Thrill of victory and the Agony of Defeat – Cam bearings destroyed. (NOT the lobes) - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thrill of victory and the Agony of Defeat – Cam bearings destroyed. (NOT the lobes)

Some may have followed my posts a bit but here is a summary, sorry it got so long, but the back story I think is important to get the whole picture. I just broke in the cam Saturday.

I built this motor (302 flat tappet, .040 over). The machine work was in my opinion excellent. I followed all the rules and now after tear down, I would not have done anything different knowing only what I know.

The motor went together “perfect”, meaning no red flags or concerns (once I got replacements for a couple defective parts (lifter and push rod). Cam and crank spun easily, primed the motor before firing. Got oil evenly at all rockers and I primed in 8 crank positions.
I broke in the cam for 30 minutes and did not hear anything strange, maybe some tapping here and there but no squealing, etc. After break in I changed the oil and it looked really good to me (a few shiny specs but that seems normal from what I have read). Changed the water with 50/50 coolant, and the water looked good (no oil). There was not a single leak on the motor.

The next day I installed the Sniper EFI and Hyperspark distributor. (broke in with carb and mech dizzy). The motor fired immediately and I ran for maybe 10 minutes while I was figuring out the idle. It was idling 1250 RPM and I got it down near 800 for now. Now here is where I found a big problem. The Sniper RPM and my external tach RPM were way off, like 50% (Sniper 1250, Tach = 2500 RPM). OK that’s not good. I look at the external tach and realize that the switch somehow got clicked over to 4 cylinder when I was mounting it. I was so preoccupied with monitoring everything in break-in, that I just adjusted to that. I have not had a “muscle car” in 30 years so I did not even consider the RPM was not high enough from the sound of it. I had a lot on my mind to say the least at that point. Live and learn. So that motor has 40 minutes of run time.

Oil was clean but I know the cam was not broken in properly. I decide to cut my losses and replace the cam and lifters now and not later as if it wipes lobes and fills the motor with metal.

So I tear down (lifters look great but I press on), pull the motor and get the cam retainer plate off. It looks bad before i even pull the cam out. There is metal between the cam journal #1 and the bearing/block (this is a huge surprise as this is NOT why I was tearing down). Like the bottom “filled with metal”. I know I recessed that bearing, so did it move and squish? No way. So now I can’t get the cam out. I was able to turn it but it was tight and then could not budge it. Pull the flex plate, knock out the cam plug and able to tap out the cam shaft. #1 bearing totally wiped out. I peer into the block and ALL 5 bearings are totally wiped out. See pics. The oiling holes on all bearings are still aligned properly but basically plugged with bearing metal now. When I pushed the cam out, each bearing sheared off a sliver of bearing. It looks as though the bearing melted and redeposited metal and also squeezed some out the side. Fortunately, before I pulled the motor I drained the oil and again it looked clean. I think I caught this just in time before things really got ugly (not that this is not ugly enough). The lifters and cam lobes look great by the way (lifters have circular burnish type marks which is how I understand they break in). Of course if I rebuild this, new cam and lifters for sure. Even the cam journals look good, as the bearings sacrificed themselves.

I remove the crankshaft and the main and rod bearings all have some spots on the bearings that are the “dull” factory kind of finish and some shiny spots (maybe this is normal). But all the rod and mains had plenty of oil when I took them apart and I think they are fine. No foreign material in there and the surfaces are smooth. The crank journals look perfect.

So I have oil to the crank/rods, I assume still oiling the rockers and no oil or somehow overheating the cam bearings. I could see if it was one bearing but all 5? #1 gets oil direct right after the oil filter and 2,3,4,5 are indirect from the mains. So again, if I destroyed just #1 or a combination of 2,3,4,5 then maybe that tells us something. But all 5 means something different. Maybe too much oil going other places? I have also read that possibly the bearing failed due to high rocker spring pressure. (My E-street heads are only 300 PSI or so springs, so nothing of the ordinary. Cam bearings are Dura Bond F-18 bearings. All bearings failed at the bottom and “moved” molten bearing metal up clockwise.

HELP! If I figure out root cause, I rebuild this motor. If not I'll get a crate short block. I just can’t think of a reason for no oiling to these bearings.

Cam Bearing #1.JPG

Cam Bearings 2-5.JPG

Rod and Mains post break in.JPG

Rod and Mains post break in1 .JPG
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post #2 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:13 PM
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Bummer! I have no idea why if the bearing oil passage were lined up?
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post #3 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:17 PM
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Man that’s horrible.
So sorry that happened to you.

This confirmed to me why I decided to go to a professional engine builder.
I wanted to do it myself, and think I could.
But your story scares me to death.
I was scared to death something like this would happen to me.

It’s interesting, I just took my builder a set of grooved cam bearings. The standard, not heavy duty coated ones.

He wouldn’t use them. Said he ONLY uses the coated heavy duty ones....



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post #4 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:20 PM
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Did you assemble the engine yourself? The last engine I had machined by a well known builder didn't mention that I needed to clean out the oil passages. Fortunately I asked him and said of course you need to do that! I'm wondering if you brushed out yours prior to assembly?
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post #5 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:21 PM
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My 289 had damaged the cam bearings also but the lobes are all still good. Cam bearing metal ended up getting stuck in the oil pump. I think the the issue I had though was poor oil control in the pan during auto. It had about 30k on it after I put it together.
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post #6 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyhunts View Post
Man that’s horrible.
So sorry that happened to you.

This confirmed to me why I decided to go to a professional engine builder.
I wanted to do it myself, and think I could.
But your story scares me to death.
I was scared to death something like this would happen to me.

It’s interesting, I just took my builder a set of grooved cam bearings. The standard, not heavy duty coated ones.

He wouldn’t use them. Said he ONLY uses the coated heavy duty ones....


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Very interesting on the bearings. I have a hard time believing the bearings I have are not suitable, BUT, that is if they are not defective. Not saying they are, but the thought has crossed my mind.

As for building the motor, it is not "hard" and I too had reservations of my ability. But even where I am at now, I have no regrets and still feel I did it right. The way this failed does not point to an assembly error in my opinion.

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Did you assemble the engine yourself? The last engine I had machined by a well known builder didn't mention that I needed to clean out the oil passages. Fortunately I asked him and said of course you need to do that! I'm wondering if you brushed out yours prior to assembly?

Yes I built it. I did clean out oil passages with various bottle brushes I got in a block cleaning kit (also did all the crank passages) (as well as my machinist had the block cleaned before that). Later I will post a pic of the oiling method that I have marked up. In order for all bearings to fail due to oil flow, you must have multiple failures in multiple paths (that is assuming you are getting oil pressure). I am an process engineer dealing with fluid flow daily and I cannot make sense of the failure other than oil going somewhere else. I did test the oil pump today and just turning by hand I get flow. The mains and rod bearings all got oil and the cam lobes did not wipe so they must have been getting oil. So that is everything except the cam bearings.

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post #7 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:58 PM
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@Tallguy, was assembly lube used (can't remember from the other threads)? That just screams ran dry or too tight. I can't imagine why either though. Really hard to tell (for me) from the pictures posted if the holes were lined up to the oil passages, but I have no reason not to believe you. You've been quiet forthcoming with this build and your issues. I tried to do the same on my first 289 build failure (had a cylinder wall leak water). FWIW, my 2nd build is still running good.

On the engine I'm building now (another 289 for racing), the cam shaft would not spin freely when the thrust plate was tightened down. I bought new bearings and took it back to the machine shop and he re-installed the new bearings and the cam shaft. All was free at that point. The first bearings from just hand turning showed signs of wear...the end play was spot on with both sets.

It's disheartening, but certainly a learning experience, As diligent as you are, I'm sure you will find the root cause...

Good luck,

Allen
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post #8 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 10:09 PM
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Who installed the cam bearings in the block? Did they use a cam bearing installation tool to insure that the bearings are square to the bore?
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post #9 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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@Tallguy, was assembly lube used (can't remember from the other threads)? That just screams ran dry or too tight. I can't imagine why either though. Really hard to tell (for me) from the pictures posted if the holes were lined up to the oil passages, but I have no reason not to believe you. You've been quiet forthcoming with this build and your issues. I tried to do the same on my first 289 build failure (had a cylinder wall leak water). FWIW, my 2nd build is still running good.

On the engine I'm building now (another 289 for racing), the cam shaft would not spin freely when the thrust plate was tightened down. I bought new bearings and took it back to the machine shop and he re-installed the new bearings and the cam shaft. All was free at that point. The first bearings from just hand turning showed signs of wear...the end play was spot on with both sets.

It's disheartening, but certainly a learning experience, As diligent as you are, I'm sure you will find the root cause...

Good luck,

Allen
Yes, absolutely used assembly lube on the bearings and journals. It was only a few weeks between build and break in and I primed it a lot within 1 hour of firing (as fast as I could get the dizzy in and timed and ready). All holes were lined up very well. I used a 1/8" punch to verify each from the main bearing passage through the cam bearing. All passages are still lined up ( the cam bearings did not ?spin") Thanks for the support!

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Who installed the cam bearings in the block? Did they use a cam bearing installation tool to insure that the bearings are square to the bore?
I installed the cam bearing with the proper cam installation tool that I bought for $100 or so. Bearings were square and when I test fit the cam it spun freely then and when installed during assembly. I could see if I lost ONE bearing by me screwing up of install but certainly not all 5.

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post #10 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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I post this as I made it and it may help others understand the oiling of the Windsor blocks. I did it so I could start to diagnose how this might happen.

If you notice the green dots and letters A through G, the following are the facts based on the flow path of the oil

For all 5 cam bearings to fail:

1) You could have no oil at point A meaning oil pump failure. This cannot be as the other bearings are fine.

2) You fail at B and C. This cannot be as the main and rod bearings are fine, as are cam lobes

3) You fail at B, D, E, F, G (either in supply to main or cam) - Mains are fine and the probability of failure of 5 separate paths to the 5 cam bearings is not what I consider even feasible without massive pluggage all around

The second picture shows just oiling to cam bearing #1 but I think it is cool, and I love old hand drawings, a lost art.

Bottom line is I still do not know how this happened.

Windsor Lubrication Drawing marked up.JPG

Oiling.JPG

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post #11 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:44 PM
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Some suggestions and questions for you. Do you have access to a surface plate? You can roll the cam on it to determine if the journals are in line. Did you measure the cam bearing ID after installing them? It seems like too little clearance if you eliminate lack of oil at all bearings as the root cause. Did the timing chain feel tight? What's your cam bearing clearance?
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post #12 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 12:06 AM
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My guess would be insufficient oil pressure/flow. Did you leave out a galley plug or the big plug at the back of the lifter valley? When you installed the new distributor did you check the oil pump driveshaft compatibility with the distributor? Something doesn't seem right.
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post #13 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Budstoy View Post
Some suggestions and questions for you. Do you have access to a surface plate? You can roll the cam on it to determine if the journals are in line. Did you measure the cam bearing ID after installing them? It seems like too little clearance if you eliminate lack of oil at all bearings as the root cause. Did the timing chain feel tight? What's your cam bearing clearance?
All good questions. I will see about checking the cam itself. A for measuring bearings after install and cam journals, I did not do that. When I was researching I never came across anything saying to measure this other than test fitting the cam to assure it spins freely which I did. I did plastigage all of the main and rod bearings. The timing chain went on pretty easily but it was snug. Rotating the motor with crank/cam only was easy. Once pistons were installed it took about 20 ft/lbs which still felt easy. More effort with heads and push rods and no spark plugs which took 40-48 Ft lbs to rotate at the balancer bolt. At every point of assembly the motor felt "free"

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post #14 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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My guess would be insufficient oil pressure/flow. Did you leave out a galley plug or the big plug at the back of the lifter valley? When you installed the new distributor did you check the oil pump driveshaft compatibility with the distributor? Something doesn't seem right.
All oil galley plugs (3 front 3 rear) are installed and still in place after tear down, including the single 3/4" plug on the top rear. Yes, I did check distributor shaft to driveshaft compatibility and engagement. When I primed I got 60 PSI cold and then the same 60 PSI cold and 25 PSI or so hot at 1250 RPM. I know I had oil pressure the entire break-in, but did not monitor the 2nd day other than at start-up.

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post #15 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 02:19 AM
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Cam bearings look out of round with a flat zone on the bottoms. Since your engine rotated easily it is probably minute but then the cam bearing tolerance is minute. They still need that molecule of oil protection all the way around though. So just asking but are you sure you put the right cam bearing in the right hole because they are 5 different dimensions or did you possibly put them in backwards?
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