A New Roller For The Mauler - Mauler 440 Engine Project
Solid Power Gains With A Comp Solid Street Roller
From the December, 2005 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Steve Dulcich
Photography by Steve Dulcich
When our Mild-Mannered Mauler...
When our Mild-Mannered Mauler 440 first met the dyno, deep within its gut spun a radically fast flat-tappet combo, measuring 231-degrees at .050-inch lift, and shoving the valves to .600-inch lift with a custom set of Harland Sharpe 1.7:1 rockers. Hydraulic instability in the lifters plagued that test; the mechanisms just couldn't cope with combination of intensely rapid motion and the inherent valvetrain inertia. A test with solid flat tappets on the same cam proved that there are difficult to overcome limits here. Peak torque seen with the hydraulic lifters came in at 560 lb-ft. at 5,000 rpm. Our best horsepower was found when solid lifters were substituted and lashed at .004 inch for testing purposes, recording 607 hp at 6,000 rpm. This is the rpm level at which the hydraulics were in control chaos.
In the initial testing of our Mauler 440 engine project, we had a chance to see how close our selection of parts came to meeting the stout objectives we originally set. The one thing that stood out from that test session was that our combination was overwhelming the capabilities of the flat-tappet hydraulic camshaft we were running. In the quest for the ultimate in fast-acting valve motion, we started with the quickest of the quick .904-inch flat-tappet profiles, and then goosed the rate to an unheard of speed with a set of 1.7:1-ratio rocker arms. As flat-tappet hydraulics go, it was intense, reaching .600-inch lift with a short 231 degrees of duration at .050-inch lift. As our testing showed, the fast rate had the potential to make the number, but the effort was hampered by the ability of the lifter's hydraulic mechanism to cope with such aggressive action. The simple solution was to move to a solid street roller.
When very quick valve action is the goal, a solid roller is the conventional choice. Fast valve action is precisely what this type of camshaft configuration is created for, and we had no doubt that the setup would work. Being a solid design, any question of hydraulic instability would be moot, since there is no fluid mechanism to foul. The roller allows much higher-rate valvesprings to be run without the risk of wiping the cam or lifter face due to overloading. With the flat tappet used in the previous test, we had pushed the spring loads to the limits of what we'd gamble with-at 377 pounds of pressure over the nose, it was a gamble. With a roller cam, spring loads in the range we'd need for control would not be an issue. We could have made another play at finding a magic spring combo for our hydraulic flat tappet, but by changing to the roller, all of the problems with operating the valves in our combo would be solved in one swipe.
Flat tappets can make power,...
Flat tappets can make power, but one of the limiting factors is in the corresponding valvespring. Too much spring load can overload the interface between the cam and lifter, and if the lifter is a hydraulic style, too much spring can collapse the hydraulic mechanism at high rpm. It's a paradox, because very intense valve action often requires high spring loads to control the valvetrain inertia, particularly if the valvetrain is on the heavy side. It's a tightrope to find exactly the right balance here, and at some point there simply isn't a practical combination that's workable, without extensive valvetrain lightening.
We were still aiming our effort for street use, so our lobe shopping was focused on the Xtreme Street Roller lobes in Competition Cam's line-up. Our hydraulic flat tappet measured 231-degrees duration at .050-inch lift. Since we were moving to a solid profile, we needed to go with a cam larger in duration, as measured at .050-inch tappet rise to make up for some of the loss of duration at the valve created by the lash. A rule of thumb is, a solid cam with 8-10 degrees more duration than the flat tappet will approximate the .050-inch duration number of a hydraulic, once the lash is taken into account. With a little greed in our minds, we settled on just a little more than that, selecting lobe numbers 4874/4875, stretching the duration to 242 degrees on the intake, and 248 degrees on the exhaust. These street roller lobes would blow away the lift we were able to achieve with the flat-tappet cam, opening the valves to a full .646 inch on the intake, and .653 inch on the exhaust, when combined with our aggressive 1.7:1 rocker ratio. The high lift would also play well with the high-lift airflow capabilities of our Indy CNC 295 EZ heads. With all the extra air up for grabs by just tipping the valves open a little further, it makes sense to tap into the potential. As with our hydraulic grind, we had the camshaft ground on a wider 112-degree lobe separation angle, a move that will help bleed some low-rpm cylinder pressure with our high-static compression ratio, and help to improve idle quality and vacuum.
To go with our cam, we ordered a set of Comp's (PN 829-16) solid roller lifters. These Comp lifters drop right into a production big-block Mopar with no modifications to the block or oiling system required. The correct pushrod length for the solid roller is different than what is used with a hydraulic flat tappet, so the required length was found by mocking up the combination with a length-checking pushrod. Custom pushrods were ordered from Smith Brothers. To provide valvetrain control, selecting an appropriate spring is vital. The spring seats in the Indy heads are machined to 1.550-inch diameter, so that set the spring diameter spec. We looked no further than the Comp Cams spring chart to find PN 999-16. These are an H-11 tool steel spring set, which delivers 196 pounds of load on the seat at an installed height of 1.900 inches, and 608 pounds at .650-inch lift. With that kind of spring load, we would easily cover any question of valve control with our combination. To go along with the springs, we selected Comps' (PN 732) titanium retainers, and (PN 611) 10-degree SuperLocks to fit the single groove 111/432-inch stems of the Indy valves.
We pulled the hydraulic flat...
We pulled the hydraulic flat tappet cam to make way for our street roller. The cam did show serious power potential, but getting the right valvetrain, spring, and lifter combination to work with our fast 1.7:1 rockers proved problematic at higher rpm. A lot of trial-and-error and dyno time might have helped, and so would titanium valves, but at that point there's no doubt we would have burned through any pretense of economy with the hydraulic flat-tappet cam.
We made the move to a solid...
We made the move to a solid roller cam from Comp. A roller is designed for fast valve action, and toys with spring loads that would wipe a flat tappet in a heartbeat. We upped the ante a bit with our solid roller, stepping up to Comps' Xtreme Energy Street Roller profiles, using lobe numbers 4874/4875 on the intake and exhaust, respectively. The cam specs out at 280/286-degrees of advertised duration, and checks in at 242/248-degrees at .050-inch tappet rise. We had the cam ground on a 112-degree lobe separation, the same as our hydraulic.
The roller swap is pretty...
The roller swap is pretty simple, since the Comp roller lifters drop right in on a big-block Mopar with no modifications. Rollers cam profiles are a higher velocity at higher lift portions of the valve event cycle. This effectively increases the time the valves spend at higher lift. The roller also has the key benefit of allowing much higher spring loads, which lends nicely to controlling the valves when the action gets serious.
There are a few other considerations when making the swap to a roller cam. All roller cams feature the three-bolt front nose, as factory fitted in Six Pack 440s. Our hydraulic cam was ground on a conventional single-bolt core, so we need to upgrade the cam drive to a three-bolt style. We went with Comp's top-of-the-line, billet-steel, adjustable timing set, (PN 3125 KT), which features a hex adjustment eccentric at the indexing pin. The adjustable timing set allows the cam phasing to be infinitely adjusted +/-6 degrees by simply loosening the three mounting bolts on the cam gear, and turning the adjusting eccentric with an Allen wrench. The adjustability makes it easy to degree-in the cam to an exact setting, and also greatly facilitates cam-timing changes on the dyno when dialing in the combo. To make changes to the cam timing even easier, we modified our stock timing cover with a cam access plate. A roller cam installation in a big-block Mopar will require a thrust button to control forward cam thrust. We handled that with a Comp Cams (PN 206) nylon button.
The final item to address is the distributor drive, since roller cams are ground on steel billets, making them incompatible with the factory steel drive gear. A Milodon distributor drive with a bronze gear had us covered there.
We wanted to make sure we...
We wanted to make sure we had plenty of spring on hand to dispel the chance of valvetrain instability, and the roller cam allowed us to raise the bar significantly. We used Comp's No. 999 spring, a premium H-11 steel dual spring measuring 1.550 inches. This spring delivers stout force, with 196 pounds of pressure on the seat and 608 pounds at max lift when installed at 1.900 inches.
Speaking of lift, our custom...
Speaking of lift, our custom Harland Sharpe rockers raised the cams specs to .646/.653-inches lift, compliments of the high 1.7:1 ratio. This is a significant gain compared to our previous cam combo, and could only help with our high-flowing Indy 295cc CNC EZ heads.
The valvesprings can be replaced...
The valvesprings can be replaced with the heads still installed on the engine. We used a valvespring removal tool, available from Powerhouse. Just run compressed air in through the spark plug hole of the cylinder to pressurize the cylinder and hold the valve up, and use the tool to release the spring. Usually, the spring retainer will need a tap with a brass hammer to break the lock's grip in the retainer.
Our hydraulic flat-tappet...
Our hydraulic flat-tappet cam featured a conventional single-bolt nose, while the roller carried a three-bolt attachment point......
.....This required a change...
.....This required a change to a three-bolt timing set. We opted for an adjustable timing wet from Comp. Note the thrust button mounted in the center of the cam gear; it's required equipment with a roller cam.