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Old 06-19-2012, 07:33 AM   #1
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1976 28' Argosy 28
New Haven , Connecticut
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Lightbulb How many miles on a 454 before they die?

I was wonder how many miles you guys put on these motors before they go? What fails first, bearings, heads, pistons. I have 107k on my (assuming) original 76 motor. It runs perfect and has lots of power. I can pass any other truck or mh up hills, but I'm always looking for something to worry about.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:44 AM   #2
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Run synthetic oil and it will extend the lifetime. I would use something like Mobil 1 15W-50 or maybe 10W-30 since you are up there where it gets cold. Things like valve seals are eventually going to go. They only last so long and the rubber hardens. I would stay away from real thin oils since you probably don't have a roller camshaft.

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Old 06-19-2012, 07:56 AM   #3
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A lot of the 70's V8 engines were needing a rebuild by 120,000 miles. Many also went way more miles than that provided they always had regular oill changes, weren't allowed to overheat and were kept well tuned. If yours is running strong, you could easily get another 100k if you look after it.

Perry's right, valve seals and gaskets might leak over time, but if you have to replace them after 35 years that's hardly a complaint.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:23 AM   #4
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Mine is an 89 454 carborated - presently have about 140,000 on orig engine. Runs strong and is kept serviced. Knock on wood I'll get another 100K out of it. Agree whole hartedly with perryg aboit the synthetic oil which I have used for years.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:43 AM   #5
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All comments correct. The valve train; valves themselves, cam, and drive chain are likely candidates for earliest failure. These are easily dealt with without removing the short block.

Even if the engine should require a total rebuild with time, they are excellent engines and well worth it.

As mentioned, quality oil certainly helps.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:48 AM   #6
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In most cases it's not the mileage but the lack of use that causes the damage. Engines that are run regularly usually run a lot more miles. I'd be more concerned with a 70's MH with less then 20k miles on the clock then one with over 100k. Agreed with the above on synthetic oil, keeping it changed and making sure that the carb's air/fuel is set right.
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:59 AM   #7
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Here is my 2c....

The 454 is a tough old bird, and in these states of tune, pretty lowly stressed.

My experience with them tells me this...
Timing chain and sprockets is weak on some years... I am not sure which, but I do know that my 1987 Suburban was one... GM put a single row chain on a nylon covered cam sprocket to reduce noise...
This is what happens, on mine it was about 150k miles and 20 years.
Nylon hardens and breaks up, allowing the chain to munch it way thru the sprocket..




Chunks of nylon drop into the oil pan.


Cam chain slips and jumps, and intake valves touch pistons...



Now, when I pulled the motor out, I found the bores were within spec and the honing marks were still visible. Pistons were also good despite hitting the valves and causing the damage. I rehoned the bores and replaced the ring pack.
The crank journals were also great and within spec, but the endfloat was not, so I replaced the crank and bearings. Also replaced the Oil pump, and put an RV cam and new lifters in. Intake valves were replaced.
Put in a strong double row timing chain set... like this..


The motor has now done another 15k and runs strong.


I was told, that synthetic oil, whilst awesome, is not the best for earlier engines with flat tappet lifters...
They need the additives like Zinc to protect the cam and lifters, and its not in the new oil formulations because
Me, personally I use Diesel spec C4 oil because its is designed for low reving heavy torque based engines and has lots of detergents and additives in it.

Change the oil often is the key... Look at the color of the internals of my 454 in the pics above and below... a nice golden hue... a sure sign of regular oil changes.



Oil changes are critical...
Also keeping the motor cool, so a good cooling system, with a high flow waterpump and good coolant will keep it sweet....
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:51 PM   #8
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Rotella-T Synthetic is a good oil for this engine.

Perry
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
Rotella-T Synthetic is a good oil for this engine.

Perry
This is the best choice. Rotella T6 5W-40. WalMart or other retailers.

I replaced the weak nylon single row timing chain on my folks '87 V8-454 in about 1997 at 130k with a CLOYES True Roller. Also converted over to synthetic at that time (which lowered consumption). OFL was done at 6k mile intervals. Truck sold at 18-years with 190k . . still going strong for new owner years later (business use).

As to filtration: Least resistance to flow is more important than particle capture. As in, no dry starts.

WIX or NAPA GOLD would be easy enough to source, and the 2-quart filter would be my choice if it fit.

Check threads over on IRV2 and WOODALLS for the same question (a lot of moho owners on those).

.
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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Keeping the thing well tuned is as important. I am convinced that fuel injection has done more for engine longevity than just about anything else.

A rich mixture washes the engine oil off the rings and upper cylinder areas. That leads to hotter temps and more friction, and then that leads to all the stuff mentioned above.

Good maintenance and understanding good driving habits. Just ‘cause the speed limited is 75, don’t mean you got to go that fast.

They will run 200K miles at 1800 rpm, or 10 minutes at 4500.

You pick.


Regards,

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Old 06-19-2012, 05:35 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the info. I have some headers to install and I think I'll put an o2 bung in them first. I've also been considering synthetic oil, but wasn't sure if it was needed with relatively low rpm's and frequent oil changes. I was happy to find an oil cooler under the hood. Is that a stock item?
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:54 PM   #12
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We have fleet oil testimg in our building and the techs tell me that regular changes to remove the by-products of combustion is the most important issue. So regular changes at 3k or yearly woth $4 mineral oil is better than $8 syn left in longer. They agree that syn is better oil but modern meneral oil is good for longer than 3k and its getting the gunk out that really counts. Ps there are 4 of these guys and they all agree.!!
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:12 PM   #13
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There have been multiple reports of the nylon timing gear failing. If you can have your dealer look at the vin number and determine if you have one it might be worth looking at it, and possibly replacing it, before it does more damage the engine, as shown in previous post pictures.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max power View Post
Thanks for all the info. I have some headers to install and I think I'll put an o2 bung in them first. I've also been considering synthetic oil, but wasn't sure if it was needed with relatively low rpm's and frequent oil changes. I was happy to find an oil cooler under the hood. Is that a stock item?
The engine oil cooler (and the separate transmission oil cooler) were stock items on a V8-454 in those years. The camshaft profile was a poor one until the advent of the VORTEC-series engines -- very short, in a manner of speaking: early peak power, but low overall numbers -- and the engine oil ran hot.

My Dad also replaced the stock radiator on his Suburban with a 5-row custom piece. I added a STEWART RACING high volume water pump at the same time as the timing chain. Also added insulation to block any air escaping around the condenser/radiator, and replaced the "chin spoiler" that had been removed previously. A high-flow muffler was also added (I couldn't get him to "lose" the cat convertor) all of this to help with hot running that affected A/C performance, not just fuel mileage (about 7-8 with their 8k Silver Streak behind the Turbo 400 and 3.54 Posi-Trac.) He had also previously replaced the stock exhaust manifolds with RING aftermarket replacements (the 454 in those years was notorious for cracking exhaust manifolds). A better exhaust is well worthwhile, IMO.

As to oil change frequency I'd still stick with 4-6k at the lowest, no matter the oil type. The ROTELLA 5W-40 isn't expensive and generates very good oil analysis numbers in turbocharged diesel engines. At that mileage interval (or 6-mos or one year depending on use) it'll do well. I'd change a bit more frequently if oil consumption is higher than 500-miles/quart, otherwise 6k/annually would be my minimum.

Yes, you want the 02 sensors operational. Stick with genuine GM parts for those.

.
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