Degreeing cam, how? and YAY or N\AY


Yeah, it was pretty stiff, but eventually a buddy
Jul 13, 2005
Granger, IA
I'm debating whether to degree my b cam when I replace head gaskets and such tomorrow and was wondering how difficult it is. I've searched and seen things like a dial indicator and wire coat hanger way or something, but was wondering if anyone could give me the insight as to how EXACTlLY to degree a cam? Is it tough? Take a long time? Or should I just install dot to dot and hope for the best? I'm kinda at odds over this.
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I think its pretty simple myself. You'll need some sort of pointer (a coat hanger would work fine), a degree wheel, and a magnetic dial indicator, your cam card, and a socket and wrench for the balancer bolt (15/16" I believe). Mount your degree wheel on the front of the crank snout, and mount your coat hanger on the front of the block, I found the timing cover bolt holes to work well. Make sure your coat hanger reaches over and around the degree wheel so you can read it. A bigger degree wheel is a more accurate degree wheel. On the degree wheel there should be a spot that says "TDC" meaning "Top Dead Center". This is when you want your #1 piston (very front, passenger side) at the very top of its stroke, so put your dial indicator over top the #1 piston. Turn the motor over slightly until the dial indicator reaches its highest reading pushing off the top of the piston, you might have to go back and forth a few times to find it. Once you find the highest reading, stop, don't turn the motor a hair. There's another way of finding TDC that they say is a little more accurate, but I think this method is simpler and pretty accurate. Now take your degree wheel and line "TDC" up with your coat hanger, or get it close and then fine tune your coat hanger so it lines up with TDC. Now you've found TDC and have you degree wheel set the way it needs to be. Now take your dial indicator and set it down in the lifter valley, put the point on top of the intake lifter of #1 cylinder. Make sure the lifter is all the way down on the "base circle" of the cam, meaning the lifter isn't beginning to come up, which it should since #1 is still at TDC (assuming your on the the compression stroke, if you're on the stroke where the exhaust gases have just been pushed out, your intake valve might just be starting to open so be careful). Set your dial indicator to "0". Now start to turn the motor over, have your cam card handy, it should give degrees @ 0.050", both intake and exhaust, open and close. Watch your dial indicator as the motor turns over and stop when it reads 0.050", look at what your coat hanger is pointing to on the degree wheel, it should match what your cam card says for "intake opens". For example my Trick Flow #1 cam, intake opens @ 3.0* BTDC (before top dead center). Now keep turning the motor over until that lifter starts to decend (the valve will be closing), keep turning until it once again reads 0.050". When you get there again, look at your coat hanger and see what it points to on the degree wheel, it should be the same as what your cam card says "intake closes". Now you just repeat the same process for the exhaust lifter. Did that make any sense? Sorry for such the long post but I tried to be as detailed as possible.
You will also need a new adjustable timing gear set if you don't already have one. You didn't tell him what to do with those numbers once he has them. If the numbers are more then 2 degrees off you need to adjust your cam. If it's opening early it's advanced, late it's retarded. You can also use an offset key to adjust the cam as well. If it's too far off more then 0.003" then you have a bad grind and should contact whoever made the cam.
already have the b cam going in, I know there are better cams out there, etc. etc., but I already have an adjustable timing gear. So how much is a dial indicator, etc. and how easy to obtain? it's not just a simple matchup with what the sprocket says on the timing chain? I dunno, let me know, this is my first cam swap so....
No the key ways on the crank sprocket will be marked, get the Ford Racing one ($65). It will probably make more sense once you get in there, I rebuilt my first motor when I was 19 so I have faith in you ;).