Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Explorer Engine Swap - Springing Into Action - Installing Your Valve Springs

In this post I am going to be covering what it is going to take to change your valve springs while the heads are still attached to the engine.

Yup, that's right without taking the heads off.

I am not going to lie, this job is not difficult, but it is very time consuming.  This will take at least 2 hours to complete.  Keep in mind you are changing 16 valve springs on this engine.  In a 2 hour period, that is less than 10 minutes per spring.  So make sure you set enough time aside to complete this task.

One pre-requisite that I have for this is that you have purchased the Trick Flow head spring kit Part number (TFS-2500100)  Here is a link to the part that I purchased at Late Model Restoration.  The main reason that I recommend this kit is that it comes with everything you need to upgrade your springs.  This includes any shims and valve seals as well as a tool to measure for correct install height.

If you were to put in a bigger cam than these springs would accommodate, you should purchase all these parts so you can have them refreshed and you won't have to worry about replacing them down the road.

Other tools you will want to have handy for this exercise:

1 rubber mallet
1 $1.50 clothes line from Wal-mart
1 telescoping magnet
1 valve spring compressor
1 ratchet and socket that fits your harmonic balancer bolt
1 small diameter screwdriver (long)
1 shop rag

You may be asking yourself, do I really need all of this stuff?  If you want to do this with the heads installed on the engine you will.  Let me explain the process that is going to happen.

Before you start this process you need to know, only work on one valve at a time.  That will prevent any confusion as to which one you are working on and what measurement did you take and whatnot.

Let's start with cylinder #1 and work our way down the left side of the engine.

You will want to bring cylinder #1 to TDC (Top Dead Center).  It doesn't matter if it is the compression or the exhaust stroke, it just needs to be there.  You will then back it off slightly.  This process will require the ratchet and socket as well as the screwdriver.

Why the screwdriver?  You will put it in the spark plug hole to let you know when the piston is getting close to TDC.  (There is another use you will find out later)

Once your piston is in the right spot (or real close) you will start feeding the clothes line into the cylinder through the spark plug hole.  Put as much as you can in there.  Once you cannot get any more of the line in the hole, you will bring the cylinder back up as high as it will go.

You may be asking yourself, what is the purpose of this?  Well, it is simple.  You want to make sure that you are holding our valves in place while this is happening.  The clothes line is what does this job for you.  If you were to remove the valve spring without doing this, your valve would fall down into your cylinder and potentially damage it or your cylinder wall.  Not something you want to have happen on a job like this.

With the line in place, take your rubber mallet and hit the top of the spring retainers.  This will help bust them loose from the retaining clips that have been holding them in place all these years.

Now it is time to take your valve spring compression tool and compress the spring so you can remove the retaining clips.  This is where the telescoping magnet comes in.  Sometimes those clips are hard to get out and the magnet will easily remove them once the spring is compressed.

Slide the old spring off of the valve.

We are not quite done yet.  Next you need to take your screwdriver and lightly pry up on your valve seal.  This is a rubber seal with a metal spring clip that holds it in place.  Slide this up and off of the valve.  You will probably notice that the rubber has hardened a bit.  This is normal after years of use.  If you don't change these, it can also be a source for your engine burning oil.  That is why it is so important that since you are already hear, you might as well get the job done right.

Next you will take your shop rag and wipe down this valve and the seat where the spring sits.  This helps get a clean surface so that you can get a proper measurement for the springs.

As I have been harping on in all my other articles, organization is key.  You will want to take time now to make sure all of your springs are in order and pair up the retainer and the retaining clips so that you can just go in order.  Something you will notice.  There are 2 colors provided in this kit for the retainers.  I put the black on the exhaust ports and the silver on the intake ports.  That was the best determination that I could come up with on it.  When you are organizing you will want to put them in the order that they will be installed on the engine so that you can just grab the next one and go.

So now to start with the installation, you will want to use the protective sleeve that came with your kit to place over your valve.  This helps protect the valve seal from getting ripped or stuck on the groove for the retaining clips.

Once the sleeve is placed on the valve, take a little bit of NEW motor oil and dip your finger in it and rub it on the valve for some lubrication.  You want this to go as smooth as possible without ripping a valve seal.  Like i said, a bad valve seal = burning oil.

Grab one of your new valve seals and slide it on the valve and gently push it down until you feel it seat in place.  You may see some air and oil come out at first.  This is good.  That proves that you have a good seat with it.  Double check to make sure it is pushed all the way down.

Next you will remove the protective sleeve.

Go to your kit and grab the correct retainer, 2 retaining clips (together they make a circle), and the measuring stick they provide.  You will probably want to grab a couple shims as well.

At this point you will slide the retainer on the valve, and put the retaining clips in place.  Slide the retainer up to where it would normally be if there was a spring in place.  Take your measuring stick and check to see the fit.  This should be tight.  If there is any play at all, you will need to put a shim down.  The black shims are thinner than the silver.  Use the appropriate one to get the gap closed.

Once you find the appropriate measure, remove the clips and retainer.  Go back to your kit and put your retainer inside of a spring.  Using your valve spring compression tool start to compress the spring with the retainer in place.  Notice how much more difficult these springs compress.  That will prove to you why you are changing these springs.  The others were originally made weaker, and given that they have been used, they are even weaker still.

Once the spring and retainer is compressed, you will want to put the retaining clips in place and pull up on the spring compression tool until the retainer is where it is meant to be.  Loosen the spring compressor and remove it from the valve.

Guess what...  The first valve is done.  Now you just need to complete this process 15 more times and you are complete with this step.

One thing to note.  Since you are working around this area, take your shop rag and wipe up any old oil that may be sitting in the head.  Although this may sound strange at first, just keep in mind that we will be flipping this engine over eventually, you don't want that oil going on your floor if you can prevent it.

A good rule to live by is keep it clean and organized and you will finish your job faster and with better quality.

Next we will cover the changing of the Camshaft.

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