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Old 09-19-2019, 09:09 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 31
Variocam actuator problem

Quick question, as I’m replacing cam chains and pads at the moment (high camshaft deviation numbers) and could use some help.
This is on my ‘02.
Per Pelican tech article, got the cams out and onto my bench, compressed the actuator with a ziptie and removed the old pads and disengaged the old chain. Snapped new pads in place, put the new chain in place and put the actuator unit back between cams, then released tension by snipping the ziptie. All according to Pelican instructions.
Once the ziptie is removed, the pads are pushed so tight against the chain that the sprockets dig into the sides of the actuator and you can’t move the chain or anything.
There’s way too much pressure, or push, from the actuator. What is going on?
(Chain and pads are correct parts, and installed correctly as far as orientation and timing.)
Has anyone had this issue before? Or can tell me how to fix or avoid it? I still have the other bank to do...

Last edited by Boxtar; 09-19-2019 at 09:10 PM. Reason: Car spec added
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Old 09-20-2019, 01:17 AM   #2
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Hello Boxtar

I am no expert but I have watched a 986 engine rebuild vid on YouTube. The zip tie or special tool to keep the tension off is only released when the cams are installed and fastened down(986fix.com)
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:21 AM   #3
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Thanks for your answer.
Yes, I’ve noticed there is that difference on 986fix’s videos, which are quite good. However, the Pelican instructions call for compression to be released on the bench. So I’m thinking that if everything is bound up on the bench, I’ve done something, or something is going, wrong.
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Old 09-20-2019, 01:23 PM   #4
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Everything was bound up when I bench released. Once you tighten the adjuster down, holding fixtures, and cam caps, with the cams installed on the head it will free up. ( I don’t have the shop manual in front of me so I don’t remember what order you’re supposed to do all that in.)

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Old 09-20-2019, 05:57 PM   #5
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Really appreciate the advice.
This afternoon I installed the bound-up actuator/change/pad unit into the head and, as you mentioned, everything fell into position when the bearings and cam lock tool were installed and the zip-tie removed.
The Pelican directions are good, but do tend to leave out a lot of little details that I might have found helpful :-)

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