Thank you everyone with your responses. I probably didn't explain myself properly because I'm still looking for an answer, or perhaps it's there and I don't understand it. I'm not looking to adjust the valves. My question is, on an almost stock engine, can you just torque the rocker nut to 20 ft. lbs. and leave it?? I believe this is the factory method. Thank you, Nicholas.
You explained yourself properly. The info supplied is not
used to adjust the valves - just torque the rocker arm nuts down as factory.
You got several responses on how to set the valves in an unloaded, no pressure on the rocker arms, position. You can either rotate the engine for each cylinder and get each cylinder into its compression stroke at top dead center (TDC) and do each 8 separately and individually OR, rotate the engine 90 degrees at a time to save a little extra spinning of the engine and adjust the numbered cylinders as bigD
has pointed out.
Some will simply torque the nuts down regardless as to whether there is any pressure on the rocker arm (like at full lift) or both valve closed (rocker arms on compression stoke, no spring pressure). However, spring pressure could affect torque readings as the spring pressure is pushing up against the rocker arm pivot point and up against the rocker arm nut as you are trying to torque it down - ie 2 opposing forces. This may not be quite the concern with stock cam/springs, but may be of concern when you begin to increase lift and/or spring pressures. So, best to torque the nuts while the rocker arms have no lift/spring pressure being applied to them - which is TDC/Compression Stroke where both rocker arms/valves are closed.
"From what I recall, I might have been close to running out of threads about the same time I reached the 20 lbs. of torque."
Thread count has nothing to do with torquing the nuts down. The rocker arm studs have a 7/16" base and 3/8" threaded top area. The base of the stud tapers into the 3/8" threaded stud, thus the Pontiac term "bottleneck studs." The rocker arm nut is designed to clamp to the "neck" of the stud at the transition. Torque to 20-25 ft lbs and your done, period.