pklym

Things I Learned While Attempting To Adjust My Valves For The First Time (With Pictures)

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Well, I am trying to slowly prepare my '76 02 for a late summer cross country trip. Three years ago I brought the car from Portland Oregon out to Washington DC to attend law school. With six weeks before finals I am finally getting serious about preparing the car the trip back west (will probably leave the car stored somewhere in DC area for the summer before driving it out in August if anyone has suggestions on a safe place to store the car out here). I struggled through the winter months rebuilding my heater box...a few times until it worked right but now that we just had a good rain to wipe the streets clear of snow, I am getting to some more preventative maintenance.

 

After reading everything I could find on adjusting the valves, I decided I would tackle this job. The valves didn't sound particularly off, but my engine does feel a little tired, so I thought I would give it a try. I'm not sure if I have ever had the valve cover off of Bridgette and have no idea when they were last adjusted (I've owned the car for four years, but other than the cross-country trip, and one from DC to Birmingham, AL, I haven't put too many miles on it). I read as much as I could but still did not completely understand the process, mostly I thought "What the hell is an eccentric?" I could not find any pictures of that. Because of my slight confusion, I thought I would try to document my process to make it easier on other first-timers. 

 

First things first. Remove the spark plugs, and wires (and I removed the coil wire, I think this is redundant).

IMG 20140322 141033

 
Then I removed the valve cover breather hose (which is vented straight out the bottom, at some point I will get a catch can and maybe reroute it back into the carb). I undid the VC bolts a little at a time working from inside out, I am not sure if this is necessary but I didn't want to accidentally warp anything.
 

IMG 20140322 142246

 
Now I tried to get a lay of the land, I understand the cam no problem, so I looked for the lobes that were pointing straight down (as oriented to the engine, not the ground) to see which valves to mess with first. It is kind of hard to tell when the valve is completely straight down because you can't see down there, but you can tell when the lobe is not touching the rocker anymore.
After locating a valve to work on, I slid my .06/.08 go-no-go feeler gauge into the spot just above the valve. I must admit, this took me a bit of time to figure out exactly where it went, but after some trial and error it made sense. I had to bend the gauge pretty severely to work in the area.
 

IMG 20140322 143638

 
From there I had to figure out what this eccentric thing is. In the picture below I labeled the nut you have to loosen (it's pretty tight and will move the rocker at first) with a "1" and the eccentric with a "2"
 

IMG 20140322 14363111

 

For the most part the valves seemed in good adjustment, none of them fit any feeler in higher than .08 so they did not need much adjusting. I felt like it was tough to get the resistance on the feeler exactly where I wanted, but ultimately I just relied on the go-no-go aspect of the feeler. 

 

I was confused at how to adjust the eccentric. I knew you could use either a small allen wrench or a coat hanger, but I also read that you turn in the hole of the eccentric. I thought this meant you actually rotated some sort of nut. That's not so, you turn the eccentric along its pivot point. I marked the photo with the way the eccentric moves. 

IMG 20140322 15

 
I also quickly learned that you have to keep your eccentric tool in the eccentric hole while tightening up the nut or the eccentric would close the valve gap too much. I had to switch to a piece of coat hanger from my original allen wrench tool to get a few of the eccentrics to turn properly. I snugged up the nut, but didn't tighten it too much. I hope that is right (anyone?).
 
After doing the two valves whose cam lobes were pointing down I got in the driver's seat and bumped the starter just a bit and would check what valves were available next, without a helper I had to head in and out of the car a few times to get the cams just right. I did try turning the motor with the fan and the alternator belt, but I could only get it to turn a bit this way, I think I may need to tighten my belt.
 
After checking and adjusting all the valves (a few of them didn't need any adjusting). I put a new valve cover gasket on with a couple dabs of Indian Head Shellac in the corners. I torqued the VC bolts to 96 inch lbs of torque (8 ft lbs), working inside out. This really isn't much.  Gapped and inserted new spark plugs, and hooked everything back up.
 
Thankfully the car started back up and seems to run well. Not sure if there was any improvement, but then again they didn't seem much out of whack. I haven't taken it for a spin yet.
 
Next, I will be replacing all my fuel line (except the in-car hose) and sender gasket. I think my carb leaks a bit of fuel onto the intake manifold which ends up making my car hard to start without starter fluid if it has been sitting for more than a few days, unfortunately I don't think I am going to have the time to try and learn how to rebuild a carb before my trip. I would have done the fuel line today but the lady at Autozone (God I hate Autozone but its my only option nearby) threw some 5/16" VAC line in my bag instead of fuel line and I didn't notice until later.
 
I hope these photos help someone, and if anyone who actually knows how to adjust valves and sees anything I did wrong, please point it out!

 

 

 

 

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Nice!  I vote this for FAQ status- we all say 'adjust your valves' but, at first, it's not the most self- evident job.

 

 If you have the plugs out, often you can turn the engine with a wrench on the alternator nut.  Or just by pulling on the belt.

There's not a lot of resistance to a well- broken- in engine.

 

t

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 If you have the plugs out, often you can turn the engine with a wrench on the alternator nut.  Or just by pulling on the belt.

There's not a lot of resistance to a well- broken- in engine.

 

t

 

I knew there was a nut I could use somewhere...

Pulling the belt didn't work, which leads me to think its too lose, or needs replacing. I was able to get it to turn a little bit here and there but not then it would start slipping.

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As a well seasoned and (a few times professional) mechanic, I have adjusted my share of valves! Adjusting the valves on my new to me 2002 has been on mind (analyzing it). I appreciate the simple and clear description! Very helpful to help me envision what I am doing!

Congratulations on finishing Law School! Any idea where you are going to take the bar?

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(edited)

First time I did it, I left the car in 3rd and just rolled it.  Moved pretty easy.  Only need a couple feet on each end.

 

Mind you I've got an irrational aversion to pulling spark plugs from aluminum heads.

Edited by xferboy

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ADD:

 

I'll be taking the Oregon bar, will likely be clerking in Washington for a year, not sure if i'll end up working in Oregon later or not (no jobs!).

 

Xfer:

I would have loved to be able to roll it but I have a tiny open garage in a cramped alley and it just isn't an option, hopefully next time I do it out west i'll have more space.

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pklym:

 

Not sure if Oregon has reciprocity with Washington...but plenty of jobs up here! Not easy to get, but plenty of law jobs!

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Mind you I've got an irrational aversion to pulling spark plugs from aluminum heads.

not if you don't use antisieze, you don't!  Once I started using that religiously, I got over it...

 

t

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(edited)

+1 on what Toby said.  I always put a small amount of Wurth Copper CU 800 anti-seize on the threads of plugs when replacing them and I never have any problem removing them.  Whenever I adjust the valves I remove the plugs and use a remote starter to turn the engine a little because both my wife and my '02s have an automatic tranny.  Makes rotating the cam a little very easy.  Always pull the coil wire to the dizzy before turning an engine over with a remote starter, or it's liable to start on you.

 

Bob Napier

Edited by Napes

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(edited)

If you don't have a camshaft sprocket turning tool, a good way to get the cam lobes successively in the exact position that you want them to be for adjusting is to leave the car in gear and then "rock it gently backwards or forward".

 

If the spark plugs are out there is almost no resistance at all and it's easy to move the car a few inches.  You can do it without removing the spark plugs with this method, but there will be more resistance when you are pushing the car to line up the cam lobes.

 

If you don't have much space because of a very small garage, you can, for example, leave the car in second gear (or even first), then push the car ever so slightly backwards until you line up the cam lobes that you are targeting.  The lower the gear, the more the engine will rotate with each foot of the car's forward or backward movement.  Then, when you are done with those, put the car back in neutral and push it forward to its original position in the garage.  Then, put the car back in gear and push it backwards a little until you get the next set of cam lobes in position. Now put the car back in neutral and push it forwards.  Rinse and repeat.

 

Be careful when the car is out of gear or even in gear with the spark plugs removed.  It will roll very easily.  It's a good idea to position two wheel chocks about 12 to 18 inches behind the rear wheels as a backstop if they are needed.

 

Regards, Maurice.

Edited by schoir

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With spark plugs removed, I've had no problem rotating the engine by grabbing a fan blade, which effectively acts as a long handle, making engine rotation relatively easy.  I've had to tighten the fan a small bit sometimes, but otherwise no problem.

 

Cheers,

 

Carl

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(edited)

One more trick if you're making your own eccentric turner:  Use a piece of either coathanger wire or a piece of welding (or bare brass brazing) rod, and form a loop in the end that isn't bent to fit into the eccentric.  Why?  use a small adjuster and a slip of the hand can send it down into one of the oil return holes in the head, thence down into the oil pan--or hung up somewhere in between.  Hasn't happened to me yet, but I've come close--had to gingerly retrieve an allen wrench from under a rocker arm with a magnet...

 

mike

Edited by mike

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Great writeup. I was really worried the first time I did mine and did a lot of "WTF does THAT mean???" The pics are great to show what is needed.

 

As for turning the engine; I use a 1/2" drive with I believe a 32mm socket (might be different) on the front of the crank and just reach over and turn it a little when needed. Maybe I have a little extra room between my engine and radiator? Or maybe this is a bad way to turn the engine over???

 

Thanks again for the writeup.

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