Installing new camshaft

69Rcode_Mach1

Active Member
Apr 20, 2004
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Salt Lake City, Utah
I am finally starting my performance work as soon as my headers get here and i set up my 2.5" dual exhaust. I plan on running afr 185's, a new cam, rpm air gap manifold, and probably some je pistons on my 1969 Mach 1 with 351 Windsor. I want to know should i get the cam first so i have something to play with till i can afford the heads(Since they are relatively cheap)? Will i notice more power or will it just shift my powerband. Do i need to have a professional install it and is it expensive? Could i do it myself, is it hard? Any tips on how to do it if so? Will my motor need to come out? Any good cam recommendations for my motor and setup? Thanks in advance.
 
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this is just my opinion, but if you have to ask someone else if you are able to do something, you probably aren't able. I'm not saying that you couldn't do it, but you will probably learn several lessons the hard way(re: expensive). Normally, experience is gained by starting off simple and working towards increased complexity. While a cam swap isn't very complex, it does involve opening the engine, and you'll have to deal with torque specs, lash/clearance measurements, cam timing, etc.

As for the actual cam, I believe it would be wise to wait. A cam that will work well with the AFR 185's might be too much for the stock heads to use in mean time. That being in addition you wanting to get new pistons, which would lead me to believe there is a rebuild scheduled in the near future. Also, the cam of choice may require you to change the torque converter. Sure, there are mild cams on the market that can be used with the stock converter-but, why use a cam that doesn't take advantage of the airflow capabilities of the AFR's.

The best way to learn is to watch/help someone who has experience. If that isn't an option-it's gonna cost you $, either by paying a shop to do it, or by learning yourself.
 
Hey thanks, yeah i can open up an engine and all, but the timing and lash i don't get at all. Ill probably let a professional do it. What stall do you think i should get. Im not racing the car, its a daily driver, but im pushing to make it a fast daily driver. Hoping to get 400-420 fwhp. Right now i dynoed at 155 rwhp bare stock :notnice: at 5000 ft elevation(yeah we're pretty high up in utah). With that set up does it sound feasible. I want to be able to keep up with or beat the 03-04 cobras. If i can do it without an aftermarket stall converter that would be nice. If not what stall do you recommend. Would i have to upgrade my tranny cooler for it??
 
69Rcode_Mach1 said:
I am finally starting my performance work as soon as my headers get here and i set up my 2.5" dual exhaust. I plan on running afr 185's, a new cam, rpm air gap manifold, and probably some je pistons on my 1969 Mach 1 with 351 Windsor. I want to know should i get the cam first so i have something to play with till i can afford the heads(Since they are relatively cheap)? Will i notice more power or will it just shift my powerband. Do i need to have a professional install it and is it expensive? Could i do it myself, is it hard? Any tips on how to do it if so? Will my motor need to come out? Any good cam recommendations for my motor and setup? Thanks in advance.

Wow, nice setup. . .exactly what I had been contemplating except for the intake. will that air gap fit under a stock hood, or do you just not care?? I am trying to build a sleeper, so I was gonna go with a performer RPM or something like that. otherwise, I'm going with 2.5" duals, afr 185's, and a new cam as well. what exhaust are you gonna use? Keep us posted!
 
Projectstang I have no idea what i want to do with my mufflers, but i will be running a dr. gas x pipe with a set of hedman elite long tube headers. I need to hear some good exhaust clips to choose a muffler. I need something loud as hell (I just like the loud rumble, I'm one of those people who like to listen to the engine instead of a cd)that helps performance. Ronstang is helping me with my setup, he is amazing and full of ideas. I don't know what cam to pick i have been looking at compcams. I've also heard good things about lunati cams too. Are you running a 351 Windsor too. Enlighten me on what you plan on doing to the engine i always love to hear and learn. The reason for the pistons is that for the afr 185's you have to get the original pistons notched which can be costly, so i figured ill get some new ones and keep the originals.(I'm the second owner of my car, and plan to do concours once i get older so im keeping all the original parts) till i can afford concours ill have some fun with the car. Also my friends dad built dragsters and he is amazing, he will be helping me with the labor on things i don't know like the cam and pistons.
 
Oh yeah sorry i forgot about the air gap question. I think it should fit under the hood. I haven't heard it doesn't but i will check to be safe. I've heard that the air gap is one of edelbrocks best manifolds and is the best for the 351 windsor. The victors are better for high revving race engines(ie: 9000 rpms), and the airgap beats out the victor in torque by far. If not i will get standard rpm which is almost as good as airgap but for extra $30.00 The airgap makes a considerable amount more power.
 
Do the whole motor at once. Doing things one step at a time will require you to do the overlapping things more than once, which adds to expense and leads to compromised set-ups.
 
I agree with doing the cam, heads, and intake all at once. The engine will have to come out and be disassembled for the pistons, so it wouldn't make sense not to check your crank, rods, hot tank the block, install new main, cam, and rod bearings,etc... If it weren't for the pistons, you could do it all with the engine in, although there would probably be alot of disassmbly on the radiator and front of the car to make room for the cam to slide in. If you check out most cam companies websites, they will tell you the idle quality of the cam, rpm range, and whether or not you need an aftermarket convertor.
 
I was going to take out the engine, but can i do it without taking it out. The reason im getting new pistons is that the old ones will have to be notched. How much would it cost me to take it to a machine shop to get them notched, or would it be better to get the new pistons. I thought the engine had to come out to get them notched thats why i decided to get new pistons. If i can do it without taking out the engine i would like to do it that way. I have a AAA card so towing is free, what notching at the machine shop cost me??
 
69Rcode_Mach1 said:
I was going to take out the engine, but can i do it without taking it out. The reason im getting new pistons is that the old ones will have to be notched. How much would it cost me to take it to a machine shop to get them notched, or would it be better to get the new pistons. I thought the engine had to come out to get them notched thats why i decided to get new pistons. If i can do it without taking out the engine i would like to do it that way. I have a AAA card so towing is free, what notching at the machine shop cost me??

If you're doing something that requires them to be notched, I'd say get new ones unless you already have good pistons. The engine you save might be your own.
 
I've never paid to have any notched, but I'd say go ahead and get new ones. The price difference will no doubt be very noticable but like i said before: the engine you save may be your own. Seen some of the pics on here about exploding pistons?
 
skywalker said:
. Seen some of the pics on here about exploding pistons?

Nope, the previous owner had rebuilt the engine 10000 miles ago, and i don't know if he had put in new pistons. If he has and they look good i might just notch them if its free. Problem is ive never taken an engine out before and it seems like a royal pain in the ars to do. Plus im a high school student so i might be kind of tight for cash if i have to get new pistons. I will do what it takes to protect my baby though.
 
69Rcode_Mach1 said:
Nope, the previous owner had rebuilt the engine 10000 miles ago, and i don't know if he had put in new pistons. If he has and they look good i might just notch them if its free. Problem is ive never taken an engine out before and it seems like a royal pain in the ars to do. Plus im a high school student so i might be kind of tight for cash if i have to get new pistons. I will do what it takes to protect my baby though.
Pulling a motor isn't that bad. When you start pulling it down past the point of a long block (tearing heads, cam out), that's where I get scared.

I've swapped a couple motors, but never opened one up.

I do believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Keep this saying in mind though, "if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail". The way I would apply it to this situation is the following: buy some books, or go to the library. Read about all the work you want to do. If it's too much work to read about it, it will be too much work for you to do. You need a lot of patience and persistence to tackle a big project like this. The more you know about it.. what tools you need, the steps you need to take.. the better off you'll be.

I did a lot of reading and then decided to let a shop handle the long block internals. I'm not the most mechanically astute guy on the block though.

Good luck.
 
It's a lot more work pulling pistons with a motor in the car than removing the motor. Shortcuts will cost you in the long run. Ask your machine shop what nitching will cost, not us.

There is now a tool for notching pistons in the car that involves a circular grinder that mounts in you head in place if a valve. That's about all I know about it. Not sure if it is easy enough for a first timer to use it.
 
Yeah im gonna check all this out. I've been studying books for a year now. I know what to do, except for the camshaft, and I will be working with my friends dad who is a professional and built these cars for nascar, and drag as all his life. That should help me with any bumps I encounter. The taking the engine out bit seems really tough. I gotta disconnect all the wires, alternator, power steering, etc.. Everything. My friends dad will help me with that though too hes taken out a million. How long does it take you guys on average to take out a motor?
 
I've yt to yank a car's motor, but I've yanked a few huey engine packs and cobra engines and that's about 2-3 hrs depending on how many hands you have around and that's a heck of alot more complicated than pulling a car's engine from what I can see.
 
69Rcode_Mach1 said:
Yeah im gonna check all this out. I've been studying books for a year now. I know what to do, except for the camshaft, and I will be working with my friends dad who is a professional and built these cars for nascar, and drag as all his life. That should help me with any bumps I encounter. The taking the engine out bit seems really tough. I gotta disconnect all the wires, alternator, power steering, etc.. Everything. My friends dad will help me with that though too hes taken out a million. How long does it take you guys on average to take out a motor?
The most time consuming part is labelling and bagging everything so it goes back in easily.

It's not easy to answer how long it will take. The reason is that one bolt can take a really long time to remove if you have an old vehicle that hasn't been apart in nearly 40 years. Just to remove everything if it all comes out easy, 2-3 hours is not unrealistic if you've done it before, even working by yourself. Maybe double that for learning curve. Two or more people will cut down the time a lot.

It's worth it to spend the week before the swap soaking everything in penetrating oil. I like PB blaster. This step will help sooo much. It really can ruin your day when you snap a bolt off. :(

So there's my non-commital answer. :rolleyes:
 
Hack said:
The most time consuming part is labelling and bagging everything so it goes back in easily.

It's not easy to answer how long it will take. The reason is that one bolt can take a really long time to remove if you have an old vehicle that hasn't been apart in nearly 40 years. Just to remove everything if it all comes out easy, 2-3 hours is not unrealistic if you've done it before, even working by yourself. Maybe double that for learning curve. Two or more people will cut down the time a lot.

It's worth it to spend the week before the swap soaking everything in penetrating oil. I like PB blaster. This step will help sooo much. It really can ruin your day when you snap a bolt off. :(

So there's my non-commital answer. :rolleyes:


Like I said, I've never done a car engine, but with 2 competent (i.e. - they know the righty = tighty and lefty = loosey) people, 2-3 hrs wouldn't be unreasonble as long as nothing major goes wrong. I think more than 3 people might make for 2 many hands in a confined area but 3 would be good: 1 prepping the drive line/manning the hoist, 2 in the engine bay/ steadying the engine.

The penetrating oil is ALWAYS a good idea. We're not allowed to use it on helos as it is not an approved naval lubricant or some such BS, but God it would make life easier.