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Are gear drives stronger than timing chains?

Are gear drives stronger than timing chains?

We hear statements like this all of the time; "I run a gear drive because I'd break a timing chain". That's an interesting statement because I have never seen a timing chain break unless something catastrophic happened to the engine. If someone's engine is actually breaking chains, then obviously something's not right. It isn't the timing chain's fault, and it certainly isn't because the engine is "too radical".

gear drive

In 99.9% of engines, a good double roller timing chain will endure pretty much everything you can throw at it. If you are really wanting something nice, a billet timing assembly is a nice way to go such as seen in the image to the left.

timing set

On big, bad to the bone, serious engines making between 1,500 and 3,000+ HP, we use Jesel belt drives, which is a RUBBER belt spinning a cam that has a tremendous load on it with ultra heavy, triple valve springs with three and four times the spring pressures than any basic performance spring, and with cams that have lifts in the .850+" area. if a rubber belt doesn't break, neither will a good steel chain.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with running a gear drive if you like the sound of them. We install them on quite a few engines at the customer's request. We just don't prefer them over a chain because  the gear drive "whine" can get pretty old and annoying after a while. We like to hear the natural sound of the engine.

So with that, people that say their 350, 400 or even 500+ HP engine would break a timing chain just seems funny when we have never had a failure with a timing chain in engines making more than twice that amount.

timing chain

If you'd like to learn more about this kind of stuff, in much greater detail, be sure to check out some of our Auto Shop Videos titles. Our multi disk set; "Heads, Porting & Valve Trains" would be a great choice. You can see that title and many others by clicking HERE

gear drives and timing chains


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