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  1. #1
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    Default Can't get enough slack in timing chain after tensioner removed

    Hey guys real quick question, doing an S3 cam swap right now in my '91 SE-R, it has the JDM SR20 (although I don't think that matters) I removed the timing chain tensioner and removed the stock cams, but now I'm having trouble getting enough slack to get the new intake cam onto the sproket. I've done several cam swaps in the SR20 but never ran into this before.

    I don't want to pull too hard, and yes I zip-tied the sprokets to the chains.

    Any suggestions? Or should I just keep at it. THanks!

    (trying to get my car ready for the convention)

    Update: the problem is I can't get the dowel pin on the intake cam to line up for fittment to the cam gear, the dowel slot seems too far counter-clockwise, but the exhaust cam dowel pin is still at 12 o'clock like before the old cams were removed

    Another update: it's possible nismo94tuner was correct (see very next post below)
    Last edited by Storm88000; 03-26-12 at 06:26 PM.
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  2. #2
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    You didn't drop the chain down by accident did you? Maybe caught on top of a tooth down by the crank? I know when I did a couple cam swaps it seemed tight but once I aligned the teeth on the cam gear with the chain, the cam slipped into its place. Did you try turning the exhaust cam back a little bit to give a little more slack?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nismo94tuner View Post
    You didn't drop the chain down by accident did you? Maybe caught on top of a tooth down by the crank? I know when I did a couple cam swaps it seemed tight but once I aligned the teeth on the cam gear with the chain, the cam slipped into its place. Did you try turning the exhaust cam back a little bit to give a little more slack?
    I'll check that out. As far as I know I didn't. I first tried the "wedge" technique with the little block of wood that JWT recommends and found it didn't really give me enough slack to remove the old cams, so then I just took the tensioner out and then it was easy to take the old ones out.

    edit: and yes I removed the block of wood from the engine, ha
    Jordan
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    I'd try turning the exhaust cam back just a bit. If it doesn't feel like it could give slack, leave it as is. I hated swapping cams and leaving the cam gears on the chain. I feel like its such a pain, lol. Good luck. Keep up posted.
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  5. #5
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    So the gears are still on the teeth and because of that, you cannot get the cam on? Just take the chain off and set it to the side.

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    Mark the chain and the cam gears on both cams so you know where they go together. Then just take the chain off. Make sure you compress your tensioner before you install it. Then you can put your cam gears back on your cams, align the marks you made on the chain and gear, and torque your cams down.

    You could try putting the tensioner in last to see if that makes up for the slack you need in the chain.
    Last edited by SR20?; 03-25-12 at 08:10 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viprdude View Post
    So the gears are still on the teeth and because of that, you cannot get the cam on? Just take the chain off and set it to the side.
    Yep, thats the problem. The exhaust cam goes on easily, but the intake cam, whether or not the exhaust cam is seated at the time will not. It's mainly the dowel pin on the intake cam that can't align with the notch on the cam gear.

    I was thinking about just taking off the chain, but my only concern is the cam timing, I know it's 20 marks, but I'm sort of afraid to mess with it. But looks like i'll have to.
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    you try and put the intake cam on first?
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    Put the intake on first there is more slack on the exhaust side
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgans432 View Post
    you try and put the intake cam on first?
    Yep, I tried a buncha combos, first just the intake, then exhaust first then intake, then both at the same time etc.

    Argh
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  11. #11
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    If you change one cam at a time, I really cannot see how you can mess this up. I have a cam timing diagram, here to help you.

    HOW TO: Check camshaft timing

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    doesnt make sense that it wouldnt reach never seen that before
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgans432 View Post
    doesnt make sense that it wouldnt reach never seen that before
    I know, that's why I'm sort of baffled, I've done 4 or 5 cam swaps and never came across this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viprdude View Post
    So the gears are still on the teeth and because of that, you cannot get the cam on? Just take the chain off and set it to the side.
    I can just do this to the intake side? Then when installing both new cams verify there's 20 links between (after marking the chain)
    Last edited by Storm88000; 03-25-12 at 11:03 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR20? View Post
    Mark the chain and the cam gears on both cams so you know where they go together. Then just take the chain off. Make sure you compress your tensioner before you install it. Then you can put your cam gears back on your cams, align the marks you made on the chain and gear, and torque your cams down.

    You could try putting the tensioner in last to see if that makes up for the slack you need in the chain.

    Thanks so much for your post. This seems the most logical step from what I'm experiencing. The tensioner is already compressed and waiting to be reinstalled.

    My question is though: what if after removing the chain from the cam gears, the marks I made on the chain don't line up with each other properly to keep the intake cam at 10o'clock and exhaust cam at 12o'clock?
    Jordan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viprdude View Post
    If you change one cam at a time, I really cannot see how you can mess this up. I have a cam timing diagram, here to help you.

    HOW TO: Check camshaft timing
    Quote Originally Posted by morgans432 View Post
    doesnt make sense that it wouldnt reach never seen that before
    Quote Originally Posted by Storm88000 View Post
    I know, that's why I'm sort of baffled, I've done 4 or 5 cam swaps and never came across this.
    same here, I have been using the same "JWT spec" wood block forever, but I have never removed the tensioner during a cam install

    EDIT: I meant I have always removed the tensioner, I have never had a terrible time installing the cams, but it is really tight (thinking while typing owns me )
    Last edited by Will; 03-27-12 at 01:57 AM.
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  17. #17
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    I actually always removed the tensioner and had no problems, this was the first time i tried the JWT method
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    You can do whatever you want to do! I never removed the tensioner. I have always used what I guess is "JWT method" with the wood block.

    Take one cam gear off at a time. Nice and slowly. See how the lobes of the cams look in my picture? That is some stage of cylinder number one at top dead center, not true, but some stage of top dead center.

    This is the beauty of doing one side at a time. You zip tie the side you are NOT going to work on (let's just say at two spots on the cam gear.

    Do your work on the opposite side. Take the chain off and lay to the side, take the cam gear off, remove old cam, check rockers and such, install new cam in the same orientation and tighten the cam gear.

    Use my link and the picture to help to re-establish the proper amount of links, rollers, dots, whatever between the already zip-tied cam gear and the newly installed one. The cam lobes should be super close to the same orientation, but more important is the newly installed cams position in relation to the zip-tied other side cam gear.

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    I always remove the tensioner and usually when you do the chain will either slack inbetween the gears or slack between the exhaust cam sprocket and crank. Usually it happens because the lobe is pressing on on rocker and it will rotate it to a slack position.

    All you had to do to get the gear back on is rotate the cam with a wrench and put it on with the method your using. Your allowed to rotate the cams to get the chain to slack properly.

    Then once your done you can rotate the crank a bit to tighten up the chain and give you the proper slack you need to reinstall the tensioner. If you dont then you wont be able to get the tensioner back in because the chain will be tensioned on that side.

    Again if you have slack between the gears which ive never seen it not do it when at tdc and remove the tensioner as the intake and/or exhaust cam will always try to rotate to a better slack point off the lobe.

    Just move it around as necessary until you get it. When all back together with the tensioner in rotate the motor by hand and make sure the tensioner clip releases and tensions the chain. You should hear a wratcheting sound when it releases. Then do two rotations of the crank and bring it back to TDC and make sure your dowels are at 10 and 12 and there are 20 pins between the dots on the gears and if so, your good.
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    Thanks for all the advice guys, here's what another list member wrote me on Facebook:

    "Just bolt down & turn the cam using the facets on the cam with a wrench in the direction it needs to go to align the dowel pin. It should not require much force and should not require to turned much. I have had to do this a few times and is normal. Because if you lay the cam flat and tighten down it is a few degrees from where it should be. If you place cam in the correct position and tighten down it starts out not flat in the head and I think this is where people snap cams in half. So what you did is fine just turn the cam a little."

    As soon as it gets a little warmer out I'm going to head out there and start wrenching again
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    I hate the timing chain tensioner.

    I have a new problem, sort of.

    I was able to get the new cams on the sprokets, and they are bolted down.

    Then I couldn't get the timing chain tensioner back in without removing the sprokets again, this time completely, because there was still too much tension, and thus all the work I did to get the cams in with the timing chain zip tied was in vain.

    edit: nismo94tuner may have been right about the chain being snagged on a tooth
    Last edited by Storm88000; 03-26-12 at 06:13 PM.
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    P.S, look under my screen name on my posts, I updated my phrase.
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    Move the crank pulley, or cams just a smidge to get more slack in the chain. Even then, it's still going to be tight. You'll have just enough exposed thread on the stud to get one nut started without the washer. Use that nut to draw the tensioner in far enough to get the washer and nut on the other stud. Then remove the first nut, add the washer, and then the second nut.

    Once the tensioner is in, crank the engine by hand to release the tensioner clip, and extend the tensioner nose. It's safer than cranking the engine, and you get to actually SEE the tensioner pop out. After that, crank the engine for 30 seconds or so just to make sure everything is getting along nicely. Only then do you put the valve cover back on.

    C
    Last edited by Chriscar; 03-26-12 at 05:24 PM.
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  24. #24
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    I have had to do what Chris said on some motors I worked on. Try and thread on just the nut and tighten it enough to get the other washer/nut on. Then remove the first nut you put on and put the washer on before the nut. You're almost done, lol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nismo94tuner View Post
    I have had to do what Chris said on some motors I worked on. Try and thread on just the nut and tighten it enough to get the other washer/nut on. Then remove the first nut you put on and put the washer on before the nut. You're almost done, lol.
    Hats off to you my friend, because it's possible that what you said in post #2 was correct, I'm unable to be positive because I ran out of daylight (have to wait til tomorrow) but it's possible that the chain WAS hung up somewhere on a tooth down on the exhaust side, getting that way at some point during the install, and that was the whole problem, leading to not getting enough slack. You wrote it as the first reply, so hats off to you! You may have been right. I ended up just marking the chain and taking it off the sprokets, I had enough of pulling on it and was afraid of doing damage. After you posted that yesterday I went and checked but just couldn't tell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chriscar View Post
    You'll have just enough exposed thread on the stud to get one nut started without the washer. Use that nut to draw the tensioner in far enough to get the washer and nut on the other stud. Then remove the first nut, add the washer, and then the second nut.
    Thanks I got it in
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    Good to hear!
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  28. #28
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    Nice job. What was it that made it all come together?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR20? View Post
    Nice job. What was it that made it all come together?
    Frankly, it hasnt yet, I ran out of sunlight and am going to check tomorrow

    Nismo94ser may have been right about the chain being snagged.
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    Hey guys, I know in the JWT cam instructions it says it's very important to make sure the new cams don't bind on the first surface (closest to the timing chain) - I just took this photo of my new S3 intake cam installed, and I'm not sure but I was wondering if someone can look at it and tell me if this happened or not:



    Sorry for the crappy pic, it just kind of looks like it has a bit more to go down. I torqued the caps evenly and to the right torque settings. I just can't tell if it's all the way "down", it looks like theres a mark from the stock cams on the block, a half moon shape oval thats a tiny bit further down where this reaches. I'll get a better pic tomorrow
    Last edited by Storm88000; 03-28-12 at 06:31 PM.
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    I've had done many cams swap before, the one in the pic looks fine but it is hard to tell. Try to get another picture from the other side. I read your posts about having problems with the tensioner. Before removing your cams, did piston #1 was at Tdc? Once I changed some cams and I forgot to do this and I had the problems u r describing here.
    Last edited by Mr SE-R; 03-28-12 at 06:23 PM.
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    If everything is tightend down to spec, you should be fine. If you're nervous about it have someone just tap the ignition so you can see the tensioner pop and that the cams are moving properly. Sounds like you did everything properly. I wouldn't worry!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr SE-R View Post
    I read your posts about having problems with the tensioner. Before removing your cams, did piston #1 was at Tdc? Once I changed some cams and I forgot to do this and I had the problems u r describing here.
    I had set the old cams before removing them with the intake dowel pin at 10 o'clock and the exhaust cam at 12 o'clock, with the first lobes pointing away from the motor, but the paint on the timing chain had long since worn off, so I just assumed it was at the right spot.

    What did you end up having to do to fix everything?

    Can I rotate the crank again, if the timing chain is not attached to the sprokets, if I got someone to hold it up with their hands? Or is this a bad idea? I have no idea.
    Last edited by Storm88000; 03-28-12 at 06:18 PM.
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    Do not turn that crank. What color were the marks? Yellow? Some motors I did cam swaps on had black links. If you have the painted links on the chains matched with the cam gear mark and they were at 10 and 12 o clock positions, you should be fine. Some DE's are a pain in the ass to do cam swaps. When I did my brothers cam swap, the cam seemed all out of wack but tightend down nicely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nismo94tuner View Post
    Do not turn that crank. What color were the marks? Yellow? Some motors I did cam swaps on had black links. If you have the painted links on the chains matched with the cam gear mark and they were at 10 and 12 o clock positions, you should be fine. Some DE's are a pain in the ass to do cam swaps. When I did my brothers cam swap, the cam seemed all out of wack but tightend down nicely.
    Ok I won't turn it. There was a very very dirty and dark smudge of yellowish. Also I have the JDM 10:1 SR20 in my car if that matters but I was told it didn't. I never ran into this problem with the timing chain being too tight even after the tensioner was removed.
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    Yeah its odd. Doesn't matter though from my experiences. A DE is a DE. Everything should be fine. I would just crank the motor over by hand and see if the tensioner pops free and presses on the guide. I usually do that just to make sure everything looks good while the valve cover is off. Another way is to disconnect the distributor plug and have someone tap the ignition while you watch. We've done this plenty of times and crank the motor over fully. After that its just poppin on the cover, plugging the dizzy back in, and drive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm88000 View Post
    I had set the old cams before removing them with the intake dowel pin at 10 o'clock and the exhaust cam at 12 o'clock, with the first lobes pointing away from the motor, but the paint on the timing chain had long since worn off, so I just assumed it was at the right spot.

    What did you end up having to do to fix everything?

    Can I rotate the crank again, if the timing chain is not attached to the sprokets, if I got someone to hold it up with their hands? Or is this a bad idea? I have no idea.
    Do not rotate the crank if the timing chain is not attached to the sprokets. In my case, I got enought slack when I removed the tensioner.

    Please take a picture of the whole thing and one from the side to see how it looks.

    It sounds like something is stuck somewhere and that is why u r not getting enough slack.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr SE-R View Post
    Do not rotate the crank if the timing chain is not attached to the sprokets. In my case, I got enought slack when I removed the tensioner.

    Please take a picture of the whole thing and one from the side to see how it looks.

    It sounds like something is stuck somewhere and that is why u r not getting enough slack.

    Gotcha! Glad I asked about cranking it. I wasn't sure. I will take some high quality photos tomorrow and post them.

    BTW I really really appreciate everyones help on this.
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    Oh well....
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    Join Date: Jan 2012
    Location: Philly Burbs
    Posts: 6,574
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    Ok so I torqued the cams down again and they fit down better, marked what I counted as 20 chain pins between the intake and exhaust cam dowels, but I haven't been able to get it started, it sounds like it JUST wants to start but it won't get all the way there. I'm thinking I'm off by one tooth on the chain. I did a visual to make sure both cams rotated cleanly around with the valve cover off when I blipped the starter just in case.
    Jordan
    '98 SE-R, '12 Versa Hatch & '14 Juke Turbo
    Music - - My SR20 website

  40. #40
    -marsh tuned-
    User Info
    Join Date: Dec 2007
    Location: ahead of SE-Rican
    Posts: 4,767
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    Hmmm. Might be off by a tooth. Everything else is on and good? Sure you didnt unplug something by accident?
    -Bes
    SR20DEEP

 

 
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