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Thread: 322 valve lifter question ('54 or '56)

  1. #1
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    Sep 2017
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    322 valve lifter question ('54 or '56)

    So a while ago I finally bought my first Buick (
    Now I have had some issues with lifters. getting the correct ones to be precise.

    When I bought my '54 I knew it had some bad lifters, so I took it apart.

    Now, I am 100% certain this is the engine the car came from the factory with back in 1954 because I have the original salesreciept that has the cars VIN and the engine VIN.
    I ordered some new lifters at a local shop and he got them from the US using the engine VIN as refference. But after 2 weeks I got what I believed to be 'wrong' lifters.


    So I went and complained, he would see what he could do, and in the mean time I ordered some lifters directly from a classic Buick-only shop in California (wich where specified as '53-'55 lifters).

    After these showed up they turned out to be thesame 'wrong' shorter lifters I had been send before.

    Now the guy from the local shop had ordered other ones after measuring my 'original' lifters, and had been send what apparently are '56 Buick lifters.


    The guys he got them from in the US said a common swap back in the day was to put '56-'57 heads on the older '53-'55 engines for a little more horsepower, and that was probably what had happend here.

    But I've read in some places you cannot use a '53-'55 stock cam with '56-'57 lifters due to wear.
    Now some of my lifters where pretty bad, and one camlobe was also worn down kinda bad in my opinion.

    So to get down to the actual questions here:

    1. How can I check I have '56-'57 heads on my engine?
    2. Is this wear just from running with a couple bad lifters? (and bad modern oil, I've got proper thicker oil to put in it)
    3. Can I run these '56 lifters with the original cam or not?
    4. Incase 3 =NO, would the best fix be to buy '54 pushrods and put in the '54 lifters I have OR put in a '56 cam?

    Thanx alot,
    Greeting from Belgium,

  2. #2
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    Feb 2009
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    Forget about 57...heads are much different and will not easily work.
    53,54,55 have steel cams and compatible lifters. 56 cams are cast and have compatible lifters. The 53,54,55 pushrods are longer than the 56 but the top of the lifter has a deeper recess, so the overall length is the same and can be swapped if you use 53,54,55 lifters and 53,54,55 pushrods; and use 56 lifter and 56 pushrods.
    According to my calculations, using all nominal dimensions, here is what I came up with when I measured my OE 1955 Buick V8 parts. 1953-1955 Buick V8 push rods and valve lifters should be the same.
    8.375 (length of 1953-1955 push rod)
    - 0.375 (length of 1953-1955 push rod that is recessed into the top of the 1953-1955 valve lifter)
    + 2.000 (length of 1953-1955 valve lifter)
    10.000 TOTAL overall assembled length

    If the 10 TOTAL is the same using a 1956 push rod with a 1956 valve lifter, here is what you should have. I do not have any 1956 parts to verify these dimensions.
    8.250 (length of 1956 push rod)
    - 0.250 (length of 1956 push rod that is recessed into the top of the 1956 valve lifter)
    +2.000 (length of 1956 valve lifter)
    10.000 TOTAL overall assembled length
    Some suppliers list the same lifter for all 322 and 264 engines and that is wrong.
    You need a new cam and lifters, so just get the 56 ones that are much cheaper than 53,54,55 also the supplied cams are all cast anyway.
    I cannot read the numbers on the head, but appear to be 54 heads.
    You have some later 1:6 rockers vs stock 1:5 rockers...that is a good upgrade!
    Putting 56 heads on a 54 would give less power, but using 54 heads with 56 pistons would give more power if no clearance issues.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dbl Oak,TX
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    Here's some more info from the factory to dealers on replacing '53-'55 V8 camshafts. The new '56 type camshaft came in a kit along with '56 type lifters, push rods, and distributor gear. If there is a C stamped in the lifter cover near the distributor, a dealer installed a kit of '56 parts at one time.

    It's hard to id the heads while in place. If they ever come off, id will be easy by measuring the valve head diameter.
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    What has been, can be again. (Bob Wills, 1942)

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