Cams on a 03 GT????

Discussion in 'SN95 4.6L Mustang Tech' started by kyles03sonicgt, Dec 5, 2005.


  1. kyles03sonicgt

    kyles03sonicgt New Member

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    Alright, I'm planning on buying cams for my 03 GT this winter. I've been looking at VT cams because I hear good things about them. Would the Stage 2's be too much for a daily driver? The car right now is a daily driver, and would the stage 2's be too much for everyday driving? I hear you need to have full exhaust for cams? Is this true? I already have an x-pipe with cat-backs, and am getting longtubes soon. So thats not really a problem I was just curious. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
  2. '03GTinFLA

    '03GTinFLA Member

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    Lots of guys on here running 2's on their DD's. Get a good tune and you'll be fine. And exhaust helps. You'll be fine with your setup and even better with your LT"s.
  3. blackfang

    blackfang Founding Member

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    VT's are good as are Comp. Good idea to invest in some valve springs too.
  4. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Fried or Broiled ?

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    Yes, you will need to replace the springs with stage 2. Personally, I would go with stage one on DD...

    Also, are you aware of how much cams and long tubes will cost? If you cannot install youself it is going to be $1500+
  5. blackfang

    blackfang Founding Member

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    You will be fine with a stage 2 for a daily driver. There are a ton of people running stage 2's on their daily drivers with no problems. Unless you can install them yourself it will cost money.
  6. streetstang03

    streetstang03 unModerator

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    nah, you dont need full exhaust w/ the cams, but it will help and you're already going to do it :nice:. Stage IIs and new valve springs will be fine for a daily driver as long as you dont have to worry about emissions :nice:

    you'll need a tune as well.
    i have some install how-to's here if you're curious:

    http://www.stangette.com/community/showthread.php?t=120
  7. blackfang

    blackfang Founding Member

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    Very informative info here from Bill Putnam

    Alright guys, it seems that some of the frequent members here (myself included) are getting frustrated with the number of repeat questions asked about cam and valve spring installs. The same topics and questions are coming up day after day after day and it's just because people are too lazy to use the search feature. In an effort to make this forum a little better for all of us and to eliminate some of the wasted time/space, I'm creating this FAQ for cam and valve spring installs. This should cover most of the questions that are coming up constantly and should rid the forum frequenters of the need to constantly offer the same answers to the same questions over and over again. So without further ado...

    Deciding on a set of cams...

    Which cams are the best for me?

    This all depends on your goals. Are you going with a blower or a N/A setup? Do you have a 96-98 vehicle, a pre-96 vehicle or a 99+ vehicle? 2V or 4V? All of these are questions that need to be answered before you can decide on a set of cams. If you're going the blower route, get a set of blower cams. If you want to go nitrous, you may want to look into a set of custom grinds. If your goal is to drop a set of cams into a totally stock motor and gain 55rwhp across the board, you're not going to do it. The bottom line is there is no one answer to this question, you need to do your own research and determine what's best for your individual setup and goal.

    What are some common camshaft and valve spring companies?

    Probably the most common companies people on this board use are Comp Cams and VT Engines. Comp Cams offers thousands of cam profiles and VT has plenty in the making. If you're looking for custom grinds, your best option is probably Comp Cams because they offer many more profiles than VT. However, if you want top quality, best bang for the buck cams and want good reliable power, VT may be your way to go. This is not to say that comp doesn't make awesome cams, but there are plenty of documented problems with the Comp Cams and very, very few with VT. Among other camshaft companies are Crower, SHM and Crane. As far as valve springs go, Comp Cams and Crower are probably the most commonly used. The Comp Cams springs will handle pretty much anything you can throw at them without a problem.

    Will I need to change valve springs?

    This is an easy one. Whether you're PI or NPI, 1992 or 2004, most people here would recommend that you don't go any higher than .550" lift on either exhaust or intake valves on the stock springs. Check out the specs on your individual cams, and if the lift on either valve is .550" or more, CHANGE YOUR SPRINGS. It's a cheap method of insurance and most everyone here will agree that they'd rather replace a set of valve springs than replace a motor beause one spring hit coilbind and threw a rocker off into a moving valvetrain.

    Will I have problems with piston-to-valve (PTV) contact?

    Again, this depends on your setup. In general, people with Comp Cams (particularly the XE270AH line) have experienced a lot of problems with PTV contact on the 96-98 PI head swapped motors because the pistons on these motors used less of a dish than the later model modulars. Even the 99+ motors have found some slight contact issues with big cams like the comp 270s because of the duration and the timing advance. For the most part, if you want to avoid PTV contact and you have stock pistons, check with your cam company and find out if they have a timing advance ground in, and try to stay under 235/240 @ .050" duration. VT Engines have plenty of people using their cams and even with their big cams on stock motors they haven't had much of a problem with PTV contact.

    Will blower cams work with my N/A setup?

    If you are running N/A and plan to go blown in the future, get the blower cams now. You'll still see a good gain with the blower cams on a N/A vehicle. On the other hand, N/A cams tend not to work very well with blown applications, so if you're unsure, blower cams are probably your best option.

    Are cams really worth it? What kind of gains will I see and how hard are they to install?

    A good set of cams is one of the best "wake-up calls" for a stock modular motor. If you're looking for a good, solid power gain that will only get better as you add more mods, cams are the way to go. As far as the difficulty of the install, if you are in the least bit mechanically inclined (i.e. you can install an intake, exhaust, throttle body, x-pipe, set of lowering springs, etc) you should have no problem with the cam swap. Just make sure that you give yourself plenty of time if you are weary, and that you have all the right tools and a good plan of attack before you start. For a first timer doing the cams AND springs I would say to give yourself at least a week of down time to allow yourself time to walk away and do some research if needed. If you can't install a throttle body or an intake/exhaust, my best advice would be to take the car to a shop and let a professional do it. As far as the gains go, the average cam install on a stock motor will see somewhere between 15 and 25 rwhp, depending on the cam. If you have other mods, you will obviously see more power.

    Cam install questions...

    Should I use the AFM cam tool to do this install? Is there anything I definitely should not forget before I start?

    I personally wouldn't recommend it. It only take an extra hour or so to remove the timing cover and that way you can be sure that the timing is right and that you haven't missed anything. The AFM tool also typically requires a two person team whereas if you remove the timing cover, you can easily accomplish the swap with one person. As far as things you need to remember, PLUG THE OIL GALLEY HOLES! This is the most important part of the entire project IMO because if you don't, you run the risk of dropping bolts/washers/valve locks into your oil system. Believe me, you do not want little chunks of metal flowing throughout your motor.

    I can't get the god damn driver's side valve cover off! What gives?

    The driver's side valve cover is a ****** to get off. We aren't going to lie to you. It sucks and there's nothing we can do to change it, but there's no secret to getting it off. You just have to finagle it out of there. If you post a thread asking how to get the driver's side valve cover off you're going to get 100 replies that say "just keep working at it." You don't need to disconnect the clutch cable to get it off, you don't have to drop one side of the motor down, again there are no secrets. The best method I've found for getting the cover off is to lift the entire thing straight up off the head (straight up with respect to the head) about 1" all the way around. Then try twisting the cover toward the center of the motor, lifting the front end up a bit and sliding it forward. It WILL come out with some time. If you can't get it, take a break and come back later with a clear head.

    Is there a trick to getting that last power steering pump bolt out?

    In short, NO. Again, this is another thing you just have to keep working on. There are hundreds of methods out there. I personally tried the one in Bill Putnam's article but the wrench I bought was too big to fit between the power steering line and the head of the bolt. I ended up using an open-ended wrench and just turning it like 1/8 of a turn at a time until it was loose enough for me to work out with my fingers. Once I had the pump off, I cut the bolts right off so I didn't have to worry about getting it back in. This bolt is not necessary and can be hacked off with a dremel tool and a heavy duty cut off disc (just make sure you have some eye protection).

    Do I need to bleed my "lifters"? How do I do it?

    This one is getting REALLY annoying! Alright, if you are doing a cam install, bleed the lash asjusters. It's not NECESSARY, but it's extremely helpful. If you don't bleed them, the only way to get the followers back on is either to put them on before the cam and cam caps (which will skew your torque specs when torquing down the cam caps) or to use the valve spring compressor tool to compress the springs again while you put them on which a) takes more time and b) increases the risk of dropping a valve if the valve locks unseat from the stem. To bleed the adjusters, you can use compressed air which takes a long, long time, or you can put them in a vice and compress them until the oil seeps out. Some people will argue that compressing them in a vice is risky but I'd have to disagree. I've seen thread after thread of people arguing over which method is better, and it always just comes down to if you go to far with the vice. The fact is, when reinstalling the followers, the lash adjusters don't need to compress all the way. 1/8" to 1/4" is more than enough to get the followers back on, so if you're weary about compressing them in a vice, just compress one a bit and test it to see if you can get the follower back on. If it works, continue with the other adjusters. If it doesn't, compress the first a bit more and try again. I went all the way to the point of the plunger bottoming out and I still had no problems at all.

    How do I get the followers to "pop" back on?

    Once your lash adjusters have been fully bled and they will compress enough to allow the follower to slide over the top with a little help, position the follower on the valve stem first. Once the valve stem end of the follower is in place, depress the lash adjuster a bit with your finger and slide the follower onto it from the side so it sticks in place. Once the follower is in this position, you can "pry" it back on with a screwdriver by placing the flat head of the screwdriver behind the pocket where the plunger from the lash adjuster sits and using the cam or cam girdle/cap for leverage. You will need to apply a hefty amount of pressure to get it to pop on but it should be able to be done with one hand. Make sure also that you keep the pressure straight, or the follower will slide off the side of the lash adjuster and you'll have to start over again.

    How do I get the followers to "pop" off?

    Again, using the flathead screwdriver, position it between the lash adjuster and the edge of the follower and twist the screwdriver. The follower will slide up and off to the side of the adjuster. Make sure you have your hand underneath the girdle to catch the follower or you will spend a long time trying to fish it out of the head. Here is a pic to help show you what I mean:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v.../reference1.jpg

    Keep in mind that you will need to have the lobe for the valve you're working on at its base circle in order to put the followers on OR take them off. If you don't have the lobe at the base circle, you will not be able to do it without damaging something.

    Valve spring install questions...

    Why is this such a pain in the ass?

    The valve spring install is definitely the most time consuming and tedious part of this entire project. It sucks, but there's nothing you can do to change it. My best advice? Get more beer.

    Where can I get the Ford OTC valve spring compressor tool?

    This is about the average price for this tool:

    http://www.sjdiscounttools.com/otc7928.html

    You can search the part number (OTC 7928) on Google if you want to try to find a better price.

    What is the best method for getting the valve locks back in place?

    Once you have the new spring on the stem and the retainer in place, I found that the easiest way to get the locks into place was with a small magnetic tipped screwdriver and some white lithium grease. Place the grease either on the valve stem itself or on the inside of the valve lock and hold onto it with the magnetic tipped screwdriver. When you place the lock on the valve stem, the lithium grease should hold it enough for you to pull the screwdriver away. Once it's stuck there, take another small screwdriver (I found that eyeglass screwdrivers work wonders) and use that to position the lock into its final postion (in the grooves on the valve stem). Once you have one in place, slide it around the back of the stem so the other can go in in the same position and at the same angle as the first. Remember, make sure you either have air pressure holding up the valve or that you move each piston to TDC as you work on each spring. If you don't do this, the valve WILL fall into the cylinder and you will have to pull the motor and disassemble the entire thing to retrieve it.

    I'm really getting sick of this crap! How am I ever going to finish this project?

    We know, we know. Replacing valve springs sucks. This is why I said in the beginning of this thread to give yourself plenty of time to walk away and cool down. Unless you've done the install before and/or you're a seasoned professional, you WILL get ****ed and you WILL need to walk away and chill out for a bit. The internals of your motor are delicate and you need to attack them with a clear head, not violent hands and a slew of frustrations.

    Reassembly and timing questions...

    How do I make sure my timing is correct?

    If you've followed Bill's article, You should already have a good understanding of the timing in your motor. Before you even disassembled the chain setup you should have marked the appropriate timing links on your chains, but if not, here's a little secret. The links at the ENDS of the chains are the links that need to be lined up. When all's said and done, your timing should look like this (pay attention to the dimples on the sprockets and the marks on the timing chains, the marked links are the end links of the chains):

    Passenger Side

    Driver Side

    Crank Sprockets

    Do I need the fourth power steering pump bolt?

    No. It is completely unnecessary and nothing but a pain in the ass. As I said earlier, cut it out and save yourself the trouble of trying to get it back in.

    Where should I seal the pieces I've removed?

    Bill's article has all the points where you should seal the timing cover and valve covers. Personally I sealed mine in several different spots and used plenty of silicone gasket maker. In my opinion you can never be safe enough when it comes to sealant, so don't be shy. Use plenty of it and make sure everything is torqued down good and tight.

    Is there a torque sequence for the timing cover, cam caps, girdles, and valve covers?

    For everything but the timing cover, yes. All of these torque sequences and specs can be found in the MD resource section or through Google. If you can't find them, USE THE SEARCH FEATURE! They have been posted time and time again.

    Post-install and initial startup questions...

    Is there anything I should do before I start my car for the first time after the cam install?

    You should probably crank the motor over 10-12 times without letting it actually start to build up oil pressure. You won't see your oil pressure gauge rise until after it's running, but it's a good idea to "prime" all your internal components before initial startup. Once the car has been cranked over a few times and you are read to start it, do so and let it idle for 15-20 minutes before going any further. Be aware that the vehicle may stall and the idle will probably sound a bit choppy, but it's nothing to worry about. Once you've let it warm to operating temperature and checked for leaks, smoke, strange noises and the like, turn it off. Start it and let it drop to a normal idle (2-3 minutes) and then turn it off again. Do this three or four times or until you're confident that there are no starting / idle problems. When you're ready go ahead and take her for a spin, but don't beat the crap out of it right away. Though there is no "break in" period for a set of cams without bearings, the lash adjusters and chain tensioners should be allowed to build up top end oil pressure before being abused too much. A nice 15-20 minute highway cruise at 2500-3000rpm is usually good.

    I have some strange ticking coming from my motor now, what is it?

    First things first: You need to identify where the noise is coming from. Take a listener gauge (a long piece of metal like one of those metal grabber things will work fine) and place one end to your ear and the other end on various places on the motor. Areas you should listen to are generally the intake manifold, the valve covers, valve cover bolts, timing cover, cylinder heads, and fuel rails / injectors. I found that after my cam install, my injectors were loud as hell. Why? I have no idea, but I don't really care because injector tick is fairly common with these injectors, and as long as it's not coming from my valvetrain it doesn't worry me. If the noise is coming from your valvetrain or you think you may have PTV contact, you need to stop right away and disassemble everything to identify the problem. Remember, preventive action is better than corrective action if you bend a valve or throw off a rocker.

    What are some common remedies to problems associated with cam/spring installs?

    This really depends on the problem at hand, but for the most part, the most common problems are cured by thing like a fresh oil change, a new tune, or new fuel injectors. If you've gotten to this point and done your homework, it's probably safe to post your problem here on MD and gather some more insight.

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