Your engine is the heart and soul of your racecar, and you want to keep it running at its best for as long as possible. Whether you purchased a completely assembled engine from one of many competent race engine shops, or built it yourself from parts and pieces that you gathered, there are certain rules that apply to all of them. Here are some grassroots tips regarding final assembly and weekly maintenance that will help you to keep your investment in top-notch shape and ready to give you great service through the next year. To protect any warranty on your engine, check with the engine builder to make sure that the builder agrees with my advice.
The last area to be lubricated in any engine is the rocker arm and valve stem tip area. Whoever assembles the heads is responsible for lubricating the valve stems to insure that they won't seize in the guides before oil arrives on initial start-up. All cam manufacturers sell a version of break-in lube to coat the lifters and cam lobes during assembly. Most of these lubricants are molybdenum-based and work quite well. There are several white petroleum-based greases that make excellent assembly lubes. Make sure to apply your lubricant very liberally. Coat both ends of each pushrod. If the pushrods are made from a kit, put the factory made or hardened end into the rocker arm cup. Regardless of rocker arm type, lube the ends where the pushrods and valve stem contact them, as well as the fulcrum point. If the heads have guide plates, lubricate the slots, too.
It's vital that the oil pump be primed before the initial start-up. Wet sump systems can be primed with a commercially available tool, or you can make a tool using an old distributor. Have someone help you with this step. Before you begin priming, be certain that you have put the recommended amount of oil in the pan. While the oil pump is spinning, have your helper slowly turning the engine over with a big ratchet or breaker bar (this step is easier if all the spark plugs are removed). Continue doing this until the oil has made its way to the top of every pushrod. Check for leaks all the while and don’t feel that this procedure has to be done non-stop. Even an expensive electric drill may not be up to the continuous load it takes to prime the oiling system properly, so give the drill an occasional time out.