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  1. #1
    Seaman
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    Default Ticking noise on 454 mag

    1989 Mercruiser 454 magnum (rectangular port heads)
    all stock, quadrajet carb, aluminum high-rise intake
    Pushes a 1989 baja sunsport 210 (21') with a 25p turbo prop

    Recently changed intake manifold gaskets due to small leak. Took it out to lake for first time and it ran flawlessly, intake leak definitely fixed and engine running great.

    Then about 5 hours into the day (probably 1.5 hours of run time on boat) while trying to pull tubers I got a loud clatter on takeoff. Idled home after that with a tick the whole way. It ticks at idle and gets worse as rpms go up. Here is a video so you can hear the ticking noise.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffCCQn2uoRg

    Anyways, I also found that the #8 spark plug is black as can be (dry, carbon black, not oily). All other plugs on that side are a decent tan color (about what they should be at idle). FYI, the oil level is fine (not losing any, not low) and the engine temp is in normal operating range, nothing close to overheating all day (highest temp probably 170 degrees).


    Am I looking at trouble with a valve??

  2. #2
    Petty Officer 1st Class Josh P's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    sounds like rocker arm or lifter chatter from loose valves. pull valve covers and check valve lash would be the place to start

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh P View Post
    sounds like rocker arm or lifter chatter from loose valves. pull valve covers and check valve lash would be the place to start
    that's what it sounds like to me as well.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    I had a similar noise in my engine which turned out to be a valve that had been knocked off the pushrod. The root cause was water ingestion (water kept the valve from opening) from a bad exhaust.

    Quote Originally Posted by tcgravy View Post
    1989 Mercruiser 454 magnum (rectangular port heads)
    all stock, quadrajet carb, aluminum high-rise intake
    Pushes a 1989 baja sunsport 210 (21') with a 25p turbo prop

    Recently changed intake manifold gaskets due to small leak. Took it out to lake for first time and it ran flawlessly, intake leak definitely fixed and engine running great.

    Then about 5 hours into the day (probably 1.5 hours of run time on boat) while trying to pull tubers I got a loud clatter on takeoff. Idled home after that with a tick the whole way. It ticks at idle and gets worse as rpms go up. Here is a video so you can hear the ticking noise.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffCCQn2uoRg

    Anyways, I also found that the #8 spark plug is black as can be (dry, carbon black, not oily). All other plugs on that side are a decent tan color (about what they should be at idle). FYI, the oil level is fine (not losing any, not low) and the engine temp is in normal operating range, nothing close to overheating all day (highest temp probably 170 degrees).


    Am I looking at trouble with a valve??

  5. #5
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    And from listening to your video, It's #5 or #7 rocker arms.

  6. #6
    Vice Admiral tpenfield's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Nice sewing machine you got there . . . needs a valve adjustment . . . check to see if the lifter(s) on the port side are OK.
    Best regards,
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Pull the dipstick out about 1" and check the engine again. Trust me, do this now or you'll be really mad if you find out that's all it was after you've pulled the heads. If that's not it then pull the valve covers and start inspecting. If it's a lifter that's failed it'll be a little harder to find but it could just be that you dropped a piece of old gasket in the valley and it's stuck under the push rod so the lifter can't pump up. Don't even ask me how I know that can happen

  8. #8
    Cadet
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    How did you fix the hesitation backfire issue, i had the same problem, it was an overheated ignition coil, when puttin around for long periods of time would have that problem when trying to plane out. I always keep the bilge blower on now. Have not had any problems

  9. #9
    Senior Chief Petty Officer 04fxdwgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    What's the oil pressure, what weight oil are you running and how long since it's been changed?
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    With the engine warmed up check the oil pressure with a mechanical gauge.
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  11. #11
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    UPDATE FROM ORIGINAL POSTER: Finally getting back to this thread

    Ended up getting the valve cover off and checking valve lash on all cylinders on the starboard side (#2, #4, #6, #8). Found 3 valves with loose rocker nuts (more than a few turns, lots and lots of play:
    - cylinder #8 exhaust valve
    - cylinder #4 exhaust valve
    - cylinder #4 intake valve
    I adjusted lash on here (going 1/2 turn past zero lash)...I have adjusted valve lash multiple times before and was using merc manual to guide me as well. With there being 3 loose valves, I also checked all other valves on that side. All others seemed to be just fine and within spec.

    So, I thought I had this problem fixed, but did NOT. Went to start the boat...would not start after lots of cranking. Eventually fired but sounded terrible and then stalled. Then tried to start it one more time and now engine won't turn over. Also there is excess gas that appears to have overflowed out of the carburetor. I got nothin....obviously something went TERRIBLY WRONG HERE. Just hoping whatever I broke is still fixable.

    PLEASE HELP / OFFER ADVICE

  12. #12
    Rear Admiral Scott Danforth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    you may have had collapsed lifters and now the valves are hung open since you adjusted them. I would have adjusted them running, however that is me.
    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
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  13. #13
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Danforth View Post
    you may have had collapsed lifters and now the valves are hung open since you adjusted them. I would have adjusted them running, however that is me.
    Whats the best way to check for collapsed lifters? And how does that lend towards an engine that won't turn over? Please let me know.

    As for adjusting valves while running, i would have but in order to take the valve cover off on a 454 mag you have to remove the exhaust manifold, and didnt really wanna run it w/ no exhaust manifold.

  14. #14
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by tcgravy View Post
    UPDATE FROM ORIGINAL POSTER: Finally getting back to this thread

    Ended up getting the valve cover off and checking valve lash on all cylinders on the starboard side (#2, #4, #6, #8). Found 3 valves with loose rocker nuts (more than a few turns, lots and lots of play:
    - cylinder #8 exhaust valve
    - cylinder #4 exhaust valve
    - cylinder #4 intake valve
    I adjusted lash on here (going 1/2 turn past zero lash)...I have adjusted valve lash multiple times before and was using merc manual to guide me as well. With there being 3 loose valves, I also checked all other valves on that side. All others seemed to be just fine and within spec.

    So, I thought I had this problem fixed, but did NOT. Went to start the boat...would not start after lots of cranking. Eventually fired but sounded terrible and then stalled. Then tried to start it one more time and now engine won't turn over. Also there is excess gas that appears to have overflowed out of the carburetor. I got nothin....obviously something went TERRIBLY WRONG HERE. Just hoping whatever I broke is still fixable.

    PLEASE HELP / OFFER ADVICE

    OK YET ANOTHER UPDATE.....

    Turns out the reason the engine won't turn over is because....its full of gas. Looks like my needle & seat in the carb isn't doing its job and gas is just going everywhere. Pulled all the spark plugs and engine turns over fine. So thats a separate problem to fix it would appear.

    BUT.....

    it does have me second guessing my valve/rocker nut adjustment though, not sure if I need to be investigating lifters or not? As always, any input is appreciated.

  15. #15
    Rear Admiral Scott Danforth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    you have a few problems now.

    first, fix the carb. if the carb was dumping that much fuel, it most likely thinned the oil severely when running.

    next, change the oil - its now full of fuel

    Third, you will need to back off each rocker and start from zero.
    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
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    1970 Wooster Hellion 7' of cool mini boat with a Merc 9.8
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  16. #16
    Senior Chief Petty Officer 04fxdwgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by 04fxdwgi View Post
    What's the oil pressure?
    I don't see where the oil pressure has been stated. If there's no oil pressure, that's the sound one will get.
    '92 Chaparral 2550 SX Sport
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  17. #17
    Rear Admiral Scott Danforth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    there probably was very little to no oil pressure because the oil was most likely thinned out by fuel.
    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=500145
    1970 Wooster Hellion 7' of cool mini boat with a Merc 9.8
    Recent Boats
    2002 SeaRay 190BR - MC 5.0 / Alpha I series II "Cheasheads in Paradise"
    1984 Avanti 170DLI - OMC 3.0 / OMC Stringer 400 "Ship Happens"

    The problems we face today can not be addressed at the same level of intelligence we were at when we created them - Albert Einstein Or with the same level of $ - Me

  18. #18
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Danforth View Post
    you have a few problems now.

    first, fix the carb. if the carb was dumping that much fuel, it most likely thinned the oil severely when running.

    next, change the oil - its now full of fuel

    Third, you will need to back off each rocker and start from zero.


    Changed the oil, oil pressure is fine (about 35 psi at idle)

    Thought I fixed the carb.....disassembled air horn, took everything apart, put in new needle and seat, tested needle and seat by holding it down w/my finger and turning on my electric fuel pump, it worked, so thought I was good.put it all back together, bowl still overflowing........

    Disassembled carb again, am finding that the needle and seat works when I hold it down with my finger, but the float is not capable of holding down the needle properly. Have tried install w/ and without the little clip, doesn't seem to matter. Float definitely works/functions. C-shaped clip that acts as the fulcrum lever is installed correctly. Kind of want to gouge my eyes out right now.

    Ideas?

  19. #19
    Rear Admiral Scott Danforth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    what is your fuel pressure?

    carbs have issues over 4psi
    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=500145
    1970 Wooster Hellion 7' of cool mini boat with a Merc 9.8
    Recent Boats
    2002 SeaRay 190BR - MC 5.0 / Alpha I series II "Cheasheads in Paradise"
    1984 Avanti 170DLI - OMC 3.0 / OMC Stringer 400 "Ship Happens"

    The problems we face today can not be addressed at the same level of intelligence we were at when we created them - Albert Einstein Or with the same level of $ - Me

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    You need to rule out gasoline (ethanol) as a culprit. I rebuilt my carb 3 times thinking my float wasn't stopping flow based on ALL the gas in my intake. I had a pool of gas in the intake. I had fire, compression and what i thought was way too much fuel as there was a puddle forming in the intake when i was trying to crank and fire. I'd even get a little fire when I shot starter fluid down the carb. I had 16 gallons of new gas on top of what was left over from previous season. That gas, maybe 8-10 gals was only 5 months old and had stabil in it.

    So, to rule out gas as culprit, I made a 1 gallon auxillary tank and hung it up over the motor like an IV, plumbed it into the fuel/water separator and within a few cranks she started right up, idled fine and i ran the whole 1/2 gallon out.

    The hard part was disposing all the gas in the boat tank!

    The thing i did to make sure the gas was out of the intake was take the carb off, which was now about a 3 minute job due to my previous carb rebuilding, take the plugs out and spin the engine to clear the intake of fuel and then I used a leaf blower and blew down the intake tract for several minutes, thus really drying out the intake. I also emptied the carb of fuel. Once I plumbed the auxillary tank, it started once fuel was into the carb.

  21. #21
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Danforth View Post
    what is your fuel pressure?

    carbs have issues over 4psi


    Need to check that, will try to do it tonight. Also, these pumps say they have an "internal pressure regulator" in them - I'm thinking there is a possibility this failed, causing my ultimate demise. I guess the pressure test will agree or disagree with this.

    I know that I have a carter electric fuel pump on it, part # says 152-875 (which I think is the same as P4389 pump). This came on the boat when I bought it 3 yrs ago and has never been a problem. This part # / fuel pump says its rated at 6 psi max.....can't find any other replacements at less than 6 psi max?

    Is there a possible replacement that would be more like 3-4 psi max? I have found multiple "marine" electric fuel pumps, all of which seem to be rated at 6 psi max.

  22. #22
    Rear Admiral Scott Danforth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    or a pressure regulator.

    I used to run a Holley FPR with every electric fuel pump. not sure if its marine rated.

    I did find the both the Holley 12-803 (4.5-9psi) and the 12-804 (1-4psi) on a marine website.
    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=500145
    1970 Wooster Hellion 7' of cool mini boat with a Merc 9.8
    Recent Boats
    2002 SeaRay 190BR - MC 5.0 / Alpha I series II "Cheasheads in Paradise"
    1984 Avanti 170DLI - OMC 3.0 / OMC Stringer 400 "Ship Happens"

    The problems we face today can not be addressed at the same level of intelligence we were at when we created them - Albert Einstein Or with the same level of $ - Me

  23. #23
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Danforth View Post
    what is your fuel pressure?

    carbs have issues over 4psi

    Checked fuel pressure (after the pump)......10 psi & rising....whoops. Looks like these little Carter electric fuel pumps have an internal pressure regulator that failed, so the pump worked fine it just never regulated the pressure. Replaced with new pump of same model, tested fuel pressure (after the pump) and only 2 psi (which may be too low, but we're only measuring at idle here and this would be another story so we'll see after the first lake test).

    Anyways, after install the needle & seat is working fine again and no more gas flowing out the top of the carburetor, no more cylinders full of gas and hydrolocking.

    Also, FYI for any future readers of this post, it appears that Carter / Airtex fuel pumps 4070, 4389, e84389, and 152 875 are all identical. I purchased a "4389" from Auto Zone for $85 that also has p/n 4070 stamped on it, a sticker that says 152 875, and the box said e84389.

    Thanks for all the help thus far, time to re-set the valve lash to spec again and will post with another update once all problems are gone....
    Last edited by tcgravy; July 16th, 2013 at 10:30 PM.

  24. #24
    Rear Admiral Scott Danforth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    2psi is fine for stock needle and seat.

    glad you found the problem.
    1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 - VP AQ271C / 290DP "Rock'n Along"
    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=500145
    1970 Wooster Hellion 7' of cool mini boat with a Merc 9.8
    Recent Boats
    2002 SeaRay 190BR - MC 5.0 / Alpha I series II "Cheasheads in Paradise"
    1984 Avanti 170DLI - OMC 3.0 / OMC Stringer 400 "Ship Happens"

    The problems we face today can not be addressed at the same level of intelligence we were at when we created them - Albert Einstein Or with the same level of $ - Me

  25. #25
    Seaman
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    Default Re: Ticking noise on 454 mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Danforth View Post
    you may have had collapsed lifters and now the valves are hung open since you adjusted them. I would have adjusted them running, however that is me.
    OK BACK TO THE VALVETRAIN......

    Re-adjusted lifters (engine not running) per spec/procedure of Mercruiser service manual. Problem is that after tightening down rocker nuts to spec it appears I have 2 valves where the nut is down significantly more than the others, more threads showing (intake #4 & exhaust #6). Everything else looks good and consistent on all other valves.

    The other thing about these 2 valves is that when I find "zero lash" and then tighten them an additional 3/4 turn, they are VERY HARD to turn. Am I looking at a couple of collapsed lifters? Should I run the engine a while hoping they "free up?" Also, if I do that, where should I set the rocker nut? Tight? Loose? At zero lash? Just dont want to have them too tight and have a valve + piston contact.

    Engine will start very easily (although I've only started it, not run it at length). Oil level is where it should be. Other thoughts?

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