Hot cams

20 Apr

For these tests, Westech merely bolted on a standard-style chain.

(If desired, an equivalent cam grind with the late nose can be ordered.)In recent years the contamination of the parts chain with inferior, cut-rate, foreign-made flat-tappet lifters plus the removal of Zinc dialkyl-dithiophosphate (ZDP) additives from today’s car and light-truck motor oils has raised some durability issues.

But how well do they actually perform in the average engine?

To find out, Westech Performance recently put Comp Cams’ five most popular small-block Chevrolet cams to the test on a 10:1 355ci small-block, a test engine the company calls Gladiator. Cam The cams’ popularity rankings are based on Comp’s sales figures for discrete part numbers for the past two years.

They require standard Chevy small-block timing chain sets and (with a roller cam) an antiwalk button.

Westech’s Gladiator is based on a late block with provisions for a factory cam thrust plate that mates with a different timing chain and cam nose.

In terms of static comp-ression ratio, generally an aluminum head can tolerate about 1-1.5 points higher static compression than iron heads, so there’s some variability here-but the bottom line is if the engine cranks too low, consider either raising the static compression or installing a milder cam.

If the engine cranks too high and you have detonation problems, consider a bigger cam with more overlap.1.

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Comp now offers its flat-tappet cams with an optional nitriding process that greatly increases lobe protection during initial run-in.

For most grinds, this must be custom-ordered (use a generic custom-grind part number, plus a profile number; see table).

Generally, you want at least 12 inches (and preferably at least 14 inches) of vacuum to reliably operate power accessories. Generally, on the same engine, the bigger the cam, the lower the cranking compression.

On pump unleaded premium gas, the engine gets really lazy below 160 psi.