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1955 Engine Rebuild


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I have never personally degreed a camshaft either, but I do seem to remember that it involved use of an appropriate solid lifter.  That said, I see no reason that your hydraulic lifter modification wouldn't also work; as long as the guts are replaced with shims that do not compress under load.

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Ken,

 

If I may ask, I'm currently pulling pistons on my 54 264.  The carbon build up on top of the pistons is very similar to what you have coating your 55's pistons.  I have had a burning oil problem that very slowly got progressively worse.  After replacing a leaking diaphragm in the fuel pump and correcting incorrectly installed rocker shafts I decided to pull the heads for a tapping(lifters/rockers/push rods all checked out ok) and oil burning smoke was still present.   Was your 55 blowing blue at the tailpipe?  

 

    I agree with you concerning Mudbones' videos.  They are excellent.  Watched one today for installing the rings and pistons back into the cylinder.  Great info!   

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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Hi Chris - thanks for the question.  The exhaust was pretty clean unless the car sat for along time (like 6 weeks) and on startup the exhaust would give the blue puff normally associated with worn guides, but then would clean up after it ran awhile.  Same after it was stored all winter, the exhaust would be visible until it was driven a few miles then things cleaned up.  There was a lot of oily grey vapor coming out of both the road draft tube and the oil fill at idle, especially when hot and at standstill idling in drive, but it was never under any pressure or puffing. If you coasted down a long hill to get the vacuum as high as possible for as long as possible (to try to pull oil past the rings and into the combustion chamber) and then nailed the throttle at the bottom of the hill there would be a bit of exhaust you could see in the rear view mirror until it cleared, but never any bright blue smoke.  My assumption was the oil rings were just as worn as the compression rings, but not broken to the point of visible blue exhaust.  How do your valve guides look?  Also if your compression is low like mine was, anything that contributes to low combustion efficiency would contribute to the build up.

 

A number of top cylinder carbon cleaners of various popular brands were run through the motor over the years and they apparently didn't do very much, and I can't speak to what my grandfather used to run in it.  He used to say if he could run kerosene in it he would, so theres a hint.

 

Good job correcting the rocker shafts - that's a subtle installation difference in how they mount.

 

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16 hours ago, KAD36 said:

Hi Chris - thanks for the question.  The exhaust was pretty clean unless the car sat for along time (like 6 weeks) and on startup the exhaust would give the blue puff normally associated with worn guides, but then would clean up after it ran awhile.  Same after it was stored all winter, the exhaust would be visible until it was driven a few miles then things cleaned up.  There was a lot of oily grey vapor coming out of both the road draft tube and the oil fill at idle, especially when hot and at standstill idling in drive, but it was never under any pressure or puffing. If you coasted down a long hill to get the vacuum as high as possible for as long as possible (to try to pull oil past the rings and into the combustion chamber) and then nailed the throttle at the bottom of the hill there would be a bit of exhaust you could see in the rear view mirror until it cleared, but never any bright blue smoke.  My assumption was the oil rings were just as worn as the compression rings, but not broken to the point of visible blue exhaust.  How do your valve guides look?  Also if your compression is low like mine was, anything that contributes to low combustion efficiency would contribute to the build up.

 

A number of top cylinder carbon cleaners of various popular brands were run through the motor over the years and they apparently didn't do very much, and I can't speak to what my grandfather used to run in it.  He used to say if he could run kerosene in it he would, so theres a hint.

 

Good job correcting the rocker shafts - that's a subtle installation difference in how they mount.

 

 

Thanks for the response, Ken.  My 54 264 was similar concerning the smoke but then it became almost constant smoke for sometime and generally would clear up after the engine was completely warm.  I have been chasing the worsening smoke issue for some time now.  Replaced the leaking oil fuel pump.  Rocker shafts upside down.  What is daunting is the fact that the engine did not smoke for a few years after purchase.  The previous owner had the engine rebuilt in 2006.  I purchased the Buick with the thought I would not have to perform major engine work.  Well that plan went south. I have pulled all the pistons. Carbon build up is excessive.  Rings are fine. No visible cracks or odd ball wearing.  Rings are being replaced.   I have been chasing down a tap noise in the head. Not rod or lifter generated. I replaced the lifters. Rods are in good shape. Tap still evident at cylinder 8.  As far as the guides,  I believe the issue with the tapping is in the guide as well as getting oil down the valve stem. Nasty carbon build up on the valves.    My heads are on the way to Russ Martin in Grass Valley for assessment and rebuild. 

 

Still a bit miffed as the engine rebuild completed in 2006 has less than 10k on it and blowing blue......    

 

The only gas I have read about that helps with the carbon build up it is Techron offered at Texaco, Chevron and some others.  It can also be purchased in a bottle from the auto parts store.   Other than that the carbon build up appears to be a problem a majority of the liquid magic can not handle.  Of course dumping crankcase oil into the cylinder from bad rings/guides is no help either! 

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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A other things can cause taping other than valves and rods.. Excessive piston clearance and excessive wrist pin clearance. I would rather doubt that valve guides would be in that mix.

As to continuous smoking on a new engine. Might the 2nd ring be in upside down (it happens)?  Chrome rings used in an engine that was not rebored?

Of course guides can contribute, but they would have to be pretty bad to cause continuous smoking.

If the fuel pump has a vacuum side, a ruptured diaphragm will pump oil into the intake manifold

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7 minutes ago, DonMicheletti said:

A other things can cause taping other than valves and rods.. Excessive piston clearance and excessive wrist pin clearance. I would rather doubt that valve guides would be in that mix.

As to continuous smoking on a new engine. Might the 2nd ring be in upside down (it happens)?  Chrome rings used in an engine that was not rebored?

Of course guides can contribute, but they would have to be pretty bad to cause continuous smoking.

If the fuel pump has a vacuum side, a ruptured diaphragm will pump oil into the intake manifold

 

Piston appear to be in good shape. No excessive clearances.  No odd scoring of piston sides or apron issue. Cylinder walls are in good shape.  Pump was replaced with new. Rechecked for oil out of diaphragm. It was dry.

 

Returning thread to the rebuild of a 55.  :)     

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Understanding the engine was recently rebuilt, am wondering how much taper there is at the top of the cylinder and if it was cleaned up properly, and what was the valve stem to guide clearance in #8 that was tapping.  My guides were really really loose - some had on the order of .008 - .010 clearance and that wasn't enough to cause smoke.  Another unknown might be the extent and level of integrity of the rebuild that the previous owner did?  How certain is it that clean valves and pistons were put in?  Whats the run out of the cylinders and how confident is your machinist in having new rings seal it up?  Anything unique in the carbon buildup in one cylinder vs the other?

 

Another thought is if there is a head gasket leak maybe oil is seeping into the combustion chamber at that point.  Any way you know if the heads were properly torqued before it came apart? Examine the head gaskets and inspect for a possible sneak path.  I had a small oil seepage past the steel gaskets midway down the bank that was evidenced by oil seeping up against the intake manifold and pooling on the valley pan after long (100+ mile) drives.  The oil trail on the head gasket and other folks observations on their engines are documented weaknesses in sealing.  Think you will find buick5563, mudbone and old-tank all had recommended putting a very very thin coat of permatex near the oil holes on their head gaskets - check their posts.  If your original rebuilder used the low compression composite gaskets it may be less prone to this type of leak.  Copper coat or equivalent helps avoid this problem and my plan is to use it.  Per Dons point above, if the engine is coming apart check the bearings for marks or other evidence of excessive clearances.  Rings go in 1 way - make sure it was right.

 

Heading over to the shop this afternoon to start reassembly.  Will get some pics of the old gaskets if they are still around.

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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The previous owner has long since passed away and questions on concerning how the block was bored, etc I can not answer.  I had also question the guide clearance.  The engine always had a tap at cold start. Even noticed by the previous owner as I have paperwork from a shop showing tap check at cold start.  The tap would disappear in about 10-15 seconds(lifter was getting pumped up with oil) and that was it.  The engine was so quiet one person thought it was an electric car.  Tap around cylinder 8 became continous.  Replaced lifters. No change. 

  

I have the receipt for an entire rebuild kit from our usual sources.  I can not account for the quality of the parts from a kit purchased in 2006.  It does appear a 56 cam/lifter/rod were used. 

 

The intake gasket is a Felpro.  The version that appears to give some problems with leaking oil.  I had thought this my be the culprit as well.  There are gaskets available from Martin that do not leak. 

 

Yes, all pistons had the same oil carbon build up.  So each cylinder has the same issue.  All points to bad, installed incorrect rings, possible head gasket accumulation of carbon from bad pump and upside down shafts, possible guides, good old Marvels in the tank the previous owner used or all of the above in unison.    

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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Chris, you really need to measure (or have someone measure) EVERYTHING before you assemble since you still don't have a diagnosis on the carbon buildup or the tapping noise.  Even another set of eyes to look it over.  I had a noisy old flathead that had pistons marked .040, but one was .030 when measured --- it looked fine.

There is nothing wrong with FelPro gaskets...sellers of other brands will dismiss them.

Also use a 180* thermostat...if using a 160* that may contribute to the carbon buildup.

Willie

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No worries Chris.  +1 on the 180 thermostat, been there done that.  Ok, here we go.

 

Introducing the 1955 .040 over 322, which is now a 328.  If you talk to it and it talks back you have been drinking too many Yuenglings prior to getting started.

 

IMG_0920.JPG

 

Oil galley plugs, front by the cam and rear by the distributor, properly staked in place - got them from Centerville, fit like a glove.  Didn't want to mess around making something else fit.  Also front cam bearing correctly installed, ensuring all 3 oil feed holes are clear.  New bearings were installed, line honed, fit to the cam.  Good work by United Engine Rebuilders in Utica.  They were actually working on another 322 and a 401 at the time.  Don't let it leave the shop without making sure the cam fits.

 

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Behind the center plug on the inside of the engine is the mythical snap ring. While opinions vary, it appears to me its sole purpose is to prevent the cam from slamming back into the plug with the distributor out when you are trying to tap the new cam gear onto a new camshaft. It fits into a slot in the block, and goes beveled side out.  I dont know why, it just looked smarter that way. When the distributor in installed the distributor gear prevents backward movement of the cam and that snap ring appears to do nothing.  Thats my story and am sticking to it  :)

 

IMG_0938.JPG

 

Speaking of camshafts, here the old vs the new.  Couple of nicks in the old cam, and what felt like flat spots at the top of the lobe. 

 

IMG_0943.JPG

 

Measure, measure, measure everything - because....the base circles of the new cam were .040 smaller than the base circles of the old cam.  New cam was stamped B-57.  Hmmmm - I ordered a 54-56 cam and it came with no cam card, maybe I got a 57 cam for a 364?  That would be cool... let see

 

Stock 55 cam: lobes measure between 1.334 and 1.320.  Base circle (measured 90 deg to lobe) is 1.085.  Subtracting gives a lift of .249 at the lobe x 1.5 rocker ratio is .373 lift at the valve compared to spec of .378.  Thats in the ballpark for a stock 55 cam with 110,000 on it.

 

New cam - 54-56 advertised grind: Lobes measure 1.312, base circle is 1.045, gives lobe lift of .267 x 1.5 stock rocker ratio is .400 lift vs 56 spec of .378.  Hmmm, more is better but I want to know what this cam is.  I'm using 1.6 ratio rockers from a 401 so .267 x 1.6 = .427 which is more like the .423 lift of a 1957 364.  That was more lift than planned.  There was .057-.067 of spring travel left when the valve lift was.calculated at .403, the lift increased another .024, so theres at least .027 left of spring travel before they bind.  Close but it should be ok.  Tomorrow we'll get a dial indicator on it and dial it in, then we will see what kind of cam we have.  Will also need to check the lifters and pushrods as the lifters will be sitting .040 deeper now in their guide and hopefully still have some pre-load left on the pushrods, and some of that should be reduced as the heads were milled. All the parts (56 lifters, 56 pushrods and cams) are supposed to work together - if they don't there are always adjustable pushrods as an option to make up the difference.

 

Remember to reuse the spacer on the end of the old cam:

101_2537.JPG

 

Metal removed from the counterweights to balance the crank, flywheel, damper, rods and pistons.  The pistons were within 2.5 grams of each other, machinist thought they were good pistons, just not much area to remove any material from the piston to balance.  The crankshaft took some work to balance out apparently.

 

IMG_0942.JPG

 

Checked bearing clearances, installed crank.  Mind the cap numbers and the arrows:

101_2529.JPG

 

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Willie advised to plug the large hole in the oil flange pan at the 10:00 position in the photo to help the pan gasket seal better.  Will work on that.

101_2534.JPG

 

Rear rope seal going in, left .015 above the top of the seal and lightly tapped it in.  Ed put a dab of anerobic sealer (doesn't need air to cure) on the side seams, inserted the provided rubber seals along with 2 provided thin rods that are tapped in the side to tighten the side seal up.  Should have taken pics of that.  This set was from Best Gasket, will see how dry this Nailhead is.  Eds been doing this for 50 years more than I ever will.  Fingers crossed, game on.

 

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Timing chain and gears were properly installed right the second time.  Only casualty was the rivet head on one of the rivets for the fuel pump eccentric, but the other rivet and moreover the cam bolt hold the eccentric in place.  The chain was a borg warner chain from 1960s off of eBay with 2 new gears. The BW chain was just as stiff as the old stock one and could not be rolled into a circle if you tried but when I compared it to Mudbones video it was not nearly as tight as his install with new gears and a stock chain - we probably had 1/8 inch. Not wanting to do it 3 times so will see how it looks when we start rotating the engine.

 

Pistons, rings and rods assembled.  Ed marked all the rods on disassembly to know which way was forward and drilled into my skull "valve recess up, lockbolt under the valve recess, dot forward, bearing tang to the outside, mark left and right sides, keep everything in order".  Yes sir.

 

101_2545.JPG

 

All for now, next will install the pistons, dial in the cam, check valve to piston clearance and make more measurements before we button it up.

 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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Thanks Bill - good to hear.

Yep - exhaust valves only.  I saved the old ones as Ed thought they were fine. The intakes looked good, negligible cleanup to get a good seat.

 

BTW - speaking of valves, when we put all new guides back in we had measured and marked where the old ones were before driving them out, and installed the new ones at the same depth.  Just another tidbit.

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Ken,  did you have your damper rebuilt?  If so, where did you send it?  Also, did you replace your rod bolts?  If so, what kind did you use?  Super job with the pics!  I want my name on the list for a first edition hardcover copy! ;)

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59 minutes ago, EmTee said:

Ken,  did you have your damper rebuilt?  If so, where did you send it?  Also, did you replace your rod bolts?  If so, what kind did you use?  Super job with the pics!  I want my name on the list for a first edition hardcover copy! ;)

 

Edited by Mudbone (see edit history)
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Today was spent dialing in the cam and checking more measurements: end play, deck height, chain deflection, base circle runout and valve timing.

 

We checked crank end play - came in a little snug at .003 compared to .004-.008 spec.  Left it be.

 

Mounted the cam dial, Ed milled up a solid slug for a lifter to take measurements off the cam lobe.  Made sure the gears were lined up right to start:

101_2555.JPG

 

There are many sites out there teaching folks how to dial in a cam, what point of reference to use, lobes or valve stems, different ways to get the centerline.  Since a cam card didn't come with the "Expert cam", which still agitates me, my only interest was in how close the profile was to a stock 322 or 401 cam.  There were so many sites explaining the process with subtle differences it makes you want to loose your mind and jump out the window.  Even amongst manufacturers and publications there were slight differences in how to do the math, so it is fair to assume if you bought a cam from a specific manufacturer (like isky, comp cams, kelford, camcraft, or a custom profile) you would follow their rules and compare the answers to their cam card.  Basically, dialing it in allows a person to understand the valve timing and compensate for tolerance/error stack up in the machining process (gears, keyways, lobes etc) by advancing or retarding the cam centerline a few degrees relative to the crank.  Especially useful if your engine has been rebuilt before and you don't know whats really in there any more.  If I had to do this over again, I would get a custom grind of a known good low end torque profile and a spec sheet to know what is going in the motor. Knowing there are many methods, right, wrong, or indifferent and not subsidizing anyone, this is the site we used to make the measurements,,,because it had PICTURES and you could plug and chug the numbers :)  KISS principle.

 

http://www.hotrod.com/how-to/engine/ctrp-0805-camshaft-timing/

http://www.enginebuildermag.com/2013/12/choosing-camshafts-picking-performance/

 

Heres the wheel all mounted up, slug in place for a lifter - make sure the dial indicator is perpendicular to the lifter when measuring.  The slug was a Research and Development effort.

 

101_2554.JPG

 

101_2553.JPG

 

Make sure everything is lined up, find TDC with a pointer on the piston.  While here, we noted the deck height (flat of piston to top of deck) is .043.  This piston sat.003 deeper in the cylinder than stock Buick piston - thats pretty good.  Next check the chain tension in degrees of camshaft rotation relative to crank rotation.  If deflection of 1/8 inch is interesting then actual degrees of cam lag behind the crank due to chain deflection is even more interesting.  With the engine stopped so the dial indicator was on a lobe ramp, the crank is moved very slightly until the cam moves.  In our case the crank moved less than a degree until the cam started to move.  We guessed 1/2 a degree of crank movement on the dial and that was generous - thats 1/4 degree of cam movement.  Well within a guideline of 2-3 crank degrees - so, that verified the timing gears are good and the timing chain is good.  We followed the directions on the referenced site, swung #1 to TDC and got busy.

101_2546.JPG

 

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Heck after spinning the engine around almost 100 times and following the directions you start to feel like one of those TV shows.  It starts to get dull.  This was the "I told you so" picture:

101_2547.JPG

 

When all the dust settled, we ended up (using the .050 method) with:

 

Cam base circle runout - .001 or less.  Good quality cam machining!

Intake Centerline:  106 deg ATDC

Lobe Separation Angle: 114 deg (Same as a 1962 - late 64 401.  1956 322 is 111 deg)

Lobe lift: .267 exhaust, .270 intake ( A 1962 401 would be about .268, and a 56 322 would be about .250)

Duration intake: 213 deg at .050 (think a 401 is about 209 @ .050,  a 56 322 is 210 deg at .050 - anyone check?)

Duration exhaust: 243 deg at .050 ( Think 401 and 322 are same for I&E.  Measured this 3 times because we thought the intake and exhaust would be the same. Did not expect a dual pattern cam.  This is the only measurement we really questioned.)

Overlap: 75 degrees (within 1 degree of a 401 and 56 322)

Compare to 1957 Motors spec: exhaust closes at 45 ATDC (56 322 is 44 deg - wow finally a match) and intake opens at 30 deg BTDC (nailed it twice - matches a 56 322). Assuming in 57 Motors was using the .050 standard vs advertised standard, the start and end of two valve timing cycles match spec.

 

Heres the post mortem classroom and two bottles of dinner which helps clear the mind to figure all this.....stuff...... out, did I mention the "amateur hobbyist" wasn't provided a freaking cam card?  :angry:

 

101_2558.JPG

 

SO....its a bit of a blending situation, just like the pistons. We would have felt better if we knew the specs to know if the centerlines were where they should be and if necessary adjust them.  As is, it seems a reasonable profile. We felt we were pretty confident in our measurements, having done each 3 times to make sure we were consistent - and came within a few degrees each time - it is what it is.   Wide LSA should be good idle but that seems to push the power band up into the higher rpms, theres more lift than stock so it should breath better, I read somewhere that exhaust cycles are less efficient and more exhaust duration helps compensate.  My hope is the low end torque is preserved and perhaps the 213 duration on the intake will do that.  Rest of the pistons go in this week.  Removed the heat riser altogether from the 56 manifold, and will plug that up and bead blast the manifolds. I'm way way behind on cleaning up the empty engine compartment.

 

Anyone who can verify/share their 322/264/401 cam measurements, or have insight as to where you think this profile might work please chime in.

 

Tim - balancer is original - have not got one rebuilt, maybe some one can offer a suggestion -  and we reused the rod bolts.  No unusual marks or wear patterns, and they torqued up fine.  We did get new head bolts - were concerned about them being stretched.  Thread printout signing at Dinosaur BBQ provided it runs.  It can still turn into a well measured boat anchor. :)

 

 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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I also noted the large machined hole in the oil pan flange on the block as noted at the 10:00 o'clock position in your picture.  Same spot on my 264.  For the life of me I do not know why a machined hole was put here but Willie is right.  The hole does appear to be a weak link for leaking at the oil pan gasket.      

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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On ‎6‎/‎20‎/‎2016 at 9:54 AM, JohnD1956 said:

As an amateur, may I ask, do you check this lift and duration for  each cylinder ?  Or do you just assume each lobe ( I & E ) is done exactly the same?

 

JD - Was advised if it’s a production run cam made from a known master all the lobes should be the same and you probably don't have to check them, and if its a custom grind that you specify your profile to a cam supplier you really should check them all. Suppose you could always check them all to be sure.

We called the cam supplier – the cam is new and is a regrind off of a 401 profile.  Sounds like the answer is supposed to be 204 duration I&E at .050 lift so we will need to recheck this.  The 114 Lobe separation angle is correct and the .267 lift is correct.  Although, expectations were Lobe Separation to be closer to 110-112.

Bottom line – given this is a production run cam (not a one off special grind) the engine will certainly run with this cam and we could install it in and fire it up.  It does not appear to be exact to 56 cam specs.  Not meaning to make this sound hard.  The reason we are choosing to be particular and make the measurements is the preference for low end torque vs high rpm power, wanting the engines power curve to match the desired driveability and we want to be sure what we have is a correct part.  Turns out not all suppliers actually know what their cam profiles are – just that “they work” when you put them in the engine.  Our standards are a little higher, that’s all.

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Made some adjustments to the measurement process and measured again as there were some errors. Basically got a larger diameter cam wheel that was better labeled, fit a small spring on top of the "solid lifter" so it had a steady constant pressure on the cam lobes, and in measuring centerline came .010 off of either side of max lift instead of .050.  It is surprising how a cam can can turn 10-20 degrees on a lobe while the dial indicator moves less than.002.

 

IMG_0958.JPG

 

Did each measurement 3x ensuring reapeatability, which we got within a degree or less each time.  This time the answers sounded more in the ball park but still not quite as anticipated.

 

Intake:  centerline of 109, lift .270 at the lobe which will give .430 at the valve, duration 210 @.050

Exhaust: centerline of 119,lift .267 at the lobe, duration 208 @.050

Lobe separation of 114 deg

 

Probably learned more about camshafts than ever expected talking to people like Carmen Faso and Tom Telesco and doing web searching - while there are many factors, ones of most significance seem to be when the intake valve closes in the cycle, the intake duration, and the intake centerline. Having a duration closer to 205 and and intake centerline more like 106 and an LSA more like 112 was what I was shooting for.

 

http://www.melling.com/Aftermarket/High-Performance/Performance-Camshafts

 

If I had to do this again (or when because this really was kinda fun), improvements would be

 

1) Recommend not buying a camshaft for an engine without the supplier providing written spcifications (cam card), making sure the cam matches the spec and don't go off verbals.  You could certainly put a cam in from a supplier and it will run, and it might run just fine and its a totally carefree purchase.  However, there are those of us that like to know what the engine is going to do and match the engines "sweet spot" to the expected driving style and vehicle type.  The extra effort is worth it, it is not an unreasonable ask, and its not "too hard to do". Allow me to point out the people at Camcraft and Melling were incredibly helpful and invested time to explain their products.

 

2)  Consider this camshaft (fits a 364 to a 401) and turn the journals down to fit a 322 (about 75-100 bucks at the machine shop).  If my current camshaft didn't work out this was my second choice:
http://omnitek.co/mellingcatalog/#ag/part/SBC-3

This is the same camshaft Clevite used to make - pn 229-1606, that went out of production about 18 months ago.  Folks I spoke with had good results with this cam in a 322 and it pulled well at the low end.  Tom Telesco spent some time with me and was very helpful. I may just try it someday for fun. On the V8 buick site there are the following threads which may be of interest. 

 

http://www.v8buick.com/index.php?threads/early-nailhead-cam.141755/#post-1094102

 

3)  Unless there are no other options, do not buy a vital engine part from a supplier who can't explain what they are selling or give you the 15 minute professional courtesy to go find out an answer to a simple question.  There ARE suppliers who are happy to invest time with you, appreciate you taking an interest in their products and will get you an answer to a well thought out question while taking an impartial interest in your project.  Buy from them.

 

So... moving right along, all the pistons are in, the cam is timed, the busted fuel pump eccentric rivets were replaced with screws.  Monday will get the oil pump in, close up the bottom end, then fit the heads and check for piston to valve clearance.  In the event that there is interference or the clearance is too tight with the steel gaskets, I put a call into FELPRO and found out their composite low compression gasket for a 322 is .048 to .050 compressed for compression calculation and clearance purposes:

http://www.felpro-only.com/break_room_forum/showthread.php?tid=1348

 

The exhaust system arrived from M&J exhaust and it looks like a winner.  This was the kind of connection I was looking for at the Y pipe with no crimp down in it:

 

IMG_0954.JPG

 

Marty provided hangers, hardware and notes on how it all went together.  Cut the tailpipe to save on shipping and scribed it for realignment. I have all the measurements from Marty on the 56 system if anyone is interested (also all the engine notes) Will start fitting it shortly.  Need to do the "clean the breather" exercise on the valley cover.  Wondering where else I could put a ported vacuum for a PCV valve so its a little more equalized than tapping off the #2 intake runner where the vac port is for the wiper?. 

 

Am procrastinating cleaning up the engine compartment.  If it weren't for the last minute nothing would get done.

 

 

Edited by KAD36
Updated link to V8 buick site for 401 cam reference (see edit history)
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Thanks - much credit for the detail goes to the people on and off the board who are sharing their time and experience and answering phone calls and texts - just trying to write down everyones advice they have provided me in one spot best as possible so others can benefit, make good decisions and stay encouraged when things go tick, snap, pop and the cussin starts.

 

So, 3 steps back 1 step forward.  Assembled the heads, rocker arms to the head.  To make a solid lifter, disassembled 2 used ones (top spring clip that holds the cap on comes off - pretty self evident), take of the cupped cap on top, and replaced the plunger and spring with a piece of steel rod, put the top cap and clip back on.  That makes 2 solid lifters that will not compress to be used to verify valve lift, valve spring compression and check piston to valve clearance.  Got 2 light duty compression springs from Lowes and cut them down for check springs so we could push valves down with only finger pressure and be able to measure clearance between valves and piston as it reaches top dead center to end the exhaust stroke and start the intake stroke.  At this point of valve overlap both valves are open and the piston is on its way up in the exhaust stroke and is chasing the exhaust valve closing, and the intake valve is opening and then chasing the piston on its way down after the piston crosses top dead center and is starting the intake stroke.  This is where the fun (and beer therapy) started.  We messed up on the springs margin to its "bind" point,so we need different springs because of the cam and rocker combination, we mismeasured the height of the valve guides and had to re machine them down to allow the valve to achieve full lift, and in trying to re-use the factory inner springs - one spring called it quits and snapped.  The piston to valve clearance is cutting it close at .050 with 2 old steel gaskets doubled up (equivalent .030 head gasket thickness for measuring purposes) , we had .020 milled off the heads to get some compression back from the aftermarket pistons having a lower dome but the heads are measuring more like .040 was milled off of them and I could not ascertain what was done to the heads during the first valve job that was done back in the 80s.  The history of these heads is unknown as these were off a junked Roadmaster with about 90,000 on it - the heads that were original to my car were cracked.  For all we know this could be the third valve job on these heads.  So we may have to go to the composite gaskets to get the piston to valve clearance up closer to guideline of .100 (although Ed has run them down as low as .050 in a sprint motor but he didn't recommend it)

 

Valve springs: With the engine assembled,  solid lifters in place and 1 intake and 1 exhaust valve open we noted that both the inner and outer valve springs were uncomfortably compressed (looked almost solid - all coils touching).  What I missed in my math was that .060 inch spring length should be left as "margin" from when the spring length as compressed with the valve open to the point when the spring binds, or goes solid with all coils touching.  (Some recommend the .060 measurement applies between each coil - we didn't apply the rule in that manner and opinions probably vary - we made sure the compressed length of the spring with valve open was within the working range of the spring).  We were seeing more like .025-.030 margin - half of what was recommended.  Spring manufacturers will provide that spec (called solid or bind point).  The Sealed Power VS527 and VS612 inner and outer valve springs application guide say they will be within their working range with a 322 and that is true provided you have the following combinations 1) a factory camshaft  and the original 1.5 ratio rocker arms (.378 lift at valve), 2) an aftermarket "stock" cam with original 1.5 rockers, (.400 lift at valve) or 3) a factory cam with 1.6 rockers (also .400 lift at valve).  But these springs measure out of spec despite the application guideline when using an aftermarket "stock" cam and 1.6 rockers (.430 lift at the valve). Why?  Because the sealed power springs bind point is 1.13 and 1.03 inches (outer/inner spring respectively) and the same Buick factory valve springs bind point at .980 inches - the Buick factory springs will compress an extra .020 to .030 and provide that extra working margin to the spring and keep the spring within its working limits - you could go up to .450 valve lift and be okay with factory springs, rockers and a high lift cam.  When looking at both springs in free length, factory spring on right, aftermarket on left,  you can see the difference. Prior to installing this difference seemed like "no big deal".  BTW - this is only an issue with the VS 612/527 spring/rocker/cam combination in the 322 where the installed valve spring height (measured with a closed valve) is 1.5 inches.  In the 364 and larger series engine, the installed spring height is 1.6 inches.  That extra .100 inch allows these springs to stay within their working limit with the 1.6 ratio factory rockers on the larger engines.  Note - we could use these springs as is but they would be outside their working limits - a slightly overstressed spring might hold up in a parade or museum car but my plan is to put another 100,000 on this iron.  Yuengling #1 drained.

 

IMG_0966.JPG

 

The first attempt to fix the problem was easy - reuse the 110,000 mile factory inner valve springs.  They'll compress further.  Easy peasey.  Watch this.  Whoops, not so fast.  Snap.

 

IMG_0967.JPG

 

Yuengling #2 drained - never even came up for air.  I scoured the Sealed Power, Crane, Comp Cams and Melling catalogs for inner/outer spring specifications that would be close to the factory seat pressure, outside diameter (to fit in the heads recess for the springs without having to mill the heads spring recesses bigger), working range of 1.5-1.6 inches installed spring length valve closed to approx 1.07 inches spring length valve open (1.5 inches installed height - .430 inches valve lift =  1.07 valve open compressed length) and a bind point less than 1 inch (1.07 min length valve open - .060 bind margin = 1.01 max bind length ).  No joy.  TAPerformance had a set for stock nailheads that gets down to .980 we needed for this setup, similar to factory spring specs and are dual springs that are the right size.  On their way.

 

 
Product ID: TA_1440
Nailhead Replacement Valve Springs

 

`59-`66, 322/364/401/425 Stock Valve Springs

I.D            0.700
O.D.          1.320
75 lbs   @ 1.600
195 lbs @ 1.100
Coil Bind   0.985

 

Next we put the light checker springs on #1 cyl intake and exhaust.  When we spun the engine, noticed that there was no margin from the top of the valve guide to the bottom of the spring retainer.  In the generic picture below 1 is the installed height and 2 is the clearance between the top of the guide and bottom of the retainer - this should be .100 when the valve is fully closed - it prevents the bottom of the retainer from hitting the top of the guide.

 

valves.jpg

 

Where we messed up was we measured distance 2 from the bottom of the valve keeper lock, not the bottom of the spring retainer when we milled the top of the guide.  We had to mill another .100 off the top of all the guides.  Even if you have a machinist do this work for you, its good to check all these parameters when you get the heads on your engine and get the valvetrain set up.  Even though Ed measured the original guides installed height and installed the new ones identically and allowed for the caclulated increased throw of a 1.6 rocker, it wasn't sufficient given the unexpected increased lift of the cam.  More lift is good, but jeese.  Can you say cam card?  Whoops. Yuengling #3 down the hatch.  Things are becoming clearer.

101_2559.JPG

 

Moving the crankshaft from about the 10:00 to 2:00 position through TDC was all that was necessary to run the valves through their overlap phase and determine the piston to valve clearance - again we did this because 1) cam base circle .040 lower than stock 2) cam lift .030 higher than stock 3) .020 milled off heads (actual from stock unknown) and 4) 1.6 vs 1.5 rockers move valves faster and farther than stock.  If you kept everything stock and didn't mess with the valvetrain geometry, you could probably pass on making this measurement.  There are a number of ways to do this.  Ours was to start the crank at the 10:00 position (use the woodruff keyway as a pointer to 10:00), zero the dial indicator at the spring retainer, press down on the valve with your finger until it hits the piston (check springs installed), record your distance, then while holding the valve against the piston, rotate the crankshaft letting the valve ride the piston until the piston pushes the valve up .010.  Let go of the valve so it snaps up, rezero the dial indicator, and push the valve back down to the piston and record that distance.  The distance between valve and piston will get progressively smaller, then start to go up again.  Do this for 1 intake and 1 exhaust valve.  Guideline is .080-.100.  My machinist has run them as low as .050 in sprint racing applications.    We may also put clay on the top of the piston and let the valve make an impression in the clay to determine the radial clearance of the valve to the circular relief in the top of the piston, but Eds thinking if we are up around .100 it will probably be fine.

 

Another bit of advise - its good to know the piston to valve clearance as if in the future you swap cams, or you decide to advance the cam (move the intake centerline from say 109 to 106) a few degrees for more low end torque, you will cause the intake valve to come closer to the piston.  Knowing your baseline helps before you make these mods.  Else you could get into trial by error.

 

One more item - theory doesn't always follow practice, while the math says we should get .430 valve lift and that number is what we are basing our machining and parts specifications on, we will probably get a little less lift when accounting for stress/errors in the system when all the pushrods and springs are in, lifter preload, any rocker arm flex etc.  Will see how it compares when all parts are installed and ready to button it up.

 

We'll still need to verify which gaskets to use, steel or composite depending on the piston to valve clearance.  We also have to see what happens to the pushrod length and the lifter preload with these changes.  Those are next steps.  If those measurements don't work out will need to get some adjustable pushrods or a different length from 56 stock size.  When thats done, we can quit checking and truly slap it together.

 

 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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Ken, how many Yuenglings and/or cuss words might have been avoided if you had stuck with the stock 1.5:1 rockers?  I may have missed it, but why did you choose to go with the 1.6:1 ratio?  Was it to increase valve lift before you discovered the 'real' specs of the cam you purchased?  (Now, if only you had received that cam card...  :unsure:)

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1 hour ago, EmTee said:

Was it to increase valve lift before you discovered the 'real' specs of the cam you purchased? 

Yep - An easy swap to get a little more valve lift and better breathing was to put later 401 rockers on a 322, should normally be a trivial bolt on and with factory spec springs and even using the "stock" aftermarket cam (vs a 401 cam) with more lift than stock. The rockers could be sent back and could put this whole thing back together keeping just the cam and springs - that thought crossed my mind.  The root of the issue is that replacement parts are compatible with a wider range of vehicles today even though some may not meet the same specs as the original factory parts, they by themselves will work even though in some cases they may reduce the factory parts design margin.  You can get away with mixing these non spec parts together if you are changing 1 or 2 items at a time (the rockers and the cam in this example) - the system (engine) can accommodate the piece part design tolerance differences.  Too many differences (the 3rd item in this example - reduced working range of the valve spring vs factory) and you have a tolerance stack issue where the out of spec design margins add up and all of the sudden something doesn't work right - the system can't accommodate it - in this case the valve springs were the limiting factor being pushed outside their working range.  

 

If you know the repro parts numbers you can figure out all the effects when it comes together in the engine in advance and avoid the rework.  Or, you can leave well enough alone, skip the customizing and put it all back the way you found it - less headaches, less learning, equal beer. :P

 

 

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Thanks, that all makes perfect sense.  "The glass half-full" analysis of your situation is that you could have blindly assembled everything and the engine would likely have seemed to run fine until you started randomly bending push rods or breaking valve springs.  Then you would either be traveling with half a valve train in your trunk next to the jack, or you'd be stripping the top end while installed in the car (much more inconvenient).  One lesson I'm taking from your experience is to make those tedious measurements!  As you noted, the older our cars get the smaller the remaining the stash of OEM/NOS parts, and we're more dependent on the aftermarket.  That leads to the 'homogenization' of parts across broader applications and the need to account for it in a rebuild plan.  Like you said, changing one thing at a time might be OK, but if you had built the engine with the 1.5 rockers and later decided to go to 1.6, you could have unintentionally gotten in trouble.  Another plus in your case is that once you're finished you'll know *exactly* what you have in that motor and can evaluate any future part replacements or performance 'tweaks' with your eyes wide open.

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Well, that thread killed an hour, but looks like a ton of diagnosis resulted in the right set of valve springs.  More importantly, it reinforced to me that there's little point to re-engineering a 1956 -322.  I'm going right out to the garage to give mine a hug.

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This all reinforces my belief that you should not take advice from a "nailhead expert" if that advice is geared to recommendation of parts he is selling.  And you should not buy parts from a "nailhead expert" without getting detailed specifications on parts like the camshaft, valve springs....

This also shows that there are lots of parts out there that 'fits 322 nailhead', but will not work in a 322 nailhead.  Your best bet is  use the best of used parts or find NORS parts that were made when these engines were contemporary....or have custom made parts.

These fantastic engines deserve better than this.  I wonder how many have cratered after rebuild and were then replaced with a SBC.

Willie

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While waiting on parts, to come in, tackled the valley pan fix.  It looked about like every other one that has been disassembled - packed solid with gunk.  Following the steps on

 

http://www.buickrestorer.com/valleycover.html

 

which also has a link to Mudbones project, its by the book.  I used a spare range hood grease filter for the mesh insert and packed it into the channel.  Remember to keep the valley cover installation bolt installed through the vent retainer cover and valley cover for good alignment BEFORE and during spot welding the vent retainer cover back in place:

 

101_2563.JPG

 

Having remembered to put the valley bolt in AFTER the vent retainer cover was thoroughly spot welded in place, and verifying with 100% certainty the bolt no longer fit through the hole, which it obviously used to, a quick pass with the drill press got everything lined up straight again. By keeping the camera slightly out of focus the quality of the mig spot welding and pop rivet operation is markedly improved.

 

The SBI inner valve springs should be here Friday and the head goes back together - part number 160-1252 (same used in Erics 322).  A Melling part number VS2203 will also work well (about same net seat and open pressure as factory if VS612 is used for an outer).

 

http://omnitek.co/mellingcatalog/#ag/part/VS-2203

http://www.sbi-e-catalog.com/PartDetail.aspx?PartNumber=160-1252&PartType=Valve Springs

 

I succumbed to getting adjustable push rods just in case - that way if they are needed they are here and don't have to wait another week to get parts.  Am getting anxious to get this thing back together before I loose something. I am not sure how folks can take a car apart for a couple of years and still have the wherewithal to know how everything goes back together so darn well.  :)

 

Knowing what we know now, some recommendations would be

 

1) to choose a design point that will support a .450 - .500 valve lift - more than you might ever need, then rockers or camshafts can be confidently upgraded in the future without interference, spring bind, or rocker breakage concerns. If you are having a machinist do your work and replacing a factory cam be aware of the potential for extra lift of aftermarket camshafts and advise the machinist so correct valve springs and valve guide installed height can be established.  We learned reinstalling the guides at the identical height the factory used carrys a risk of rework depending on the aftermarket cam/rocker combination you get and the resulting valve lift exceeding what the factory cam provided.  2) Make sure the valve spring bind point for springs chosen is under an inch for inner and outer springs and 3) consider setting the valve guides .750 installed height in the head to allow for future "growth" and still provide .100 of retainer/guide contact margin.

 

The other thing we discussed for "next time" was taking a piston to valve clearance measurement before taking the engine apart and comparing that to a .060-.100 PTV guideline.  That would give some insight as to how much cleanup a head could tolerate and also provide some insight as to if the head was worked on or milled previously.

 

Last thing for today was to clean up the exhaust manifolds.  Time to start painting piece parts.

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11 hours ago, KAD36 said:

Having remembered to put the valley bolt in AFTER the vent retainer cover was thoroughly spot welded in place, and verifying with 100% certainty the bolt no longer fit through the hole, which it obviously used to, a quick pass with the drill press got everything lined up straight again. By keeping the camera slightly out of focus the quality of the mig spot welding and pop rivet operation is markedly improved.

Good grief man,,  you're killin me!!  :D:D

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4 minutes ago, First Born said:

Think I will stick with the Straight Eight!!

 

  Ben

That sounds like another fun adventure!  To me it still looks harder to take some of these vehicles with no floors or quarter panels, brace the body and put it all back together, make the creases fit, lay down glass paint.  That level of talent and perseverance is impressive.

 

If this is even a hint at what blueprinting an engine is like it must require infinite patience. 

 

Not giving up on Allentown with this engine yet.  These parts are just going to leap together in no time.  I can feel it......  might be painting it in the parking lot :)

 

 

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It's true.  After market parts are mixed and matched.  My 264 has 56 push rods and lifters.  I compared 54 push rods with what was in my rebuilt 54 264.  The rods are much shorter than what was run in 54.  The lifters are shallow pocket.     As Willie put it, if the geometry works it will run.      

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SUCCESS! :) Much more exact in height to factory, 20 lbs more seat pressure.  Factory inner valve spring on right, replacement SBI inner valve spring on left:

IMG_0974.JPG

 

Compare to the left pair of inner valve springs below, Buick factory spring on left, VS527 Sealed Power spring on right.  That height difference will not be a factor if you are running all factory parts or if you only install most "stock" aftermarket cams that run slightly higher lift.  If you choose a "stock" cam with inherent higher lift and upgrade the rockers, or put a high lift performance cam in, this need to be paid attention to.  The height difference of the VS512 is what causes it to bind at 1.13 inches, vs the factory and SBI spring binding at .980 inches.  Translation: the SBI and Buick factory springs can tolerate a high lift cam, the VS512 cannot - only stock.

 

IMG_0966.JPG

 

So - with that one behind us, heads are all assembled - tomorrow we should have the assembly of all major components complete and installed on the engine and turn it over again.  After that will come checking lifter preload, loading up and hauling the engine back to the house, doing a prelube, and painting.  Am trying to decide if its worth making a quick and dirty engine stand or dropping it in the car and go for it.

 

Anyone have a diagram of the basics to hook up a primary and secondary electrical circuit to run the engine out of the car?  Assume don't need a generator or regulator, but would need a switch, starter solenoid, battery, what else?

 

 

 

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Personally, I'd hate to risk screwing up my brand-new engine on my homemade hardware store engine stand...  Given the time and effort you have invested I would consider finding someone with an engine dyno in your area.  That would allow for a proper break-in (especially considering all of the valve train tribulations you have been through).  I'd at least get the cost/availability info to add to the trade-study (home made stand vs. dyno session vs. "go for it").  Of course I have no idea what a couple hours of dyno time would even cost...  :huh:

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My opinion for this situation is put it in and go for it.

 

You're two weeks away from Allentown.  With such a narrow window if something is wrong, then you don't have enough time to fix it by then.  If nothing is wrong but you invest another few days finding a Dyno for run it, you may not have enough time to put it back together for Allentown.  If something is not right you have plenty of time after Allentown to pull it apart again.

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I never used a run stand like Mudbone, but did run one on a bare frame with all the drivetrain installed.  It is hard to keep them cool with just a box fan.  I always fill with oil, turn the oil pump with a drill to show there is good oil pressure and oil  at the rockers.  Then I install a distributor and starter and turn it over with the plugs out, checking for abnormal rotation, noises and compression on all cylinders.  Clean, paint and install.  Start if and run without coolant for 10 seconds and add coolant if ok and start again for break in procedure.  If there is a serious problem in the first 10 seconds then you don't have coolant to deal with during tear down.  Also the heat expansion of the cylinder head will better seal the head gasket.

Willie

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