By Jeff Smith
There’s no denying that the new GM LS, Chrysler Gen III hemi, and Ford Mod motors have carved a healthy niche in the pantheon of performance engines. While the power is there for the making and taking, these new engines also demand new ways of accomplishing standard practices. For example, how do you pressure-lube one of these new-gen engines when the oil pump is driven off the crankshaft?
Let’s say you’ve just bought a brand new LS3 or perhaps a new Mopar 6.1L hemi crate engine. Accepted engine protocol demands that any new or long-dormant engine be treated to fresh, pressurized oil pushed through all bearings and wear surfaces before the engine fires for the first time.
The problem is today’s modern engines don’t use a distributor and the oil pump is driven directly off the crank so there’s no way to externally spin the oil pump. A classic internet forum remedy is to “Yank and Crank”. This means pulling the spark plugs and cranking the engine with the starter motor and hoping the oil pump will pressurize the engine. The problem is that the pickup in the oil pan is a long distance from the crank-mounted oil pump. The starter motor’s cranking speed is often too slow to prime the pump so no oil pressure is created. Plus, spinning a new engine with dry main and rod bearings is exactly what you don’t want to do if you prefer to treat your engine with respect.
One solution is a sealed, external oil reservoir connected to the engine using 15 to 20 psi air pressure to push the oil into the engine. While this idea works, especially if you pre-fill the oil filter first, this pushes oil generally through just the main and rod bearings. The limited volume and pressure will not push oil all the way up to all 16 rocker arms, which is the best indication that the entire engine has received oil.
Our plan called for a cheap but reusable oil reservoir large enough to carry 5 to 7 quarts of oil and would mount a used oil pump that could be driven by an electric drill motor. We also wanted to recirculate this oil through the engine, so we drilled out a bolt that matched the drain plug threads to install a -6 return line fitting connected on the other end to a -6 AN bulkhead fitting bolted to the lid of the reservoir. This allows us to run the drill motor continuously which is important because it can take 5 to perhaps 10 minutes to push enough oil through the engine to eventually lube all 16 rocker arms. We also rotate the crankshaft roughly 90 degrees at a time to ensure oil gets to all 16 rockers.
This simple, inexpensive pressure luber can be universally applied to any modern engine. While there are several different ways to approach this project, we like this idea because it is inexpensive and uses parts that are generally easy to obtain. Our parts list is comprised of a simple hardware store plastic bucket, a used small-block Chevy oil pump, a few AN fittings, and a couple lengths of hose. The only exotic tool required is a ½-inch electric drill motor. We’ve used our homemade luber on multiple LS engines and it gets the job done quickly and efficiently. Once the task is accomplished, we connect the pressure and return lines with a T fitting and wrap the bucket in a large plastic bag to keep the dust out until it’s ready for the next engine. Generally after pressure lubing two or three used engines, we dump the oil as it begins to get dirty.
Check out our plan and while our photos show it used on an LS engine. This will work equally well on Ford Mod motors and Chrysler hemi engines. If you’re creative and a good scrounger, you can probably build one for $60 and that price is based on all new hoses and AN fittings. Build one for yourself and we guarantee you’ll be popular with your friends who own late-model engines.
|3 ½-gallon bucket||N/A||Orchard Supply||3.79|
|3 ½ / 5 gallon lid||N/A||Orchard Supply||1.79|
|Used small or big-block oil pump||N/A||Used||N/C|
|Used oil pump driveshaft||N/A||Used||N/C|
|Aluminum plate, 10” x 1/8-inch||N/A||Metal Supply||4.00|
|16mm x 1.75 bolt (2)||N/A||Orchard Supply||3.10|
|Earl’s bulkhead fitting, -6||983206ERL||Summit Racing||5.97|
|Earl’s bulkhead fitting nut||592406ERL||Summit Racing||2.97|
|Earl’s Super Stock 90-degree hose end||709167ERL||Summit Racing||16.97|
|Earl’s male -6 male to ¼-inch pipe thread||981606ERL||Summit Racing||3.97|
|Earl’s male -6 to 1/8-inch pipe thread||981662ERL||Summit Racing||3.97|
|Earl’s 16mm x 1.5mm to -6 male||9919DFJERL||Summit Racing||7.97|
|Earl’s Stat-O-Seal, -5 AN, pr.||178008ERL||Summit Racing||4.97|
|Earl’s SS hose, -6, bulk per ft.||780006ERL||Summit Racing||2.97 (ea.)|
|Comp Break-in Oil, 10w30||1590||Summit Racing||5.97 (ea.)|
Holley Performance Products (Earl’s)