I have seen lots of questions about this topic and I looked for quite a while when I was getting
ready to prime my engine for it's first start-up. Priming the engine means to spin your oil pump
for a few minutes until you have good oil pressure throughout your engine and you see evidence
of engine oil coming from all 16 of your rocker arms. If you have a plain old small block or big block
chevy this is an easy task as priming tools seem to be available from many sources for next to
nothing. You will likely have a friend or find a source on the internet telling you to just stick some
kind of long screwdriver with a socket on it down your distributor and stick a drill on it. as much
as I do appreciate a good MacGuyver technique for getting a job done in a pinch, I also believe
if you are gonna do something, you might as well do it right. and I had put to much time and
effort into building this engine to not prime it properly. So I began my search for a good priming
tool, method. I saw several homemade chevy priming tools around and picked one up at a swap
meet for $5. the shaft is the same size as a pontiac distributor but longer which was perfect for
what I needed. then I put a wanted ad on kijiji ( our canadian version of Craigs list). In a few
days I got a reply and picked one up for $15. It was actually in very good shape and I thought
twice about turning it into a tool. but I did.
Here is the chevy priming tool below. it was even buffed up. It had a hole drilled thru the shaft
on the top and a cotter pin holding it in position. the cam gear had been ground off the collar
at the bottom.
here is a shot of the Chevy HEI priming tool housing beside the pontiac distributor
housing. You can see the pontiac distributor is much shorter.
the shafts are the same diameter but the collar on the chevy one was a bit bigger
in diameter. In the picture below I have the chevy collar on the shorter pontiac shaft
and the pontiac collar (which I milled off the cam gear on) on the longer chevy shaft.
here is a shot of the two shafts beside each other so you can see the height
difference. the pontiac shaft has the little distributor mechanical advance springs
retainer plate still attached to it.
By combining the long chevy shaft and the proper pontiac distributor housing
and the proper collar at the bottom you get a tool that fits perfectly and
seals properly in your engine block and has a longer
shaft that makes it easy to attach your drill to. And for a grand total of $20.
remember that you spin the drill in reverse on a Pontiac !
Use a good corded drill for this task. cordless drills may not have the speed to get
your oil pressure up and hold it there for long enough.You should run the drill
until you get good oil pressure 65-80 pounds on your gauge and bar the engine
over periodically ( about 90 degrees each time)
Lifters have a collar on them that prevents oil from entering the lifter in all
positions as it slides up and down the lifter bore. You should see oil coming from
all 16 rocker arm oiling holes before you are done. Because you may have used
fairly thick assembly lube it may take a while to see the oil everywhere. A common
and frustrating cause of no oil pressure is forgetting to replace the hidden lifter
oil gallery plug at the back of the engine. it is behind another plug and may have
been forgotten by your machine shop if they are used to working on common
chev and fords which do not have this plug. I have lots of shots of this little plug
in my block assy pages.