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    Calvan 38900 VS Time Sert 5553 – What’s the difference between Calvan 38900 and Time Sert 5553?

    38900 VS 5553

    DennisB © Summary: In this article we cover a common question that we receive on the phone and in email inquiries. What’s the difference between the Calvan 38900 and the Time Sert 5553? The Short Answer – Calvan and Time Sert are completely different brands. The Calvan spark plug thread repair kit has a much more limited coverage. Primarily working on 96-2000 Ford 4.6, 5.4 and 6.8 SOHC engines. Time Sert has a huge coverage that makes it much more logical for a repair shop to own, since it can be used on a wider range of vehicles. Both are oversize kits for doing repairs when a Helicoil or other competitive brand has failed making the hole larger. Since they are different brands, each manufacturer does things differently. Calvan uses a guide piece to align the reamer, which is like a drill bit, into the spark plug well/hole. Time Sert uses stepped tooling to guide their reamer in straight, so their kit can be used in many more applications. More information below.

    Calvan 38900 and Time Sert 5553 Facts

    1. Both the Time Sert 5553 and the Calvan 38900 are a permanent type repair as opposed to parts store temporary patch kits. No reported failures. We’ve been selling these kits since 2005. If used properly either of these spark plug repair kits will last the lifetime of the engine, unlike many parts store brands.

    2. Both are easy to use, can be used on the vehicle without removing the head. We have many professional shops and do it yourselfers that are successful using both the Calvan and the Time Sert brands.

    3. Both brands are held in without the need to whack with a hammer! Some competitive brands like Lisle and Sav-A- Thred require a cone shaped tool to be struck with a hammer to wedge the top of the insert and stake it in place. I know we’re not the only ones that think this is a flawed approach! Holding an insert in from the top, seems crazy, especially when you consider the heat and compression that the insert must withstand. Talk about a ticking time bomb! Time Sert and Calvan have better methods. Calvan inserts use high temperature JB Weld and have a head (or lip) on the top of the insert that tightens down like a bolt head. Time Sert’s inserts are held in with High Temperature Loctite and the bottom of their inserts are expanded with an installation driver, locking them in from the bottom of the insert.

    4. Both Time Sert and Calvan have an engineered method of reaming/drilling and tapping straight. This is important, especially when working in a spark plug well that is not visible once the tooling is in place. As mentioned before, the Calvan kit uses a guide piece. Time Sert has a smaller end on the beginning of their tooling used as a pilot. This stepped tooling helps insure that every hole is perfectly straight, no matter what the application is. Calvan’s kit only works on certain vehicles, primarily 96-2000 4.6, 5.4 and 6.8 Ford SOHC engines while the Time Sert kits can work on just about any application where an M14x1.25 taper or washer seat is required.

    5. More on the inserts. Both brands use steel alloy inserts that share enough of the same characteristics as aluminum so there’s no heat expansion and contracting issues. I know many forums are caught up in this potential problem of different heat expansion and cooling contraction rates, however in the many years we’ve been selling these kits that has never been an issue. The good news is that if this is something that is important to you, we do have aluminum inserts available to be used with the Time Sert 5553 kit, part number Time Sert 51407A. Calvan does not have an aluminum insert option. Both Calvan and Time Sert come with tapered seat steel alloy inserts in the kits. Calvan only offers partially threaded inserts – about five internal threads. Time Sert has fully threaded M14x1.25 51457 tapered seat inserts in the 5600 kit (which is their triple oversized kit). The Time Sert 5553 also has partially threaded inserts in their kit, but fully threaded taper seat inserts and washer seat inserts are available separately. Fully threaded inserts require the use of the 51484A installation ring on driver installation tool.

    6. The Calvan 389-4000 leak tester is only included in the 38900 kit. This tool consists of rubber hose, a brass air control valve and a rubber cone. It’s purpose is to help determine that the valves are closed before any reaming is done. This is important because the engine’s valves can be damaged by tooling if the valves are open and in the way. Also by isolating the cylinder by closing the valves, metal debris will not get blown into the rest of the engine when cleaning the cylinder out when blowing with compressed air. The good news is that we have the 389-4000 available separately so it can be purchased with a Time Sert kit as well. In most cases we ship it along with the kit. The 389-4000 eliminates the need to remove the valve cover to determine the valves are closed on the cylinder being worked on, as Time Sert suggests. Using the 389-4000 to determine the valves are closed whether using the 38900 or 5553 saves a lot of time and trouble.

    *Time Sert 5553 and 5600 come with free next day shipping, the Calvan comes with free ground shipping which is usually 2-3 days. We also have the Calvan 38900-1 at  a reduced price with one insert instead of the normal 6. Remember we’re NOT on Amazon, we sell exclusively on and To receive free tips on the kits we sell be sure to write the word “tips” in the comment section at checkout or mention to us on the phone when ordering. We’ll email them when you purchase right away so you can review the tips before your kit arrives. We appreciate any word of mouth advertising, like with friends “in person” the old fashioned way – or on automotive forums or Face Book etc.

    Have a question not covered here? Comment below or give Dennis a call at 800-734-8665 (TOOL).


    Comment from Chad
    Time June 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I’m interested in the Calvan kit how would I go about ordering a kit for a 2000 F150 5.4 liter that blew a plug with a Helicoil?

    Comment from Dennis Bandy
    Time June 19, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Hey Chad, sure we sell both the Time Sert products and the Calvan kits. We have the Calvan 38900-1 with one insert or the 38900 with 6 inserts. Order online or give us a call at 800-734-8665 between 10AM-5PM Eastern Time.

    Comment from Tim L.
    Time October 31, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Dennis, I’m a semi-retired master automotive tech with almost 43 years of experience. I’m not looking for a quick spark plug thread repair that won’t last because I know better. I have worked on hundreds of police vehicles, including Ford P71 P.I.’s. Believe it or not, I’ve never had to deal with a blown out spark plug on a 4.6, until it happened to me the other night in my own car. I believe this problem is more related to areas of the country that have extreme cold, which we don’t have here in the Phoenix area. It did cool down quite a bit this week due to el Nino rain storms hitting the state. I have a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport. It came with the same engine used in the P71 Police Package, including all of the additional coolers and dual exhaust. However, during my initial search, both on YouTube and your web site, it wasn’t until I read a comment on Amazon regarding the 5553 repair kit as it specifically relates to Z-Tech Romeo thread repair versus Triton. I snapped a picture of the side of the head on the passenger side, and did verify that the heads are Romeo, RF-1L2E, which means that the 51459 Triton inserts that come with the 5553 Repair Kit will NOT work. What I did find on Time-Sert’s web site, is detailed information about a 5554 Repair Kit that comes with 51460 inserts for the Z-Tech engine. Given that there are hundreds of thousands of Ford Crown Vic’s on the road, especially P71 Police Interceptor’s, both fleet and sold to the public, in addition to P71 taxis, I don’t understand why you don’t mention the Z-Tech 51460 insert information in your 5553 kit description, offer the 5554 kit, or at least an option to substitute the Triton inserts for the Z-Tech ones when ordering the 5553 kit. I would like to order one, but I’m not going to buy extra inserts simply because you don’t offer the exchange option or the 5554 repair kit. Please let me know if this is doable, and if so, please send me an email and I will order one on Monday. Thanks.

    Comment from Dennis Bandy
    Time October 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Hello Tim, thanks for the comments. The 5553 and the 51459’s will definitely work for the RF-1L2E heads. You just need to be sure to use the counter bore pn 55518 to remove the extra step material. You are right in saying that we don’t have the 5554 Z-Tech kit listed. We will definitely list that kit on both of our websites. The Z-Tech engine is found in some Ford Focus cars and never in a Crown Vic. The Time Sert webite is sometimes confusing. If you can provide the URL for the page you’re talking about I will be happy to take a look at it and clarify. I think what you see is a mention of the Romeo style head on the information about using the 5554. That’s because it can be used for the Romeo style heads but you must use the counterbore and te correct depth insert which is the 51459. Obviously, you have to take comments on product reviews with a grain of salt because the person may mean well but may be misinformed. BTW we don’t sell on Amazon or Ebay. We do offer free fast Express mail day shipping or a 10% discount if we ship using regular 2-3 free ground shipping. And we email free tips that we’ve compiled over the years.
    Ford Z Tec

    Comment from Tim L.
    Time October 31, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Dennis, my bad. I should have stated that the mention of Z-Tech was for spark plug style comparison only, as well as the difference with the Z-Tech and Romeo head versions versus the Triton, due to the recess in the head above the taper seat for the spark plug. I knew I should have proof read it. lol Anyway, I obviously have the Romeo heads, which do use the longer threaded spark plugs. My heads have never been touched by anyone but me, as I was the first one to tune it up since new and used anti-seize on the plug threads. It startled me when it happened as I was beginning to accelerate from a traffic signal when the plug blew. Sounded like a gun shot, and it freaked out the motorist in the right lane next to me. As for the kits, are you going to list the 5554 right away, or can you do a substitution furnishing the 51460 inserts for the Romeo heads instead of the standard 51459 inserts for the Triton? I need to get going as my vehicle is deadlined until I can repair it. Also, I know that you don’t sell on Amazon. But I saw a listing there and reading the reviews to be exact, is where I saw a comment about the use of the kit for the P71 P.I. engine, with the link to your site and one for Time-Sert’s web site. That helped me to get the additional information that I needed before contacting you. As I said before, the items listed on various web sites including your own, fail to mention the Romeo or V-Tech heads, that the 5553 kit will work but no mention of the 5554. I read about the 5554 kit on Time-Sert’s web site. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty mind exhausting day in front of the computer trying to get answers as to what the best kit is to use. Please let me know what you can do. Thanks.

    Comment from Tim L.
    Time October 31, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Dennis, to clarify why I mention the 51460 insert, the information is in the first link. Although it mentions to use it for the Z-Tech engine, my Romeo version heads use the longer threaded spark plugs. So, is the 51460 insert the correct one to use? I’ve also included another link that gives very detailed information for the 5553 kit, especially how to identify and repair the Romeo heads that first appeared on the 2001 4.6 engines.

    Comment from Dennis Bandy
    Time November 1, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Tim, the 5553 with 51459’s would work for your application. You can see that the 51460 is a much longer reach than what you have. You have what’s considered a 3/4″ reach plug. If you have the fully threaded inserts, meaning the threads go all the way to the tapered part of the spark plug (like the middle one in the image below), you may can either use the 51459’s that come in the 5553 kit or use the 5553 and purchase the 51457 inserts that are the same reach but are fully threaded. If you decide to use the fully threaded inserts pn 51457, you will also need the 51484 Setting Ring Tool to prevent damage to the upper threads when installing.

    Ford Spark Plug Reach

    Comment from Tim L.
    Time November 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Dennis, so easy for me to get caught up in all the reading material. The photos you provided make it very clear as to the differences in the various spark plug thread lengths, something I didn’t pay close enough attention to and should have. Thank you for clarifying what the best insert to use is. If I understood correctly, the insert is expanded at the bottom when seated, so that it forms a tight seal and won’t blow or walk out. If my assessment is correct, that’s why I was concerned about using the proper insert so that it goes all the way into the head, while none of it is exposed at the bottom inside the combustion area. This is all new to me, so I want to get it right he first time. I am fortunate that our weather here in the Phoenix area, spares us from many of the problems related to areas that get cold winters and hot summers, in addition to the corrosion issues associated with salt and excessive moisture. The worst I’ve had to deal with out here has been the numerous head bolt thread failure problems in GM produced engine blocks, especially Cadillac. The more common problem with Ford Crown Vics and other Ford, Lincoln & Mercury vehicles equipped with the 4.6 or larger V-8 engines, including P71 P.I. engines, has been the intake manifolds. I’ve already upgraded mine to the newer version to get rid of the coolant leak issues. I just wish that when I had things torn apart to replace it, that I could have foreseen the spark plug thread problem and dealt with it all at the same time, as it would have been much easier to do all 8 cylinders and just get it over with while the intake and all associated parts, including the fuel rails and coil packs were off the engine. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Thanks for the information, it’s been very helpful.

    Comment from Tom
    Time October 1, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Have a 4valve 5.4 can I use the calvan 38900

    Comment from Dennis Bandy
    Time October 2, 2017 at 9:21 am

    No, the guide in the 38900 is not made for 4V engines. I’d use the 5553-389-4000.

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