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Old 06-09-2008, 07:08 PM
v8hed's Avatar
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Lifters

Is there a definitive way to determine if your lifters are hydraulic or solid? I'm currently in the process of trying to reverse-engineer my engine to baseline its current spec. I've removed a lifter and there's no 'give' in it... pushing-down on the centre 'piston' feels solid. However, could this be because the oil has drained from the lifter?

On the topic of replacing lifters whilst retaining the cam, I've read numerous conflicting opinions. Some say it's no problem; others say you shouldn't do it as it can flatten the cam lobes. What's your opinion? I'm asking because in an effort to identify what lifters I've got, I tried disassembling the lifter I removed and the circlip has jammed itself whilst trying to remove it! So, I think I maybe looking at a new set of lifters now.

When replacing lifters, is there any specific 'break-in' procedure to follow? Is it OK to re-use the old pushrods, or should these be replaced along with the lifters?

Thanks,
Ian.

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Old 06-09-2008, 08:19 PM
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Hi Ian,
The lifter that you took apart, if there is nothing
inside it's a solid, if there is a spring mechanism
then it's hyd.
If this were my engine I would put new items in,
cam & lifter kit, push rods, & rockers, chain & gears.
There is a break-in procedure for a new cam & lifters.
Take care,
Rich
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:17 AM
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Hi Rich,

I don't want to install a new cam (let alone a whole new valvetrain) due to the cost (and the amount of work). Changing the cam would mean taking the engine out. The only thing I wanted to achieve with this top-end strip-down was to inspect and ID my cam, lifters and pistons. Once I know what my deck height and current CR, I'll have a roadmap for changing the heads at some point down the line.

Re. the lifters, I was actually trying to take the lifter apart to confirm exactly that. However, I was wondering if there is a way to tell hydraulic apart from solid without having to take the lifters to pieces!

Is it a problem installing new lifters whilst keeping the rest of the original valvetrain?

Cheers,
Ian.
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:43 AM
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With a hydraulic lifter, if there's enough pressure on the push rod cup for enough time, the lifter will bleed down, dropping the cup lower into the lifter body. I'm going to assume that you don't have a press that's set up for determining lifter bleed-down rates.

If your heads are still on, and there's a valve that's been sitting open for a few hours, that valve's lifter should be collapsed enough that you can push the cup down into the body a little bit with firm hand pressure against its internal spring. Loosen that rocker until the valve is totally closed, then see if you can collapse the lifter a bit by moving the pushrod downward.

This won't always work, but if you can move it, it's hydraulic. A solid lifter won't collapse no matter how long it's been under load.
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimfulco
With a hydraulic lifter, if there's enough pressure on the push rod cup for enough time, the lifter will bleed down, dropping the cup lower into the lifter body. I'm going to assume that you don't have a press that's set up for determining lifter bleed-down rates.

If your heads are still on, and there's a valve that's been sitting open for a few hours, that valve's lifter should be collapsed enough that you can push the cup down into the body a little bit with firm hand pressure against its internal spring. Loosen that rocker until the valve is totally closed, then see if you can collapse the lifter a bit by moving the pushrod downward.

This won't always work, but if you can move it, it's hydraulic. A solid lifter won't collapse no matter how long it's been under load.
Thanks. Ok, here's the thing... I've got a lifter out and there wasn't any 'give' in it. So, I tried to remove the circlip holding the piston inside. Bad move. The circlip sprung free at one end and jammed between the piston and the lifter body. I had to completely destroy the circlip trying to extract it with needle-nose pliers. Once the circlip was out, I could determine the was a little (~2mm) give under spring tension in the lifter piston, so I must have hydraulic lifters. However, now I've got a perfectly good lifter with a destroyed circlip! Are these circlips available anywhere as spares, or will I have to buy a whole new set of lifters and replace just this one lifter with a new one?

By the way, the piston in this lifter is flush with the lifter body and I can only push the piston down ~2mm. Does this sound normal?

Thanks,
Ian.
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:26 AM
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If it's a true flat circlip, you might find one that fits in a parts store or hardware store. If it's the kind that's made of bent round wire that has two straight sides opposite each other, and one curved side with the open side opposite it, I don't know if you can buy those without a new lifter attached.

Might go ahead and take that lifter apart and see what's inside. A hydraulic lifter's plunger has a spring under it that holds it against the circlip, and a check valve, possibly with a loose ball that will get away from you if you let it. A solid lifter generally will have no plunger or spring, just the circlip, the pushrod cup, and a metering valve that lets a little oil go up the pushrod to the rocker arm.

http://www.chevyhiperformance.com/te...ide/index.html has pics that explain far better than I can.
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimfulco
If it's a true flat circlip, you might find one that fits in a parts store or hardware store. If it's the kind that's made of bent round wire that has two straight sides opposite each other, and one curved side with the open side opposite it, I don't know if you can buy those without a new lifter attached.

Might go ahead and take that lifter apart and see what's inside. A hydraulic lifter's plunger has a spring under it that holds it against the circlip, and a check valve, possibly with a loose ball that will get away from you if you let it. A solid lifter will have no plunger or spring, just the circlip, the pushrod cup, and a metering valve that lets a little oil go up the pushrod to the rocker arm.

http://www.chevyhiperformance.com/te...ide/index.html has pics that explain far better than I can.

It's the bent wire with a flat sides type circlip

There's definitely a spring in the lifter, as I can now push the inner piston down by ~2mm and it comes back up under spring tension from underneath. I'm assuming, therefore, that it MUST be a hydraulic lifter and solid don't use springs at all.

Right, so I need at least one new lifter to replace the one I broke. I'll have to buy a whole new set of lifters. Should I replace just the one bad lifter, or should I replace ALL my lifters with new ones. I won't be replacing the cam or any other parts of the valvetrain and the engine has 6,000 miles on it.
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:58 AM
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If you were on this side of the pond, I'd say find the nearest automotive machine shop and they'd probably give you a good used Chevy lifter clip free of charge, but I don't know how much luck you'd have finding one like that over there.

That's a very common type of clip as far as what I've seen, so you might find one in a junkyard. They used the same basic lifter in '55-'86 cars and '55-'95 trucks (Chevy V-8 engines only), in straight-6 engines from '63-up, and in some 4.3L V-6's in the early '80s.

Again, I don't know the situation in your neighborhood, but a single new lifter can be bought over here for ~$5 or so.

Might be worth the postage to just get somebody over here to mail you one of the clips.
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:13 AM
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Clips. On a carb those are called Jesus Christ clips. Cuz when you go to remove them, one is sure to fly off and you say "Jesus Christ!"

When looking at those circlips thingys, some are of the 'hairpin' style while others are of a better quality, more like internal snap ring. Usually the the latter is a 'better' lifter, or one you can rely on in a higher RPM range, IMO. NEVER use a new lifter on an old cam as the lifter face and cam lobe have been wear mated (broke in) specific to each other.

You have a PM
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stroke
Clips. On a carb those are called Jesus Christ clips. Cuz when you go to remove them, one is sure to fly off and you say "Jesus Christ!"

When looking at those circlips thingys, some are of the 'hairpin' style while others are of a better quality, more like internal snap ring. Usually the the latter is a 'better' lifter, or one you can rely on in a higher RPM range, IMO. NEVER use a new lifter on an old cam as the lifter face and cam lobe have been wear mated (broke in) specific to each other.

You have a PM
Yea, I got off the phone earlier to an engine shop specialising in builds and performance parts and the guy told me he had first-hand experience of installing new lifters on an 'old' cam. Except, this cam was only 3-hours old! He said they had the engine (BB Chevy) on a dyno and couldn't get rid of a ticking noise, so he decided to drop new lifters in. Bad move. He said it destroyed the cam lobes and just about everything else (due to the fine metallic powder that resulted from the destroyed cam lobes). He said some people might get away with it, but he'd never to that again as it ended-up costing him $$$'s. So, I'm definitely going to be 'repairing' this lifter with a new snap ring rather than replacing my lifters!

You have PM back.

Cheers,
Ian.
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