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97 Lumina 3.1 valve adjust problem

djnrfdjnrf Posts: 4
edited August 2015 in Chevrolet
Due to a recent surgery I could not work on my car that needed head and intake gaskets. The guy that did the job stopped working on it when it seemed the lifters needed replacing due to three not pumping up after changing gaskets and a head rework at the shop.

What I did: I did tell him to keep the rocker arms and ball rockers in order for each cylinder. I also did, myself, get each pushrod and put it in a hole in cardboard in the proper order for front and back heads.

What he did: He threw all the rockers and ball rockers into a box without any order.

He put the pushrods back in the engine, but I don't know if he did that right either.

When he started the engine he could not get it to run right, and thought the rocker arms needed adjustment as some lifters did not seem to pump up. He had one so loose that the pushrod dropped into the valley when he tried to put the rocker back on the valve that had swung off while running.

The engine will not run at all with the rockers tightened to specs. (after removal of the intake assembly again to retrieve the pushrod.)

Now! Two things here.
First: Is there any difference in the rocker arms and ball rockers for intake and exhaust valves?
(they appear to be the same, and the ball rockers even measure the same.)

Second: IF the rockers are the same for each valve, intake and exhaust, for all cylinders, is there any way to remove the pushrods without removing the intake assy. again? This 3.1 is the early version with 12 plenum bolts instead of the six used on later engines. The lower intake extends over the back of the rockers and the pushrods are in a channel retainer on each head.

I do know that the intake pushrods are 5 3/4 inches long and the exhaust are 6 inches in length. So, if he did those wrong I will have to remove them to get them right.

The engine has low miles on it and was running well until a service shop put in the wrong anti-freeze that ruined the gaskets.

As I have two Titanium implants to replace two degenerated vertebrae, and not yet being able to bend much or the surgeon even having released me yet, I sure don't want to do more than I must to get running again. I also don't have the money to hire it done with my meager SS income these days.

Anyone have any ideas? Is there a difference in the rocker arms?

Answers

  • 93tracker5spd93tracker5spd North East Ohio USAPosts: 194
    Hello! Welcome to Edmunds. First, you are correct about the push rods and there length. If they are mixed up you will have very little compression and probably won't start. However, if you have the factory original engine for that model year, it should have hydraulic lifters, and they need no adjustment, just tighten down the rockers and they are good to go. Those push rods are critical though, and have to be correct for it to run, 5 3/4 intake and 6 exhaust. There should not be a difference in the ball rockers. Good luck.
  • 93tracker5spd93tracker5spd North East Ohio USAPosts: 194
    Me again. Sorry, I missed part of the question, no, I don't know of a way to remove the rods without removing the intake.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,291
    If the push rods got mixed up and someone tried to start the engine, then the heads are probably going to have to come back off because the valves will collide with the pistons and bend. The rockers are all the same, so mixing them up really would not have caused any issues. But the pushrods getting mixed up is a major error. You should be able to measure the valve spring installed height and tell which valves have bent, but at this point you would be wise to pull both heads and send them to a machine shop anyway. By trying to adjust the valves, the rocker pedestals weren't secured correctly, and that means the threads for the bolts (a known weak spot) would have been stressed. Those threads will likely need to be repaired with inserts to prevent the pedestals from loosening once you have this all back together.

    There is a tool that can push the valve springs down and allow the pushrods to be removed without removing the rockers. Flat rate techs don't even completely remove the rear valve cover and sneak the intake manifold out from under the top half of it for access to the pushrods and the gasket. The engine has to be turned over by hand to get pistons out of the way as well as make sure that the cam isn't trying to open the valve that you are trying to remove the pushrod for.

    Don't blame a shop for the intake gasket failure. That gasket failing is very common on that engine and the reason that there have been several upgrades to that gasket. Switching coolants didn't make that happen.
  • djnrfdjnrf Posts: 4

    However, if you have the factory original engine for that model year, it should have hydraulic lifters, and they need no adjustment, just tighten down the rockers and they are good to go. Those push rods are critical though, and have to be correct for it to run, 5 3/4 intake and 6 exhaust. There should not be a difference in the ball rockers. Good luck.

    Hi! Never have worked on the 3.1 before as I have avoided doing so since I retired. But, I was only sure about the pushrods, and not the rockers, or the ball rockers. (Pivot balls) However, there were some changes made during the early versions of this engine. Some early ones had the Tappet style lifters. (Before they used the roller lifters.) Also, in 97 only the 3.4 engine had the pedestal type mount while most of the early 3.1's had the standard stud type mount. Also, the pedestal style used some needle bearings for the rocker and not the pivot ball in the rocker. One can usually tell if it was an early version by the Plenum. (upper intake). Early had 12 bolts to attach, while the later version had only six.

    I found all of these things by checking many engines here, and talking with dealers and other shops of the problems. Due to a recent surgery I was not 'supposed' to do certain things in lifting, bending, twisting, and instead had gotten a g'daughters b/f to do the work. He was just not 'sharp' enough to pay attention to what he was doing, and I had not taken the engine apart so was unsure of much in fixing the problem. This past week I did tie into it and found and fixed all the problems. As of yesterday it was running much better than ever.

    Thanks much,
    Dave.
  • djnrfdjnrf Posts: 4

    If the push rods got mixed up and someone tried to start the engine, then the heads are probably going to have to come back off because the valves will collide with the pistons and bend. The rockers are all the same, so mixing them up really would not have caused any issues. But the pushrods getting mixed up is a major error. You should be able to measure the valve spring installed height and tell which valves have bent, but at this point you would be wise to pull both heads and send them to a machine shop anyway. By trying to adjust the valves, the rocker pedestals weren't secured correctly, and that means the threads for the bolts (a known weak spot) would have been stressed. Those threads will likely need to be repaired with inserts to prevent the pedestals from loosening once you have this all back together.

    There is a tool that can push the valve springs down and allow the pushrods to be removed without removing the rockers. Flat rate techs don't even completely remove the rear valve cover and sneak the intake manifold out from under the top half of it for access to the pushrods and the gasket. The engine has to be turned over by hand to get pistons out of the way as well as make sure that the cam isn't trying to open the valve that you are trying to remove the pushrod for.

    Don't blame a shop for the intake gasket failure. That gasket failing is very common on that engine and the reason that there have been several upgrades to that gasket. Switching coolants didn't make that happen.

    Hi! I am aware of all of this. I was only unsure about any possible changes in the rockers. Since retiring I just did not want to do this work, and had avoided any. Being on a limited income, plus having had a surgery recently that restricted me in lifting, bending, twisting, I had gotten a g'daughters b/f to work on it for me. He just was not good enough to pay attention to what he was told to do. The only thing I had done was to insure that the pushrods were kept in proper order in a cardboard box that was marked as to placement for him. He even screwed that up. I only turned the engine over by hand to find out if there was enough clearance. There wasn't, and I had to tear it all down again, but not before finding some sticky lifters. Changing the pushrods started the engine safely, but I still had to tear it down to get the lifters out for repair.

    As to things I found during this past week and a half. Early versions of the 3.1 (prior to 95) at times had used the tappet style lifters. Roller lifters were in the 97. Also, early 97's had a 12 bolt plenum, while later used the 6 bolt plenum. Then, the 97 of the 3.1 engine used standard stud type rocker mounts while the 3.4 used the pedestal style mounts, and needle bearings for the rockers rather than the pivot balls used in the 3.1 rockers.

    Since so many books were published after all the design changes, all that I have found show, or tell only of the later changes. One should always check on which exact version they may have without relying on the books, or 'expert' information. Misinformation on a particular version only causes more problems.

    Now, about the gaskets. GM used a very poor original gasket. Those gaskets would 'dissolve' if Dexcool was not used. Standard ethylene glycol caused those original gaskets to fail. Engines that had those original gaskets were later changed to gaskets that did not need a particular antifreeze coolant. Shops that did not use the antifreeze called for and where the gaskets had not been changed were, and are at fault. It is called "Greed".
    They did not want to spend the money (the people, or the shops) for the proper antifreeze. That is no longer an issue as all have either been changed by this time, or the new ones installed with the good gaskets.

    It took me a lot of looking and reading over the past couple of weeks to finally find all of this. It took me a couple of evenings to get it fixed. (Evenings from about 7 to 3 AM, anyway) I just still cannot move or bend the way I should yet. Still too weak, and not yet released by the surgeon. It took me more time to figure out where everything went as I had not torn it down completely myself. Kids!
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,291
    Spinal surgery. I had five discs removed last November and the vertebrae stabilized with the titanium plates. Those were all in my neck and its very likely that more will need to be done in the near future lower in my back. This career is very hard on the body, but retirement is out of the question. Today I spend most of my time teaching and working part time in my shop. The doctor can advise, but unless he is willing to pay the mortgage and put food on our table.......

    I pulled the information on those engines instead of just going by memory and yes, there were some that didn't use the pedestals however they are still listed as not adjustable. It's a good thing that you tried to turn this over by hand before it was started, that would have been a disaster. Here is a video that shows how to use the rocker arm tool, note that it isn't as easy as they tried to make it look (fancy editing they don't even show you having to turn the engine for clearance for some of the valves), but it does work.

    Want to have some fun? Just search Lumina wrong coolant eats gasket and you will find countless reports that condemn dexcool as the culprit, and of course you will find others that blame some coolant other than dexcool. https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Lumina+wrong+coolant+eats+gasket The truth is, the gasket design itself was to blame which is why there were so many revisions of it. The steel gasket with the bonded sealing rings like this one are the best. https://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=2650636&cc=1353462&jnid=552&jpid=7

    The selfishness or greed that makes the career as difficult as it is has no limits to its sources. On the consumers side it is actively defended as "They were just trying to save some money". The most disturbing aspects of that are when the shops/techs get to bear blame no matter what they actually chose to do during any given repair or service event. All someone has to do to make that happen is simply move the finish line to one that fits their perspective. You can find reports that blame the shops for going to a different coolant as well as for staying with dexcool and in both cases the writer will blame it on greed. You can also find where shops went to the revised gaskets, or repaired the car with the original design and faced similar scrutiny in essence making them out to be wrong both ways. You can find hundreds of posts here in these forums on topics from engine oil to batteries that all do the same thing. Worse yet is when someone augments that with the gender card as in "Oh they were just trying to take advantage of you because....." Meanwhile this is not saying that there aren't some bad people on the shop's side of the counter, of course there are. They are however the minority and unfortunately the ones who do the job right get to bear additional burdens because of them.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,291
    djnrf said:

    It took me a lot of looking and reading over the past couple of weeks to finally find all of this. It took me a couple of evenings to get it fixed. (Evenings from about 7 to 3 AM, anyway) I just still cannot move or bend the way I should yet. Still too weak, and not yet released by the surgeon. It took me more time to figure out where everything went as I had not torn it down completely myself. Kids!

    BTW, "Flat Rate" times on that are 5.7hours customer pay, and 3.7hours under warranty. That includes changing the oil and filter. Flat Rate isn't flat.

  • djnrfdjnrf Posts: 4



    djnrf said:

    It took me a lot of looking and reading over the past couple of weeks to finally find all of this. It took me a couple of evenings to get it fixed. (Evenings from about 7 to 3 AM, anyway) I just still cannot move or bend the way I should yet. Still too weak, and not yet released by the surgeon. It took me more time to figure out where everything went as I had not torn it down completely myself. Kids!

    BTW, "Flat Rate" times on that are 5.7hours customer pay, and 3.7hours under warranty. That includes changing the oil and filter. Flat Rate isn't flat.

    How well I know that. IF a flat rate is really so, it must be so high as to cover all possibilities. Of course, then the customer gets a surprise if it ends up being less than the quote. lol

    I know about the 'tool', and even have one. However, it is not the easiest to use. It can end up being just as fast and much smoother a task to just tear out the intake anyway.

    In my case, the surgery was to replace two vertebrae that had degenerated into just a crumbled mess. I had the L-1 and L-3 replaced with the CoFlex Titanium implants. None of my discs were bad. Due to the vertebrae I did get a spinal curvature that may yet have to be addressed, as well as my "moderately severe arthritis" in my knees. (Comes from my jumping out of perfectly good airplanes over 50 years ago in the Rangers. I was a Lt.)

    I will turn 76 this Oct, and have tried to do much less auto work since retirement. I still do some two-way radio work as I am also a federally license, old, 1st Class tech. I also write on, lecture on, and teach survival for the average person. Stats show that should we have a serious disaster (natural or man-made) 82 people out of every 100 will perish. Of course, most I talk with all will say they know what to do and they will survive.
    Actually, 8 out of 10 have no real knowledge of what to do. I was also a qualified firearms expert, and a gunsmith. Occasionally, I will also do some of that work yet. The problem for me now is that radio and gun work is much more of a challenge as my fingers and hands just don't work as well and I have some shakes in my fingers these days.

    Formerly, my shop was R-F Auto Electric. (Hence the RF in my nic here. That nic is also my email addy in Yahoo. I did the sales and service of 2-way radios, had a community radio/ telephone repeater system, and did all kinds of auto-electric as well as ending up having to do much of all types of auto work.

    When I would have a mobile radio system installed in a vehicle, at times it would have a problem. With the modern electronics of the radios, and the vehicles, it was difficult to know if it was due to the vehicle, or the radio. Either could affect the other. As such, if I found it to be the vehicle, most of my customers would then expect me to fix the vehicle for the problem. For a small shop of only five people (me included) and three being just electronic techs, when I would have several vehicles to fix, I had to work extra hard to get them out fast. Most times I always had at least five to six waiting in the lot. Most fortunate for me was when I went to get my first car my father would not let me until I agreed to work for one of my uncles in the auto business. I spend my first ten years leaning and working on nothing but vehicles. Then more schools, and training after.

    Early on in my life I got in the habit of only sleeping 3.5 to 4 hours each day. Now it is difficult for me to sleep any beyond that. I always awaken after about three hours. I can never sleep more than four hours. I must keep busy yet, but find it very difficult with medical restrictions. I finally went beck to again get my medical license after letting it expire after 41 years. I am again a licensed medic, and work with a volunteer fire dept again. I was once a Chief. Now, I would just rather drive the trucks and ambulances, or push a broom. lol

    Believe my when I say that retirement is not all it is supposed to be. These days one cannot retire without having a nest egg of a minimum of $300k or more. For me, a reverse mortgage is looking much better.

    Thanks for your thoughts and input.
    Dave.
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