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Hi all - new to this forum so be gentle : )

I have a '67 289 HiPo that was converted to a mild hydraulic roller cam with roller tip rockers as part of a rebuild and have been burning up rocker arms at the pivot ball ever since, like within 150 miles. 650 miles total on it so far, 3 sets of rockers destroyed. At this point I have to conclude there's an oiling problem of some sort, really hoping someone can help. Yes I've talked to the builder (reputable from my research) and he's happy to help if I bring him just the motor - like out of the car... at this point that's a last resort for me.

I started another thread on another forum here: Who Can Help With 1967 HIPO Motor Trouble? - those that frequent that forum may be familiar. It has more detail about the build plus a link to a short video.

The symptoms at the moment are, it looks like at idle the rockers are getting enough oil to stay wet though I wouldn't say oil volume is great. As the motor comes off idle to like 1.5k to 2k rpm the oil valleys in the rockers start to look pretty dry. Oil pressure is rock steady between 60-65 psi and as low as 55 psi at idle when warm. It comes up to pressure pretty quick upon start.

To varying degrees each rocker shows signs of overheating with no obvious pattern. In fact #5 looks less the worse for wear than some others suggesting at a minimum the left side front oil passage plug is intact. Each rocker has the same oiling pattern meaning none really appear to be flowing more or less than another and the left side looks just like the right.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like no oil flows at the higher rpm, it still does but starts to spray and spit. I'd almost say it's the same amount (maybe less, hard to tell) as at idle but just splashing out of the rocker before getting down into the pivot.

I would also note it takes a few minutes running at idle before oil begins to flow from the rockers... that has me concerned for the rest of the motor needless to say.

I think there's a oil passage plug under the intake, I'm wondering what the symptoms would be if that plug were missing or something, would I see reduced oil pressure, etc.

Ok, a way long post already. Hopefully someone has had the same or similar experience and can help me solve mine.

Happy to answer any questions and fill in more detail if/when needed.

Thanks all!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Ok, wrong venue I guess. Anyone know of any SFB forums frequented by engine gurus?

Thanks.
 

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Oil plug under the intake is on the passenger side rear. It does need to be there or most of the oil ends up in the lifter valley-its often forgotten.

There are also 3 smaller threaded plugs under the timing chain cover that must be there too. I assume that oil is not running out of the bellhousing so the 3 smaller plugs that are back there must have been installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Oil plug under the intake is on the passenger side rear. It does need to be there or most of the oil ends up in the lifter valley-its often forgotten.

There are also 3 smaller threaded plugs under the timing chain cover that must be there too. I assume that oil is not running out of the bellhousing so the 3 smaller plugs that are back there must have been installed.
Thanks for responding.

Nothing coming from the bellhousing so I've assumed they're all good.

I've read a number of threads around the web when one or the other front lifter galley plugs is left out or dislodged it's evident in the oil starvation pattern on one or the other side given the pressures developed along the way. In my case both banks exhibit the same characteristics.

That leaves us with the front main galley plug and/or the plug under the intake... or other stuff like improperly spec'd lifters, etc. I could see both having a similar effect relative to the lifters, which do pump up by the way. I could also see where if the intake plug were missing there being more impact to the lifters but if the main galley plug were missing there would be impact not only to the lifters but also the rest of the components in the oiling path, the theory being minus the lifter plug there's enough pressure to oil the crank and cam but with the main galley plug missing, or leaking, not much gets oil... but I'm just guessing. I've had no indication yet that the crank and cam are starving.

I'm thinking of getting a bore scope to have a peak in the lifter valley to see if oil is coming from that plug (motor not running of course). Short of tearing the front of the motor down I'm not sure I can peak behind the timing cover and besides, I think oil should be dripping down through there anyway if I understand correctly.
 

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The galley plug affects oiling on both sides.

Not sure how you are going to see lifter valley plug with a bore scope unless you remove a pushrod and go down its hole. I am not familiar with how direct-able a bore scope but it must make a good 90* turn in order to see the galley plug. The galley plug is high on a boss in the lifter bore so it must also be looking upward after reaching the valley.

Pulling the intake most definitely reveals the condition of the valley plug. I am not sure if the 289 block has an open casting hole at the front of the block (like my 351w's do) that would allow you to use the scope but it would also be possible to remove the fuel pump as it allows one to get forward of the timing chain.. Again, I am not sure how direct-able the thing is.

You don't really need to run the motor to check for oil leakage if you use an oil priming devise that replaces the distributor. I use an old distributor with the cam gear removed from the bottom as a way to prime the system using a 1/2" drill spinning the oil pump CCW. Such a device would allow you to poke around with your scope until you can see the plugs and where the oil might be leaking.
 

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I believe your problem is in 1 of 2 pieces. Lifters or pushrods. There is oil restrictive pushrods that keep more oil down low. These are for "true" roller rocker arms, not roller tip rocker arms.
That or your hyd roller lifters have the oiling hole either restricted or in the wrong place. You may also have the oil grove that the oil flows around the lifters wrong, dumping oil instead of pushing it up the pushrods. This will either not let the oil flow up the pushrods, due to the hole wrong or to small of oil hole to the pushrods. You have good PSI but that's at the filter outlet, which isn't a good measurement place. 429/460 take off the back of the block. You haven't burned any main/rod bearings because oil is getting down the lifter galley which feeds, 2-5 mains and cam bearings. #1 main and cam get theirs right off the filter galley to the block.
If you were burning up bearings , crank and cam, I'd say yeah might be a right side galley plug left out. But you're not. Plug in the back of the block's galley would only hurt the left side, not both.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The galley plug affects oiling on both sides.

Not sure how you are going to see lifter valley plug with a bore scope unless you remove a pushrod and go down its hole. I am not familiar with how direct-able a bore scope but it must make a good 90* turn in order to see the galley plug. The galley plug is high on a boss in the lifter bore so it must also be looking upward after reaching the valley.

Pulling the intake most definitely reveals the condition of the valley plug. I am not sure if the 289 block has an open casting hole at the front of the block (like my 351w's do) that would allow you to use the scope but it would also be possible to remove the fuel pump as it allows one to get forward of the timing chain.. Again, I am not sure how direct-able the thing is.

You don't really need to run the motor to check for oil leakage if you use an oil priming devise that replaces the distributor. I use an old distributor with the cam gear removed from the bottom as a way to prime the system using a 1/2" drill spinning the oil pump CCW. Such a device would allow you to poke around with your scope until you can see the plugs and where the oil might be leaking.
Yes, borescope in through a pushrod slot. I think if I can attach a piece of line to the head of the scope I can get some control. Also I can use a piece of rod with a hook through another slot to direct it that way if need be. I found one that's semi-rigid, 5.5mm diameter with USB for $20... worth a shot.
 

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I went back and looked at you link to the VMF site. They listed just about every possibility there that one can think of and many are indeed valid. A systematic tear down beyond just the rocker arm area is in order (and I'd say over due.) The lack of generous oil being pumped through the pushrods until at least 2 minutes after start up is troubling (seen in video post #17.) That is more akin to when one first primes the motor (with a priming tool) when first starting a fresh motor with no oil yet in the system.

I build SR motors and one of the things I always do is to verify that the oiling grooves of the lifters remain uncovered at all times. This is verified with a visual inspection through 2 of the small threaded plugs found on each side under the timing chain and from the rear of the block. One is the channel for the left side and the other is for the right. Before I do that I sight straight through the block in those passages to verify there isn't some type of restriction. I have found unremoved metal shavings from machine work in the past (not saying that this is your problem.)

Normally HR lifters have sufficiently sized oiling grooves to allow flow at all times-especially with the low lift rates that your cam has. For some reason SR's don't always. The repair of the SR is to grind a portion of the lifter that faces for and aft of the oil feed to allow access to the flow at all times. There are pics of this mod on the net. Again, I don't think this is your problem BUT it is well worth checking.

I saw a mention of the oil pickup not being low enough in the pan and that is a valid point assuming the pan is deeper than stock. The HV oil pump may have relocated its location somewhat too. A thought not mentioned in the vmf thread is that thick oil with a HV oil pump could cause an issue. To think an oil when a motor is not built for it leads to foaming of the oil (thus less oil available.) A thinner oil might help. I spin my motors to over 8k week after week at the track using a standard oil pump and 10w30 oil. Its a dart block though with a slightly different oiling system. Even stock 289/302/351w Fords have decent factory oiling systems.

One thing I don't remember mentioned that was related to the HV oil pump was the fact that once and oil pump reaches the bypass stage, it will dump the excess oil back into the pan and the oil pressure will not increase with more rpm. The high pressure reading at all times may be related to a restriction downstream which keeps oil from getting to were it is needed. If blocked the pump will bypass the "excess" oil back into the pan (so its not getting to where it needs to be.)

Another thought related to the valley core plug. Yes oil maybe be passing down the passenger sided oil passage along side the lifters but if the core plug was missing, the oil would try to bypass going into the lifter as the open plug prevents pressure build up in order to enter the lifters themselves.

Consider the teardown, otherwise we're playing yard darts with theories.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I went back and looked at you link to the VMF site. They listed just about every possibility there that one can think of and many are indeed valid. A systematic tear down beyond just the rocker arm area is in order (and I'd say over due.) The lack of generous oil being pumped through the pushrods until at least 2 minutes after start up is troubling (seen in video post #17.) That is more akin to when one first primes the motor (with a priming tool) when first starting a fresh motor with no oil yet in the system.

I build SR motors and one of the things I always do is to verify that the oiling grooves of the lifters remain uncovered at all times. This is verified with a visual inspection through 2 of the small threaded plugs found on each side under the timing chain and from the rear of the block. One is the channel for the left side and the other is for the right. Before I do that I sight straight through the block in those passages to verify there isn't some type of restriction. I have found unremoved metal shavings from machine work in the past (not saying that this is your problem.)

Normally HR lifters have sufficiently sized oiling grooves to allow flow at all times-especially with the low lift rates that your cam has. For some reason SR's don't always. The repair of the SR is to grind a portion of the lifter that faces for and aft of the oil feed to allow access to the flow at all times. There are pics of this mod on the net. Again, I don't think this is your problem BUT it is well worth checking.

I saw a mention of the oil pickup not being low enough in the pan and that is a valid point assuming the pan is deeper than stock. The HV oil pump may have relocated its location somewhat too. A thought not mentioned in the vmf thread is that thick oil with a HV oil pump could cause an issue. To think an oil when a motor is not built for it leads to foaming of the oil (thus less oil available.) A thinner oil might help. I spin my motors to over 8k week after week at the track using a standard oil pump and 10w30 oil. Its a dart block though with a slightly different oiling system. Even stock 289/302/351w Fords have decent factory oiling systems.

One thing I don't remember mentioned that was related to the HV oil pump was the fact that once and oil pump reaches the bypass stage, it will dump the excess oil back into the pan and the oil pressure will not increase with more rpm. The high pressure reading at all times may be related to a restriction downstream which keeps oil from getting to were it is needed. If blocked the pump will bypass the "excess" oil back into the pan (so its not getting to where it needs to be.)

Another thought related to the valley core plug. Yes oil maybe be passing down the passenger sided oil passage along side the lifters but if the core plug was missing, the oil would try to bypass going into the lifter as the open plug prevents pressure build up in order to enter the lifters themselves.

Consider the teardown, otherwise we're playing yard darts with theories.
Thanks for offering your thoughts and sticking with me - really appreciate you taking the time.

Yes I agree things need to start coming apart. My hesitation at the moment is the motor currently stands at a high level of detail - like factory fresh. As soon as I start dismantling it that goes away. So my intent is to establish a reasonable basis upon which to prioritize while minimizing degradation of it's cosmetic state. I know at this point I can't have it all but want to be judicious and measured in the actions I take. Persons like yourself help me better understand the problem domain, challenges and risks in order to do so.

Just to check the pickup being too high in the pan I added an additional 1.5 quarts with no discernible difference in the symptoms. Conversely, there needs to be enough clearance between the pickup and the bottom of the pan. I think that's something I can check with the borescope. Though from what I've read all it needs is .060".

As to oil viscosity this whole journey started with a 30 weight after dumping the break-in oil and only on this last set of rockers I moved to the 20w50.

Blockage of the oil path and the role of the oil pump bypass certainly has come to mind and still a possibility. I'm thinking if I get to that stage the motor will be coming out. In fact if I think there's some sort of oiling restriction ahead of the crank and/or cam then it'll have to come out. To be honest I was resigned to doing just that last year but the shop I've been dealing with talked me out of it over the winter... I should have stuck with my original plan in hindsight.

My thought on the valley plug missing or leaking is there may be enough pressure or gravity to get oil into the lifter galley and pump up but not enough to push volume up through the pushrods. Same thing I think could happen if the the front galley plug were missing just with less oil making it to the crank and cam. I do understand the oiling system is for all intents and purposes a closed system with metered relief. Opening a gaping hole in any part of the system should impact the whole system and it's unfortunate the pressure take-off on these is at the head end of the oiling pressure path rather than further downstream. At this point it's all just a guess until I can identify a non nominal state beyond oil starvation at the rockers. That's really the goal right now.

Or should I say at this point it's just tossing lawn darts - the original Jarts kind lol

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I believe your problem is in 1 of 2 pieces. Lifters or pushrods. There is oil restrictive pushrods that keep more oil down low. These are for "true" roller rocker arms, not roller tip rocker arms.
That or your hyd roller lifters have the oiling hole either restricted or in the wrong place. You may also have the oil grove that the oil flows around the lifters wrong, dumping oil instead of pushing it up the pushrods. This will either not let the oil flow up the pushrods, due to the hole wrong or to small of oil hole to the pushrods. You have good PSI but that's at the filter outlet, which isn't a good measurement place. 429/460 take off the back of the block. You haven't burned any main/rod bearings because oil is getting down the lifter galley which feeds, 2-5 mains and cam bearings. #1 main and cam get theirs right off the filter galley to the block.
If you were burning up bearings , crank and cam, I'd say yeah might be a right side galley plug left out. But you're not. Plug in the back of the block's galley would only hurt the left side, not both.
Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Pushrods are clear and non restrictive. They're 5/16" diameter .080" wall thickness so I think we're good there.

Now, I've said I'm not burning up crank or cam bearings but how do I know for sure? I don't, I'm just assuming if I were there'd be a terrible noise making it obvious. Or turning the motor by hand would be next to impossible. Or I'd feel something through the wrench on the crank pulley bolt when turning by hand, like sandpaper. The motor isn't running hot. There's no knocking. So far there's nothing standing out to say there's another symptom at play.

The lifters are spec'd for this application. I assume that means all the necessary constraints are met for suitable operation and service life. To some extent I have to trust the builder's choices. That's not to say something could be/go wrong. I haven't been able to find detailed specs for these or competing lifters such that I could compare. But likely still couldn't make an informed judgement even if I could.

"You may also have the oil grove that the oil flows around the lifters wrong" Are you saying there's some way to install the lifters the wrong way? They're tie-bar pairs and didn't think that was possible:
165975


Care to share your thoughts on how to identify a damaged cam or crank bearing without disassembly? Believe me I'm no expert and didn't sleep at a HIE last night. Maybe others can share their thoughts as well?

Thanks again.
 

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.060" aka 1/16" isn't enough. .375" aka 3/8" is what you're looking for. Or close to it. This is how engines burn up when the oilpan gets smashed up. Pull the dist and take a look at the galley plugs from there. Use a oil priming rod and turn the pump over with it while checking to make sure the plugs are good. Pull a pushrod and do the same there. One thing to look for in the lifter valley is oil flow around the lifters while turn the engine by hand. Is the oil groove on the lifters right and is to much oil leaking from around the lifter/bores? It happens.
I hate to say this, but you're probably going to have to tear it apart. You could have bad cam bearings also dumping oil volumn but not pressure. At least the intake manifold needs to come off.
Personally I still think it's at the lifters or pushrod oil hole. 55PSI at idle with warm oil is great. Who adjusted the valves. They might be to tight also restricting oil flow.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
.060" aka 1/16" isn't enough. .375" aka 3/8" is what you're looking for. Or close to it. This is how engines burn up when the oilpan gets smashed up. Pull the dist and take a look at the galley plugs from there. Use a oil priming rod and turn the pump over with it while checking to make sure the plugs are good. Pull a pushrod and do the same there. One thing to look for in the lifter valley is oil flow around the lifters while turn the engine by hand. Is the oil groove on the lifters right and is to much oil leaking from around the lifter/bores? It happens.
I hate to say this, but you're probably going to have to tear it apart. You could have bad cam bearings also dumping oil volumn but not pressure. At least the intake manifold needs to come off.
Personally I still think it's at the lifters or pushrod oil hole. 55PSI at idle with warm oil is great. Who adjusted the valves. They might be to tight also restricting oil flow.
Thanks!

I was just going off memory on the .060", it's not what it used to be sad to say.

Yes, I read somewhere one could see the front galley plugs from the distributor hole and that was going to be one of the things to check with the borescope.

The rest of what you describe is what I was thinking should be part of my discovery i.e. inspect oil flow where I can in the valley also the condition of the lifter bores themselves to the extend that I can. How much oil seepage around the lifter bores is acceptable? I'm guessing you're suggesting the groove should be in the bore at all times yes?

The rockers have been replaced twice and adjusted at least 3 times, and a few pair done a couple times more as singletons (pulling them off for inspection for example). Once adjusted by "the shop" on first start, the first replacements done by me at 1/2 turn, the 2nd replacements done again by "the shop". I've verified with the tech that he only turned them down 1/2 turn each time. Maybe they need a little more?

Thanks again!
 

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1/2 turn is good. Some just torque them down on the stud stop and call it good. It would be interesting to know what components were used. Did the builder give you any kind of spec sheet, balancing info, etc.? If you break a part, it's nice to know what to replace it with. My gut feelings tell me it's the wrong lifers for your block. But then I've been known to be very stubborn. Here's an interesting item, All ford engines from 63-87 used the same lifters with only the FEs being different, fatter. But that's mech/hyd types. When you get into Hyd/mech roller lifters the numbers are special to the engine type.
Have to remember in 1967 they didn't have roller blocks like they started in 1985. I've seen lifter bores that needed bushings and ones with lower tops on them. A little oil bleed off is all you want at the lifter bore. When the oil ridge is uncovered a little for the short time, it bleeds off volumn and pressure. Not much but it does it at 16 locations.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
1/2 turn is good. Some just torque them down on the stud stop and call it good. It would be interesting to know what components were used. Did the builder give you any kind of spec sheet, balancing info, etc.? If you break a part, it's nice to know what to replace it with. My gut feelings tell me it's the wrong lifers for your block. But then I've been known to be very stubborn. Here's an interesting item, All ford engines from 63-87 used the same lifters with only the FEs being different, fatter. But that's mech/hyd types. When you get into Hyd/mech roller lifters the numbers are special to the engine type.
Have to remember in 1967 they didn't have roller blocks like they started in 1985. I've seen lifter bores that needed bushings and ones with lower tops on them. A little oil bleed off is all you want at the lifter bore. When the oil ridge is uncovered a little for the short time, it bleeds off volumn and pressure. Not much but it does it at 16 locations.
No spec sheet from the builder, just a parts list in the form of part numbers cut out of the packaging they came in. As far as balancing - nothing except I was told it was balanced with the flywheel. It was all 3rd party.

Just so I'm clear, when inspecting the lifters through their travel, the top ridge of the groove should get exposed just a little or not at all? The photo in reply #9 is of the lifters used. If the top ridge is exposed out of the bore at all it would seem no oil would be getting to the pushrod for that moment of time.

Thanks.
 

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The groove should never ever be exposed out of the bore.
 

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"Roller tip", standard ball trunion rockers , CC or offshore , are well known for "burning up" the cup in the rocker . It doesn't matter what brand of engine it is, they all do it. At elevated RPMs the oil is not oiling the trunion adequately. It is "spraying" the underside of the valve cover. Switch to a needle bearing trunion "full" roller rocker and the problem should stop.
 

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"Roller tip", standard ball trunion rockers , CC or offshore , are well known for "burning up" the cup in the rocker . It doesn't matter what brand of engine it is, they all do it. At elevated RPMs the oil is not oiling the trunion adequately. It is "spraying" the underside of the valve cover. Switch to a needle bearing trunion "full" roller rocker and the problem should stop.
Thanks for jumping in...

I've tried 2 sets of full roller rockers, CC and Scorpion, both manufactures said they'd fit under the stock valve covers, neither would. Sure I could make them work with longer pushrods, studs and valve cover extensions but that's not an option for me I'm afraid.

To be honest I still haven't rev'd the engine above 4k and no more than 3.5k sustained. The problem so far seems to manifest after/during a sustained run.

Having said that it's clear, to me anyway, more oil should be making it to the rockers than currently is. They pretty much start to go dry above 1.5k rpm and I can't believe that could be right. In addition I'm not seeing near as much flow as others I've seen, on YouTube sorry to say, but it's the only reference I have at the moment.

I was thinking of opening up the oiling holes in the rockers just a smidge in hopes of getting a little more drool and a little less spray.
 
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