Well, I had already removed the intake manifold and thought "what the heck" the valve covers might as well come off now also. I thought it would be a good idea to get them blasted and painted at the same time.
At first the task looked a little daunting, alot of tight areas and I didnt really know what was underneath. I went to the library to look up the procedure on my shop fiche but I couldn't find one that adressed VALVE COVER removal specifically. When it was referenced, the manual seemed to always say "next remove valve covers" or something to that extent and that was it!!!! OH JOY!!! ...maybe I missed it???? Im sure there are tips on the OWNERS SITE...but at the time I did this my membership was "in the mail." Anyway, while I was there I looked at some diagrams to see what was underneath, went home and went to work.
All in all the task wasn't that bad. The hardest part was working in some very tight areas with some of the bolts. A few places I couldnt get the HEX SOCKET on the bolt and had to use the HEX KEY instead. The problem there being I couldnt get enough leverage sometimes on the short key to break the bolt free. I ended up using a wrench on the end of the key to provide a bit more torque when needed..this worked great!! IMPORTANT TIP!!!! MAKE SURE THE HEX KEY IS FIRMLY AND PROPERLY SET IN THE BOLT.......THEY ARE VERY EASY TO STRIP....YOU MAY THINK IT's IN BUT IT ISN'T (no jokes...please : ) )....YOU WILL KNOW RIGHT AWAY...TRUST ME....!!!!!!
ALSO..TAKE THE TIME TO MAKE A LITTLE DIAGRAM OF THE VALVE COVERS AND WHICH BOLTS COME OUT OF WHICH HOLES........SOME ARE DIFFERENT LENGTHS!!!
Like I said, Im new to this and was going soley on what i saw in front of me ..... once the bolts were off it was still a chore just manipulating the covers off. I just proceeded slowly trying not to damage anything. Some of the big problems I ran into was the hoist point for the engine (looking aft...on the right side). Its hindsight now but if you can get that piece off or out of the way it will help you get the cover off on that side...it would of for me atleast!!!. I ended up bending it gently back to gain just enough clearance. The bolts to my hoist point were absolutley not going to budge.....frozen solid!!! On the other side I ran into a similar problem with an actautor of some sort that sat right up against the valve cover. From the looks of it, if you can get underneath and loosen these bolts up it may help. Once again, I just gently pulled the bracket back that it was mounted to.... just far enough to help me get the cover by it. Also the LEFT (front looking AFT) valve cover has a few rubber hoses atatched to it. Underneath the cover where the hoses attach there is a hard plastic shroud that extends about 3-4inches down into the engine head. This piece will limit you when moving the cover, it wont move forward and aft very much. I found this cover had to be manipulated a bit more to get it off. Perhaps some of you know all kinds of procedures that I may not have acomplished that would have made my job easier..... but once again the result so far is the same....the valve covers are off..................now the job is to get them back on and to be able to properly tighten the retaining bolts!!!!
Anyway...below are a bunch of pictures of what I saw in the removal and in some areas a few tips that may help.
Besides the obvious I guess, some of the tools I found handy during this procedure were.....
This pictures shows the abrupt angle that the socket and drive had to work with. Like I said, make sure the HEX head is securely and properly seated in the bolt. If it turns, make sure the bolt is turning as well and you arent just stripping the head out!!!
As you can see there isn't much room, just take your time!
This was one of tight spots to work with, between the brake booster and the engine hoist point. I used the HEX key to undo this one. The bolts that attatched to the hoist point were FROZEN SOLID, the angles I had to work with didnt allow me to get enough torque on them. If you can get underneath you will have a better shot at removing it maybe. I mangaged to slide the valve cover off by gentley bending the hoist point back to the degree that provided just enough clearance.
Now this was an easy one!!!!
For those tight spots the HEX key worked great....but...i couldnt get enough torque on the bolt to free it. Solution was to slide a wrench over it. No Problemo!
This one was tough! "all ya need is a little patience...yeah yeah yeah" <Guns N Roses>
To lift the cover of I gentley placed a nice, wide screwdriver in an open area and slowly twisted it....... once the seal was broken it came away easily. ....OH....and no oil spilled from the lower point of the valve cover either!
ahhh....the big picture at last!! cams...chain...guide etc.... SO THIS is where that occasional ticking noise comes from! ........KNOCK ON WOOD..but it amazes me how it all stays together at 5500+rpm!!
a good shot of the cam chain and chain tensioner
one of the valve covers has a couple of caps on the outside, to remove them you have to remove these retaining clips on the inside.
this shows one of the areas where a vent hose attaches to the valve cover....once again, to remove it you have to do so from underneath it looks like. The seals that join the spark plug shafts to the head are shown as well.
underneath one of the vent hoses you will find this tube. The tube, as you see, will extend down into the head a few inches, I only had one on mine, even though there are two vent hose attachment points, I assume that there is only one.
The main reason i took the covers off was to paint them, this is a close up of the blistering paint. I was a bit shocked to see that this blistering also occured underneath the valve cover. This raised the question of........what damage would these paint flakes do if they fell onto a cam lobe turning at an ungodly RPM???? seeing this I may have the underside of the valve cover beadblasted clean as well...more on that later!!!
The pictures above may be a good indication of what you my find underneath. Blistered paint and hidden dirt (not underneath the valve covers but in some hidden areas around them)
Now this picture leads me to a good tip!! I thought I was pretty thorough in making sure unwanted debris didnt fall into the head area.... BUT as you see, it would be a good idea before you you put it all back together to check between the cam lobe and the follower!!!!! I got rid of this with a Q tip soaked with oil on the end so the dirt would stick to it. Just the site of this makes me cringe thinking of that first instant when the engine would have turned over!!!!!! I also did a sweep of all accessable areas with my magnetic pick-up just incase a washer or bolt went astray!!
Anyway...those are the pictures that I took during my valve cover removal. I hope they lend a hand and provide some insight. Once the covers get painted I hope to post an "AFTER" picture.