Ford Mid-Size Cars 1971-1985 Repair Guide

Connecting Rod Bearings



Connecting rod bearings for the engines covered in this guide consist of two halves or shells which are interchangeable in the rod and cap. When the shells are placed in position, the ends extend slightly beyond the rod and cap surfaces. When the rod bolts are tightened the shells will be clamped tightly in place to insure positive seating and to prevent turning. A tang holds the shells in place.

If a rod bearing becomes noisy or is worn so that its clearance on the crank journal is sloppy, a new bearing of the correct undersize must be selected and installed since there is a provision for adjustment.

Under no circumstances should the rod end or cap be filed to adjust the bearing clearance, nor should shims of any kind be used.

Inspect the rod bearings while the rod assemblies are out of the engine. If the shells are scored or show flaking, they should be replaced. If they are in good shape, check for proper clearance on the crank journal. Any scoring or ridges on the crank journal means the crankshaft must be reground and fitted with undersized bearings, or replaced.

Make sure connecting rods and their caps are kept together, and that the caps are installed in the proper direction.

Replacement bearings are available in standard size, and in undersizes for reground crankshaft. Connecting rod-to-crankshaft bearing clearance is checked using Plastigauge® or equivalent gauging material at either the top or bottom of each crank journal. The Plastigauge® has a range of 0-0.003 in. (0-0.076mm).

  1. Remove the rod cap with the bearing shell. Completely clean the bearing shell and the crank journal, and blow any oil from the oil hole in the crankshaft.

The journal surfaces and bearing shells must be completely free of oil. Plastigauge® is soluble in oil. Place a strip of Plastigauge® lengthwise along the bottom center of the lower bearing shell, then install the cap with shell and tighten the bolt or nuts to specification. DO NOT TURN the crankshaft with the Plastigauge® installed in the bearing.

  1. Remove the bearing cap with the shell. The flattened Plastigauge® will be found sticking to either the bearing shell or crank journal. Do not remove it yet.
  3. Use the printed scale on the Plastigauge® envelope to measure the flattened material at its widest point. The number within the scale which most closely corresponds to the width of the Plastigauge® indicated bearing clearance in thousandths of an inch.
  5. Check the specifications chart in this section for the desired clearance. It is advisable to install a new bearing if clearance exceeds 0.003 in. (0.076mm). However, if the bearing is in good condition and is not being checked because of bearing noise, bearing replacement is not necessary.
  7. If you are installing new bearings, try a standard size first, then each undersize in order until one is found that is within the specified limits. Each under size has its size stamped on it.
  9. When the proper size shell is found, clean off the Plastigauge® material from the shell, oil the bearing thoroughly, reinstall the cap with its shell and tighten the rod bolt nuts to specification.

With the proper bearing selected and the nuts tightened, it should be possible to move the connecting rod back and forth freely on the crank journal as allowed by the specified connecting rod end clearance. If the rod cannot be moved, either the rod bearing is too far undersize or the rod is misaligned.