Below is a narrative on my last couple days dealing with rocker shaft (and garage floor) oiling. Soliciting your experiences and comments!!!
FE Rocker oiling and the Katrina Time
The FE rocker system is not the greatest design. No end stands, limited to about .520 lift and 300lb nose load or so.
The oiling/drainback might be the worst part. Maybe ok if you buy new $500 rockers&shafts every year or so but in the real world of balanced family budgets, its bad.
In my recent 440 basket case build, I began to break in a new Comp 270S cam with solid rockers. These are well used, but I dont have $500 in them. For that matter, I probably still have less than $500 in the whole short block. I just cant get used to the new 2% inflation math.
Cam breakin went fine, lash only increased a couple mils ie normal.
But as I ran it more & more, noticed the garage getting pretty smoky.
I figured, well its either these worn-out solid rockers or a bad ring seal from my hand-honed .060 block, no room to bore it any more.
Did a leak check, turned out good, about 5%-8% all around.
Excellent writeup in Jays book on leakdown, real world.
I noticed, it did not smoke on startup- only after a couple minutes. Hmm.
Pulled the covers & spun oil pump w/drill motor. After only 12-20 seconds oil was overflowing the valve cover ridge. After a couple days of effort I started calling this the Katrina Time, because the New Orleans experts should have known better and so should Ford, this should have been fixed in 1959. Ive never seen any other engine do a Katrina like this on the drill motor, no less.
So I put the covers on, started it, and checked the oil by putting a screwdriver vertically down each breather hole, Left Front LF and Right Rear RR.
After running for 4 minutes, the oil was .5" deep at LF and 1.5" deep at RR.
With the backwards bolt hole setup on the valve cover, youd have to weld the covers on to keep that from leaking. But more importantly, at about the 1" deep level, the oil is now breaching the valve guide, and getting sucked right down the valve guide, instant mosquito chaser.
This was clearly no good. Maybe a combination of worn rockers/shafts, stock drainbacks. I first thought maybe the old loose cambearings were a factor but I dont think they enter in.
Has anybody ever measured this or had one this bad?
So I set out to fix it, this was unliveable.
These rockers had the holes at the TOP, but I had already fixed that part. Didnt help much.
So I started a series of Katrina Time tests. Spin up with drill motor and measure the time til the oil breaches the valve cover iron ridge on the head. I started with the LeftHandSide LHS. First spin was with the solid rockers, and tins w/o chutes (the 67-up style used with the WerbyFord valve covers).
12 seconds to Katrina Time.
No wonder it was smoking.
Switched to tins with chutes (58-65 or so style)
20 seconds Katrina Time. Way better but still bad.
I figured, maybe these solids are just too old&tired, and I need to stop being cheap and spend $500 for new solid rockers and shafts. After all, thats only about 8x the cost of smallblock rockers. LOL but not funny.
So I tried my set of hyd rockers on there, left the pushrods out as this was a solid cam. These are also used but good running history, no smoking engines, etc.
12 sec Katrina Time tins w/o chutes
22 sec Katrina Time tins w/chutes
I was actually relieved that the problem was not the rockers, didnt want to spend that $500 as a regular maintenance item.
The engine had been running that day so the oil was still a bit warm, at least not cold.
BTW, as I closed up for the night and went in to feed the neighbor's cat, I realized the WerbyFord covers dont fit with the early tins, you have to adjust them so they clear the breather vent area. Not too bad to do this.
So I continued the Katrina Tests the next day, it was one of those Wintery California mornings so the temp was only (gasp) 50F-55F in my unheated garage.
Same setup as previous day, hyd rockers, no pushrods, tins 2/o chutes, .096 holes.
22 sec Katrina Time
22 sec repeat test.
I already had .096 restrictors in, but wondered if that was enough.
I took the restrictors OUT & reran the test.
22 sec Katrina Time
23 sec repeat test.
This told me that at least in this test, a .096 hole was the same as wide open.
I tried blocking the hole totally, just to be sure I wasnt in some alternate universe:
60+ seconds, no sign of any rocker oil anywhere. Good, at least Im not in The Matrix.
Tried a #90 Holley Jet
24 sec Katrina Time
Again, same as wide open.
#70 Holley Jet (same size as Jays book pg234).
26 sec Katrina Time
26 sec repeat
#54 Holley Jet (smallest one I had handy!)
36 sec KatrinaTime
28 sec repeat
At least that was having some effect.
Seems kinda small but Barry R notes that .060 is usually plenty.
Now I swapped to the tins w/chutes, still #54 Jet
72 sec Katrina Time
65 sec Katrina Time
Switch to LHS.
1st test, solid rockers, tins w/o chutes, .096 restrictor holes
24 sec Katrina Time
20 sec repeat test
Switch to hyd rockers
23 sec Katrina Time
20 sec repeat test
Again I was relieved, confirmed my other solid shaft assy was not scrap iron.
Using #55 Jet, tins w/no chutes
31 sec Katrina Time
26 sec repeat test
36 sec repeat next day
28 sec repeat
As on the LHS, this was better but not much better. The oil finds its way thru that jet pretty fast.
This was getting pretty tedious, if Pitbull had asked are yall havin a good time like he did just now, I might have said not really.
With #55 jet and chutes
39 sec Katrina Time
34 sec repeat test
With #55 jets, chutes, solid rockers and pushrods back in
43 sec Katrina Time
40 sec repeat test
This was not as good as the LHS test, but it was a #55 jet vs a #54, and this side of the engine was about ½ lower than the LHS so I figured, ok, time for another running test.
So I fired up the big 440 and checked, dipstick at RR valve cover, vs run time:
05..0.8" (as the oil got warmer it was draining back better apparently)
13..0.6" and steady.
Ok that was liveable. Probably still above the valve cover gasket but at least not flooding down the valve guide. Im reasonably happy but still plan to port the drainbacks on any heads I use in the future, obviously could not do this in situ for these tests.
This message has been edited by werbyford on Dec 15, 2012 10:08 AM This message has been edited by werbyford on Dec 15, 2012 10:07 AM This message has been edited by werbyford on Dec 15, 2012 10:03 AM
The positive type that attatch to the guide. I'm guessing your running umbrella seals. I'm all for keeping more oil for other areas of the engine but ya need some up there to help with valve spring cooling. Maybe try some aluminum valve covers instead of stamped steel. I thought the stock FE rockers system with no end stands and such was usually fine up to .550" lift and your vavle spring specs. I know some of that has to do with the non-adj hyd. rockers and preload but I've been around an FE that had a Comp 280 cam with stock shafts, stands, spacer springs, no end-stands, adj. rockers, etc. he didn't seem to ever have a problem and he had revved it plenty high.
When I broke my engine in (new bearings everywhere with clearances checked, oil filter to pump pad area drilled and chamfered to 7/16" I believe, blended the main saddles feed hole to the old bearing inserts, stock volume and pressure oil pump, windage tray, new stock type shafts and rockers, used pedestals)I did it without any restrictor up top. Put a cut out valve cover on each side of the the engine after the initial break in, oil change, then go drive it for however many miles...broke it in that way and when I got back to school I did the cut out valve cover trick and watched, then put #90 jets in and that slowed it some but not a lot. Left it that way for almost 40,000 miles. Now going to #79 jets (.091" orfice)cut down the amount considerably. At an idle with the engine warm the oil is right around the area where the head rail meets the v/c gasket. I thought about going to a lil smaller jet and seeing what it did but after observing I decided to try it where it's at for now and wait... mainly because although I new I could go smaller, I didn't know how much oil the valve springs were gonna see for cooling if I went much smaller and I'm not running a H.V. oil pump. I would rather error slightly on the bigger side in this area because I'd rather not starve anything up there which I know I'm not but the valve springs aren't seeing the amount of oil they used to... at idle and up to probably 2000 rpm anyway.
My guess is Ford didnt intent to have the oil flood over the rail else theyd have put more bolts in, etc. And definitely not flood over the guide as they all used umbrellas.
The PC seals might be a good crutch if I cant keep it down but I figured, nah, it just shouldnt BE that high. Maybe things are stacking up in this particular combo as the design is right on the edge anyway.
I thought of cutting a pair of covers- the WerbyFord covers used to be throw-aways, literally, but I didnt have a banged up one to cut up, have to search the archives for one. Will put that on the list.
I dont like going as low as a 54-55 jet in there but 4now it fixed the issue so I can focus on the engine and not the flood of oil, will keep an eye on it after I port out the drainbacks.
Thanks for your note about the oil being about at the rail, I think that was probably the intent.
Well used in fact. That got in there when I was chasing the timing pointer noise a couple months ago.
Oil passages are enlarged, bearings all used tho, I didnt put the new ones in yet as this was a non-running basket case. Getting plenty of oil to the top, warm oil press is about 50 at 2000 (pump cutoff) but still about 40 at warm idle. Solid cam & dumbell lifters.
I've watched my uncle adjust the valves on his 63 406 many times while it idled...........
December 15 2012, 3:54 PM
............He only "ooohed and aaahed" because of the oil splash/flung from the rocker arms to his hands and forearms. He later bought a P&G Gapper, never had the Katrina-effect spilling over the valve cover rails, Rod. BTW, I'm sure Ford engineers ran a boatload of FEs without the VCs too.
Comp 270s with dumb bell lifters
Factory adjustable rockers and shafts from Pops
Massaged head returns
Short chute tins
70psi oil pressure cold
70psi driving down the road hot
No oil smoke.
My heads will flood while priming with a drill. Happens fairly quick with 1/2" drill.
I think this is some great info. Even with the PC type seals, if the guides are covered some oil will get sucked down intake valves. I'm gonna replace the SBC push rod restricters in mine with something smaller....Good job....
The guides WON'T be completely submerged if the drip trays are doing thir job. You can have perfectly adequate oil control with the stock umbrella type seals. The oil level will come up about 1" above the valve cover gasket on the outside when all is working properly.
Pretty sure these heads are ok, not new but theyve run for years on the car, not a smoker. New intake gaskets, not likely a leak, Ive installed my share. And it doesnt smoke on startup, not for a couple minutes - exactly when the oil floods over the guides. And now that is fixed so it doesnt smoke.
I realize with used parts the oil will probably be over the iron rail, not ideal but reality. Just wanted to put some numbers to it, next I will see how much it helps to port out the drainback, hopefully allowing a larger jet in there.
With my 66 Galaxie/428. I've tried metering as small as .042" and learned the hard way this is too small. Starved the end rocker and burned up the ball/cup on the rocker/pushrod but the engine didn't use any oil. Took the metering plug out for the trip home [400 miles] after borrowing another rocker and pushrod from a friend. Valve guides have positive type seals but will still allow enough oil thru the guides if they are submerged in oil. I also learned that the passenger side bank gets more oil than the driver side bank. Only thing I can determine is the rotation of the cam acts as a oil pump as that oil passage is futher from the pressure source than the driver side bank so it isn't just oil pressure. I've fiddled with other "cures" such as pinching off the ends of the drip trays to funnel more oil down the pushrod openings, still little or no help. Next step is switch to a hyd. cam/lifters to keep the rockers preloaded.
60 Starliner 460, 61 Starliner 427, 66 Galaxie 428, 67 Fairlane 427, 66 Fairlane 390, 69 F-250 390, 72 Lincoln 460 and 3 Ford powered Hotboats
Just a thought. I'm running umbrella seals (not exactly by choice) and before going to a .091" restrictor, I had no oil down the guides until 4,500 rpm and up. Now I don't notice it doing that. I also have the bronze thickwall guide inserts with lil grooves.
On the plus side, Holley 4010 shoebox sounding great
December 15 2012, 11:32 AM
A $5 swapmeet carb, 750 double pumper 4010, my 1st shoebox Holley (unless you count the 4100 Autolite as a Holley).
The near extinct Gumout Steam Premium cleaned it up great, and it sure "snaps" that big 440 running in the engine stand. Cant wait to put it in a carb shootout against its 4150 gravity-defying brothers.
Cool thing is, I didnt have to spend $30 worth of gaskets on the rebuild like a 4150. I dont like to reward a carburetor with that kind of money until theyve earned it by showing me theyre willing to run and lay some rubber.
I had the exact same problem, 428, I put a solid cam in dumbel lifters and flooded the top end, could not figure it out,I also did not pull valley plugs and restrict oil galleys, I ended up putting restrictors in heads and same problem,so I put small nail's in restrictors to reduce the flow even more and the flooding stoped as well as the smoke and ran for years that way, never had the problem since and have built many FE's since,I always wondered about that one, Pete
My own observations & numbers and the comments lead me to think that:
1. The design is "on the edge"
2. Ive got a few things stacking up in my build and used parts that put it "over the edge"
3. Next target is to do some flow testing and port&polish the drainbacks Gangnam Style (or maybe JDC style), gonna start with a spare head and see what I can learn.
It dawned on me too:
The finger-chute drainbacks dont work with the PowerbyFord valve covers of 67-up. Unless you beat on them of course.
This is also about when Ford gave up on solid FE cams.
Could it be Ford knew things were "on the edge", and that solids needed the finger-chute tins, whereas with hyds you could get away with the simpler tins?