[V8] V8 timing belt

David Head v8q at bellsouth.net
Tue Mar 30 13:04:36 EST 2004

I finally bit the bullet and completed the timing belt last weekend on 
the tornado red car. I was seriously apprehensive in approaching this 
job. All in all, it was pretty straightforward - I would rather do one 
of these than a trans or a rack  (any day!)... Kudos goes to Keith for 
listening patiently and providing few rude comments to my dumb questions...

For tools I had the cam locks, harmonic balancer lock, 2079 extension, 
pin spanner and big wrench for the fan removal. I replaced the oil pump 
seal and bearing - but nothing else (other than the expensive plastic 
bushing). Car runs fine - it has a slight whine it didn't have before - 
might be coming from the water pump. While in there I also replaced the 
distributor seals and added additional blue sealant, new rotors and 
distributor caps and resealed both valve covers
I also bought a digital 6" caliper from Harbor Freight for $20.00. It 
sure made life easier when setting the damper length!

I was lucky in that when I shut the car off, it was about 5 degrees 
short of TDC. Verification can be done by pulling off the valve cover 
and eyeballing the zeros on the gears for the drive chain. One can also 
check by verifying the rotor is lined up to number one. There's actually 
a scribe mark on the distributor to make sure its lined up right (of 
course with my eyes and no inspection mirror that was a non starter...). 
I had one issue with the white plastic shield over the hall sensor 
partially disintegrating and interfering with rotation. A few drops of 
Superglue gel solved that.

For those who have done one, the old belt had stretched to 6.1 inches 
(spec is 131-133mm, about 5.1 to 5.25 inches). After eccentric 
adjusment, the damper was 132mm. After tightening down the cam bolts and 
running through 2 revolutions, it was 132.48mm. I got the dimwit award 
when I tried to rotate the engine through 2 turns with the cam locks 
installed... Doh!!! FYI - it will go about two thirds of a rotation 
before finding a set of valves.

Parts NOT reinstalled: rear passenger side heat shield speed nut (if you 
ever take it off, you'll know why!), one of 2 washers for the wiring 
clamp that bolts the the alternator cover. Removing the passenger side 
heat shield gives easy access to the alternator.

Advice not followed: radiator support assembly removal. Some recommend 
this as an access aid. Its good advice for a northern car as it gives 
direct access to everything. If you have a lot of corrosion issues it 
could make or break the job. Since my car was a southern car all but its 
first year, and the timing belt had been done 3 years ago I didn't see 
the need.

Retrospect: I was trying to save money, and since I had done the water 
pump, thermostat, cam/crank seals, rollers/tensioners 3 years ago I 
figured I would be all right in not doing so. I should have gone ahead 
and done them all again. Although everything spun smoothly (including 
the oil pump bearing) - something is slightly worn in there. If it gets 
worse in the next month I'll go back in and do the rest. Now that I've 
done one I'm not averse to going back in there if necessary.

Time: I stretched this out over 2 days. Day one was disassembly/fitting 
the timing belt, oil pump seal/bearing and setting initial length. Day 2 
was cover cleaning, sealing and reassembly. Total time: about 11-12 
hours. I could probably do it in 10 a second time, and maybe 9 or 8 with 
help and an air ratchet. It would be hard to move much quicker - there 
are just so many small things there that have to be done.

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