While the LS engine enjoys massive popularity, it does also have its own little quirks which the aftermarket has done its best to accommodate. One such accommodation is that the front and rear timing covers have no indexing system, and can allow for misalignment of the seals to the crank if just “eyeballed” when installed. Sure, you could use the balancer to align the cover, but that only works for front covers with the seals pre-installed. That leaves bare front covers and rear covers blowing in the wind. Enter Mr. Gasket‘s LS cover alignment tools.
“It appears that the covers just bolt on, but in actuality, there’s some play in them,” says Ray Frescas. “Using these tools, you’re able to install the covers correctly, and prevent oil leaks.”
The idea behind these is that the tools align the covers’ seal openings concentric to the crankshaft, which greatly reduces the chances of leakage.
The tools come in three sizes, for three different LS applications. The front cover (or timing cover) has two different sizes available. The LSTC2 is for a timing cover that already has the seal installed, while the LSTC1 is for a cover without.
“Using the LSTC1 without the seal already installed is a little more accurate, because the seal itself can move around a little bit. With no seal, there is no play.” Frescas says.
As Frescas walks through the proper use of the tools, he also points out another of the LS engine family’s quirks – the three-way junction where the timing cover, block, and oil pan all meet, which can be a leak point if not properly sealed.
“Make sure to put a dab of RTV on the corners where everything meets for a good seal,” says Frescas.
Using the tools themselves is fairly straightforward, as Frescas demonstrates. “Thread a few bolts in loosely to hold the timing cover in place, and then lube the tool lightly with oil and then tap it into place,” Frescas says. “Make sure you can still spin the tool freely once the bolts are snugged down, and then you can finish torquing the bolts to 18 pound-feet, in a crisscross pattern.”
Once the timing cover is installed and torqued, the centering tool becomes a seal driver, using a mallet to tap the seal into place.
Were you using a timing cover with a seal already installed, Frescas shows the proper method of use of the LSTC2 tool. “It pretty much does the same job, but it simulates the hub within the seal,” says Frescas. “Just make sure you don’t flex or damage the seal while installing [the tool].”
Installing the rear cover and rear main seal is the exact same process as using the LSTC1 on the front, except that you use the LSRC1 tool. “You need to make sure to oil both o-rings on the rear cover tool,” Frescas says. “You might have some trouble getting the tool to spin freely once you have it installed. To fix that, you tighten down the oil pan bolts to pull the cover down to its proper height.” Then, once everything is torqued, you can use the rear seal tool to set your rear main seal into the cover with a couple taps from a mallet.
Universal to all engines within the LS family, these tools are simple to use and a relatively inexpensive way to save yourself the headaches caused by a leaky seal.