Understanding Camshaft Specifications LIFT
Lift refers to maximum valve lift. This is how much the valve is "lifted" off its seat at the cam lobe’s highest point. How is it measured?
Valve Lift is the amount (usually in inches) that the valve is lifted off of its seat. It is usually measured with a dial indicator at the tip of the valve. Lobe Lift is the amount (usually in inches) that the cam lobe increases in radius above the cam base circle.
Tip: To quickly find maximum lobe lift, measure the base circle of the cam and subtract it from the thickness across the cam lobe’s highest point (see the diagram below).
Tip: Maximum valve lift can be calculated by multiplying the maximum lobe lift times the rocker ratio. For example, a 0.310" lobe lift cam yields 0.496" of valve lift when using a 1.6 ratio rocker arm.
Formula: valve lift = lobe lift x rocker ratio What does it do?
The intake and exhaust valves need to open to let air/fuel in and exhaust out of the cylinders. Generally, opening the valves quicker and further will increase engine output. Increasing valve lift, without increasing duration, can yield more power without much change to the nature of the power curve. However, an increase in valve lift almost always is accompanied by an increase in duration. This is because ramps are limited in their shape which is directly related to the type of lifters being used, such as flat or roller.
Duration is the angle in crankshaft degrees that the valve stays off its seat during the lifting cycle of the cam lobe. How is it measured?
Advertised duration is the angle in crankshaft degrees that the cam follower is lifted more than a predetermined amount (the SAE standard is 0.006") off of its seat. Duration @.050" is a measurement of the movement the cam follower, in crankshaft degrees, from the point where it’s first lifted .050" off the base circle on the opening ramp side of the camshaft lobe, to the point where it ends up being .050" from the base circle on the closing ramp side of the camshaft lobe. This is the industry standard, and is a good value to use to compare cams from different manufacturers. Both are usually measured with a dial indicator and a degree wheel. What does it do?