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Mike Durko - Cam Failure #277

new 7/01/03, updated 7/20/03

Mike Durko
Chandler, Arizona
1996 Silver

I purchased the 1996 used with 24,000 miles. At 90,000 miles it started sounding like a diesel. I didn't take it to a Ford dealer because down here their motto is "NO BULL" (ya, sure). AT 93,000 it just got quiet. The 1996 is now parked in my garage where it will stay until I get my hands on a cam and sprocket for my local shop to practice on. I will then have the 1996 towed to the shop without even trying to start it. 


Down here in the hotter than h**l valley around Phoenix I have found a repair shop that is ready to weld the cams on both my 96 and 99 SHOs. The 96 goes first. It's sitting in my garage and will be towed over to the shop. When I last started it the engine sounded fine even though it went through a period of clacking diesel type noises some months ago. I figure the $25 towing bill is cheap insurance because with my luck the engine would self destruct during the 5 mile journey. This shop has always stood behind and guaranteed their work including lots of fixes to my 1990 Super Coupe (I'm a glutton for punishment). 

I made several attempts to get a used or abused cam to practice the welds on but never connected. I then asked the shop manager to see if he could get one from Ford. It took three days and $113.00 and it was sitting on his desk. Brand new rear exhaust cam. He buys a lot of stuff from and has a good relationship with his supplier.

There have been several notes on your website about a faint serial number scratched onto the new cams. Mine appears on the shaft between the second and third lobes from the sprocket. It appears to have been done by hand using an electric engraving tool similar to what you'd find in a hobby shop. As near as we can make it out my serial number is either 0Z27074, 0227074 or 0827074. The second digit has a line through the center like a script Z so we can't tell if it's deliberate or just sloppy penmanship. Kind of makes you wonder why these numbers weren't stamped on with a machine. (Legal afterthought ?)

I intend to be there for the surgery. I'm no welder, just an engineer who has supervised numerous ASME Certified pipe fitter and boilermaker crews and I can recognize pretty quickly if a guy knows his stuff. I've seen what it takes to weld stainless to handle 35,000 psi gasses in a HDPE plant. This cam weld isn't a piece of cake but, with all the tips we've gotten from your website, we should be alright. I'll take before and after pictures and have them ready for the lawyers if necessary.

I'm currently going through the BS with the Ford "Executive" group and have been told they will review my complaint with their engineering group. Everything will be kept internal to their organization and they need no information from outside. That's the same problem you get keeping everything "in the family" including all types of deformed offspring. 

I'd like to throw out another theory about the wide variance in mileage before failure. How many times did the engine experience a heat-up/cool-down cycle ? This theory would have it that all metals have a certain amount of memory to return to their state before they were deformed. Heating and cooling may affect this memory. Thus if a car is only used for numerous short trips it would fail at a much lower mileage than one belonging to the Road Warrior who makes a daily 50 mile one-way commute (not uncommon here in Arizona). No pride of authorship on this idea, just thought I'd throw it out there for your numerous technical types to chew on.

One final question. My 1999 has 34,000 miles and a service contract to 78,000 mile. I intend to have the cams welded. Should I do the 100K tune-up or just wait and see if I still own the car when the time comes around ?

Let me know where to send my donation, your website has been a savior for my two SHO's

Mike Durko
Chandler, Arizona
1996 Silver (Cam Failure # 277)
1999 Silver (Great color for Arizona)

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