Replacing the Rear Engine Seal on a Y-Block

by Dan Villanueva

First, so you know, I did this on a 1957 Ford custom sedan. No special tools required. I did have to borrow a torque wrench from a neighbor for reassembly. Everything else I had from my bodyshop days.

  • I had the car up three feet off the ground with a set of super heavy duty jack stands from a Chief car frame machine.
  • I did not have to jack the engine off the mounts. The oil pan came out without this.
  • Effort: I work in an office now, but for many years I worked as a bodyman. This was no more difficult than removing and replacing a quarter panel on a Lexus. The difficult thing for me was the inexperience factor. I have very little (none, zero, zippo!) engine work experience.
  • I suggest you buy the oil pan gasket set from Fel-Pro, it includes the oil pump gaskets and seals.

    This took 5 after dinner evenings total, I must have worked on this 1 to 4 hours each night (yes, with the work light under the car in the driveway) I took my time, I'd guesstimate it took 10 hours max. Note: I am not an engine mechanic, this first time I have ever performed this type of work on any engine. It could be done in considerably less time by someone with more experience and confidence in their engine mechanical skills. I also did quite a bit of oil clean up work under the car, and used Simple Green as the degreaser, instead of heavy duty chemicals. Oh, and I used hand tools, no air compressor to help with disassembly .

    I made a 3 small but potentially huge mistakes:

    1: During the disassembly I didn't set the # 1 cylinder tdc. When I tried to remove the oil pan, it was stuck between the crank, the sway bar and the cross-member, so I removed the sway bar. I then realized I had to turn the engine by hand. As I turned it, there was plenty of space for the pan to come off. It actually fell right off. Later that same night I was surfing around and somewhere I read that setting the no 1 cylinder to tdc would have resolved the problem, and I wouldn't have had to remove the sway bar.

    2: I didn't loosen the mains initially. HUGE mistake, I found myself trying to force the new seal in place, and I put a tiny, unnoticeable nick in it, so I stopped working the rest of the night... This was a huge bummer. The new seal comes with a small "shoe horn", use it! Neck deep in the project, I didn't want to wait for a new seal, and the tear was tiny, in an area I didn't think would affect the oil retention capacity. So I cleaned up the damaged seal and decided to use is as the lower piece, since this would make it easier to replace if it leaked. The following evening I loosened the mains, and used a little bit of grease to slide the new seal in. You have to work with it a bit to find the right locations on the seal where to put pressure as it slides in. Not a problem.

    3. I attributed my oil leak to the main seal completely. I was wrong, I also has a small leak coming from the oil pump, where a tube enters it from the oil pan. (Thus the Fel-Pro gasket set suggestion)

    Well, I hope this helps anyone planning to undertake this project. Again, I think I was overly cautious, and I could have done this in much less time had I been more familiar with engine work, used my air tools, and did it on the weekend, during the day instead of at night with a work light. I had to do it again, I'd say it would take me half the time.

    Dan Villanueva