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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I am new to Nissans and new to the forum. I have looked through the forums before joining and find a lot of really helpful information. I am hoping to receive some help here.

I have a 1990 Stanza (KA24E) that doesn't run. A mechanic diagnosed good spark, good fuel, good compression, bad timing. Timing chain appears to have jumped enough teeth to prevent it from running, but not enough to kiss any valves. Mechanic also said 12+ hours to replace. The car has 206k miles on it and I thought it would be a good thing to try replacing the chain myself.

I bought the timing kit (gears, guides, tensioners, chain, crank seal) along with valve cover gasket and oil pan gasket. I also have the Chilton's manual, which leaves a lot to be desired.

Can anyone provide do's and don'ts, instructions, guidance, suggestions for this job before I get started? Most of my experience is wrenching domestic V-8's and Cummins diesels so this is new for me.

I'm going to get dirty this weekend, so any advice is appreciated.

Thank you in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Anyone have good info?

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have the Chilton's, but I'm not thrilled with it. I was hoping someone who had gone through it already might have a link to instructions or some advice.
 

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I hear ya, I wasn't thrilled about it, either. I asked around for something similar to what you are and was only able to get a couple responses to any hints, etc.. I also have a chiltons, and plan on using the steps in that to do mine this weekend. If you don't plan on doing yours this weekend, I'll be glad to give you any info with my experience after I complete mine.

http://www.nissanforums.com/showthread.php?t=90364

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Progress Update:

I got started this weekend and spent about 7 hours underneath the car in one way or another. The oil pan needs to come off to access the oil pump (which needs to be removed to get the timing chain off). In order to remove the oil pan, you need to take off: the splash shields, drop the exhaust, remove the sway bar, disconnect the two center engine mounts, remove the center member, remove teh gussets that tie the engine to the center member. So far the only things that have broken are the sway bar links which tie the sway bar to the A-arms and some of the bolts holding the splash shields on.

Finally I am ready to start removing bits and pieces up top to access the timing cover. I have sort of found TDC by using a screwdriver in the #1 cylinder. Looking at where the distributor is in relation to the actual piston TDC, it's no wonder it won't run. It's probably out by 30 degrees or more.

If anyone can give hints on how to ensure proper crank/cam timing, that would be helpful.

The one tool I wish I had -- and might buy today -- is an air ratchet. Turning a manual ratchet 1/8 of a turn each time gets really tedious when backing out all the bolts. I could easily have saved an hour or more already.

I am putting all the fasteners in labeled baby food jars to make sure they don't get mixed up. Besides, if I have parts left over at the end, I probably did something wrong.

More as I get to it.
 

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Yeah, I found the oil pan a pita to get off as well. In fact, had I known that the oil pan was gonna be such an issue in advance, I prolly would have planned it out better.

The one thing that REALLY got me(other than the oil pan) is, there is one bolt on the timing cover in the upper top left hand corner that you can NOT see from up top, or from underneath. My cover wasn't coming off after I had the oil pan off, so I felt around from the bottom of the car feeling up top of the cover and found that bolt. It was a total pain to get off as well, maybe 2 inches of room to work with to wrench it out.

Hmm, other than that, you sound more experienced than me, so my other issues are prolly no big deal to you. Just finished mine up today, total time 24 hours. But was my first time really digging into a car like this, so a lot of that time was spent staring at the engine and getting to know it before taking stuff off so I could paint my own mental picture.

Anyhow, good luck, it's worth the work in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sbishop: Thanks for the heads' up on the one hidden bolt on timing cover. You've just saved me from losing any more hair. How did you verify the cam and the crank were timed correctly with respect to each other? My chain slipped a few teeth, so cam timing is out with respect to crank position right now.

Also, I notice when I wrench the motor over with a ratchet on the crank damper bolt, it turns over sort of "lumpy". I would expect that if the plugs were in and it was building and relieving compression, but not with the plugs out. Any thoughts?
 

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isb360 said:
Sbishop: Thanks for the heads' up on the one hidden bolt on timing cover. You've just saved me from losing any more hair. How did you verify the cam and the crank were timed correctly with respect to each other? My chain slipped a few teeth, so cam timing is out with respect to crank position right now.

Also, I notice when I wrench the motor over with a ratchet on the crank damper bolt, it turns over sort of "lumpy". I would expect that if the plugs were in and it was building and relieving compression, but not with the plugs out. Any thoughts?
Be careful... Are you turning the crank with out the chain on the engine? If so, you may be hitting the valves with the pistons. The KA is an interference engine so you need to be careful. Other than that, if it just skipped a few teeth, once you get the new chain kit installed just align the cam and the crank at the TDC marks and bolt everything back up.
 

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I didn't replace the chain. An aircraft mechanic lives next door to me who once worked on cars for 15 years before he got in aircraft. He looked at my chain and said it was in good condition so I didn't bother. I just made sure the chain stayed on while replacing the guides and tensioner.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I was turning the crank bolt to bar over the engine. I am stuck at getting the serpentine belt idler pulley off. I took off the nut, but the pulley won't slide off the end of the shaft because it hits the subframe rail. ARGH!! I am having the same problem with the PS pulley. I was going to just remove the entire PS pump/bracket assembly, but one of the bolts is partially hidden behind the idler pulley for serpentine belt, which is why I am trying to remove it.

Any suggestions other than jacking up the engine a few inches?
 

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Yeah, I had to take the right engine mount off, and lower the engine. Both pullies came off fine, then.

no other suggestions.. sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Another progress update.

Thanks for the tip about the hidden bolt on upper left of timing cover. The timing cover was very difficult to remove, and as I removed it, I saw why: the nylon guide (ALL nylon) had disintegrated and pieces of it were jammed in and around the oil pump cover. Apparently a piece had got caught between the crank gear and the bottom of the timing cover, because it cracked the oil pump cover. Believe it or not, one of the local Nissan dealers had an oil pump cover in stock for $55. Amazing.

Also, even though I had to remove the a/c compressor, I was able to grind off the top of the metal on the adjustment slot for the a/c compressor mounting bracket enough to clear the lower RH corner of the timing cover, so that I didn't have to take it off as well.

Upon closer inspection of my old oil pan, I noticed pin-sized bits of corrosion that had worked their way through from the outside to the inside of the pan. I found another pan (banged up, but solid) at a used parts place for $40.

When reassembling everything, I noted that the Chilton's maual calls for 56 lb-ft of torque for the oil pan bolts, which seemed suspicious. I can't imagine cranking down on a cork gasket with that kind of pressure. So I tightened them all the same with a 1/4" ratchet.

I am hoping to finish bolting everything back up tonight.

Total costs so far:
Timing gears/chain/tensioner kit $120
Oil pan gasket ~$12
Valve Cover gasket ~$18
bottom front motor mount ~$65
stabilizer bar connection links ~$60 for both
oil pump cover $55 new from Nissan
oil pan used from junk yard ~$40


Fingers crossed! More tomorrow.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #15
IT'S ALIVE!! I finished the job last night, cranked it a bit without the coil wire connected, then fired it right up. Runs great. Smooth and quiet. I did manage to forget to put the serpentine belt idler pully on before bolting engine back in place...which means I had to undo the motor mount again and loosen the PS pump mounts to get it in place, but all's well.

I was worried that I would have to time it, but it seems to be fine. Lifters were really noisy for a while until they pumped up with oil, now quiet, smooth operation!

Would I do it again? I probably could in about 1/2 to 2/3 of the time now that I know what to unbolt or not unbolt, but it was still slow and frustrating.

Last, but not least, I need a set of wiper blades and to have the tires balanced and now I am back on the road.

Thanks to those who offered advice and help. If there is anything I can do in return, please let me know.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #17
sorry to hear you have to take the cover off again. I am sure I smeared the Permatex all over while I was fumbling to get it put back on, but so far no leaks. And with the difficulty involved in gettig it off, it's gonna have to leak pretty bad for me to take it off again rather than just top off the oil every once in a while.
 

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Hey, I'm having the EXACT same issues you were - it's jumped a few teeth and appears to be about 30 degrees out as well! I was wondering how you knew where to put everything back in time? I can get the crank lined up TDC no problem...but I'm not 100% sure where the cam is supposed to go and I don't want to screw it up and cause any damage! Do you remember where the cam is supposed to be? I only see 2 points of reference on the cam...there's the keyway, which is visible, and then there's a little circle stamped near one of the teeth. Right now they're not looking like they're anywhere specific...kind of in the middle so to speak - if you know what i mean? Can you help me out with this?

Other than that, I appreciate you telling your story - sounds like there's a few things in there that are sure to save me some time!!

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Craig

EDIT: Also, the book I have is completely USELESS when it comes to this...makes absolutely NO mention of where it goes. It tells you to mark everything when you take it apart...but obviously that won't do me any good! Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hello Craig,
From reading your post, I suspect the guide and or the tensioner broke. Both are plastic. In my case, the guide mechanism disintegrated and fell into the oil pan allowing the chain to skip teeth.
I would HIGHLY recommend buying a timing chain "kit" from ACME or Napa. Its about $150 and includes the chain, cam sprocket, crank sprocket, and all guide/tensioning assemblies. You will also need separately an oil pan gasket and for good measure, it probably wouldnt hurt to get a valve cover gasket as well.
The car is almost 20yrs old at this point and probably has a lot of miles on it. Something bad happened to make the timing go out of whack, and just realigning crank to cam positioning is putting a band-aid on the problem, not solving it.
Before you put any $$ into the car, do a compression check. If it's not holding compression, you've got top end problems like bent valves or scored valve guides and that makes your life much more complicated.
If it's holding compression, you got lucky and your top end should be ok.
You will need to know where TDC is (approximately) on the #1 cylinder, so stick something (SOFT!) into the #1 plug hole and bar over the engine until that is near. You can verify that you are at TDC on compression stroke vs exhaust stroke by checking the position of the rotor in the distributor. If the rotor is near the #1 plug wire location, then you're all set. Find TDC, or approximately TDC before you tear into the car. It makes things easier down stream
As far as crank to cam timing goes, there are indicator marks on both the cam sprocket and the crank sprocket. The marks need to be aligned with one another and that will properly phase the cam to the crank. You don't want to be off by one tooth because then the car will run like crap and fixing it means tearing everything apart again.
Make sure you account for all of any broken bits and pieces because in my case a piece of the guide wedged itself between the chain and the oil pump sprocket and cracked the oil pump cover. Oil pump is contained within the timing cover. If the pump is damaged in any way, replace it. Oh, and make sure to pack it with vaseline before reassembly to prime it.
Also, if you live in a climate where there is salt put on the roads, pay CLOSE attention to the oil pan. My oil pan had corroded to the point where oil was seeping through the metal. You can't get new pans from Nissan, so it's off to the junk yard you go.

Hope this info helped. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.
Tim
p.s. I have 40k+ miles on my new timing chain and all is well. Total miles on the engine now is north of 270k.
 

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Hi Tim, first let me say thank you very much for replying to my post, and for all your help and advice - I really appreciate it!
I didn't say it in my post, but I'm planning on changing everything. I've removed the valve cover and confirmed that the guide is indeed broken, as I suspected - I found a piece of it sitting in plain sight when I looked down the cam chain! The car has about 180k on it so I figure it's best to change the whole parts lot - the chain, tensioner, gaskets, etc. and maybe have a very close look at the oil pump, too. The engine has got decent compression, and even better all of the cylinders are fairly even - they're all within about an 8 psi range highest to lowest! Needless to say I'm happy with that.

I've been going over the whole job - in my head, on paper, in online posts, and in the book...to make sure I have the whole thing down before I start, and to learn what to watch out for, and I've learned a LOT here that I'm sure will save me a TON of time and energy. So far I think I've got the whole thing down - with the exception of the exact alignment of the cam. I'm sure I'm just missing something here...but I can line up the crank using the timing indicator marks on the pulley...I found the mark for TDC and CAN line the crank up with no problem.
Where I run into problems is the cam - I found the mark on the cam sprocket (basically a small circle stamped into the sprocket near one of the teeth) without much problem....however, the problem is that I DON'T know where the other mark is. Where is the timing mark that I would use to line up the mark on the cam up to??? Does that make sense? Basically I can set the cam anywhere - rotate it 360 degrees...I need to know where I should line the mark on the cam up to? Any help/ideas would be greatly appreciated - as this is about the only thing I can see holding up the job right now, once I figure this out I'll be tearing into it and fixing it!

Oh yeah, forgot one last thing - as far as parts: I was going to go to NAPA for the parts kit and other misc. parts, but then I saw a parts kit available online (I forget exactly where or how much - could look up specifics again without much trouble) BUT it was CHEAP!! If I remember correctly it was somewhere around maybe $50 or so! My thing is that I'm a firm believer in "you get what you pay for" philosophy, and I'm worried I'll be getting really cheap/low quality parts. Anyone have any thoughts and/or experience with these types of parts? I'm thinking I should stay away and go to NAPA...or maybe just go even one better and just go directly to Nissan for the parts...? Some input would be great here to - saving money is good - but....?? I'm planning on getting them ordered from (wherever I buy them) the day after Christmas in hopes to do the job next weekend. (Not in a hurry to get this done at all tho, as I have another car to drive until this gets fixed...just want to do this correctly!)

Again - THANK YOU very much for your help!! :)
Craig
 
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