3FE valve adjustment/oil system

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate
links, including eBay, Amazon, Skimlinks, and others.

Jan 8, 2005
Crestwood, MO
History: Last summer did a WHOLE lot of work to the engine including replacing a piston with engine still in. Realize I'm a novice and figuring it out as I go.

Today: A bunch of guys went to a friends property to burn brush, they're trying to get quail to come back. Anyhow, it rained out, and I happened to have my tools (and checked the forecast last night).

We took off the valve cover, then put everything back to try and adjust the valves by ear. Did I mention novice? I didn't know what I was trying to listen for or which valve was making the noise (neither did the geniuses with me). So we adjusted the valves per the FSM and restarted it with the valve cover off to listen. It was a lot quieter. Also, watching the valves move is REALLY COOL! It doesn't take much time hooking things back up to get it to run after the cover is off, so from now on even when I adjust them FSM wise, I'm going to do this.

Oil Issue:
As soon as I got the valve cover off, I knew I had a problem!
rockers 130908.jpg

And this is what it looked like last summer:

Only 1 tower that squirts oil was squirting oil, #4 cylinder I think. Others are brown as you can see in the pic.

Luckily I was only about 50 miles away. Even luckier, i was about to go on a 200 mile trip!

I changed the oil about 100 miles after the work. I was going to change it again today, but now it will be part of a lot more work.

I worked hard making sure everything stayed clean when I did the work and spent a lot of time wiping and cleaning everywhere I could reach while the engine was open and accessible. I assume this is from a clogged system.

Gameplan - need recommendations:
I'm going to take off the oil pan and make sure I properly tightened the oil pipe(s) up. Then I'm going to start it without the cover on and see if ALL are squirting. Also, I'm going to dig through the FSM to figure out the lubrication system and see what may be clogged up. I believe I'll use compressed air to shoot through the little holes where oil is supposed to go to make sure all is clean.

Comments appreciated.


rockers 130908.jpg

IIRC ...oil is pumped through the whole shaft and flows through ports at each of the bearings out through the arms out to the springs, and through the rods down through the lifters, I don't know how important an overall spray is. what you may be seeing could just be hotter areas that oil is baking onto....just my .02
Bump for you Joe,

As I recall there are two oil passage towers and four without. One of the oil ports is near the back #4? and the other port is near the front #2?. If one of the towers without an oil passage was installed over an oil port that would cause a block of oil flow that you are seeing. Anyone else confirm this?

Out of curiosity what is your current mileage? Your sig line says 200+ but curious on the exact miles. I have 103K on my 3FE and the valves have never been adjusted.
Steve, Don't know what a "Bump" is, but I appreciate it. I'll look back through the book to see if I can figure it out and report back. So, when you run it without the cover, only 2 towers are shooting oil?

When I put the rocker back on, I thought there were holes in the tube that the rockers pivot on. IIRC the oil came up in the tube then through the holes, then out the arm on top of the spring. Before I go tearing into the oil pan, I'll take the rocker apart first and check it out. Tonight, I'll dig through the book.

Mileage is about 220.
A "Bump" is just bringing your topic back up to the top. Don't tear into it until someone else can confirm how many oil ports pump oil up through the towers and how many towers have oil passages in them. I could be mistaken and there may be only one. I just can't remember, it's been a while since I've been there.
Out of curiosity what is your current mileage? Your sig line says 200+ but curious on the exact miles. I have 103K on my 3FE and the valves have never been adjusted.

Well then you're a bit overdue for an adjustment I'd say.
The FSM specifies a valve adjust every 15K miles. They're probably flopping around in there by now. Loose valves will give you lower fuel economy with less power.
Don't tear into it until someone else can confirm how many oil ports pump oil up through the towers and how many towers have oil passages in them.

This is not documented in the FSM very well at all. The oil flow chart shows a single path to the rocker arm assembly from the cam around #4 and each arm supposedly gets a squirt.
However this is just a simplified drawing.
I would defer this question to Jim C or Robbie to get a definitive answer. They would know this off the top of their heads.
I'm changing the oil tonight regardless. Using cheap, 10/30 (IIRC) normal oil cause the rings are still breaking in and you're not supposed to use special stuff.

Valve Adjustment: Must have worked, quieter and a little more power today. It's usually a spare vehicle, but my kid got his license last week and we haven't found a beater for him yet, so now it's my daily driver only 1.6 miles to work and I can walk if I have to.

Later this week/weekend: I'll get back into the rocker assembly. I'm pretty sure there is a passage from the tube the rocker's pivot on, I remember when I had the assembly off and I wondered what the springs were for that pushed the rockers on the valve-spring & push-rods. When I moved the rocker to compress the spring, I saw a little hole in the tube or pipe that I think feeds the rockers, I also seem to recall a hole in the rocker that goes over the spring. I don't remember seeing a hole on the pushrod side, but they are at the lowest point, so I assume that's where the oil drains after lubing the spring side which kind of makes sense since the oil would continue down the pushrod to the cam lobes that push the rods, I'd guess you'd want that slippery so you don't gouge the lobes.

Jonheld, I hope Robbie or Jim C chime in before I get back into it. I'd hate to screw up a well done valve adjustment if I don't have to.
Clogged at pillar:
Changed the oil. Those factory filters are a bear to get off! So, now I got the FSM and looked at it. It clearly shows the oil going up #4 pillar to the Valve Rocker Shaft then to each rocker arm. When I had it running with valve cover off, it was squirting oil at the #4 pillar and ALL of it was just spewing down and NOT making it to the rocker shaft. That's got to be the problem.

This is a close-up of the rocker. You can see the oil hole, it's the little nose on top toward the valve spring.
rockers 130908.jpeg

How did it get screwed up? I took the rocker assembly to the head shop to get it cleaned. I'll bet they disassembled it then put the wrong pillar at #4 and missed the oil hole. Maybe the pillar is right, but the shaft is in backward. Or maybe I was supposed to spin the rocker shaft until oil came out when reassembling. CAN YOU SPIN THE ROCKER SHAFT?

Game Plan:
1. Run it with cover off to see if ANY oil is coming out the rockers.
2. Stop engine and check #4 pillar. The FSM shows it as having an extra oil hole between the two mounting spots. So I should be able to tell if the "oil" pillar is at #4, or the right place.
3. Take off rocker assembly and disassemble. Again, there should be a "big hole" in the rocker shaft where #4 pillar goes.
4. Reassemble and install the rocker assembly.
5. Check by running without cover again. If not, repeat until right.

Rocker Shaft - Scary Part: There are several holes all around the rocker shaft. It's not apparent how the rockers are suppose to go back on in reference to the holes, nor if the shaft can spin and block the holes. I'll take some good notes before I disassemble. Maybe I'll be able to spin it after installed and oil will start coming out right. Maybe I could spin it before I take it out.

Anyone ever disassemble/reassemble a rocker assembly?

rockers 130908.jpeg
Page EM-26 in the FSM shows reassembly of the rocker shaft. The picture is unclear as to the difference between front and rear of the rocker shaft, but it wants to be in the correct orientation.
There are 6 rocker shaft supports, but only 1 has the oil hole. Is it possible that the shop swapped positions thinking they were all identical? The support with the hole is the #4 support.
Last edited:
Causes for low oil in Rocker

Trying to identify the cause to check for before I get into it:
1. Wrong Pillar/Shaft Support: As Jonheld said, the machine shop may have reassembled not noticing the "special" pillar that delivers oil to the rocker shaft.
2. 180 deg out: Found this post in the 60's section.
It may be that the delivery hole in the rocker shaft is pointing up instead of down toward the pillar. This also answers my question of "spinning the rocker shaft until oil comes out", can't do it, it locks in.
Took off the rocker assembly tonight. Sure enough, the machine shop didn't put it back together right. The dad-gummed pillars are NUMBERED!

Today, I went to the machine shop, showed them some pics, and they're going to clean it up again and reassemble it for free. I'll drop it off and get it back tomorrow, put it in Saturday.

I tore the vavle cover gasket getting it off or possibly putting it on Sunday. Regardless, I can't wait for a new one and am going to try and find an aftermarket. May just try to clean up the one I have.

I little disappointed, but at least I found it.

I'll post a few pics after it's on and how it's supposed to look for others.
Final Solution - Rocker Assembly

To summarize:

1. PUT ROCKER SHAFT SUPPORTS IN ORDER: They are stamped on top between the bolt holes from front to back, 1 to 6.

2. MAKE SURE #4 SUPPORT IS IN RIGHT LOCATION: I think 1,2,3,5, & 6 are interchangeable. You just need to make sure special #4 is in the right spot. It will look like an "m" where the others look like an "n".

3. USE BIG BOLTS TO KEEP SHAFT STRAIGHT: Now that you have #4 in the right spot, you need to make sure the hole in the rocker shaft is over the oil feed in #4. The supports go on with (2) different size bolts/studs. One side takes 12mm other side takes 14mm. The rocker shaft has indentations at the 14mm or larger bolt/studs. #2 and #5 are bolts; #1,3,4,&6 are studs sticking up from the head. Put #2 & #5 big bolts in, move #4 support down the shaft and make sure the hole is lined up. Once you are sure the hole is lined up, keep #2 & #5 in when you install the rocker assembly onto the head.
rocker assembly.jpg

In the pic, you can see ALL of the 12mm bolts in, but only #2 and #5 with the 14mm bolts. Those 2 bolts are keeping the shaft in the right position so the shaft hole lines up with the #4 feed.

Hopefully I'll be able to move the whole assembly end put it on the head without a rocker doing a 180 on me.

rocker assembly.jpg

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom