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Big cam!

This is a discussion on Big cam! within the Internal Engine forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; Heading over seas again for a substantial amount of time, and want to treat myself again when I return. I ...

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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    Big cam!

    Heading over seas again for a substantial amount of time, and want to treat myself again when I return. I currently have a pretty mild cam that I did before I upgraded my TC. I want a cam that shakes the earth and gives substantial gains to the wheels. I would like to know how big I should go on a 3200 stall and something that wont be a complete nightmare to drive on the street. at the same time I don't mind all that much about streetability as this isn't my dd anymore. any input and suggestions are appreciated.
    2005 Impulse Blue GTO
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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    I am also entertaining the thought of forced induction. if there are any cost effective and reliable setups that would be ideal. could I get anywhere near the gains with the cam as opposed to FI. would pricing of the 2 be comparable as well. Thanks

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    Moderator 35th-ANV-SS's Avatar
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    FI is much more expensive than a camshaft. I have over 10K wrapped up in just parts alone for my Procharger setup. It can be done cheaper, but I bought the best of the best. Only wanted to do it once and after 5 years have zero regrets. The cheapest route would likely cost around 3k (buying used and piece meal together).

    A cam swap - under 1K including the push rods, oil pump, timing chain, oil, and cam.

    I gained 200rwhp with 8psi. I'm guessing with a large cam you might get 40-50rwhp. Just a guess.
    It's on jackstands.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Big cam!

    Turbo.......

    with big cam comes valve train issues. MS3/4 cams usually wear their springs out around 25-30k miles. Or they use to.

    Done right FI can last long time and produce wicked high hp/torque.
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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    with the current setup I'm running, I put down 417 on the dyno. with a more aggressive cam how much farther past this would be realistic? I know FI would be the ideal route, but like previously stated it would take a considerable amount of time and money to piece together a quality product. if I went with a fast 102, cam, and spray would I get anything comparable to what I could net with a procharger? my other consideration is that the current motor is just a tick under 90k. with more power going into it, should I consider a rebuild or a swap before throwing more money at the thing? ive also heard about being able to bore to a 408... what would be a few scenarios floating around in your think space if you were me?

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    Big cam!

    YOU should be more concerned with the torque than the hp , my last cam swap I lost a couple hp but picked up torque and it came in at a lower rpm dropping my et about .2 Find a cam that's max torque is coming in right about where you shift and you will be pleasantly surprised . Don't worry so much about huge hp gains .

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    Quote Originally Posted by dethinboots View Post
    with the current setup I'm running, I put down 417 on the dyno. with a more aggressive cam how much farther past this would be realistic? I know FI would be the ideal route, but like previously stated it would take a considerable amount of time and money to piece together a quality product. if I went with a fast 102, cam, and spray would I get anything comparable to what I could net with a procharger? my other consideration is that the current motor is just a tick under 90k. with more power going into it, should I consider a rebuild or a swap before throwing more money at the thing? ive also heard about being able to bore to a 408... what would be a few scenarios floating around in your think space if you were me?

    1st is this for the Goat or the Bird?

    90k the motor is just breaking in....

    408? - Is this on the LS2? I know you can do it to them but IMHO you'd be far better off with an iron block stroker vs an aluminum block stroker. There is only a 60ish lb weight penalty with the iron block. And to be honest that is worth it; to gain the strength the iron block gives back vs aluminum. In all types of builds, especially for FI builds. AL handles about 8-10 lbs of boost (without forging the block) while the iron blocks can double it easy.


    Huron Speed have a turbo kit for f bodies that range form $2000 to $4000.

    GTO kits are a bit more.

    Turbo vs Supercharger - need to decided where you want the power to come in. Low end = Turbo, high end = Supercharger.

    FI is the most efficient in building power and has the most gains. I've seen some incredible gains in tq & hp with 5.3 blocks using stock internals and laying down 600-700hp. We have a TA in our area that has easily laid this down. His new numbers he's been keeping secret but the car is much faster then before.


    Now here's what I've spent on core items on my 403ci NA build (minus block, bearings & Arp studs):

    Bore block to 4.005" $400 (there was more work done to the block but the price is total of what I had done.)
    K1 4" forged Crank $850
    DSS 4.003" forged pistons $400
    SCAT I Beam Forged rods $350
    FAST 102 (used) $950 also included was the LS2 fuel rail (but they go for $100ish)
    NW 102 TB $450
    LS3 injectors (used) $250, New =$480
    Polluter stg3 Cam $380
    243 Heads (used) $450, spent an additional $100 to refresh them.

    So without the other items like gaskets, bearings, arp studs, oil pump etc...just about $4200 in parts alone (And I was trying to do it on a budget & piece meal the parts buys). Now in April on my 1st attempt to dyno tune it put down 450hp/430ft tq before it broke my 4th gear blocker ring in the transmission. I still don't know what it has yet because of some other issues but just trying to give you an idea on what you're kinda looking for in cost and gains.

    Now I know in order to get a max effort out of this I'll need to drop another $2500 for a set of Frankenstein Trick Flow heads and maybe a bigger cam. With those heads I could realistically see with tuning, a 75-100 hp bump over my 243 heads. Now add a 200 shot of N2O for more fun $1300 (complete kit for FAST102).

    And lets not forget how much in tuning so far...$1000.

    So a turbo kit is looking might nice in price about now....
    Last edited by SMWS6TA; 12-01-2015 at 08:07 AM.

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    Moderator 35th-ANV-SS's Avatar
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    I will just add that most kits, including the one Scott mentions at Huron Speed, don't come anywhere near complete. You can easily add 2-3K to that price.

    BOV, wastegate, injectors, gauges, fuel pump, plugs, wires, oil, antifreeze, hardened push rods, springs, etc etc etc.

    Additonally, pretty much no kit is plug and play. You'll need fab work and customizing for your specific application for fit up.

    There's a lot more cost that is involved than what many think.
    Last edited by 35th-ANV-SS; 12-01-2015 at 11:46 AM.

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    Moderator 35th-ANV-SS's Avatar
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    Pretty much that is true with any type of build, FI or NA lol. Whatever you "think" it will cost....add about 50% to that number as a good estimate lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by douglowden116 View Post
    YOU should be more concerned with the torque than the hp , my last cam swap I lost a couple hp but picked up torque and it came in at a lower rpm dropping my et about .2 Find a cam that's max torque is coming in right about where you shift and you will be pleasantly surprised . Don't worry so much about huge hp gains .

    Torque is absolutely a valid consideration. As my favorite analogy goes: Horsepower is how hard you hit the wall... torque is how far you take the wall with you!

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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    so for economy of price compared to performance gains I think the big cam with supporting mods will be the most satisfying. I'm thinking another lunati voodoo but am not sure how big would still semi okay for the street. with this I also will be looking into heads, intake, and maybe spray. any ideas for any of these things. personal experience or preference.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Alex what block is this going into?

    A LS1 or the LS2?

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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    Ls2. which has me considering getting the current heads machined since 243s are a pretty good platform to start with. all in all heads are a pretty new concept to me, and I don't know what direction to take. ive heard use the current 243s, ls3 heads, or just go with something crazy from arp or trick flow.

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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    ive also become quite interested in the shift kits they have for automatic transmissions. the last few drives ive used the stick to manually up and down shift, and the performance has made me fall in love with blue all over again. my transmission was rebuilt this year with racing steel choline and clutches, so I'm not as worried about it taking a dump under stress. I also figure that its not really detrimental because the car gives me the option to do this as well as there being aftermarket products for the exact reason. I hope I'm not wrong....

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dethinboots View Post
    Ls2. which has me considering getting the current heads machined since 243s are a pretty good platform to start with. all in all heads are a pretty new concept to me, and I don't know what direction to take. ive heard use the current 243s, ls3 heads, or just go with something crazy from arp or trick flow.
    I have 243's with mild porting and they had them completely freshen up with new valve guides, lapped, and setup the valve springs for me. 243/799's are some good heads. AI can port them and do some other stuff that will really make them shine. Cost about $1000-1200 for their work. If you go aftermarket, Trick Flow/Frankenstein heads are about the best you can get. But that are pricey, you're looking at $2500-2800.

    LS2 - I know on tech there are many builds that take them to 4.030" bore. IMHO that's taking it to the max for these Aluminum block. It will work but for how long? You can do 4.005" safely and still make quite a bit of power. With a 4" crank you now have a 403ci like mine but in a aluminum block. Going 403ci you'll need a 4" crank, 6.125" rods and pistons for 4" stroke and 6.125" rod length plus new rings.

    Also ARP only makes bolts not heads

    One more bonus with LS2/6.0L iron blocks is yes you can use LS3 heads, but that also means LS3 intake, 102mm TB. When HPP magazine was still out I've read several ways to build 6.0liters using both LS1 & LS3 style heads.


    Quote Originally Posted by dethinboots View Post
    ive also become quite interested in the shift kits they have for automatic transmissions. the last few drives ive used the stick to manually up and down shift, and the performance has made me fall in love with blue all over again. my transmission was rebuilt this year with racing steel choline and clutches, so I'm not as worried about it taking a dump under stress. I also figure that its not really detrimental because the car gives me the option to do this as well as there being aftermarket products for the exact reason. I hope I'm not wrong....
    Yes you need to plan on getting a new stall converter to match the H/C build and the joy of tuning.

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    Insurgent Hunter dethinboots's Avatar
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    sorry I meant afr lol. with your engine being pushed to 403ci did you achieve the performance goals you had in mind or did you already know where you would be before hand? would my current stall not be sufficient for what I'm trying to do? and for the reworking of the 243's would I have to remove and ship them myself? I guess the time gap of sending and receiving them completed wouldn't matter because ill be gone for 9 months anyway

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Yes on goals, well I think I'll actually exceeded them once my damn tuning issues work themselves out.

    What kinda stall do you have? I'm not to knowledgeable on auto's (sorry).

    243's - Yes you will need to remove and ship to AI for their work. Pulling heads isn't too hard on a Goat I hear when compared to a F body. Will had his heads worked on by them, I'll ping him to give you his opinion & experience .

    Also Will had his engine built by Tick, took 9 months but in the end I think he'll be every happy.


    Take the time to research and save up then do it all when you get back. Dealing with ordering parts while on deployment sucks. (Been there)

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    Big cam!

    You know for most cams I consider to be "big" require 4000 stalls or bigger. You need to really figure out what your goals are because you can go a million directions with this. I have had AI ported 243s ported to the max and they are nice but for a few hundred more I could have gone with tfs heads. Which is what I ended up doing because I decided to get a 421 built which is done. This has what is a huge cam paired with ls3 255s and a FAST 102 setup. I still have more room as the ls3 255s can be ported if you send them to Frankenstein racing heads which I will do down the road. My engine however is really expensive lol.

    The key with getting a big cam but not having to replace the valve springs so often is getting one without crazy lift which is possible.

    From what it sounds you want max effort with what you have for the most part. I honestly would get a custom cam but that's just me.

    Just for reverence this is the size of my cam:
    25x/26x .62x/.62x 113+2

    This was custom designed by Tick Performance for max effort sparing pretty much nothing to get the most out of my 421 ci LQ9. With this cam it will make way more power than any ms4 or whatever and I won't have to change the valve springs every 30k miles.
    Last edited by 98TransAmWs-6; 12-10-2015 at 05:59 PM.
    1998 Trans Am WS6 - Phantom
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    This what I have done for my engine just to give you an idea:

    4.030 bore Iron Block $800
    DSS 4.030" -5 cc flat top pistons $500
    K1 6.125" stroker rods $669
    K1 4.125" crank $850
    ARP main cap studs $262
    TFS 6 bolt 255 LS3 Heads $2500
    ARP head studs $390
    Tick Performance Custom Cam (cam motion) $450
    C5r timing chain $140
    Melling High Volume Oil pump (blue printed and ported) $169
    Morel 5206 Link bar lifters $700
    Chromoly Pushrods (length TBD) $110
    LS3 Rocker Arms $250
    BTR trunion upgrade $120
    FAST 102 $850
    NW 102 TB $650
    Deatschwerkz 95# injectors (for e85) $669
    Walbro 450 fuel pump (e85 safe) $120
    Precision Industries Vigilante Stall 4000 $800
    Billet Flywheel $300
    Milodon 7 Qt Oil pan, Baffle, pickup tube, and oil filter adapter $600

    Plus the cost to have it all assembled and machine work and all that crap like gaskets and other miscellaneous stuff I forgot.

    Most of this is engine and doesn't include headers, suspension and other stuff. I know I am missing some other things as well so the total is not quite as high as it actually is but I have definitely spent almost if not over $20k on my engine alone but I have also bought expensive and high end parts which are optional and not needed necessarily but I wanted to buy the best for my engine that I could afford and make the most power as possible so I wanted that. The point of this post is to show you how expensive shit can get even if it is just a simple head and cam swap as you can see would have been well over $3000 for me alone. The biggest advice I can give you is to research a lot to figure out what exactly you want to achieve with your cam, heads, and what you will be using the car for and then develop a plan of attack to get you there. Let me know if you need any help with anything I have done this before and understand how confusing it can get.

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