Joined: 3rd Sep 2008
Location: . .
This weekend I had to replace my harmonic balancer on my XH ute with the 4.0 I6 engine. I hadn’t done this before and there were plenty of tips on Fordmods, but I discovered a few new things and thought I’d write down how I did it all. Hopefully it will help someone else down the track, as this was definitely one of those jobs where the right tools and a few tricks saved a heap of time.
This all started when I went to pick up my ute one morning after a night down at the local. I turned it over, heard a pop and then despite starting normally, my battery indicator came up on the dash and I had no power steering. I thought I had snapped the belt, but looking under the bonnet I saw the balancer had moved and had thrown the belt off. I took the belt out and drove a few blocks to the house where I could work on it.
When I looked closer the balancer had split into two pieces. Although it looks like it is only one piece, if you look you will see that the outer ring is sort of glued to the centre with a heavy compound that in my case, had given up completely and left the ring of the balancer detached from the centre. So while the centre was still spinning, it wasn’t running the belt at all. New balancer time.
You can see where the balancer outer ring has slipped forwards on the balancer centre.
And when it came off this is what was left.
I went and got some parts and bought the following off the shelf at Repco.
- PowerBond harmonic balancer
- Gates drive belt
- Timing cover seal
- Stanley pulley and balancer remover (from Supercheap)
All up this cost me about $230. It is probably cheaper elsewhere but they had the parts on the shelf and I didn’t have the option to wait for parts to be ordered. I need this car for work so I bought a new drive belt (even though the old one seemed OK, but it is my emergency spare now). Be aware that some catalogues list two drive belt sizes for this engine, a 6PK2300 and a 6PK2400. Mine was a 2400 and it pays to take note of what belt size you have before you go to the shops. You may need some other parts but hopefully you can read the step-by-step guide below and make up your own mind.
1. Remove the intake scoop
2. Remove the radiator fans. They have a 10mm bolt at the top on each side and a single wiring harness near the air box. Lift the fans out and while you are here, check that the radiator is sitting on the lower rubber mounts properly. Alternatively, you can take the radiator out too which will give you some more room, but draining it is a mess and I didn’t want to do that in our apartment complex. You can do this job quite easily with the radiator in place.
3. Remove the drive belt. The auto-tensioner is the component near the thermostat that has two idler pulleys and a central spring inside a housing to tension the belt. The unit has a slot for a 3/8 drive socket so you can release the tension on the belt. From above, the slot looks circular but if you put an extension arm in like the photo below and turn it clockwise, you can release the tension. Then you can lift the belt over the power steering pump or the idler puller to remove the belt.
4. I then gave the front of the engine a good clean with some degreaser so that I didn’t have bits of junk and dirt falling around the crankshaft. I always try and have as clean an area as possible to work in anyway.
5. Remove the bolt from the centre of the harmonic balancer with a 22mm socket. This can be quite hard as it will want to turn the engine over instead of loosening the bolt. An air ratchet would have been handy (a rattle gun wouldn’t fit though with the radiator in). Even though I have a manual ute, I could not get the bolt off with it in gear and the handbrake on, so I rested the extension arm on the frame behind the radiator. Then I removed the coil lead and turned the key for a second which cracked the bolt. The bolt then came out by hand, followed by the big flat washer. Now put the bolt back in without the washer. This is so you can pull the balancer off without damaging the thread on the crankshaft. The balancer will easily fit over the bolt head when you remove it.
6. The balancer puller I bought had a long bolt in the centre that was too long to fit in place with the radiator still in the car. Because I had the crankshaft bolt back in place, I didn’t really need to worry about a nicely finished end on the puller bolt so I cut it off with a hacksaw. I made my puller bolt 110mm long which gave me enough room (I did have the crankshaft bolt done right in). If you do this with the puller plate attached to the bolt you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the threads where you cut it.
7. Attach your balancer puller to the harmonic balancer. The generic bolts that came with the Stanley one I bought did not fit very well so I bought three M10x1.5 bolts that were 65mm long (I'm pretty sure they were 1.5 not 1.25). I attached the puller and noticed that the material is quite soft, so be sure to put the bolts in quite a way. The holes are not blind so you can put them in all the way through the balancer. Although in this photo the balancer is now off the car, it should look like this when it is attached.
8. I also noticed that the puller plate was not perfectly flat. One arm of it sat significantly closer to the harmonic balancer when I attached it. A better quality puller would have helped, but to ensure the long centre bolt would sit on the crankshaft bolt in the right spot, I just adjusted the 3 bolts attaching the plate to the balancer to make it sit properly.
9. Slowly pull the balancer off the crankshaft. The Stanley puller I bought had a 19mm head on it and the ring spanner worked easily. Then take the bolt out of the crankshaft.
10. You will see that the crankshaft has a key in it to align the balancer. Don’t lose this. It is probably best to remove it if it is loose and then re-install it when you put the new balancer on.
11. Removing seals is never much fun and this was no different. There isn’t much room around the crankshaft so a seal puller didn’t fit very well. I tried for ages to gently pry it out with small flat screwdrivers, but in the end I got a small set of pliers like the ones below and grabbed the inside edge of the seal. It was a bit messy but got the job done. Because it has a metal ring inside, the pliers gripped quite well. I twisted the pliers a bit and the seal then pulled right out. There will also be a little metal coil on the inside of the seal. Make sure it is there and hasn’t fallen into the engine. Unless it is cut it shouldn’t go far.
12. Clean up any junk around the timing cover and crankshaft.
13. Install the new timing seal with the little coil on the inside. A bit of grease will help it slide in. If it doesn’t go in all the way, a large socket or similar will help, just don’t use anything sharp or you will damage the seal before you have even installed it. It should sit flush with the timing cover.
14. Now you can put the new balancer on. Put the key back in the crankshaft slot if you removed it, then put a bit of silicone in the slot on the balancer to ensure oil doesn’t weep though the key slot. If you look at your old balancer you will probably see some silicon there for the same purpose.
15. Slide the balancer onto the crankshaft. You can see the new timing cover seal in this photo too.
16. This bit was the most annoying part of the whole process. The balancer won’t go on too far by hand and the crankshaft bolt was literally one thread too short to grab onto the crankshaft properly. I tried and tried to get the balancer on a little further but I could not get the bolt to grab. Some people have a slightly longer bolt they use to get the balancer started, then swap to the old bolt to finish it off. However, the bolt is fairly big with a fine thread (about M14x1.25 maybe?) and it wasn’t a bolt I could buy anywhere on a weekend. You’ll notice though that the washer for the crankshaft bolt is quite thick, so I went and bought a 5/8 zinc washer from Bunnings for 27 cents. This washer is about half as thick as the original washer and when I put the bolt on with this thinner washer, voila! The bolt grabbed, I did it up a few turns, then I took it out and put the original washer back on.
17. The Ford workshop manual I have didn’t appear to have a torque setting for this bolt, it just says to ‘install and tighten’. The balancer has to sit level with your other pulleys though and you can do the bolt up pretty tight with the car in gear. For an auto this may be a bit harder, and I read that some people have taken the rocker cover off and locked the cams to get this bolt either on or off.
18. While you have the belt off, it is a good time to check your other pulleys and components. For example, I noticed that my power steering pulley is cracking around the shaft and it looks as though it will break soon. However, I have to wait for this part to be shipped here so I will replace it later. If you have the radiator out, it would also be a good time to check the thermostat gasket and also thermostat housing gasket for leaks.
19. Install the belt, relieving the tension with the 3/8 drive arm that you used to remove the belt. If you are unsure of how the belt is routed, this is what the Ford manual shows. Make sure it is sitting properly in each of the pulley grooves.
20. If you took the coil lead off to crack the crankshaft bolt, re-attach it. There is also a single wire to a sensor on the engine block just forward of the coil, make sure you have not accidentally disconnected it in the process of moving the coil lead.
21. Install the radiator fans and intake scoop.
22. Check you have not left any tools in the engine bay, particularly if they can catch in the belt. It would be a shame to break things before you even finish the job.
Joined: 22nd Jan 2009
Ride: '91 EB Wagoon
good write up
other half's AU did similar which didn't realise till after i changed tensioner lol [altho didnt come apart] but to remove & refit you need a special puller [which i broke lol ]
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