Sorry for the bump, but better than a new thread...
Replaced the cam synchronizer and sensor on our '97 Taurus today. 215K miles, the CEL
popped on probably 3000 miles ago, didn't get to it too soon because at the time I didn't know the cam synchronizer had the important job of turning the oil pump.
Not too hard to do at all. I bought an alignment tool, which was a waste of money since it's easier to just mark the old piece's position and not worry about TDC
I removed the air intake snorkel, the "snow shield" over the throttle cables, and the throttle cables and return spring. Also disconnected and moved the 1,2,3 spark plug wires. Removed the top of the wire bundle plastic housing, and held the wire bundle out of the way with a small bungee cord. I attempted to bend the bottom of the plastic housing but after 215K miles and 16 years, it was brittle and snapped. (When reassembling, the wire bundle and the top cover keep it in place well enough that I don't consider that a very big faux pas.) I didn't have to do anything with the coolant lines or temp sensors.
Removed the sensor from on top of the synchronizer shaft, and found the magnet gone, and the synchronizer's "blade" chewed to pieces.
Marked the position with a screwdriver on the block, and a Sharpie on a fastener on the block that lined up with the three grooves on the synchronizer, and did my best to discern where the edges of the destroyed blade were in relation to the grooves, to set the new one.
Removed the old one, and oiled up the new one. Set in down in the hole aligned in relation to the marks, and watched how far the blade moved as the gear engaged. Pulled it out, adjusted the blade position, and re-inserted it. It moved into alignment as the gear engaged, and I tapped it into place by using screw driver blade on the ridge that sits on the block, before tightening the hold down screw.
Put everything else back in place, and she fired up on the first turn of the key. Only put about 25 mile on the new sensor, but really haven't noticed anything except the absence of the CEL
And that is what a cam synchronizer looks like after 215K miles.
Let me know if you have any questions. I found Spridget's and the other posts linked off of the topic finder a great help.