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1955 Ford Part 112: Camshaft Upgrade... in car! (Part 2)

Updated: Apr 5

A degree wheel gives precise indications concerning valve timing events.

Success! Recently I had a weekend when there was enough time available to button everything back up and break in the E4 Isky camshaft as promised. If you only want to see the videos then you can scroll to the end of this blog post and watch both of them. The videos, along with a host of others, are also archived on my YouTube channel. I do apologize in advance for the length of the videos, but there are four in all and I did my best to edit out the fluff. Two of the videos are linked in Part 110 of the blog and of course the other two are here in this post. Hopefully my editing skills will improve as we go along in the documentation process of all the work being done to the 1955 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan. If you visit the very early parts of the blog then you recognize that it took quite some time before I began recording video of the most of the work in the garage. Usually this video work is done solo, although I do have some helpers along the way who either hold the camera or a light or two so that we can get the best angles. All that begin said, what follows are a few stills and helpful text to explain the process and give the end result up to and including the break in of the camshaft lobes with the lifter faces.

The Mummert aluminum intake manifold is just as much art as science!

Before we go any further, I know there will be a few questions when pictures of this lovely aluminum manifold hit the blog, so let me just address this at the beginning of this post. Yes! I did purchase a brand new Mummert intake manifold. What you see pictured above is what came in the box that was shipped to me. All of the hardware has an Allen head and are stainless steel. The intake fit like an original, but you can see that the exhaust crossover ports are blocked and there is no need of those clamshell washers. In addition, this version here sits a bit higher than stock. (shown and explained in the Part 4 video below) I did paint my cast iron thermostat housing in a bare aluminum color and the color match ended up being pretty close.

Yep - I test fit most parts I purchase, even this pretty aluminum intake.

At the end of the Post 110, the camshaft had been installed in the existing cam bearings and it was time to remove the clips that were keeping the tappets suspended in their respective bores. Before moving on to degreeing in the cam, I decided to double check end play and we were well within specification. Each shop manual for the Y Block's successive year (and the late 50's FoMoCo engine repair manual) explains this procedure in detail so I will not say any more than to tell you that the measure was .004 when the manual called for .003 - .007 inches of play from front to rear. I used a machinist travel dial indicator. If you ever get into degreeing camshafts, checking overall travel of components, etc, you will certainly need one. One thing I will say here - double check your order and orientation for all of the washers and hardware that are installed on the timing gear end of things from front to rear. End play measure is certainly influenced by these components. I did find it interesting that I was missing a lock washer for the bolt, but this was an easy fix. I torqued it down at 40 ft lbs - the manual called for 35-45 ft lbs.

Next, it was time to degree the camshaft to verify where valve timing events stood in relation to piston position (from Top Dead Center - TDC) and to place the camshaft lobe center line where I intended it to be. Now, there are quite a few videos on how to degree a camshaft, and there is a wealth of information on the internet so I will not repeat much of the procedure here. (Although some of the particulars are shown in the Part 3 video below. If you are degreeing a camshaft for a Y Block I do recommend the website of my friend Ted Eaton. Go to Ted's first article on degreeing a cam (there are three) and you can click each successive link from there.

A piston stop will help you find true Top Dead Center (TDC) precisely.

One problem I discovered was that no company manufacturers a crankshaft turning nut for the Y Block snout. You either have to fabricate your own or modify an SBC turning nut. When I searched through my stash I happened to find a Y Block crankshaft collar from a marine application. This worked nicely and I used a simple pipe wrench to turn the crank. Obviously, you do not want to use the crankshaft dampener pulley bolt to turn the crankshaft, and you certainly do not want to mar the surface of your crankshaft snout by using a pipe wrench on its surface.

The marine application crankshaft collar sacrificed its surface to turn the crank.

Setting up to degree the camshaft also involved the travel indicator with its plunger end resting in a push rod cup, the Rollmaster adjustable set of timing gears, the degree wheel, and a makeshift pointer.

The Rollmaster adjustable timing gear set made advancing the camshaft position easy.

In the above picture the degree wheel has been removed to show the crankshaft gear and its keyway slots that allow the mechanic to either install the cam at standard timing (stock, so to speak), advanced, or retarded. Rollmaster instructions included a diagram that listed advance or retard increments in 2, 4, 6, or even 8 degrees. I ended up placing the camshaft lobe center line at 104 degrees. This was 2 degrees advanced on the crankshaft gear, and since the crankshaft to camshaft ratio is 2:1, and I found the STD position to be 105 degrees then 2 degrees advanced on the crank gear put us at 104 degrees.

Once I was satisfied with the final lobe centerline by double-checking the opening and closing at .050 once again at both cylinder #1 and #6 then it was time to clean things up and get all of the other components installed. I did clean, blast, and repaint the timing cover. Let me tell you - oven cleaner works very well to degrease oily parts at home! The other pictures below help to tell the story and give further tips.

Oven cleaner made easy work of cleaning things up.

Do not forget the oil slinger!

I used engine assembly lube on the gears and chain.

Angle iron, bolted to the block's oil pan rails, served to center the heavy timing cover.

Once I cleaned the block's surfaces, I double-checked the depth of all the bolts that attached the cover to the block. I felt this was good insurance, especially since I was using a Vintage Air bracket setup that was nowhere near stock, including spacers, and also had special pulley alignments to consider. A new seal was installed for the dampener pulley and a new gasket for the cover as well. This would be a good time also to mention the use of thread sealant on those bolts that enter the water jackets!

The angle iron supports made centering the timing cover a manageable chore.

The water pump was next in the lineup.

Homemade Tool

This simple combination of hardware keeps your thrust bearings and dampener safe.

Let me encourage you to install the crankshaft dampener the correct way - with either Ford's installer tool or a cheaply sourced combination of hardware as pictured. The all thread is size 9/16-18 and roughly 12" long. I purchased two nuts to fit, a few washers, and a short section of pipe to "push" the assembly back onto the crankshaft. The Part 3 video below shows this tool in action. While the 1955 Ford shop manual literally states to use a soft metal hammer, the late 50's FoMoCo engine repair manual does indeed recommend a tool. Hammering on the dampener will either dislodge the rubber insulator or harm a thrust bearing. Use a tool.

My version of Ford's tool is quite simple.

A page from the late 50's FoMoCo engine repair manual shows the tool.

Once the crankshaft dampener was secured it was time to install the timing pointer and bring the works to TDC on #1 cylinder for the compression stroke. Knowing that I needed to adjust the rocker arms for proper lash, I did two things: 1. In addition to highlighting the TDC and degree increments, I also made marks at the 90, 180, and 270 marks on the circumference of the pulley and 2. I double-checked that I was indeed at TDC and not opposite the measure on #1 cylinder pushing exhaust fumes out at the other "TDC."

Time to adjust the rocker arms? Ensure TDC on #1's compression stroke.

Most of Ford's shop manuals give good instructions on adjustment.

Valve lash is critical to engine performance!

Adjusting valve lash is a straightforward affair and information on the Y Block proliferates. On the E-4 cam I decided to go conservative and use a .019 cold lash. Isky called for .015. Since I had a bent push rod on cylinder #2 (as shown in the first couple of videos) I was concerned about a sticky valve so I figured a looser lash may help. Maybe this time next year I will revisit the lash and go a tick tighter. For adjusting the lash... one mistake I made concerned cylinder #3. Thankfully, while priming the oil pump I happened to look down at the push rods on that cylinder bank and noticed almost 1/4" between the push rod cup and rocker arm stud. Yep, I make my fair share of oversights but I was glad that I discovered that I had missed that one. Just for safety, I went back through each cylinder's rocker arms to be sure. Another note I made concerned the rocker arm stands. The company that remanufactured the long block way back when had left off flat washers and lock washers when they rebuilt this C2AE block. Of course, this was easily corrected. Over the life of the rebuilt engine the assemblies have been receiving copious amounts of oil - no wear was yet showing on the rocker arm tips.

Before start up there is not much more to note. After the oil pan was installed but before I positioned the valve covers, I did prime the oil pump to circulate 10w40 and a bottle of Lucas Engine Break-In Oil into the crankcase and oil passages. It was satisfying to see oil flowing out of the rocker arm assemble overflow tubes quickly.

I highly recommend a quality engine break-in oil; this is a must for mechanical cams.

The 292 C2AE Y Block is about ready to break in its new cam.

In addition to re-installing the fuel pump, grill, water pump, alternator, plumbing, distributor, etc, I also welded up a custom set of down pipes that connected the new headers to the existing mufflers and tail pipes. There is so much to mention concerning that particular work that I will have to make another post and another video for that project. Needless to say, it included a lot of pie cutting, trimming, welding, grinding, and fitting.

We will have more later on MIG welding exhaust pipes to match.

The break in period went just about according to plan. I fired up the 292 (after priming the fuel bowl by using the electric fuel pump) and brought the rpm to 2000 as quickly as possible. These moments are always a little tense, but oil pressure was great and from what I could ascertain concerning sound all was well. After 20 minutes I let it idle down and enjoyed the slight rumble. The next session in the garage will include timing the distributor and tuning the carburetor. The transmission linkage needs to be installed, the vacuum booster and master cylinder need to be fitted, and I think I need to fabricate a heat shield for the booster before I take a test drive. Enjoy the videos.

E4 Camshaft Installation Part 3

E4 Camshaft Installation Part 4 (Break In)

The Fast Fords weekend at Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio, is fast approaching. I sure do hope we can see you there! When you arrive, please stop by the Victory Tent. It will be my pleasure to meet you.

The Hot Rod Reverend

aka Daniel Jessup


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