How to Adjust Small Block Chevy Lifters

I got thinking and it came to me, I had never done an article on how to adjust small block Chevy lifters, so this article is going to make up for my transgressions of the past, I think people need to know this information if they have small block, or for that matter a big block Chevy.

I’ve written on almost every subject related to the restoration of a car, but never this subject, so please forgive me, and allow me to show you what I know on this subject, there is nothing illusive about adjusting the lifters on a small block Chevy engine, or for the matter a big bock either.

First of all if your installing a new camshaft, you should absolutely follow the recommendations of the camshaft manufacture, this article is based off of standard adjustment values and the camshaft that you are installing may be different.

Things will change a bit depending on the type of camshaft that you have in your engine, you need to know a few things, first of all is the camshaft a solid, or hydraulic lifter version, solid lifters cams are also called flat tappet cams.

One good simple way to tell is to grab one of the push rods and push it down, if you can make the push rod move down, you have a hydraulic cam, a solid lifter cam you can’t push the lifter down at all, once you have determined what lifters you have you can begin the adjusting process.

Of course this is all assuming that you have removed the valve covers, on a small block Chevy this is done by loosening the two bolts on the top of the valve cover, and the two bolts on the bottom, unless the valve covers are the new style with four bolts in the centre, then you need to remove them.

Tools You Need:

  • A 5/8 socket
  • Ratchet
  • Feeler gauges

You’ll need the tools in the list above to adjust your lifters, the first thing you’ll need to do is, if your adjusting hydraulic lifters you’ll need to get the feeler gauge and unfold the one that says .030 on it, this is what you’ll be setting the lifters to, if the cam is solid lifter get out the .026 gauge.

What your doing here is setting that back lash of your lifters to .030 if you have a hydraulic cam, or to .026 if you have a solid lifter cam, for this article we’ll say that you have a hydraulic because they are the most common cams sold for street use.

So now that the valve covers are off of the car, you’ll need to turn the crank of the engine until the two front valves on the right hand side are fully closed, and you must be absolutely sure that they are before you can begin to adjust them, or the entire job will be done wrong, this is very important.

They call this top dead centre, it’s when the number one piston is at the top of it’s stroke, and the timing line on your balancer is at the zero mark, this is the point where you can begin to adjust the lifters on the engine, I like to start out with number one just so I can keep track of where I’m at.

Now that you have number one at top dead center, you can begin to do the adjustment of the lifters, with the valves fully closed you need to take the feeler gauge and put it between the rocker arm and the valve stem, once you have put there it should feel a little stiff when you pull the feeler gauge out of from between the rocker arm and the valve stem, if should not slide easily, but should be a bit hard to pull on.

If it’s not you need to loosen up the nut on top of the rocker arm with the 5/8 socket, and put the feeler gauge in between the valve stem and the rocker arm, and tighten it until it’s seem a little stiff when you pull it out from between the valve stem and the rocker arm.

When your done adjusting the first two valves, you’d just move to the next two back and repeat the last two steps, you’d just repeat these steps until you have gone through all the valves on the engine, and wa-la your valves are now set perfectly.

Source by David Atkin