Engine Lifter Replacement 101 (+pics)

Discussion in '1994 - 1995 Specific Tech' started by joetrainer31, May 25, 2013.

  1. For those of us who enjoy and benefit from pictures more than a manual I hope these are helpful when replacing your lifters.
    image.jpg BEFORE
    image.jpg AFTER

    image.jpg After removing the upper intake manifold you will be greeted by a filthy dirty lower intake manifold. During the process of removing wires, parts, and hoses it is a good idea to tag each item & its connecting point. The upper/lower gasket may be brittle (like mine) so be careful not to let and pieces fall into the combustion chambers.

    image.jpg Before you begin the lifter R&R job be sure to let your new lifters soak in new oil for at least 3 days. This is a sure way to remove all air from the lifter, have them full of oil, and greatly reduce the chance of damaging them upon installation. However, it should be noted the use of your wife's tupperware container for said lifter oil bath could be hazardous to one's health. I do not recommend it.

    image.jpg After removing the plumbing for the cooling system (black tube), all sensors (now is the time to replace them), fuel rails (need a special tool), and fuel injectors make sure you clean the gasket surfaces. To clean the surfaces as to better insure a leak free installation first spray the old gasket remnants with brake/parts cleaner, lightly scrap them with a hand held scraper, use a razor blade for smaller more stubborn pieces. Next, spray the surface again, then LIGHTLY use 320-400 grit sand paper. After all the remnants are gone wipe the surface throughly with acetone, then a clean paper towel or cloth. NOTE that the ends of the manifold may still have discoloration after the cleaning process. This is fine as long as the surface feels as smooth as glass to the touch.

    image.jpg Make sure that when you remove the lower intake manifold that you immediately cover the engine galley with a cloth and plug the intake ports with rags or shop towels. To clean the head surface repeat the steps for the intake manifold above. Note that a vacuum is advisable in order to keep gasket remnants and other debris out of the engine. You can clean with one hand and hold the vacuum with the other if alone, or have a friend hold the vacuum if you are blessed enough to have help. This will be a slower process due to the location of the head's surface (in the engine bay). Be patient, don't rush, do it right the first time, and don't forget to give the front and rear of the block the same treatment. Those two areas are critical to get cleaned. Also do not forget to plug the distributor hole if you have removed the distributor (make sure to mark a block to distributor reference and a rotor to distributor housing reference BEFORE removing the distributor).

    image.jpg Make sure you research your rocker arm type & installation specifics before you start the project (mine were simple bolt down pedestal roller rockers). Remove your valve covers, and clean the gasket surfaces as noted above.

    image.jpg It is CRITICAL that you remove the rocker arms & pushrods and immediately store them in the exact orientation and position as they were in the motor. The valve train wears together, don't mix cylinders (i.e. rockers from C2 with C7). Take the time now to inspect your pushrods. Make sure you can clearly see through the hole in the middle of them. Make sure that you roll 2 at a time together on a clean flat surface to check for warpage. If the 2 will not roll together (fwd & bkwd) because one pushrod is unable to roll correctly then you have a bent pushrod. If you find one bent pushrod then replace all the pushrods now while everything is apart. Note that you must be mindful through this testing to retain the original orientation and cylinder order of the pushrods. If you are buying new ones then it doesn't matter, but you must also check new pushrods in the same manner. Defective pushrods are not unheard of.

    image.jpg While you are at it, and if you have pedestal rockers like I do, be sure to check the pedestals. Pay attention to small details. For example, I found that almost all of my pedestals had small cracks running down the side of them (pictured). These pedestals are in the process of failing either from age or from King Kong who ignored proper torque specs when installing. If even one shows a minor crack replace them all. They are only $13 on Amazon and it will save you a catastrophic engine failure. Note: speaking of torque specs, make sure you consult the manufacturer for the correct torque specs for your rocker arms. This is critical in order to have a properly running valve train.

    image.jpg The new pedestals for $13 on Amazon

    I've run out of allowed space. I continue in a response to myself below...
  2. Next...

    image.jpg With all gasket surfaces cleaned, and valve train inspected you may begin removing the old lifters. This can usually be done without removing the heads. Begin by removing the "spider" retainer, then the lifter retainers (shaped like a dog bone). Note the word "up" stamped on the lifter retainers. They must be replaced with that word facing up. Unlike the rocker arms & pushrods the retainers need not be kept in the same orientation or position. Now you are free to remove the lifters (tip: a pocket magnet may be useful in this process). After the lifters, retainers, and spider retainer have been remove be sure to wipe out any debris that may have fallen into the engine galley during the intake and valve cover remove process. Keep things clean!

    image.jpg After installing the new lifters which have been soaking in oil for at least 3 days you may reinstall the pushrods and rocker arms back into their original positions. At this point you will be beginning the critical procedure of adjusting the valve train.
    Your mustang must have its valve lash set to ZERO. If you do not understand what those terms mean don't worry. You will be walked through it.

    You should avail yourself of a mustang firing order and cylinder number chart if you do not have one (for reference). To start adjusting the valve train correctly the first time you must first find "top dead center" for cylinder number one (the front cylinder on the passenger side). To do this you will need to attach a breaker bar or ratchet (with socket) to the center bolt of your crankshaft pulley. You must then rotate the engine in a clockwise (to the right) fashion in order to find top dead center of cylinder 1. To aide in the ease of this process it is advisable that you remove all spark plugs as well as the drive belt from the engine (also, make sure the vehicle is not in gear).

    Next, you will rotate the engine slowly by hand (this should be almost effortless) until the lifter on the intake side (the closest on to the front of the engine on cyl #1) is setting in its casting as low as it can, and the same for the lifter on the exhaust side (the one to the immediate left of the intake).

    When both of these lifters are as low as they can go in the casting port you have achieved top dead center. NOTE: do not trust the lifters to go down on their own. You must push on them to make sure they have seated as far down as possible. NOTE: If you go past top dead center and the lifters start to rise again it is okay to reverse the engine rotation to achieve top dead center. NEXT, if you have lifters like mine, and if you have checked for top dead center, you will eyeball the rocker arm to make sure its roller tip is sitting square in the middle of the valve's head (surface). When this is so, you will begin to tighten the bolt until it snugs while holding the rocker arm in place. NEXT, you will torque the rocker arm's bolt to the manufacturer's specified torque rating (do NOT over torque).

    Next, review the engines firing order and go to the next cylinder in line of the order. This method will save much time & energy rather than simply going to the cylinder directly adjacent to #1 (i.e. instead of going from cyl 1 to cyl 2, check the firing order and go to the one that will fire next. It will already be close to top dead center). After you have adjusted cylinder #1 wait 5 minutes before moving to the next cylinder in the firing order and repeat this rest for all 8 cylinders making sure to push on the lifters in order to observe their correct height). If you have my style lifters and you follow these instructions carefully you will have flawless valve train operation the first time!

    Next, reinstall all parts that were removed from the lower intake manifold taking time to observe anything that needs replacement. When reinstalling the lower intake manifold use a quality gasket such as Fel Pro 1250. NOTE: The water ports on this gasket will need to be trimmed to fit. NOTE: make of buy 4 guides for reinstalling the lower intake. Place 1 guide in each corner of the engine block. Next, outline the head surface where the gasket will go with black RTV. Next, spray the front and rear gasket surface of the block with adhesive and let set per directions. Next, put a dab of black RTV in each of the 4 corners of the block where the intake will set. Next, place the cork gasket firmly & squarely on the front & rear of the engine block & run a thin bead of RTV of the top of each. Next, place the gasket on each head (this will be a messy job). Align the side gaskets with the notch in the front & rear gaskets (feel free to dry run this on a bench first so that you know what to look for). After the gaskets are matched up (you may need to bend the head gasket tabs out of the way, then back), apply another thin bead of RTV in each of the 4 corners making a gasket/RTV sandwich. Next, set the lower intake down on the block using the 4 guides to well, guide you. After the manifold is down install all its CLEANED OFF bolts WITH BLUE THREAD LOCKER into their mounting positions HAND TIGHT ONLY. Remove the 4 guides and replace with the mounting bolts like the others.
    Next, work quickly & carefully to torque the intake's bolts in the specified pattern (in a repair manual) working up to the final/highest torque setting in 4 not 3 steps. When you are torquing the bolts and the torque wrench clicks, STOP. DO NOT click it again. Do this for 3 passes. Then, on the last and highest torque pass (25ft lbs), feel free to let the wrench click 2-3 times in order to make sure your torque setting is correct. Next, and this is BIG. Wait 5-10 minutes then go over each bolt in sequence at the highest torque setting (25ft lbs) once more. Within that time frame the manifold will have settled and will need to be torqued once more. NOTE: This will eliminate the need to re-torque the manifold when it is warm as some people advise. NOTE: when you install a new BALANCED thermostat (no lower than 180) make sure to drill a SMALL hole in the 12 o'clock position of the stat so that it is easy for the system to burp itself when refilling the coolant. If you follow these instructions exactly you will have a leakless install the first time.

    Next, reinstall the valve covers with a QUALITY rubber gasket with a metal insert. Spend the money on these so that you have a leakless install the first time. It is also important that you follow the correct torque sequence and specs. After you have reinstalled the valve covers to the proper torque specs wait 5-10 minutes as with the intake, and then re-torque in the specified sequence and ft lbs rating. This will effectively seal your valve covers. They will not leak.
    Next, reinstall the distributor while paying carful attention to the marks you made. This can take several tries. Have patience and dont forget to replace the rubber o-ring on the distributor while it is out of the car. If you install the distributor back in the same position you removed it from you will not need to retime the vehicle.
    Lastly, and before you install the upper manifold. Test for possible fuel leaks. To do this, reconnect the battery, and turn the ignition key to the on position so that you hear the fuel pump work (you are not trying to start the car, just letting the pump pressurize the system). Do this 5-6 times letting the pump pressurize the system for about 5 seconds each turn. Next, go out and inspect the injectors visually. Look for leaks. Also, smell for raw gas. If you have cleaned the injector ports, serviced each injector, oiled the o-rings on each injector BEFORE installation, and tightened the fuel rail securely to the lower intake manifold, you should have no leaks.

    image.jpg Next, reinstall the upper intake manifold and all appropriate hoses, tubes, wires, springs, etc. NOTE: this is critical. Do not, I repeat do not follow the torque specs for the upper intake manifold. Follow the sequence, but NOT the specs. If you attempt to tighten the upper manifold more than you would tighten a spark plug in an aluminum head, you WILL strip the lower intake. If this happens you will need to remove the entire lower intake, re-clean all gasket surfaces, buy a new used lower intake or helicoil your old one, bang head against wall, and begin the process again. Hand tighten only if you want it to install right and leak free the first time.

    image.jpg Replace any components that are in need (for me it was the original 1995 ignition system and various vacuum lines), reinstall the strut tower brace, and change the oil and filter.

    Last, wait a full 24 hours before attempting to start the vehicle. This will give any RTV the required time to properly solidify as per packaging instructions; this is a critical direction to observe. Next, refill the cooling system with the vehicle parked on a level surface to aide evacuation of coolant system air bubbles and with the heat on full blast, wait for the system to burp, close hood, go inside and relax my friend. Job well done. Follow these instructions carefully and you will have a leakfree repair the first time. A little extra time & a little extra diligent effort brings great satisfaction.

    I hope that this little tutorial was helpful. Please feel free to contact me if there are any questions. joetrainer31 @ yahoo .com