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David McLean - Cam Failure # 179

new 12/15/03

Hi Tim. Just wanted to let you know to add me to the list of cam failures. That's the bad news. The good news is, I was lucky enough to have the cams welded before a catastrophic failure; thanks to Doug Mellum of Performance Plus here in Madison, Wisconsin.

I have a '96 with 91,000 miles. I my Toreador Red in June of 2000 from a private owner with an appreciation for fine automobiles. The day I picked it up, it had 48,000 miles and was in showroom condition. I melted when I first laid eyes on it; and I was still a block away from the car. The car has been pretty good to me. I've replaced a broken IMRC box/cable (last spring) and the alternator last fall. The casing on the alternator cracked and it was screeching something fierce. After we got rid of the noisy alternator, a ticking sound was heard. It wouldn't make noise at initial cold start-up. It wasn't until after the car would warm up when the ticking would become obvious. I couldn't get the car back for repairs until last Friday, January 3, 2003. Doug determined that the sound was indeed coming from under the front valve cover. After learning about all of the v8 SHO's dropping like flies due to failing cams, I gave him the go ahead to take it apart and fix what ever needed to be. Turns out, I was just a few miles away from a failed cam/sprocket and a destroyed engine. The timing sprocket on the front most cam ( I have no idea if it's the exhaust or intake) was not aligned with the timing sprocket on the other cam. The timing sprocket was sliding longitudinally along the cam towards the first cam lobe. The sprocket was slowly wearing the spline imprints, on the cam shaft, to the point were they were widening. I suppose every time a cam lobe came in contact with a valve, the force would jerk the sprocket back and forth so as to widen the s pline on the shaft. Fortunately, the sprocket hadn't yet worn down the shaft splines enough to spin itself free. Fortunately for me, Doug had the time to tear into the rest of the heads and put a continuous weld on all four cams. What a relief!

I am very appreciative that Performance Plus could save my SHO form an untimely death. I am even more appreciative the car didn't fail with my wife, my 3 year old daughter, and my 1 1/2 year old daughter in the car. Our SHO is our family car. We frequently travel to Racine and Milwaukee, and occasionally Mundelein, IL, to visit family. I can't tell you how angry it makes me when I think that the car could have failed on a family trip in heavy traffic or subzero temperatures. From day one, my car has been treated well and not abused. Why, then, am I paying for abnormal maintenance to keep the engine from blowing up before the first scheduled tune up.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the car. I think Ford produced a winner here (although a manual trans. would be nice). I am very disappointed that Ford is unwilling to take responsibility for their product. Yes, the SHO may be a retired name plate, but there is still a little blue oval Ford tag on the front and the back of the car. It's not like we are looking for them to do a recall from a car of the '60s. The car is just getting broken in!

As far as my Performance Plus experience...couldn't have been better. Doug always seems very excited about the work he does. Up until that day, mine was the first failure that Doug has come across. He has, from what I understand, been doing quite a few preventive welds lately. Don and Kathy are also very hospitable.

Are there any "must calls" that I should make to report this?

David Mc Lean
Madison, WI

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