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Ol' 390fe engine smoking

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kingdesgn, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254

    kingdesgn
    Member

    I finally got my 64 Gal running and breaking and have been enjoying the heck out of driving around the neighborhood. I must thank Ray With and my bro-in-law Vrod64. They've been a great help.

    When the car is warmed up, it smokes terribly from the left tail pipe. The engine has not been rebuilt; it's the original 390fe engine that has 118,000 mile on it.

    What could this possibly be? Is it something I should take care of before I get it on the roads? The oil has been changed and filter replaced.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Racewriter
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 780

    Racewriter
    Member

    My first instinct is to suggest that you have some rotten valve seals. Common in old engines that have been sitting awhile.
     
  3. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 8,239

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    Pull the valve covers and see if its all sludged up,the 352 in my country squire was a sludged mess.
     
  4. shoebox72
    Joined: Jan 24, 2003
    Posts: 1,491

    shoebox72
    Member

    It might also have stuck frozen rings..especially is she's been sitting.
     

  5. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,089

    MeanGene427
    Member
    from Napa

    Betcha a $20 that the oil drainback hole is clogged with gunk from not changing the oil- probably doesn't smoke for a few minutes, then belches pretty good? If the drainback is partially or fully clogged, it'll fill thevalve cover up to the point where it'll run down into the intake, which is high enough to flood the stems under the seals. Let it sit overnight before you pull the covers, if you're lucky the oil will have seeped down below the rail- put some rags below the cover to be safe before you pull them. Look all the way in that back by the last head bolt, that's where to dig out the gunk with a little screwdriver. Carefully get all the crap out that you can, and change the oil & filter a couple times as soon as it shows color to get the loose stuff
    I received a large amount of enthusiastic gratitude from a gal friend one time after cleaning out her 79 Camaro that was a true mosquito-killer, diagnosis was easy when she said she hadn't changed the oil since she bought it new :eek:
    The cleanup in the shower part was the best :D
     
  6. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254

    kingdesgn
    Member

    Is it something that I should take care of before I get it on the road? Maybe a rebuild?
     
  7. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,838

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    MeanGene has the best suggestion. (if you decide to rebuild it, you probably will remove that valve cover anyway?)

    It's like finding out the contents of a letter. Open it and read it. Maybe a pleasant surprise.
     
  8. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,089

    MeanGene427
    Member
    from Napa

    Yep, and probably not- 118K ain't all that much for a 390 unless it's really worn from poor maintenance. See what you find in the covers, and as with most anything from that era with those miles, check the timing chain for slop. If it's pretty loose, a fresh timing set will prevent the chain from jumping, and perk the engine up by getting the cam & ignition back in time. I'd also suggest running some Seafoam through the carb after the gunk cleanup. Those old 390's are as tough as a nickle steak
    This one (the ragtop) still has it's original, untouched 390-4V from '62, good oil pressure, uses no oil, and no lifter noise. The hardtop is an original 406-6V car, but has a 427, C6 w/4000 converter, and 5.14 gears for a little extra fun- really good at squashing the egos of kidz in Camaroz- the sound alone is usually enough to kill their enthusiasm, and then they usually want to go for a ride

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    [​IMG]
     
  9. JeffB2
    Joined: Dec 18, 2006
    Posts: 9,142

    JeffB2
    Member
    from Phoenix,AZ

    It wouldn't hurt to add a can of Marvel Mystery Oil to the crankcase run it for a 1,000 miles and change oil again,if the FE sat for awhile it should unstick the rings and valve varnish.
     
  10. Domino
    Joined: Jul 2, 2009
    Posts: 529

    Domino
    Member

    Pulling the spark plugs could also help pinpoint which cylinder is causing the smoke.
     
  11. slickhale
    Joined: Dec 19, 2010
    Posts: 772

    slickhale
    Member
    from Phoenix

    for sure pull the valve cover, i had crumbled piles inside the valvesprings that used to be seals on the last one i tore down. prob not as bad as you're thinking.
     

  12. definatly use some marvel in that ole girl. That is the one snake oil I use and it works.

    Pull the valve covers like said before and give it a look over. Then report back on here.
     
  13. edsel.fi
    Joined: Sep 7, 2008
    Posts: 242

    edsel.fi
    Member

    rebuilding sounds best. There are maybe worn cylinder walls, rod & main bearings.
    you can maybe save on machinery costs, if those issues are repaired early enough?

    My Edsel was also smoking, I changed those valve stem seals.
    I was shocked how much there were sludge in valvetrain componenents.
    Then added some STP oil treatment, maybe it helped a bit, It does not solve real problem=
    worn parts.

    I just took my Edsels Fe engine to pieces, she was breathing heavily, black smoke, etc etc. Some sludge there, lol . Shining cylinder walls, no more honing patterns left.
    Main, rod & cam bearing really worn , I plastigaged bearings, main bearings were 0.006, should be max 0.0024 , slightly worn, lol .
    Cam was not looking so good, lifters were stuck. Crank was looking good, machinery shop measured it, and just cleaned and polised it, and they said to me: just use new std bearings ! Even cylinder bores were not so worn, honing needed and new piston rings.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  14. petew
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 221

    petew
    Member
    from Mebane, NC

    If it doesn't smoke until it warms up then it is most likely valve seals or guides. Changing from the original umbrella seals to a positive seal will get that smoking to stop even if the guides are a little past thier prime. Another thing to look for is rocker shafts that are installed upside down. There are holes in the rocker shafts that oil the rockers, these are supposed to point down. If installed upside down (pointing up) they will flood the top of the head with oil. Checking the drain back holes is a good idea also.

    Pete
     
  15. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254

    kingdesgn
    Member

    Thanks for the advice. I'll take off the valve covers, check it out and clean all the gunk out. I'll then check the drain holes to see if they're clogged with gunk as well. One question: I have cork valve cover gaskets that will replace the old ones. Will these work well for new gaskets? Oh one more question: is the Marvel Mystery Oil an additive?
     
  16. Marvel comes in a big red bottle, at any parts store or even walmart. Its an oil or fuel additive that just plain works for freeing up stuff.
     
  17. Cork gaskets are fine, just straighten out the valve cover flanges if they're bent.

    MMO can be considered as an additive. My dad used to add some to the gas tank in his cars years back. It works well for gummed up rings, noisy lifters, etc when added to the oil.

    Try to keep as much of the crumbly stuff from falling into the engine as possible, it will only get sucked up into the oil pump screen. There's no glorious way to clean out the drain-back holes in the heads. I've used pieces of coat hanger, a piece of speedo cable in a drill chuck.

    Bob
     
  18. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    Yep it worked for me. It won't happen over night but give it a chance unless you plan to rebuild it anyway. It could be only one or two cylinders with stuck rings on that bank. MMO will free up any stuck rings and the smoking might disappear. (mine did) It might not but a full rebuild is a big chunk of change that can be used for other things. I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet.
     
  19. Racewriter
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 780

    Racewriter
    Member

    After you buy the Marvel Mystery Oil, use it to oil your air tools. Had an old impact wrench that was damn near frozen solid. Put the juice to it and it would rotate slower than a car show turntable. Tried WD-40, nothing worked. A few drops of MMO, and I've been using it for the last three years.
     
  20. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,089

    MeanGene427
    Member
    from Napa

    The Ford umbrella seals do their job pretty well if they're in good shape, they center on the stem, not the guide- a PC type seal won't last very long on a sloppy guide with the stem wobbling around in it, plus you have to pull the heads to machine for them.. I always use the umbrellas unless the spring package doesn't have the room. In fact, some folks use them on sbc's whether they'll admit it or not LOL. They will not, however, work "underwater"- which is usually the problem. That's why it doesn't smoke at first, the valve cover has to fill up with oil first- takes a few minutes. The plugs towards the rear would be pretty black with oil if this is happening.
    The problem with rocker shafts upside down is wear- the oil pressure needs to be at the bottom to protect the rocker & shaft. The tins under the rockers carry most of the oil away anyway, either into the valley through the "fingers", or to the ends and to the drainback holes. Some folks leave the tins out, but you should run them if they fit around your springs, the FE return system works pretty well with the tin shields carrying most of the oil away, the seals don't see much oil- unless the heads fill up. I've bought several cars cheap that smoked pretty good, fouled back plugs, etc., and they ran great after a couple hours work, a set of gaskets, oil change and some Seafoam.
    Always try the simple (and cheap) stuff first- if it actually runs pretty good, no noise and good pressure, just killing mosquitos from one side, it's probably far from needing a rebuild.
    I use MMO, more often Seafoam, but wouldn't go by a blanket 1000 mi change, might have a little gunk, maybe a lot- I change it when it shows enough color to show that is working, so the gunk isn't circulating- a couple quick changes usually does it, if you cleaned out the heads first
     
  21. I use them on about everything. Of course on an SBC I use the ones made for an SBC as the Ford has a different sized valve stem. :rolleyes:

    If its an old engine been setting and it is running now I would look for the simple stuff first. like valve seals. If you think that the springs may be stuck I would go right after the marvel mystery oil for a solution before I tear it down.

    If you tear it doen before I did what most of the fellas thing iof as a rebuild I would mic everything maybe all it needs is a set of rings and inserts with no major machining.

    There is something that has not been mentioned and is worth mentioning although you may not want to hear it. If the engine was sitting for any length of time it may have a busted ring or two. They stick to the bore if there is any moisture and when you light them off or even roll them over they break.

    But I would look at the simple stuff first work your way from the outside to the inside.
     
  22. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,089

    MeanGene427
    Member
    from Napa

    Of course, the FE Ford has a different sized stem than a SBC- but the SBF seals work just fine on the leetle Chebbie, as they have the same size stems- but you knew that, right LOL :rolleyes:;)
     
  23. Mean Gene has the trick. Pull the Valve covers, check for sludge and any drainback issues, Add a bottle of Marvels (to loosen rings) and drive it.

    Since you are running 10-40 oil, this will accelerate the oil getting by the rings. If it is smoking that much, may be a valve guide on one cylinder. With the valve covers off, clean them up and shoot with some gold paint. Bead blasting your aircleaner this week.
     
  24. Mean Gene has the trick. Pull the Valve covers, check for sludge and any drainback issues, Add a bottle of Marvels (to loosen rings) and drive it.

    Since you are running 10-40 oil, this will accelerate the oil getting by the rings. If it is smoking that much, may be a valve guide on one cylinder. With the valve covers off, clean them up and shoot with some gold paint. Bead blasting your aircleaner this week.:D
     
  25. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254

    kingdesgn
    Member

    10-4. I will keep you posted on how it goes.
     
  26. RAY With
    Joined: Mar 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,132

    RAY With
    Member

    Just about every thing is already covered in the post. To many unknowns but sluge,valve seals,worn guides or rings all will create you problem. If seals are bad I have tools that will allow you to change the seals without pulling the heads. You just need to remove the covers and get a general idea how every thing looks and if trash is in the return holes .
     
  27. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254

    kingdesgn
    Member

    Well, I should have taken before and after shots but here's the cleaned up passenger side head showing valves and drain holes. As you can see, they're pretty clean now. Before the clean up, I had to hunt around the for them. The holes were completely clogged. I also took out the spark plugs (on that same side) and the one in the very back was black and a bit oily. Probably due to the clog issue? The rest weren't so black and not as oily as the back. Driver's side is planned for tomorrow night.
    [​IMG]
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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  28. RAY With
    Joined: Mar 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,132

    RAY With
    Member

     
  29. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254

    kingdesgn
    Member

    Ray, are you able to see the pictures? All I see are blue boxes with question marks in them. What do you know about Marvel Mystery Oil? Everyone on this thread swears by it.
     
  30. RAY With
    Joined: Mar 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,132

    RAY With
    Member

    Its great product but for now I suggest the Schaler reslone. When I heard it run before it had no lifter noise but you have a ton of crap in the pan and valve trane and the reslone will cut a lot of the crap out of the motor the next time you change the oil. Your engine has normal wear and you dont need to thin down the oil with an upper lube but do need some internal cleaning and flushing. A step at a time it the way to go now that you see the slug build up. I did not see your pics other than the link showed the passenger side front.
     

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