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Ford Flathead valve adjustment

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Head Hunter, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. Head Hunter
    Joined: Mar 7, 2006
    Posts: 20

    Head Hunter
    Member
    from ind.

    We have a 53 ford flathead motor ,cant adjust lifters out anymore ,broke the little tool to hold lifters, valves still chatter ?? Thanks
     
  2. swissmike
    Joined: Oct 22, 2003
    Posts: 1,029

    swissmike
    Member

  3. Head Hunter
    Joined: Mar 7, 2006
    Posts: 20

    Head Hunter
    Member
    from ind.

    Fixed tool and got new one ,also ordered new lifters still wont adjust , Wrong valves???
     
  4. AJofHollywood
    Joined: Oct 3, 2008
    Posts: 637

    AJofHollywood
    Member

    Holes drilled into the sided of lifter bores work better then the little Johnson tool. But you can only drill the holes when rebuilding an engine --shavings, you know.

    Anyway, what valves & cam do you have? How does the car run otherwise?
    By the way, flatheads always seem to have some valvetrain noise, solid lifters do that.
     
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  5. Groovybaby6
    Joined: Dec 29, 2008
    Posts: 711

    Groovybaby6
    Member
    from Denver

    Is that a stock engine with stock heads and original valves?
     
  6. blown49
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 2,213

    blown49
    Member Emeritus

    All valves or just some?? You may have a cam going flat!

    Jim
     
  7. 31ACoupe
    Joined: Nov 14, 2005
    Posts: 1,397

    31ACoupe
    Member

    you might want to consider using the chevy valves, theres a lot of info in archives on that or you can get tex smith's book which has good info on the valve train.
     
  8. 36tbird
    Joined: Feb 1, 2005
    Posts: 1,041

    36tbird
    Member

    AJ will cringe when I suggest this, but here goes. I just pulled the valves on a complete engine I bought to verify that it has hollow body adjustable lifters. No way would I try to use those damn Johnson tools. So, going down to my local hardware store, I bought some of those plastic covers you use on the legs of stools or furniture that would fit down in the lifter bores. I call these my "lifter condoms". You can put those down in the bores to catch the shavings when you drill into them. Attach a magnet in the vicinity of the hole when you drill it and the shavings will stick to the area around the hole and to the drill bit. After the hole is drilled I use the shop vac with one of those small tube attachments and I use another magnet on a stick to clean everything up. I'm sure that microscopically I am missing some of the shavings, but that is why we run an oil filter, right? And by the way, I modified the oil system to for all oil to go through the filter, too.

    The hard part about drilling these holes, if you have never done it before, is to get them as far down as you can. I drill a 3/16" hole and use an old ice pic.
     
  9. swissmike
    Joined: Oct 22, 2003
    Posts: 1,029

    swissmike
    Member

    Always used the Johnson tool. Agreed it is a little cumbersome, but always worked for me. Maybe your valvetrain is just plain wore out beyond adjustment? Places like Reds-Headers sell complete valvetrain kits including cam lifters springs and valves for less money than buying all individual components.
     
  10. Groovybaby6
    Joined: Dec 29, 2008
    Posts: 711

    Groovybaby6
    Member
    from Denver

    Was a compression test done? Are you sure a valve or two isn't stuck?
    Is it an old flathead or completely rebuilt?
     
  11. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 19,602

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member

    And clarify...have you run out of tappet adjustment range with a gap still showing, or did you get to correct dimension but still have noise??
    What clearance spec are you using, and what is the gap after your adjustment??
    A '51-3 engine with adjustable lifters will need more turns than an earlier engine, as those late flathead valves are actually shorter than '32-50. I did put adjustables in a '53 engine once, Johnson hollows back when they were readily available, and they did have plenty of range for
    the late valves.
     
  12. DICK SPADARO
    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,887

    DICK SPADARO
    Member

    Hi, I just caught this post and am in a similar predicament. I am fine with a pre 49 engines but never fool with 8ba style engines. I got a very nice ported and relieved 8ba block at an auction and want to use it. I was going thru my ford parts manual to order valves and see that here are two length valves used in an 8ba engine. 49-50 use a valve with an overall length of 4.750" (which is the same as an early engine) and the 51-53 engine uses a valve with a 4.54 overall length. This is .210 difference in length, a further check of the lifter numbers revealed that there were early lifters and 51-53 later style lifters that were longer.

    If you are having a problem adjusting your lifters far enough, I'd check the length of your valves first, I can't see how you can adjust almost 1/4' out on a lifter with out running out of threads.

    Now I just started with this education today so if you are reading this and know the answer feel free to join in and help both of us out..
     
  13. DICK SPADARO
    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,887

    DICK SPADARO
    Member

    Well I'm answering my own questions, after spending all afternoon researching the valves and the parts book nomenclature, it seems like there are two style of late engine valves but the measurement distance refers to the valve spring retainer height and the valves are the same. The problem develops when you install the early long springs on the late short valves and you get coil bind. Since this isn't the issue back to square one.
     
  14. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 19,602

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member

    I'm going to go look again on that...I too have worked on exactly one late-late type. My memory is that the valves themselves differ in length, but substantially less than the spring dimension varies. Don't remember source...I am up to my neck in early Ford literature, but have only rags and tatters as late as 1951. Hmmmm...whyinhell do people wander across 49th street??
     
  15. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 19,602

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member

    Here's an old post, casting lots of fog on the issue through endless comparison of apples, oranges, and rantings of a machinest who is too young:

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=507288&highlight=spring length&showall=1

    But I think no actual overall length spec...the only numbers refer to spring and groove, not end to end.

    Looks likely that actual valve overall is same length, but will see if I have anything definitive on that at home.

    Remember: Late model iron is confusing. Go get a 59A.
     
  16. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 7,818

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Could a reground cam have too small of a base circle now, after the regrind?
     
  17. Use chevy aftermarket (Manley brand) valves and you will have to wind the johnstons down not up. Or take a good .020 off the tip of each valve.
    Of coarse this is all dependant on how many times the seats have been ground.
    you may need some where between .020-.050 spring shims, using a lincoln spring at an installed hight of 2.125. This is using the one pce srping retainer with clips. the taller the seat the less shims used, or that has been my experience so far.
     
  18. I also realise that the last post I placed is no help at this point, but you may have to remove the heads to get an answer on your valves. Also when you set the cam to adjust the lifter does the lifter sit level or very close to level with the lifter bore.
    If the lifter sink well below the lifter bore and is hard to attach the johnson lock wrench too it is usually a combination of two things.
    It has been my experienced that the original hollow johnstons sink quite low in the bore with a reground cam and this is amphasized double when the lifters have been re surfaced as well.
     
  19. blown49
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 2,213

    blown49
    Member Emeritus

    These drawings may help. I recently made these after ordering and receiving all new parts from Mac VanPelt and assembling. Includes all part numbers and dimensions.

    Jim
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  20. RidgeRunner
    Joined: Feb 9, 2007
    Posts: 550

    RidgeRunner
    Member
    from Western MA

    IIRC back in the mid '60's when I bought a set of adjustable Johnsons for an 8ba at a local speed shop there were 2 different sets available, one for stock cams, one for regrinds/race.

    Ed
     
  21. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 19,602

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member

    The "long" Johnsons got the extra length via a thick head on the bolt.
     
  22. Andy
    Joined: Nov 17, 2002
    Posts: 3,348

    Andy
    Member

    I made a tool to fit the holes on the top of the lifter. I got a piece of 1/8" music wire and cut about 8" off. I bent in in half to form a narrow V. I put the ends in a vice and bent the ends 90º. It picks up opposite side holes and is strong enough to hold the lifter. I had to exersize my lifters as they were really tight. I fould that I could not use the Chevy valves as the length procluded getting anythig in place to hold the lifter.
     
  23. jetmek
    Joined: Jan 12, 2006
    Posts: 1,844

    jetmek
    Member

    the differnence in valve spring lenght in 8ba's was because ford started using valve rotators in later engines. overall valve length was the same then as now. as far as the stuck adjuster bolt maybe someone locktited a loose one??? those wrenches are a PITA
     
  24. AlbuqF-1
    Joined: Mar 2, 2006
    Posts: 909

    AlbuqF-1
    Member
    from NM

    Here's what the parts CD shows for truck engines ('48-on)
    4th column is overall valve length, then head diameter in 5th column
     

    Attached Files:

  25. Haha I like the "condom" idea....another tip if you are drilling is to use heavy grease on the drill bit.

    The drilling shavings will stick to the grease in the grooves of the drill bit.


    Rat
     

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