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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
All credit goes to my father JDR. I'm just posting some insight since he loves these cars but doesn't do the forum thing.

My dad has been battling issues with the passenger side chain, tensioner and tensioner arms. He had a chain failure and recently a tensioner failure. Below are some things to keep in mind.

1. All tensioners are not created equal. Every brand is different and each has their drawbacks. He did a 17 page article / dissection of many different brands but thats a little long to post in a forum. Inspect any ones you buy (including ford) to make sure it's not broke from the beginning.

2. The tensioner is supposed to shoot oil up at the chain AND through the chain guides. A dry run with the covers off may be beneficial to make sure you are getting proper oiling. He tried multiple tensioners (all new) and chain guides and all sprayed oil into the chain guide instead of on the chain.

3. The drivers side has less issues because oil naturally drips onto the chain if it leaks or fails. The passenger side has to shoot up.

4. Oil pressure can also be adjusted by the tensioners. If you want more oil in the heads, it may be worth going with a tensioner that has smaller holes oiling the chain. It is just another method of reducing oil needs since the tensioners spray oil up but some have smaller holes then others.

If none of this makes any sense, well just take chances lol.

Some pics for your entertainment.

Starting to test oil flow. Oil does not spray everywhere like some would have you believe. Recommend removing sparkplugs and hooking up a 10 amp charger to get proper oil flow. Will take close to 30 seconds to see oil at passenger side tensioner. A great way to prime a new engine.


Proper oil flow. Shooting up towards chain and also flowing out center of tensioner piston to flow onto the chain guide.


Tensioner was good but factory ford and aftermarket guides were too long. Oil hit bottom of chain guide instead of hitting the chain. All tensioners (6 different) did the same thing so it wasn't an angle problem with the drilled oiler hole.


Chain guide trimmed to make room for chain oiling (refer to previous picture of problem.)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
He lost one engine to a failed tensioner and rebuilt the whole thing. After less than 10k miles, and making noise again, he was determined to find out what the deal was. The stock tensioner broke the relief valve spring inside and it would have been okay except the chain wore the whole shut in the guide and the chain wasn't getting any oil.

Most of the tensioners are okay but for a high performance engine, it pays to inspect. The difference in build quality is pretty severe.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks man. I have a pretty in depth article comparing the different designs if you ever want some spare time reading. I think you went manual tensioners though?
 

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Thanks man. I have a pretty in depth article comparing the different designs if you ever want some spare time reading. I think you went manual tensioners though?
Yea I threw them in there, but I'm having second thoughts, seeing as how I have a few good condition iron tensioners here.

With a 10A battery charger there, there was enough current to allow the starter to keep spinning the engine until it all primed and pressurized?
 

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During an inspection, definitely check to see of the ratchet arm locks. I had bought the CLOYES brand from RockAuto, witch chewed up the ratchet with only a few hours of idle time on a brand new motor and they would not lock. While the motor was running you could hear the chain slapping the chain guide. I was told from Logan Motorsports that CLOYES tensioners were the Ford OE product back in the day, but since outsourced the manufacturing to China for the cheap. Do not buy from CLOYES. Not sure what company makes the Ford tensioners now, but they are the way to go. I found out the hard way, pay the extra money for Ford parts from the dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yea I threw them in there, but I'm having second thoughts, seeing as how I have a few good condition iron tensioners here.

With a 10A battery charger there, there was enough current to allow the starter to keep spinning the engine until it all primed and pressurized?
With the 10A charger, there was enough juice to get it primed. It took 30 seconds to reach the passenger side tensioner. The passenger side tensioner is last in the oil flow. He did say that new oil is recommended because it took forever with used oil/filter for it to flow.

I'll upload some more data in a second in case you do decide to run the iron ones.
 

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wow, that's disturbing. glad i saw this before i started looking for a PI engine. my old oil hungry 95 is really starting to make the startup deathknock.

i was planning on freshening up a PI eventually and tossing it in before she leaves me stranded when a rod decides it needs more room.

cloyes is what i sell at oreilly's too... generally i don't cheep out on important stuff like that, but with a good discount working their i probably would have got my chain set from cloyes. :mad:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
These are personal observations and not meant to bash or dissuade you from one manufacturer to another. It is simply a look inside some tensioners to further your knowledge. With that said, buy Ford.

Disclaimer complete :) I would post my dads thoughts on each but don't want to get sued. I may add cliff notes after discussing more with him.

Duralast.


Failed S.A. Gear (little relief spring broke) Mileage was around 10k.


New style Cloyes


New Ford tensioner
 

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I'm pretty sure that my girlfriend's 98 GT needs a new timing set. We sell Melling from where I work. Any thoughts on them?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
He didn't test the melling so no thoughts. Sorry. The fords were the best by far in his opinion but make sure the piston and tension rod aren't jammed down. His was messed up from the factory and wouldn't have pumped up. The tolerances and design were much better on the ford parts. I think his was just improper assembly and not a normal issue.
 
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