Camshafts

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What Do Camshafts Do?

A camshaft is a rotating shaft in an engine and its purpose is to activate the intake and exhaust valves for each cylinder of the engine.

The valves in an engine push air & fuel mixture in during an intake stroke and eject the exhaust gases during the exhaust stroke. The camshaft lifts and pushes back the valves during the operation of the engine.

Simply stated, camshafts deal with the opening and closing of the valves in an engine which is a vital step for the running of an internal combustion engine.

How Does A Camshaft Work?

The camshaft is connected to the crankshaft with the help of a timing belt. As the crankshaft moves the pistons go up and down, the camshaft simultaneously rotates to make the valves open and close.

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The cams located along the shaft exert pressure on the spring-loaded intake and exhaust valves as it rotates. This is done in parallel with the motion of the pistons and the ignition of the spark plug, which causes combustion to produce power for the vehicle.

What To Look For When Buying Camshafts?

Camshafts have a pivotal role in the working of an engine and thus knowing which one to get is vital.

Choosing the incorrect camshaft can affect the power, torque and even the idling quality. It is your aim to get a camshaft that puts the power band most where you need it to be.

Typically a camshaft will push up the top end of your power range.

Types Of Camshaft

When looking for camshafts, you should know the type that you want. Here are the four different types of camshafts available in the market.

  • Flat Tappet;
  • Hydraulic;
  • Roller Camshafts;
  • Solid Lifters.

Which Is The Best Camshaft For You?

The intended use of your vehicle also determines which camshaft option is best for it. This is because you must obtain a camshaft with a similar rpm range to the other engine components in your vehicle.

The valve opening is only a small consideration and timing, fuelling, and even the valve overlap needs to be assessed and tuned accordingly.

Other Important Considerations

Here are a few other specifications of the camshaft that you should consider while getting one for your vehicle:

  • Lift is the distance that the valve is moved from its original position during the operation. Lift is expressed in terms of thousandths of an inch;
  • Duration is the total time for which the valve is displaced from its original position. A bigger camshaft translates to more duration;
  • Lobe Specification Angle is the distance between the centres of the intake and exhaust lobes. The lobe specification angle is expressed as degrees of camshaft rotation.

 Which Are The Best Camshaft Brands?

Because the camshaft is such an important component of a vehicle's engine, and the total power and torque produced by the vehicle are so dependent on it, getting a high-quality product is critical.

Some of the good camshaft brands available in the market include but are not limited to:

  • Lunati;
  • Kent Cams;
  • Piper Cams;
  • Kelford Cams;
  • Crower Cams;
  • ISKY;
  • COMP Cams;
  • Kolbenschmidt;
  • Kerr Nelson;
  • Lemark.

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How Hard Is It To Fit Camshafts?

Installing camshafts requires precision because if the process is not done properly, it can result in power loss.

This is why getting the camshaft installed by a professional is highly recommended.

Several videos are available on the internet regarding this topic but nearly all the people that install the camshafts as DIY projects, know the stuff inside out.

Why Is It A Difficult Process?

This brings us to the next question about why installing the camshaft is such a tedious process?

The reason behind this is that the whole process includes pulling out the engine and then putting it back in place.

How Much Time Does It Need?

The process is cumbersome and mostly requires around 17 to 18 hours, if everything goes as per plan.

The installation of camshafts is extremely difficult and thus I would rate it as a 10 out of 10 process in terms of difficulty (10 being the most difficult)

Know What You Are Getting Into

As a result, installing camshafts is not something that everyone can do, so before embarking on a project of this magnitude, you should check the mechanic's competence level to ensure that you only hand over your vehicle to someone skilled enough to do it professionally.

What Are The Benefits Of Fitting Better Quality Camshafts?

The biggest advantage of choosing a camshaft from a well-reputed company is the performance output.

High-quality cams have the biggest gains for a NASP engine and is integral to providing the ideal amount of fuel and air to the engine thereby generating adequate power and improving combustion efficiency.

If the intention is to have better performance figures, various companies such as Lunati and ISKY have specifically designed cams for this purpose.

The duration is the key figure to compare cam profiles here, and depending on your car around 270 degress is regarded as a fast road cam that gives a good mix of power and good idling.

What Else Needs To Be Keep In Mind When Installing Camshafts?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should never use old lifters with a new cam.

The cam lobes and lifters have a unique wear pattern that starts showing up as soon as the part comes into operation. This is why the lifters become unusable for a newly installed camshaft.

Compatibility Of Valve springs

Besides this, the vehicle owner must also ensure that the valve springs are compatible with the new camshaft.

The springs take a real beating, and higher RPM and increased lift can all cause them to fail if they are not up to the task.

Pushrods & Rocker Arms

Another important consideration is that the pushrods must be straight and the rocker arms should have the ability to handle any enhanced stress or lift offered by the camshaft.

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