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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all

I'll be replacing the gaskets on the intake manifold and valve covers of a "new to me" 70's Ford 302.

I feel like this would be a good time to inspect things inside the engine and make sure there's no huge red flags.
There's always vacuum readings, compression tests, oil consumption, pressure, etc that you can check with the engine in place.

What are some simple tests I can do while the intake/valve covers are off to see if anything in the engine needs work? I'm sure I can wiggle push-rods, rockers, etc but i'm not completely sure what I should be looking for.
 

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Other than a visual inspection there is very little you can do with the valve cover and/or intake off. If there is a lot of sludge you may want to flush the engine. Wiggling rocker arms or pushrods will tell you nothing as to the condition of the engine. Now if you were to pull a valve spring your may be able to see if you have significantly worn guides by wiggling the valve stem...but usually the smoke you see coming out the exhaust is the first clue. Looking a the spark plugs for oil deposits would be another thing to do.

Dropping the oil pan and pulling a couple rod and main caps may give you a good indication of the bearing health.
 
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Is it possible to tell if a lifter/cam lobe is wiped possibly just by turning it over and watching the rockers?

When I did the oil analysis from Blackstone, there was a good amount of metals in the oil. I know the PO wasn't using an oil with high zinc. So i'm kind of concerned that the bearings could be going bad, maybe i'll take a look if I replace the pan gasket. This engine is newly "refreshed" and has a new cam, so maybe they just didn't do an oil change after the "refresh".
 

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if you have no history on the engine and youre digging into anyway imo it would be a good time to to the timing chain and water pump
 
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Is it possible to tell if a lifter/cam lobe is wiped possibly just by turning it over and watching the rockers?
Not likely.

Why are you replacing gaskets on a newly freshened engine?

Higher zinc content is important during cam break in, but not as critical after that. Certainly not the end all, be all of an oil. For example, Lucas Hot Rod oil has lots of zinc, yet is a very poor oil.

This is LONG, but has some good info on oil...and other engine topics. (Cnrl+F) will open a search dialog box.

 
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Discussion Starter #6
Why are you replacing gaskets on a newly freshened engine?
It has the infamous 302 oil leak at the back of the intake manifold, where it likes to pool and pour down the bellhousing, drip onto the exhaust, and catch on fire. Whoever refreshed this used the cork end gaskets instead of a bead of RTV...😣
 

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If you take off the valve covers along with the intake you can check the cam and lifters. When I took off the original intake manifold, the intake valves were absolutely loaded with what looked like cones of tar over the valves. With the valve covers off I unbolted the rocker arms and pulled out the pushrods and lifters. Everything on my 351 Cleveland was good. I pulled the oil drain plug and left it off. I used lots of carburetor cleaner and rags and got it clean. Meanwhile, nasty looking stuff dripped out of the oil pan. I put 2 quarts of oil in each head through the grommets in the valve covers and let it drain out. Then I ran the engine a few minutes and changed the oil and filter. The deposits on the valves probably had been there since the leaded gas era.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Worked for hours yesterday, everything seems nice and tight and finally got the head surfaces clean for new manifold gaskets. The valve covers had the cork gaskets, and it's a nightmare as they're completely glued on with RTV. Broke 2 cheap scrapers trying to get it all off, and it took way longer than I expected. I think i'll pour some fresh oil in and make sure everything's clean before sealing it back up. Thanks for the suggestion @cougar70!
 
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