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How much shaft wear is too much for basically stock 322?


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Posted (edited)

Still reviving this engine that's been sitting, decided to check out the rocker shafts since they're known for getting sludgy and not dripping like they're supposed to, most rockers moved smooth but a few had some tight spots, the pics are after doing a sand job with 600 then 1500, one side has twice the wear of the other with noticeable ridges down the length.

The question, for a basically stock older rebuild with an "rv" cam, what are my concerns if any?, will this be fine just smoothing and cleaning and running it or will it throw the timing off somehow or something else? All the valves seem to move pretty good from the top, comp. check came up consistent, rocker arms show what I would think as usual wear. One of the aluminum stands has a crack at the top so I guess I'll need one of those. Can these shafts be turned down slightly and still be serviceable? what's the best way to knock off the ridges or just get new shafts? Thanks fellas

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Edited by jw1955buick (see edit history)
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That’s what I had hoped but I’m also the guy that can’t put a rusty bolt back on to something without cleaning it up 

What’s the best way to clean these pretty smooth with basic hand operated tools?

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It might be best to reassemble everything just as it was after cleaning. Usually the wear is on one side of the rocker arm so you want to keep that the same with the arms all back in their original positions. I have never replaced any shafts with new ones. Good used ones where always available. I have good good sets of spares now. But I bet I have had them for over 20 years, not so easy to find now.

There is no valve adjustment. Too much wear will cause lifter noise. And a lot of lifters have been changed due to worn shafts. That RV type cam is something you may want to check the profile dimensions on. Be sure the radius matches the Buick original or you may be chasing valve noise.

If it was mine I would reassemble it and be happy if it is quiet. They are not hard to change so if you do get noise you can always watch for new shafts (or have a couple made) or a good used set just in case.

Our Buick nailheads operate the valves at some tough angles. Be sure to check all your valves for wobble in their guides.

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Thanks all for the wisdom, after taking a good long look at these and knowing how these grooves will haunt me, I bought new from caRs

The insides of the rockers look good, now the aluminum stands have some dark spots but they're stationary anyway

 

Is the shaft supposed to be able to wiggle or flex even a tiny bit when bolted down? didn't know if there's a certain amount of "play" built into the design after studying those large, through stand bolt holes.

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Posted (edited)

Thinking about it there probably is minimal movement to allow oil to work it's way though the shaft supports and shaft. The key here is installing the shafts in the correct position as shown in the manual. As a side note the aluminum shaft supports expand with heat from the combustion process. In theory the shaft should have less movement in the shaft supports as they warm.

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

Update, I read the manual and there are no specific instructions on installing the rocker assembly, when I set it on, the pushrods are holding part of it in the air as you install the bolts, I figured the springs would take up the “give” as I lined everything up and tightened the bolts, apparently I was incorrect and now I have five bent pushrods 

 

Whats the proper procedure for doing this? What am I doing wrong here?

 I can’t figure this out.

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I verified movement of all parts before taking off the shaft assembly for inspection, it’s possible they were already bent but again, as I re-installed the new shafts, when you line up the rods to the tips and torque it down, you’re kinda crushing the rods and everything together to get to torque 

 

I must be doing this the wrong way, how would you add the push rods after the shaft assembly for example? Spring compressor maybe to be able to have slack in the rocker arm, then slide the push rod in? Again, I have no idea 

 

this sat for seven years, it’s possible that I bent them when I first turned the engine over to revive it, I just discovered the bent rods after pulling the manifold and valley cover to do some cleaning, painting, new gaskets, the engine has run rough this entire time 

Edited by jw1955buick (see edit history)
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If the valves were stuck, they are no longer, all appears good when rotated by hand as far as eyeballing 

 

no information if the parts are correct for this year or not and I wouldn’t know how to tell, all the stands have little rectangular brass shims under them 

 

My original question, did I install the shaft assembly right as far as procedure? Going to order all new rods from Fusick, now I’m wondering if I should tear it down even more, checking the lifters, springs for who knows what 

 

Info on the engine: it came from a ‘55 super, had a budget rebuild with an RV cam, I have no other information such as new lifters with the cam or any of that

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2 hours ago, jw1955buick said:

If the valves were stuck, they are no longer, all appears good when rotated by hand as far as eyeballing 

 

no information if the parts are correct for this year or not and I wouldn’t know how to tell, all the stands have little rectangular brass shims under them 

 

My original question, did I install the shaft assembly right as far as procedure? Going to order all new rods from Fusick, now I’m wondering if I should tear it down even more, checking the lifters, springs for who knows what 

 

Info on the engine: it came from a ‘55 super, had a budget rebuild with an RV cam, I have no other information such as new lifters with the cam or any of that

 

The rocker shaft is simply bolted on and torqued to 40lb if I remember correctly. Nothing special.    Now, there are two types of lifter and rods.  Deep pocket lifter and long rods(54-55).  Shallow pocket lifter and short rods(56-?).  Mix match these and it is a problem.   In other words, my 54 originally had deep pocket lifters and long rods.  The rebuild I found(after taking it apart) there was shallow pocket lifters and shorter rods as found in the 56. Anyway, I ordered lifters and rods for the 56 engine application.  Slipped them in and bolted on the rocker shafts.  If this was my engine and I verified all the valves are moving I would order a match set of rods and lifters.     Now, some will say the cam will go south if you install just the lifters and rods.   Mine did not.  Knock on wood.  If you go this route apply rebuild grease on the lifters and rods where they ride each other.  When you start the engine run it up to about 1500 rpm for about 15 minutes.  The cam will take it and allow the lifters to settling in or the cam will not cooperate and go south.  This is a chance/risk I took that worked out for me.  I'm just a risk taker is all. I drive old Buicks.       

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, jw1955buick said:

Going to order all new rods from Fusick, now I’m wondering if I should tear it down even more, checking the lifters, springs for who knows what 

 

Info on the engine: it came from a ‘55 super, had a budget rebuild with an RV cam, I have no other information such as new lifters with the cam or any of that

Yep, some disassembly required:  remove intake and valley cover and show us your valve lifters and pushrods and  measure the pushrods.  Look closely at the inner valve springs to be sure there is no spring bind.  Do this before ordering so you know what to get.

Edited by old-tank (see edit history)
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Hopefully these are correct lifters for this engine, they all match and appear to be in decent shape, I haven't done any kind of tests on them as I've never done that before, push rods are all the same for what that's worth, the springs don't look funny from what I can tell, they look consistent and mostly straight up and down, valve tips look worn evenly, nothing that I can find unusual, possibly the cam is a little more than the stock valve train bargained for, I don't know

 

Looking on other forums, adjustable pushrods are mentioned and I think available by Centerville for even the oldest of nailheads but those are all hot rod dudes so I don't know, seems to me with the unknown cam stuff going on, that might be an avenue to provide a bridge btwn old and new. 

What are the differences btwn '55 and '56 lifters and pushrods??

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1 hour ago, jw1955buick said:

What are the differences btwn '55 and '56 lifters and pushrods??

 

See below:

4 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

 

The rocker shaft is simply bolted on and torqued to 40lb if I remember correctly. Nothing special.    Now, there are two types of lifter and rods.  Deep pocket lifter and long rods(54-55).  Shallow pocket lifter and short rods(56-?).  Mix match these and it is a problem.   In other words, my 54 originally had deep pocket lifters and long rods.  The rebuild I found(after taking it apart) there was shallow pocket lifters and shorter rods as found in the 56. Anyway, I ordered lifters and rods for the 56 engine application.  Slipped them in and bolted on the rocker shafts.  If this was my engine and I verified all the valves are moving I would order a match set of rods and lifters.     Now, some will say the cam will go south if you install just the lifters and rods.   Mine did not.  Knock on wood.  If you go this route apply rebuild grease on the lifters and rods where they ride each other.  When you start the engine run it up to about 1500 rpm for about 15 minutes.  The cam will take it and allow the lifters to settling in or the cam will not cooperate and go south.  This is a chance/risk I took that worked out for me.  I'm just a risk taker is all. I drive old Buicks.       

 

From your pictures and measurements, you have 55 lifters and pushrods.

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1 hour ago, jw1955buick said:

Hopefully these are correct lifters for this engine, they all match and appear to be in decent shape, I haven't done any kind of tests on them as I've never done that before, push rods are all the same for what that's worth, the springs don't look funny from what I can tell, they look consistent and mostly straight up and down, valve tips look worn evenly, nothing that I can find unusual, possibly the cam is a little more than the stock valve train bargained for, I don't know

 

Looking on other forums, adjustable pushrods are mentioned and I think available by Centerville for even the oldest of nailheads but those are all hot rod dudes so I don't know, seems to me with the unknown cam stuff going on, that might be an avenue to provide a bridge btwn old and new. 

What are the differences btwn '55 and '56 lifters and pushrods??

Either lifters for a 54-55 or a 56-? will work in your engine only if the correct push rod is used.  I concur with Willie. You have 55 lifters and push rods. Get push rods for a 55.  Install and then hand crank the engine over several times to assure the valve train is moving freely. 

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image.jpeg.1f2bedb8c291550a6cd07fd60e394552.jpeg
 

Cool shop towels…appropriate for the job? 🤣

 

x2 on 55 AVGs pushrod advice

 

The adjustables will compensate for rocker arm wear, milled heads, etc etc so you can get a good consistent preload on the lifters and they stay quiet at all temperatures.  They are more expensive but IMO are not really necessary if you’re already replacing badly worn valve train parts.  Visually check the lifter preload when you have it bolted all together and then you can decide if more accurate measurements or different parts are needed.  Mind Bernies advice on the cam - the base diameter compared to stock isn’t known - so when the lifter is sitting on the base circle (valve closed) while the valve train is all bolted together, if you can still wiggle the pushrod up and down something is needed to take up that slack caused from component wear (assuming no one milled the heads down).  If there’s slop either new rocker arm, shaft, pushrod or you’ll have to go adjustable to get the preload on the lifter plunger and get rid of the slop to avoid the valve train noise.  Personally I have kept “best of the parts” and only replaced a handful of worn components as required and gotten the stock setup to work fine for many 10s of thousands of miles.  FWIW Engine 3 in my car has all new parts in it with adjustables, the other configurations worked successfully same as Chris on the prior 2 engines.

 

Remember to observe compression of the valve springs so they don’t bind at max lift since we don’t know the specs of the cam. 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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Well...Hit a big snag, the rods I received from Fusick are very different, they're about 3/16 longer, have no oil holes in the ends and are much thicker in the middle, the head is perfectly round where mine is more like a dish.

 

I ordered part # PR48004 for 53 to 55 322 and 264, called them and they said it's correct for the application and didn't know what to tell me. Now I have to somehow confirm exactly what I have and hopefully find them someplace, now back to the UPS store which I just can't stand to do.

 

I sent an email to Fusick detailing the issue and asked if they could provide the specs of the '56 push rods, does anyone have a picture and the details of a '56 push rod??

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Edited by jw1955buick (see edit history)
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53,54,55 have steel cams and compatible lifters. 56 cams are cast and have compatible lifters. The 53,54,55 pushrods are longer than the 56 but the top of the lifter has a deeper recess, so the overall length is the same and can be swapped if you use 53,54,55 lifters and 53,54,55 pushrods; and use 56 lifter and 56 pushrods.
According to my calculations, using all nominal dimensions, here is what I came up with when I measured my OE 1955 Buick V8 parts. 1953-1955 Buick V8 push rods and valve lifters should be the same.

8.375” (length of 1953-1955 push rod)
- 0.375” (length of 1953-1955 push rod that is recessed into the top of the 1953-1955 valve lifter)
+ 2.000” (length of 1953-1955 valve lifter)
10.000” TOTAL overall assembled length

If the 10” TOTAL is the same using a 1956 push rod with a 1956 valve lifter, here is what you should have. I do not have any 1956 parts to verify these dimensions.
8.250” (length of 1956 push rod)
- 0.250” (length of 1956 push rod that is recessed into the top of the 1956 valve lifter)
+2.000” (length of 1956 valve lifter)
10.000” TOTAL overall assembled length
Some suppliers list the same lifter for all 322 and 264 engines and that is wrong.
If you need a new cam and lifters, so just get the 56 ones that are much cheaper than 53,54,55 also the supplied cams are all cast 

 

I may have led you astray.  I read the length of your pushrods as 8 3/8 instead of 8 3/16, so your original pushrods are closer 56, but the lifters appear to be 55 (?)

The replacement pushrods that are larger diameter shaft and the ball on the end are the way replacements are made and will work just fine if correct.

One more thing:  what is the engine number?

(who knows what was changed/substituted in the past years ---what a cluster)

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7 minutes ago, old-tank said:

So what is a 55 doing with original 56 pushrods...need engine number.

 

Thinking there has been a engine swap? This how I figured out the rebuilt 54 engine in mine has 56 rods and lifters. New parts for a 54 did not match what I was pulling out. 

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There's no telling with this thing, it was pulled from a '55 super, I ran the numbers a year ago when I got it and it checked out for that year and model, a local old car guy rebuilt it and he was not known for his quality, just his price.

 

Is there a way to look at the cam and tell if it's cast or steel down in there? Between the lobes maybe? 

 

At least it seems like an easy fix

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7 hours ago, jw1955buick said:

There's no telling with this thing, it was pulled from a '55 super, I ran the numbers a year ago when I got it and it checked out for that year and model, a local old car guy rebuilt it and he was not known for his quality, just his price.

 

Is there a way to look at the cam and tell if it's cast or steel down in there? Between the lobes maybe? 

 

At least it seems like an easy fix

 

 

I suspect he got the 56 and later push rods and lifters. It appears rebuild kits use 56 and later rods/lifters.   That what occurred with my 54 that was rebuilt. I would take a guess your cam was replaced at the same time. Anyway, I had my heads rebuilt and installed new 56 rods and lifters.  I did not replace the cam. Worked out just fine. The cam was not wiped.  Is there any paint marks on your cam? 

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The 55 and 56 cams are identified with 0, 1 or 2 grooves behind the 3rd journal within that given year and you should be able to see that feature with the valley cover off. I don’t recall an obvious part number stamped on it, would have to dig in the garage and look.  .  If it’s an RV cam it’s likely a Melling SBC type blank for a 364/401 milled to fit the 322 cam journals and with some franken-profile on it and my recollection is those will have the melling part number cast into it.  That might be visible when you rotate it.  Just sharing the observation on installing all 3 variations - the melling version sold by a vendor had no specs and it’s profile had to be figured out dialing it in from scratch, same with the 55/56..  Unless there’s another good way to tell the difference between 54/55 and 56 cams without instrumenting and measuring the profiles? 

 

Is getting all new 56 lifters and pushrods an option, albeit overkill, to be sure of consistency?  Wouldn't have to worry about cleaning or sticking 55 lifters.  Or go with the “equivalent assembled length” of a 55 after measuring up your parts.  FWIW a 56 setup also ran many many thousands of miles on my used 55 cam, and if there really is an RV type cam in there the 56 lifters would be fine.

 

 

 

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I would think the findings of 56 rods and lifters that the cam(56) was replaced at the same time.   I do have a picture of the replacement cam for my rebuilt  54.  No marking other then red paint running the circumference of the some parts of the cam.  Anyway, the 56 rods in my 54 were straight and I reused them.  I did replace all lifters with new 56 lifters knowing I had 56 rods.  The cam was not replaced.  Cam survived the first run up and continues to run fine today.   

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Ok, this still does not explain the bent pushrods.  There may be more mistakes from the guy that built the engine.

Improper cylinder head setting can cause that:

 

Valve stem height

1.525 to 1.550 measured (in inches) from valve cover rail to valve stem tip.


valve stem clearance in guide:
0.0025 inlet
0.0030 exhaust

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1 hour ago, old-tank said:

Ok, this still does not explain the bent pushrods.  There may be more mistakes from the guy that built the engine.

Improper cylinder head setting can cause that:

 

Valve stem height

1.525 to 1.550 measured (in inches) from valve cover rail to valve stem tip.


valve stem clearance in guide:
0.0025 inlet
0.0030 exhaust

 

 

I'm still of mind a valve(s) is stuck or initially stuck, bent a rod or two, and freed up.  Although JW1955 states these are all moving.   

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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Some beginner mistakes were made by me, I’m pretty sure, looking back, knowing this sat for 7 years, I should’ve pulled the valve covers, lubed everything up and pop each valve with a mallet to make sure it moved before turning it over, the learning curve has been steeeep and unforgiving 

 

the oil looked brand new so I grabbed the fan and starting turning, then tried to start it, I’ve learned a lot since then, since I got it running, it’s always been rough with erratic compression readings so I think I bent these rods or they were already for some reason 

 

I’m not really sure how to tell if a spring is binding, I guess I don’t know what that would look like on this engine, all I know to do is measure each stem top, at the top and bottom of it’s travel and compare, I guess when the valve is completely seated, that should be a standard measurement regardless of cam, hoping they just come in equal meaning the valve job was decent, if it’s a high lift cam, then the compressed measurement would seem to be the wildcard, are my ideas correct on this? Then again, I’m just looking for uniformity to confirm that they’re opening the same amount because cam specs are unknown and it’s pretty much all I can do, does that seem right?

Edited by jw1955buick (see edit history)
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Yeah, waking a sleeping motor requires some oil and poking around.  Also, bad gas(from sitting so long) will gum up valves sometimes.   Take off the rocker assembly and run a straight edge across the top of the valve spring assemblies.  Check if any are lower then the others.  What do you find?  All up or some up and others down?   

 

IMO, the cam is the least of your worries.  You pulled rods that are for a 56.  The lifters should also be for a 56.   The cam is probably also 56 specs.   

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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Photos back from the crime lab, you can clearly make out CWC on one section then 8-57 on another and a number 2 on yet another section, put a straight edge over the valve tips, most are even then a few are 1/32 off and one or two are 1/16 lower, very random but that doesn't seem too alarming to me, idk, hit each one with a mallet and they all seem to pop back up with about the same spring rate, nothing looks crooked.

 

I'm worried about installing the new rods then when trying to tighten down the shafts, I have to crush them down with the shaft bolts again and I'm right back where I started, there's one brass shim under each stand, does this sound like what it should normally have?

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1 hour ago, jw1955buick said:

there's one brass shim under each stand, does this sound like what it should normally have?

Never have I seen or used shims under the stands.  Maybe it is a compensation for the cam profile.  Compared to stock, it does appear to have a high lift and short duration.  Maybe @KAD36 will chime in and show you how to degree the cam.

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What I did after installing the heads, rods, lifters and rocker assembly was rotate the engine by hand at the crankshaft bolt. I did this several times to assure no valves were being struck by a piston.  I too was in a crap shoot with my 54.  The engine turned without issue...after I took the manual gear out of gear....a story for another time....and I was confident the entire assembly would work as designed when started.  As a side note, the rockers will start to compress some valves as you tighten down the caps that hold the assembly in.   Some of the cam lobs are up and pushing the rods into the pocket of the rocker arms. 

 

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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