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Lifter help


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Hello folks

As posted previously I think I have a stuck lifter in my 63 Buick Electra engine.  After some listening and reviewing the factory manual etc I'm pretty sure that's what I'm hearing.

Anyone have tips on how to identify which lifter is /are bad ? 



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Remove the valve cover and use something (e.g., wooden dowel, butt of a wooden hammer handle, etc.) to push on the tip of the rocker arm at the valve stem as the engine idles.  Identify any that stop tapping (i.e., become quiet) when you take-up the lash.

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Get or make a mechanic stethoscope.  Then listen on top of the valve covers to decide which side the problem is on, then listen on top of each rocker to hone in. 


A stethoscope can be a long screwdriver.  You hold the handle against your ear and place the blade where you want to listen

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Thanks guys.  I'll give these suggestions a shot.

I've tried the Rislone treatment but no improvement.  I also tried the suggestion in the manual of rapping on the rocker arm ends. That seemed to quieten it temporarily but it came back. Now I'm second guessing myself if the rap with the rubber hammer did in fact quieten it or not ... Of course I guess the cam could be rubbed...

Once I identify the lifter that's stuck is it fairly straightforward to remove, inspect and clean it ?

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Noises can be flaky to discern where they are coming from.  I would suspect that if a lifter is sticking, the engine would have less power under load, as the valve is not moving open as much.  Which could mean that rather than worry about noises (especially valve train "ticks"!), putting the transmission in gear, loading the engine against a firmly-applied foot brake, then watching the rpm on a tach with each consistent application of accel pedal, to determine which cyl or cyls are not contributing their fair amount, by lesser rpm drop when the plug wire is unhooked from the particular cylinder.  A shade tree method of doing a "cylinder balance test".


At the "valve end" of things, rather than the lifter, you are checking the valve guide to valve stem clearance, which can also cause a ticking.   If the valve lifter has restricted movement, then I would suspect the pushrod would not be moving quite so much?  Generally, when the valve guides start to wear, valve stem seal-related oil consumption can increase as can the probability of a "burnt valve" from such wear.


If you are seeking to clean things up, do one oil change with Mobil1 synthetic motor oil.  Remember "esters" from high school chemistry?  They also dissolve sludge in motors.  Mobil1 apparently has those chemicals in their motor oil, according to GM.  Might be worth a try.  Agreed, NONE of the engine cleaner-uppers will work immediately, but over several thousand miles.  


I used to use the old Stewart-Warner CD-2 cleaner additive in the 1970s, on a car or so that I bought.  With a fresh oil change, I'd add one pint can.  When the oil got low the first time, another 1 pint can.  Then when the oil got low again, I'd change the oil and the rocker shafts were very clean (when viewed through the oil filler hole).  A pint of Berryman's B-12 would probably have worked, too, being that it's basically a varnish remover.


In the mean time, drive the car and enjoy it.  Things like "ticks" might be a part of the character of an older vehicle, but it might possibly take some refreshed machine work to really get rid of it.


Happy Holidays!


Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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29 minutes ago, Electra63 said:


Thanks for the additional information.

Indeed I've been ignoring the tick and enjoying driving the car. 

I'm just concerned whether it could cause further issues if I leave it as is for the longer term 

Happy Holidays to you too !

As a side note, a small exhaust leak between the head and exhaust manifold will mimic a tapping valve.  Purchase a stethoscope at the auto parts store. These do work well in hearing tapping, grinding and any other sounds that are probably expensive to repair. 

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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