Tech, Tests & Installs

Tech, Tests & Installs
Flat Tappet Camshaft Basics from COMP Cams

Flat Tappet Camshaft Failures (Hydraulic & Solid/Mechanical)
Recent changes in oil and engine technology are likely the cause of premature camshaft failure; here’s how you can protect your engine.

Premature flat tappet camshaft failure has been on the rise recently and not just with one brand or type of camshaft. In almost every case, the hardness or taper of the cam lobe is suspected, yet most of the time that is not the problem. This growing trend is due to factors that are completely unrelated to camshaft manufacture or quality control. Changes in today’s oil products and “advancements” in internal engine configurations have contributed to a harsher environment for the camshaft and a potential for failure during break-in. But there are several things you can do to curtail this discouraging trend.

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Starter Basics from Powermaster Performance
Publisher's note: I was on the website of our friends at Powermaster Performance , makers of racing alternators and starterts, and saw this very informative article that I thought would be helpful to share with you here.


1) Torque Requirements

The torque output of a starter is the most important consideration. The starter must be able to spin the engine, and do it without overheating internally. Since there is no such thing as having too much torque -even on a street vehicle - a 200 starter will work for ...

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Carburetor Tuning Tips from AED Competition

Publisher's note: I was on the website of our friends at AED Competition, makers of competition carburetors, and saw this very informative tuning tutorial that I thought would be helpful to share with you here. Although it naturally applies best to tuning an AED Competition carburetor, some of the principles will apply universally.

This short reference guide is intended to explain in plain English the correct method to set-up your new AED carburetor. It will cover all of the basic adjustments that you may run into in a step-by-step guide to ensure both your car and your new AED Carburetor will perform to their best potential.

Reference Diagram of Part Names & Location

Initial carburetor set-up

  • Be sure to use a new carburetor-to-manifold gasket
  • Be sure all fuel supply lines are secure and free of leaks
  • Make sure you are using fresh fuel that is free of trash/debris
  • Fuel pressure should be set @ 6 to 7 psi. Max (gas models)

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Before Heading Out For A Long-Distance Tow

Well racers, we’re getting close to the time of year when we all head to our respective bracket finals. Wherever you live and whatever track you race for, if you’ve had a good season in either NHRA or IHRA ET bracket competition, you’ve secured a spot on your track’s team and will be going to do battle with the best of the best of all of the tracks in your division. Some of you might have a long tow ahead of you, and some of you might not be used to towing for long distances. Before you take to the road, here’s a handy check list to refer to before heading out. You should also refer to Basics of Proper Trailer Towing.

  • First, always have a spare trailer tire, and if possible carry two spares. If you have a blowout of a trailer tire and you use the spare, then you’ll be completing your trip with no additional spare. Another issue is the remaining tire that was on the same side as the blowout may have taken a lot of abuse when it had to support all of the weight on that side by itself. It’s possible the tire has been compromised. When it comes time to replace the tire that blew out, you should replace the other one at the same time. Make sure that when you check the tire pressures on the truck and trailer before hitting the road, you also air up the spare. If it's been sitting for a while, it's likely not inflated enough to last very long while carrying a heavy load.
  • If you do have a blowout on your trailer, the easiest way to get that tire off the ground is to drive the good tire up onto a ramp. I keep two ramps I made of wood in my tow vehicle (pictured). If I do blow a tire, I put the ramps on both sides of the trailer and drive it up evenly. You’ll want to break the lug nuts loose before getting the flat tire off the ground.
  • Go to your auto parts store and stock up on emergency road flares to use if you need to pull over on the side of the road. Also pick up a tire plug kit. Not all flats are blowouts. Many are punctures from a nail or screw that are easily repaired with a rope plug. You can then air the tire back up using the portable compressor you keep in your trailer to air up your slicks. Don’t have one? Time to get one!
  • Give your tow vehicle an oil change, and if possible new transmission fluid. A little bit of cheap maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your rig happy and healthy.
  • If you’re traveling a long distance to get to your bracket finals, you may find yourself parking your rig in a hotel parking lot on the way to and from the event (when you’re at the event, you’ll likely unhook the trailer and leave it at the track as you go back and forth to the hotel). This brings up the questions of security. How much would THAT stink to go out to the parking lot the next morning to find an empty spot where your truck, trailer and race car were parked. A good insurance policy is a trailer security system like the Pro-Tec System One, which monitors and protects the trailer and its contents. Any movement of the trailer, or the opening of a door will trigger the alarm. This will cause the electrical brakes of the trailer to be applied making movement impossible in addition to exterior alarms alerting the public.

Last but not least, know your loaded weight! Take your fully loaded trailer to a weigh station or scrap yard with a scale and find out how much you’re really towing. Good luck and safe travels.

Basics of Proper Trailer Towing

Racers, we all log a lot of miles transporting ourselves and our cars to the dragstrip on a weekly basis. This is no small task but many of us take it for granted. Think about it: we’re not only driving a vehicle, but that vehicle is towing another vehicle that’s carrying yet another vehicle. Then think about how many knucklehead drivers we encounter on a daily basis when we’re driving our regular cars. It’s bad enough having to take evasive action when driving a daily driver. It’s even worse when we’re driving a loaded trailer.

Having a properly equipped and loaded trailer won’t prevent any encounters with knucklehead drivers, but it can change the outcome from being catastrophic to being a minor annoyance. Proper towing means having the right equipment, knowing how to load and employing safe drive habits.

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The Dragtime Dodge Gets All New Wiring
You may recall that I had an electrical fire in the trunk of the Dodge last season. My alternator developed a dead short and it overheated the wire running back to the battery. Then, VOILA!... smoke and fire. It was at that time that I realized the wiring in the Dodge had to go. Not just some of it, but ALL of it. I spoke with my friend and fellow Englishtown bracket racer Steve Russell, who's a bit of a Mr. Wizard when it comes to wiring and electrical. He took my thought a step further and suggested not just replacing the wiring but upping the size, making a new fuse block, adding relays, and installing a nice switch panel.

Racers, we documented the before and after here. Not only is the Dodge safer, but it also starts easier and the fuel pump, water pump and fan work better. It also looks great under the hood. If you race a vehicle that still has the original wiring, trust me. Replace it. It's a great investment. If you're in the NJ/PA/DE area of the country and are interested in having Steve do the job on your car, his contact info is at the end of the article.

Click HERE to go to the installation.

Don't Fall For The Myths About Oil

Racers, I recently made a big change in my routine: I switched to a different brand of oil. As a racer using a flat tappet camshaft I always knew that oil is critical to lobe life, but the way I went about it was not very good. I had been using a pretty heavy mixture of oil, thinking that heavier is better. My builder raised an interesting scenario when he found some wear attributed to lack of oiling. He said I'm never getting the engine hot enough to really flow the heavy oil that I was running. I then did some research and made the switch to Joe Gibbs Driven racing oil (I went with their organic HR2 10W-30). I then started reading some of the technical articles on their website and wanted to share some of them here.
Don’t Fall For The Myths!
We separate fact from fiction with some of these more common—and harmful—oil myths
By Jeff Huneycutt

We live in a world where more is better. More money in the bank account, more friends in the Facebook account, we even know some people with more tattoos than we care to count. But among all types, horsepower freaks and gearheads may be the worst. When it comes to horsepower more is never enough, even if it means sacrificing durability and drivability.

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Alternator & Charging Basics

I had an electrical fire in the Dodge earlier this season. For those of you who’ve never had an electrical fire, it’s pretty scary. The Dodge was in my shop and I had just put my new motor in it. I had just started it up and had it running, getting some heat into it. I had my back to the car as I was getting my timing light ready. All of a sudden it just shut off, but I could hear the fan still running.

I turned around and saw plumes of thick, acrid smoke billowing from the trunk, which thankfully had been open. I ran to the back of the car and found the alternator wire in flames...

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The Truth About Valve Springs

I was recently in the Tech section of COMP Cams' website and found this very informative piece on valvesprings. I figure they're pretty much the experts on anything valvetrain-related and being that it delivers excellent info I'm sharing it here with you here. I hope you find it to be useful.

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Burnouts 101: Heat Your Tires Without Beating Your Parts

Burnouts. We love doing them, but do we know how to do them properly? In a recent issue of National Dragster, David Reher had a great column entitled "Are Burnouts Abusing Your Engine?" I thought his article was so important that I referenced it here earlier this year as a must-read.

On a separate occasion, I had a conversation at The PRI Show with Milodon about a new oil pump they came out with because racers were breaking regular oil pumps on the burnout due to excessive shake.

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The Effects of Heat and Dehydration on Performance Brake System Info & FAQs

While attending the 2012 Performance Racing Industry Show in Orlando, I was especially intrigued by one company in particular, CoolShirt Systems, manufacturers of personal cooling systems. Being a racer from the hottest place on the planet (central New Jersey in August), ...

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As racers, we're always looking to go fast, but slowing safely is actually much more important. Additionally, for the footbrakers among us, it's the braking system that holds the car at the starting line as we're way up on the converter. That's why when I saw this technical piece about brake systems on the website of Mark Williams Enterprises, I knew I had to share it here with you. The article continues at the link below, and discusses Pedal Ratio & Master Cylinder, Master Cylinder Selection, Caliper Alignment Clearance and Position, Proportioning Valves, Brake Lines and Fluid, and Troubleshooting.

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About Driveshafts
High-Performance Flywheels Torque Converters 101

I came across an interesting and informative technical piece on the website of Mark Williams Enterprises ( that discusses driveshafts. I thought it was good information so I'm sharing it here with you.

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How to get instant effect by shedding 15lb surplus from your rotating assembly
by Sam Logan

The chief advantage of an aluminum high performance flywheel is weight saving...

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By David Caine, ATI Performance Products, Technical and Sales

One of the most important pieces to any winning combination is also one of the most misunderstood. Your torque converter is the biggest variable in the driveline. To better understand a converter, you need to look at how it really works.

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Billet Pistons

In every class of motor sport, engine power is increasing in impressive leaps. Even small displacement engines now produce horsepower that only ten years ago was considered the realm of exotic mills hundreds of cubic inches larger.

And sizeable cubic inch power plants regularly produce over 1,000 horsepower in street trim with a cast aluminum intake manifold and a single carburetor. There seems to be no end to the power potential.

Cylinder head technology with increased air flow and combustion chamber design has led the charge. Many of these advances have been accomplished by improving the performance of the valve train, achieved largely by state-of-the-art test and development equipment such as the Spintron, and also by the latest computerized machining centers.

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Comparing Axle Designs
Jon Kaase, Lifting The Shroud
Track Testing ATI's 8" TreeMaster Converter

I came across a very interesting and informative technical paper on the website of Mark Williams Enterprises ( in which various types of axles are discussed. I thought it would make a good read here for the visitors of The Dragtime News, especially for those of you who are in the process of perhaps building a new rear for the upcoming season.

The paper compares the differences between flange axle , full floater and live axle type, as well as safety aspects of each.

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Engine philosopher Jon Kaase (Jon Kaase Racing Engines, Winder, Georgia) had an idea that nagged. For too many years, he’d watched the ubiquitous 302 amass part upon improved part, but observed nary a deviation from the original cylinder head configuration. He thought he could produce cylinder head castings that looked like ordinary Windsor 302/351 parts on the outside but inside would be entirely different from the original blueprint. Article continues HERE...

Bob Beucler, Dragtime Dodge

Misinformation - we’ve all received it or innocently passed it along at one time or another. I’m sure you have your own examples of it.

One of mine pertained to torque converters, and ATI helped educate me. Follow the link below to read about my experience.

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Crankshaft Vibration Dampers 101
By JC Beattie, Jr. of ATI Performance Products

I've been around dampers for a long time and traveled to different engine shops around the country to test actual crankshaft twist for the past 16 years. Throughout these years I have collected a lot of information that allows me to make informed decisions on “how much” damper certain engines need. When given the crank weight, peak normal operating RPM, horsepower, rotating system materials, rules about the damper specifications (if racing), and the application of the engine (road racing, oval or drag), I can make a very good prediction of how much inertia weight and what sort of dampening device your vehicle will need. Let’s stop for a second and think about the way a crankshaft is designed. On one end, you have your flywheel, torque converter, or a clutch. On the other, you have your timing chain / belt / gear drive, and then a small “snout” sticking out on which to bolt your damper and any needed accessories. In between all of that, you have a main caps and bearings that hold your crankshaft in the motor.

Article continues HERE...

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