In September my roadster developed a popping sound and lacked its normal zip. I found that it was running on three cylinders.
The #4 lifter (#2 exhaust) had sunk to about ¼" below where it was supposed to be.
Yesterday I was at Mike Bender's shop for another project, and took this engine with me. When we got that low lifter out, it looked like this.
All the other lifters are fine, but this one wore down this far in about a thousand miles. I didn't find any big chunks in the oil or stuck to any of the magnets, so apparently this was wear, not breakage.
I assume this one lifter failed to get properly hardened, but it did produce enough wear on the lobe that you can feel it with a fingernail.
I'm not gong to attack the manufacturer over this, because I realize that when you're turning out an item by the hundreds (thousands?), it's possible for a rare lemon to slip by. But I wonder if there's some way for the end user to check for hardness before installing a part. I'm just glad I caught this before any major damage was done. We will dig into the engine to be sure no debris is embedded in the Babbitt and to make sure everything gets thoroughly cleaned.
Sorry to hear that you'll have to replace the camshaft along with (at least) the one lifter.
I'm sure that Mike will have some ideas on ways to check for proper hardness of the lifter surface (trying to scratch the surface with a screwdriver or drill bit comes to mind).
Herm may also have some suggestions.
This is more than a "rare lemon". It shows up every so often, just on this forum alone. How many more never get reported?
I've had severe wear (not quite as bad as that) on some new lifters in an engine I had. The engine had relatively few miles on it. Yes, I'd say they were not the proper hardness.
Spurious parts were a problem to H.Ford, and are a problem to Model T owners today. My concern is not cosmetic parts, but rather hard parts that could affect safety. I would even suggest that the club might take a more active part in reviewing and reporting substandard parts, when discovered.
I guess all new parts are spurious, as Ford isn't making them anymore. I hesitate to be tough on our parts dealers who try to have good products made, but I really would like to hear from some of our metal experts on how to test for hardness before installing items that are supposed to be hardened.
Curious, was this caused by your self named "witches brew" oil?
Without one of these
It would be almost impossible to be accurate but, if you have an old spring loaded center punch round off the end so that it isn't as sharp and then test it on some old lifters you should be able to operate the center punch without leaving a mark on a properly hardened lifter.
Well I'd love to open the "zinc additive can of worms" here, given that both the lifter AND the cam lobe are worn, seems too coincidental, but I'm not gonna so just pretend you didn't read this!
I don't feel oil is or was an issue as the other lifters and cam lobs are normal.
One thought is that the bore on the lifter could be off square, that isn't the case. The lifter bore is not worn as the reamer used is still tight in the bore.
Hardness not known but they all feel the same using a file, I know not a good test but it's in the wheel house,
Offering a couple of more pictures
The heel is worn of at a angle
The heel has a grooved wear pattern which is on the high side
Poor heat treat or wrong material. Not an oil issue. Oil wouldn't be so selective to target just one lifter.
I was thinking lifter bore off square while reading this, but you ruled that out. How about the end of the lifter wasn't ground square when manufactured? That would put severe pressure on both the end of the lifter and lobe, ruining both in the process. It would be kind of hard to tell now given the extent of the damage.
"Normal" wear usually appear shiny smooth. As the appearance seems rough, I suspect scuff (adhesive wear) took place.
I agree that the oil idea is bogus, as the seven good ones got the same oil. I would rule out wrong material for the same reason. Out of hundreds sold, one has the wrong material? I doubt it.
After a talk with one of our dealers, I'll summarize his take on the situation. In twenty years selling hundreds of these lifters, he's seen maybe five failures like this. It's never been a full set, always one or (once) two. For some reason an occasional part doesn't get properly hardened. While theoretically every part could be tested, it would cost enough to raise the final cost of the product beyond what people are willing to pay. So spot checking is the next best thing.
As to wrong material, if you've worked in manufacturing you might think differently. It happens. Yes, the other 7 could be made of the correct stuff, while the one might have been something else. One bar of the wrong steel in a large batch can happen. It is rare however... Several years back I bought a forging from a long time trusted source. We did a bunch of work to it then sent it off for heat treat. The heat treater called and said they couldn't get the hardness we specified. Turned out: wrong material. Oops.
I agree that a missed heat treat on an occasional part is the most likely scenario by far.
If the harding is right, it will laugh at a file, and you won't make a mark of any kind. We always check our lifters.
Have never found a lifter body bad, but have found soft lock nuts, and the bolts, and as the lifter body, that would never work.
What kind of cam did you use Steve and the lift?
Mike can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is one of Glen's reground cams. The lift on those is .270".
I'm wondering if some are case hardened. I have a new non-adjustable lifter purchased from one of the regular vendors about six years ago. My Rockwell tester says it is soft (about 30 HRC) while a file says it is not.
After taking it and grinding through a corner, I can now cut that area with a file. If the one I'm holding is indeed case hardened and machined after the hardening process (as it looks to be) that opens up a whole world where it is easier to make errors when manufacturing.
Now I am glad no one brought those NOS lifters I was trying to sell a few months ago. Looks like they are keepers now. Dan
This is a tough one (pun NOT intended); the case hardening has to be deep enough to be good after final grinding (the heat treating process causes some distortion of the part, so has to be finished afterwards), but you don't want it so deep as to make the part brittle.
I think testing before installing is the best bet.
I think everybody is pretty much on the beam here. Several parts of the hardening process cannot by their very nature be 100 percent perfect every time. Even metallurgy cannot mix the additives 100 percent evenly. There will be variations in the hardness throughout and especially the thickness of the hardening if heat tempered.
Modern car parts can also have similar issues. Over thirty years ago, I had to replace a U-joint in my "modern" pickup. Always being tight on money, I replaced only the one. But wanting "value" for my dollar, I bought a known name brand well known for high quality. It cost twice what the Kragen auto special cost.
Less than six months later, I heard the familiar sound of a failing U-joint. I think "Rats, I shoulda changed them both!" Guess what I found when I got it apart.
The old one in there, with more than 150,000 miles on it was fine. The new one, with just over 5000 miles was SHOT!
Now, truly relevant to this thread. I took out my pocket knife, and on a non-thrust side of the worn-out U-joint, I cut a thin slice of metal off like it was a piece of cheese. I took the failed joint back to the store I had bought it from, along with my receipt. I asked for a replacement, when the counter man brought it out, I removed the joint from its packaging, took off one needle bearing cap. Took out my pocket knife and proceeded to cut a small slice out of its bearing surface. I handed the joint back to the man and told him it was unacceptable. He stood there a moment, eyes wide open, said "okay" and took it back.
I went to Kragen (that happened to be across the street at that time). Their U-joint, for half the cost, passed my knife test (couldn't make a scratch). Sold the truck a few years later with both U-joints working fine. But ever since, whenever I buy a new U-joint? I knife test it before I walk out of the store. And yes, I have since found ones that failed.
Valve lifters and U-joints are similar (slightly different) in their requirements. Properly made, they are special metallurgy, machined to a standard, then hardened (several different methods may be used, both heat and chemical). After hardening, the part is final ground to final spec.
The problem that can occur, is that the hardening process is like (at least to some extent) case hardening. IF (that big IF again) the hardening is a bit thin? That final grinding may take too much hardening off, revealing some softer material underneath. That will result in uneven wear, with small areas of really hard surrounded by soft areas. The really hard spots will chew away at the cam lobe, resulting in wear patterns like Steve showed.
A surface check, over most of the wearing surface of the lifter, should be made when installing new lifters. This can be done with a knife? File? Or even sandpaper over the entire wear surface? (I have noticed that marginally soft material when sanded with very fine emery paper/cloth exposes a slightly different color than does really hard material, I THINK that may be an indicator.)
A hardness check can also be done carefully using a hammer and punch (sharp or slightly rounded will tell slightly different things). My problem with this method is that it is possible to fracture a good lifter and create the problem you are attempting to avoid.
I am with Steve J on this. Be grateful to our parts suppliers for what they do. They provide us with so much that we need to keep our beloved Ts on the road, and believe me, the quality of reproduction parts has gotten much better over the past 40 years. This thanks to several of our forum regulars I won't name names because I know for certain I would miss a few that should be thanked. I started becoming active with model Ts in 1967, I REMEMBER a lot of really bad parts!
Our special parts suppliers do a great job today (mostly). But Steve J, I am sorry that you got one of the bad lifters. You have had too much trouble with that car's motor already!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Hi David D!
You slipped in ahead of me with a couple of the comments I was typing!
That point needed to be made again for effect anyway.
Thank you, David and all!
What I've found to be the case is that suppliers of reproduction parts are too often given to bend to the constraints of price over quality, and the "Catch-22" of trailer queens. Many "special interest" cars are never asked to do more than be driven in and out of a trailer a couple of times a year . . . the result is that suppliers often don't know when they are selling a crap part that won't hold up under normal use. The bottom line is, as Steve J says, be thankful we're getting that much help, but you have to be your own quality control, and often that means running repro parts to failure, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
By the way, Steve's "house blend" oil is certainly not to blame, else ALL of the lifters would have melted down !!
I work for a company that does hardening. While I'm no expert, I drive a truck for them, I would think any shop that does this type of work could check the hardness for you. We have a handheld model that those in the shop use to check hardness, without harming the material.
I too have had a bad lifter & like Steve it was only one of my 8 new ones. I won't name the supplier, but it's a damn shame they don't take any interest in the trouble we have to go through to fix the problems these inferior parts cause. My lifter as you can see in the photo was a non-adjustable type and luckily it didn't hurt my brand new Stipe 250 grind cam. What really pisses off is the supplier I purchased the lifters from acted like they were doing me a favor to just send me one replacement. They didn't make the part, turns out they buy it from another supplier. I asked if they wanted the DEFECTIVE PART BACK & they said no. This is wrong! We as end users have to do our own quality control, & this shouldn't be the situation. Our suppliers should be held accountable for the damage their defective parts cause. In my case, it was my labor & parts to repair the damage, what if it was loss of life from an inferior steering component? Maybe that would get their attention? Our suppliers (no all of them, but most) need to step it up a notch! Charge more, but have QUALITY CONTROLS IN PLACE!
Here the pic of the bad lifter.
While I'm on my rant, I'm currently rebuilding another T engine and putting new lifters (adjustable) in the engine. I purchased this set from a different vendor that cares about what they sell! I will take these to my machine shop and have the Rockwell hardness checked on each one to be sure it is up to spec. Unfortunately I don't know of any way to be sure the hardening process was done properly to ensure the hardness is deep enough in the metal. At least I'll have to satisfaction of know they won't fail after 800 miles like my last set! I'll report my findings in about a week.
Did these simply fail one afternoon? I can't imagine not noticing something wrong after a little wear.
Mine happen over 800 miles & I run a Fronty head, so didn't notice drop in power until it started missing while on a a tour.
Like Kohnke said hit that lifter with a file you will know right away where the problem is.
Steve, after looking at your first picture, I would recommend that you check all the valve spring keeper pins.
A few years back there was some sold that aren't hard enough and wear quickly. That can cause the cup at the bottom of the spring to sit at an angle as can be seen in your picture.
You just beat me to it Ken. We had a car in our group this summer at the International tour that this happened to. One broken pin and one bent.
Bring back Made In USA. Glad I'm not building an engine.
Ken, and Colin, you're right. That's what we found. We'll need to try a file on the next pins. Maybe I should use ones from an old engine.
The pin problem is just like all the reproduction parts, we the end users must do our own quality control or suffer the consequences! I just can't understand why the folks selling this stuff can't do quality control?
Bob, it's because in the eyes of the bean counters, who can't see beyond the end of their pointy noses, Q.C. is an expense on their spreadsheet. Damn the big picture.
I used to work for a small manufacturer where our in-house motto was, "Our customers are our quality control".
If most of these things really are case hardened a file test means squat. Whether you have 0.020 or 0.002 case depth, the result is going to come back the same.
Walt, that's what worry's me, I can check it for hardness at the surface, but how deep in the base metal does it penetrate? If the surface wears just a bit, then where am I? If it is the correct hardness and properly lubricated it shouldn't wear and I should be fine. You've got to be able to count on your vendors, what's happening to the world we live in, is it all driven by the all mighty dollar? When I was in business, I wanted repeat customers and refused to sell crap.
Maybe the lifter was initially too thick on the mushroom head before heat treatment and grinding, it was hardened correctly, but when it was ground they went through the depth of the hardening to bring it to the correct size. Hence there was a soft face on the mushroom. Just a guess.
Steve, I made my own valve retaining pins from 7/64" drill rod. Cut to length and then heat treat.
From the Ford parts book: 3057 PIN (Valve retaining, 7/64 x 17/32”)
Those reproduction valve spring retainers are crap too. I had one where the pin wore through the spring retainer and then let the valve stay open all the time. It was a nearly new engine, maybe 200 miles on it.
I recommend that you use the non - adjustable lifters, and use original Ford pins and spring retainers. A new Stipe camshaft is also worth the price difference, Bill makes a great camshaft.
I've had problems with 2 adjustable lifters. Both of them were new and after running them for a couple hundred miles lifters got loud. Both of them came loose. When I was adjusting for the first time I noticed they were easier to turn than the rest. I put both of them on # 1 and those are the ones that went bad. That can beat he lifters and cam up.