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Removing the Valve and Timing Covers

Repairs and Maintenance Blog

The DeLorean needs routine maintenance and the occasional, more significant refurbishing.  Beyond that there are also a number of customizations and upgrades to improve performance, reliability and functionality. 

Removing the Valve and Timing Covers

Joe Angell

I'm very likely going to swap my DeLorean's damaged 2.8L engine with a 3.0L from a Dodge Monaco/Eagle Premiere.  Part of this swap involves removing the bottom of the 2.8L and moving it to the 3.0L.  I don't have the 3.0L as yet, but even if I'm going to fix my existing engine I'll have to dismantle it anyway.  Now that I have the engine out of the car, the first step in dismantling is to remove the valve and timing covers, along with the main pulley.

You can remove the covers and pulley while the engine is still in the car -- I did this previously when a friend helped me rebuild the top of the engine.  It's not much harder than doing it with the engine out.

Air Conditioning Belt Tensioner

The air conditioning belt tensioner consists of two pulleys and a sliding bracket mounted on the timing cover, and are the first thing to remove.  One of the two pulleys is mounted on sliding a bracket , while the other is fixed in place on the timing cover.  Mounted on the bottom of the bracket and pointing upwards towards the cylinder head is a long bolt.  When the bolts on the sliding bracket are loosened, turning the long bolt bolt will cause the lower pulley to be pushed towards or away from the fixed pulley, thus changing the belt tension.

The first step is to loosen the two bolts on the sliding bracket with an 11mm socket.  These are the two on the leftmost (driver's) side, which go through slots in said bracket and through a cap before screwing into the timing cover. You likely don't want to remove the bracket until the belt is off; just loosen them enough to allow the bracket slide.

To release the tension on the belt, you need to unscrew the long bolt under driver's side cylinder head.  The bolt is aiming upwards and goes through a hole on the bottom of the tensioning bracket, and should be easy enough to find.  There is a nut that locks the bolt so that it won't slide out on its own; this can be loosened with an 11mm wrench.  Once that is done, you can use an 11mm socket to loosen the bolt itself.  The bolt doesn't need to be removed; just loosen it enough so that the lower pulley can be slid up to clear the belt, at which point the belt can be removed from the engine.

With the belt out of the way, you can now completely remove the three bolts holding the pulleys to the engine.  The topmost bolt on the sliding bracket has two spacers on it, while the bottom has one spacer; be careful not to loose theses, as you'll need them during reassembly to ensure that the belt is properly aligned with the idler pulleys, compressor pulley and the engine's main pulley.  For some reason my car was missing one of the spacers on the top bolt.

You'll also notice that sliding bracket bolts also go through a cap before screwing into the timing cover.  This cap is used to access the cams.  You can leave the cap on the timing cover; it usually stays in place well enough on its own, and you can easily pop it off if you need to later.

Valve Covers

The valve covers are held on with ten (10) bolts that are removed with an 11mm socket.  The bolts on the driver's side come in two lengths, while those on the passenger side come in three lengths.  You can tell which ones are the shorter bolts because they are recessed into the valve cover, while the longer bolts aren't.  The passenger side cover seemed to feature much longer bolts, with two of them featuring spacers between the bolt and the washer for whatever reason.

With the bolts out, you should be able to pull the valve covers off.  These may be stuck on pretty tight from gasket sealant, and you may have to pry them off.

Driver's side valve cover bolt locations and sizes

Passenger side valve cover bolt locations and sizes

Passenger side valve cover bolt locations and sizes

My engine covers stuck on pretty good, and I had to resort to using a pry bar to break the seal between the gasket and the cylinder head.

Passenger timing cover removed, showing the valve train, cams and the top of the timing chain.

Passenger timing cover removed, showing the valve train, cams and the top of the timing chain.

Main Pulley

Before you can remove the timing cover, you need to take off the main pulley.  This requires a larger 35mm socket.  This nut will be on very tightly.  Worse, turning the nut will rotate the engine, so you need to lock it in place.

I expect there are a few ways to do that, but I went with inserting a bolt through one of the holes in the flex plate (flywheel if you have a manual transmission). I had actually intended the bolt to get wedged up against one of the arms on the engine stand, but it seems to have wedged against part of the engine instead, which worked just as well.   I tried to avoid turning the engine counterclockwise while getting it lined up, since the engine turns clockwise normally and it's not really meant to turn the other way.  You can tell if you're turning the nut or the engine just by watching the flex plate or flywheel to see if it's turning; if it is, you're turning the engine instead of the nut.  If your engine is still in the car, you can just put the car in park (or have someone stand on the brake pedal) so that the transmission will keep the engine from turning as you break the nut free.

When I had to remove this nut a couple years prior, I was completely unable to turn it no matter how much penetrating oil I applied.  I wound up very carefully cutting out the nut with a Dremel cut-off wheel over a period of about two hours, making sure not to damage the threads.  Once I'd cut a wedge out of the nut, it was flexible enough to be turned off the shaft without incident.  I ordered a replacement nut from my friendly DeLorean vendor.

This time, though, I just put the wrench on it turned.  After failing to get anywhere with just my wrench or with a short cheater bar, I slid a six foot long iron pipe over the wrench handle to get more leverage.  This worked great, and the nut was easily removed.  If you use any kind of cheater like this, be aware that you may break the nut or the shaft, so be sure to use plenty of penetrating oil first.

Once the nut is off, the main pulley should be easy to slide off with a little prying.

Bolt inserted in the flex plate to keep the engine from turning while removing the main pulley.  The bolt wedged against the engine; I had intended to wedge it against the stand, but this worked just as well.

Engine pulley removed from the engine.

Water Pump

I don't think it is strictly necessary to remove the water pump, but it's fairly easy to do and ensures that the timing cover doesn't get hung up on it when it is removed.  If you still have your intake manifold on the engine, yo may want to try to skip this step.

The water pump is hold in place with three bolts, which are removed with an 11mm socket.  The three bolts are all attached to the block just above the timing cover.

After removing these bolts, the three coolant hoses need to be removed.  A flathead screwdriver will loosen the hose clamps. I chose to do this where the hoses meet the engine, rather than where they meet the water pump.  A set of picks can make it easier to pull the hoses free.  The hose on the back of the water pump fits is under the intake manifold, meaning if you still have the manifold on the engine it may be rather tricky to remove -- it is possible, albeit difficult.

With the bolts removed and hoses disconnected, the water pump lifts right off the engine.

 

Water pump bolts and hose clamps.  You can disconnect the hoses at the upper clamps if you prefer.  Not pictured is the hose on the back of the water pump, which is held on with another hose clamp.

 

Timing Cover

The timing cover is removed in a similar fashion to the valve covers.  It features twenty four (24) bolts that are removed with an 11mm socket.  The bolts come in two sizes, with the majority (nineteen of them) being longer ones.

 

Timing cover bolt locations and sizes.

 

With the bolts out, the timing cover should pop right off.  Again, mine was on pretty good.  I tried prying from the bottom, but wound up chipping a bit of aluminum off the cover.  I tried again, this time prying from the top, and finally was able to break the seal holding it to the block.

With the bolts out, I had to pry the timing cover off to overcome the force of the sealant holding it in place.  The best point I found between a water pump bolt hole and the edge of the timing cover.

Timing cover removed

Another view showing the timing cover and valve covers removed