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Technical FE Ford 390: pulled dist. oil pump shaft dropped into engine!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ThisOneGoesTo11, Mar 15, 2020.

  1. Oh no: I was changing the intake manifold gasket everything was going OK, put the intake on with the distributor in the hole....THEN

    I pulled the distributor up to check if it was off one tooth, heard a metallic clink and ---no shaft in the hole. Cannot see it anywhere.

    Any hope to retrieve this ? I cannot see it down the dist hole, I assume it went into the pan. Has anyone ever gotten one out through the oil pan drain plug, Or am I doomed to pull off the timing cover, water pump ---or worse? Thanks for all your expertise. First FE I ever worked on, except as a kid, changing the oil on Mom's O/T LTD. 1964 Factory service manual is not much help.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2020
  2. triumph 1
    Joined: Feb 9, 2011
    Posts: 552

    triumph 1

    I’ve had this happen to me before & dropped the pan to retrieve it. It’s definitely a design flaw on FE engines.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    Deuces and das858 like this.
  3. Tri-power37
    Joined: Feb 10, 2019
    Posts: 510


    ^^ Me too and yes it is ^^
  4. (Ford: I try to love you, and you do this....) .. I have this cheesy new HF scope , might try to look in there better and see if I can at least locate it. if I can manage to get it out without yanking the oil pan, it may give hope to others. I've pulled the pan without pulling a V-6 engine out and it was no fun. Looking to avoid that if possible. There might have been some type of retaining clip from the factory but I can tell you this FE did not have one!

  5. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 10,554

    from Missouri

    If it has never been apart, the retainer probably broke and fell in the pan.
    Can't believe it'd come out the drain plug hole, it would have to be a straight shot for that to happen.
    town sedan likes this.
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,422


    There is supposed to be a clip on the stick to prevent this from happening. Your only choice is to remove the pan and oil pump and install a new drive stick with the clip on it
  7. TA DAD
    Joined: Mar 2, 2014
    Posts: 312

    TA DAD
    from NC

    It's been years but I had a ramp truck with a 390 and the shaft came out and it was apain getting the pan off. I don't seeing coming out through the hole.
  8. Aaron65
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 287

    from Michigan

    This recently happened to me on my '63 T-Bird with a rebuilt engine (which was done before I bought it). Luckily, the pump shaft hung up on the pump itself, and I was able to very, very gently and gingerly use a telescoping magnet to pull it up into place and get it into position. It was like playing the game Operation when I was a kid, but I did it. All I can think is that the rebuilder installed the shaft with the collar toward the pump itself, so I'll have to be careful when pulling the distributor in the future. You may want to shine a flashlight down there and really look carefully inside the distributor hole to see if it's hanging up in there somewhere (although you probably already did that).
    stillrunners and Deuces like this.
  9. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 1,372


    My youngster had the same thing happen on his F-250 390 engine and..........was able to fish it out through the oil drain hole!
    He was born with a horse shoe up his fanny, I guess.
    I saw it so I know its true, it CAN be done.
    He managed to slip the driveshaft into the oil pump hole by using a big drinking straw stuck on to the end of the shaft when putting it back together.
    stillrunners, blowby and TA DAD like this.
  10. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 761


    Probably an assembly error by whoever rebuilt the engine or replaced the oil pump last.

    The retainer is a friction fit on the shaft and keeps the shaft from disengaging at the oil pump when the distributor is pulled.

    I would hardly Catt that a design fault, as tens of millions of Ford engines of various families have used that design for forty or fifty years.

    It’s easy for a novice engine builder to forget the clip, or, more likely, put it on the wrong end of the driveshaft.
    town sedan, egads and Boneyard51 like this.
  11. RmK57
    Joined: Dec 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,666


    Iv'e done that at least 3-4 times in my 460. My experience with it is the pump shaft rests on top of the oil pump pick up and leans against hole where the distributor goes into. Makes it real hard for it drop into the pan, but I guess it could happen. Each time Iv'e managed to fish it out with one those flexible magnetic tools.
    Bugguts, Charlie K, mikhett and 2 others like this.
  12. 51504bat
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,531


    Did this years ago when I was in HS on the 289 in my Falcon when I was reinstalling the distributor. It kept seating a tooth off. After the umpteenth time of pulling it up and rotating the distributor gear a bit the rod came up out of the pump and then dropped into the pan. Apparently the clip that is supposed to prevent this didn't. Had to drop the pan to fish it out and of course the cross over exhaust pipe was in the way. All in all not a fun time.
  13. 64gal
    Joined: Jan 18, 2007
    Posts: 147


    If it made it to the pan, just leave it there and get a new drive shaft and install with the distributer.
    Good luck.
  14. oldtom69
    Joined: Dec 6, 2009
    Posts: 529

    from grandin nd

    all because of the "one tooth off" myth !
    Old wolf likes this.
  15. 51504bat
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,531


    Agreed but remember at 17 I knew everything. Haha,
  16. kabinenroller
    Joined: Jan 26, 2012
    Posts: 598


    If you tried this I would attach a strong magnet to the bottom of the oil pan to hold the shaft from moving around. If it was me I would bite the bullet and pull the oil pan.
    town sedan and Boneyard51 like this.
  17. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 1,853

    oldiron 440

    I had it happen in a 351W, dropped the pan to retrieve it.
    Might have luck with a magnet.
  18. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,431

    Bandit Billy

    Did it to a 390 in an old t-bird I owned. Drained the oil, grabbed the rubber mallet, pounded on the pan and heard it rattle. I was able to "walk" it down to the hole and after a bit of manipulation, I got it out through the drain hole. Lucky. I wish that sort of luck on you.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  19. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,843


    Ford put a star type washer on that shaft at the factory. At some time in this engines life it has been apart and a new after market shaft was put in or the original was put in upside down. So this is not a design flaw by Ford! It’s a mistake by someone that was in the engine previously! I know this was stated in another post ......... but it needs to be said again!

  20. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,279


    You could always do like this hack mechanic did at a shop I worked at. He had an oil pump job on a Firebird and no way you could make any money on commission doing that job . So he took his whiz wheel grinder out and cut a hole in the pan removed the pump and pickup. Installed the new pump and pickup and welded the hole back up. ground the weld down and painted the pan.
    If I hadn't seen him do it I wouldn't have believed he did it .
    Try and fish it out. Otherwise leave it in there and get another oil pump rod or do it the right way and pull the pan. I know of at least 3 jobs I did while working at a Ford dealer that when I pulled the pan there was a rod laying in the bottom of the pan.
    Old wolf, Boneyard51 and town sedan like this.
  21. town sedan
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,290

    town sedan

    Odds are doing this will never lead to a problem. But, it'll always be in the back of your mind. Personally I don't like things rolling around at will inside the engine. Good luck and drop the pan.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  22. Boneyard51 likes this.
  23. RmK57
    Joined: Dec 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,666


    I used this one, but like I said my pump shaft didn't fall all the way into the oil pan. It will be quite difficult to get the magnet by the oil pump pick up without it sticking to it. You might have to at least drop the pan 1" to fish it out with the magnet. Hopefully your pan doesn't have any baffling, which would make even worse.

    j-jock likes this.
  24. I done that once left that shaft in the oil pan. Got another shaft and burred up the end that fits in the dist. put Loctite on the dist end and drove it into the dist. made that saft permanent to the dist.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  25. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,589

    from Napa

    Yep, you can fish one out with a flexible magnet and a little patience- but of course the Chebbrainwashed have to parrot Ford design flaw, right on cue. Someone forgot to put the clip on or put the shaft in upside down
    s55mercury66, Boneyard51 and egads like this.
  26. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,143


    I've pulled the pan on more than one Ford and found an extra oil pump drive.
    Boneyard51 and triumph 1 like this.
  27. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,843


    If it made its way to the bottom of the pan, it won’t hurt anything, unless you spent a lot of time on the drag strip in the wee numbers!

  28. 20200319_195518.jpg

    The offending bastard. Had to pull the pan, had to jack up the engine, none of the gadgets worked. This shaft was laying up in the corner next to the dipstick, like a kitchen broom, had I run it probably would have gotten tangled up in the crank eventually. I'm doing the Old Wolf idea --loctite the %^$& out of it, let the next guy curse my name. Or me when I can't get the shaft out of the distributor. Thanks for all the feedback!
  29. ffr1222k
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,157


    Thanks for updating the thread with your solution
    Hnstray, klleetrucking and 61Cruiser like this.
  30. 61Cruiser
    Joined: Dec 5, 2013
    Posts: 130


    Thanks for the update. Glad it sorta worked out OK

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app

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