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Old 02-25-2009, 08:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Installing Valve Springs

One of my last motor projects for this winter is the installation of a new performance camshaft kit, which includes the camshaft, lifters, valve springs, valve retainers, spring seats (or cups,) and locks (AKA keepers.) This article details the proper way to install valve springs on a head and shows some special tools in use. If you are not familiar with these tools, some additional information about them plus some helpful tips can be found in the companion tech article “Installing Valve Springs-The Tools”: http://www.fordmuscleforums.comtec...ngs-tools.html

The camshaft manufacturer or provider will specify the exact components that should be used in a camshaft kit. It is not recommended for the amateur builder to vary from using these parts or the tolerances provided. Warranties may also be voided if you stray from their exact recommendations.

Although the pictures shown in this article are of a head that is lying on the work bench, the procedures shown can also be performed on the vehicle using the same techniques and tools illustrated here.

Here are the parts that will be replaced on an AFR 205 cylinder head:


First I removed the old valve springs using this compressor and a magnetic retriever:




Once the locks were removed I removed the valve spring compressor and set it aside. Next I removed the old spring retainer and the spring. Before the spring seat could be removed, I had to remove the old valve stem seal. The easiest way that I have found to remove this type of seal is to gently rock them back and forth with a pair of pliers while giving it a light and steady pull:


I then removed the spring seat and the spacer shims that I found under it. I also checked to see if there was any spacer shims found under it in the pocket. I knew I hit bottom when I found nice shiny aluminum:


The next step is to determine the base spring height that my head and the new valve train parts were capable of. Spring height is a measurement between the top of the spring seat (or cup) and the underside of the spring retainer when the valve is fully closed. Once I know the base, I will be able to compare that value to the recommended height found on my cam card.

There are 2 good ways to measure the spring height. The first way uses a valve spring height micrometer and the second uses a telescopic gauge. I will show how to do the measurement both ways.

To determine base, I needed to use the new spring cup, retainer, and locks. I first made sure that the spring pocket was clean and free of burrs. Then I installed the spring seat without using any of the spacers underneath:


Then I fully collapsed the valve spring height micrometer and put it on top of the spring cup. Collapsing is just a simple twist of the top while holding its base in place:




Next I install the spring retainer and then the valve locks:


To get a measurement, I rotated the micrometer around so that I could see the horizontal graduations then, while holding the base of the micrometer, I spun the top of it until it firmly rested against the retainer:


Study the photo above and you should see that it reads 1.922.” Because this particular micrometer has a range of between 1.600-2.100”, the 1” in the calculation is understood as a given.

I recorded the reading next to the valve with a permanent marker.


I then removed all the parts and repeated the procedure on the next valve. I worked until I had measured all the valves, being sure to record each value for reference in a following step.


As suggested above, I could have also done the measuring with a telescoping gauge. To do it that way, I used a valve checking spring between the seat and the retainer and secured it with the locks.


Then I place the telescoping gauge between the seat and the retainer. I held it upright and squarely between the parts and then lock the gauge length:


The actual measurement is determined using a dial or digital caliper:


With careful practice, I was able to get readings that were within .0015” or less of the valve spring micrometer method. This small variance is considered an acceptable.

After I had calculated the base for each valve, I compared the readings to the installed height specified on the cam card. For this example, the cam card specified that my springs should be at an installed height of 1.900-1.920”. Unfortunately my base reading of all 16 valves ranged from 1.922” to 1.944”. To correct this situation, I needed to add shims under the valve seats. The shims will move the seat higher and a little closer to the retainer.

The hardened valve shims that I have are .015" and .030" thick:


Once I determined what shims were to be installed, I re-measured the spring height to verify that the valve was now within the 1.900-1.920” range.

In this case, using the shims easily solved my problem. Had I needed to increase spring height, I would have used a +.050” valve lock or a special type of retainer that would give additional clearance. Here is a pair of regular (black) locks and a pair of the +.050” locks (gold):


Examine the difference that the locks make in the following 2 photos:




The top photo shows the retainer to valve clearance using the standard locks, and the bottom photo shows the same with the +.050” locks installed.

There are other more drastic ways to increase the installed height. Installing longer length valves or having the valve seats sunk further into the head will both give additional clearance. Sinking the valves further into the head should be avoided whenever possible.

The final procedure needed was to measure the valve retainer to valve stem seal clearance. The retainer should never make contact with the top of the seal while the motor is running, as that would be a very bad situation.

I put the shim and seat that gave the desired spring height as found above and then I installed a new Viton valve stem seal using a driver:




Next I assembled a single cylinder’s intake and exhaust valve with the valve checking springs. I then install the desired retainers and locks. Because I will need to push the valves open in the following procedure, I suspended the head between two 4x4’s.

I set up my dial indicator on one of the valves. With the valve remaining fully closed, the indicator’s shaft was compressed most of the way when rested on the valve. This allows for a full range of motion when the valve assembly is pushed downward. I adjusted the dial so that it read zero before pushing the valve open.


Then I gently pushed the valve and retainer against the top of the valve stem seal:


The difference between the 2 readings should be less than the total valve lift found on the cam card, plus an additional .060” or more. Since I found that I could move the valve a total of .964 before it reached the top of the seal, in this respect I could have safely ran a cam with up to .904” of lift (.964 -.904 = the .060” minimum clearance needed.) If the clearance is less than what was safe, then I would have needed to try a different type of valve stem seal or a different type of retainer (which would require setting up the spring height again.

Since this measurement was satisfactory, I did a final assembly of that valve with the new springs that were recommended for the cam.


Because I had way more clearance than I have total valve lift, there was no reason to check the remaining valves. I did fully assembled the heads being careful to use the parts that maintained the desire spring height.

Conclusion:
With the procedures shown above, the reader should gain a reasonable understanding of how to properly setup a fresh set of springs on a cylinder head and how to use some basic measuring tools in order to accomplish it. If nothing else, you should gain an appreciation for the work a good machine shop will do when setting up performance heads. It should be noted that there are other checks that will need completed once the new camshaft, lifters, and rocker arms are installed on the motor. In a future tech articles I hope to cover some of these topics, such as rocker arm to retainer clearance and coil bind, plus piston-to-valve clearance, and how to determine pushrod length—all of which are very important for engine longevity.
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Installing Valve Springs-valvespringgallery.jpg  
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Last edited by FATNFAST; 02-25-2009 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Awesome!! Thanks!
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Old 02-25-2009, 05:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: Installing Valve Springs

Excellent Article!
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Old 02-27-2009, 06:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: Installing Valve Springs

Way to go Dennis,you've nailed another great informative article!
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Wait until you get triple valve springs on a Pro Stock engine. You'll want a pheumatic valve spring compressor...LOL You'll be wearing an armor suit...LOL
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Hey Dennis - awesome article as usual (I know it's older, but I just saw it! ). Anyway, I'm surprised nobody caught this yet, but the telescoping gauge should be used differently to get really accurate results.

Telescoping gauges should be called "swipe" gauges. They are a dimension 'transfer' device. To get a good reading, they are always locked a bit too long and at a slight angle. Just snugged to hold length - not a gorilla grip. Then the handle (and therefore the head) is swiped to rotate the gauge through the area to be measured. This compresses the telescoping part as it's swiped, leaving the gauge at exactly the minimum dimension between the parts.

They are always used this way, including bores and other internal measuring, and are very accurate when used properly. Now you can see why many hobbyists slander the gauges as being inconsistent or inaccurate - they use them incorrectly. BTW - be sure to lift and wiggle the retainer to be sure it's seated full "up" before measuring, or it will cock to the side giving another false measurement.

Thanks for all your good info, Dennis. I'm sure it's helped a lot of folks. Just look at the hits!

David
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Telescoping 'snap' gauges aren't meant for extreme precision. Most are doing well to get within a thou or so. Tenth's, or 0.0001".... no way.

That being said, spring height is good as long as you're within around 0.010" or so, so snap gauges, even if not used perfectly, are still well within the precision needed for spring heights.

But, thanks for mentioning the proper way to use snap gauges. I have some, but wouldn't even think of using them for anything like bearing clearances. If you're good enough to use them for something like that, then you're a far better hand at them than 99.9% of the rest of the general population!
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Thank you Bob, David, and Mike for your contributions to these old tech threads.
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My little 65' Stang street car:



Dart 428W NA, 4 Spd, 4:33, on pump gas pushing 3550lbs.

10.553@127.81 with a 1.466 60'
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

i have a question i have heads from a fully built 289 and i was wondering if could i swap over the valve springs over on to my 351w heads?
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:37 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Physically should work if the springs match the retainers that are already on the 351w. If not, perhaps the 289 keepers and the valve retainers will work as long as they match the groove found on the stem of the 351w valve.
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My little 65' Stang street car:



Dart 428W NA, 4 Spd, 4:33, on pump gas pushing 3550lbs.

10.553@127.81 with a 1.466 60'
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:24 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Thats a great tech article and good photos. It looks like you were working on a 1.9 installed height?

Its nice when you have the tools. I have the screw on stud valve spring compressor and a clam shell type for heads with rocker shaft mounted valve springs. I don't have the dial indicators or height checking mic. I have borrowed all those from someone in the past but my borrow source went away on me.

I have never had the outsides of my valve guides threaded or grooved like that. I'm running teflon seals in the mustang and the turbo VW and umbrella seals in my truck but none of the guides are grooved like yours are. Did you do that yourself or did the guides come that way?
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Old 06-12-2012, 03:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Installing Valve Springs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hottarod View Post
Thats a great tech article and good photos. It looks like you were working on a 1.9 installed height?

Its nice when you have the tools. I have the screw on stud valve spring compressor and a clam shell type for heads with rocker shaft mounted valve springs. I don't have the dial indicators or height checking mic. I have borrowed all those from someone in the past but my borrow source went away on me.

I have never had the outsides of my valve guides threaded or grooved like that. I'm running teflon seals in the mustang and the turbo VW and umbrella seals in my truck but none of the guides are grooved like yours are. Did you do that yourself or did the guides come that way?
Thank You. Yes I was shooting for a 1.900" installed height.

The AFR heads came with the grooves from the factory. I assume that they offer greater holding power for the seals. I prefer Viton seals when possible.
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My little 65' Stang street car:



Dart 428W NA, 4 Spd, 4:33, on pump gas pushing 3550lbs.

10.553@127.81 with a 1.466 60'
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