Rocker arms being installed incorrectly on new engine rebuilds of our year Cadillac engines

It is common knowledge on this site that there have been a number of issues  over the years with new rebuilt 390 and 429 engines being rebuilt by professional engine shops only to find that the rocker arms on the new rebuilds are not getting oiled during the engines first break in run    ( a new engine nightmare ) 

I have never really understood what it exactly was that was done incorrectly in these cases —-and need to know the possible answers 

Something about something being put on backwards ? Not sure what that means ?

Any info into what is done  wrong  by the engine rebuilder in these cases will be greatly appreciated so it can be avoided by others having or doing an engine rebuild at some point 

I will accept best possible educated reasons this might happen 


Views: 181

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Tony,  attached is video,  i got a message from another site person who has the sharpest eyes after seeing the video i posted last night.   

What i got from him was the shaft needed to be turned around.  There is a notch on the end,  looks more and feels more like a dent on the end.  It has to be facing towards the center of axis of engine,   mine was pointing in a sort of downward direction, altohg kinda pointing to engine, but not to the center. I pulled the RA assembly as i knew i was getting no oil to several RA.  When pulled, two had gunk in the cup were the rods fit into.  One was clearly dry in the cup.  I blew them out, shotva can of cleaner into the RS to clean.  Nothing gunky came out.  swapped everything, put on the engine, and result was no more bird squeek.  Oil came to top of Rocker arm fairly quick, and slid down top of RA into the spring.  See video

In my case, i had taken pictures of my old RA shaft when i did the rebuild.  I simply used the camphered end as my base point, duplicated the picture and installed, but apparently. The one i photoed had the correct location for the notch, but it would hv been backwards on the other side.   As i am not getting the squuek in the engine now. 

In my video last night, you can see oils squirting from underneath the rocker arm, not feeding up to the top hole and bleedind down the arm.   I think it may have been expelling enough oil to sort of partially compensate the installation error.   The completed work shows the change.

Bravo ——-my  fellow computer car guy friend !!

I am so very happy—- for you !!

I just LOVE  when this site —-gets the repair right 

You do not realize it but I think you just answered the question I posted —to open this thread — a win win for me 

Do you have to do the other side —or is all well now with the engine ?

We have to give credit for the gent that told you about the rocker arm shaft location from the video  that is the real solution here 

So that’s been the—- no oil rocker arm problem with pros new engine builds  that I have been reading  about on this site for many years now —- WOW !

Let me know what’s up !

I did pull the other side. And as expected, it was correct the dent, notch watever, is facing inward, all ra hv oil dow spine   

Mark anderson was the sharp eted sleth who picked up the incorrect notch.  He can give out the mechanicals if he wants, but im good, now,

  I think.  This shouldnt be considered bible, but IN MY CASE, one camphor vaces front, one back, just depends on that notch


Real nice call my friend 

You so very often are the go to guy with the repair info  on this site with the hard subjects 

So very nice you have the interest you do in this site and the help you often extend to all here 

You nailed this repair for sure my friend and deserve all the credit 


I have been wanting to know for some time now what the —no oil to the rocker arms issue after a new  engine rebuild has been about — and now we know 

The rocker arm shaft has a notch at its front that must be pointed to the center of the engine for the oil holes in the shaft  to line up with the rocker arms —for proper oil flow to the valve stems —-Priceless info to me 


Ere is the notch

Kim and all: The notch at ends of shaft aligns with the oil hole in the rocker shaft. The oil groove is approx 90 degrees (1/4 turn) from the oil hole. With the shaft off and in your hand, rotate the rocker around the shaft and look through hole with a light until you see the hole and then the groove. Per shop manual you point the groove straight down and the hole toward the center of engine. That is all there is to it. It's right there in the shop manual. When I rebuit my engine that is the one section I probably looked at and read 5 times and looked at that shaft to make sure groove down, and hole inward. The notch is a guide for the hole but I always look at the oil hole and oil groove when I install ... just gives me a better feeling.

Here are a couple of pictures showing first the oil hole then the oil groove reference in shop manual under Cylinder Head Installation:

Hope i dnt hv to go down this road again,,, i did refer to a caddy daddy video on rebuilding 390 heads, and they said new rocker shafts do not come w the notch so one will hv to rely on lining up the holes.  Mark had a manual photo of older 390 which actuall shows you the orientation.  W notches. And oil holes for reference

Excellent visual and explanation

Your presentations are always the best possible 

Looks like the  great pro engine builders do not read the 63-64 Service Manuals  

Like that  this issue has been resolved for Kim especially and the rest of the community with any interest  regarding this subject 



How did the engine repair work  work out ?

Hope you are out enjoying the car and ride 


Tony,   so far so good,   no odd noises or thumpings,    i am hoping i escaped any other damge.  Car rides good, engine quiet at idle.  

An off topic question.

The 390 doesnt seems to hv near the pick up and go as my 73 500 eldo.  Is that to be expected?  The 500 has waaay more pick up and go.  Neghbor down streetvsaud thev429 has quite a bit more pick up and go than the 390.  

It was this way on the old engine,  but thought id ask


The larger displacement engines will produce more power by the nature of there  engine size 

The turbo transmission seem to have more available power at any given speed over that of the hydramatic which is another variable 

Very glad that all  your engine noises are gone and you can enjoy your new engine and car 

Looks like you have gotten by all the possible engine bugs at this point 

Do not think you caused much additional wear to the rocker arms that were not being oiled but if you need to know you can pull those off and have them checked for wear in the future when you have a the time 

Seems like you are all set to pile on the mileage and enjoy the journey 




  • Add Photos
  • View All


Surprised no feed back on the 65 429 rear crank bearing redesign change Service

Started by Tony and Ginny 429 in 1963/64 Cadillac Specific Discussion. Last reply by Kurt 11 hours ago. 12 Replies

As the  rear crank bearing was redesigned in the 65  429 by Cadillac to reduce pressure on the RMS I thought it might be the answer to our endless leak issue many are having No one has found a…Continue

Love my car but hate the brakes - need some good advice

Started by Walter Anderson Bonner Jr. in General Discussion. Last reply by Mack on Thursday. 9 Replies

Need some advice: My car swerves when stopping.  The mechanic noticed the problem when he drove the car and he adjusted all of the vehicle’s drum brakes.   He, noted the brakes and drums looked good…Continue

Mark S Anderson

Started by Tony and Ginny 429 in 1963/64 Cadillac Specific Discussion on Thursday. 0 Replies

Sent you a friend request Continue

Front Dash Speaker

Started by Michael Vogler in General Discussion. Last reply by Tony and Ginny 429 on Wednesday. 15 Replies

I want to replace the front dash speaker in my ‘64 De Ville Conv.  Do I really have to take the dash pad off, to access it from the top (As I read in the shop manual)? Or does anyone have tip to…Continue

Blog Posts

Rochester throttle body gasket

Posted by Phil on September 29, 2021 at 8:18am 5 Comments

Hello,  would anybody be able to tell me if I’m using the correct gasket on my Rochester throttle body? It doesn’t  look right to me.  I’m not sure if the carb actually ran with this gasket because I got it used with no history.  Any help would be appreciated …


Rumble Sound at 55-60 mph

Posted by Ray Schick on September 20, 2021 at 10:45pm 6 Comments

64 Coupe DeVille , while driving at 55-60 mph I have a oscillating rumble sound . Steering wheel does not shake or vibrate . Transmission mount looks good .Tires were replaced 2 years ago balanced and rebalanced recently. Axel bearings were just replaced, rear differential assembly was just replaced with a Posi track ,pinion bearings good. Fresh gear lube. Driveshaft checked and balanced the other day ,new center bearing installed and new bearing carrier assembly too. Trying to figure this…


1963 series 62 convertible transmission issue

Posted by Matthew VanDeWater on June 22, 2021 at 3:03pm 1 Comment

Hello I've been restoring a 63 for way to many years. Down to almost done, but have issue with trans linkage, when column in park shift rod 2 inches short. everything original. been trying to find picture of manual rod hooked up from under car to see position of linkage. was wondering if anybody has access for pictures. I wanted to see if my manual linkage is bent  wrong out of the trans if somebody dropped the trans or something. Doesn't make sense why it doesn't work. Thanks for any input…


New vehicle in the club

Posted by Patrick Westphal on June 17, 2021 at 4:00pm 1 Comment

I was successful in getting a vehicle from the New York contact I talked about at the last club meeting. I am still trying to figure out how to post a picture of the vehicle that is tied with this comment so if you see a random picture of a black convertible in a yard, that's me haha.  …



  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by Jason Edge.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service