How to Install a Small Block Chevy Timing Chain

Written by francis walsh
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How to Install a Small Block Chevy Timing Chain
Time to Change a Small Block Chevy Timing Chain. (hot rod engine image by itsallgood from

General Motors produced its small block Chevy engine with a timing chain to connect the crankshaft to the camshaft. The timing chain should be changed when it gets worn because it can cause the engine to stall unexpectedly. You have to install a small block Chevy timing chain that is not worn too fix the problem. As it ages a worn timing chain can cause the engine to under perform or even stall and quit running when it breaks.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Wrenches
  • Scraper
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Rag
  • Gear puller
  • Timing chain
  • Gasket

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  1. 1

    Remove the timing chain cover at the front of the motor. Use a wrench to loosen all the bolts that hold the cover onto the engine. Pull the cover away from the engine and set off to the side. Clean away debris and old gasket that is stuck on the mating surface of the engine and the timing chain cover with utility knife.

  2. 2

    Locate the registration marks on the crankshaft gear and the camshaft gear. These marks are depressed dots and there is one dot on each gear. Rotate the engine until the lower gear's dot is at the twelve o'clock position and the upper gear's dot is at six o'clock.

  3. 3

    Remove the distributor cap and make a note of the position of the rotor. Use a pencil to make an index mark on the engine block and the shaft of the distributor. Pull the distributor out of the motor. Cover the distributor shaft hole with a rag.

  4. 4

    Pull the gear off the crankshaft using a gear pulling tool. Start the two tension bolts of the tool into the threaded holes of the crankshaft gear. Put the centre push post of the gear pulling tool onto the end of the crankshaft and begin to tighten the centre actuator bolt. As you tighten the actuator bolt of the gear puller it will pull the gear off the end of the crankshaft.

  5. 5

    Gather the gear and unwrap the timing chain from the upper gear of the camshaft. Remove the old timing chain and replace it with a new one. Run one end of the chain over the top gear and then start the bottom gear onto the end of the crankshaft. Align the dot at twelve o'clock and then hit the gear with a hammer to push it back onto the end of the crankshaft.

  6. 6

    Replace the timing chain cover using a new gasket and a wrench to tighten the bolts back in place. Install the distributor in the exact way it was removed. Use the index mark on the distributor shaft and the engine to line the distributor up correctly. Put the distributor back the way it was and the job is complete.

Tips and warnings

  • Replace the gears if the old timing chain has worn the teeth of the gears noticeably. Use silicon gel to help seal the timing chain cover to the engine. Lay a tin line of silicon gel on both sides of the gasket before tightening the cover to the engine.
  • Changing the timing chain can put extra stress on the moving parts inside the engine. Camshafts can be break if already worn and stressed like the old timing chain. Inspect the camshaft before putting back together to fix damage before putting it all back together.

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