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Disassembling Valvetrain Components


I am a big fan of staying organized while working on cars. You wouldn’t know that by seeing my garage or watching me work but there are certain times that you simply cannot mix up your parts. Disassembling the valvetrain components on your engine is definitely one of those times. There is no such thing as an open bench or clear area for me to organize parts so this sort of thing really helps me out.

Some may argue that you can interchange certain items such as the rocker arms or even the pushrods (if your engine has them that is) however I prefer to keep things in order for several reasons. First and foremost you should not mix up lifters if you intend on using them again. Flat tappet lifters establish a wear pattern to the particular cam lobe that they have been run with during the “break in” process the engine was run through. They all wear a little differently, and once the cam has been through several heat cycles the lobe becomes surface hardened. This means that if you were to interchange the lifters between lobes the wear pattern will be inconsistent and can cause the cam lobe to wear prematurely. This can then lead to the “hardened surface” wearing through and subsequently leaving you with a flat cam lobe.

Well, what if you don’t plan to re-use the lifter? Throw them in a bucket or box and keep disassembling the engine for whatever reason you need to right? I disagree. Sometimes you might be taking something apart searching for clues for why the engine was running poorly. One of my favorite things to do is to disassemble everything all at once, and then go back to the bench and thoroughly look at each component. This is why these Valvetrain Rocker Arm Organizer Trays are so nice. You can take your rocker arms, pivot balls, pushrods, and lifters off of the engine and then keep track of what came from where.

A good friend of mine has a small block in his 56 Chevy and developed an engine miss this summer. We tore into the engine to see if we could find any clues. Leaning over the fender isn’t the best place to inspect each part so we simply took everything off and put it in the tray!

These trays have a place for Rocker arms, pushrods, lifters and more. They are also marked “Front” so that you can make heads or tails out of where everything came from.

If you look closely here you can see the intake lifter on cylinder #7 has lost its retaining clip, and the plunger is protruding out of the lifter body. We didn’t notice this until everything was in the tray. If you don’t keep track of which cylinder the parts came from you might never know!

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