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2004 - 2008 F150 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Ford F150's with 5.4 V8, 4.6 V8 or 4.2 V6 engine
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  #1  
Old 04-09-2012, 10:05 PM
blueovalandy blueovalandy is offline
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Talking Cam Phaser Lockout Installed and Running Very Quite

I bought my 04 F150 at 67,000 miles with the typical cam phaser knock. It drove me crazy! I am an automotive machinist and engine builder by trade, so it was a constant ear sore to have my daily driver sound like it was on the verge of blowing up. With that said, I began searching the internet for answers to what was one of Ford's worst designs. Many people replaced the phasers just to have the sound come back in a short amount of time. This seemed like hoping for a solution instead of guaranteeing it. I decided to go a different rout. To make matters worse, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a lot of noise coming from timing cover when first starting up my engine after sitting for a few hours.

After much internet research, I ordered a Cloyes timing chain set. It came with both chains, two tensioners, four guides, and a bottom gear. I also ordered the Livernois Lockout kit with a SCT tunner and new phaser bolts.

Everything arrived and looked as I expected, so I decided it was time to begin tearing into it.

Click the image to open in full size.

The 5.4 is set back away from the radiator, so with the fan a shroud off you can really see the front of the motor. The timing cover was not that hard to get off of the truck. The valve covers were a different story.

Click the image to open in full size.

There is enough room to stand in front of the the engine. In between the radiator and the motor, right on top of the cross-member. This helps when working on the back of the valve covers, wiring harness, coils, ETC...

As mentioned before, the valve covers were the real headache (especially the passenger side). Most of the post I have seen said that you need to discharge the AC in order to gain more clearance on the passenger side. For me, this was not an option because my air works very well and I did not want to screw with that. I was able to maneuver both valve covers off by just disconnecting and removing the coils, battery, ECU, ECU bracket, and as much of the wiring harness as possible. A helpful trick was to pull the VTC solenoids out so that they would not interfere with the valve cover removal/ replacement.

Click the image to open in full size.

My first indication that my diagnosis was right was the loose chain on the passenger side.

Click the image to open in full size.

This is what a broken timing chain guide looks like. I could move the chain back and forth over an inch.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here are the broken guide prices, that I could find. My opinion is plastic should not be used inside an engine, THANKS FORD!

Next step was to pull off the phasers and install the lockouts.

Click the image to open in full size.

The the long bolt that holds the spring is left in place and the back plate is rotated out of the way so that the lockout can be inserted. Check all of the voids to find the one that the lockout fits best. When the tightest spot is found, rotate the plate back and tighten the bolts with loctite.

Click the image to open in full size.

I installed the new chains, guides, tensioners, and locked phasers. Timing the engine was not that difficult. The chains come pre-marked and the sprockets all have timing marks. The phasers get torqued to 30 foot pounds plus 90 degrees.

From there it's just reassembly. Reverse the dissembly process.

Last step, programming!
Click the image to open in full size.

A custom tune was sent to my e-mail from Livernois. After getting the tune on the SCT, it was a simple procedure to program the ECU. Then the truck cranked up and ran smoother and quieter than it has since I have owned it.

I drove the truck home, about 10 miles, and had no check engine lights. I noticed no loss of power. The engine runs very Smoooooooooth.

Livernois claims a slight loss of top end power. The way I drive this truck, I probably won't even notice it. My major question at this point is how the MPGs will be affected. I won't have a good answer to that until I can get some mileage on it and do some testing. My plan is to keep the thread updated so that anyone who is looking for information on locking out cam phasers can learn from my experience.

Tell me what you think.

Andy
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  #2  
Old 04-09-2012, 11:51 PM
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Papa Tiger Papa Tiger is offline
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Did you test your motor oil pressure with a gauge. The front looks really dry of oil to me.
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:30 AM
blueovalandy blueovalandy is offline
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Before I did the lockouts, I installed a mechanical oil pressure gauge. I had around 65 to 70 PSI cold pressure and about 22 PSI hot at idle. The engine only has 83,000 miles on it now and otherwise runs great.

I tapped into the oil pressure by putting a T fitting where the original oil pressure "idiot gauge" sending is located, behind the oil filter. My first attempt was with one of the plastic lines that come with the gauge, which melted within an hour and dumped about a quart of oil (that's why the oil pan looks so wet). The stock dash "gauge" never even flickered.

Click the image to open in full size.


The cams, lifters, valve springs, and chains were all as wet as I expected them to be. There was a little sludge built up in the top of the valve covers.

The cam journals, lobes, and rockers all looked good. I have heard of people having issues with lobes and roller followers wearing out, but that did not happen to mine. I have also heard of people having the cam journal seize in the head. But again, mine looked very nice.

Andy
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:51 AM
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Papa Tiger Papa Tiger is offline
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I have always believed the VCT's are more a gimmic/performance item for race cars than a real good idea for the F150 where/when torque is the real deal. Nice picture of the oil tube instal, it would also be easy to screw a hose and gauge in the tee for testing and plug with a pipe plug when done, but I like the mechanical gauge with the copper tubing. Did you take your VCT solenoids Spiders apart to see how badly the screens are plugged/broken/damaged ?
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:15 PM
blueovalandy blueovalandy is offline
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Quote:
Nice picture of the oil tube instal,
Thanks. As an engine guy, I love the idea of having a real oil pressure gauge so that I know what my engine is doing. Gauges are there as an important operators tool that are supposed to inform the driver of the function and condition of the engine. Ford's "idiot gauge" is fraudulent in my opinion.

As far as plugging the fitting when not testing the oiling system, I would rather just leave it connected so that if a new problem occurs I will be able to quickly diagnosis it. Also, installing the T and the oil gauge line was a real pain. I had to drop the front axle just to give myself the room needed to install the hardware.

Quote:
Did you take your VCT solenoids Spiders apart to see how badly the screens are plugged/broken/damaged ?
I did have the passenger side VTC solenoid out to help reinstall the valve cover.

Click the image to open in full size.

Not too bad, don't you think.

Andy
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  #6  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:32 PM
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Yours screens are intact and look nice and clean. Foreign particles inside is what sticks the Solenoid valve and caused the failures if the guides aren't broken, of course the particles can be smaller than the screens but wasn't your problem for sure. Sometimes I do think people run them with the solenoids stuck and the cams making noise slapping the chains like Bull Whips. I like the fix. It's permanent for the rest of the life of the motor and inexpensive, just labor intensive, but nor more migrane threshold level adjustments. LOL
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  #7  
Old 04-15-2012, 10:25 PM
blueovalandy blueovalandy is offline
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Just a quick update. It has been a week since the cam phaser lockout install and I am pleased to say everything is still great. I really have not noticed any power loss. This is the quietest 3 valve 5.4 I have ever heard. I cannot over emphasize just how quite and smooth my motor runs now. I am still running through the first tank of gas, so I have not yet calculated the miles per gallon that the truck is making.

I will up date soon.

Andy
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2012, 11:24 AM
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I have never believed a motor needs cam timing changes for the low to mid range RPM's. Only at high RPM is the flow that much different. LOL good luck.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:31 PM
Steve_Uzi Steve_Uzi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueovalandy View Post
Just a quick update. It has been a week since the cam phaser lockout install and I am pleased to say everything is still great. I really have not noticed any power loss. This is the quietest 3 valve 5.4 I have ever heard. I cannot over emphasize just how quite and smooth my motor runs now. I am still running through the first tank of gas, so I have not yet calculated the miles per gallon that the truck is making.

I will up date soon.

Andy
So how much did all the parts cost to do this Mod?
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  #10  
Old 04-17-2012, 08:31 PM
blueovalandy blueovalandy is offline
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Quote:
So how much did all the parts cost to do this Mod?
The cost was cheaper than replacing the phasers with new ones. I purchased the Cloyes timing set (that included both chains, bottom sprocket, four guides, and both tensioners) from Amazon for a little over $150. The lockout kit came from Livernios. It cost me $465 shipped to my door. It included two lockouts, a new SCT programmer, a custom program from Livernois, and I had them include two new cam phaser bolts because they are TTY. I was able to reuse the valve cover gasket and the timing cover gasket. The only other thing that I had to replace was the serpentine belt tensioner that was $35 at Autozone.

I was able to do the whole job without draining the oil, coolant, or air conditioning freon.

This was an expensive repair for a truck with only 83,000 miles, but I guess it could have been worse. What ever happened to the "good old days" with 302s or 300 straight 6s that lasted 300,000 miles with just oil changes. Progress I guess?

Anyways, it was a very labor intensive job, but at least I can feel confident that there will be no ticking/knocking sound next time I'm at the drive-thru window.

Andy
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:12 PM
jrroth jrroth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueovalandy View Post
To make matters worse, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a lot of noise coming from timing cover when first starting up my engine after sitting for a few hours.
Andy -

First of all - excellent post and pictures!

My 2004 has been experiencing what I would describe as an extremely rough idle where it sounds and feels like it is only running on 4 cylinders. It was doing it randomly at first and then every couple of days. If you shut off the engine and re-started - it would be normal again. I checked all of the obvious and replaced the other VCT solenoid (replaced one a few years ago that stuck due to a broken screen. Oil pressure remains at 25 or over at hot idle. Also I do regular oil changes using 5W20 and Motorcraftfilter. Finally I took it to a Ford dealer and they said the cam phasers, timing chains/tensioners and VCT solenoids needed replaced for $2600 (or a new engine.) I ran it for several more weeks without incident until I replaced the fuel filter. It did the "rough idle" thing numerous times throughout the day and a few times while coasting at 55 mph. The next day was much better and after the 2nd day, it didn't do it again for several weeks. I suspect that disconnecting the battery, causing the PCM to go back to factory default, made whatever the problem is worse until it re-learned. Anyway - now I have noticed excessive noise upon starting after it sits for a few hours which goes away completely after a few seconds. I haven't been able to listen to determine exactly where the noise is coming from but it sounds like a noise a loose chain might make as opposed to valve noise. There really isn't a pattern to the noise like a loud valve tap, rather more like something is loose rattling around.

I guess I should plan on replacing the timing chains and tensioners as well as the phaser lockouts you used. . . Could the engine running rough randomly be related to a possible loose timing chains? Remember that normally it runs very smooth although not as quiet as my 2008.

Also can you estimate your labor hours to do this? I am not a mechanic but am very hand-on and have worked on a few engines - just not this one other than to replace the crappy plugs and a power steering hose where the metal tubing rusted through. I also replaced the flywheel on a friend's 2004 4wd.

Jim
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:35 AM
jerryXTX jerryXTX is offline
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I'll be honest part of what attracts me to this engine is VCT. I've owned umpteen F150's (not really but..) and the big difference this engine has is TORQUE. It may be a little gutless up top but seriously the amount of torque it puts out from 1100-2300rpm is outstanding! We may not think so but that is because these trucks are HEAVY (my SCREW 4x4 with fiberglass tonneau is 6400lbs with me and a full tank of gas). My 5400lb F150 302ci of years past did not pull down low like this truck does no matter what mods I did.

Now, after having replaced VCT's I'm not thrilled about the prospect of doing the timing chain or phasers at some piont down the road when those go bad.. it is complicated. I'd be real curious what you've lost in terms of torque, where in the powerband you lost it, and what it did to your fuel mileage. It seems like the only real repair you needed was the new timing chain set and chain guide, that was probably all the source of your racket.
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:33 AM
JRROTH1 JRROTH1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryXTX View Post
I'll be honest part of what attracts me to this engine is VCT.
I agree with you in theory however there are a lot of negatives involved. Why should I or anybody else be replacing timing chains/guides/tensioners or even cam phasers at 80,000 miles. My truck was used for mostly commuting back and forth to work. I paid the dealer $100 to diagnose this engine phenomenon (I call it that because they had never seen it before) and they came up with a $2500 plan that they said might not even fix the problem. They also told me that there was some sludge in the upper areas (viewed from oil cap) and that I should consider a remanufactured engine as opposed to a repair. I have religously changed the oil and filter in this truck in accordance with Ford recommendations since the day I bought it (usually every 3000 but occasionally every 5000 miles). So why is there sludge and more importantly why do they think I should consider replacing the engine at 80000 miles! They said that oil flow to the VCTs might be restricted. So to rule this out I have been using an additive (Kreen) to try to clean out some of the sludge. I have done two 1000 mile oil changes and have to admit that the oil came out a lot darker than I expected for 1000 miles. I have done some research on this and other forums regarding the Motorcraft 5W20 synthetic blend and have come to the conclusion that either a full synthetic oil or regular oil with more detergent additives should be used. Apparently the recommended Motorcraft oil is light in additives to remove/prevent sludge and since it is a blend - some sludge will eventually occur.

The bottom line here is that VCT is a great concept however it should be engineered to last at least 150000-200000 miles of normal driving before a $2500 repair is required.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:03 PM
blueovalandy blueovalandy is offline
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Quote:
First of all - excellent post and pictures!
Thanks. My purpose in posting all of this is to help other people with similar phaser and timing chain problems. I have spent many hours researching solutions to the phaser knock issues that the 5.4 3v engines are plagued with. Most of what I have read are from people who have repaired and replaced with original (poorly designed in the first place) parts, often at an extremely high cost. Many have had the problems reoccur. I wanted to find a more permanent solution, and post my results for anyone who is interested in doing the same thing. Livernois claims they sell nearly 10 of the lockout kits per week, but after much looking, I have not yet been able to find someone else's experience.

Quote:
My 2004 has been experiencing what I would describe as an extremely rough idle where it sounds and feels like it is only running on 4 cylinders. It was doing it randomly at first and then every couple of days. If you shut off the engine and re-started - it would be normal again. I checked all of the obvious and replaced the other VCT solenoid (replaced one a few years ago that stuck due to a broken screen. Oil pressure remains at 25 or over at hot idle. Also I do regular oil changes using 5W20 and Motorcraftfilter. Finally I took it to a Ford dealer and they said the cam phasers, timing chains/tensioners and VCT solenoids needed replaced for $2600 (or a new engine.) I ran it for several more weeks without incident until I replaced the fuel filter. It did the "rough idle" thing numerous times throughout the day and a few times while coasting at 55 mph. The next day was much better and after the 2nd day, it didn't do it again for several weeks. I suspect that disconnecting the battery, causing the PCM to go back to factory default, made whatever the problem is worse until it re-learned. Anyway - now I have noticed excessive noise upon starting after it sits for a few hours which goes away completely after a few seconds. I haven't been able to listen to determine exactly where the noise is coming from but it sounds like a noise a loose chain might make as opposed to valve noise. There really isn't a pattern to the noise like a loud valve tap, rather more like something is loose rattling around.

I guess I should plan on replacing the timing chains and tensioners as well as the phaser lockouts you used. . . Could the engine running rough randomly be related to a possible loose timing chains? Remember that normally it runs very smooth although not as quiet as my 2008.
It sounds like you may be having some other issues. My engine ran fine, never skipped, and idled good. Has yours thrown a CEL? My timing chain guide was easy to diagnose. The engine was making a very loud rattle sound that was VERY noticeable. I was not sure if it was the guides or tensioner, but I knew that something was majorly wrong on the passenger side chain. After sitting overnight, the chain would make a lot of noise, and would last for several minuets until quieting down some.
I have noticed on many of these trucks, that the chains often rattle a little on start up. This usually only last one or two seconds.


Quote:
I'll be honest part of what attracts me to this engine is VCT. I've owned umpteen F150's (not really but..) and the big difference this engine has is TORQUE. It may be a little gutless up top but seriously the amount of torque it puts out from 1100-2300rpm is outstanding!
I agree that torque on a big truck like ours is very important. The way Ford makes this happen is by advancing the camshaft timing at lower RPMs. The lockouts that I installed were installed at full advance. I have not noticed any loss of torque. Livernois mentioned that there may be a loss of power on the upper end of the horsepower curve, when the camshaft would normally be retarded.

I you look at how the phaser is constructed, you will see that the spring on the front naturally holds the phaser in the advanced position. The computer adjust the cam position by retarding it as additional top end power is required.

Actually, after I finished up the lockout install, and before I reprogrammed the computer, I cranked the truck up and ran it at idle. Guess what, it ran perfect, idled smooth, and through no codes. The computer was not even trying to adjust the cam phasing. So if you want low RPM, good MPGs, and torque, full advance is what you need.

It has so far been an interesting experiment and I have been very happy with the results. I will keep you posted, let me know what you think.

Andy
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:32 PM
JRROTH1 JRROTH1 is offline
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Andy -

When the rough idle (still not sure its the best description) started, there was no CEL, After several months of rare occurrences, the problem started to occur more frequently and finally did get the CEL (P0340 and a pending P0345). The CEL cleared on its own and has been gone for about a month.

The noise I hear on starting is relatively new but only lasts for a few seconds. This engine has always started at a high idle rpm and a little noisy, maybe by design, and settles down to 500-600 after about 30-45 seconds. I will try to pinpoint the noise this weekend.

Now regarding the cam phaser knock - what is actually knocking given that the phaser is normally full advanced a low rpms? A weak spring?

Also what would happen at idle or low rpm if one of the cam phasers didn't stay in the full advanced position and what could cause the phaser to do that?

I really appreciate your time and experience . . .

Jim
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:32 PM
 
 
 
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