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Thread: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

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    1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    I have a 1988 Toyota cargo van. We purchased it about 2.5 years ago with 62,000 original miles. This little beasty (instantly earned the nickname of Doodle) has a weird history which I will give briefly so you have some idea of what this van has been put through. It was purchased as a flower delivery van when it was new. It was run for the flower shop for about 9 years. The shop owner passed away suddenly and the van was stored in building for 10 years where it was never run. A farmer bought it from the estate auction, cleaned it up and got it running again. He found the power to be lacking and took it to a mechanic who said he could boost the power by shaving the head. Which was done and seemed to run okay for the farmer. The farmer used it for about two years for taking pecans to market until he decided to retire at the grand old age of 87. (I saw the van when I was buying farm equipment from him and instantly feel in love with the silly thing and he was selling it as well.)

    When I got Doodle 2.5 years ago it had a myriad of problems, most age related and sitting long term. Since it was purchased I’ve had the following done: power steering pump (leaking), rack and pinion (blown seals), brake rotors and pads, tires, shocks, swaybar bushings replaced, had the ac worked on but it still has issues, intake hose, valve cover gasket replaced (leaking), radiator and power steering hoses and belts replaced, and replaced the exhaust system. Half of this was done here and half at a shop.

    Engine noise history: 6 months after I got the van it started tapping badly, and I mean badly! From the time my son went from work to home it was running on 3 cylinders. I searched for a mechanic who would be willing to work on it and that literally took 6 weeks. I did find someone that had a “backyard” shop. He managed to get Doodle running again. I not really sure what he did other than it was something to do with the lifters. (the mechanic wasn’t there when I picked up the van and he was in the hospital with a herniated disk, his wife didn’t know what was done). Anyhow, we have been using this van for a while but the exhaust system had rusted out and that was pretty low on the “to do” list. Two months ago I got the exhaust system replaced and I heard some mild tapping from the lifters (couldn’t hear it until the exhaust was redone) a month ago the tapping went from barely noticeable to major couldn’t hear the cell phone ring tapping. I parked it in the driveway and went searching for a mechanic to work on it. No luck thus far.

    So I said screw it and have begun working on it myself. (my first car was a beat up Chevy Vega and my second was a Volkswagen Beetle that was given to me with the engine in pieces in 2 boxes. (Yes I did get the Volkswagen running) I had to learn the hard way to do mechanic work. Anyhow I can turn a wrench and know the basics of how an engine works so I am not a complete novice; I know just enough to be truly dangerous to a car. But anyhow enough about me… this is about Doodle.

    Getting the parts from Toyota has not been an option, so everything is aftermarket on this repair. (I go into the dealership to find parts not only do I get laughed at but the parts are they insanely expensive they are on back order and most have no delivery date) In my current situation I am doing a lifter replacement this is what I have done so far and what I have found.


    1. I have taken off the valve cover the seals around the studs were rotted I have gotten replacements for them as well as a replacement valve cover gasket.
    2. Vacuum hoses are all hard and dry rotted so I will be replacing all of those when I reassemble this thing.
    3. Removed the rocker arm assembly and to my dismay… the rocker arm shaft is broken right at the mounting hole at the nut from rear of the engine. This was firmly bolted down but from the looks of it the break is old and cleanly broken right at the mounting hole. It looks like it was made that way until you look at it more closely. I believe the mechanic that looked at it before knew it was broken and just put it back together broken, because that nut was seriously torqued down. A New shaft is on order… waiting for it to arrive. I tried to find a complete rocker arm assembly and have had no luck at all. And no I haven’t taken off the cylinder head; I am reluctant to do that at this time.
    4. I have ordered the lifter removal tool I’ve read about there as I can only get 2 of the lifters out with a magnet the others are more stubborn.


    Okay now to my problem… I have the Toyota shop manual for this van and in some ways this manual is completely useless and in others it is godsend. Torque specs, shaft tolerances etc galore… just no useable information on how to remove the rocker arms without damaging them.

    1. To replace the shaft I need to remove the rocker arms from the shaft and put them on the new one. I have no idea how to do this. The manual simply says “dissemble the rocker arm assembly” no Duh! Bangs head on table. I am open to suggestions on this please please please!
    2. If this head was shaved is there a possibility that that minute difference could cause excessive pressure on the lifters and pushrods and valves and have caused the shaft to break?

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    After the assembly is removed from the head, the arms & springs simply slide off the shaft. Over time a residue builds up and this can create resistance to sliding, but with a little WD-40, some twisting/pulling action, and a little patience they will slide off. If the shaft is bent or damaged, since the clearance is tight (between the arms and the shaft), you may experience trouble due to that. I'm guessing the rocker shaft was installed upside down & that could be the reason it broke. Here's a thread that explains how this can happen: http://www.toyotavantech.com/forum/s...roubleshooting.

    In regards to your 2nd question, that will depend on how much material was removed from the head, but I doubt they removed enough to create an issue. Here's a link to my blog where lifters are discussed: http://www.toyotavantech.com/forum/e...ebuild-part-13. The 2nd paragraph talks about internal lifter travel. If by chance the lifters are bottomed out, you will have 1 or more valves that don't close & this will result in a miss. If the valves are quiet and the engine doesn't miss when you're done, then you're golden. I have never run into a situation on a 4y where a lifter was bottomed out, but if I did, I would look into putting spacers or shims between the rocker arm shaft & the head. Good luck. Tim

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    Thank you kindly this information is helpful. I was hoping the resistance was crud buildup, but since the motor internally is remarkably clean. (very little sludge) for the most part this vehicle was well maintained oil wise all it's life other than the 10 years of storage. I wasn't sure if there were unseen set screws or something of the like and I didn't want to break anything.

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    It's a bit late now, but I "fixed" a similar issue by running the engine for ten minutes with a mixture of half kerosene and half 5w30 motor oil.



    John

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    I've run into a bit of snag putting this beast back together. So far the lifters, push rods and rocker arms are all finally in alignment and I tightened down the shaft, I did a quick test run to make sure everything was moving properly and got an unusual spray of oil around the second nut. A very thin V-shaped oil spray came from around the second nut by number 7 rocker arm. Any idea what might cause this or is it normal? There is not spraying oil from the other areas, although the rocker arm shaft that sent to me has some sort of oil port beside the nut in that area.

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    This can be normal. The rocker shaft is hollow and the rocker arms are all cross-drilled to line up with holes in the shaft. This allows oil to flow into the shaft & back out depending on the position of the rocker arms. By design the oil is not intended to spray out here, but sometimes the nuts/studs do not completely seal off the holes & they can leak (it is of no consequence). Tim

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    I was hoping you would say that. I'm looking forward to putting it back together tomorrow and giving it a test run. Thank you kindly for your assistance.

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.

    Got Doodle put back together today and I am impressed at how well it is running. No engine noise, better acceleration, even the brakes are responding better.

    After replacing the rocker arm shaft and the lifters I went ahead and replaced all of the vacuum hoses, the spark plugs, spark wires, cap and rotor as well while I was in there. major performance improvement overall. I am very pleased with how this repair turned out and I thank you very much for all the advice and assistance!

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    Re: 1988 cargo van with lifter issue - rocker arm assembly issue.


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