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sounds like you are running an oil guage off the oil pump, when the screen clogs up, it shows pressure....because the guage is before the "clog"

sounds like loose fits in the motor's top end(lifters,rockers). if its still returning, its pumping.
 

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usually when s&s pumps are installed on an old motor running hydraulics, a passage is blocked with a setscrew, this passage determines whether the top or bottom end gets pressure first, ideally you wanna supply your top end, and only the bottom end after the top supply has been met. it sounds like this wasnt done.

but an old motor wont always generate any pressure, even though tons of oil is being pumped. either way...clogging the tappet screen is most likely what toasted the hydro.

front exhaust?
 
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