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Camshaft swap "How to".....

This is a discussion on Camshaft swap "How to"..... within the Internal Engine forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; I figured since I need to remove my cam to clean out the cavity I would do a write up ...

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    Moderator 98TransAmWs-6's Avatar
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    Camshaft swap "How to".....

    I figured since I need to remove my cam to clean out the cavity I would do a write up of how to do a cam swap. I am posting this up as I complete it so please bear with me and be patient with the progress on the thread since I can only work on it a few hours a week.

    Tools/Supplies Needed:

    8mm wrench or socket
    Ratchet
    10mm socket
    Socket Extension
    13mm Open Ended Wrench or Adjustable one
    15mm socket
    Small Flathead Screwdriver
    Vice Grips or Pliers
    3 Arm Pulley Puller
    2 Water Pump Gaskets
    1 Timing Cover Gasket
    2 5/16” wooden dowels
    Impact wrench or breaker bar

    There are other things that are required but I will update them as I go along.

    Let’s start first by getting the front of the car up in the air, you can do this with either ramps or jacks. Now the car is up in the air disconnect the negative terminal on the battery with a 8mm wrench or socket. Now we need to disassemble and remove the airbox assembly to the bellows (the tubing before the throttlebody).



    There are 4 bolts with washers attached on the lower airbox assembly that need to be removed. Next loosen the clamp on the bellows with a flathead screw driver until it is loose enough to move around and pull the bellows off the throttlebody. Disconnect the MAF and IAT sensors and remove the airbox assembly to the bellows as a unit and set aside somewhere safe. Next we need to take off the serpentine belt. To do this I used a 15mm socket on a ratchet and put it on the belt tensioner. I pushed until enough tension was taken off so I could remove the belt.



    Now we need to drain and remove the radiator. I have a replacement radiator so yours might look a little different. You see that white fitting in the picture at the bottom passenger side radiator? That is how we drain it; it is called the petcock valve. The one on the stock radiator is black and a little different. Grab a catch pan and place it under it. Slowly open the valve and adjust the position of the pan accordingly until it is fully open. You will spill coolant so don’t worry too much about it.



    It takes a while for the radiator to drain so while it is draining I would disconnect the fans. Using a flathead screw driver you need to pry open these plastic tabs until they come open to separate the fans from the harness. There are 6 tabs, make sure you get all of them. There are also two sensors one per fan that need to come off before removing the fans. They are really hard to just unclip with your fingers, I used a small flathead screw drivers and pried the clip off and they pulled out easily.



    Now there is a big hose a few inches above the petcock valve. It has a pressure clamp on it. Compress the clamp with vice grips (pliers will work too) and move it back a few inches. Pull the hose off and drain it in the catch pan.



    This next step is for those with automatic transmissions. There are two trans lines one at the top of the passenger side of the radiator and the other one at the bottom. In the picture the trans line is the small metal line and it is below the big hose we just removed. Starting with the one on the bottom, grab either an adjustable open end wrench or a 13mm one. One hard push should loosen it enough to unthread it by hand. Once you have unscrewed it all the way pull the line out of the hole so the flare is out of the radiator. Now hopefully the radiator is no longer spitting out coolant. If there isn’t any more coming out close the petcock valve and move to the top of the radiator.



    Now remove the trans line up top, using the same wrench you used on the lower one. Once unthreaded all the way remember to pull the line out enough so the flare is not in the radiator. Also there is the coolant level sensor below the trans line, you need to disconnect that. Also make sure you remove the two lines that are below the radiator cap. One of them was really hard to take off, so I had to pry it off a bit with a small flathead screw driver to get it started. It then came off easily the rest of the way.



    There is another big hose on the driver’s side with a screw clamp. Unscrew it enough so it slide around, then move your catch pan under it and pull the hose off. Drain the hose in the pan.
    Now we are ready to remove the radiator, I removed the condenser from the radiator first, but you don’t have to. I just unthreaded the bolt and removed the A/C line from it. Next I pulled out the condenser from the top first and set it aside. If you don't remove the condenser you just swing the condenser and radiator up and separate them from each other, then put the condenser back down. Next, you can pull the radiator out two ways. Either pull the fans off first and then the radiator or as a unit. I found it easier to pull the fans off first and from the bottom. When removing the fans from the bottom push up on it until it breaks loose and pull it forward and down. Set the fans aside if you did it this way. If you removed the fans first removing the radiator should be really easy, all you should need to do is pull it straight up now. If you didn’t you will have to maneuver the unit to make sure the fans don’t catch on hoses and other lines and wires. Once the radiator is removed now we move to removing the water pump.



    There are 6 10mm bolts that secure the water pump. The lower one on the driver’s side is really hard to get to, so I had to remove the small pulley that is right below it. Remove it using a 15mm socket on ratchet.



    Before you remove any of the bolts place a catch pan under it and then remove the two big hoses that you removed from the radiator and set them aside. As you remove the bolts hold on to the water pump so it doesn’t drop when you remove the last one. After you have removed a few or so of the bolts some coolant should start leaking out of the water pump. While it is slowly leaking out position your catch pan under it so what is falling is landing in the pan. Now remove the rest of the bolts and if your pan or bucket is tall enough rest the water pump on it so it drains into it. Let it drain and while it is draining work on removing the two smaller hoses off the passenger side of the water pump. Use a flathead screwdriver to unscrew the clamps until they are loose enough to move. Then pull them off, but if yours are like mine they won’t budge by just pulling them. I used a small flathead screw driver by prying the hose up a little bit. After I pried the hose up a bit it allowed me to pull it off pretty easily. Repeat that for the other hose. Once you have removed those hoses set the water pump on the catch pan to allow the rest of the coolant drain out.



    Now this is what you should see. The next step is to use a 3 arm pulley puller. This is where I am at now, hopefully I will have the rest finished in the next couple days or so.
    Last edited by 98TransAmWs-6; 06-22-2012 at 11:45 PM.
    1998 Trans Am WS6 - Phantom
    421 CI LQ9, Tick Performance Custom Cam, TFS 255cc LS3 heads, Kooks 2" LT headers, Kooks 3" True Duals w/ high flow cats, FTP 104 lid, Speed Density Tune, 4" silicon tube, LS6 VCT, FAST 102 Intake, NW 102 TB, Oil Catch Can, SLP Bilstein Shocks w/ Vogtland Springs, CTS-V 4-piston Calipers w/C6 Z06 rotors, Stainless Steel Brake Lines, R1 concepts premium rotors, Hawk HP+ brake pads, VFN WSQ Hood, C5-R timing chain, SLP oil pump, E85 tune, Walbro 450 fuel pump, Deatschwerkz 95# injectors, Breathless performance headlights, Frost Tune, !HVAC.
    (Coming Soon) BMR DSL, UMI TQ Arm
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    going to do this soon, looking forward to updates

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    Next you need to loosen the crank pulley bolt. It uses a 24mm socket. I just used my impact wrench and it came off in less than a second. The other method is to remove the starter and lock the flywheel with some big screw drivers if you are an a4 or put it in gear if m6 and then use a breaker bar. After you have broken loose the bolt unscrew it a few turns and use a 3 armed pulley puller.This is how it should be installed with the pulley on the crank:


    I can't stress this enough:

    For the pulley puller buy a quality one do not rent the one from Advance Auto parts. It will take much, much longer if you do because it will keep coming off. I bought a 3 armed craftsman pulley puller from Sears for $45. The pulley came off in maybe 15 min if that.

    The arms need to be hooked around the "ears" inside the pulley. What you are going to do is tighten the center stud in it until it hits the crank bolt. Then loosen the stud a few turns and loosen the crank bolt a turn or so. Then tighten the stud until it hits the crank bolt again, you will repeat this until the crank pulley comes off. It may stop coming off any further toward the end like mine and I just pried it off with a tire iron or you can tap it with a rubber mallet. Once off this is what you should see:



    Now there are ten 10mm bolts on the timing cover, remove them and take the timing cover off and set aside.
    Last edited by 98TransAmWs-6; 07-16-2012 at 01:39 PM.

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    This is what you should be looking at:



    Now remove the 3 10mm bolts on the timing chain gear and remove the gear. Let the timing chain drop down.



    Remove the four 10mm bolts on the cam retainer plate and remove the plate.



    Now thread 2 or 3 water pump bolts into the cam.



    Now insert dowels into the holes next to the cam. This will hold the lifters up and prevent them from falling.

    Push very carefully on the dowel so you don't snap it. Mine broke but luckily I could grab it with needle nose pliers and pull it out.



    I have to buy another dowel before I continue, almost there .

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    One thing I forgot to mention which you.can do now or in the beginning after you disconnect the battery is to loosen the bolts on the rocker arms so that you can remove the cam. First disconnect the spark plugs from the coil pack. Then unclip the wiring harness from the coil packs. Now you either need a 10mm wrench or a ratchet and a 10mm deep socket. You need to remove all 16 bolts from the coil packs to remove them and set them aside. Now you need to "remove" the 9 10mm bolts from the valve cover. They won't actually come off so you just loosen them so you can move them up and down. Then remove the valve cover. This is what you should see now.



    Now you need to loosen the bolts on the rocker arms so you can move the cam. I used a 3/8 drive torque wrench with an extension and a 8mm socket. Loosen them until you can hear the pressure released. Repeat this for the other side. Now with nothing holding the cam in we can remove it.

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    nice write up so far but dont forget to mention the changing of valve springs for those that are going with a larger cam because they are mandatory

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    It's almost sticky worthy, will wait till more updates come.

    Looks good so far.



    Are you updating the oil pump and timing chain while you're here?

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    Yes I am replacing the timing chain with a Katech c5-r one and a slp oil pump. This is all I am doing besides cleaning the cavity since I don't have the cash for a stall, cam ,and valve springs.

    Quote Originally Posted by SMWS6TA View Post
    It's almost sticky worthy, will wait till more updates come.

    Looks good so far.



    Are you updating the oil pump and timing chain while you're here?




    Next step is to use the threaded water pump bolts and rotate the cam back and forth. I gently rotated it and pulled out on it while holding it underneath to support the cam. If the cam doesn't budge or only comes out a little bit and stops, your rocker arm bolts aren't loose enough. Once it is out you should be looking at this.



    Now lay whatever cam you are installing on a towel and clean it with brake cleaner.



    Once it is clean rub it down with clean motor oil. And reinstall it the way you removed it.
    Last edited by 98TransAmWs-6; 07-26-2012 at 02:43 PM.

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    Now if you aren't going to install a new oil pump and timing chain then go on ahead and install your valve springs following this rough guide:

    http://www.ls1.com/forums/f7/how-replace-valve-springs-132116/

    If you installed a bigger than stock cam you must also install higher lift valve springs. If not you run the serious risk of your springs breaking (not if, it will happen).

    If you are installing an oil pump and timing chain follow these instructions:

    First thing I did was drain my oil since removing the bolts from a full oil pan could become very messy. Now remove the 4 bolts attaching the oil pump to the block.



    In order to remove the oil pump you have to remove the 10mm bolt on the oil pickup tube. To achieve that you will need to drop the oil pan a half to a full inch. I removed the bolts on the oil pan to achieve this. There are ten 10mm bolts around the oil pan I removed all of them with the combination of using a 10mm wrench and a really long extension on a ratchet. There are two up front and 4 on each side. The bolts look like this:



    Now you may need to use something to pry the oil pan down a bit so you can get access to the bolt on the oil pick up tube.



    I used a lever from my floor jack to pry it down a bit and then loosened the bolt with a 10mm wrench. Once it was loose enough to use my fingers I put a rag down in the pan and loosened it the rest of the way. The rag is in case the bolt falls out of my grip. Then remove the bolt. Now take a screwdriver and pry the pickup tube down while holding the oil pump. It should pop off. Pull the oil pump off. This is what you should be looking at now:



    Make sure the o-ring isn't in the oil pump, if it is pull it out and place it on the pickup tube.

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    Great info. Subscribed!

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    Now re-install the cam retainer plate. They are 4 10mm bolts. I used ARP bolts with ARP teflon thread locker on them and then torqued them to18ft-lbs.



    Next let's take a look at the new timing chain. This is the timing chain I am using:



    There are tons of options for timing chains from ls2 to double roller chains. Now open the chain up and clean it off with brake cleaner or some other similar cleaner. Then oil it up with clean oil and drape it over the crank like we did before. Now thread a bolt into the cam and pull slightly on it so the cam isn't flush with the block.

    This part is very important, if you don't follow these directions you risk serious damage to your engine.

    What you are going to end up accomplishing here is lining up the crank dot on the crank gear with the cam dot on the cam gear. It will look like this when done:



    Grab the old crank bolt and thread it in. You will need a huge wrench or vice grips for the next part. Whatever you use put it on the crank bolt and turn it counter clockwise to rotate the crank, what we are try to achieve here is to get the dot on the crank to be pointing straight up. Grab your cam gear and you will see 4 holes, one of them smaller than the other 3. That is where the cam alignment dowel goes, which is that piece which sticks out of the cam. First pull the timing chain up and put it on the cam gear. Then I pull the chain off the crank gear slightly, so you can move it all freely. Put the small hole on the cam alignment dowel and line up the other holes with the bolt holes on the cam. If you are having trouble holding this in place thread in one of the bolts. Now slowly turn the gear clock wise until the two dots line up. Then take the bottom portion of the chain and put it back on the cam gear. Make sure the dots are lined up, you will know if they are. You can at a minimum be off by one tooth, so it will be noticeable. If you are off s bit just repeat the steps above until you have it lined up and try not to get frustrated, I know I did at first. If all is good then put some thread locker on your 3 10mm bolts for the cam gear and torque it to 18 ft-lbs. Once again I used ARP bolts and ARP teflon thread locker for added security. We are almost there!
    Last edited by 98TransAmWs-6; 09-11-2012 at 01:01 PM.

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    Excellent right up!

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    Now if you are replacing the oil pump complete these next few steps.

    I am replacing my stock one with a SLP High Volume Oil Pump, which is the same as the Melling one, It is made by Melling just for SLP. Here is the pump:



    Now take some oil and rub it all over your o-ring for your oil pump. Then poor some oil into the oil pump until it is full and starts draining out, let it drain out and wipe off the outside of the pump with some shop towels or cotton towels. What you are going to accomplish here is lining up the slots in the oil pump gears with the keyway on the crank. Here is what it looks like:



    Now tilt the oil pump at a 45 degree angle up towards the drivers side. Like this:



    And then tilt it back to how it would bolt on the block. With one hand push the pickup tube down and with the other slide the oil pump further on the crank. Line up the pickup tube to push it up in the oil pump, make sure it is flush and you do not see the o-ring, DO NOT MAKE IT FLUSH BY PULLING IT IN WITH THE PICKUP TUBE BOLT. If you do you will have horrible oil pressure and have to tear everything back down again. I actually rotated the crank a few times and this lined everything up perfectly so it just slid in place. But you can also just pull the pump off slightly and rotate the gears in the oil pump by hand to line up the keyway with the slots. This is what it should look like once you have the oil pump in place:



    Now on to getting the bolt back into the pickup tube.

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    Now you are going to accomplish the worst part of the whole camswap, re-installing the oil pickup tube bolt. First, grab some towels or something and shove them in the oil pan to prevent the bolt from rolling into the oil pan. I found it was easiest to use a small 10mm wrench to put the bolt in so it could sit on it. Then I maneuvered it into the oil pan and lifted it up through the hole in the flange of the oil pickup tube and into the oil pump. I then proceeded to thread it a little bit at a time with my fingers while holding the wrench underneath it for support. I also used the closed end of the wrench and tightened the bolt. I held it with my fingers when I took the wrench off to put it on again to go for another pass. I repeated this until the bolt was snug and I could not turn the wrench anymore but I did not crank on it since the torque value of the bolt is only 9 ft-lbs.



    Now it is down hill from here, re-assembly time! Gather all of the oil pan bolts and re-install them into the oil pan. I tightened them all until they were snug with my fingers then tightened them down with a wrench or ratchet. Then I torqued them all down to 18 ft-lbs except the back ones which only need 9 ft-lbs so I just tightened them slightly over hand tight.

    Now you need to grab your timing cover and remove the old seal. Get a flat head screwdriver and pry it out. Once it is out grab your new seal and a hammer, I used a 4 lb engineers hammer or BFH, I held on to the seal and hammered my way around the seal so it wouldn't pop up every time I hit it. Once it is flush with the cover scrape off any remaining timing cover gasket off the block. Now put some rtv on the front of the oil pan to help secure the seal between it and the timing cover. Set the timing cover gasket in position and place the timing cover over it. Make sure it is all lined up and re-install the timing cover bolts hand tight in a start pattern. Then torque them all down to 18 ft-lbs.

    I will post pictures tomorrow I was tired when I finished.

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    Since it won't let ne edit my previous post with pictures here they are. This is what you should have after you have bolted down the oil pickup and the oil pan:



    This is the front seal that needed to be removed:



    And here it is installed:



    Here is where you need the rtv sealant:



    This is what you should have with everything in the previous step done:


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    Now put the crank pulley in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees. Put on some oven mitts and slide the pulley on the crank. You may still need the crank installation took depending on how far it goes on. Mine did not go on quite far enough so I will need the installation tool. Here is the pulley on the crank:


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    Now reinstall the water pump and gaskets. To this easily with no frustration, I threaded one water pump bolt into the side I was not installing the gasket on which helps with not having to hold the whole pump up. Now take the gasket and line it up with the holes and install a bolt and thread it into the block. Make sure the gasket is still lined up properly and adjust if necessary, then thread the other two bolts into the block. Remove the one bolt from the other side and repeat the process for this side as well. Now tighten the bolts down to 18 ft-lbs.

    I will post pictures of the pump installed once I get them off my camera.

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    Now the reinstall is basically the reverse of the uninstall. There area a couple things that are different though.


    Reinstall the rocker arm pedestal , pushrods, and the rocker arms if you removed them. Tighten all the bolts down hand tight. The rocker arms must be torqued in a certain method unless your removed the heads , in that case all the valves are down so you can just torque them down to 22 ft lbs. The following is the procedure that must be followed if you did not remove the heads.

    Rotate the crankshaft until the number one piston is at top dead center (TDC) of the compression stroke. In this position, cylinder number one rocker arms will be off lobe lift, and the crankshaft sprocket key will be at the 1:30 position. The engine firing order is 1,8,7,2,6,5,4,3. Cylinders 1,3,5, and 7 are left bank. Cylinders 2,4,6, and 8 are right bank.

    With the engine in the number one firing position, tighten the following valve rocker arm bolts: Tighten

    .....(1) Tighten the exhaust valve rocker arm bolts 1,2,7, and 8 to 30 Nm (22 ft lbs).
    .....(2) Tighten the intake valve rocker arm bolts 1,3,4, and 5 to 30 Nm (22 ft lbs).

    Rotate the crankshaft 360 degrees.
    Tighten the following valve rocker arm bolts: Tighten

    .....(1) Tighten the exhaust valve rocker arm bolts 3,4,5, and 6 to 30 Nm (22 ft lbss).
    .....(2) Tighten the intake valve rocker arm bolts 2,6,7, and 8 to 30 Nm (22 ft lb).

    Now install the valve cover gaskets and the valve cover as well as the coil packs and sparkplugs and spark plug wires. Reinstall your radiator and all the hoses as well as your airlid, maf, and anything else you removed. Fill the radiator up to the proper level and leave the cap off. Once this is done just make sure you don't have any loose connections and that everything is torqued down the proper spec. Double check everything and then reconnect your battery. Depending on the size of the camshaft you installed it may not start up and in which case you may need a mail order tune to get it running or tow it to a dyno. If you are trying to drive a large cam on the stock tune you can help it stay running until you get a dyno tune by enlarging the hole in the throttle body. Start with a small drill bit and work your way up to no bigger than a 1/4" drill bit. Start it up and watch your oil pressure. It should jump back to normal within 5 seconds, if it does not turn the car off. It takes that long because you have taken the car apart and swapped a new oil pump into it. You may have to keep your foot on the gas for a little bit to keep it running, if it is a big cam you may not be able to keep it running until you get a tune. Also the engine will sound like a sewing machine for a few minutes until everything gets nice and oil inside.

    Now get out there and enjoy the new cam and new found power!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 98TransAmWs-6 View Post
    Now reinstall the water pump and gaskets. To this easily with no frustration, I threaded one water pump bolt into the side I was not installing the gasket on which helps with not having to hold the whole pump up. Now take the gasket and line it up with the holes and install a bolt and thread it into the block. Make sure the gasket is still lined up properly and adjust if necessary, then thread the other two bolts into the block. Remove the one bolt from the other side and repeat the process for this side as well. Now tighten the bolts down to 18 ft-lbs.

    I will post pictures of the pump installed once I get them off my camera.
    It won't let me edit and add the pictures so here is the water pump reinstalled:



    Quote Originally Posted by 98transamws-6
    Now the reinstall is basically the reverse of the uninstall. There area a couple things that are different though.


    Reinstall the rocker arm pedestal , pushrods, and the rocker arms if you removed them. Tighten all the bolts down hand tight. The rocker arms must be torqued in a certain method unless your removed the heads , in that case all the valves are down so you can just torque them down to 22 ft lbs. The following is the procedure that must be followed if you did not remove the heads.

    Rotate the crankshaft until the number one piston is at top dead center (TDC) of the compression stroke. In this position, cylinder number one rocker arms will be off lobe lift, and the crankshaft sprocket key will be at the 1:30 position. The engine firing order is 1,8,7,2,6,5,4,3. Cylinders 1,3,5, and 7 are left bank. Cylinders 2,4,6, and 8 are right bank.

    With the engine in the number one firing position, tighten the following valve rocker arm bolts: Tighten

    .....(1) Tighten the exhaust valve rocker arm bolts 1,2,7, and 8 to 30 Nm (22 ft lbs).
    .....(2) Tighten the intake valve rocker arm bolts 1,3,4, and 5 to 30 Nm (22 ft lbs).

    Rotate the crankshaft 360 degrees.
    Tighten the following valve rocker arm bolts: Tighten

    .....(1) Tighten the exhaust valve rocker arm bolts 3,4,5, and 6 to 30 Nm (22 ft lbss).
    .....(2) Tighten the intake valve rocker arm bolts 2,6,7, and 8 to 30 Nm (22 ft lb).

    Now install the valve cover gaskets and the valve cover as well as the coil packs and sparkplugs and spark plug wires. Reinstall your radiator and all the hoses as well as your airlid, maf, and anything else you removed. Fill the radiator up to the proper level and leave the cap off. Once this is done just make sure you don't have any loose connections and that everything is torqued down the proper spec. Double check everything and then reconnect your battery. Depending on the size of the camshaft you installed it may not start up and in which case you may need a mail order tune to get it running or tow it to a dyno. If you are trying to drive a large cam on the stock tune you can help it stay running until you get a dyno tune by enlarging the hole in the throttle body. Start with a small drill bit and work your way up to no bigger than a 1/4" drill bit. Start it up and watch your oil pressure. It should jump back to normal within 5 seconds, if it does not turn the car off. It takes that long because you have taken the car apart and swapped a new oil pump into it. You may have to keep your foot on the gas for a little bit to keep it running, if it is a big cam you may not be able to keep it running until you get a tune. Also the engine will sound like a sewing machine for a few minutes until everything gets nice and oil inside.

    Now get out there and enjoy the new cam and new found power!
    The rocker arms reinstalled:


    The location of where to drill the holes in the throttle body if needed:


    Alright that is it I think. Let me know if I am missing any information and I hope this helps someone out. I can't seem to edit the required tools in the first post and also the last line in the first post.

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