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new rebuild no oil getting to top end.

34590 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Edelbrock350chev
Please help me out!

This is the first engine that I have ever built. I have a friend who is a mechanic, and he is at wits end with me asking all the questions, and I think he is not sure what to do next?

So this is the situation:

I have a 4 bolt chevy 350 (late 70 block):

I had the block & heads hot tanked an magna fluxed at a local machine shop. They needed to bore the block 30 thou over, so they (machine shop) order a rebuild kit. They needed to also turn the crank (apparently the motor ran out of oil, is the reason why I got the engine for free!!!). NEW Intake, and Camshaft, Edelbrock matching performer kit.

Now not knowing anything about rebuilding a motor before, I asked them to put the bottom end together. They installed the crank, cam and timing chain.

So know I get the block all wrapped in plastic, start building the top end together.
I put the new head gaskets down, properly torque the heads down in the proper pattern, etc...etc.

Then I put Special lube that came with the cam kit, on the bottom each of the hydraulic lifters. (I DIDN'T presoak the lifters in oil), then I placed the Brand new lifters Into the lifter through the head openings. no guide plates.
Now the rest of the assembly goes well setting up the rocker arms (mechanic friend help me with this 1/4 -3/4 turn.
Anyway... sorry for all the info:

but this is my problem:

I pre-oiled or primed the engine by using a cordless drill with a special attackement to turn the pump over. Doing this for like 5-10 minutes, turning the crank (manually) a few times. I don't get any oil up to the top of the head, up the push rods, onto the rocker arms. After about 10 minutes I get very small amount of oil at the top of the push rod coming up to the rocker arms.

Concerning my mechanic friend, we continue to install the engine in the old truck, and install distributer, starter, etc.

We get fuel right to the carb, and the start the engine, it starts in about 10 seconds, rotating the distributer cap, it runs and idles, then start to increase the idle, for CAM wear in period, but after 20 seconds, there is an alarming yet quiet, metal on metal sound (my mechanic friend tell me to kill the motor)

We still don't have oil to the top of the engine.

Please help suggestions?

1. We took the distributer out (using the drill to power the pump)We then opened the oil gallery plug? just above the timing chain cover, and we got plenty oil, and FAST.
2. Next we removed the oil sending unit (t connector) spun the drill / oil pump again. LOTS of oil!

We don't know what to do next??

btw (by the way) This machine shop is a very reputable and experienced Engine rebuilding speciality shop!
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One thing you should have done is soak those lifters for awhile before installing them. You have to get the air out of them. My opinion I would take the rocker arms loose remove the push rods and pour some engine oil supplement on all the lifters and let them soak for several hours. Then try it again.
Spinning the oil pump shaft without a proper tool leaves the rear cam galley open and oil won't find it's way up the pushrods. The fat part of the dist. has a groove to transfer oil to the cam galley for this reason. I can't help much with the noise but the lig=fters would have filled in the first 45 seconds of running. If you don't see oil up there at 1500 RPM then you you might be missing a galley plug in the rear of the block below the fifth main bearing.
Well, the first thing you should have done is not run the engine knowing that there was not oil flow everywhere. You have probably trashed some part of the engine and it will need to come out for a checkup. I had an engine not pump oil to one side, but figured out the problem before running it more. I ended up having trash in the oil passages that feed oil from the mail oil feed to the lifter bores.

Oh yeah, soaking the lifters is not needed. If you prime the engine for a minute or so most of them will be pumped up. Others will finish shortly after cranking. If you were not getting oil to lifters, you would have heard the rockers clacking like crazy after starting the engine. This is what caused me to find my problem.

Johnsongrass hit on a good point about the pump primer. It could just be that the tool did not seal properly. None the less, if you have a metal grinding noise, it could be bad.

You probably dont have a major problem. By the sounds of it, you may not have had the proper pimer shaft istalled when you spun it with a drill. Therefore the lifters and pushrods etc were all empty. When you installed the motor and dist. etc, then fired it up, you heard the lifters clacking so you shut it down. I bet it would have smoothed out in a few more seconds. But you played it safe. (good way)

I would simply take out dist., put in a proper primer tool, prime till you see oil on the rockers, then procede.

If you still CANNOT get oil up top then I think you may have a plug missing in the block down by the oil pump.
Okay, I have to take back my major problem comment. After rereading I see that you said you ran it 10-20 seconds. I read 10 minutes the first time I went through your post.

You likely just need to let the lifters pump up. They should pump after about 30 seconds or so.

Attempt repriming!

Ok, I am going to try repriming again! I am going to try another tool, another home made job! I don't think it is worth buying a specific (and probably expensive) tool.
So I am going to remove the distributor and place the alternate prime tool, and try spinning the oil pump again and try to get pressure up to the upper end.

How long should it take on when I have a regular (not high pressure) pump, using a cordless drill? 10 minutes?

I don't want to ruin, wreck some other part, like the oil pump? or something like that?

The drill I have is two speed, hi - low, and I can get pressure, as mentioned before, I will try connecting a manual guage, not the one included in the instrument panel cluster.

THanks for the help so far guys!

Much appreciated

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A minute should have everything primed.

Make sure the pickup is low enough in the pan. You said someone else did the bottom end for you. Perhaps the pickup is too high up.
Just use an old distributor cut down for the priming. then the galley is sealed.If their isnt anything to the top end then, pull teh pan and check for the plug under the #5 main.Also put a gauge on it when priming. And it doesnt matter if u dont pre oil the lifters as when u prime it,they will fill. I always set the lash on the stand before i prime and never have to reset em. The only time i take the valve covers off is to recheck torque.

I just wanted to thank everyone for the help on trying to figure out the problem? I am still not absolutely sure why I wasn't gettting oil to the top end!

So what I did was prime the motor with a Distributer, trimmed down the gear. And still no oil, just a little sputter on two of the 16 Rocker arms.

So I just put the rest of the motor together... Accessories, cooling, power steering etc...

And after like 3 mins up running and starting to wear in the Cam and Lifter, oil finally came up to the heads and was flying all over the place.

Motor runs great now, just working on the wear in period. Sound great with the new dual exhuast!

Thanks for all the help guys!
Now I have to decide whether or not to go with Synthetic oil or stick with the regular!

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