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How To Degree A Camshaft

Get Every Performance Detail Perfect When We Show You How To Degree A Camshaft

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'The biggest challenge to degreeing a camshaft is convincing yourself to do the work instead of just lining up the dots on the cam and crank gears and calling it a day. While degreeing a cam rarely makes more power, it's one of those things you should do on any good performance engine. Does your daily driver need the cam degreed? Probably not, but if nothing else, it's a great skill to learn, especially if none of your buddies knows how it's done. As soon as you have the skill, you will instantly become the neighborhood cam guru. And that's not all bad. As the man once said-knowledge is power.

The Tools
There are only a few specialty tools you'll need to accurately degree a cam. The essentials are a degree wheel, a magnetic base and dial indicator, a pointer, a piston stop, and a secure way to rotate the engine. You can make your own pointer and piston stop, so that leaves investing in the dial indicator and base, since degree wheels are so inexpensive as to be inconsequential. If nothing else, a degree wheel looks good in your toolbox. If you bought them individually, you could get a 9-inch degree wheel, a dial indicator, and a magnetic base through Powerhouse for around $75. Add a crank nut to turn the engine over, and you're in with everything you need for less than $100.

We need a magnetic base and dial indicator to read the cam lobe lift, while the crank nut is necessary to turn the engine over both forward and backward without touching the degree wheel. The only difficulty with the budget degree wheel is that it's designed to be used with the professional crankshaft turn socket, which is a great tool that only costs $11 more than the crank nut. The point of either crank tool is the ability to rotate the engine in either direction without disturbing the position of the degree wheel. Move or bump the degree wheel, and you have to re-establish TDC.

We didn't include the price of a piston stop because for jobs where the heads are off the engine, you can make one out of a steel plate with a couple of holes drilled. For degreeing with the heads on, you can make a piston stop out of an old spark plug. Or, you can purchase these tools already made for a reasonable price. We added a few other handy tools to our tool list that are great to have, such as a cam handle for installing camshafts. These are great time-savers if you plan on building lots of engines.

Finding TDC
No, we're not talking about The Discovery Channel-TDC stands for top dead center. All the work in degreeing a camshaft revolves around an absolutely accurate position of TDC on the degree wheel. That's where we'll start.

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