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Technical BBC new camshaft failure (long story)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by justpassinthru, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 4,998

    from Ks

    Sounds like someone needs to pay more attention when installing a new cam and lifters. Lippy
  2. birdman1
    Joined: Dec 6, 2012
    Posts: 995


    I had a similar experience with a melling cam last spring. No guarantee. Said I let the engine run too long on the break in oil. So I bought a Howard's cam, did exactly what they said to break it in. Works fine. Guess what, broke it in just like the first one. This time it worked.
  3. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,259

    David Gersic
    from DeKalb, IL


    Did you, by any chance, check the lifters before installing? I watched a video a couple nights back with a guy that got two flat (no crown) lifters in a “new” box.

    One more thing to look out for. Can’t trust even new parts.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  4. I had a Crane cam to the same thing in a 327. They stood behind it and sent me a new one. I got about 30 miles on it before the cheap-ass Rocket spin on filter adapter blew off at speed and I lost the motor.....but the cam was working ok.
  5. Kan Kustom
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 2,635

    Kan Kustom

    These threads are my favorite kind. A collection of different experiences and outcomes. Keeps us all ahead of a long individual learning curve. Guys that share their problems instead of keeping them to themselves to avoid some loss of pride help all of us.
  6. sdluck
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,526


    I know it is too late,but my old instructor Dema Elgin told me to install the cam and lifters and rotate the cam with a speed wrench and make sure the lifter rotate.My last 2 engines were roller because of cams going flat.
    Atwater Mike and Tman like this.
  7. sdluck
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,526


    I saw that ,uncle Tony garage I think.
    flux capacitor likes this.
  8. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,742

    from illinois

    I probably missed it ,but what sort of break in lube did you put on the cam / lifters ? Around here , my friends and I have decided that " Isky rev lube" is the ONLY stuff that works . The red slime from others doesn't cut it ! We ALL switched about 15 years ago & so far , so good ...
    I've seen that " pitting" in lifter faces , but it doesn't seem to have affected performance or longevity ..
    2afbs, bchctybob and badvolvo like this.
  9. THAT is someone who knew cams.
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  10. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,464

    from Brooks Ky

    Actually I'm glad you asked. When I wrote it I was thinking about a new rebuild. I imagine some engines would be more difficult than others depending on the way the lifter valley is constructed. It might not be possible to contain residue on some of them. At the very least I would check lifters by hand to see if they all rotate freely and feel the same. Like I say, this is just my opinion as I don't build engines for a living.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  11. Ericnova72
    Joined: May 1, 2007
    Posts: 430


    Rockwell testers have a diamond tipped does leave a divot in any material that isn't as hard as the diamond.
    Finding a spot on the bottom of a lifter or on a cam lobe to actually test and not be on a wear point is what will be near impossible

    What about the grit that is going to be pushed into the oil galley passages that runs right through each lifter bore? How are you going to clean that out of an assembled engine?? Oil pressure is going to push it right into the lifter or around the lifter to the cam lobe.

    This^^^. I do it with every flat tappet. Swap some of the lifters that turn faster with the ones that turn slower, try to get them all turning roughly the same amounts. Sometimes means needing more than 16 lifters to get them all figured out.

    Crane's black Super Moly assembly paste is also still good, I last bought it in the 1 lb little tubs, but it is also available in a package with two 1 oz packs.

    I agree that red runny stuff Comp Cams sends is crap.

    Direct Lube/Cam Saver/Cool Face lifters are also a smart way to go, or lifter bore grooving using the Comp Cams tool.
    Budget36 and olscrounger like this.
  12. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,615

    seb fontana
    from ct

    Check the hardness on the diameter with in about .060 from the lobe end of the lifters, closer to the end the better. Should get a good idea of hardness. The divot left by the diamond can be stoned off as that area sticks out from the lifter bore, so won't affect anything.
    bchctybob, metlmunchr and Budget36 like this.
  13. Baumi
    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 2,536


    Same here, just not a BBC but a 327. My uneducated guess was that one of the new lifter was just too soft. I damaged it´s hardened surface by pulling it out with pliers. The old GM lifters can´t be damaged with pliers and they have a lighter sound when you hit them with a wrench. These new ones sound pretty dull. If I were to bet money, I ´d say soft lifters.
    NBVB3364.jpg KWBR6273.jpg
    bchctybob likes this.
  14. gt350hr
    Joined: Sep 21, 2011
    Posts: 31

    from So Cal

    I worked at Sig Eron's in the '70s. We had about a 25% failure rate on cams WE didn't grind and a less than 1% failure on those we did grind. The "Viking" cam series ( then $29.95 at SuperShops that eventually bought Erson out) was made by one of the "big three" in Michigan and sent tp us by the pallet load. Our guys stamped the end and they became Erson cams. Poor heat treat , lack of lobe taper , were major problems. They were good about replacing them to us but it cost customers HUNDREDS engines. We couldn't tell people WE didn't grind them! Good thing the company sold in '80 and I didn't go with it. Now they are a better company after several ownership changes , and DO care about what they produce.
    rbrewer, AHotRod and Truckdoctor Andy like this.
  15. Corey Taulbert gave me some good advise a couple years ago. Buy GM lifters. More money, but the best lifter you cn buy for a flat tappet engine
    Elcohaulic, bchctybob and Tman like this.
  16. Thats great to know!
  17. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,299


    Dos GM still source non-roller lifters?
  18. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,264

    Atwater Mike

    THAT is THE question.
  19. Rick Coast
    Joined: Apr 19, 2020
    Posts: 37

    Rick Coast

    I had same thing with my big block. 600 miles on it. gave up and small blocked it.
  20. triumph 1 and Budget36 like this.
  21. triumph 1
    Joined: Feb 9, 2011
    Posts: 479

    triumph 1

    Definitely agree that the lifters not rotating is the cause of failure. I have been told that too much camshaft break in lube getting on the lifters can inhibit lifter rotation. I have not heard that Brad Penn break in oil is junk. I recently used it; so far so good.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  22. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 4,998

    from Ks

    I have always run Brad Penn in our nitro engines. Kendall old oil formula. Nothing at all wrong with BP oil.
  23. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,859


    A line mechanic once explained that they were trained to always install a cam button to keep the cam from walking. This walking (moving for and aft) prevents the lifters from rotating properly on the cam lobe.
  24. flux capacitor
    Joined: Sep 18, 2014
    Posts: 666

    flux capacitor

    The “beveled” crown on many replacement lifters are hit n miss , best to inspect them before hand. Nothing like a flat no beveled surface to Instantly eat a new cam lobe for lunch. As mentioned earlier go to uncle Tony’s mopar YouTube channel & he shows exactly the issue in my opinion. I tested a few sealed power , Melling & comp hyd flat tsppets out at work & found a few that failed the crown test with a sheet of paper as he demonstrated. Piss poor quality control in many big companies. Flux
  25. 6-bangertim
    Joined: Oct 3, 2011
    Posts: 385

    from California

    Do you have the box the lifters came in? Look close for the fine print... MADE IN CHINA would be my guess!

    Order an extra box of lifters, use the BEST of the two sets - after checking for crown and rotation in the bores.
  26. Yes, bought a set recently for my 283
  27. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,299


    Have an idea where they come from? I see Summit, etc have GM Performance lifters, but being it's been 35 years or so since GM used them...see why I'm asking?
  28. triumph 1
    Joined: Feb 9, 2011
    Posts: 479

    triumph 1

    Guess that explains why all the flat tappet cam installs I did over the years using bulk 15/40 Kendall series 3 diesel engine oil had no issues....

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  29. Regarding hardness of the lobes and lifters. I never felt I had the need to check the hardness of the cams and lifters and have never had a failure, but I am only planning on building two more engines, and I will check them now.
    Even though I have used it many times, there is a non destructive test than can be used to check the hardened surfaces that can be made by anyone that has access to old ball bearings. I can't remember the name of this hardness test, but it is a legitimate test, even though the readings will only be relative.
    To built the tester, you will need a foot long piece of glass tubing. A plastic tube would probably work in a pinch, but the softness of the sides would make it necessary to have the plastic tubing mounted so that it is absolutely straight to increase the accuracy of the tester.
    Then you need a ball bearing that will slide easily in the tube without being so loose as to allow it to bounce off the sides of the tube.
    Then mount a ruler, or other measuring device to the tube, in such a way that it can be moved, if necessary, to put the measuring marks in the range that the ball is likely to bounce.
    Because the ball needs to drop from the same height every time, you might want to drill a hole, or series of holes, to ensure that you are always dropping the ball from the same height.
    Next, test and mark the rule, by testing several known materials, such as old, good cam lobes, mild steel, and whatever else you can find in the shop. This will establish whether the results of the test are repeatable, and also determine the maximum height of the bounce of the ball will indicate the desirable level of hardness.
    Finally, test all the lobes and the lifters to see if they meet the required levels you have established as the minimum level of hardness you can accept.
    Again, this is a relative test, but it will show whether or not all the lobes and lifters have been properly hardened.
    I would have taken a picture, but my shop is a mess right now, and I can't find the damn tester I made, or I would have taken a picture.

    Edit: look what I found on youtube:
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  30. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 10,725


    #1- Comp Cams bought Crane Cams last year, phones are all under the same roof.

    #2- Our Rod Shoppe builds between 4 - 9 engines a year, and we have been using Brad Penn / Penn Grade Oil for 15+ years without one issue.

    #3- We have Bullet Cams do all of our camshafts.

    #4- There were years ago, 4 USA factories manufacturing flat tappet lifters , GM/Delco/Delphi, Eaton, Johnson, and Stanadyne.

    Today there are 2 companies with the same basic name:

    Johnson Lifters :

    Hylift Johnson Lifters:

    It's fair to say that the majority of lifters on the market are imported from China, Argentina and Mexico, and you will find them in most any brands box.

    Ask your Camshaft company what is in his lifter box, if they won't tell you truthfully, you should find a different one to do business with.

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