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  • Cam swap

    So how many of you have done cam swaps on late model B body, I am doing one soon on a 78 magnum and I am trying to decide between tilting the engine up on a cherry picker or pulling the grill assembly to swap cams.

    Any experience or advice?

  • #2
    I took mine out without tilting the engine up. Well, it started as a timing gear change ( nylon gears are garbage) but you kno how the story goes... once you're in there, might as well. It was tough because it was my first swap, but not physically so. Just me being uneducated and somebody had to assist me once I cried like a baby and wanted to junk the car, lol.

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    • #3
      Many people do not bother to use a degree wheel when setting up a cam but man, if something isn't right, you will chase your tail trying to figure out what's wrong. Some of the things I've found in my 40+ years of messing with this stuff are mismatched sprockets or mismarked. It doesn't take much of a mistake to put the 'dot' on a sprocket in the wrong place or machine a key way in the wrong place. Cam was ground off spec or the alignment pin was placed in the wrong spot. Is the timing mark on your balancer exactly right? That right there is key to finding true TDC. And then you have the possibility of all the wrongs stacking up in the same direction which will place the cam timing way off.

      The last 'mistake' I saw made was when a friend of mine (with more experience than me even) decided to throw in his cam into a new engine and just use the dot method and ended up bending all of his brand new 2.14 intake valves. Funny thing is, the engine actually fired up but wouldn't run over 1000 rpm. It would just die when he opened the throttle even just a little bit. He finally did a compression check and knew something was wrong. Don't remember how many degrees the cam was off but it was a lot! When I build an engine, it doesn't matter if it's high performance or bone stock.....I use a degree wheel to dial in the cam. That way you know exactly where it's at and you know there were no errors made during production.....unless the front half of the cam was ground differently than the back half but I've never seen that happen before lol

      As for installing the cam with the engine in place on that model....never done one.

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      • #4
        was thinking the same thing pertaining to my 78 Fury, its 318 could use a bit of assistance...

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        • #5
          Got the cam kit from the brown Santa. I went with the Comp cams XE268H the fun should start this weekend. I am really hoping I don't have to tilt engine (fingers crossed)

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          • #6
            I've done all mine withe the engine on a stand. Agree 100% with what Cranky said. Use a degree wheel and save yourself a lot of pain and suffering. Not to mention your fists and workbench when you don't have to pound the living s***t out of it when you get angry. :angel:
            Paul, aka 'zij576ca'
            Lifer #49
            Member & webmaster, The Mopar Club of San Diego

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            • #7
              Heads are coming off anyway so no reason not to degree the cam, however, I am still hoping to do the swap with the engine in place as I have no garage space at the moment lol.

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              • #8
                the last cam swap I did with the engine still in the frame was my 83 D 250 pick-up, plenty of room there, a B body has a good bit of space with the radiator and condenser removed, too. should be able to do it that way....

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                • #9
                  And if you have room to remove the cam once the radiator is gone but with the AC condenser in place, make sure you put something in place to protect it from banging into it. A piece of heavy duty cardboard or a thin piece of plywood works well.

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                  • #10
                    All solid advice gentlemen, the motor is torn down to short block at the moment, it appears that the cam will go in without having to tilt the engine. (Both radiator and condenser are removed)
                    I ran out of time this weekend and have to drop my heads off at the machine shop tomorrow (once I decide which of the 3 set I want to run).

                    Fingers crossed that I will be able to button everything back on my next set of days off.

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                    • #11
                      No brainer. Pull the grill. A lot easier.

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                      • #12
                        Got a 408 on the stand and the 360 is going into the shed for a bit, so cam swap will definitely be out of car lol

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Popinsmoke View Post
                          Got a 408 on the stand and the 360 is going into the shed for a bit, so cam swap will definitely be out of car lol
                          Cool....what all is in it?

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                          • #14
                            OK, from the uneducated section, what does a degree wheel do, and why does it save things from being out? If there's a manufacturing error, how does it fix that?
                            .


                            bringin' em back ~ to the Dodge Mahal !!....

                            Where old Magnums can find a home.. :angel:

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Magnumguy View Post
                              OK, from the uneducated section, what does a degree wheel do, and why does it save things from being out? If there's a manufacturing error, how does it fix that?
                              The cam is the heart of the engine and if it's not timed right with the pistons, worst case is that the valves can hit the pistons. Minor case is the engine won't run right or not experience it's full potential. Usually there's a cam card telling you when valves are supposed to open and close and are listed in degrees of crankshaft rotation. Even if the timing gears are not marked right or even if the cam is ground off spec, the card is usually what you go by to get the cam in the right place. You use a dial indicator up top on the valves and a degree wheel on the crank.

                              First off you need to find true TDC using the degree wheel and place a pointer at zero on the wheel and then you plot the location of the cam using a dial indicator to make sure the valves are opening and closing in the right place based on the degrees at the pointer. This is a simple explanation and if you really want to look at it in action, there's lots of videos on youtube on the subject. You can also move the cam....advance it or retard it to see if the engine responds to the move (they usually do). Moving the cam back and forth moves the HP and torque to a different rpm. One night I went to the track with a buddy that had installed a new cam. The car was already faster but he wanted to see if there was more in it.

                              True TDC was already marked so that chore didn't have to be done. Stuck on the degree wheel and moved the cam forward 4 degrees. Never saw anyone move a cam at the track before lol but the car went from 10.80 to 10.70. The weather was the same so that didn't play into it. It was a track car so there wasn't a bunch of accessories on the front of the motor and that made the job much easier. Also, the new cam had a lower lift but the duration was a bit longer and the opening and closing ramps were a bit faster. And if you really want to confuse yourself, start studying cams and their effects when you move things around lol. One of the reasons new cars are so fast is not only because of electronic fuel and ignition management but they also have variable cam timing along with other things like blowers....

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