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Discussion Starter · #621 ·
Yes and no. The other engine parts are very reasonable still, lead times are just longer now. But in particular these phasers are 2-3 times more expensive than what they should be, it's completely out of proportion to what the entire engine would cost. The aftermarket phasers from RockAuto are available for $250-$350 but I wouldn't take the risk. If a place could rebuild/refurbish them I might have the originals done as a backup as there isn't much to them. They are just oil debri traps which is why they get replaced if the engine happens to go south.
 

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Sounds like Evo prices to me. I dropped my Mivec gear when doing the cam swap and it was a nice $500 fix and that was well before covid prices....
 

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Discussion Starter · #623 · (Edited)
Sounds like Evo prices to me. I dropped my Mivec gear when doing the cam swap and it was a nice $500 fix and that was well before covid prices....
I here you, must be some kind of monopoly on those cam phasers or something.

Still waiting on those cam phasers from Nissan, looks like it'll be longer than the typical 4 weeks to ship from the distributors due to the Covid related shipping backlogs.

Next parts to order I've listed below in "yellow". This represents ALL of the engine sensors, not including g-sensors or wheel speed sensors and stuff like that but you get the idea. I have about $667 in sensors still to purchase. The engine harness is included as well which also includes some sensor connections off the CVT transmission. On an engine rebuild I'm a big fan of replacing the harness with a fresh one and the price isn't outrageous at $578, last year it was $478 so that is the inflation kicking in. I'm showing some Rock Auto alternates but the Nissan Dealership prices at Ziegler Nissan are close enough that I'll order up OE Nissan sensors instead. Where Rock Auto list "OE Supplier" those are safe to purchase as they are the direct OE supplier to Nissan.

Couple notes here. I've found Ziegler Nissan and Downers Grove Nissan to have the lowest OE Nissan prices around which includes all of the Nissan online suppliers when you consider tax/shipping/handling charges. If you do searches with the Nissan SKU on Amazon you can sometimes get an even lower price and that is another good way to get the absolute best deals on some expensive parts. Typically I'll avoid Ebay as there is a very high probability the "genuine" OE part is a counterfeit knockoff. Almost everyone else on the internet are significantly higher. When you are buying hundreds of parts it pays to keep looking for the lowest prices, sometimes even waiting till just before Dec 31st when they start pushing some sales. These prices are almost competitive with Rock Auto 3rd party parts. So if you guys are doing large builds I'd highly recommend these guys for parts sourcing.

There's more I have to order to finish the build but I'm taking it 1 month at a time so keep the costs reasonable. As I build the engine outwards, then I order those parts as they are needed. The alternator, starter, pulley tensioner, & motor mounts will get ordered last.



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Discussion Starter · #624 · (Edited)
Zeigler received the cam phasers on 10/29. I ordered them on 10/9. Took about 3 weeks.

Speaking with the parts person it's looking like order lead times of 3 weeks on Nissan parts within the continental United States. Anything out of stock is on long lead time from Japan. You can find stuff here and there on Amazon but again it's about a 2-3 week lead time including shipping.

Painful.....agonizing slow process of long ordering times and precise measurements but the valve lash setting is the last "tricky" step in most of the engine rebuild process. The cylinder head bolt torque down is the next step . The timing chain install will then go very quickly and is a bolt-on process. There's a couple of in-between steps in there in terms of checking valve/piston clearances and verifying cam timing but I'm going to rapidly step thru that to wrap things up.

Consistent with what I've planned, I won't be cutting corners on this build. The build is going on now +3 years. Much of that time I haven't been doing anything really just working and saving up money aside from normal life activities. Much of it has been lack of interest, probably 80-90%. If I had a spare $20,000 pile of money sitting in front of me then this is a 2 year project no problem. The money spent on renting cars for the winter months & storage fees for the summer car over the last 3 seasons was stupid insane, possibly $8,800 at least. I should have bought a winter beater day one, lesson learned. The out-of-pocket medical bills I had mid-way thru this project really hit me pretty hard and so that slowed it down dramatically as well. Just physically being able to work on a car was impossible for a solid 6 months. Most people don't realize it but you actually need some pretty decent upper body strength and fully functioning knees and hips to dead-lift an entire engine block and move it around.

Some things to consider if you want to do a long term build or restoration project. Being what it is now it's a 3.5 year project with tuning included.
 
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Discussion Starter · #625 ·
Parts are here......ya.

Loaded pics of the cleaned up lifter buckets and the shiny new Nissan cam phasers. The ultrasonic cleaner is so good at cleaning that I had to re-oil the lifter buckets as they were starting to get some surface corrosion on the underside where it isn't DLC coated. Little bit of scrubbing with WD-40 cleaned that right up. Thought I air dried them enough with the compressor but I threw them into the plastic container too quickly before completely drying. In the future I may get a small oven to dry parts as that is the best way to prevent corrosion. Now I can complete most of the head build once I get off my lazy rear-end and start on the lash measurements.

Common misconception is that you can't replace the lifter buckets, I've heard this before on these forums. They are pretty much machined to a very high tolerance and they all generally measure the same O.D. Mine have a "slight" visual amount of wear on the sides, almost imperceptible and measured within spec limits. The aluminum cylinder head casting is also extremely hard material alloy and those lifter bores had "zero" wear practically. I numbered the buckets anyway so they go back into their original positions but in reality it wouldn't matter despite what the service manual says. All different size ranges are available from Nissan in case your lash clearances are off due to wear or if doing valve/cylinder head work. As I've mentioned I will be running small lash caps that sit underneath the lifter buckets due to the cam regrind which isn't the most ideal but many vehicles run this from the factory without issues. Something to consider if you are running regrind camshafts like Crower.

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Discussion Starter · #626 ·
Non-OEM parts:

I'm looking at the NGK coil packs (#48764) @ $85.99 and the Bosch DI Injectors (#62829) @ $28.79 from RockAuto. The Nissan coil packs (22448-1KC0A) are $84.49 cheapest I could find but typically around $103. The Nissan DI fuel Injectors (16600-1KC0A) are $133.03 ea. Bosch is an OE supplier so I'm going to risk trying these injectors out and let you guys know how they work out. I could rebuild/clean the stock injectors but with 80,000 miles they have had a hard life and I consider them disposable at this point. This'll save me over $400 on the build and nearly pay for the new engine harness.

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Discussion Starter · #627 ·
Cylinder head is on the bench with the lifter buckets and crower cams installed for lash checks. After measuring the valve clearances and doing the math I’m going to need to buy (2) intake lifter buckets and (1) exhaust lifter bucket. To recap I had done my own valve seat regrind and these valve seats I took a bit more material off, which reduces the clearances.

Anything with 1.25mm clearance or less means a lash cap of under 1.00 mm needs to purchased to hold the 0.25mm valve clearance. They only sell 1.00mm thick lash caps or bigger and thinner than that is risky to regrind. I’ll post some pics and such to show what I’m talking about.

Overall the process of checking valve lash isn’t to bad. I’m using the angled valve clearance feeler gages which fit easily inside of the cam bracket cradle fully installed and torqued down. It’s probably a 2-3 hour job checking everything but once I purchase the correct lash caps it’s a drop in assembly, no custom grinding or lash caps will be necessary.
 
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Discussion Starter · #628 · (Edited)
Ordered (3) lifter buckets @ $25 ea. from Nissan. Needed short ones to get the lash caps under them with sufficient clearance. These were the valve seats I overcut, so this is how it’s compensated for. Valve tip cutting is another way but it is a bad idea for this build.

Super-tech Lash caps ordered from Fab9tuning. Had to order up (5) different thicknesses with extras, ordered 26 total for 16 valves @ $6.16 ea just in case. They can be had cheaper, but this isn’t a place to skimp. These are drop in with no grinding required unless there are clearance issues with the FORD valve retainers I’m using. Should go smoothly. I’ll go into detail and pictures on the entire process but the goal is to get the cold valve lash clearances about .009 to .013” on the intake and .010-.013” on the exhaust. I have the lash caps ordered so I can set the tolerance on the lower, mid, or upper spec. Looser is safer but I can also custom grind slightly to get them dead perfect. Kind of an engine blue printing technique and how much perfection I want to achieve.

Also ordered the wrong timing chain tensioner so had to get the latest revision for the 2011-2012, don’t mix up the years as I got the 2016-2017 and it is different with the oiling hole smaller, not good for thicker 5w-30 oil used on the 1st gen.

Crower camshafts and stiffer springs: Running my custom springs at 150 lb open force vs stock there is quite a bit of force on the cam when rotating it with the wrench. The dowel pins I’m swapping for new ones to prevent any breakage on the camshaft and phaser. I’m actually not liking this for a daily driver but I’ll report on any issues.

I’m hoping in 2 weeks to get the cylinder head mounted and the timing chain installed and timed. Then it’ll get fun with the oil-prelude setup to check for oil leaks and prime the pump.
 
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Discussion Starter · #629 · (Edited)
Lifter buckets are on national backorder.....damn. I knew I shouldn’t have spoken too soon.

Going to get creative. I’ll swap the taller 330H size bucket for the shorter 326H bucket from another valve position. As long as they measure close on the micrometer for the outside diameter this is deemed acceptable. Then I grind off .0025-.0035” from the .040” thk lash cap. This’ll give me the total .010-.011” lash clearance in that valve which is bang on spec. Done. The other (2) buckets were borderline and I can use the 1.00 mm lash caps and be perfect as well. The other (13) valves & buckets fit perfectly without modification other than the correctly sized lash caps, no issues. This is so damned annoying.

Other alternative: I drop that intake valve and grind down the valve stem by .0025-.0035". This requires a special valve tip grinder holding fixture that I don't have either. Got some time to think this thru and design a fixture on the CAD if I have to. Some bearings to rotate the valve or v-blocks and a 3D printed base and it might be good enough with adjustment to square the valve to the grinding wheel while I rotate it manually. Something like the valve concentricity gauge below with a piece of 400 grit or diamond wheel attached to that black arm stop which would keep the cut square to the valve shaft.

The wait time Nissan are telling me could be 3-6 months and I’m not waiting. No refunds either so after 3 weeks I’m finishing it and not waiting anymore and I’ll keep them as spares or something.


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Discussion Starter · #630 · (Edited)
Whilst I have time waiting on parts, finalized my design for a valve tip grinding fixture.

Purpose:
The purpose of this fixture is to accurately remove material from the end of the intake/exhaust valve tip. This is to precisely set the valve lash for intake/exhaust valves, in my case it'll be used in conjunction with after market lash caps and stock OEM lifter buckets due to the aftermarket Crower cam regrinds.

Materials & Design:
The design uses a couple of 5.5mm I.D. steel drill bushings for the 5.48mm O.D. intake/exhaust valves to act as bearings to support the intake/exhaust valve with a dab of oil to lubricate. I can also port the bearing to put an oil feed as well in the future. There is a 2.285" diamond piston ring grinding wheel I sourced from Summit Racing for $20 secured with an M5 x 20mm screw. Included are a couple of inexpensive plastic handle M5 thumbscrews & (3x) M5 brass thread inserts for the plastic. Probably $30-$40 in hardware. The (2) drill bushings when loaded will act as position locators for the top clamp, with (1) thumbscrew to secure it.

The (2) housings will be constructed from ABS plastic run on a 3D-printer so cost for me will be zero more or less. I have some options to send it out for SLA using Accura Extreme or possibly chopped carbon fiber but that will cost some bucks and an option if I'm serious about it. The design is meant for an injection molded plastic part but this type of design also works perfectly for 3D-printing as it's stiff and uses the bare minimum of plastic.

Function:
The intake or exhaust valve that needs grinding will be pre-lubricated with oil or engine assembly lube and fed thru the (2) bearings and loaded into the fixture using the locking clamp. The valve tip will be pushed up against the diamond grinding wheel and the 2nd adjustment knob will be set to backup the wheel to prevent deflection while grinding. The valve will then be rotated slowly using light pressure to remove a small amount of material from the valve tip. The wheel can also be loosened or bearing installed to rotate and make the cut as an option but I will try both ways and see what works best. Then the valve can be removed by undoing the top thumb knob to lift the part out to allow measurement of the overall valve length using a micrometer. When the final valve length is achieved or appropriate material removed the valve tip is cleaned first then the valve can be pulled thru the bearings. The goal is to get a couple of light cutting passes and a square/clean cut. The diamond wheel is capable of removing stock very rapidly so slow is better, similar to gapping piston rings.

Setup/Adjustment:
Being plastic there will be some amount of stack-up tolerances that will need provision for an adjustment feature. The goal of the fixture is to have the valve axis and grinding wheel axis co-axial while the grinding wheel face must be perpendicular to the valve axis. Since the wheel may not be perfectly flat or housings could be warped I can simply shim the hub on 1/2 of the face with some paper to tilt the wheel and clamp it back down. Keep in mind the fixture needs to be "repeatable", not necessarily perfect. That's where the adjustment/shimming process takes place. That process requires applying some Dykem ink on the valve tip and making a few light cuts and seeing if the wear pattern is flat/even (good) or if it's beveled (bad). The level of flatness required is approx .0001-.0002" in order to prevent from over-stressing the lash caps sitting on top of the valve tip. This is why this can't be done by hand with a file without some precision fixturing. If you've ever tried to "gap" a piston ring you'll see how the piston ring grinders do a poor job of squaring up the gap cut and it's nearly impossible to achieve but it's critical to keep the closed gap as consistent as possible. Anyway, for valves this is typically done on a grinder with a squaring fixture or a grinder specifically for valve facing & tipping. This is essentially that but miniaturized. Cuts will be made slow using the diamond wheel or even some 400 grit sanding paper & finally lapping compound.

Measurement/Accuracy:
The intake valve overall length will be measured using a small iron square block for the valve to sit on and a drop gauge. The valve tip squareness I'll probably have to attach an indicator to the end of the valve, put a collet clamp and rotate it to see the tip variation or something.

Pictures:
Below you can see how Rottler VR12 use a centerless grinding setup and check fixture to grind the valve seat angle and also check the concentricity of the valve seat face and shaft runout. They also have a fixture for Stem/Butt grinding using a slider carriage and micrometer feed setup. Little bit different than what I'm doing but a similar concept in terms of holding/fixturing. My fixture is requiring a fairly straight valve shaft and typically they are very straight when brand new.


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Discussion Starter · #631 · (Edited)
Below is the final honing/lapping setup & measurement fixture(s).

There are (2) ground v-blocks & (1) smaller precision block which I happened to have lying around. I've laid the valve onto the v-block to rotate it but (2) drill bushings will be used as support bearings in the final configuration. A smaller ground block will be placed behind the v-block as a spacer (shown below). The 2nd v-block will be clamped against the other blocks to form a highly accurate 90* angle wall which the valve tip must sit flat against. I don't have a flat granite surface plate to mount these which is the correct technique but all (3) blocks will be clamped to form a perfect square anyway. The previous fixture will remove most of the material off the valve tip while leaving a little bit for final finishing on this fixture. Lapping compound & a piece of 400 grit sanding paper will be bonded/double stick taped to that vertical face. I'll lay the valve with the (2) drill bushings right into the v-block and rotate the valve while applying pressure. Applying the Dykem ink to the surface will allow me to see where material is being removed. This'll bring the valve tip into the flatness & squareness spec I'm going to need to keep the valvetrain happy.

To check the flatness I'll then clean up everything and use the same fixture minus the sandpaper and shine light underneath the valve tip face as it's rotated & pushed up against the vertical block surface. If no light shines past the silhouette of the valve tip then it'll be considered done. I can also paint the valve tip lightly and tap the valve against the block, the transfer ink image will tell me if the surface is flat or not. This is the same trick I used to get the valve seats & valve faces perfectly matched. The valve shown is an old exhaust valve I'm using for practice once I get everything finalized.

The 2nd picture shows the measuring fixture I'm using for the overall length before & after. I'm referencing off of the blocks so everything is precise and repeatable. The drop gauge is accurate to within +/-.001" but I can visually use it for .0005" increments if I split the hash marks. Initially I'll use a set of calipers to get the exact overall length but I'm only looking for a delta. The valve is over 4" in length so micrometers can't be easily used without spending more cash. With the drop gauge zeroed out once it shifts +.0035" after all the machining/honing completed it'll be considered finished. Anyway that's how I'll check the measurements.

As I've said previously it's nearly impossible to completely freehand grind/hone this thing with any accuracy and you can now see why. The pictures of the Rottler VR12 valve grinding machine is a good example of how a professional machine is setup. Most if not all of the valvetrain work I've done was using piloted fixturing and this is no different. The level of precision machining the valves go thru from Nissan is impressive and the tolerances are extremely tight for very good reasons. Even with the precision blocks I have they are only ground to a certain tolerance, so it is the best I can do but for this application will work. When I get the SuperTech lash caps they'll already be precision ground to the exact size thickness I need without having to modify them.

All this work I'm doing is is just for (1) intake valve but it's needed to finish the engine the correct way.


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Discussion Starter · #632 ·
Update:

Lash caps came in from Supertech, they sent (25) of the LC55-1.25B. A set of (16) would run about $96 but a having a few extra doesn't hurt.

These lashcaps are for a 5.5mm O.D. Intake/Exhaust valve which fits our Juke valves with a slightly loose fit. They will be trapped under the lifter bucket so no issue with that. They sent me (25) of the 1.25mm thickness. Problem is I ordered varying thicknesses & qty of: 1.00mm, 1.10mm, 1.15mm, 1.20mm, & 1.25mm. So......I now have to grind these down to the specific thicknesses I need. In fact, now that I'm grinding them myself I can actually grind the lash clearances with-in very close tolerance to each other. These caps are $6.15 ea. but the machining quality is very nice so I can't complain. For reference I'll also be running: Supertech Springs (SPR-FE20BE), Supertech valve keepers (KPR-5.5-7A-ST), Ford Escort valve retainers (P/N 1S7Z-6514-AA), & custom 4130 machined spring seat retainers that I designed.

The pictures below illustrate how these lash caps fit on my application. I had previously ordered the Supertech keepers which are the short machined valve keepers. Knowing I would need the extra clearance for these lash caps and to set the spring rates and geometry where I wanted them while using the upgraded Supertech springs & Ford upper spring retainers. It goes without saying that you have to measure what parts you have and figure out what needs modifying but generally you can make all this stuff work. You want these short retainers because as (Fig. 4) shows it keeps a nice sized .021" gap between the valve keeper and the lash cap, this is a good thing. On the stock keeper (Fig. 3) there is actually interference with these installed. If you install these lash caps with the stock keepers un-modified it'll actually hit the valve upper retainer under pressure from the cam and potentially release the upper spring retainer from the valve & spring. This'll pretty much end up destroying the valve & possibly the cylinder head & engine as well. On the flip-side, if you just slap these on a car without modifying the thickness then it'll hang the valves open all the time.......screwing up your idle and killing your engine compression & power at lower rpms. If the engine is loping badly or misfiring or has a general lack of low-mid range power, this is a bad sign that the lash clearances weren't set correctly. These things NEED to be modified and installed by someone who knows exactly what they are doing. Follow the factory guidelines for valve lash clearances and check everything. I'll also be adjusting the cam phase angles later using UpRev to get the cams dialed in as these will be happier adjusted to the cam card that Crower supplies.

So I'll be spending the next 3-4 days modifying these little guys once my grinding fixture finishes 3D-printing. I tried printing my grinding fixture on those cheap homemade 3D-printers using PLA material and the fixture was completely warped so it's junk at this point. I'm now running on a professional FDM 3D-printer using real ABS so it should be ready for the weekend once I buy all the hardware and assemble it. There are (16) lash caps plus the (1) intake valve that need grinding so it's gonna take some time to get them perfect. This might be where I recommend to people to simply drop everything off at a Race Shop with the special valve grinding/machining equipment to get everything bang-on perfect but I'll give it a go on my own.

Fig. 1: Supertech lash caps and retainer keepers (short version).
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Fig. 2: Supertech "short" keeper vs. stock keeper
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Fig. 3: Stock keepers mounted with Supertech lash caps showing interference Fig. 4: SuperTech "short" keepers & lash caps, .021" clearance fitment.

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Fig 5. SuperTech lash caps mounted onto valve & Ford upper retainer, note side clearance(s).
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Discussion Starter · #633 · (Edited)
Here is the lash cap grinding fixture assembled and working.

To get the precision grinding necessary for the cap to sit flat on the valve and lifter bucket this 3D-printed grinding fixture is critical. I went out and bought a Bauer 4"x36" belt sanding setup from HarborFreight and tried it out just to see what results I got (see the following post).

This little 3D-printed fixture uses a diamond coated wheel that is manually rotated by hand. The knob on the left-side acts as a stabilizer to keep the wheel square when the lash cap is pressed against it, like an english wheel setup. By periodically rotating the lash cap mounted on the end of an old exhaust valve during the grinding operation I can balance out the cutting error. Since the fixture and wheel can never be perfectly 90* to the cutting surface, this technique produces a very very slight angled cut around the entire circular perimeter. This is expected and cleaned up flat in the following sanding operation without much effort. I use a dab of engine oil as well while grinding to make the surface finish smoother and eliminate deep gouges. With the wheel being rotated by hand and with everything setup correctly it can cut the outside surface parallel to the inner lash cap surface to with .0002-.0003".

The next step in the grinding process is to use a precision ground v-block or flat plate to mount some 180, 320, 400 grit aluminum oxide sand paper to. Lapping compound could also be used on top of paper as well to protect the block. Then I just take the lash cap and simply rub it flat on the surface while periodically rotating it until all the scratches are removed and it's smooth basically. Machinists might call this a lapping operation. Keep in mind this cannot fix a parallism problem but only create a dead flat surface. Any non-parallel cuts have to be fixed on the diamond grinding fixture because it pilots off another flat surface inside the lash cap. This sanding/lapping step is also required to get accurate readings for measurement as the rough diamond cutting makes it hard to measure accurately. Also the micrometer I'm using can be scratched by the diamond/aluminum oxide particles so I rub the surface clean with solvent or a cloth. The idea is to grind with the diamond wheel to about .0006" of final target while also easing up on the pressure to lighten the cut finish. Then the lapping/sanding is done in progressive steps to bring the dimension home while also removing all of the deep scratches from the diamond grinding.

Using this method it takes about 1 hr per lash cap to remove .0030". Once I redesign the fixture using an electric motor, bearings, guide wheels, tension spring, etc. it'll probably take 10 min per cap to set the correct lash thickness.

Measurement device is a .0001" vernier micrometer with a cone tip added on . Using a micrometer stand has saved me huge amounts of effort trying to hold that and the work-piece. The reason for using this cone tip is that I can measure the lash cap thickness at (4) corners and get the combined "tilt" or parallelism value. With these (4) measurements I'm shooting for within .0002-.0003" thickness deviation or parallelism. Finally, I'm also aiming for +/-.0002" of the target lash cap thickness of whatever I need which in this case it might be .0438" depending on the particular valve. So there are basically (2) moving target dimensions I'm shooting for while grinding. The caps are supplied as .0492" thk (1.25mm) and the grinding limit will be about .0394" (1.00mm) for structural integrity purposes. More grinding than this and I'm forced to remove some material from the valve tip (i.e. valve tipping) with a limit of about ~.010" max removal for that. For this valve tipping process the 3D-printed fixture can be used or precision valve grinder machine as it's impossible to square up a valve for precision grinding without using special equipment. A bench grinder using a v-block could also be used but the setup would be critical for a square cut. These caps have to be ground to a minimum of 400 grit surface finish, maybe even higher. An inspection loop is used to review the surface finish. The goal is to remove any deep surface scratches that could form up a crack while also keeping surface friction low. A final radius/chamfer is added as the final step.

Overall a super fun process....not really.


Fig 1: Lash cap grinding setup

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Fig. 2: 3D-printed Lash cap grinding fixture

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Discussion Starter · #634 · (Edited)
Always trying to improve efficiency I purchased the Bauer 4"x36" Belt sander I mentioned earlier from Harbor freight.

Doing the grinding by hand is fairly time consuming and it was going to take about +20 hrs to manually grind these (16) caps even with my 3D-printed fixture. What I'm going to explain here is probably not going to make sense. But to get an accurate grind with this setup and a cap surface that is already flat & parallel......you basically need to freehand grind it. Keep in mind the lash cap comes almost perfectly turned so it's already starting out flat/parallel. I had previously used the 6" rotating disc & rigidly fixated the lash cap to a v-block and locked it in the angled fixture table after carefully squaring up the work piece. Unfortunately it's nearly impossible to square this up perfectly though I tried my best. The surface finish ended up terrible and the accuracy was off by quite a bit. The table is flexible on this unit and no matter what you do the amount of precision required needs a micrometer table adjustment that the professional machines have but this doesn't. So rigid fixture grinding isn't possible with this type of setup without some modification of the machine.

The solution that works in the picture below shows me simply free-hand holding the lash cap on the tip of the exhaust valve while doing my best to hold it somewhat vertical and applying medium pressure. For this I'm using the 4"x36" belt sander portion of the machine. This removes the majority of the material quickly. I finish up the cut with the 3D-printed fixture to get a perfect square/flat cut, followed by the sanding/honing. It looks like I'm holding it poorly but that is me holding the phone camera one-handed, but either way it's producing an extremely flat/parallel cut. The belt sander comes pre-loaded with 80 grit but I switched out to the 120 grit belt which gives better control and surface finish.

I could probably build a fixture with a simple spring loaded plunger like a table shaped mount to "dip" the cap & valve into the belt sander which would achieve the same affect while still allowing freedom of movement. Holding it free hand is a little bit un-nerving but a fixture mount is in the works for the future.

So with this technique I can rip off material in as little as 30-60 seconds and accurate to about .0001-.0002" flatness/parallel & +/- .0001" thickness tolerance with some final hand lapping/sanding on the block. Time-wise I can probably get it down to about 10-15 minutes to accurately machine/grind (1) lash cap to specific size. I'm sure a machine shop can knock this out quicker but this post is about tools we can use to get the job done economically. Sort of a hack but for $139 it was well worth the investment. Originally I purchased the belt sander to resurface exhaust manifolds, flanges, etc. but now with some simple fixturing it can also be used to grind lash caps too. This machine is getting a big thumbs up from me(y)

Keep in mind that lash adjustment & piston ring gap grinding are typically done by the engine builder or vehicle owner. When we get into the engine boring/honing, main bore line honing, engine deck resurfacing, cylinder head deck resurfacing, etc. then you are talking about a trip to the auto machine shop. I have a great auto machine shop now (Auto Machine, Inc./Saint Charles Illinois) and another local machine shop for producing high precision custom parts using 5-axis CNC mills. The cylinder head work I did I'd almost say it's borderline requiring a cylinder head specialist shop but a DYI could potentially do it with the tools I & techniques I used. The goal here is a high quality build and I think with the right mix of shops/suppliers it's achievable without breaking the bank.

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Discussion Starter · #635 · (Edited)
Parts (lifter buckets & timing tensioner) are coming in from Bill Kelly Nissan in Downer's Grove. Lead time was about 3-3.5 weeks and prices were the cheapest on the internet for Nissan parts.

So, a couple of pitfalls with the Crower cams & lash caps. I'll post pictures of this but the intake valves put the keeper locks very close to the bottom of the lash cap which is very bad. Not much of a problem on the exhaust valves as they are designed differently. The stock keepers from Nissan give about .056" from keeper to tip of the intake valve and this dimension drives everything. The Supertech shorty keepers (KPR-5.5-7A-ST) give about 0.122" distance as their upper shoulder is machined lower for better clearance. Still, I had to grind the Supertech lashcaps from 0.122" deep to about 0.102" deep to gain the necessary .020" clearance. The diagram below recommends .060" min depth and .050" min clearance but I've modified that slightly for our design valvetrain. In our particular case the lash cap needs to clear the keeper locks only because it sits entirely inside the upper spring retainer & clearance isn't an issue here.

If the stock Nissan keepers are used this depth is closer to 0.036" which is too shallow to keep the lash cap onto the valve tip reliably. Keep in mind the valve lash clearance of .009-.013" will subtract from that giving it room to lift up even further. In addition to this the stock Nissan valve springs are fairly weak. The chances of floating a valve are high & even more so with aggressive cam profiles. This makes it more critical to run stiffer springs with the Crower cams just to keep the lash caps from flying off if you miss a shift and over-rev or something.

Anyway, once I'm satisfied with the lash clearances I'll use a 400*F high temp sleeve retainer compound (#6400) from Permatex to glue the keepers in place. A few forced induction guys have done this but if someone is using anti-lag or launch control even this won't help if the exhaust valves overheat and start bouncing the valves off the cam lobes.....the lash caps will potentially go flying. For what I'm doing this should provide OEM level of reliability.

Modify your engine at your own risk basically.



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Discussion Starter · #636 ·
Ordered the oil chain timing tensioner instead of the cam timing tensioner, so that is back on order again.

The valve lash is close to being complete. I have (1) that is coming in slightly below the other's at .010" lash clearance (.009-.013" spec) while another (1) is at .012". The remaining (14) valves are set at .011" which is dead center on the nominal. So I'll take that one at .010" and precision lapp/grind about .0005-.0006" off the lash cap and it'll walk right into .011" using the feeler gauge to check it. The 400 grit wet/dry sanding paper & a precision flat gauge block and enough lapping/sanding I can bring the surface(s) parallel to about .0001" flatness/parallel or better though my measuring equipment can't measure closer than that.

Below is my spreadsheet for tracking the valve lash & the cam bucket(s) I used. I found it convenient to note which buckets are in which valves as I had to swap a few around to make things work. The (2) valve buckets on Intake #3 and #4 were swapped from the factory 330H and 332H to smaller sized 312H and 318H respectively. That is 3.3mm, 3.32mm, 3.12mm, & 3.18mm. This was done because those valves seats were cut deeper than the rest which closed up the lash clearances. For the lash cap(s) I'm trying to avoid grinding thinner than 1.00mm so I purchased these buckets to maintain the correct clearances.

The other pictures just show me installing the lash caps onto the valve(s). They fit loosely but shouldn't go anywhere during vehicle operation when the Crower cams are installed. All the numbered marks will get removed from the lifter buckets before final installation but that's for me to not forget anything during the lash inspection checks.

Yeah, that's basically it. Cylinder head, Cometic Head gasket, and head bolts will get installed this weekend. Cams & cam gear phasers will also get installed as well. I'm waiting on the correct timing chain tensioner before I fully time the engine. The timing chain cover I need to replace the main pulley/crank oil lip seal & the teflon gap rings that mate with the cam phasers, and installed the VVT oil control solenoids.

The next month the following will be coming in: engine electrical harness, engine sensors (all), exhaust manifold, fuel injectors, ignition coils, etc. That'll represent most of what I need to finish the engine. Brand new Mambatek 19T turbo w/TD04HL turbine needs to be sent out for VFR balancing, that's still on my to-do list. Normally they are built fully balanced but I rebuilt/upgraded my never used older 19T turbo with the heavy duty thrust bearing kit and the higher flowing TD04HL turbine wheel so it's now ready for +350 h.p. Still going to need: full set of engine mounts, alternator, starter, & belt tensioner before I'll drop the engine back in. Everything is going to be brand spanking new since I'm not planning to drop the engine again. I'll make another list of suspension components I'm going to order but it'll be after the New Year.

Should be a busy weekend.



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Nice and clean. Looks beautiful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #638 · (Edited)
Definitely looks pretty. All that ultrasonic cleaning helped.

Project is sorta/kinda winding down from the heavy duty machining & customization and all that kinda stuff. Now it's down to assembling and then ordering parts as I need them to keep the project moving forward. Definitely I won't finish before July 2022 but the heavy lifting aspect is mostly over for the engine. Transmission still needs some light machining and re-assembly and then it should be good to go but that'll come after the engine is fully assembled on the stand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #639 · (Edited)
Here I'm doing a final vacuum check before I install the cylinder head.

Typically a vacuum check would have been done right after the valve job but you can see in the pics I'm doing it now with the head fully assembled. Most shops would say that if the valves are cut & lapped properly they will hold air anyway.....they were right. All of the intake valves (#1 thru #8) will hold +22 in/Hg vacuum indefinitely as well as exhaust valves (#1 thru #8). The vacuum tester is just a piece of bicycle tubing cut in a round shape with a vacuum pump & adapter nozzle pushed thru with a plastic bearing cup for support. Little bit of a kludge but it works long enough to check if the valves are sealing. This is confirmation that the valve lash was set correctly & the valve job is seating the valves fully without any leakage. Another one of those areas that'll make a difference in applications where every horsepower is being extracted.

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Discussion Starter · #640 · (Edited)
Made some significant progress. The lists below are not comprehensive but generally cover the big stuff. I'll toss a bunch of pictures together with some descriptions but now I'm mainly focusing on wrapping things up.

I had major problems with my fancy Kobalt electronic torque wrenches giving me fits the entire build and requiring constant resets to work correctly. For future projects I'm going to replace them with something more reliable. When using the electronic torque angle feature I always paint mark the bolt and visually check the angle of rotation cause sometimes the wrench would get freaked out and I'd have to start over. Also, I got in the habit of using ARP molylube for installing high torque fasteners. I ran into problems torquing down the cylinder head bolts even lubricating with engine oil. The bolts were sticking and creaking something terrible. I found out when torquing the main cap bolts that cycling them 4-5 times pre-stretches the bolts and they torque down much more consistently. So that is a procedure I'll be using more often in the future. Anyone installing/removing Juke head bolts knows it takes a huge amount of torque to cinch these down. Anyway, switching to molylube I derate the torque to about 80% of the factory spec but still use the same angular rotation spec. The head bolts torqued down very smoothly but still did require the use of a big breaker bar to do it. This definitely helps protect the aluminum threads from getting ripped out. I don't recommend the use of ARP headbolts. The idea here is that the torque-yield factory Nissan Juke head bolts won't distort the engine bores or cylinder head. The cometic head gasket is a big improvement over stock and should seal everything tightly.

Can't stress enough the importance of having the service manual and a note pad w/check lists. I'll read the service manual 3-4 times right before the procedure I'm going to do just so I can memorize the steps and I'll prep everything by setting the torque wrenches in advance and layout all the bolts and what not. My written checklists I'll markoff when the procedure is completed. I keep a build list which documents all of the engine clearances,measurements, specs, etc. and I can review later if needed. I have the full service manual assembly explosion diagram & P/N SKU for the fasteners, seals, bolts, etc. with a BOM excel spreadsheet confirming I'm using the right hardware or components. Typically I'll keep the original parts in a bag labeled so I can visually make 100% certain I'm replacing what I took out even if I'm replacing with new parts.

The trick is to document everything with pictures to review afterwards just in case I missed an o-ring or if something seems off. But this generally reduces the anxiety of whether a procedure was done correctly or not. Every bolt that's torqued down I immediately mark it with a paint mark. If the manual says to lubricate the fastener before torquing it....I lube it. Most torque wrenches are accurate enough but a professional engine builder would be re-calibrating their wrenches with a master, but for the amateur this is more than good enough. Every bolt hole was meticously cleaned but here is where Gray RTV really screws things up as it can't easily be cleaned out. In some cases I had to use a thread tap to cleanup threads but typically I will avoid it if possible as it opens up the thread which isn't good. Good stiff nylon rifle brushes and maybe some quality thread chasers are a better solution for internal thread cleaning. This all sounds extreme but a stripped bolt hole is a major huge pain and should be avoided at all costs, luckily I dodged that bullet. Where the service manual called out Gray RTV for sealing flanges I used it except on the cam cradle & timing covers that I know I'll be removing often. For that I'm using Loctite 518 sealant which is easily removed and cleaned up but rated for engine cases and meets/exceeds the Gray RTV spec. That's mostly an improvement for serviceability as I'll be changing timing chains often from now on.

Another note about cleanliness. Whatever parts you install should be very clean. I've found my Ultrasonic cleaner using HD Simple Green (aluminum & zinc coating safe) to work great with 130-140*F water temp setting. Even afterwards I'll rinse in a bucket to float the debri out and final rinse with running water and then air blast to dry. I know guys who think cleaning with Brakecleaner works but it evaporates too quickly and redeposits the debri back onto the part. Dunking parts in Acetone is better but again it's somewhat toxic. For the most part I've stopped using harsh chemicals as they can do a lot of damage to metal parts and are difficult to dispose of. You'll never get anything as clean as a good heated ultrasonic cleaner using nothing but HD Simple Green or dishsoap. It won't remove heavy corrosion but for that I use a media blaster. Important last step is to quickly air blast to dry the parts to avoid corrosion. I use SeaFoam Deep Creep to fog/coat parts (cylinder bores, etc.) that would otherwise flash rust after cleaning and it works great. WD40 is actually an amazing cleaner and I use it where appropriate but for rust prevention it evaporates to quickly to be useful.

Storing the engine I spray the SeaFoam DeepCreep in the sump case and engine bores & good polyethylene engine bag wrapped tightly and knotted up. That keeps the entire engine and oil vapor trapped in the bag and seems to have worked during the high humidity of the summer months. I don't do any grinding in the garage while I'm building the engine but I figure that's common sense.

Tasks completed as of last update:
  • Cylinder head, Cometic Head gasket, & new head bolts installed & torqued to spec.
  • Camshafts & new camshaft phasors & new VVTI control solenoids installed
  • Timing chain & oil pump chain installed and timed to spec
  • Timing cover installed and torqued to spec
Still quite a few things to do including the following:
  • Install valve cover & gasket w/new PCV valve
  • Install new main pulley and bolt
  • Install water outlet w/new hoses and new thermostat
  • Install new fuel injectors, fuel pressure sensor, and fuel rail
  • Install new mechanical fuel pump and new lifter follower
  • Install ALL new engine sensors (knock, camshaft, crankshaft, oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, 02, boost pressure, MAF, etc.)
  • Install new engine electrical harness
  • Port and cerakote paint new exhaust manifold and then install w/new high strength alloy manifold studs
  • Send new Mamba 19T turbo out for VFR balance & then install w/new oil feed lines & water lines
  • Install new NGK coil packs & NGK sparkplugs
  • Install new crankshaft flex plate and bolts
  • Install new starter
  • Install new alternator
  • Install new belt tensioner and accessory belt
Couple of diagnostics left to check including:
  • Recheck valve lash w/head installed & torqued
  • Recheck vacuum valve seat seal (completed)
  • Cylinder leakdown test
  • Engine rotation static torque test (completed, 26 lb-ft to rotate crankshaft)
  • Compression check
  • Oil pump pressure check
  • Fuel pump pressure check
 
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