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Ticking noise, 383, can't locate the source


Well-Known Member
Local time
10:43 PM
Mar 3, 2018
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New York
383, aluminum heads, 4 speed, Schumacher headers.
Engine was done in 2012 by a local machine shop, dyno'd, and has been without issue.

I changed the collector gaskets recently as one failed before this tick. I used a straight file on both sides and a little copper spray.

Ticking started a few weeks after I replaced gaskets, but sounded different.

No leaks at collector or heads, no signs of a leak on either side, no air flow felt anywhere.

Can hear it on driver's side, sounds like it's coming from valve cover, but can also hear it under car.
I can hear it when I open the door and look down.
Went around to the passenger side, I could faintly hear it in the front wheel well.

A mechanic friend listened to it running, told me to bring each cylinder to tdc and push down on the rockers/lifters.
If there was a bad lifter, or lobe, I would be able to push down fairly easily, or the pushrod would be loose.

No can do.

Did this to both sides.
Pushrods spin at tdc, no signs of being bent.
I don't see any wear on the spacers between the rockers, or on the brackets under the shaft bolts.

There does seem to be more side to side movement on #7, which is in the area of the ticking.

It has great oil pressure and all the rockers have oil on them when I pull the cover.

Pulled the trans inspection cover, pressure plate bolts all tight, clutch, bearing, fork, flywheel all look fine. Ran it, tick isn't any louder, spinning true.

Pulled rockers/shaft on driver's side. I don't see anything that stands out. Looks like normal wear, don't see any cracks.
Shaft looks fine.
Pulled pushrods, all look fine, no interference, none bent.
Valves/springs look fine.

Of course, I am not familiar with what everything should look like with normal use, but nothing slapping me in the face.

Took fan belt off, water pump and alternator spin freely without issue.

I thought for sure I'd be swapping a lifter or pushrod, now I'm stumped.

Any input is appreciated.

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Reading your post I see you changed the collector gaskets.
You did not find a leak there or at the head.
But did you try a new header flange gasket ?
The reason I ask is I have shumachers myself and used their gaskets , 2nd summer I had a small tick head to flange leak.
Went back to regular old felpro exhaust manifold gaskets and no more problems on mine anyway.
Hope you locate it those deals will drive ya nuts.
I'm probably not describing the gaskets correctly.
I changed the gaskets on the exhaust side of the header. They lasted for years, actually only the passenger side failed.

Swapped in a regular set of gaskets I had while I waited for the metallic looking ones, can't think of what they're called.
The regular ones started to leak after about 2 weeks, then I put in the metallic ones.

When it failed the ticking was clearly under the car at the base of the header.
The frequency sounds lower than a cylinder. Maybe fuel pump pushrod. Do you have a mechanical pump on it? Check the arm that it's stiff at the top.
I just had the same, searched everywhere and in the end found 1 header tube cracked causing a ticking sound.
I accidentally tapped against the tube with a spanner and recognised the sound what i was looking for.
Mine was at cylinder #3, your headers look similar as what i have.
Need to have a close look.
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Try a screwdriver to your ear. On the valve cover, and exhaust manifold. Might help you to narrow down where the sound is coming from, and where to look.
In tank electric pump.

I have checked the headers multiple times, but will check again. Always open to revisit things.

On start-up, it idles normal due to the efi, so it's easy to check everything on a cold engine, and I'm able to feel everything for any signs of a leak or air flow.
I don't even see any soot.

I used a big long screwdriver to my ear a few times, most recently yesterday before I took the rockers off.

Put it on the header tubes, valve covers, water pump, alternator, bellhousing, heads, everything.

At first it was clear it was under the passenger side valve cover, yesterday it wasn't as clear.

Temperature doesn't affect it.

I can't recall if it changes with rpm, I know stupid, but based on everything I checked and the #7 rockers had more side to side play, I figured I was looking at a rocker, pushrod, lifter, cam lobe.

It's loudest standing in front of the driver's side valve cover, I can hear it under the car, and it seems to be echoing above the passenger tire in the wheel well.

I'm going to be all over the headers tonight, especially the driver's side.
They're not hard to pull out, but I do want to run it one more time first.
Just tap the individual tubes with a spanner, it is very clear if it is cracked.
Makes a different noise.
I went through all engine bay, under the engine and even went to the extend of dumping the oil and removed rocker covers and oil sump and did not find it.
Then, as i mentioned, by accident i hit the header and noticed the strange sound coming from #3 cylinder tube.
Was a real lucky find.
But i also had the noise of a leaking header gasket, as i had a leak before i had the idea the header gasket was leaking again but this came from the cracked tube as well.

See my topic:
I had a tick I couldn't locate that was the cover under the starter hitting on converter. It drove me nuts it was loud and I couldn't find it. finally I pulled the header and mini starter off and found the bent cover.
no headers on my 440 but had a noticeable tick pop-up and upon a good inspection found I lost a nut that holds the exhaust tubing to bottom of manifold

i say recheck exhaust system

If you do header gasket change Remflex gaskets are good. They're fragile, use fine thread to hold them in place if you don't have studs. They're 1/8" thick and will compress 50% and fill 1/16" gap.
I used Percy's seal-4-good gaskets, never leaked again.
Very soft aluminium, multi layer, easy to trim to match ports and studs.
I've been all over these headers, no cracks, no leaks, nothing worn thru, bent, broken.

Driver's side is a mess from running it with no valve cover, but that's it.

Pulled the trans inspection cover yesterday, car up in the air running with me underneath.
No ticking in the clutch/starter area, nothing loose or out of balance, no exhaust leaks noted.
Checked all the pressure plate, bellhousing, trans bolts.

The headers were installed with the engine in 2012, removed in 2018 for coating, which I'm not impressed with but my brand new tti set rusted within 6 months.

At that time, no leaks at the heads, these seal fantastic, and even the lockable fasteners haven't moved.

Wth is this ticking coming from?
What else is rotating?

I even checked the throttle bodies, as they click at start-up, but only after the pump primes.
try eldubbs suggestion and kill one hole at a time.
I will when it's back together.
Curious, if the ticking stops, what will that tell me?
I will when it's back together.
Curious, if the ticking stops, what will that tell me?
Well if pulling a plug wire gets rid of the tic / noise you will have narrowed the noise down to that cyl. the firing of that cyl cause's pressure on the valves , rockers , skirt slap, wrist pin , lifter , pushrods ect . that a dead cyl will not. along with it should quiet down any exhaust leak with no fire in the hole.
Not to say that any of that is what you are dealing with but it will rule out a lot of stuff.
Thank you. Every problem is a learning opportunity, and sometimes very frustrating!

I think I found the issue.

#1 exhaust has a very small mark on the rocker, I don't see anything on the retainer.
Looks like it was rubbing on the very edge of the retainer, but no evidence on the retainer.

Same for #3 intake.

It sounded like it was coming from the rear of the valve cover area, but maybe not.

Is this enough for a ticking sound?

I barely noticed the wear marks, after only 3 days of examining everything over and over. Never thought the rockers could contact the very edge of the retainer, almost like it was trying to conceal the crime.

In my ppwk for the Comp cam, they recommend their roller rockers 1621-16, which are $700.
I believe I already have the other recommended parts, just stock rockers.

Can I re-use the pushrods?

Any comments on these is appreciated:

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Do you have power steering? I just replaced a power steering pump that ticked like a lifter noise. Noise quieted down with an increase in RPM. Most noticeable at idle. The ticking sounded like it was coming from the left front/valve cover area and echoed around depending where I stood.
No power steering, just water pump and alternator. I took the belt off and ran it and it still ticked.
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