Back to your question, Evan…
ALL makes and series of engines have different nuances that engine builders ‘learn’ in working on them. The likelihood of you teaming up with someone who is familiar with our 50 year old y-blocks today is getting slimmer.
Soooo… your question was a good one. Here are a few ‘borrowed’ pieces (related to the installation of the cam in a y-block) that will help you and whoever you work with, even if they are in the auto machine shop business.
From John Mummert’s website
Camshaft: Don't throw away your old camshaft until you've saved the thrust spacer. The new cam doesn't come with one. If you already threw it away you're in luck, we've had some made.
Cam thrust: It appears that Ford used 2 different thickness thrust washers and plates on the cam. With the wrong combination there will be no end play in cam. Ensure .004"movement during assembly.
Camshaft Installation: [Forum thread, Ted Eaton input]
I shoot for 0.004” - 0.006” for camshaft end play. Cam thrust plate thicknesses typically measure about 0.191”give or take 0.002”. When installing the slightly thicker non-keyed spacer on the camshaft, be sure the chamfer goes to the back as being to the front will add an excessive amount of end play. With the timing gear removed from the camshaft, the cam itself should fall in at least 0.025” or more behind the face of the block to insure that the camshaft is not riding upon the rear cam plug when the gear set is installed.
Camshaft Front Retainer Modification:
To provide improved oiling of the front camshaft retainer surface where the retainer contacts the camshaft, make a modification to the surface of the retainer with a cut-off grinding wheel. See http://www.rodandcustommagazine.com/tipstricks/74739/
Notching the cam-bearing plate allows oil to seep through and better lube the end of the cam. Look closely and you can see the ring where the cam scored the plate due to lack of oil.
Rear Camshaft Plug Installation: from Eaton Balancing web site http://www.eatonbalancing.com/blog/2011/10/21/rear-camshaft-plug-installation/
Rear cam plug installation on the Ford Y-Block engines dictates that it not be installed so deeply that it actually interferes or contacts the rear of the camshaft. Besides the obvious wear issue that can occur at the face of the cam plug, detrimental wear at the rear side of the cam thrust plate can become evident or in a worst case situation, the thrust plate itself can break. Unlike a Ford FE engine where the cam plug actually goes into the block cup side first or facing in, the cam plugs for the Y are designed to be installed with the cup side facing the rear of the engine.This puts the flat face of the Y’s cam plug in a position to contact the rear of the camshaft if the plug itself is installed too deeply into the block.
When installing the camshaft in the block and without the cam gear yet installed, the front face of the camshaft is expected to fall behind the front of the block or behind the cam thrust plate at least 0.050”. If it does this, then the cam plug is installed correctly and not too deeply into the block. If the camshaft fits flush with the block or actually protrudes slightly in front of the block when the cam itself is pushed in as far as it will physically go, then the rear cam plug installation should be readdressed before going any further.
I’ll add that when assembling the engine, examine in detail all the individual parts. The cam thrust plate can be cracked from a previous installation and a single crack can be easily overlooked if not being watched for.
And last but not least, use some sealer on the outer edge of the cam plug when installing it. Although there’s no oil pressure between the plug and the rear of the camshaft, there is still oil residing in that area and seepage from a rear cam plug is very often mistaken for a rear main seal leak.
Originally published in the Y-BlockMagazine, Mar-Apr 2011 issue, Issue #103, Vol 20, No.8