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Timing gear and chain replacement 401


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Ok, so new Flowkooler pump is on its way and so are new timing gears and chain. Opted for all steel gears as replacements, all made in USA. And timing cover seal instead of the original shedder.

What should I be looking out for when doing this job?

Have done this before on 64 Buick 300 and old Pontiac 6 but this is a real car!

Any advise would be welcome.


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                          I did this on my car a couple of years ago. One thing I had a problem with is that the first chain I bought

was loose right out of the box. A new timing chain should have no slack whatsoever. I bought a second chain from a different source and it was very tight. Also be very careful when you go back together that you put the right torque on the harmonic balancer bolt.

The spec is extremely high....something like 250 foot lbs. Check the spec and make sure you get the bolt torqued properly, otherwise

it can fly apart on you later, damaging the balancer and possibly the nose of the crankshaft if it comes loose. Also on my car I found

that  using a regular gasket on the thermostat housing and  the coolant crossover pipe connections didn't seal properly....I had to redo them using the "Right Stuff" silicone form a gasket from Permatex to get the leaks to stop. I used only the form a gasket on these parts, no regular gasket to stop the leaks. Also my advice to you is to purchase a new

thermostat housing and timing cover and have them on hand when you start the job, as you will probably find that on the inside they

will be eaten up with corrosion.....mine were and it is a 55,000 mile car. I had to shut down the job on my car and wait for these parts to come in to finish the job......very frustrating.

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We just did our 60 401.  How's the 52 year old rubber in the harmonic balancer?  Good time to have it rebuilt.  We ordered the timing kit from Mr Nailhead, Russ Martin at Centerville Auto Repair, getting valuable info in the process. The torque on the balancer bolt is 220 ft-lbs, and use Loctite.  We drilled our 80’s Ford fan clutch/water pump tool to hold the crank while doing that 220 ft-lbs of torque on the balancer bolt. Worked great! (If you don’t have one collecting dust in the tool box, Summit sells a universal tool – if it doesn’t bolt up directly, add a few more holes - Harmonic Balancer Wrenches SME-906007).





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If you have parts questions, ask the pros who replace them everyday.

*Tom Telesco (He's on this forum as Teleriv) 

dba/ Classic and Muscle Automotive
465 Glenbrook Rd
Stamford, CT 06906-1820
Day Phone 203-324-6045 ET

"If I don't have it, you don't need it."


*Carmen Faso

dba/ J& C Parts

716-693-4090 ET

Tonawanda, NY


*Russ Martin

dba/ Centerville AutoRepair

12865 Pine Cone Circle

Grass Valley, CA 95945

530-272-1564 PT


     Russ has a lot of tech information on his website.

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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OK Riviera People: I'm almost finished with one. Problems? For me who's not a mechanic , everything was a problem.


I removed all the bolts on the cover, cut off a few that I couldn't get a wrench on.  I broke the cover trying to nudge it off due to 3 of  the bolts were snapped in the cover and rusted solid.


I cleaned the daylights out of the replacement cover and made sure the holes were open. I used a tap and die on all threads and bolts which were also cleaned well.


I cleaned the used cover and used 3-M 90 to keep the lower gasket that fits between the cover and oil pan in place, red Permatex elsewhere. Chain and gears were fresh as was the concentric and fuel pump rod. I also used 180 grit with a block to smooth the edges of the cover and goose neck/water manifold.  So close to firing it up and ....I got the wrong thermostat gasket.


I've done this job many times with new covers from Buick but that was a long time ago and as I've mentioned....Father Time doesn't miss a trick!   Mitch

Edited by lrlforfun (see edit history)
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There is so MUCH that everyone is missing when doing these type of repairs on 50+ yr.old vehicles it just boggles my mind. I could type for days with one finger & not give ALL the required info. Russ & I agree on some things. Not so much on others.



Tom T.

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