This chapter takes you through the final phase of your project and consists of the following series of steps: installing the engine into the vehicle, connecting all associated components, start-up, tuning, and break-in.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, 4.6L & 5.4L FORD ENGINES: HOW TO REBUILD. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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After many hours of difficult, dirty work and hard-earned dollars spent, you have finally reached the point where you can reap the rewards of your labors. Reassembly is essentially disassembly in reverse. This is helpful and informative advice indeed. Now is a great time to break out your notes and photographic record of the steps taken during the removal of the engine and give them a careful inspection.
Anyone who has undertaken the removal, rebuilding, and replacement of an engine will tell you that the process isn’t quite that simple. However, with proper planning getting the engine back into the car shouldn’t be too difficult.
I prefer to leave as many of the bolt-on external accessories off the engine as possible during the installation phase for two reasons. First, without external accessories, the engine is more compact and easier to manipulate. Second, access to important things, such as motor mounts, is much easier with fewer obstructions in the way.
Take the time to prepare the engine compartment to receive the engine by ensuring that all wires, linkages, etc., are safely and securely out of the way. Make sure the car is on a level surface and secure it from rolling or falling. You must always make safety the highest priority. Never put yourself or your helpers at risk. If you’re not comfortable performing a task, take your project to a professional. There is no shame in asking for help, but there could be a lot of pain if you’re unable to safely complete the work.
cover and/or pad any painted or delicate surfaces to avoid damage. Enlisting the help of a couple of friends as the extra hands and eyes make lowering the engine into the car and aligning the motor mounts to the frame much easier. Remember: Take your time. There is no need to rush. If something isn’t going correctly, reassess the situation, and then proceed. Once the engine is securely bolted into the car you can set about installing the external components and accessories. Referring to your notes and photos on how things came apart is of great assistance here.
Step 1: Install Fuel Pump
The completed long-block is off the stand and ready to be lifted into the car; this is a good time to install some of the accessories. Shown here is the fuel pump. It is important that you position the top of the pump actuator arm under the eccentric on the front of the camshaft when installed. You have to do this mostly by feel (you feel the tension created by the arm under the eccentric) because you are unable to see inside the timing cover with the pump in the way.
Step 2: Install Motor Mounts
Install new motor mounts and use grade-8 hardware to secure them to the block. (Only rubber mounts are available for the Y-block.) To make sure that the mounts are properly oriented, refer to your photos and notes taken during disassembly.
Step 3: Remove Contaminants
Wipe down the surface with lacquer thinner to remove any contaminants left over from the machine shop before attaching the newly machined flywheel to the engine.
Step 4: Install Flywheel
After aligning the bolt holes in the flywheel with those in the crankshaft flange, tap the flywheel in place with a rubber mallet until it seats flush against the crankshaft flange.
Step 5: Torque Flywheel Bolts (Torque Fasteners)
Give the threads on the flywheel bolts some blue Loctite and then torque them at 75 to 85 ft-lbs. You can add a small amount of white grease to the opening in the pilot bushing to aid in installing the transmission.
Step 6: Attach Pressure Plate to Flywheel
To properly align the clutch disc and pressure plate on the flywheel, you can use an old transmission input shaft that has the same spline as the disc. Use only grade-8 hardware of the proper length to secure the pressure plate to the flywheel.
Step 7: Install Bellhousing and Looms
Bolt the bellhousing to the block; the spark plug wire looms can be installed at this time thanks to easy access. It is much easier to install the looms before the engine is in the car.
Step 8: Install Clutch Fork
Install the clutch fork and throwout bearing in the flywheel. If you haven’t already done so, this is a good time to replace your old throw-out bearing; it is much easier to do at this point.
Step 9: Install Starter (Professional Mechanic Tip)
It is also much easier to install the starter with the engine out of the car. Installing the starter before dropping in the engine does not create any clearance issues. However, you should always check the clearances around external components before attempting to install the engine.
Step 10: Prep to Install Engine
This engine bay has been cleaned and prepared to receive the engine. Wires and hoses are secured out of the way and the fenders properly protected and padded with fender covers.
Step 11: Install Engine
With the engine secured to the hoist, it’s time to lift it into place. This is a two-person operation; one guides the engine while the other operates the hoist. The rule here is to be careful, take your time, and double-check yourself at every turn. Only when the engine is properly sitting in the frame mounts and a floor jack has been placed under the bellhousing to support the back should you go under the car to attach the nuts and washers to the motor mount studs. Do not release the pressure on the lifting chain until the engine has been secured in the mounts with the back supported on a jack. Once the transmission has been lifted into place and bolted to the bellhousing and the supporting crossmember and mount is installed, you can remove the jack from under the bellhousing. With the engine and transmission secured, you can install other under-car components such as the driveshaft, shift linkage, and exhaust.
Priming the Engine
To avoid potential damage on start-up, it is imperative that the engine has sufficient oil pressure before you make any attempt to start it. Although some people recommend bringing up oil pressure by spinning the engine with the starter (spark plugs out), I disagree. Using this method could cause damage to the starter and may also wipe some of the vital assembly lube off the lobes of the camshaft and faces of the valve lifters before oil reaches these areas during cranking.
Because zinc and its lubricating properties were removed from motor oil because of federal emissions regulations in 2004, I have heard of more and more cases of camshaft failure during engine start-up and break-in because of insufficient lubrication. Joe Gibbs Driven BR Break-In oil and Royal Purple Break-In oil contain zinc dialkyldithiophosphates (ZDDP), and many engine builders use it. Oil pump priming tools are commercially available. These connect to the oil pump via the distributor opening in the cylinder block.
A less expensive means of priming is available if you have an old distributor lying around. (Many Y-block enthusiasts surely have access to the nearly useless pre-1957 distributors that caused so many headaches.) If you happen to have an old distributor, simply remove the gear from the shaft and take the points and condenser off the breaker plate; you have an instant oil-pump-priming tool. When using any priming tool remember that Ford distributors rotate counterclockwise and, therefore, so should the priming tool. I have found that a variable-speed, reversible drill works well to spin the priming tool. (A speed wrench or even Vise-Grips work if a drill isn’t available.)
If your vehicle is not equipped with a mechanical oil pressure gauge that is capable of reading pressure when the engine is not running, I suggest, at the very least, obtaining an inexpensive aftermarket oil pressure gauge from your local auto parts store. The gauge can be temporarily installed in place of the engine’s existing oil pressure switch so that you are assured the engine has sufficient oil pressure during priming and start-up. If your vehicle did not roll out of the factory with an oil pressure gauge, as is the case with many Ford products from the 1950s to 1970s, you should consider installing a quality aftermarket gauge.
This oil pump primer tool allows you to spin the oil pump to prime the engine’s lubrication system once the engine is in the car and oil is in the crankcase, but the distributor is not yet installed. Use a speed wrench or variablespeed drill to turn the shaft (counterclockwise) until engine oil pressure comes up. With the valve covers off the engine, you should see oil coming from the rocker assemblies as the pressure comes up.
While you’re at it, consider adding a coolant temperature gauge as well. In the case of Rich’s 1957 Custom, into which my 322-ci performance engine was installed, the factory water temperature gauge was found to be reading well into the “hot” zone when the mechanical gauge I installed showed the coolant temperature to be acceptable.
The addition of oil pressure and coolant temperature gauges greatly enhance your ability to accurately monitor these two areas that are so critical to engine function and longevity. Good gauges are a minor investment when the total costs involved in rebuilding an engine are taken into consideration.
Once the oiling system has been properly primed, it is time to install the distributor. It needs to be properly timed with the engine’s firing order before attempting start-up. Follow this fairly simple procedure to bring your distributor into time with the engine.\
Bring the engine up to TDC on the compression stroke of the number-1 cylinder. Install a compression gauge or place a handy thumb into the spark plug hole of the number-1 cylinder. Crank the engine over (a remote starter makes this task simpler) until compression is felt or indicated by the gauge. Caution: Do not confuse compression with the exhaust stroke, which is much weaker, when cranking the engine.
Ensure that the piston is at TDC by checking the alignment between the timing marks on the dampener and pointer. You should also be able to see the top of the piston by looking into the spark plug hole. If there is a slight misalignment between the timing marks, turn the engine over manually and use a socket and breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt until the marks line up.
Now is a good time to take a look at your disassembly photos. (You took photos as recommended, right?) Note the approximate location of the distributor vacuum advance mechanism in relation to other engine components. Then install the distributor in the engine with the contact end of the rotor aligned with the location of the number-1 spark plug wire on the distributor cap.
If you aren’t sure of the proper alignment for the number-1 plug wire on the cap, temporarily install the cap on the distributor, note the location of the number-1 plug wire and indicate it on the distributor body by making a small mark with a pencil or marker. This should bring the ignition timing close enough to start the engine with minor movement of the distributor, but you need to set the timing to proper specification as soon after start-up as possible. This should be immediately after the recommended period of time that the engine is run at higher-than-idle RPM to properly break in the camshaft and lifters.
If your distributor is equipped with breaker points, these must also be set to the proper gap for the engine to start. Follow the manufacturer’s specifications for setting breaker point gap and ignition timing.
Step 1: Install Distributor
After priming the engine with oil, you can install the distributor. With the engine set at TDC on the compression stroke of cylinder number-1, install the distributor with the rotor pointed toward the location of the number-1 wire of the distributor cap. Mark all the spark-plug wires according to which cylinder they fire. Point the vacuum advance unit in the general direction it was when the distributor was removed from the engine, and ensure that no obstructions limit its movement when setting the timing after start-up. You may have to advance or retard the distributor slightly when first starting the engine, so don’t tighten the clamp holding the distributor yet. As a general rule, if during your initial attempt to start the engine it turns over fast but does not start, chances are the distributor needs to be advanced slightly. If the engine turns slowly or hard, retard the distributor slightly.
Step 2: Verify Connections
Having taken the time to tag all the wires with their proper locations before removing the engine from the car pays dividends in time saved once you reach this point. Refer to your notes and photos to ensure that all connections are correct.
Step 3: Verify Alignment
The distributor is timed and in place, the cap and wires are all in order, and the coil is connected and ready to deliver spark when the ignition is activated.
Step 4: Attach Exhaust, Lines and Linkages
Now is the time to attach all the fuel lines, linkages, and exhaust manifolds as required before attempting to start the engine for the first time. I am a firm believer in having the exhaust hooked up before initial start-up so that any inappropriate noises can be more easily identified.
Priming the Fuel System
Your fuel supply should also be addressed before initial start-up. Begin by confirming that there is sufficient fuel in the tank. In the case of modern fuel-injected engines priming the fuel system is not too much of a concern because the car’s electric fuel pump provides pressure to the system shortly after being energized by the ignition.
In the case of older engines equipped with a mechanical fuel pump quite a bit of cranking is often involved in initially getting the fuel from the tank to the carburetor. The time-honored method of dealing with this problem is to pour a small amount of fuel through the top of the carburetor to encourage the engine to start.
A word of caution here: Do not pour too much fuel into the carburetor at this point. If the engine does not start immediately, excess raw, unatomized fuel could wash the lubricant from the cylinder walls causing damage to both the walls and piston rings. If the engine does not start almost immediately when cranked, do not continue to pour gasoline into the carburetor. If the engine backfires because of incorrect timing, or if any fuel spills onto the intake manifold, a fire could result.
You are quite busy when you start your newly rebuilt engine for the first time, and having a second, or even third, set of eyes on hand to assist with checking vital things, such as oil pressure and coolant temperature readings, fluid leaks, etc., can be a great help.
Keep in mind that foreign particles as small as 32 microns can find their way into critical moving parts of your newly rebuilt engine and cause damage. How small is 32 microns? A human hair’s diameter is 40 microns.
For start-up and break-in, it is imperative that you first install a quality oil filter. Break-in lubricants are another important consideration. As of January 2004, the U.S. government mandated that the zincphosphorous additive, critical to engine break-in (and particularly camshaft and valve lifter break-in) be removed from all motor oils legal for use in street-driven motor vehicles in order to prevent possible catalytic convertor damage.
Once the engine is started, do not allow it to idle. Run it at approximately 2,500 rpm, varying by a few hundred rpm above and below this number, for the first 20 to 30 minutes. After this initial run, you should change the oil and filter. Although the oil may look clean, keep in mind the size of the particles required to undo all your hard work and the statistic that states: Most of the wear to metal parts in an engine occurs during its first hour of running.
Aftermarket camshaft manufacturers now include a warning and recommendations regarding the type of motor oil to be used exclusively in engines equipped with their products in order to avoid excessive wear on metal-to-metal contact surfaces. These recommendations include the use of the assembly lubricant included with the camshaft and motor oils that are designated “For off-road use only,” long known to hot rod engine builders as racing oil.
Modern engines with roller-style valve lifters no longer require the additional protection of zinc and phosphorous in their lubricants, but this is not true in the case of classic and muscle cars. Although removing zinc and phosphorous increases the life of catalytic converters and arguably decreases emissions to some degree, classic cars do not use catalytic converters nor are their engines equipped with emissions controls beyond a PCV valve. In addition, as part of its ongoing effort to reduce vehicle emissions, the EPA has mandated that emissions systems must have a service life exceeding 120,000 miles. To meet this requirement, automobile manufacturers have required their oil suppliers to remove additive packages from motor oils that reduce emissions compliance.
A couple of solutions are available to the lubrication problem confronting the owners of classic cars. One is a line of motor oils produced by Royal Purple that contains zinc phosphate (these oils are labeled “for off-road use only”), products with the additive ZDDP, or Cam-shield.
Informational material included with Cam-shield contains the following explanation: “The highpressure contact zone between the cam lobe and the flat tappet in classic car engines significantly reduces the ability of the oil film to prevent metal-to-metal contact. This requires the engine oil to be formulated with the proper level of antiwear chemistry to prevent metal-to-metal contact. ZDDP has been the predominant camshaft, lifter, valvetrain antiwear chemistry for more than 50 years.”
Asking advice on how to break in a freshly rebuilt engine gets you a variety of answers. Some do it one way because that is the way their grandfather did it. Others share the advice that friends or mechanics may have passed along. Although there is no one absolute, written-in-stone way to break in an engine, it is best to err on the side of caution and follow as many of the break-in recommendations provided by the manufacturers of the component parts used in your rebuild as you can.
Written by Charles Morris and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks