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Dirty Christmas fun ! Cams/stem seals/timing chain

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Over the Christmas holidays, I'm going to get stuck in and replace the valve stem seals.
And along with that, timing chain, oil/water pumps, o-rings, seals, cams/springs/shims.


My car has been burning oil for some time, and at nearly 129k it's not really a surprise.

I do look after it, especially as it gets a bit of abuse on track, so it does get regular oil changes and plenty of fannying about.


I decided to do some investigating on Saturday night to do a dry comp test, I would have done the wet comp too but I was cold and hungry :lol:


Cylinder 1



Cylinder 2



Cylinder 3



Cylinder 4



Cylinder 5



Cylinder 6



I'm well aware that a comp test doesn't really tell you much, so a leak down is planned.

I stuck my borescope cam down into each cylinder, they all seemed the same (a lot of burnt oil) but this was on cylinder 4:


A little pooling of oil on top.

Ok not conclusive but perhaps oil that dripped down via valve stem seal rather than rings?

I seem to have the typical symptoms too (bit smokey on start up, it can sometimes smoke a little down hill coasting in gear). Not quite as bad now it has some thicker oil but I have seen it in the past when I've stopped at traffic lights or have given it a little shove and there's some smoke until it's burnt off I think (as it's not continuous). (not Sea Foam billowing)


Yes, I'm sure the rings are also past it, I'll have to do that when I can, costs do leap up considerably. 


Apologies to 350zButcher as I've taken up far too much of his time :doh:

But I appreciate all of the help and inspiration too! 



Edited by RobPhoboS
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Everything is ordered now! 

I'll upload a few photos once it's arrived. 


So regarding the engine being held, I've seen that the straps can go under the engine mounts as they aren't attached to the upper oil pan. 

I've also watched several videos of people doing radiators and the manual shows it quite simply too (bl-19). Although I'm not entirely sure if I need to discharge the ac system and disconnect the lines going into the ac rad? 


I'll link up various videos and posts that I found useful. I started archiving some as well due to image hosting sites sometimes clearing stuff. 


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Right, I guess I should explain a little of what I'm up to, some plans and how things are going.


The plan is to replace the valve stem seals, oil pump, water pump, cams, springs, shims and timing chain (+ o-rings/seals/lifters).
The car is staying NA, and I have zero plans to sell and buy into something else (I'd like a Cayman S but everything will cost more). I'm not looking to make some kind of mad NA lunatic motor but to keep it healthy for track work and a bit more poke at the top end. Which brings me to the point, I know as it stands after this work that for it to work more cohesively I'll need a set of long tube headers and some work to the upper plenum/intake (ie AIR stuff).

Bottom end work will have to come at a time when I can do that, at the moment I can't (I wish I could).

I also wanted to learn more about the heart of our cars, so yes it's for fun too.


I had a couple of weeks of at Christmas as the office was closed, so I was on a deadline to try and complete this before heading back to work...

Best laid plans and all of that.


I already had a couple of parts kicking around for this time (valve covers/water pump/JWT valve tool).

At the end of November I put my order through with @Adrian@TORQEN, all parts were in stock, except for the cams of course.


Here's the list of parts:







NOTE: I did, slightly by mistake order a non OEM timing chain kit, looking at both old and new I can't see a difference, the new chain is 30g heavier.

I'm happy to order an OEM main chain but I'm struggling to see the difference.


There was a bit of a shipping nightmare unfortunately, the C8 cams were missing from the last shipment before Christmas. 

Yes my heart sank as this is a big job and it's all to do with timing (no pun intended), as I get back kind of late most days etc etc

However Adrian & JWT went way beyond what I expected, actually it was incredible !

He contacted JWT Thur evening (our time), on Friday JWT had another set ready and sent out - they arrived on Christmas Eve (from San Diego) !!!! :blink::yahoo:

I have to do some arse kissing here because I'm sure you guys would understand but Adrian has been stellar, easy to communicate with and very helpful, I really do appreciate it ! 

(also @ZMANALEX also came to the rescue later on too with valve lifters)


I effectively had a 5 day delay due to the delivery issue, Christmas, and a mates wedding 2 days later.

I was looking to finish up on the 3rd of January so that I could it remapped again before going back to work (however, there are always some unforeseen things).


I'm going to list out all of the tools I've used, as well as links to threads or videos that helped me.

I've saved all of these off-line, so if anything vanishes I'll have a backup for you if you need it.


I'll keep updating the thread, it's not a walk-through as such but might be useful for anyone stupid enough to try and do this :winkiss:




(pic of tools soon)


I nipped to the local garage so they could evacuate the AC system firstly.


Get the bumper off, turn the car the other way around, get it on stands and prepare... 




to drain a lot of fluid (that never seemed to end, even when parts are coming off later)





At this point the biggest issue I faced was disconnecting the power steering lines as they go through the radiator core on my car.

I used hot water and a syringe to help soften the rubber.


The rest kind of just takes good observation and checking for connectors.

Remember to bag up and label your bolts.





Extend that breaker bar !


(well, not that much but you get the idea) then impact it off.





'Shiiiieeeeeeetttt' - yep, we're going in.


Get a couple of paper clips, colour optional, compress the tensioners and pop them in to keep them locked... 






Note: I had loosened the cam bolts as per FSM before the caps came off EM-77





Getting ready to use this baby


don't forget... TDC 1 + some 6mm thick rope (no power in the garage for a compressor) - don't use the 3mm stuff in this photo, it takes ages to feed into the cylinder.


Use a magnet to get these out, and of course note everything down as the size (written inside the lifters) are VITAL !





Remove the springs AND shims (at the bottom)



I required a 2nd smaller magnet to get down beside the valve and the head casing.



I grabbed this from Halfords as the pen version was out of stock but it's actually handier !



On the 2nd cylinder I did, one of these shot off because I didn't realise they would pop !

The 1st cylinder didn't do that.


It took about 4 hours to find.

I randomly found it at the bottom of the upper oil pan :dry:

That thing could cause a big problem, I used a borescope to look in the cylinders about 5 times as well :lol:


Old springs, shims and stem seals


If you're a bit cack-handed, get a proper stem seal remover tool.


Just put a little fresh oil on them and they pop on



You can push them down with a socket


Yep that blue rope, Toolstation about £3.50 for more than you need and it's clean and wrapped.



Old OEM springs/shims and new JWT springs/shims



Install the new shims, springs (paint down) and follow the FSM EM-82

And begin the process of measuring and taking notes.

I put the valve lifters back in where they came from for consistency, doesn't really matter tbh.


Ignore the markings on the caps, I initially mixed up the naming but they were all laid out in the order they came off.

Once again you don't need to write on them either, they have stamped letters on them and shown in order EM-82.




It hurt my brain trying to work stuff out, so I just cut out bits of paper with the ones I had first of all.

Then whichever ones aren't within spec, get ready to order some (I have a few spare now).

Put them back on and measure again. 



Yes it looks daft but far easier to read.


In my case I had to order a few, @ZMANALEX sent out several very quickly.


Unfortunately I still need at least 1 more that Adrian is supplying, as well as the 2 upper oil pan seals...which I didn't realise I'd need (my mistake), so that's set me back a week or so now.


For my 2004 DE I need to remove the upper oil pan in order to take the oil pump out. If you have a rev-up (iirc) you don't need to do that. Lucky gits.

So yep, disconnect the steering rack, support the engine (crane or support bar), remove the engine subframe.

I put this back on each night with a jack holding it up to remove the stress on the support bar.



Take care prying this thing off, it claimed my seal splitter but died for the greater good.




Remember those Philips head bolts on the oil gallery gaskets?
Well, 17 came off but of course one had to start rounding.

Ensure you get some new Hex head ones (Torqen).



Cleaning off the RTV sealant is time consuming. WD40 (and Tardis, or Goo Gone) helps soften it, and using plastic razor blades make fairly quick work of them.

I think I might try a dedicated chemical solution next time.


Well that's where I'm at for now, just waiting for a delivery and double checking I don't require anything else.

Way back at the top I said about the non OEM chain, I'll post up a couple of pics but I can't see a difference.


Cheers for looking/reading !


Edited by RobPhoboS
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I've started editing my 3rd post to keep it clearer and less erratic.

If the photos are too small, let me know and I'll update them, and of course fire away with any questions or criticisms (as long as it's constructive I welcome it !). 

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Great work and a good write up - nice one :thumbs:

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Excellent stuff, braver man than me but i’m sure it will be very satisfying once completed. 

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Thank you very much guys !
I've got some other duties this evening but I will certainly post up more, including the various links :)

(I wouldn't have attempted it without seeing various posts and vids)

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On 29/12/2018 at 11:39, RobPhoboS said:

'Shiiiieeeeeeetttt' - yep, we're going in

Ha - well done that man. Been really interesting to read so far.


What route are you taking with the ECU/remap?

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3 hours ago, zelda said:

Ha - well done that man. Been really interesting to read so far.


What route are you taking with the ECU/remap?


Much appreciated !

It was primarily because I had 2 weeks off work, and wanted to get my hands dirty and see how things are in there.


It was remapped many years ago (2012 iirc) with Jez at h-dev using the uprev software, so for now I'll go with another remap (either with H-Dev or Abbey).


After this next up is the diff, and a few track days to see how it feels again.

When I get around to making the breathing of the car match the cams (this will be a fair amount anyway), if we think going down an alternate ECU route is the way then I'll see what the options are.

TBH this time next year it might be at a similar point again but doing the pistons/rings/honing etc :lol:


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That's pretty handy having the uprev map already then. Funnily enough I'm upgrading my diff some point this month to a Quaife.

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22 hours ago, zelda said:

That's pretty handy having the uprev map already then. Funnily enough I'm upgrading my diff some point this month to a Quaife.


Great diff for the road !

It's what I was going to use as well but I think due to me wanting to get more track days done I'm going with Kaaz, I don't know if I can stretch to the OS.G.

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Only a small update for now



The FSM shows to use RTV here, well from what I can see ?



But I've seen people fill the gap on the right/left of the P shape, which seems wrong to me.


I copied @350Butcher by using the guide rods, reduce the RTV being smeared.

I hate doing the RTV, I'm perpetually scared of too much or too little !



Just for comparison, old Nissan chain on the left, new OEM version on the left.

Note, it's 30g heavier.




It looks the same to me :shrug:




Timed, just waiting for a couple of gaskets now, oh and 1 bolt.

No 13 on the rear timing case decided to spin then snap :doh:


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Many thanks !


I have a lot more reference photo's as well, so anyone is welcome to PM me to ask if there's is something they are looking for.

The bits that had me stumped for a few mins were the alternator/pulley brackets, as there is a certain order that it must go back in. Unfortunately I couldn't find that in the FSM.

And lastly the 1 plug I couldn't figure out but Keyser came to the rescue ! :thumbs:


I was using RTV from a 40g tube, however it's pretty hard to squeeze out.

I tried using a little syringe, it works out much better although I should have bought a longer one.

(and yep I filled a gap I missed after the pic)



These 'wobble' sockets are amazing !

They came to the rescue a fair few times where you can't get a good angle.



This might help for ref, just where the brackets go - note, put the power steering one and torque it first before the alternator :doh:




This is the connector that I couldn't find the home for. It's on the end of the horn wire and I couldn't spot where it went.



@Keyser Suggested it was above the AC tube thing, in front of the rad but behind the plastic core, and he was right (of course). It was possible to click it back into place after removing the alu crash bar, so not difficult.




I'll post up some photo's of various tools and bits I used later this week.

I really hate the hose clamps, I'd like to change them all out, either to refresh them or a different design. Total bugger to work with at times so I'll get proper hose clamp pliers anyway.

Any recommendations for pliers or new style clamps would be excellent !


I managed to fire her up last night !

Ran the cams in for a bit and took her for a very short, 2nd gear drive around the block (2-2.5k), just to get a little bit of temp in the oil etc. 

I've just got to re-align the steering yoke, 1 spline out and bleed the clutch :)

And then I'll go for a longer drive (keeping it in the 2-2.5k rpm range) before dropping the running-in oil.


Torqen, JWT, 350Butcher, ZMANALEX, Keyser have been absolutely awesome!

Many thanks again for the help chaps ! :clap:


I've got to say that choosing products from JWT was better than I had expected too. I needed to ask a few questions, and they've given me some nice detailed information that I couldn't find online. I can't imagine some other companies doing that, and I wouldn't really expect them to after they've sold their product. I've still got a load of stuff to sort out over the coming months, and I'm sure this time next year I'll end up doing the 'rings/pistons :lol:




Edited by RobPhoboS
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Happy to have helped in any way!


Great write up of a job well done. Look forward to joining you on track in a couple of months where you can let it rip and enjoy the gains of your labour!!! 

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I got a mention for knowing where a plug  went - engage smug mode :lol:


Great job mate and as I said be fore good write up :thumbs:

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Going back through your posts and photos is excellent, which reminds me later in the week I'll pop up the resources I used too. 


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I forgot to say that I used some of this as well before I took it apart.


Redline Fuel System Cleaner (300 miles apx)








I think it did a pretty decent job, I may run another bottle of it.


Just a few oddsNsods to sort out before having the remap done, and as promised I'll start doing the resources compilation too.

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Some of these aren't 'how to' but a useful bit of reference.




http://www.maultechatv.com/techguides/Valve Clearance Calculator/index.php

(quite useful if your maths suck)



Channels with various vids:






Radiator core support:



You don't need to separate everything, just primarily (on my 04 at least), disconnect the power steering lines on the inside of the engine bay, and of course the AC (after evacuating it). 


AC lines:



Power Steering:





Coolant filling/bleeding:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFY3iduvjxM (about 19 mins in)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fjjdomygfk (clear info in the 'description' part too)


Valve Covers:





Engine guts stuff:
Go to Christian Lopez's channel, it has 90% of what you need, he did an excellent job going slowly and showing you what's involved.


(cams/buckets specific)



Timing specific:






These guys used WAY too much sealant towards the end but once again, it's useful to see.




Clutch bleeding:


Useful ref pics:









These are the main ones I can think of for now.



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Good effort, stuff like this is always handy and helps others :thumbs:


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On 26/01/2019 at 08:16, Keyser said:

Good effort, stuff like this is always handy and helps others :thumbs:


I was trying to find some of your posts too, I'm sure I have the bookmarks saved on my computer at home.
I'll have to have a dig around but it was a couple of the engine tear downs/builds at the Z'Shed.


I've just got a few minor things to amend:

Adjust the steering yoke again by about 1 spline.

Find out where the washer fluid is leaking from.

Double check the oil cooler lines aren't weeping.


I've driven about 140 miles in total now, just keeping the revs and load low.


I think I did about 5-10 miles on the millers running-in oil:


It was pretty smelly and horrid looking when it came out :lol:


And now I've put another new filter and this back in, keeping an eye on it's consumption over the coming weeks:


I've already largely decided on the bottom end bits for next Christmas :doh::fool:


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