• Hi Guest! Being a Paying Supporter is NOT a requirement to participate at BCF. However, subscribing will help ensure we can continue to serve the LBC community for years to come. If you enjoy BCF and find our forum a useful resource...Please consider supporting us by **Upgrading**
    (PS: Subscribers don't see this banner)
Tips
Tips

Disconcerting engine noise, please help if you can.

shortsguy1

Jedi Hopeful
Offline
Hi-
First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for your help in my prior threads. I am sorry I am primarily a recipient of assistance on the forum right now, rather than a provider. But I hope to be able to return the favor someday soon. I will start this thread with my main concern, and then give some background in case it helps solve this mystery.

The engine of my 1966 Austin-Healey 3000 BJ8 makes a ticking sound which is troubling me very much. The sound is most noticeable at idle. It is a ticking or clicking sound, at the same speed as the engine. I have adjusted the valves twice (0.015 inches cold the first time and 0.012 inches cold the second time) and it hasn't changed the noise. I have filmed the engine with the valve cover off, so I am hoping someone can help me figure out the problem.

Both videos are at idle, although I don't recall if the RPM was slightly elevated because the engine wasn't very warm. I think the loud clack is pretty obvious, but let me know if you aren't sure what noise I am worried about:
https://youtu.be/nAYgH7i2atQ

This second video used the iphone's slo-mo feature. It is actually pretty cool because you can align the noise (now muffled, but clearly louder than the other noises) with the valve movements. At 0:24, you can see that the noise aligns with valve 1 and 3 starting to open. At 1:45, the same noise aligns with valve 8 and 11 closing up. I have no idea if these sorts of noises are more commonly associated with opening or closing of a valve.
https://youtu.be/Cfv1scOIiwk

Before I filmed any of this, I used a mechanic's stethoscope to try to find the problem. If I had to guess, I think the noise was towards the back of the engine. I had trouble getting any more specific than that. But this does make me think that valve 8 or 11 are more likely the culprit than 1 and 3.

Nothing else looked awry in the engine, but I am not very experienced with these cars. I checked the pushrods by rotating them and they all seemed straight. There seemed to be plenty of oil pooling up there, but I guess I don't know for sure.

And now for some possibly extraneous information, or perhaps not. My family was given this car by a close friend who was no longer using it much. Its engine was rebuilt at 78,000 miles, in 1998. In the last 10 years, the car has literally only gone 200 miles. So it has a lot of deferred maintenance and is now at 82,000 miles. The car resides at my mom's house and I try to work on it whenever I find the time to visit. She has had the car a year now, and has hardly been out for a drive, which is sad and frustrating to me. The prior owner didn't realize that the car has as many problems as it has and there unfortunately aren't any decent shops near my mom.

When the prior owner delivered the car to us about a year ago, it had developed a massive oil leak on the drive from his house to my mom's. An old aftermarket oil-cooler/oil-filter adapter had formed a major leak at one of the fittings, and it was purging oil very quickly. I don't think I saw any oil on the dipstick when I first checked. It could not have been leaking at this rate for the entire 2 hour drive, because it would have run out of oil. I have no evidence to support this, but perhaps it just barely started to not have enough oil as he pulled into the driveway. So perhaps some damage occurred, but not enough to seize the entire engine.

Also, when the car was delivered, it had a lot of rust on the underside of the valve cover. The valve cover rust was worst at the back of the engine. It was flaking off and small chunks were landing on the valve train. Clearly this could cause damage which might cause the noise. I tried my best to clean off all the rust and wipe away any chunks, but who knows what happened before I ever touched the car.

Anyway, sorry for all the background info, but I wanted to provide it in case it is helpful. I guess my main request is for someone to watch the videos and let me know if you recognize that noise. Thanks so much for any assistance you can provide. I really need your help with this one.
 

BigGreen

Jedi Warrior
Silver
Country flag
Offline
How is the oil pressure ?
 
OP
S

shortsguy1

Jedi Hopeful
Offline
BG- I think the oil pressure is fine. I checked it against values I read here when we first got the car, and decided it had good oil pressure. I unfortunately do not remember those numbers. I do recall from this past weekend that the gauge was pointing roughly straight up when I started the car (so probably 50-55 psi). I never got the car warm this past weekend (too nervous to run the engine that long), so I don't know the warmed up value. My old Mercedes gets down to 20 psi at idle when hot, and I vaguely recall that this Healey had a higher value than that. And oil pressure always rises as the engine rpm increases.

I am using Castrol 20/50 oil with a small bottle of zddp additive.
 

Keoke

Great Pumpkin
Country flag
Offline
I really do not see the rocker shaft oiling if it is OK.
 

zanker

Freshman Member
Offline
I don't own a Healey (yet), but I agree with Steve it is worth running some sort of "cleaner"/"treatment" through this engine to see if it helps. I remember using Rislone with some success in the distant past. It's easy and worth trying before exploring more expensive fixes...
 

Mark J

Freshman Member
Offline
You may wish to remove and re-install the spark plug leads one at a time to rule out a cracked piston or connecting rod bearing issue. If one of these problems exists, the noise will often go away or be reduced when the cylinder is deactivated.
 

BigGreen

Jedi Warrior
Silver
Country flag
Offline

British_Recovery

Jedi Warrior
Bronze
Country flag
Offline
Have you tried squirting motor oil onto the valves and valve train so that it gets down to the tap pets to see if the noise changes?
Sounds dry to me.
Bob
 

Healey 100

Jedi Warrior
Offline
That sounds like a rod or wristpin knock to me. Too heavy for valve noise. Hope I'm wrong, neither are easy to fix. You can check by shorting individual plugs, the affected cylinder will likely change the knock considerably when the plug is shorted.
 
OP
S

shortsguy1

Jedi Hopeful
Offline
Thanks everyone for the helpful (and somewhat scary suggestions). A few of you have commented on the rocker shaft oil amount. I have no idea if it is normal, but what I saw was a steady drip of oil from the shaft near each rocker arm. It is not a flood, but a rapid drip of oil. You can see it in the videos if you look carefully. No oil was splashing away from the valve train. The oil volume sitting on the cylinder head would increase over the first 10-15 seconds such that a pool would form as the engine ran. It would then run off the back of the engine if I let it. After I stopped the engine, the pool up there would slowly decrease back down to the sump (I presume).

Could any describe (or have a video of) how much oil should be flowing up there? Should it be spraying around and covering everything in the engine compartment?

Is there something I can change or check to ensure sufficient oil is getting to the valves/rockers/etc. ? In addition to the rusty valve cover, I forgot to mention that someone got a few bits of RTV or gasket sealant on a few of the valves, so I do worry that some hole might be plugged up there with a tiny bit of silicone or rubber.

I did not pour oil on any of the components, but that is definitely worth trying. I will also try Rislone or Marvel Mystery Oil before I decide to tear apart the engine. I had meant to pull the spark plugs one at a time when I was down at my mom's over thanksgiving, but I forgot to do that. Thanks for the reminder and I will definitely try that next visit. Sadly, I don't know if I have the time or resources to rebuild the head and valve train (or entire engine if it is rod knock). The car is sort of a strange gift. I mean, it is wonderfully generous, but has already and will continue to cost thousands to keep running. I am slowly realizing that this car may need more love than I can give it.

Thanks again.
 

BoyRacer

Jedi Warrior
Country flag
Offline
The first thing I noticed is that the oil holes on top of the rockers have all been brazed closed. That tells you that the moron that rebuilt this engine is clueless.
I'm not sure what that sound is. A bad rod bearing actually makes a knocking sound. It goes away under load and comes back when you let off on the gas. This sounds more like a clack than a knock. Does it still clack when you rev it up? It cannot be a sticking lifter because these are solid lifters.
Try this test. Push down hard on the tappet side of each rocker as the car is idling. This might possibly tell you if there is an issue with a particular lifter or a cam lobe if there is a significant change in tone.
My hunch at this point is that the moron that rebuilt your motor re-used the old lifters but did not install them in the same holes they came out of. It only takes a very short time before the lifter (or lifters) get ruined and all the adjusting of valve clearances will never solve the problem.
 
OP
S

shortsguy1

Jedi Hopeful
Offline
Well, based on Richard's most recent comments (and other's suggestions), this thread has taken a sobering turn. Those blobs of brazing material on the rockers always looked odd to me. Like I said, I am new to these engines, but I just couldn't figure out what they were for. Now, I know. Strangely, I just poked around online and found at least two other Healey folks who had similar rockers, both in this thread (mwagon and Randy Forbes).
https://www.britishcarforum.com/bcf/showthread.php?80654-Rocker-Arm-without-Oil-Bleed-Hole

Strange that three Healey owners (myself and those two) would all have cars with the same error. I wonder why someone would do that? Assuming I drill them out as Randy demonstrates in that thread, should I be expecting a squirt of oil out of those holes, or just a drip? This observation by Richard certainly explains why the valve cover got so rusty.

While I did push down (via a towel) on the rocker while the engine was running, I only tried to push down on the spring side. It didn't occur to me to try the tappet side. A test for a future date.

So can one buy new lifters (and pushrods perhaps) and simply install them, or does machining have to occur in the engine itself? I am decent at disassembly and re-assembly, but I don't have the skills required to machine something in the block or head. It seems like I may have many issues going on in this engine at the same time. Ugh.

Even if the brazing on the rocker arms is unrelated to the noise, without a forum like this, I would never have realized that I had a major problem in my engine. Thanks Richard and thanks to everyone for contributing to this thread.
 
Last edited:

bdcvg

Jedi Trainee
Country flag
Offline
If the lifters are bad due to incorrect break-in or installed wrong, They probably took camshaft lobes with them. You can imagine the amount of metal debris flowing around the engine after that. You are looking at as a minimum teardown,clean out and inspect everything.
 

HealeyRick

Yoda
Silver
Country flag
Offline
I think before I went any further, I'd send an oil sample out to Blackstone Labs for analysis to find out if you have any metal particles floating around: https://www.blackstone-labs.com/ It's probably the easiest and cheapest way to know if you've got a major problem that's going to require a teardown. Oil is supposed to trickle from the top of rocker arm holes, but when the rocker bushes become worn, oil comes up like little geysers. Rather than rebuild the rocker assembly, the engine builder treated the symptom by brazing the holes closed. After sending the oil out for analysis, I might try a bottle of Sea Foam in the oil: https://seafoamsales.com/. Maybe something is varnished up an this will clear it out (it's a longshot, but it's cheap and at this point, WTH?) I'd give another shot to using your stethoscope to try to locate the noise. I too think it's too loud to be coming from the valve train. See if you can narrow it own to the tappets or the crank area.
 

steveg

Yoda
Gold
Country flag
Offline
Amen to Rick's suggestion re oil analysis. Like to add...

You could remove* the rocker arm assembly as a unit and have it overhauled by the former Rocker Arm Specialist - see: https://www.rockerarms.com/

You could check out the cam from the bottom by removing the oil pan - the cam is in plain sight. If all your cam lobes looked good, then your entire problem would probably be in the rocker assembly.

IIRC the car is in San Diego and you're in SLO - if you brought the car up your way, you could have it sorted by Eric Grunden at Absolutely British in Santa Maria, or by XKs Unlimited in SLO. Russ Thompson in the SF Valley would also do a great job at a reasonable price.

I'd encourage getting it sorted because then the car will have great value and you can sell it if you want to.

*another story covered in other threads: the rocker oil feed banjo bolt is easy to strip on reinstallation.
 

HealeyRick

Yoda
Silver
Country flag
Offline
Amen to Rick's suggestion re oil analysis. Like to add...

You could remove* the rocker arm assembly as a unit and have it overhauled by the former Rocker Arm Specialist - see: https://www.rockerarms.com/

.

And Amen to Steve's suggestion about the former Rocker Arm Specialists. They've been doing Healey rebuilds for years and at least when I had mine done many years ago, they were quite reasonable.
 
OP
S

shortsguy1

Jedi Hopeful
Offline
Thanks everyone for the great recommendations. I emailed Russ and he got back to me already. He was very helpful. Even though his shop is not particularly close to the car, I want to be sure that someone knowledgeable and reliable works on the car. I clearly have a lot of tests to run (and oil to collect) when I am at the car next, and then will take the car to Russ if I am unable to fix it myself. I really appreciate all the recommendations.

I do have one followup question (sorry if I am overstaying my welcome)... based on discussing this here and with friends, I have received slightly conflicting information and I am hoping you can clear something up. If I pull off one spark plug and the noise changes a lot, what does that indicate? Some folks said that indicates a problem at the crank (and not piston slap) and others said that indicates piston slap or other problem at the piston (and not problem at the crank). When I run this test, I guess I need to better understand what the results indicate so I know what to do next. Thanks.
 
Country flag
Online
If you have a spin-on oil filter, remove it and cut it open; if you have the canister (original) type pull the filter element and clean the canister with clean solvent. You're looking for flakes of metal either way.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
S Engine or Tachometer Odd Problem Austin Healey 4
K TR2/3/3A Rebuilding an Engine?..New Cam Sprocket & Gear...1/2 Price Triumph 0
G TR6 Engine Cutout, Black Smoke, Large Backfire Triumph 7
J TR2/3/3A TR3 engine cylinder top clearance Triumph 22
D TR2/3/3A Engine shakes as it is accelerated. Triumph 26
D Land Rover engine swop. Rover / Land Rover 0
BoyRacer Rover 3.5L (Buick 215 c.i.) Engine Swap Austin Healey 15
Kolecki TR2/3/3A engine assembly cam timing issue Triumph 8
Pool Dad 1960 TR3 engine serial number Triumph 14
J TR2/3/3A "TR3" painted on the engine block Triumph 13
D TR2/3/3A Engine mounts Triumph 11
R Engine Number Plate Austin Healey 2
BoyRacer Engine Swap: 3000 Engine Into a BN1 Austin Healey 22
alexisrexx TR6 Engine Hoses Kit or Hose by the foot? Triumph 6
B Bugeye Original Engine Compartment Sheet Metal. Act Fast! Spridgets Classified 0
BoyRacer Nissan/Datsun engine swap into a 100/4? Austin Healey 30
G TR4/4A "Engine seized after engaging overdrive at low speed. Triumph 26
B COMPLETE DROP-IN Rebuilt 1975/6 MG Midget 1500 engine PLUS rebuilt Spitfire Overdrive trans NEVER INSTALLED Spridgets Classified 0
D Engine replacement. Rover / Land Rover 0
pairof75's General TR Circulate fluids without engine start Triumph 10
nicko Strange Engine Noise Austin Healey 7
AngliaGT WANTED - Cheap TD Engine/Transmission MG Classifieds 0
tr6nitjulius Oil flow view inside operating engine Other Cars 4
71TR6 TR2/3/3A New engine mounts not sitting flat Triumph 41
B TR4/4A Engine ground strap Triumph 5
T Articles by Hap Waldrop reg engine disassembly and assembly Spridgets 1
6TTR3A Wanted GT6 MK one engine fan Triumph Classifieds 0
J TR6 Engine rotation direction Triumph 2
G Healey 3000 cutaway display engine Austin Healey 12
B TR4/4A Engine tilt Triumph 13
R Distributor: Reassembling BJ8 Engine Austin Healey 5
S MGB MGB engine conversion MG 12
R New Engine mountings BJ8 Austin Healey 1
tahoe healey Engine Stutter Austin Healey 19
D TR6 Disconnecting pipe from engine block to oil pressure gauge Triumph 6
F Spitfire Triumph Spitfire , what fuel to run Her on with no engine history? Triumph 11
N Classic Mini Engine Identification British Motor Corp 2
BJ8Healeys For Sale BJ8 engine for sale Austin Healey Classifieds 0
T For Sale Triumph TR6 N.O.S engine block [late] Triumph Classifieds 2
H T-Series Unknown British[?] Engine MG 3
L TR2/3/3A Stupid Engine cleaning question Triumph 9
L TR2/3/3A Engine removal questions Triumph 8
Y Wanted Looking for running 3.5L MK V engine Jaguar Classifieds 0
AngliaGT MGB FINALLY Got the Engine Out MG 5
M 1972 Midget Engine Issues Spridgets 10
Bob Claffie For Sale Engine/transmission MG Classifieds 4
Busted knuckles TR2/3/3A Engine tear down, Triumph 13
69MGC MGB Volvo engine in a B MG 1
M TR6 '72 Engine Project, Some Day Triumph 6
J TR2/3/3A Taking engine out, etc. Triumph 16

Similar threads

Top