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Old 07-29-2009, 06:13 PM   #1
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Cam basics

Thought id throw together some basic info on camshafts. I know there are people asking about cams and if they should swap one into their car... but they dont know what all the numbers/terms mean. so hopefully this helps. and more stuff will be added. as well as other tech things.



Lobe Lift
Refers to the distance, measured in thousandths of an inch, that the lobe of the cam is raised from the base circle of the cam. Increasing valve lift allows more air/fuel mixture to enter the cylinders and more exhaust to exit, which generally leads to an increase in engine performance. An increase in lift almost always leads to an increase in duration because increasing lobe lift requires more distance to create the opening and closing "ramps" on the lobe. However, today's computer designed, asymmetrical profile cams have a high acceleration opening ramp, while the closing side sets the valve down softly, helping longevity.

Valve Lift
Refers to the distance, measured in thousandths of an inch, that the valve is lifted off its seat at the cam lobe's highest point. Remember, the cam's rotary motion is converted to linear motion thru a lifter, pushrod, and finally a rocker arm. Therefore, valve lift equals lobe lift multiplied by the rocker arm ratio.

Lifters
A cam lifter, aka a follower, aka a tappet, makes direct contact with the cam lobes and follows the contour, or profile, of the cam.

Types of lifters:
Hydraulic flat-tappet
This type of lifter is self-adjusting, thanks to a valve controlled plunger inside its lifter body. engine oil pressure maintains preload against the pushrod, and since no lash allowance is needed, they run quieter than mechanical lifters. On the other hand, they can perform poorly at high rpm due to an inability to bleed down excessive oil pressure

Solid (Mechanical) flat-tappet
Essentially a solid link between the came lobe and the pushrod. Allows for greater rpm potential, since bleed-down is not a concern, but do require that lash, or clearance, be set between the valve and rocker arm to allow for expansion as the engine gets hotter.

Mechanical roller-tappet
Allows for the most aggressive lobe designs, due to the roller follower, and lends itself to high rpm operation, since its a solid body design. Like a solid flat tappet lifter, it requires a lash setting that must be readjusted over time.

Hydraulic roller-tappet
Used in OEM small blocks since 1987, allows for aggressive lobe designs along with self-adjustability an dquiet operation. They can, however, also suffer from bleed-down at high rpm.


One of the roller cam's greatest advantages is that rolling frictional forces are less than those caused by the "sliding" of a flat-tappet cam, which frees up some power. In general, roller-tappet profiles can be more aggressive for a given duration. On the other hand, a flat-tappet cam actually accelerates the lifter more quickly in the initial portion of the lift curve. With a sort-duration cam, a flat-tappet cam can actually get to a higher lift faster than a roller cam.




(pic from Gen-IV)


Duration
As lift refers to how far a valve opens, duration refers to how long it stays open. The opening time is expressed in degrees of crankshaft rotation, so a cam spec'd to 230* duration means the valve is being held open for 230* of crank shaft rotation.

usually referred to by two types of duration
Advertised Duration
The number of crankshaft degrees that the cam follower is lifted more than a predetermined amount off its seat. the SAE standard is 0.006 inch. So advertised duration is the number of crankshaft degrees that the valve is open at least 0.006 inch. ***Not all manufacturers use SAE standard***

Duration at 0.050 inch
Measures the movement of the cam follower, in crankshaft degrees, from the point where it is first lifted 0.050 inch off the base circle on the opening side of the lobe to the point where it decends to 0.050 inch off the base circle on its closing side. ***Common industry standard ***



Duration has a dramatic effect on engine performance. Stock camshafts usually offer relatively short duration and lift figures. This is done in the interest of a smooth idle and optimal part-throttle response. Longer intake duration opens the valve sooner in the cycle and closes it later. At lower engine speeds, this means the intake valve is still open as the piston begins to move upward, pushing the fresh air/fuel mixture out of the cylinder. On top of that, cylinder pressure can't build until the intake valve closes. The result is an engine with poor low and midrange respons. But the late-closing intake valve becomes an advantage at higher rpm, when the higher air inlet speeds keep filling the cylinders, even with the late closing valve. Basically, increasing duration will move the torque curve higher in the rpm range. Choosing a performance cam becomes a big compromise, you have to give some to get some.


Overlap
Overlap is the amount of time, measured in crankshaft degrees, that both the intake and the exhaust valves are open. This happens at the end of the exhaust stroke and the beginning of the intake stroke. Increasing duration or decreasing LSA, or doing both, increases overlap. A cam with an exhaust closing point of 4* ATDC and an intake opening point of 8* BTDC has 12* of total overlap



Lobe-Separation Angle (LSA)
Indicates the angle, in camshaft degrees, between the maximum lift points on the intake lobe and the exhaust lobe. Lobe separation is usually calculated by adding the intake centerline and the exhaust centerline, then dividing by two. For example, a cam with a 106* intake centerline and a 114* exhaust centerline has an LSA of 110* [(106+114)/2=110]

Narrower LSA
Increased overlap
Increased low-rpm torque
Narrower powerband
Reduced idle quality
Increased cranking compression
Decreased piston-to-valve clearance

Wider LSA
Reduced overlap
Improved top-end power
Wider powerband
Improved idle quality
Reduced cranking compression
Increased piston-to-valve clearance



Single and Dual pattern cams

Single Pattern
In this type of cam, the intake and exhaust lobe profiles are identical, using equal amounts of duration and lift.

Dual Pattern
This type of cam has different intake and exhaust profiles. In general, the exhaust lobe will employ more lift and duration to help evacuate exhaust gas from the cylinders.




more info


http://www.howstuffworks.com/camshaft.htm

http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/156.cfm




photo thanks to UsedTaHaveA68



LS3 Cam specs
204/211 @.05 .551/.525 117


http://www.camarohomepage.com/ls3/page4.htm






L99 Lift specs
Camshaft Lobe Lift - Exhaust - Non Active Fuel Management Cylinders
7.48 mm
0.294 in

Camshaft Lobe Lift - Exhaust - Active Fuel Management Cylinders
7.61 mm
0.300 in

Camshaft Lobe Lift - Intake - Non Active Fuel Management Cylinders
7.48 mm
0.294 in

Camshaft Lobe Lift - Intake - Active Fuel Management Cylinders
7.61 mm
0.300 in
Attached Images
  
Attached Images
File Type: pdf GM Cam Spec Comparison[1].pdf (25.5 KB, 913 views)
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Last edited by CamaroSpike23; 07-30-2009 at 06:35 PM. Reason: Added: GM cam spec comparison sheet (corvettes) and L99 lifter pics
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Old 07-29-2009, 06:52 PM   #2
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thanks for the info man
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:43 PM   #3
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Sweet!
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:23 PM   #4
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There, are you happy now you have three.

By the way, Great info
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:33 PM   #5
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Great info. Thanx.

Ok, that's my ass kising for the day.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:38 PM   #6
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wow good crash course...ty spike
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:48 PM   #7
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:52 PM   #8
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this is a great thread by a superbly intelligent human being. I wish I was as smart as Spike. I can only bask in the light of his automotive knowledge.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:54 PM   #9
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Great info , should help clear things up for ppl not familiar with these things , good job
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:02 PM   #10
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this is a great thread by a superbly intelligent human being. I wish I was as smart as Spike. I can only bask in the light of his automotive knowledge.

thanks zebra. that really means a lot coming from you.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:06 PM   #11
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this is a great thread by a superbly intelligent human being. I wish I was as smart as Spike. I can only bask in the light of his automotive knowledge.
Ass kisser.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:15 PM   #12
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Great stuff Spike. About all you could want.

Can you add some info on VVT and cam phasing?
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:25 PM   #13
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Great stuff Spike. About all you could want.

Can you add some info on VVT and cam phasing?

planning on it. most of my info on vvt is stored at the house. I'm going to be creating a few threads over the next month or so about cams, blocks, heads, pistons/rods/cranks, transmissions, etc.
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Nobody makes CamaroSpike happy. You just disgust him a little less than other people.

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Read that link that Spike posted, it'll tell you everything you need to know.
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Post count is truly an accurate measure of how cool someone is on the Internet.
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I piss excellence
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Quote:
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Nobody makes CamaroSpike happy. You just disgust him a little less than other people.
"You can think I'm wrong, but that's no reason to quit thinking.”
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But not all people were born awesome like you, Spike.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:33 PM   #14
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also, if any of you gearheads can think of something I missed, post it up and I'll add it in.
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Read that link that Spike posted, it'll tell you everything you need to know.
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Quote:
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I piss excellence
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"You can think I'm wrong, but that's no reason to quit thinking.”
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:57 PM   #15
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Ass kisser.
I was going to say the same, you beat me. lol
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:24 PM   #16
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I figured a visual might help people out. From http://www.chevyhiperformance.com/te.../photo_04.html

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Old 07-29-2009, 11:46 PM   #17
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this is a great thread by a superbly intelligent human being. I wish I was as smart as Spike. I can only bask in the light of his automotive knowledge.
what the?!?!
how the heck did you...

...wait!! when did you become a mod?!

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thanks zebra. that really means a lot coming from you.
you had to stretch pretty far for that one, didn't you?

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Ass kisser.
trust me... it wasn't like that when i hit submit!

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I was going to say the same, you beat me. lol
wait... who are you?
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Old 07-30-2009, 03:01 AM   #18
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trust me... it wasn't like that when i hit submit!
lol I know. I saw your original.
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Old 07-30-2009, 06:29 AM   #19
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What will the effect of changing a cam be on engine life?

I spoke with Mast Motorsports about their stage 1 (least Aggressive) cam which is designed to be used in conjunction with a supercharger. They told me any cam switch requires replacing the valve springs for proper engine wear. I also spoke with Ron at vengeance racing and he recommends changing the springs at 30,000 mile intervals.

I intend to supercharge this engine. I am tempted for the price/performance gain to start by first replacing the cam. I don't want to lose the bottom or mid-range acceleration. I also don't want to damage the engine. I've read everything I can find, but don't understand it well enough yet. I have been following pharmMD's build, which is along the lines of what I intend to do.

Any recommendations?
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:27 AM   #20
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good stuff
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Old 07-30-2009, 09:29 AM   #21
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So what is the gross lift on the LS3 cam?

I know it lists lift .552/.525 but the LS3 uses 1.7 rockers, so the gross lift on the cam is .325/.308?

Just curious becasue I am speculating on what cams are being run to in aftermarket apps.
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Old 07-30-2009, 10:24 AM   #22
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Still working it out in my head...

Great info Spike!
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Old 07-30-2009, 10:39 AM   #23
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Ok guys I was thinking about a cam, I have almost decided to do nearly everything besides forced induction. I don't know anything about cams but I saw ADM offers stage one and stage two and I was leaning towards stage 2 type of cam. I don't want the very first step and I don't want an extreme. I also want to keep the engine as safe as possible, I was told I needed to upgrade springs and the pushrods. Do the springs need to be changed every 30,000 like an above person mentioned? Is there any other info you can give me or any suggestions? Car will be a daily driver but that doesn't mean a lot of mileage, it will never see track or strip but I still want to make it a beast.
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Old 07-30-2009, 01:56 PM   #24
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Great info indeed, ya learn something new every day! That picture that usedtohavea68 posted was helpful as well for us visual people.
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Old 07-30-2009, 02:44 PM   #25
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The 30,000 mile valve spring change was mentioned to me. I have no experience with cams so please don't take it as fact necessarily.
I was hoping to get recommendations from the more knowledgeable members here. If this isn't the appropriate thread for this, then I apologize.
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