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Flathead Isky Cams: Story and Pictures of the 505-A Radius Cam

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bored&Stroked, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. Bored&Stroked
    Joined: Jan 14, 2005
    Posts: 3,903


    Hi Gang: Just wanted to share a fun Ed Isky story with you.

    The story is about a cool dude (Ed) a flathead obsessed kid (me) and a couple cool cams -- one is the legendary Isky 404-A, radius lifter cam, the other is one that was a special "Ed" project . . . a big-brother to the 404-A, which is the 505-A. Here is the scoop . . .

    How the Isky 505-A Cam to Be:

    I used to hang around Isky's shop in the early 80's -- was always working on new flathead cams, and Ed, his sons and T. Willy used to put up with my stupid questions, my cam charts, ideas, etc.. Ed and I used to talk flatheads all the time. I even managed to get him to build me a couple custom roller cams -- as long as I made the billets, he'd grind them (and he did).

    Anyway, one day he tells me that he actually made a "505-A" radius lifter cam -- that had a .505 lift. I asked him how the hell he did that (given the base cirlce of a flathead and the bearing size) . . .

    So Ed says, "I made a 8620 steel billet that had larger bearing sizes -- so I could take the bearings completely out of the block and run it directly against the cast iron. Heck, people have done that for years with Model A's, no big deal not having bearings. It has a huge lift and a huge duration. "

    So I ask Ed . . . did you ever run it? Who did you make it for?

    Ed says "I made it for a racer named Jazzy Nelson . . . he ran it at the dirt tracks and it really ran.".

    So I asked Ed . . . did you only make 1? He said "I only finished one, but I made two others that were done to the first grind, but not completed. They'd already been heat treated and needed the last finish grind." (about the last .030 or so).

    So I say . . . what did you do with these other two?

    Ed says "I lost em! They're somewhere in this dang manufacturing plant - haven't seen them for 20 years . . ."

    So . . . everytime I'm walking through his plant - I start looking for flathead cams - stuck someplace where you wouldn't see them easily. If you've ever been to Isky's . . . there are piles of stuff everyplace even in his car.

    So . . . one day a year or so later . . . Ed and I are walking through the plant and I spy the ends of two flathead cams, sticking out of some dark hole, crap stacked on top of them for years. I go and grab one and said . . . hey Ed, I think I found the 505s! He grunts and says, not a chance. So I lift one up, dust it off and see that it was billet and Ed says "I can't believe it . . you've found my 505's!".

    Just as he said, they needed the last finish grind - so you couldn't run them. So I ask Ed . . . "Hey Ed, can you finish grind these?". He said "Nope . . . don't have a small enough cam grinder to handle that profile and flank pattern." I was a bit bummed, but he says hey "Here, I'll give you one, since you found them . . . I'll keep the other".

    So . . . I had this unfinished 505-A all these years and recently I was talking to another flathead cam grinder friend, and he got all excited when I told him about this cam. He said "I'll finish it for you . . . if I can have it for a few days to checkout/record the pattern" . . . the deal was done . . . and 35 years later, this cam is finally finished.


    I mapped the cam profiles on both the 505 and the 404 for comparison - here are the general specs:

    Isky 505-A:

    Lift: .515
    Duration @ .050 = 250
    Lifter = radius

    Isky 404-A:

    Lift: .420
    Duration @ .050 = 218
    Lifter = radius

    Here are pictures of the cams - as well as the "jig" I made years ago to map profiles and compare one cam to another (via graphs I make).

    Hope you enjoy them:





  2. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,397

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    Holy cow! That's some cool shit there.

    The obvious question - whatcha gonna put it in? ;)
  3. wow...thats pretty badass. bigger lift then I'm putting in my 429! ya what'cha gonna put it in? make sure to give us some sound clips when its done, open headers of course ;)
  4. Ed must have brought this special flathead grind over to the small block chevy, because i have an Isky 505-T roller for the small chevy in my garage. This was a killer grind for the 301 chevy, in the 60's, and a pretty good junior fuel cam...Ed
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  5. Man,

    I love it!!!!!

  6. Mate...thats a killer story and an even bigger outcome. Are you gonna rn that nasty cam in a 300+ci flatty??

  7. 8flat
    Joined: Apr 2, 2006
    Posts: 1,318


    That's the best story I've read on here in a long long time. You gotta keep us posted.....I would love to hear a wav file of an engine running this cam....
  8. slim53
    Joined: Apr 24, 2005
    Posts: 399


    Hanging out with one of the Greats. Can't imagine what that shop looked like. Can't wait to see what it goes in and what it sounds like. Too cool.....slim
  9. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 3,732

    Automotive Stud

    That is one killer looking cam, not to mention the story! I couldn't imagine it being streetable, but I'd sure like to see it run!
  10. junkbrick
    Joined: Apr 26, 2004
    Posts: 130


    I am almost overrun with questions for ya! I have stared at the pics for the past few minuites....very cool.

    What kind of data did you record when you had it set up in the cam jig....I would love to see some more specs...say duration at different lifts, overlap spec....I could ask a million questions right about now...never dreamed you could get that aggressive with a flattie cam....

    Very cool...very cool indeed.

    now about all that data you have :) .

    Thanks for sharing--
  11. Flatdog
    Joined: Jan 31, 2003
    Posts: 1,285

    Member Emeritus

    Thanks for sharing.
  12. S.F.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,856


  13. racer5c
    Joined: Nov 30, 2002
    Posts: 2,218


    I remember Isky coming to my dad's shop when I was a kid, he always was driving a Cadillac that was stuffed full of junk, I don't remember ever going to his shop but if they woulda been in his Caddy you would have had just as much trouble finding them.
  14. side_valve
    Joined: Sep 22, 2002
    Posts: 832

    Alliance Vendor

  15. 97
    Joined: May 18, 2005
    Posts: 1,299


    Two questions
    What are the profiles and specs on the "Custom Roller Cams"
    and will the "other" cam grinder make and sell copies of the 505?..if not , why did he want the specs...oops thats three questions.
  16. 50shoe
    Joined: Sep 14, 2005
    Posts: 638


    thanks for the post. these are what make the HAMB great.
  17. Bored&Stroked
    Joined: Jan 14, 2005
    Posts: 3,903


    a) The roller cams that I built were .420 and .440 lift and I believe about 270 duration at .050. I have the specs at home -- will checkout the profile maps, etc.. There is lots to know about roller cams -- especially the profiles and advance issues with flatheads versus overheads. I've done quite a bit of graphcs and research along this line - I believe that there are good ways to make flathead rollers . . . and bad ways. Crower is the only guy that I know that will make lifters -- probably in the $500 - 700 range for a set.

    b) Other cam grinder: I'll check with him - to see if he is up for it.

    You can't grind the cam on a stock core - you'd need an 8620 billet core and about the only guy that has these for sale (unless you know how to make them on a lathe) is Joe Panic at Rotophase. At least he used to . . .

    Also, you then need to have a set of keyed radius lifters -- which Isky hasn't made in many years. When I had the 505 finished, he made me a set of radius lifters - out of Henry's originals (which is how I believe others made them). I believe the lifters cost me about $500 . . . and I was damn glad to have them.

    If you want to chat and have a particular application you're pondering, let me know and we can always chat on the phone.

    Joined: Jan 2, 2003
    Posts: 3,363

    1. HAMB Old Farts' Club

    Damn!!!!!....-MIKE:eek: :cool:
  19. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,205

    Bruce Lancaster

    Wow. I just realized what the most powerful feature in HAMB software is:


    Here I am, reading a story from 25 years ago...about a man who was running a flathead hotrod 70 years ago...and looking forward to the future test of an amazing artifact.
  20. Bored&Stroked
    Joined: Jan 14, 2005
    Posts: 3,903


    Hi fellow HAMBers . . . thanks for all the notes!

    I just found a better picture I have of the 505-A (before I covered the damn thing in lube) -- this really shows off the radical profile.

    Acceleration Ramps:
    One of the things that is interesting is that when you design cams and determine the "rise" of the ramps, you have to be concerned with the acceleration of the ramps and how many thousands the profile moves the tappet - per degree of cam rotation. Back when Isky made his radical flathead cams, about the max you could rise the profile (per degree of cam rotation) was .010 - this occurs midway on the ramp. The 404-A has a max value that is exactly .010. T. Willy (good friend who worked the counter at Isky's) told me that anything over about .010 to .011 was a big problem - as the dynamics became fubared, float started, etc.. The valve springs just weren't good enough in the 50's and early 60's to take acceleration ramps faster than this.

    So . . . the fun thing about the 505-A is that is has a max acceleration value of .013 - which means that it was almost impossible to keep the valves from floating back in the day - without terrible spring pressure and probably bending the cam as a result. (One of the reasons that dual springs on high-lift flathead cast cams is a bad idea). Remember, there are only 3 bearings - ever wonder why it is hard to set the valve clearance on a big race flathead cam - it's because the damn cam in bending!

    Given today's valve springs and very light valve materials - like Titanium valves, we can probably keep the lifter tracking on the cam . . . and make the dang thing work. This is what intrigues me . . . I just want to see how it runs.

    This cam will never idle below 1200 RPM, but it should have a sound that is unique for flatheads. I have to create a "special" engine to run this -- one that will do it justice. I'm thinking about building a big stroker motor, with Baron heads and pop-up pistons, 4-71 and other fun. I need to finish a couple other engines first - and find a dyno, but I just have to hear this cam run!

    I'll update you guys on some other fun cam stories . . . and I may create a software program that compares profiles/graphs - you guys would like to view the data. Fun stuff . . . I'll keep you posted.

    Here is a picture that really shows the profile - imagine trying to keep a lifter tracking on that . . . at 6500 RPM! Yikes!

    Enjoy . . . I'll post more in the coming weeks about cams and other such fun.

  21. axle
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 3,756

    from Drag City

    man i would love to hear tha cam !
  22. 4tl8ford
    Joined: Sep 1, 2004
    Posts: 1,090

    from Erie, Pa

    How about that, a V8 powered vibrator.
    That thing is gonna thump.
  23. Hey Mate,

    You have to post a video with lots of sound if you ever run that thing...

  24. buffaloracer
    Joined: Aug 22, 2004
    Posts: 550

    from kansas

    Great story. I think I use Ed's filing system.
  25. that is awesome, and great to see it is in hands that will give it 'the love' it calls for......

    Like everyone else, I look forward to hearing/seeing it kick butt....


  27. Bored&Stroked
    Joined: Jan 14, 2005
    Posts: 3,903


    All those years I used to go to Isky's were such fun . . . and I being a young guy, was just like a deer in headlights.

    First Time I Met Ed . . .

    I started going over to Isky's because another older friend of mine "Joe Reath" told me to go see him. Joe was another "mentor" of mine - he's the guy who really helped me with my first flathead (I started going to his shop on Cherry Street in Long Beach when I was 15 . . . my Mom drove me there in our 68 Ford station wagon . . . I was too young to drive). Anyway, Joe told me to go talk to Ed about my cam ideas - this was a few years after I was building flatheads and racing at Irwindale and then Orange County in the Antique Nats.

    So I headed over to Isky's in Gardena (I lived in Torrance), and I meet one heck of a nice guy named "T. Willy" - who ran the front counter at Isky's for years. Anyway, T. Willy was one of those Southern guys who would be your best friend in about 15 minutes . . . he was about 45 or so, I was about 20. I said to "T. Willy" . . . I'd like to talk to Ed about flathead cams."

    T. Willy ways . . . "Go ahead and walk through the plant, you'll find him somewhere in the back . . . through the roll-up door on the right."

    The Man in the Dumpster . . .

    So I head through the plant and find myself in the back . . . looking around, I see machinery and equipment every place. It looked like a junk yard of equipment, tooling, scrap metal, cars . . . everything you could think off.

    I hear this noise over to the left . . . the sound of an older man's voice . . . and I spy a big steel trash bin. I can hear a bit of a commosion going on - with grumbling, banging and thrashing around, etc.. So as I walk over, I spy a big head of curly black and grey hair . . . and there is some guy jumping up and down in the damn trash bin.

    Sure as hell, Ed Iskenderian pokes his head over the top, jumps on out and says. "I was just in there crushing all those boxes . . . it just aggravates me that they keep throwing them in here without breaking them down . . . I've told them so many times!".

    Here is a quite wealthy man . . . the legendary Ed Isky . . . greeting me as he just completes jumping up and down on all the cardboard boxes that are taking unnecessary space in his dang dumpster! Hell, he owns the whole place . . . is semi-retired (his sons Ron and Richard are in charge of daily operations) . . . but he is probably not much different than the day he started the business.

    And just like we were old friends, he walks up, shakes my hand and asks me who I am and what I'm there to see him about.

    That was one fine day my friends . . . the day I met "Ed" . . .
  28. Bored&Stroked
    Joined: Jan 14, 2005
    Posts: 3,903


    Hi Gang: I had a fellow flathead friend call me yesterday - you all know him as 'FlatDog' -- he and I chat quite a bit about blown flatheads, combustion chamber designs, cam designs, etc.. He also has one of the fastest flatheads you'll find -- and wait until his altered is running . . . will be fun to see how fast 'FlatDog' will go!

    Anyway, he talked to another friend who knows Ed Isky and helped me remember what Jazzy ran -- it was the famous Fiat coupe - that ran in the 9's with a big flathead and an Isky cam. I forgot that he ran a drag car, not a dirt car. All makes sense now . . .

    Checkout this HAMB post - you'll find it interesting. In thinking back, it was this car that Ed was talking about when he explained why he made the 505. Also, I remember that he said it was a real bitch trying to find valve springs that could keep the valves from floating. (They didn't have the valve spring materials we do today . . . or titanium valves).


    Here is the post to checkout - and see the car that the 505-A was made for:

    Here are some details about the engine combination that he ran . . . makes me wonder when he ran the 505 and if everybody thought he was running the tried and true 404. I may have to give Ed a call and get some more facts on this . . . could be fun.


    The Fiat was 59 in. tall, weighed 1700 lbs.and was on a 34 ford frame. It ran a 315 c.i. 49 Ford flathead, Edelbrock heads and manifold w/ 4 Stromberg
    97's, and an Isky 404-A cam. It also ran a 37 Cad trans.
  29. from the picture it almost seems like the cam has an inverse curvature on the face (but it could be the lighting) yet from what you have said about the cam, with its lift and compartively low rpm operation, that type of profile would allow Isky to get a great deal more lift out of the cam with lessening the tendancy of the cam to throw the lifter over the nose.

    thanks for the great story!
  30. 4tl8ford
    Joined: Sep 1, 2004
    Posts: 1,090

    from Erie, Pa

    Keep the Stories coming. All the names and pictures is Flashback Heaven.

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