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Are roller cams that much better than flat tappet cams?



There's no doubt about it, the answer is yes. Roller cams don't need to be broken-in like flat tappet cams do. Roller cams don't go flat like flat tappet cams do, especially these days where the EPA forced the oil companies to remove zinc from the oil. Zinc acted like a "cushion" between the cam lobe and the bottom of the lifter, kind of like Tetraethyl lead we used to have in our gasline "cushioned" the valves. When the lead was removed from gas, valves lost that cushion and people began having valve seat problems until hardened seats came about.

Roller lifters can be re-used over and over again. The ramp speed is lightning fast compared to a flat tappet cam, and the lobe profile is awesome which only equates to making more power. You get a better idle, more manifold vacuum and better throttle response with roller cams.

The one draw back is that they cost quite a bit more than your typical flat tappet cam. We fit our roller engines with high-end after market cams from Crane, Comp cams, Crower, Lunati, etc., not the factory stock junk crate motors get, and yes, there is a HUGE difference between the two. For one; the lifters we use for both solid roller and hydraulic roller cams are much lighter and way stronger than what a factory engine comes with. We use light weight "transfer bar" type lifters from Crane, Comp Cams, etc., which are designed for more abuse and higher RPM use, unlike what stock roller lifters were designed for. The down side to these lifters is the cost. They can run anywhere from $400 to over $525 a set depending on the specifics. So compared to a typical $65 - $75 set fo flat tappet lifters, a set of roller lifters is going to set you backa bit more $, but in the end, for what you gain in performance & reliability, it is well worth it.

The cams we use ae made out of MUCH better, stronger and more durable materials and have profiles that are WAY better than any generic cam, but they can easily run anywhere from $300 to $400 depending on the material, base circle size and so on. Sure, you see generic factory roller cams with mediocre profiles going for about $189 in magazines, but do you honestly think those are great cams? Do you think the big boy's are running those cams? Do you think those heavy lifters will be trouble free under serious conditions or at high RPMs with stiff valve springs? No way! Ford's "303" series cams are about as generic and as mediocre as you can get. The lifters weigh a ton and just can't take much abuse. The same thing goes for the factory GM cams and lifters being that they both use heavy slugs for lifters with H-bar retainers and a big, floppy tin pan to hold everything in place.

We only use killer, name brand cams that are custom designed for your specific application to squeeze-out every last bit of power and performance yet still maintain reliability and longevity. These components aren't generic and they aren't cheap. As with anything, you get what you pay for. If you think your car is only worth a generic $179 cam, then a Bad-Ass engine ain't for you. if you want to make a good investment and get great bang for yoru buck with something that'll out run and out perform any generic engine out there, then you are going to need the right roller cam & lifters in it, which aren't cheap.

Now, are flat tappet cams out of the questuion as far as performance and reliability? No. If you simply can't afford a good roller cam, then a good flat tappet cam can still be a great performer. As with what we said about our roller cams, we do the same thing with the flat tappet cams we run in that ALL of our cams are specifically designed for your engine and driving needs, and ALL of them are high quality, name brand cams & lifters, such as Crane, Crower, Comp Cams, Sealed Power, etc..

The down side to running a flat tappet cam is that you will need to break your cam in upon initial start-up. This means if you have performance heads that have dual valve springs, the inner springs MUST be removed before the cam break-in process can begin, and then they have to get re-installed afterwards, which means the whole valve train needs to be taken apart and put back together. Again, this is only on performance engines that use dual valve springs, and most performance engines WILL have dual valve springs.

You must also run a zinc additive in your oil, and you have to be really careful of what kind of valve springs you run. Flat tappet cams are more sensitive to stiff springs than roller cams. So, some people may look at the cost savings of running a flat tappet cam and think it's the way to go, BUT, if you have to pay to have your inner springs removed, then break the cam in, then tear the heads apart to re-install the inner springs again, that is going to cost some $, which in the long run could have offset the initial cost of going with a nice roller cam. It's an individual choice, but it's a choice we can help you make when you're ready.

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