The Buick 455 has an oiling problem. This has been documented elsewhere so I won't go into great detail about it, but the cam bearings are one area that can get hurt real fast. TA Performance sells back grooved cam bearings that allow you install the oil feed hole for the camshaft at the 3:00 o clock position without having to drill holes or machine grooves into your block (the Buick 455 cam turns clockwise looking at the front of the engine), this gets the oil where it is needed to carry the larger loads of the new style cams and stronger springs.
I got tired of the strange stares while trying to explain all this to the machine shops, who love Chevies but seem to know nothing else. I decided I would buy a cam bearing tool and do it myself, then I saw the prices!!!! Not cheap!!
So I made my own tool. Its not hard at all, just some common sense. Anyway, the bearing drivers are simply aluminum plugs of the right dimensions with a 1/2" hole in the center and grooves for o-rings on one surface. This keeps the bearing on the installer and also prevents marring the new bearing inner surface. The o-rings are optional, and the diagram shows the 3d view without them.
In addition, you need some 1/2" all threaded rod, two 1/2" nuts and washers, and a flat steel plate with a 1/2" hole in the center. Basically, one plug slides into the bearing, one slides into the bore (to center the whole mess and pull the bearings straight), the steel plate sits on the front face of the block and give a surface to pull against. If the front bearing is installed, you can use the plug from the back to center the rod. Different variations of this are needed for the different bearing positions. You could also use a large pipe with the flat plate to pull the front one out the front, etc.
If you are changing the bearings without dropping the crank/rods/pistons, the front bearing has to go into the block for removal since the crankpins will not allow the tool to fit in behind #1 bearing area. You could remove the others (either direction) and then pound it out last from the back, or pull it from the front once you have fed the tool through. Also, sometimes the rear frost plug is staked, this leads to distortion around the hole, which could bind up/gouge the tool. In this case, its best to push the bearing out the back from the front side of journal #5, remove the tool back into the engine, then mount the new bearing and install, again from inside the engine. Its much easier if the engine is completely apart of course.
One other tip....if you are using the TA 1559 bearings and the crank is in, make sure to mark the tool and bearing at the 3 o'clock position. Since the oil feed hole is 180 degrees from the bearing hole, you can't check alignment with the oil feed hole after install, and the oil feed holes are NOT all evenly spaced fore and aft in the webs..make sure to measure and install accordingly. Since there is no way to check (which would normally be done by sighting down the oil passage hole for the main bearings) that BOTH bearing grooves are completely lined up, I ground off a small section of the inner part of the bearing right at the 9 o clock position...this ensures that even if one slot is slightly off both grooves will get good oil supply. I don't believe this weakens the bearings as there is no support there anyway due to the oil feed hole (actually, its more of a slot where the hole and the bearing bore intersect). If you measure carefully this shouldn't be a issue, anyway.
I have not provided a range of dimensions for the tool, you could probably go + or - a few thou without too much trouble.
I have used these several times without any problems, but I cannot be held responsible for any problems you may have. You make and use these at your own risk. Just trying to help out my fellow Buick enthusiasts.
Here is what it looks like once machined. I left one 0-ring off so you could see the groove(s). The whole mess cost me less than 40.00 Canadian to have made.
The latest update to these pieces is to make them thinner and then machine off two opposite sides so that you can fit the tool sideways through an installed bearing, this would allow you to insert the tool, pull it up against the bearing and remove. You wouldn't use the o-rings since it wouldn't be round anymore...the thinner it is, the easier to fit through the hole, but the less support you have for the bearing...
I have heard that some guys are using this to pound in bearings, I would suggest that drawing them in is a safer way of doing it but hey whatever works for you. Some versions of this tool have been made out of nylon, and that works well too apparently. Also, note the TA Performance TA 1559 bearings now come with two oil feed holes, one at 3 o-clock and one at 7 o-clock position, follow the enclosed instructions. As if that isn't enough, you can also get teflon coated bearings as well, but be aware that this will make the cam clearance even smaller. It appears cams are still being ground slightly oversize on the journals so make sure the cam spins freely.....
If you have ideas or suggestions to improve this device, send them in.
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