let it go.'

          I do extensive Oil Modifications to my FEs and I document them. Also notice that I chase all the threads in my castings. I make sure all threads are clear & smooth and they go full depth. I sink a magnet then I wash the holes out using high pressure.

          Most shops won't be as meticulous or demanding because time is money. - Dave
          My latest project:
          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
          --Lee Iacocca

          From: Royal Oak, Michigan

          Comment


          • #6
            Strange indeed. This builder has the best reputation in the area. It's hard to imagine that he screwed this up.

            I inspected the lifters after 300 miles and everything looked fine, no scoring on the sides.

            The valve lash adjusters are 7/6"-20, so 3/4 turn equates to about 0.04". The adjuster ball sits in the lifter cup, and of course the rod ball on the bottom sits in the lifter cup. At 0.04" clearance the push rod will maintain its position (but will rattle like heck).

            I'm not sure how to proceed. I'm not far from being able to start the engine to see if the engine will pump up the lifters at high idle speed. It should pump oil better than my 3/8" plug-in drill (which got quite hot after a minute or so). This shouldn't hurt anything if not, as long as I don't run it long. At least if I do this I'll know that the alternative- pulling the manifold again and checking oiling to each lifter bore, is warranted.

            Comment


            • #7
              Did you rotate the crank etc when you primed the oil system?
              A Thunderbirder from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

              Comment


              • #8
                I primed the oiling using an electric drill through the distributor hole. I rotated the crank by hand many times while setting valve lash.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Yadkin View Post
                  ...I inspected the lifters after 300 miles and everything looked fine, no scoring on the sides.
                  Scoring is one issue but another is debris (or something) holding the check valve open. You can only see this if you take lifters apart. There is no magic here as everything is self-evident. That's the first place I would look. Or, you can simply send them back for another go-around, not knowing why, again.

                  Originally posted by Yadkin View Post
                  ...The valve lash adjusters are 7/6"-20, so 3/4 turn equates to about 0.04". The adjuster ball sits in the lifter cup, and of course the rod ball on the bottom sits in the lifter cup. At 0.04" clearance the push rod will maintain its position (but will rattle like heck)...
                  Preload should be ok at that depth, if you really are going down that far. This requires a 'touch' that most don't have. At .030" preload your pushrods should be solid and quiet, (like mine are). I hope you get to the bottom of this soon. Lifters do not go bad by themselves in 300 miles. - Dave
                  My latest project:
                  CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                  "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                  --Lee Iacocca

                  From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I finally got some time to finish up, and today I started the engine with the new "preload" settings of 3/4 turn off from bottoming out. It's very noisy, obviously coming from the valve train, but not alarmingly so.

                    I let it idle to full temperature and the electric fan cycling on. I blipped the throttle a few times and held it at 1500 rpm for about 1/2 minute. No decrease in noise.

                    I'm sure I can increase the preload to 1.5 turns and turn these effectively into solid roller lifters but that defeats the purpose of having quiet, low maintenance hydraulic lifters.

                    I guess from here I have no choice but to pull it all apart again. What a chore. I wish there was some way to diagnose this with just the valve covers off.

                    Once I get it apart I'll check each lifter bore for oiling. I can't believe he'd screw that up by plugging most of the (at least 12 out of 16) holes. I don't see how it's possible, really. I'll have a conversation with him before I do this.

                    I'm thinking maybe that the taller roller lifters don't have the oiling area in the right place for this engine. Maybe the oiling holes are "trapped" in the wide OD portion of the lifter. If that's the case then the easiest thing to do would be to machine a wide, shallow groove in each lifter to intercept the hole and pressurize the narrow OD area.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Steve, in each case new lifters worked just fine. Then after running awhile, they started failing one by one. That proves, the holes are getting oil. I don't think the bores are scored.

                      I think junk (steel, aluminum or dirt particles) is entering the lifter and screwing up the internal components. Dirt can wedge between the check valve seats, holding it open. This condition tends to collapse the lifter because all the oil bleeds out under the pressure of the push rod, so they never pump up. But they did when new...

                      Spread out a white paper towel and carefully disassemble lifters. There are only a few internal parts in each but they are precision (hardened and ground). Some use a round ball so be careful not to lose it. Any obstruction will show up on the towel. When you reassemble, they are easy to check for proper function before reinstalling.

                      These lifters should NOT be noisy. They should run smooth as glass for many years. I have no issues with my rollers and you shouldn't either. Soon, you will find the culprit.

                      When I was a teen, I hung around the Royal (Pontiac) Racing Team, here in Royal Oak. They discovered a problem with their oil pump's pressure relief valve. It was a simple ball and spring but it was hanging up. Debris was holding the ball open. The solution? A smaller ball allowed debris to pass through which solved all their troubles. - Dave
                      My latest project:
                      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                      --Lee Iacocca

                      From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        12 out of 16 get dirt in them? Anything's possible Dave but I'm pretty meticulous about cleanliness when I'm inside an engine. And I did change out the oil completely after I installed these new Cranes. I have a magnetic tip on my oil drain plug and there was little to nothing on it- that was my initial break-in. I'm guessing about 250 miles. Since there was little on that I didn't bother to open up and inspect the filter. Probably not a wise move, as aluminum would not attract itself to the magnet...

                        However I'm not sure if they were installed correctly the first time. A mechanic that I sold a car to owed me some money, and offered to work it off by helping me change out the Comp set. He set the preload on each, and I don't think he was as careful as I was. Together we did the job in about two hours, with just me it took eight or so.

                        That was quite a while ago. I may have driven the car 300 miles since then. I have a lot going on at my real job (the one that pays for this hobby), plus believe-it-or-not I have a life, and don't remember all the details of that day.

                        I've done a bit of searching on other forums and one post reminded me of Comp's recommendation of 1/2 to 1 turns preload. This guy set preload at 3/4 turn, the set was noisy, so did an additional 1/4 turn and the set got quiet.

                        For my adjusters with 20 threads per inch, that range turns out to be 0.025" to 0.05". Right now I'm at 3/4 turn, which equates to just shy of 0.04". It won't hurt to add another 1/4 turn to the entire set and see if that solves the problem.

                        If it doesn't work, then yeah, I'll definitely take apart each lifter. I'll tag each pair so they go back in the same bores. Then I'll go at them one at a time, using my magnifying lamp in my office.

                        And I'll also inspect the bores and measure the holes relative to the lifters.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Yadkin View Post
                          12 out of 16 get dirt in them? Anything's possible Dave but I'm pretty meticulous about cleanliness when I'm inside an engine...

                          ...And I'll also inspect the bores and measure the holes relative to the lifters.
                          Why, that's amazing! You KNOW what is inside an oil gallery without seeing inside? Steve, you're a better man than I am, especially since a third person 'cleaned' the block.

                          You won't need a magnifying glass. Trust me, the evidence will present itself right before your eyes. - Dave
                          My latest project:
                          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                          --Lee Iacocca

                          From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            No need to get sarcastic Dave.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Steve, this is Christmas Eve and I have nothing but love in my heart for you and empathy for your situation. Merry Christmas, my friend.

                              I'm not totally good with the way engines are oiled but these are the facts... Oil, and everything in it, goes through your pump rotors first then it splits two ways. Either it continues to the filter or it gets dumped back to the oil pan from the pressure relief valve. If oil goes to your filter 'junk' may get trapped in the element or the internal bypass valve will open. All oil from the filter goes to your oil galleries for distribution.

                              When an overhaul is performed it is absolutely imperative that all plugs be removed in the block and all ports are reamed (usually with a long brush in solvent). This should dislodge dirt in the nooks and crannies. High pressure wash is next, in both directions of each port.

                              Let's stop right here. I've seen various degrees of the above 'cleanliness'. The factory cannot afford failures because they need to ship 1,000 good engines per day. Huge money is spent on machines that perform the washing process after all machining is done.

                              Since 'time is money' little shops normally don't chase all the threads and they may miss a plug or two. Sometimes this is due to having many people work on an engine. Quite frankly, this is the reason I take lots of pictures during the process. I instruct the machine shop to only install cam bearings after they wash. I check cam bearing orientation then I use high pressure in all the galleries before I install all the plugs. If anything is left in a gallery it may eventually affect the working components (like roller lifters).

                              A small nick in the crank from a connecting rod bolt thread will peel Babbitt bearing material off in a circle. It's made of tin, copper and antimony. With any luck the bearing will still work but where does the debris go?

                              Many mechanics will only buy 'factory' short blocks, then build from there. This is where crate engines shine because they were made on the same assembly line with production engines. The equipment is state of the art and the assemblers make 1,000 good engines per day every day.

                              Bottom line: Mechanical parts always leave witnesses behind. I let them speak for themselves. One of our members had a cam bolt back out. It sent aluminum pieces from the timing cover into the oil pan but the engine kept running until the fuel pump eccentric fell off. Someone forgot the Loctite. - Dave
                              My latest project:
                              CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                              "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                              --Lee Iacocca

                              From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                              Comment

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