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Have I already ruined my new cam? 57 Studebaker

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Barry Rosell, Feb 4, 2024.

  1. Barry Rosell
    Joined: Feb 4, 2024
    Posts: 2

    Barry Rosell

    I’m rebuilding a 57 Studebaker Golden Hawk (289 V8), and FINALLY ready for the “20 minute / 2000 rpm” break in run I was told to do several years ago (long slow project; body is still on a cart :-(

    I did not know this was THE FIRST thing to do! Until I started researching what oils/additives to use for the “run in”.

    So after I rebuilt the engine (with plenty of pre-lube) and transmission, I ignorantly got the starter working,(=rotations), then tried starting it to see if it WOULD (it ran horribly), got the carb rebuilt professionally this time, and ran it again to adjust timing.

    This whole time, I had no radiator connected yet, so never raised it above an idle, and only ran it for about 30 seconds at a time, but several times as I “got it start-able and runnable”.

    Now reading about “break-in” I’m seeing it is critical the VERY FIRST START-UP should be going to 2000+ rpm for that 20 minutes.. (I don’t know how you do that as a hobbyist doing their first V8 rebuild; nothing runs right the first time).

    QUESTION #1). SO, is my camshaft already compromised, or since it is a stock 289 Studebaker (new valve springs measured about 150psi I recall?) is the extra forgiveness vs a big-block performance engine going to be my salvation?

    I plan to use Lucas SAE 30 Break in oil, drain it after the 20 minute run-in, and replace with Valvoline VR1 for getting the supercharger going, and whenever I’m finally able to drive the first miles on it. It may be a year or more before my body is ready to mount and I can actually DRIVE the car….

    QUESTION #2: how would I know if I’ve already ruined the camshaft? :-(
    tractorguy likes this.
  2. If everything is timed correctly, points adjusted correctly, carb set at a proper baseline, fuel to carb etc. etc. it should light off straight away. Have the idle screw already wound in so it can't drop too low.

    I always make sure the oil is primed and the carb has fuel in it before attempting to start.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2024
    Oneball likes this.
  3. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,415

    from Australia

    its a stock cam with stock springs? you may be ok , about 80% sure, but dont fire it again till you can run it at rpm for a while. if its a solid cam (Im guessing not)) check for loose valve clearance , that may indicate a lifter cam fail.
  4. It is likely okay. Make sure the oil is not gas contaminated, usually due to excess cranking without firing. Look up "priming" the oiling system. Pretty essential for the initial break-in process to be successful.
    RAK and Desoto291Hemi like this.

  5. 5brown1
    Joined: Apr 13, 2008
    Posts: 234


    You might want to start visiting the Studebaker Drivers Club forum. You can find about anything you want to
    know about Studebakers there. There are some who have rebuilt many engines.
  6. hepme
    Joined: Feb 1, 2021
    Posts: 520


    Go with it. Break it in the normal way and then just drive it--you'll know pretty quick if it cratered. Like the post said above, lifters probably first, cam is tough enough to stand alone.
    Tow Truck Tom likes this.
  7. chicken
    Joined: Aug 15, 2004
    Posts: 388

    from Kansas

    Should be a solid cam...all Stude engines were if I remember correctly. Odds are good the cam is ok, but try to get it started with good oil and run it with more rpm with a cooling system. Like mentioned, a valve clearance check will help confirm the condition of the cam/lifters...not definitively but a good plan. If you used genuine Stude parts your chances are really good-those parts were very high quality.
  8. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,542

    Joe H

    A lot depends on cam profile, lifter quality, and type of lube on the camshaft. To be sure, pull some lifters and look, it's much easier now than once installed. Cams can be wiped in less time, sometimes it takes a day or two.
    Purchase some Penn Grade 30w break-in oil, its really good quality and stringy oil that really sticks to the parts.
    RPM is the only way the lobes get enough oil to keep them alive during break-in, the crank throws the oil on the cam.

    With the first start up, if it runs at all, speed it up and make adjustments on the fly as long as it's not leaking oil, gas, or water. If you use a good know working carburetor and distributor, set fairly close, it will run.
    Tow Truck Tom likes this.
  9. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 3,037

    Mike VV
    from SoCal

    Barry -

    You don't mention...was your cam previously run in an engine, was it a fresh regrind, was it a new regrind, and old lifters...?
    Seems by most above commenters, notes, they didn't actually read..."your" notes in the first post !!

    By your explanation in the first post, with your 30 seconds at a time, no radiator, etc., etc., yes you "may have" trashed the cam and lifters.

    As noted has NOTHING to do with the cams profile...there's only a couple of Stude cam profiles and they are for the most part..."small"..!!

    Get all your shit in the same basket, radiator, water, "proper" oil, ignition timing, tire pressure, mufflers, etc., etc.
    Start the engine. Run it up to 2000 / 2500 for 25 or 30 minutes.
    YES, the car CAN be driven during the cam breakin. I've don't it several times with just fine results.

    The valve lash will tell you the condition of the lobes and lifters. A loose, sloppy lash, bad parts ! A few extra thousandths in lash, no problem, to be expected.
    Run the breakin oi for 100/150 miles if the cam shows no wear (see above), then put fresh oil in the engine and a fresh filter if it has one, it.

  10. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 12,343

    Bandit Billy

    What's it hurt to give it a go? Prime it and fire it and burn it in. I normally use a trusted, known carb on my break ins to make sure they will run for 20 minutes without issues. On my flathead I used a 4 barrel adapter on the blower for break in as I didn't trust the new 97's up there.

    Start er up, listen careful, open a beer and report back.
  11. A lot of advice, but Mike probably summed it up the best. New cam? regrind? etc.? Might be worth piece of mind to pull the intake and valley cover for a visual inspection. If you see any evidence of heat damage on the cam lobes, it will probably start "flaking" later on.
  12. Barry Rosell
    Joined: Feb 4, 2024
    Posts: 2

    Barry Rosell

    Thanks all! (Yes, I’ve badgered the poor guys on the Stude Tech Forum for over a decade now on this project; just asked about break-in oil Saturday, got conflicting answers, and like usual ended up at your site in my google searches about such things. So thought I’d ask here :)

    My first V8 rebuild (and first automatic tranny! Boy was I glad to see that turn both directions during one of those brief startups!). But has been over several years due to work travel and health. Thus “piece at a time”.
    I have known (printed out instructions!) to do the 20 minute ‘break in’ from the Stude Forum for years; What I just never realized that that was IMMEDIATELY, not after “getting it running decent”…

    Re: questions:
    A) yes, original, solid stock Stude cam, fresh regrind by Berry. Stock springs (I crudely measured with drill press and bathroom scale around 150lbs, from my notes?)

    B) new lifters, guides, seals, etc.. (Complete rebuild; new everything as necessary)

    C) I’m putting in Lucas SAE30 break-in oil. From my search it sounded like adding a break-in additive to break-in oil was over-doing it…. Dumping the current (was fresh, ha!) 15W-40 Rotella, which others told me was too heavy. At least there was SOME ZDDP in there while I was running. Not sure how long the assembly lube hangs on, but had good coating of that everywhere at re-assembly.

    D) Thermostat was screwed up, carb rebuilder screwed up float level, got timing set as close as I could in those brief “runs”, last mini-run idled SMOOTH! Thank God I didn’t have the radiator on, I’d have been tempted to idle it longer and tinker more :-(

    Good suggestion to check valve clearances after. I’m obviously going to do the break-in no matter what, my questions are more for “oh dear, did I screw it up after being so anal about everything?” And the practical question of “how would I know?”

    Oh, as you can see below, it will be a long time before i can DRIVE it. I now have to switch gears to the body work; every piece of the body has been apart for years, to weld in new floors, rebuilding hinges or NOS hinges, I simply have a “factory fresh” chassis ready for the body-drop at South Bend. :)

    tractorguy, vtx1800 and Budget36 like this.
  13. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 7,195


    I like where Stude put the oil will help keep the rust at bay....:confused:
    seb fontana likes this.
  14. chicken
    Joined: Aug 15, 2004
    Posts: 388

    from Kansas

    Stock Stude parts, 150# open pressure...the odds are really in your favor.
  15. Back in the old days,,,,,most rebuilds were fired up,, idled,,,adjusted,,and ran .
    I’m willing to bet that those tame numbers on lift and spring pressure didn’t hurt a thing .

  16. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 8,471

    seb fontana
    from ct

    Some Ramblers did that too:mad:
  17. RAK
    Joined: Jul 15, 2011
    Posts: 131


    With stock valve springs and cam you have little to worry about, just get the cooling system hooked up and run the cam and lifters in then adjust the valves again afterwards. Good luck it's good looking job you're doing!
    bchctybob and tractorguy like this.
  18. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,415

    from Australia

    so..... now that you've started it , how you going to bed the rings in :)
  19. tractorguy
    Joined: Jan 5, 2008
    Posts: 897


    Relax......get things buttoned up with cooling system and fuel system. Run may just cause other problems when you disassemble with no real indication of any damage or problem. Go with the high probability solution. Relax......have fun.
  20. I use Valvoline VR1, 10-w30 oil for the initial start up. You want the oil to flow immediately. My last SBC I primed with a 1/2" drill and gutted distributor. I also put an oil pressure gauge on it, which read 40 PSI when we cranked the drill.
    tractorguy likes this.
  21. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 8,744

    from Oregon

    Before you go forward with starting the engine again you really need to prime the oiling system. Getting oil thoroughly circulated throughout the engine will give it a better chance of surviving cam break in.
  22. 05snopro440
    Joined: Mar 15, 2011
    Posts: 1,576


    I did the same with my 455 Buick and a brand new Comp cam and lifters a dozen years ago before I knew the break-in procedure. I'm pressure sure mine was saved thanks to low seat pressure due to bad seats and stock springs. After 36,000 KM, the cam still looks great. You may have gotten lucky like I did.

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