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Old 11-18-2019, 08:52 AM   #1
GOSFAST
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Default Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Well almost on the bench anyway? This is for NEW builds only. The method I'll place below here will allow the lifters to be adjusted while out of the unit! It's actually fairly simple and you MAY not even have to touch the adjusters again after it's been assembled (you will need a bit of luck here for this though)?

Each time we assemble one of these Flatheads we try to come up with ANY idea/method that will make the present and future jobs a bit easier.

In order to explain it all clearly I'll post the method in steps here. I would add this also, you will need a dial indicator and some way to hold it steady! I generally use our drill press here. A conventional "magnetic" dial indicator stand (photo below) will work here also, we only use the drill press/Bridgeport because they're handy! (I'll have some photos at the end of the post)

In order for this to be 100% doable you MUST "mock up" the cam/lifters in the block with the t/gear bolted on with just 2 bolts. We use old cam brgs that we've saved to help here! You can actually sand the O.D. on the a front and rear brg and make it a "slip-fit" in to the block!

All the info here will be for 1 cylinder only, you simply repeat it for the others! You don't need any "lube" anywhere at this point, not on the lifters, guides, etc.

1-Place the cam in the block (using old ft/rr cam brgs), bolt the t/gear on the front with 2 screws.
2-Assemble an intake and exhaust valve and guide for 1 cylinder with one of the actual retainers and locks using a "checking spring" to hold it all together. (Photo below)
3-Place a lifter in the bore (remember everything is "dry" still, no oil/no cam lube, makes for easier working)
4-Slide the assembly into it's respective hole with the lifter (you won't even need the guide retainers/horseshoe locks to do this step), now check whether you have a "gap" or the there's no clearance? Chances are it won't be too tight, in the event it is pull the lifter and turn the adjusting nut in?
5-If there's a "gap", measure it using a feeler gauge, write it down, and establish the amount you need (this would be the recommended lash for your cam), subtract the lash from the recorded number, write this down. This (obviously) is the amount you'll need to the "raise" the adjuster to get to that number. (E.G., if you have a "gap" of .030" and you have a required lash setting of .012" you'll need to screw the adjuster OUT exactly .018"?? Next remove the lifter and now you're ready to make the "adjustment" using the dial indicator ON THE BENCH!! (Photo below)
6-After "lengthening" the lifter install all the components on the same cylinder and recheck it again.

--- There is one extremely important item to be mentioned here, when you've finished each individual lifter/guide/valve ass'y be absolutely certain to keep it all marked for the EXACT cylinder, both intake and exhaust, just used for the measuring, DO NOT mix any of the parts at this point! If you do you will have "wasted" some valuable time? ---

The entire 16 assemblies can be checked beforehand in about 1 hour, the end result, you'll find the desired lash will be VERY close to or MAYBE even wind up being "on the money"! We leave an extra "thou" or "two" for the correct spring pressures. If the lash settings do need to be changed it should take no time at all, every one should be very close to the needed number?

Thanks, Gary in N.Y.

P.S. On the left photo you check the "beginning" valve lash, can't see in the photo but the lifters are installed, horseshoe clips for guides not needed here, on the right photo you make the necessary adjustment "on-the-bench" to get your lash after simply removing the lifter temporarily! Reinstall the parts and recheck! Simple!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Flathead Lash Adjusting-Mock Up.JPG (68.7 KB, 107 views)
File Type: jpg Flathead Lifter Adjusting-On The Bench.JPG (55.7 KB, 108 views)
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Old 11-18-2019, 08:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Gary: Thanks for the tip.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

It is even easier Gary if you do the valve seats and associated depths on a mill with a DRO - making them all the same.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Gee been doing it this way for a few decade's now. Really easy to do with a simple vernier caliper. Takes me all of 25 minuets start to finish.
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Old 11-18-2019, 04:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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Originally Posted by Ronnieroadster View Post
Gee been doing it this way for a few decade's now. Really easy to do with a simple vernier caliper. Takes me all of 25 minuets start to finish.
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Yep - pretty much how I set the lengths . . .
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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It is even easier Gary if you do the valve seats and associated depths on a mill with a DRO - making them all the same.
Hi Dale, with our head machine, working on one side of the block, we can machine AND install all 8 seats, have them all the same hgts (within a thou or two) by the design of the machine, then without removing the block we can come right back and machine all 8 seats so every one of the valves are the same hgts (also within a thou or two). We can machine a "simple" 45* seat angle or we can do two, three, or even more angles in a single cut! Depends on the size of the seat of course!

We can only pull this off due to our head machine, no other "conventional" head machine can get this done in this manner. There may be another brand out there, I'm just not aware of any? We recently sold off much equipment (Sunnen Cylinder King, Sunnen power-stroked rod hone, Tobin-Arp pin fitting machine, Storm head/block miller (all our milling today is done on the CNC mill), etc. I just refused to sell this particular machine due to its versatility.

Thanks, Gary in N.Y.

P.S. The sole purpose to the method I described at the beginning here is to not have to spend so much time working in the lifter valley trying to "chase" valve lash. I don't enjoy it, I know that for a fact. I also may have a better method than using the holes drilled through the bottoms of lifter bores to keep them from turning while adjusting the screws, we'll see how that pans out?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Flathead Ford Mtd PH-2000 C.jpg (64.5 KB, 69 views)
File Type: jpg Flathead Valve Job Machining - Winona-PH2000.jpg (82.8 KB, 67 views)
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Not a lot of experience doing it, but I had always understood it's bad to screw the adjusters outward. They won't have as tight of interference on the threads then. Do you guys run into this?

Do you guys ever use any locking fluid in the adjusters after they have a "final" adjustment? I can see it would be a bear to keep them clean and lube-free while all the assembly is happening, and impossible to clean again once in the engine.
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Old 11-18-2019, 06:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Timely Gary .. I didnt even bother putting a spring on I just slipped the valve and guide in and held it down with my thumb , that way I felt the feeler gauge too. Engine is a smooth as silk.. This build I have adjustables in it so I need to make the tool or a way to hold them when they're out ..?
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Old 11-19-2019, 02:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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Originally Posted by alchemy View Post
Not a lot of experience doing it, but I had always understood it's bad to screw the adjusters outward. They won't have as tight of interference on the threads then. Do you guys run into this?

Do you guys ever use any locking fluid in the adjusters after they have a "final" adjustment? I can see it would be a bear to keep them clean and lube-free while all the assembly is happening, and impossible to clean again once in the engine.


At times I will use a locking fluid it depends on the application. When i decide to do it that way I first remove the adjuster clean everything so no assembly lube is present apply the locking fluid and set the needed adjustment. The fluid takes a while to set so theres ample time for the final adjustments. Since i already know the assembly height prior to adjusting the height on the lifter the slight additional time needed for the locking fluid is slight. The added benefit will last a life time the adjuster can be moved in the future when needed for adjustment but it will be very tight. In other words been there done that.
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Old 11-19-2019, 03:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

The info I'm putting here today is more-or-less a "tip" about using the original Johnson tappets from Topline-Automotive, just got off the phone with Dave and learned something even I wasn't aware of until just recently??

The adjusting nuts are mfd with a "crown" on the tops of these Johnsons, Dave explained it was sort of a quick way to determine whether or not it's their lifters? According to him the "offshore" pieces are perfectly "flat". Being "flat" they cannot work correctly!

I suspected this just earlier today and called to confirm. It isn't something that would have ever affected any of the builds we've ever done in the past or today!

Thanks, Gary in N.Y.

P.S. On a side note, the demand for these lifters is still so strong Dave also let me know they are running off 50,000 lifters this very week. I consider that to be excellent news at least in my eyes!!
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Old 11-19-2019, 05:53 PM   #11
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Hey Gary - is he saying there is a crown on the top of the actual adjusting nut? Or a crown on the bottom of the lifter? I don't see any reason that a crown on the nut is needed, but I definitely understand why a taper/crown on the BOTTOM of the lifter is needed.
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Old 11-19-2019, 06:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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Hey Gary - is he saying there is a crown on the top of the actual adjusting nut? Or a crown on the bottom of the lifter? I don't see any reason that a crown on the nut is needed, but I definitely understand why a taper/crown on the BOTTOM of the lifter is needed.
I'm curious about this as well. Why would a crown be needed to make contact with the bottom of the valve stem?

I have original Johnson's refurbished by the later Ron Furtado and a few sets by JWL. If I recall, the tops of the screw heads are perfectly flat.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:53 PM   #13
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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Originally Posted by Bored&Stroked View Post
Hey Gary - is he saying there is a crown on the top of the actual adjusting nut? Or a crown on the bottom of the lifter? I don't see any reason that a crown on the nut is needed, but I definitely understand why a taper/crown on the BOTTOM of the lifter is needed.
Hi Dale, yes, on the top, and once I spotted this and thought about it, even before I called Dave at "Topline", I knew it MUST have that crown in order to work the way it is designed now! There's a few reasons why, one being due to the spring pressures involved, but there's another one that's more important. Before I expand on this one I'll be doing some further checking tomorrow and I'll come back with more info!

If you had the opportunity to "probe" a block on a "CNC" you'd have the answer fairly quick!

It has to do with the very same reason why it's bad practice to anchor the guides "solid" in the guide bores, I've been asked many time over the years to do this procedure, I flat out refused. I had reservations about doing that procedure over 35 years ago? Never did a single one.

If you take a step back and compare this entire issue but substitute a Chevy using a flat-tappet cam and a roller cam instead of a Flathead you may realize why that "crown" is absolutely necessary on the TOP of the adjusting nuts on the Flatheads. Like I stated above, I was 100% certain that this "crown" was an engineering design and not a "flaw", this is when I decided to call! I was right on-the-money!

I'll also expand more on this tomorrow!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Ayers View Post
I'm curious about this as well. Why would a crown be needed to make contact with the bottom of the valve stem?
I have original Johnson's refurbished by the later Ron Furtado and a few sets by JWL. If I recall, the tops of the screw heads are perfectly flat.
Hi Tim, knowing all that I learned today from my brief discussion with Dave at "Topline" I would never risk using a "flat" adjusting nut on any Flatheads we build here. Unknowingly we never have anyway. Every build I've ever done here got new lifters and ALL were Johnson's, which means they were all "correct"! I presently have over 200 brand new 2032 tappets on the shelf, not a single piece is "flat", not on the bottoms OR on the tops!!

Thanks, Gary in N.Y.

P.S. Like I said above here, I will have more tomorrow? I'm also a bit curious between then and now to see if anyone here comes up with a viable reason after giving it some thought?

Last edited by GOSFAST; 11-19-2019 at 07:56 PM. Reason: C
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

"According to him the "offshore" pieces are perfectly "flat". Being "flat" they cannot work correctly!"

What a crock that is. I have 2 sets of early hollow Johnsons in here for reconditioning and the screws were crowned, they are also HAMMERED FLAT.
Brand new, they will hammer flat in one dyno pull in a race engine.
The reason they have gotten away with this crap is, almost no one pulls the manifold and checks the valve clearances after a flathead is initially fired up.
JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THE LAWS OF PHYSICS DOESN'T MEAN THEY DON'T APPLY TO YOU.
The screws should be flat.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:20 PM   #15
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

Oh boy, I bet this thread gets deleted......LOL
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:21 PM   #16
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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"According to him the "offshore" pieces are perfectly "flat". Being "flat" they cannot work correctly!"

What a crock that is. I have 2 sets of early hollow Johnsons in here for reconditioning and the screws were crowned, they are also HAMMERED FLAT.
Brand new, they will hammer flat in one dyno pull in a race engine.
The reason they have gotten away with this crap is, almost no one pulls the manifold and checks the valve clearances after a flathead is initially fired up.
JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THE LAWS OF PHYSICS DOESN'T MEAN THEY DON'T APPLY TO YOU.
The screws should be flat.
I thought the same thing, Pete. Seems to me the crown will wear down and eventually open up the lash.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:01 PM   #17
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

A crown on the adjuster wow. Did Ford do that on the original stock lifters? Doing that to differentiate from the off shore copies seems like a strange way to go about doing it.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:31 PM   #18
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

GOSFAST SAID
It has to do with the very same reason why it's bad practice to anchor the guides "solid" in the guide bores, I've been asked many time over the years to do this procedure, I flat out refused. I had reservations about doing that procedure over 35 years ago? Never did a single one.

REALLY? Many of us serious and EXTREMELY long time Flathead builders have always locked the guides in the block bores myself been doing it for well over 30 years and counting. Now were going to learn why its not a good idea SERIOUSLY? Boy one thing I do know after pulling hundreds of flatheads apart with lots of miles on them for a rebuild for the guides are always stuck in the block bores. And for some reason these high mileage guides are still usable showing very little wear not to mention the lifters also look excellent and oh yea so dose the cam lobes now Im confused!
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I use the F word a lot no not that word these words Flathead , Focus and Finish.
"Life Member of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club using a Ford Flathead block"
Owner , Builder and Driver of the First Ford Flathead bodied roadster to run 200 MPH Record run July 13, 2018 LTA timing association 200.921 from a standing start in one and a half miles burning gasoline.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:34 PM   #19
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

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Originally Posted by Pete View Post
Oh boy, I bet this thread gets deleted......LOL


Pete were going to be taught how it should be done lets see if we can learn anything. LOL
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I use the F word a lot no not that word these words Flathead , Focus and Finish.
"Life Member of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club using a Ford Flathead block"
Owner , Builder and Driver of the First Ford Flathead bodied roadster to run 200 MPH Record run July 13, 2018 LTA timing association 200.921 from a standing start in one and a half miles burning gasoline.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:39 PM   #20
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Default Re: Flathead Lifter Adjusting - "On the Bench"

I'm an experienced mechanic but, new to Flathead Fords so I REALLY appreciate ALL the tips, advice and suggestions you guys with years of experience have to offer.

Please keep them coming. Even when you guys agree to disagree, I still enthusiastically read all of the posts. Even the conflicting opinions are educational.....to me anyway. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
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