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Technical Can a retrofit Roller cam go the distance in a daily driver Big Block Chevy?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by mohr hp, Aug 31, 2021.

  1. mohr hp
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 364

    mohr hp
    Member
    from Georgia

    With all the stories of flat tappet failures, I'm about to bite the bullet on my next motor and go with a roller. Trouble is, it's otherwise completely stock internally (Smogger Mk. IV 454). All the roller stuff out there seems geared for 700 hp killers. This is for a 2,200 lb hot rod that won't ever see a track. Are any of them mild enough for stock replacement type use, and will they go 100,000 miles? If this engine makes 400 hp I'm good. Normally I'd call a cam company, but I'm starting to lose faith in those guys. Thanks HAMBer's.
     
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  2. 26Troadster
    Joined: Nov 20, 2010
    Posts: 647

    26Troadster
    Member
    from Texas

    comp cams makes hyd. street rollers so i'm sure others do. if set up right it will out last the flat tappet cam.
     
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  3. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 9,990

    jimmy six
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Call Elgin…tell them what your wanting to do. I’ll bet they have a master which work for you.
     
  4. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,813

    squirrel
    Member

    In 2005 I put a Comp hydraulic roller in the 454 in my blown 55 after having another flat tappet wear out at 20k miles. I put around 50k miles on the engine since. It's still working, although the engine is in a different vehicle now.

    I put a slightly larger Comp hydraulic roller in the blown 427 in my Chevy II when I built it in 2014. It has 23k on it, and I'm getting ready to head out on a 5k mile trip next week. I'm not worried about it.
     

  5. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 2,407

    oldiron 440
    Member

    They should work great the OEMs have been using roller cams for over thirty years.
    Every now and then you hear about a set of lifters being junk out of the box but everyone is building with them.
    I'm still a flat tappet guy...
     
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,813

    squirrel
    Member

    There are guys who have trouble with rollers on Drag Week, but they're usually running .800 lift or so and incredible valve spring pressure. That makes a huge difference in how long things last.
     
  7. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 21,288

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    They'll last 200,000 miles or more... Just make sure you use the correct length pushrods...;)
     
    mad mikey likes this.
  8. I have a high lift roller in my coupes blown small block. Have not had any issues in over 2500 miles, lots of racing. I do check and replace valve springs every winter if needed and check lifters. Like it has been stated, if set up properly, they are very reliable in my opinion.
     
  9. mohr hp
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 364

    mohr hp
    Member
    from Georgia

    Thanks guys. In this car, I really want something I can install and not worry about later. Didn't the later roller blocks go to a larger lifter diameter to help spread the load?
     
  10. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 2,407

    oldiron 440
    Member

    The retrofit cams use a smaller base diameter so the lifters are lower in the block.
     
  11. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 2,407

    oldiron 440
    Member

    The thing I don't care for is the roller cam and lifters are $1000 and a nitrated flat tappet cam and lifters are $400 plus you need a special distributor gear for the roller cam.
     
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  12. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 21,288

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    I have a steel gear with the roller in my Windsor....
     
  13. GM used a Melonized dist gear on their '90s roller cam engines. I ran a factory roller set up in a '95 350 that left the factory with flat tappets but the block was designed to accept roller stuff. Easy conversion and had no problems.

    I remember from years ago, people having to use a bronze dist gear with the gear itself being considered a "consumable" so that is something I definitely wouldn't want to run in a daily. I'd make sure the cam you buy doesn't require a bronze gear (I think billet cams do) although there was also some kind of composite gear available that may last longer than a bronze gear.

    I'd be more worried about aftermarket roller rockers falling apart (bearing shrapnel everywhere) on a daily than I would be about the lifters failing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  14. mohr hp
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 364

    mohr hp
    Member
    from Georgia

    Jim Forbes; Does your engine have a bronze distributor gear? or something else?
     
  15. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,813

    squirrel
    Member

    No, I ran one with an older MSD distributor, then a Delco tach drive electronic distributor, and now it has an HEI...all with OEM chevy ferrous gears. The other has a Mallory dual point with it's original gear. I haven't had any issues.
     
  16. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,045

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    I bought my first roller cam for my SBC I built last year. After calling various cam makers, and getting the same "we have a form on our web site" answer, I contacted Howards Cams. The tech I spoke with was extremely helpful, and not in a hurry to direct me to a web site form. After talking with him for 20 minutes, and giving him info on my engine build, and the whole car, he gave me two roller cam numbers so I could look at the specs. I then ordered one of the cams and installed it.
    I've only got 5,000 miles on the engine now, but I'm tickled with this camshaft. It does exactly what I wanted my car to do. Good performance from 1800-6000 rpm's, and still pretty decent mileage at no loss of performance. It's my first Howards camshaft, but it wont be my last.
     
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  17. mohr hp
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 364

    mohr hp
    Member
    from Georgia

    That sounds pretty good. I hear good things about Howards.
     
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  18. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,330

    sunbeam
    Member

  19. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,144

    seb fontana
    Member
    from ct

    I have a set of Harland Sharp roller rockers in a SBF, well over 50k @ average rpm of 3k. I would not worry too much about the roller lifters but getting the right dist/cam gear combo I think is the most concern.
     
  20. Johnny Gee
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 9,460

    Johnny Gee
    Member
    from Downey, Ca

    Retro Roller in my avatar over 15 years.
     
  21. That’s funny really Jim ,
    I always thought they said it would destroy the cam gear on a steel cam ?

    Which never made a lick of sense to me .
    Steel being harder than iron,,,,it should destroy the distributor gear,,,,and not the cam .
    At least in my feeble opinion .

    Now,,,,I know that it will wear out a bronze gear,,,,,,of course,,, the load from driving the oil pump contributes a great deal to that wear .

    Jim,,,,is your cam a steel billet ?

    Tommy
     
    427 sleeper likes this.
  22. Johnny Gee
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 9,460

    Johnny Gee
    Member
    from Downey, Ca

    Since Jim mentioned Comp Retro I'll add this. My retro is Comp as well and it's not billet.
     
  23. Okay,,,,,,I was just wondering .

    Tommy
     
  24. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,144

    seb fontana
    Member
    from ct

    Some roller [re: after market] cams have a gear that is compatible with a stock [re: FT lifter cams] dist gear, Ford went to a special dist gear to be compatible with their roller cams [windsor] which are not billet but still steel.
     
  25. 4 pedals
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 790

    4 pedals
    Member
    from Nor Cal

    I've run several of them. The key is don't buy cheap parts. My street 427 has a hydraulic roller billet steel camshaft (don't buy cast cores), Morel lifters and a melonized gear on the distributor. My race motor has a Bullet steel cam, Isky Red Zone lifters and a melonized gear also. Both work very well.

    Devin
     
  26. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 11,542

    AHotRod
    Member

    I could right a essay on this on all the history of the thousands of retro-fit hydraulic roller camshafts that our company sold in the late 80's thru 2010. A high percentage of them ended up in pickups, 4x4's, motorhome and street car engines. There is no special distributer gears, just plain old stock.

    My Coupe's engine has had a Hyd-Roller in for 22 years, the first 20 I put 70,000+ on it with our Speed Pro Hyd Roller Cam kit.

    2 years ago I completely redesigned my Coupe and engine, and had our friends at Bullet Cams design a new hyd. roller for the engine and it runs awesome. I strongly suggest that you pick up the phone and call them, you won't be disappointed. They will make a camshaft exactly for your engine and wants and wishes. Ask for Chris Padgett ( he is a long time friend and a HAMB'r)
    Call Bullet Racing Cams at (662)893-5670
    Website: Bullet Cams
     
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