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Technical Y-block ford rocker arm oiling

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by John “Andy” Edd, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. I’ve been rebuilding and working on y-block Fords since 1967 when I was 16 years old , and I’ve never had rocket arm oiling problems except on cars I had bought or acquired free and I took the engines apart and fixed them but I’ve seen and heard guys say to pinch off the two oil tubes -WRONG- those two tubes have a purpose the tube on the right front sends oil to the timing chain and the tube on the left rear sends oil to the distributor gear this oiling is shown in Motors manuals and original Ford service manuals and what I’ve done if I suspect oiling trouble is take the rocker arm assembly off one side and start the engine and see how much if any oil comes out of the oil hole in the head , y-blocks run fine on 4 cylinders and if no oil , pull the head and crank it over and see if oil comes out of the block , don’t be intimidated take it apart step by step and fix it right-the Bowsawkid Y-block expert and builder of several Boss 312 450 plus horsepower engines !
    saltracer219 and warhorseracing like this.
  2. bdynpnt
    Joined: Feb 9, 2009
    Posts: 354


    What I did on mine to make sure I don't ever have an oiling problem is I cut a 1/16 inch wide groove a 1/16 inch deep between the oil feed holes in the center cam bore then installed the cam bearings this way I'm guaranteed to get oil to the top end

    Sent from my SM-G965U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  3. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 4,648

    jimmy six

    Not knowing if the cam bearing fix was done or not about twice a year I remove the valve covers and look for oil. It's always there so far in 10 k miles... I also run thinner oil than some like since it's not used as much as when a new car. Ford recommended 20 weight back then.
    The real down fall was non-detergent oil that was popular at that time for cars with mechanical lifters. Detergent oils were for hydraulic lifter engines...
  4. bdynpnt
    Joined: Feb 9, 2009
    Posts: 354


    I run mobile1 in everything 10w30

    Sent from my SM-G965U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    H380 likes this.
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  5. lucas doolin
    Joined: Feb 7, 2013
    Posts: 346

    lucas doolin

    Bought a 1956 Ford Victoria with a 312 Thunderbird special engine in 1959. Smoked like hell. Took the rocker covers and intake and valley cover off, and dropped the pan. Engine was seriously sludged up. Cleaned everything including oil pump pick up screen, oil return holes in the heads and changed the crankcase paper air breather (which everyone back in the day neglected to do). Engine ran fine with zero problems until I replaced the Y block with a Cleveland 13 years later. Remember seeing several Y blocks with external oil feeds piped into the rocker stands via the valve covers. Probably never need that solution with today's improved oils.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  6. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,708


    13 years? Ugh?

    Old wolf likes this.
  7. The best shure fire fix for a Y block is to pull it out and install a FE or any other better engine.
    deathrowdave and deucemac like this.
  8. A three year old engine shouldn't need any work? You can try and blame the oil that was available back then. However plenty of other engines used the very same (crappy) oil and did not have the problems that Y blocks had. Some engines especially Y blocks simply had too much blow by and where more prone to create sludge than others. Up until the PCV became widely used sludge in engines was common. and before PCV a mill with a 100,000 miles without being overhauled was uncommon.
    deucemac likes this.
  9. there were some after market oiler's back in the day.....some bodies hording them....
  10. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,776

    Atwater Mike

    I worked on Yblocks since I was an apprentice...(1957) Yes, some cam bearing problems, but mostly 'low maintenance'.
    I remember a Chevy owner came in for his usual servicing and I asked about that nice '56 Customline Two door hardtop he had. "Oh, hell...That Ford just gets used, the Chevy gets the service work..."
    Jerk wouldn't sell me the Ford, though...
    loudbang and egads like this.
  11. Yes ive heard that the cam bearing would spin. However ive taken apart dozens of non rocker oiling Y blocks and have yet to find a spun cam bearing. Im of the opinion that there are internal leaks resulting in loss of oil pressure to the rocker arms. I know the dog leg where the head meets the block is restrictive. However its still larger that the steel line under the side cover for the lifters on my 56 chevy 235. and those rockers never quit oiling and it doesn't even have a oil filter. Later Y blocks have a groove around the cam journal but they also as often as not where as dry as a popcorn fart on the rocker arms. The FE that came out in 58 was subject to the Same (low Maintenance) as the Various Y blocks. and it never (except for a very rare occasion)had dry rockers or leaking rear main seals. The 223 and 261 six cyl fords where also subhect to the same crappy oil and (low Maintence) and they where not cronic dry rockers or leaking rear main engines.
  12. In 57 that 56 customline was just a year old.
    bdynpnt likes this.
  13. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,432


    the Y block I did recently had a worn out cam bearing, the one that provides oil to the's just too narrow to last more than 50-60k miles, in my opinion.

    But there are likely other causes also, sludge is a big one. Lack of maintenance is hard on engines, and really hard on engines that were not designed very well. The entire oiling system on the Y block seems to be an afterthought.
    Old wolf likes this.
  14. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 17,697

    from Michigan

    It also helped to change the oil every 3000 miles.....
    egads and warhorseracing like this.
  15. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 1,776

    from NKy

    I’m one of Fords best friends , but the Y block isn’t up on my list . People will scream at me , but it is what it is they are prone to short life , oiling issues , low power to weight ratio. If they were good old Henry would of used them for ever the same as he wanted to with the A model .
    Old wolf likes this.
  16. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,527


    Doesn't help much now but when I was just learning about engines and such back in the '50s there were a few kits sold to fix the valve oiling problems. They had fittings that were installed in the valve covers and copper lines that connected to an adapter at the oil filter, basically it bypassed all of the internals in the block and sprayed oil on the rocker arms and valve springs.
    Deuces likes this.
  17. Yes overhead oiler kits. Ive used them. they had a tee fitting that screwed in to the oil pressure sending location. The problem was you where now flooding the previously dry and badly worn rockers with oil. and too much was being delivered to the top end. and then at a idle the oil light would flicker. and a sustained high RPM the oil all went to the top end faster than it could drain back into the oil pan. And you burnt up the bearings. I always played with mashing the external lines to slow down the flow of oil to the top end. Back in the day it was really hard! I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling a customer that his Y block was a boat Anchor inferior design mill.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  18. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,708


    We had several Y blocks on the ranch when I was growing up. Never had a problem with any of them. They were purchased new and oil was changed and they kept their 195 degree thermostats. We also “ worked” those engines as three were in trucks. I think a lot of the problem was the wrong choice of oil, short trips, thermostat removal, all things that people were prone to do back on the fifties. The small horizontal oil galley in the head didn’t help, but with proper maintenance, it would give no trouble.

    egads, bdynpnt and Truck64 like this.
  19. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 4,278


    All of the kits I ever saw supplied oil to the rocker shafts just like the internal passages No spraying involved.
    Old wolf likes this.
  20. 54vicky
    Joined: Dec 13, 2011
    Posts: 1,084


    sunbeam is right no spray the oil was fed through the 5/16 bolts one each side.there is a tap to lower flow old wives tale that it would starve crank bearings.
  21. 63galaxie406
    Joined: Nov 21, 2018
    Posts: 47


    My 57 Ranchero with dual quad 312 ran until it had118,000 miles on it and was still oiling the rockers. I used good detergent oil and changed it every 1500 miles. I had another 57 Ford with a 292 that I bought used. Rockers only oiled on one side. Took it apart, looked like it never had the oil changed. All slugged up. Cleaned it up. Still wouldn’t oil on one side. Spun cam bearing. Put a top oiler kit on it , went another 40,000 miles before it needed rebuilt. Oh and when the Ranchero had about 30,000 miles on it in 1964 ran right at the F stock record at 1/4 mile NHRA drags.

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