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New Engine, First Start Woes

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Old 05-14-2012, 12:09 AM   #1
mgmuscari
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Default New Engine, First Start Woes

EDIT: Jump straight to the end for my latest update on this!

This is going to be a long post, so read on with caution. Woody, if you're seeing this, I'd appreciate your two cents.

I have a brand new 347 that I built in my garage that I've just finished installing in my stang. Along with it I've installed a MegaSquirt 3 / MS3X running in sequential mode. This weekend, I finally got my coil, crank and cam input settings debugged and attempted my first start... I got it turning over, but with a few gremlins that have me baffled.

First the relevant specifics on the build:

Dart SHP 302 block, bored 0.030" over, machined by Woody @ FordStrokers
Scat forged crank, 3.4" stroke
Scat forged 5.4" h-beam
Probe forged pistons
Twisted Wedge 170 heads, ported by Dave Jack Cylinder Heads in NJ
Comp Cams XE274HR hyd. roller cam
Trick Flow hyd roller lifters
Trick Flow pushrods
Trick Flow roller rockers
Melling HV oil pump
Milodon 7qt pan & pickup
Milodon windage tray

After priming the oil pump for 10 minutes or so with one of my drills (which damn near burned out), I had good oil pressure (~60psi), but very little oil flow to the rockers. I expected much more flow. I left the motor to sit for a while, then came back and primed again, another 5-7 minutes, while turning it over by hand from the crank pulley bolt. Same thing, no significant oil flow. At this point, I decided to check for timing synchronization, with the fuel pump and injectors powered off. I cranked the motor over, and it sounded fine cranking. I checked the heads, and there was a tiny bit of oil pooled in the passenger side head, none pooled on the driver side. I decided to oil the rockers by hand, then try to start the car.

After a few crank attempts and some adjustments to the crank & warmup fuel settings, the car fired right up. It immediately rocketed up to about 4000 rpm's, sounded really great, but I killed it because I didn't want to run it that fast, especially without giving it any pedal. Lots of blue oil smoke from the exhaust, but I was expecting that due to all the assembly lube and stuff. Checked for vacuum leaks, decided to plug off the canister purge solenoid since I don't know if that ever worked anyway.

On the next startup, I got the engine to run for almost a minute, revving around 1800-2000 rpm's, then it died. Checked my data logs, fuel ratio started to lean out from ~11:1 to about ~13:1, so I figured warmup enrichment was to blame.

Started it up again, still smoke out the back, and this time I started seeing smoke from the engine compartment. Killed it to take a look, and there was oil on the headers. It seemed to be coming from the valve cover, so I pulled the upper intake to change the valve cover gaskets (can't get the covers off with it on). To my puzzlement, there was a crapload of oil in the upper intake, and the PCV line was filled with it. At this point, there was still not much oil up in the rockers, still some pooled in the passenger side head, none pooled on the driver side. I pulled the dizzy and tried priming again, and I still didn't see any significant oil flow into the rockers, so I oiled them again. I couldn't figure out why the hell the PCV (located in stock 5.0 location at rear of intake) would be sucking oil, unless the crankcase pressure was really high, which I surmised it must be since I haven't seated the rings yet. So, I cleaned out the oil, checked all the vacuum lines to make sure there wasn't any in there, and reassembled the thing.

At this point, I tried my last startup. The car started and ran for 30 seconds or so, more smoke out the back, and again smoke from the passenger side header... the head was wet by the valve cover gasket on the passenger side again. The engine died after this - leaned out again first then just died.

I should mention that it sounded amazing on the first startup, when it roared to life, then after that sounded alright, and on the last attempt sounded like crap. Sounds like the driver side is definitely a bit dry... Since the lifters are hydraulic, I think they're not pumping up and I'm hearing valve clack and a subsequent poor run condition from that. Here are answers to the first things people will ask me, and my concerns:

1) Yes, I measured pushrod length, and ended up using the ones supplied with my heads. They leave a perfectly centered, narrow pattern on the valve tips. Yes, I used a mockup lifter (made from an extra hydraulic lifter identical to the ones I used with the internal mechanism flipped to convert it to a solid) to check pushrod length and valve to piston clearance.

2) I soaked the lifters before I installed them, but the engine went into the car a few months ago, and I've been working on the electrical system since then. Could they have drained out again?

3) Why is there so much oil coming out on the passenger side? Even after changing out the first gasket (cork) for a rubber/steel felpro gasket, there's still oil all over the passenger side header. Could this be coming from somewhere else?

4) What on earth would cause the PCV valve to suck up so much oil? I think this is clearly the source of my exhaust smoke.

5) Why can't I get any oil flow to the rockers? Would it have anything to do with point 2 above? I've been doing this all with the valves adjusted a half turn past zero lash to preload the lifters. Should I try priming them with the valves loosened?

6) I am confident that the cam bearings, oil galley plugs, freeze plugs, etc were all installed correctly, as these things were done by Woody before the bare block was shipped to me.


I'm a computer engineer, so wiring up the MegaSquirt was really the easiest part of all this for me. The mechanical part was a new area for me, but I did everything slowly and carefully. I assembled the engine meticulously, ensuring cleanliness throughout and using plenty of oil and assembly lubricant in the correct places. The assembly lube on the crank & rods is the thick white stuff, and the lube on the cam is the syrupy red lube from comp cams. I soaked the lifters in 10-30 oil.

I was hoping for no mechanical problems on the first start, as the computer is easy to debug. This is just boggling. In short, HELP, I'm a little bit out of my element here - this is my first engine build.
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:19 PM   #2
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I'm no engine builder, but 60psi is alot of oil pressure @ idle. I'd think restriction somewhere, maybe the crank bearings don't have enough clearance to allow proper flow.
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:45 PM   #3
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My engine has 60lbs oil pressure cold.
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:07 PM   #4
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Oil pressure thing, I am puzzeled about. Matt maybe on to something and I would deffinatly contact woody.

I would want to figure it out before I ran it too much.

The idle thing at 11:1 is way to rich. Anytime mine gets in the 12s on start-up, it runs like crap.
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:33 AM   #5
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Well, a couple points of clarification here:

1) Been in touch with Woody on facebook, he's always super responsive. Great guy to do business with!

2) 60 PSI isn't at idle - I haven't gotten it running below 1800 rpm's yet. Actually I need to change some setting in my ECM before the next start, I realized I accidentally set the cam signal offset to +10 deg instead of -10... that has a big impact on when fuel gets injected. I checked all the crank bearing clearances with plastigage and they were all within spec. Woody shipped me bearings and rings that were already measured perfectly for my application (thanks Woody!).

3) 12-13 AFR seems ok to me considering warmup enrichment. My target at idle is 14.7, and reasonable WUE percentages on cold start seem to be 115-120% of the normal duty cycle. In any case, I can tweak this once I get it running without oil burning and get it to idle around 1000. Actually, it keeps dying when it leans out as the temperature rises. I can't tell if this is because of the plugs fouling with oil or not enough WUE, though. Have to work out the oil problem first.

Here is a video of the first successful start, followed by a video of a later start with lots of oil smoke. I have reason to believe that the lower intake gasket on the passenger side may have been compromised by a fuel leak that I debugged last week. Fuel pooled on the manifold and I think it may have screwed up the RTV that I used to seal the lower intake. I may pull it to check the lifters for oil, and put fresh gaskets on. Planning to use Permatex High-Tack to seal the gaskets this time instead of red RTV so that it's fuel resistant just in case, not to mention that the intake runners might end up corrupting the gaskets with fuel anyway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bRdoUNyu-4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIS_zkLc96g
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:12 PM   #6
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The first video was fuel being too rich. The second I thought could also be fuel. Fuel when really rich can also be very white.

What type transmission are you running?
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TrimDrip View Post
The first video was fuel being too rich. The second I thought could also be fuel. Fuel when really rich can also be very white.

What type transmission are you running?
TKO-600. Yes, it's definitely running rich, between 12.5:1 and 13.5:1. I have the target AFR set to 14.7:1 right now, but it's richer due to warm-up enrichment.

The white smoke is definitely burning oil. I pulled the upper intake shortly after this and actually poured oil out of it. I had to empty it out of the vacuum lines, too.
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:40 PM   #8
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What did he say about the rockers not getting oil?

If the rings are installed upside down it will cause compression to get in the motor. I have never seen it done so I don't know what the actual symptoms would be.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:32 AM   #9
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woody says that oil should get up into the rockers within 30-40 seconds of priming, but he also said that the lifters i'm using have a lot of travel in the pistons. i'm going to try removing the rockers to see if i can get oil through them.

also, i am extremely meticulous in my work - i keep getting asked questions about spinning the oil pump backwards, installing rings upside down, etc. this is pretty much like legos, if you pay attention to what you're doing, you can't do it wrong . when i assembled the motor, i measured all the usual things several times, and double checked all of my work, especially with respect to the rotating assembly. all bearing clearances were perfect, each ring was perfectly gapped, etc. i even torqued all nuts on my studs three times to be certain that stud stretch wouldn't affect the torque readings. no, of course i didn't use torque-to-yield stuff. the mains and heads are held together with arp studs, and the rod caps are all retained with arp studs as well.

it's going to be a few days before i get a chance to work on this again, i have some research deadlines and i'm planning to spend the weekend with my girlfriend instead of working on the car... i'll keep this thread updated with what i find.
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:43 AM   #10
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oil in the intake, check pcv and or possibility of intake gasket not sealing or matting surface of intake to heads not true or aligned properly.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:19 PM   #11
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oil in the intake, check pcv and or possibility of intake gasket not sealing or matting surface of intake to heads not true or aligned properly.
Saw the last post on this thread was you and actually said "yessss" out loud before opening it... all of what you said makes perfect sense and corresponds perfectly with everything i'm planning to check. I wasn't aware that there were oil passages in the intake though... i guess they just join the heads?

edit: also, instead of red rtv this time i'm planning to use permatex 3h aviation grade sealant which is fuel resistant. sound reasonable?
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:46 AM   #12
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I just use permatex's "the right stuff" but only a little around the coolant ports and I throw away the cork ends seals and use the sealer in place of the end gaskets, you can lay the intake on the heads/block first and use a feeler gauge around it to make sure that the intake is seating properly, if not, may need a milling, but this is just a guess. There are no oil pasages in the intake but it does seal the valley off from the intake ports on the heads as long as gasket is seated properly when you pull it off , inspect head ports to see if you can determine which particular runner may have been pulling oil in, via a possible mis-seated gasket....
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:22 PM   #13
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I just use permatex's "the right stuff" but only a little around the coolant ports and I throw away the cork ends seals and use the sealer in place of the end gaskets, you can lay the intake on the heads/block first and use a feeler gauge around it to make sure that the intake is seating properly, if not, may need a milling, but this is just a guess. There are no oil pasages in the intake but it does seal the valley off from the intake ports on the heads as long as gasket is seated properly when you pull it off , inspect head ports to see if you can determine which particular runner may have been pulling oil in, via a possible mis-seated gasket....
Thanks for the info... those cork gaskets are a real pain, would be nice to ditch them.

There is now a big puddle of oil under the car in the garage, i'm not sure where it's coming from yet but will take a look next week, i'm busy for the next few days.

Determining whether the intake runners are sucking oil from the valley will be difficult because the PCV already sucked up an extreme amount of oil into the upper intake. It flooded my vacuum hoses, which I had to drain of oil...

We'll see what's going on with this thing next week, i've put together a pretty detailed plan to diagnose it at this point.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:17 PM   #14
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I had a buddy that had a nitrous explosion resulted in being similar to your problem. It blew the gasket and was sucking air out the back of the intake where the corked gaskets would have been.

Did you put the screen under pcv valve?
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:30 AM   #15
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I had a buddy that had a nitrous explosion resulted in being similar to your problem. It blew the gasket and was sucking air out the back of the intake where the corked gaskets would have been.

Did you put the screen under pcv valve?
yep, screen's under there as well as the baffle.
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:29 PM   #16
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When you redo it, put you a stud at every corner of the intake. It makes it a whole lot easier to set it.
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Old 05-19-2012, 12:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmuscari View Post
The white smoke is definitely burning oil. I pulled the upper intake shortly after this and actually poured oil out of it. I had to empty it out of the vacuum lines, too.
It sounds like you have done proper research and you have your act together.

I would definitely plug the PVC valve hose for now. A new engine will have crankcase pressure, this will cause excessive flow through the PVC valve. A high performance can build significant vacuum and crankcase pressure.
If the PVC valve is sucking too much air it will really cause problems with your engine running and debugging.
Also, the oil being sucked through the intake will cause a lot of running issues. Aerated oil will cause pre-detonation.
After you get everything running good, you will need an oil catch can to catch engine oil after the PVC valve.
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Old 05-19-2012, 06:05 AM   #18
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That is a pretty good idea. Only problem with the idea is the tuning part would maybe be a little more headache since the engine won't be pulling vacuum. Then again it may not affect it all. I have never tuned a car so, I really don't know.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:29 PM   #19
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So, it's been a busy month and I haven't had a lot of time to work on the Stang until this week. I have ended up relocating my PCV valve to the driver side valve cover, with the breather hose in the same location as stock (between filler tube and intake elbow).

Today I finally got around to starting it again, after relocating the PCV, carefully checking the adjustment of the rockers, cleaning out the intake thoroughly, draining the oil out of the vacuum system (yikes), cleaning the intake, purging the oil from the cylinders, and replacing all the plugs which had fouled up.

Lo and behold, today it started up pretty well, albeit with a couple of hiccups.

- I have a vacuum leak that I'm going to fix tomorrow (which explains the idle surging and high idle speed)
- The MegaSquirt had overrun fuel cut turned on (which I didn't know about until viewing datalogs later), which was causing the computer to intermittently command zero pulsewidth to the injectors, causing a lean/misfire condition (this explains most of my problems including why it's running a bit rough, not to mention that I haven't dialed in the VE tables yet).
- The timing table was set way too low at the higher load levels near the lower RPM region, because I pulled a few degrees here and there before I started the car to make sure it wouldn't knock. I forgot to bump all the cells up to at least 10 degrees before starting it.
- I went with the recommendation that came along with my cam and set the lifter preload to 1/8 turn past zero lash. Comp Cams seems to recommend 0-1/8 turn of preload in general, but I think the valvetrain is a bit noisy, so I think I may tighten them down to 1/3-1/2 turn instead.

Tomorrow I'll be working on getting it to idle OK without IAC, and then I'll be working on getting the IAC valve to keep it rock steady.

Here's a video of it while I was trying to diagnose the roughness and the surging in realtime, and a bit of revving the engine to see if it breaks up at higher RPM toward the end. My camera has a really crappy microphone, and the recording has a lot of tinny distortion in it. Sorry about that.


EDIT: Oh, and notice - NO SMOKE

EDIT 2: Datalog showing the the accel enrichment / overrun fuel cut is indeed what's causing my erratic fueling. It correlates perfectly.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:29 PM
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