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Post Info TOPIC: Ford Triton VVT Cam phasers / solenoids - timing chains


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Ford Triton VVT Cam phasers / solenoids - timing chains


Noticing a lot of these triton Ford trucks are coming in with the classic worn out timing components that usually see a problem with the cam phaser getting glitchy and a check engine code P0345 Camshaft Position Sensor "A" circuit bank 2... it will also follow with a nice healthy knock / tapping sound that will at higher RPM's go away. The onset can sometimes take awhile before it will even set a code and during this time the customer will usually complain of a low RPM rough idle / lack of power that just goes away for awhile after a few little revs. 

So absent any connection issues, and the fact this truck as about 250k miles on its stock timing components and phasers I figured I'd price out a kit. I am shocked at how reasonable some of these eBay kits are complete with phasers, solenoids and the whole ball of wax. Was wondering what everyone else thought because there is tremendous value in getting ALL the parts in a kit and just doing it all while in there... I mean if the cover is coming off it would be crazy not to replace it all.

What say everyone? You have had to have done loads of timing chains and phasers by now PowerStroker... if I am seeing them, then I know you guys are! Also been kicking around the idea of a reman engine because at 250k, how many more miles you think it's going to make before something else shits the bed!?



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Hey mate,

Should the customers be happy with after-market parts to save costs, go-for-it.

I'd do a cylinder leak-down test to determine if you need to go down the path of a full engine rebuild. The cost of cylinder-head reconditioning will likely cost more than you'll charge for all the other work done.

If you have some splash-cash, you can tool-up & do the valve-grinding, seat reconditioning & valve guides yourself. All the machine-shop will have to do is hot-tank & resurfacing.

Piston rings, bearings, & the gasket set are cheap enough.

If the cars seen regular servicing, & run on good gasoline ( 98 oct ) I'd guess 500,000 km or 300,000 mls before some head-work is in real-need of being done. But it's all relative to how the cars driven & hours of use in stagnant city traffic, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Do the leak-down test.



-- Edited by Rastus on Sunday 24th of March 2019 09:45:24 PM



-- Edited by Rastus on Sunday 24th of March 2019 09:46:02 PM

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Sure, a reman engine should only cost about $8k installed...

But new cam phasers and chain about $1,800-$2,200... 

We're talking a $6k spread here and outside of the intermittent phaser it runs good with lots of power.

 



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Before you get excited with the idea that replacing a timing set will solve all problems you need to check the cam caps for scoring. This is a very common problem on the 3v triton engines... The cam bearing surfaces wear out and starve the vct system for oil pressure. If this is the case, all the new timing parts in the world won't fix it. We usually long block these when we see wear on the cam caps because 2 new heads with all timing components and labor is about the same as a long block installed price wise at the dealer.



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BTW, if you decide this is one of the rare fixable trucks, you NEED to do new chain tensioners too because the rubber seal behind them blows out and that is the root cause for the accelerated cam bearing wear in the first place.

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Awesome post PowerStroker !

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Yes, I did question how good the oil pressure was at times when this would become an issue however the condition comes and goes and I would be hard pressed to think worn cam caps could cause a intermittent condition. Sometimes it could go a week and not have any issues and we have been chasing this intermittent low idle issue for a long time before the computer finally spit out a code. 

The VVT system is just as you say, oil pressure dependent which means anyone with VVT engines should use the exact weight recommended at the best viscosity they can get at religious change intervals to ensure the VVT system stays in top order.

Since I am not excited about a big Ford taking up my bay with major work I am not excited in the least bit for either case! In fact I just told him exactly what I said above and advised him to get an oil change with the proper weight oil since it has since gone away and the light has not returned. Now had he gone 100k miles on his oil and it come out like Jello-Pudding, like SOME trucks in the past - it might have been a lot worse. He claims to use synthetic at 8k intervals but I have since informed him with his higher 250k milage that interval should be down around 5k, maybe even 3k as it crest the 300k mark, but that's hard for people to do with the cost involved, so I can understand their plight.   



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SELLC wrote:

He claims to use synthetic at 8k intervals


 

Game over, don't try repairing that one, replace only.



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PowerStroker wrote:

BTW, if you decide this is one of the rare fixable trucks, you NEED to do new chain tensioners too because the rubber seal behind them blows out and that is the root cause for the accelerated cam bearing wear in the first place.


 

Yes, the tensioners are also dependent on oil pressure... have been dealing with chains and tensioners on many different makes and models and that is why I was asking around about what people thought of the aftermarket stuff since the kits come complete with everything to refresh the entire timing chain, phasers, guides, tensioners and the whole ball of wax. I been hearing about people also replacing just the one bad phaser with some trickery to hold the chain up, but honestly that would only be something I tried on my own vehicle because there is always that chance the chain falls down. 

You know what else depends on oil pressure? HPOP's ! LOL



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I'd be shoving the old "Slick-50" or similar into one of these engines if I owned one...

Surely someone state-side is re-manufacturing the heads & cam-caps with phosforous-bronze bushes or similar ?...They 'd be better than new once reconditioned like this, & wouldn't wear away along as "some" oil was finding its way to the bushes..

Just sayin'

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Maybe that is how they will invent the new camless engines, with oil pressure regulated by a solenoid?

They do it all the time with just about everything now days.. All this time I been wondering how to get a solenoid strong enough to open a close a valve and now it's clear! Hydraulically with a solenoid! 

It has to be coming! Think of how much savings in drag an engine without any camshafts would save!

With regards to the game-over theory @8k intervals.. I am not convinced because when it's not acting up it runs very smooth with absolutely no noise or issue whatsoever! Although you could be correct in that damage has already been done and it won't be long before even the freshest of oil and newest of components can compensate for the loss of tolerances that lead to low oil pressure.

I must say the newer trucks from 2010-up seem to hold up a whole lot better than the older ones! Maybe because they are being used more for regular transportation now days, and of course technology improvements... but the cost to rebuild them is very expensive! Still just a drop in the bucket to what a new truck will cost, which now days will see you pay about $60k for a V8 4X4 Pickup.

I am sure by the time I get it the best route will be a reman engine... but I am real curious how many miles a Triton engine has in it! 



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Rastus wrote:

I'd be shoving the old "Slick-50" or similar into one of these engines if I owned one...

Surely someone state-side is re-manufacturing the heads & cam-caps with phosforous-bronze bushes or similar ?...They 'd be better than new once reconditioned like this, & wouldn't wear away along as "some" oil was finding its way to the bushes..

Just sayin'


 

Anyone that puts slick-50 in any engine, let alone a VVT engine - deserves what they get! Which will almost certainly be a repair bill for a new engine in somewhat short order! LOL

Slick-50 by design would destroy the VVT system! Probably clog the screens on the VVT solenoids right off the bat! Not even kidding!



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You could always remove the rocker-covers, & start the engine to see how much bleed-off is happening & where...

It shouldn't make too-much of a mess I'd guess, & you'd certainly see irregular oil flows from the caps.

I'd check-out an oil-gallery-diagram, & see how / where the oil is fed into the caps...Or even just inspect or plastigauge suspect ones...

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Valve covers would have to come off to replace phasers anyway so obviously I would check the condition of the cams, followers and compensators at that time.

I don't think running newer OHC engines today without the valve cover is going to yield the results your looking for, unless you're looking for a big mess and possible fire! LOL

Unlike the old 350 engines that would idle at about 10psi of pressure, these newer engines can see 20-30 PSI at an idle and that is going to be messy! 



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SELLC wrote:
Rastus wrote:

I'd be shoving the old "Slick-50" or similar into one of these engines if I owned one...

Surely someone state-side is re-manufacturing the heads & cam-caps with phosforous-bronze bushes or similar ?...They 'd be better than new once reconditioned like this, & wouldn't wear away along as "some" oil was finding its way to the bushes..

Just sayin'


 

Anyone that puts slick-50 in any engine, let alone a VVT engine - deserves what they get! Which will almost certainly be a repair bill for a new engine in somewhat short order! LOL

Slick-50 by design would destroy the VVT system! Probably clog the screens on the VVT solenoids right off the bat! Not even kidding!


 LOL,

Don't be so hard on the 'ol Slick-50 ! It really is great stuff IMO. Just follow the directions, & pour-it-in with the engine HOT & at running temperature, & all should be fine.

We can't get the stuff here in Oz anymore, so we've made our own lol, called E-30, & made by Nulon. I've used it in everything, & it works fine. I throw it in everything, from the Power-steering reservoir ( say 50 ml ), the Auto-trans ( say 100 ml ), & even the diff ( say 50 ml ). It's safe to use in motorcycles with wet-clutches, so that's why I poured some into the transmission, & instantly was rewarded with far smoother shifts.

I've seen a 1990 GSXR-750 race bike on a dyno, making around 100-bhp, & then watched the technician pour a 1/2-bottle of Slick-50 into the engine. It produced 107-bhp straight away...

Maybe in your colder climate, some folks poured-it-in from a cold engine & had troubles, but I wholly believe the stuff is an excellent protectant, lubricant, & performance enhancer.

Whenever I get a new "toy", the first thing on the maintenance list is searching out a bottle lol !



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Just an FYI that every forum has it's well intended bad advice and this one is no different... That being said, DO NOT PUT SLICK-50 or anything similar into modern VVT engines! Sorry Rastus, but you are way off base here with that suggestion on these modern engines and as mentioned such treatments will only clog the VVT solenoid screens causing serious problems.

Also, it is very important to use the exact weight as recommended for these engines, usually 5w20 for the triton engines with the VVT system.

Having finally gotten the vehicle in and torn apart we have found that the timing chains had stretched, thus both cams were off what appears to be two teeth each. I assume the intermittent knock that almost sounds like a rod knock only came on at times of low RPM's as the cam phasers tried to compensate for the cam timing being off. They system of the VVT works like any hydraulic system and involves a solenoid that directs oil pressure to advance or retard the camshaft timing on the fly. All of this is controlled by the computer via the VVT solenoid. 

For people considering performing this repair I must warn you, it is VERY time consuming. I am sure in my younger years I may have tried to perform this repair by removing as little as possible but I must highly suggest that you removed the entire front facia (grill, headlights, and radiator assembly) to give you unfettered access to the front of the engine while you perform this repair. I must also stress the importance of cleaning and blowing off the engine prior to starting the job as the design of these engines is such that a lot of dirt and such builds up in the crevices of the valve covers and elsewhere that risks falling into the engine upon tear down. That being said, a good high pressure shot of air along the top of the valve covers, followed by a thorough power washing of the engine prior to the job will save you a lot of headache. 

Here is a look at the job as it unfolded, there are a few "gotcha's" that I will address later but I figured I'd update the thread for now to show what was found. Keep in mind this particular truck was exhibiting an intermittent loud knock at low RPM's that would go away upon giving it gas. The knock sounded a lot like a rod knock, however a rod knock will not be intermittent and completely disappear for long periods of times. Ultimately, after awhile it gave off code P0345 but went away and did not return after clearing.. the knock however would return intermittently.

In the photo above you can see the right camshaft gear/phaser is off two teeth

In the photo above you can see the left camshaft gear/phaser is off two teeth also

And yes, on the crank sprocket it too is off two teeth. This is how we found it upon removal of the cover - yet it still ran! Probably because the phasers have about two teeth worth of adjustment both ways - aka VVT.

This is an aftermarket kit that is sold that includes most all of the components needed to perform the timing chain job properly. I advised to the customer to go with a new pump but he declined. Since the engine had good oil pressure I relented and did as I was told.

These are the proper timing marks for this job, and only rely on the shaded links as shown in the photos below. No physical marks are on the heads, or block. There are marks on the cover for TDC but that does you no good since it's off the car at this point.

The four photos above show the proper timing chain orientation. Important to note here is the fact there are no physical marks on the heads or the block, all the timing is set up with the color coated links. 

 

I will update the thread more a little later to include photos of the "gotcha" areas to be aware of when performing this job. This is a VERY big job, and I would imagine that many people are going to be having these problems as time goes on. Still I think it's not too bad for 250k miles since we see timing belts fail in less than 100k miles along with timing chains on Mercedes-Benz fail in less than 100k miles also. So hats off to Fords for squeezing out 250k miles on factory timing chain components! 

 



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I would also mention that as PowerStroker has indicated, any engines showing signs of wear on the cam follower lobes (they are roller followers on the 3V engine) or wear on the camshaft caps - that would be game over for the engine. It would be a big waste of time to perform this repair on a vehicle that has low oil pressure, worn camshaft caps or worn our cam followers because the VVT system relies on a healthy amount of oil pressure to operate properly. In this case the engine had great oil pressure, above 3/4 of the gauge when cold and above 1/2 way on the gauge when hot - plus the followers and caps were surprisingly clean for the milage. It did have a little amount of sludge forming and as you can see a heavy tarnish of burnt oil consistent with 8k interval oil changes but we have seen much worse. That being the case we performed the repair and I will update this thread as time goes by if we find any issues. So far it seems to be doing well, but as always time will tell.



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So everything went pretty well considering... I will keep the thread updated.

All told it's a massive job. I guess we will see just how many miles a triton engine has in it.



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The chain didn't slip, and it wasn't off by 2 teeth. It has that appearance because there are more links in the chain than there are teeth on the sprocket. If you had cranked it over only 2 revolutions you would have seen the marks on the chain wouldn't line up with the marks on the gears anymore, even though it would be tdc on compression stroke again. This does not mean the chain slipped. In fact you would have to crank the engine over many many times before they ever would line up perfectly.

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We did crank the engine over many-many times and the end result was always the same as shown in the first set of photos, which is to say it was two teeth off exactly as it was shown every single time. 

In all timing chains there are more links than teeth on the sprocket, however this design does not have any fixed alignment marks on the block or heads, rather just the shaded links on the chain, and they all have to align up, and they have to stay that way otherwise you have somehow jumped time. It is VERY easy to be off a tooth on the crank sprocket when you are installing - which will result in the camshaft sprockets (phasers) being off also. 

I would then have to ask you PowerStroker, how many of these have you done? I got the impression you just pushed your customers into new engines from the replies that I have seen thus far.

I might also add that the amount of slack in the chain was such that the top chain would actually almost touch the bottom chain! 

https://youtu.be/VZonr4iB9tw

Are you suggesting that these engines do not jump time when the chains have become worn out? LOL!? Oh no, that's right - you suggested it was game over before it even started! LOL!

I find it even more odd that despite turning the engine over many-many times that the links would always align just as they are shown in the photo! Kind of takes away from your theory now doesn't it? 



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PowerStroker wrote:

The chain didn't slip, and it wasn't off by 2 teeth. It has that appearance because there are more links in the chain than there are teeth on the sprocket. If you had cranked it over only 2 revolutions you would have seen the marks on the chain wouldn't line up with the marks on the gears anymore, even though it would be tdc on compression stroke again. This does not mean the chain slipped. In fact you would have to crank the engine over many many times before they ever would line up perfectly.


 

I should also note to you rookies that there is NO TDC marks on this engine when the timing cover is removed, ONLY THE SHADED LINKS! I see people on many forums get confused about how to set this style chain up and I also see countless guys like you trying to confuse them with TDC when that really does not matter at all! The ONLY thing that matters is that the shaded single link is aligned up with the dot on the crankshaft sprocket,

and that the two shaded links on both the Left (Drivers side) and Right (Passengers side) are aligned in the middle of the L and R arrow on their corresponding camshafts as shown in the photos.

The cam phasers are not specific to the Left or the Right and each phaser will have a L and an R on them, the Left mark should be up on the drivers side, the Right mark should be up on the passengers side.

I had to laugh my ass off when guys like you went thru extensive lengths to show clock position of the phasers, or even clock positions of the lower crank sprocket! There was even this one guy who tried to make a diagram about how the lobe on the camshaft should look in TDC! LOL but none of that matters on this engine and you know it! The ONLY thing that matters is that the shaded links align as shown in my photos. 

Can't tell you how many threads I have seen with deceptive dealership mafia techs like you leading them around and around in circles trying to find TDC when it doesn't even matter, in fact TDC marks do not even exist while the cover is off! And here is the kicker, even when it's aligned up proper and you put the timing cover on, it's more than likely not going to show as sitting at TDC! The ONLY thing that matters is that the shaded links align as shown in the last set of photos with the new chain. hahahahahaha, but nice try!



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So would you care to explain to me again PowerStroker, the magic of your "floating" timing marks as they pertain to the shaded links on the chains and the fixed marks on the sprockets? I mean this should really be good! Tell us all how 360 degrees isn't really 360 degrees and how the marks will magically come in and out of alignment? I mean after six full 360 degree revolutions of the engine, and each time the marks falling in exactly the SAME spot (two teeth off), I'd be very curious of this ratio you speak of because I think you just stepped on your dick! If what you suggested was true, then the marks would incrementally move with each 360 degrees, but since the cams and crank aren't "geared" like that of, say, a balance shaft, then what you suggest is impossible. 

I am anxiously awaiting PowerStroker... tell us all again how it's normal to be two teeth off and the formula for how they would magically align after "many-many" rotations of the engine. I'll be waiting!



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360 degrees IS 360 degrees, but if you would have hand cranked the engine over after putting your new stuff in, it is unlikely that the colored links would end up lining up on the marks again unless you do it a whole bunch of times. The engine would still be in time, but because there are more links on the chain than teeth on the sprockets they usually don't land in the same spot after cranking. The colored links are for setup only. As your own pictures show, the chain is 2 spots off on BOTH cams AND the crank by the same amount, which means the engine is still in time. This shouldn't be that complicated a concept for a master like you. I understand you do a lot of pushrod engines that have much shorter chains that are timed by marks on the sprockets only, so this may be a new concept. BTW I have done a ton of these. I don't always steer people toward a new engine, it depends on how much cam cap wear I find upon teardown and what the oil pressure is when its idling hot in gear. You did check oil pressure with a manual gauge while hot idling in gear right??? I ask because on a many of these fords, the oil pressure gauge in the cluster isn't actually operated by a variable oil pressure sender, but rather a switch that makes the gauge reading appear normal so long as it has enough pressure to close the oil pressure switch. Ford did this to keep the oil gauge needle from moving around at different engine speeds and prevent customers from getting worked up about how little pressure it shows at idle. Unfortunately, on the ones that have that type of oil pressure gauge, the amount of pressure needed to make the oil pressure switch command the gauge needle to the normal zone, isn't necessarily enough to properly operate the cam phasers.

 



-- Edited by PowerStroker on Sunday 5th of May 2019 11:09:01 PM

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Interesting stuff you guys.

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PowerStroker wrote:

360 degrees IS 360 degrees, but if you would have hand cranked the engine over after putting your new stuff in, it is unlikely that the colored links would end up lining up on the marks again unless you do it a whole bunch of times. The engine would still be in time, but because there are more links on the chain than teeth on the sprockets they usually don't land in the same spot after cranking. The colored links are for setup only. As your own pictures show, the chain is 2 spots off on BOTH cams AND the crank by the same amount, which means the engine is still in time. This shouldn't be that complicated a concept for a master like you. I understand you do a lot of pushrod engines that have much shorter chains with the same number of links/ cam sprocket teeth, so this may be a new concept. BTW I have done a ton of these. I don't always steer people toward a new engine, it depends on how much cam cap wear I find upon teardown and what the oil pressure is when its idling hot in gear. 


 

Eh, you are aware that ALL timing chains will have more links than teeth on the sprockets, RIGHT? If they didn't it wouldn't necessitate a chain and thus be what is called a "gear drive". 

I should also mention that one or two teeth off on the bottom sprocket would cause the cam sprockets/phasers to be off that amount as well - and it is highly probable that the chain will hop on the smaller crank sprocket than the bigger top sprockets/phasers.

All that being said, the shaded links are percisely spaced the same on both chains - and outside of being 180 off on the phasers they should all still line up within two rotations of the crank sprocket! I rotated the engine SIX times and it was still off two teeth! I think you are mistaken and confused. Regardless of the fact there are more links than teeth on the sprockets - the shaded links are not dynamic and providing that the chain does not jump they will also line back up again. There is no secret to this, it is a mathematical certainty.

Chains and timing belts jump all the time PowerStroker! Especially ones with 250,000 miles! And FYI - I don't just work on pushrod engines as I have done timing belts on twin DOHC engines, chains on Mercedes Benz engines, Quad 4 engines, you name it! The ONLY time I have seen what you speak of is on a Honda VTEC balance shaft where it actually was geared to spin once to every three rotations of the opposing balance shaft.

Face it PowerStroker, the vehicle had jumped two teeth on the lower crank sprocket and thus it consistently registered two teeth off on the cam sprockets/phasers - and this after SIX full 360 rotations of the lower crank sprocket. In fact I would argue the only time it would not line up is when the cams were 180 degrees off, but then of course your L and R marks would be switched. 

I think since you have done so many of these you should probably check it out for yourself next time PowerStroker! These shaded links are spaced and static, meaning they WILL line back up. I welcome any PROOF you have to the contrary but the fact is this truck came in two teeth off! If the lower crank sprocket jumps two teeth then both cam sprockets will also be off by that amount and that is a FACT!



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I bet if you pulled that timing cover back off again now the colored links would not line up with the timing marks, but the engine would still be in time. Either way I hope this repair works out and lasts a while.

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SELLC wrote:

 Eh, you are aware that ALL timing chains will have more links than teeth on the sprockets, RIGHT? If they didn't it wouldn't necessitate a chain and thus be what is called a "gear drive". 

 


 Image result for 460 timing set

I am aware, but this phenomenon is not noticed on a pushrod engine because they aren't generally timed by the chain links, but rather the marks on the sprokets themselves. If you painted one of the links while the gear marks were lined up, and rotated the engine until the gear marks lined up again, you would find that only very rarely would the painted link end up in the same spot.



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But that is only because on the early example you have shown above, the sprockets actually have more teeth than links in the chain... Not the case with an OHC engine, be it chain or belt.

FYI - I have done many chains and belts on DOHC vehicles. All of them line up by the second turn of the crank sprocket, just like the 5.4 triton will if it's in proper time.

I contend that if you rotate the VVT 5.4 OHC Triton engine four times and your marks do not come into alignment, then something is wrong and you are off a tooth or more. As I turned the engine (SIX TIMES) the marks always came back to the exact position by the second turn of the crank sprocket. It had jumped two teeth, my guess was on the crank sprocket. You can check it the next time you do one PowerStroker and you'll see I am right. 

 

 



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PowerStroker wrote:

I bet if you pulled that timing cover back off again now the colored links would not line up with the timing marks, but the engine would still be in time. Either way I hope this repair works out and lasts a while.


 

Yes, well... that isn't possible as the job is completed and the truck back with the customer. Can't say I would consider pulling off the timing cover again just to check who is right but it's probable that you will perform another one of these before I do - and if so, why don't you check for us. My thinking says that since ONLY the shaded links set the timing - that they should line back up, just like the static marks on other engines. Should I happen to have another one come in I'll do the same, although I must admit this job is not a very fun one and is not what anyone would consider "gravy" by any means. 

I am also going to post a little about the VVT system from here on out because I find it interesting how it works. I think it's possible for the vehicle to still run two teeth off because of this design and it is my theory that once the chain jumps you will get that intermittent knock that sounds almost like a rod knock (at lower RPM's under load) as these phasers try to compensate... that is my theory anyway.

There are a lot of photos of the VVT phasers taken apart but I'd like to have my own so it may take awhile since I have been pretty busy over here.



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