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2.3 Ford Cam Swap

Fortunately for us, changing the cam on a 2.3 Ford is relatively simple, and can be done without removing the head or either intake manifold section. For details on getting to the cam, see Timing Belt Change.

Now you will need to know whether or not you are going to change your timing belt "while you're at it". This is the perfect time. If your timing belt is getting near 50K miles or so of use, or you don't know how old it is, change it. If you don't want to do this again any time in the next few years, change it, even if the old one isn't that close to 50K miles. One good thing about the 2.3T is that a broken timing belt will not cause the valves to hit the pistons (with a stock cam, anyway), but it can still strand you.

Once the timing belt is loose, you can prepare to remove the cam by taking off the cam pulley, removing the cam followers, and removing the cam retainer piece from the back of the head (see picture below).

This picture shows the head from the back. The cam retainer piece is what keeps the cam from sliding forward or backward, while allowing it to rotate. It is held in with two large phillips head screws that may be pretty tight. Also, Ford and Esslinger both have special tools available that make cam follower removal and installation easy. You may be able to do it without the right tool by "prying and whacking" but buying or borrowing the tool is highly recommended. Also, this is a good time to change the lifters, since they simply slide out of their bores once the cam followers are removed.

Once the cam retainer piece and followers are off, the cam simply slides out the front of the head. If you're not planning on replacing your cam bearings, or might ever use this cam again, be careful not to "ding" the cam lobes against the cam bearings as you slide the cam out. Speaking of cam reuse, if you might ever use this cam again, you'll also need to keep the followers that go with it in such a way that you can remember their order. Once conventional (non-roller) cams have been broken in, the same follower must be kept with the same lobe for the rest of the life of the cam (or it won't be a long life).

Assuming all has gone OK so far, it's time to put the new cam in.

Note of caution:The 2.3 cam is hollow and has an allen plug in the back. If this is missing or loose, it can cause oil starvation and wipe out the followers or cause the cam to sieze in its bearings and spin them. Make sure it's there, and it's tight. This warning is courtesy of George DiGregorio ;-)

If you haven't done so already, you'll probably want to remove the seal from the front of the first cam tower. This keeps oil from escaping from the crank case and running down the front of the motor. Put lots of assembly lube on the cam bearings and slide the new one in, this time being EXTRA careful not to mess up the lobes or the bearings. Install a new seal in the front of the first cam tower (if you elected to remove the old one), and install the followers and cam retainer piece in the back of the head.

Once the cam is back in, instructions for putting the motor back together can also be seen at Timing Belt Change.


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Page last updated: Friday, 28-Oct-2005 11:26:03 EDT