Some thoughts on choosing a proper cam: STOCK CARS
1- To many racers the best cam is the one in the car when they get the chassis sorted out and the driver finally gets the track figured out.
2- Short duration cams with wider lobe separations usually yield much flatter torque curves
3- Longer rod motors prefer a shorter duration cam with wider lobe separation
4- Longer duration cams require tighter lobe separation to have any power off the corner. (not usually a preferable combination in 2 bbl classes.)
5- Stock exhaust manifolds or a highly restricted exhaust usually respond well to shorter exhaust duration and wider lobe separation. Power increases are most evident at higher rpm where exhaust backpressure is greatest and reversion is most prevalent.
6- Most unported heads approach 85 or 95 % of peak flow at .400 to .450 lift and do not need or want a maximum valve lift over .540 to.555. Often a low cam lift with 1.65 or 1.7 ratio rockers is very helpful on the intake side as long as lift is kept to about .550. Exhaust is less critical with 1.5 or 1.55 being the most popular.
7- Dyno testing doesn’t test drivability or throttle response of the engine.
8- The important numbers on a dyno sheet are about a thousand RPM above and below peak torque and peak horsepower. Peak numbers are for bragging purposes and high peak numbers do not win races.
9- The benefit of high ratio rockers is faster valve movement and the added lift is frequently detrimental in unported heads. It often helps to utilize a lower cam lift with high ratio rockers.
10- Changing the valve lash is a good way to get an indication of which way to go for your next cam change. You won’t hurt anything by going too tight but too loose will let the valves slam shut, causing damage to valves and seats. .004 to .006 loose is usually OK.
11- Look at the Major Intensity numbers to get an idea as to how radical the profile is.( major intensity is the difference between the .020 duration and the .050 duration.) Lower numbers are more radical but anything less than 27 or 28 degrees may be very hard on the valve train. Our 26-degree SXTL profiles are a notable exception to this.
12- Glowing exhaust pipes may be an indication of over scavenging by the exhaust. A shorter exhaust duration. Smaller headers, or even a restrictor plate at the header may help. The problem is often mixture burning in the exhaust rather than in the cylinder. Many people think a lean mixture causes it. Be sure to ascertain which problem you have as the lean mixture is a much more serious problem and can cause quick meltdown.
Camshaft intensity is a measurement term coined by Harvey Crane to compare ramp characteristics of camshafts.
• Hydraulic Intensity is the difference between the .004 duration and the .050 duration.
• Minor intensity is the difference between the .010 duration and the .050 duration.
• Major intensity is the difference between the .020 duration and the .050 duration
Lower numbers indicate more radical profiles but too low can be too radical and lead to noisy valve train and even to broken parts.
Some thoughts on choosing a proper cam: DRAG CARS
1- Cars with small tires or poor suspension may need a larger cam to kill some power off the line in order have a consistent launch without overpowering the suspension.
2- Hard tail dragsters usually run quicker with shorter duration cams but then lose consistency because the harder launch overpowers the track. Soft tail cars can adjust for the harder launch and remain consistent.
3- Be absolutely sure of your gear ratio when selecting a cam. Just cause your buddy told you that trick new rear is a 3.73 or 4.10 doesn’t mean it really is. If you pick a cam to go with a 3.73 rear and it turns out you have a 2.73 The difference would be 3529 rpm with 2.73 gears and 26” tires @ 100mph or 4822 rpm with 3.73 gears. The same cam won’t work real well in both scenarios.
4- The first thing to do in selecting a cam is to determine top speed in high gear. If 6,000 rpm = 150 mph in high gear and you will never see that speed then you definitely don’t need a cam with 6,000 rpm power. Tuning for power at too high an rpm is a very common mistake.
5- You need to make good power below the converter stall speed (not flash rpm) in order to hit the converter hard. This becomes more critical as car weight goes up. Peak power should be slightly below the rpm through the lights.
Some thoughts on choosing a proper cam: STREET CARS
Be absolutely sure of your gear ratio when selecting a cam.
1- The first thing to do in selecting a cam is to determine top speed in high gear (not overdrive). If 6,000 rpm = 150 mph in high gear and you will never see that speed then you definitely don’t need a cam with 6,000 rpm power. Tuning for power at too high an rpm is a very common mistake.
2- A car with 3.08 gears will go 150+ mph @ 6,000 rpm. 5,000 rpm still = 125+ mph while 2,600 = 70 mph. It makes a lot more sense to tune the engine for power in the 2,000 to 4,500 rpm range. You can get good fuel economy as well as better performance. Any cam bigger than stock will make more power at high rpm. It just doesn’t make sense to select a cam with max power at 5,000 rpm if it will spend most of its life below 3,000 rpm. Below are common rpm=speed ratios. All are based on a 26-inch diameter tire.
2.73 @3000 = 85 mph, 3.55 @3000 = 66 mph, 4.10 @3000= 57 mph
3.08 @3000 = 76 mph, 3.73 @3000= 62 mph
3.23 @3000 = 72 mph, 3.90 @3000= 60 mph
3- If you have big heads you definitely need a smaller cam than if you used the stock heads. Failure to realize this will result is a big loss in low end and midrange throttle response. It will likely make great power at rpm levels you don’t even want to see.
4- Be careful of using big carbs. A 650 cfm carb is plenty for all but the most radical 350 engines, even for strictly racing. A 750 may make more top end power but it gives up a lot in low-end throttle response and midrange torque. This is especially true when you have big heads. The fact that your buddy ran faster with your 750 than his 650 only means there was something wrong with his 650.
We have had new castings made for the 57-59 371 and 59-64 394 Oldsmobile camshafts. These cams are made of Super Proferal P55 material which is far superior to standard proferal used in most cams today. We have a few finished 371 4 barrel cams and many semi finished cams which we can grind to any profile. For the 394 engine we have a few 4 bbl. Cams, a good number of Starfire cams and many semi finished pieces.
Oldsmobile engine made between 1964 and 1967 had 2 different lifter bank angles. Some were 45 degrees and others were 39 degrees. The only consistency to these is the 330, which was always 45 degrees. Over the years these engines may have been swapped around and may not have the original engine in place. We recommend verifying the lifter bank angle before ordering a camshaft. We can tell you how to do this easily. All Oldsmobile engines from 1968 up have a 39-degree lifter bank angle and are interchangeable including the earlier 39 degree blocks.
We can custom grind almost any combination of profiles for the 45-degree engines. We stock many cams for the 39-degree engines.
Some of the 65-67 engines had .923 diameter lifters instead of the more standard .842. Be sure you know which ones you have. The .923 lifters are rare but we usually have them in stock.
We have a few semi cams for the 1953-55 Buick V8. We can grind almost any profile combination you need. We also have a very few finished stock cams. We also offer performance cams for the 1956-66 Buick 364 / 401 / 425 engines as well as the 67 up 400 / 430 / 455 engines