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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building a SBC 400. Had the block professionally machined and the short block assembled by a reputable builder. Now I'm assembling the top end and I'm at the oil priming stage, but I get only a little oil on the driver's side and just a dribble on the passenger side.

I've been turning the crank 45, 90 degrees, etc and run the drill for several minutes each time. I'm using a quality Proform priming tool which is shaped like a distributor including the trough which completes the oil passage. I removed the two plugs on the rear on each side of the cam plug and oil comes out both.

I'm worried that a plug was left off the front and oil is shooting out under the timing cover. But I don't want to take that cover off unless I really need to.

Is there anything else I can do? Any other things to check? I don't have a pressure gauge attached, so is it possible that I'm just not building up enough pressure? Note that oil does come out near the bottom of the priming tool where it enters the block, and the oil runs right back down a nearby hole. Is the priming tool (or distributor) supposed to fit so tightly that no oil runs out there? Any help is appreciated!
 

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Same engine, used a gauge and read 50psi and maybe half the pushrods were seeing oil at a few different rotation points of the crank. It's been running happy for a few hundred miles now.
 

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I get only a little oil on the driver's side and just a dribble on the passenger side.
Exactly what do you mean when you say "side"? Do you mean the oil coming up through the pushrods?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's right, I mean the push rods. A little comes out of some driver's side push rods and half a drop from some of the passenger side rods.
 

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Much of the oil that comes up through the pushrod is from the lifter acting as a pump. Spinning the oil pump with a drill won't spin the camshaft.

I say button this engine up and run it!
 

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It takes more than a couple of minutes. It could take up to 15-20 minutes with a 1/2 inch drive drill spinning clockwise.
 

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For starters the short block should be primed long before the heads, pushrods, or rockers ever get into position?

Sounds as though the "priming-tool" arbor may simply be in at the wrong height, this WILL have an effect on the oil up to the top.

Also (mentioned above by Steve R) it's nice to have a pressure gauge in the line also during the priming.

Thanks, Gary in N.Y.

P.S. In all of my years building these units, I don't recall using a "drill" for the priming any of them, if you can't get the entire unit primed with a simple 3/8" speed-handle and a socket, there are other issues!
 

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I have always used a 1/2" drill motor to prime these engines. Works very well and you can tell by the drag on the motor when oil pressure has been established. My preference for priming is to use a modified distributor to drive the oil pump, as this reduces the likelihood of oil leakage during the process. Use of an oil pressure gauge is highly recommended and the engine should be turned by hand, 90 degrees at a time during the priming process, until the engine has gone through several revolutions.
A very slight amount of oil at the rocker arms is fine, as the oil will not "squirt" out of the rockers until the engine is running, as has been pointed out in a previous post.
 
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