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Old 05-21-2007, 02:09 PM
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longer exhaust duration ?

isky racing cam tips- 2003
Longer Exhaust Duration: Is this really necessary?

Most stock camshafts from American production V8, V6 and 4 cylinder engines manufactured today are ground with the longer exhaust lobe duration. Or, another way of looking at this is that they are ground with shorter intake durations! The former embraces the viewpoint that either the Exhaust Ports or Exhaust Pipe system is somewhat restrictive, and is in need of an assist. The latter suggests that the intake system is rather efficient and cam timing can be trimmed back a bit with out much sacrifice in power, in order to maximize throttle response and cruising efficiency.

Take your pick here. There is no absolutely correct viewpoint - because both are probably true! In a stock engine running at conservative RPM levels, for the sake of overall efficiency, fuel economy and a quiet smooth running engine, this staggering of intake and exhaust duration is quite common and appropriate.

However, High Performance is another thing entirely. Change one factor, let's say in this case, the exhaust system (installing headers and larger pipes) and you have just negated in most cases, the need for that longer exhaust lobe. Now couple this change with a different intake system and camshaft and you have really scrambled the equation. But, wait just a moment. Why is it that so many people (racers & cam grinders alike) insist on running a cam with longer exhaust duration regardless of what equipment is employed? The answer is "habit". Most of them have been somewhat successful in doing it their way and will probably never change unless virtually forced by circumstances to do so.

Before we go any further however let's review what it actually is we are trying to do with an engine when we attempt to make more power. Our best result comes when we are cognizant of the fact that an engine is basically an air pump. We pump it in and out (although in a different form) and we have problems when one side or the other is restricted. Balance or the equilibrium or flow should be our objective, unless of course we are not trying to make more horsepower!

Example #1 (Oval track racing) Here, I have often observed that the most experienced drivers are those who are most likely to run a single pattern (equal on intake and exhaust duration) cam. Why? Because such cams always, I repeat always make more torque! These veterans have a more educated foot and greater experience in feathering the throttle in the corners. They can therefore, utilize the benefit of added torque, in the lower to mid RPM range, to their advantage.

Their counterparts, the younger drivers on the circuit, generally are not as experienced and may at times actually get "crossed up" in the corners especially with a lighter car or when they are learning the ropes. In their case, a longer exhaust duration is often the more appropriate choice. It will often help them to drive better, more "flat footed" if you will, without consequence. But please for the sake of accuracy, let us be truthful. The benefit comes from an actual bleeding off of low to mid range torque, which is always what happens when Exh. Duration is lengthened, not from any improvement. The improvement, (if any) would come because of an improvement in scavenging at the extreme upper end of the power curve and would usually be marginal at best. Yet the so-called "extra power" potential of a longer Exh. Duration cam is most often why they are touted - power most people are backing away from at the end of the strait away!

Example #2 (Drag Racing) At the drag strip it's a little different and I feel more honest. Here, racers have long enjoyed longer exhaust and longer durations across the board (If I may add specifically for the purpose of "killing" low-end torque) to keep the tires from too easily breaking lose. This has been successful and sometimes actually results in a slight increase in top end power - something you can actually use in drag racing since it is a full throttle endeavor through the lights. Keep in mind here though, it's quite possible that a longer duration cam overall would have done just as well or better. In other words if you needed that longer exhaust for top end, perhaps the intake could have benefited from such a lengthening as well.

One of my favorite expressions is how "The Drag Racing mentality has infiltrated the ranks of Oval Track". Many have crossed over and made the switch in the past 10-15 years and some have brought their preconceived notions about how to cam an engine with them. A few may actually read these concepts and if they do so will at least come away with a better understanding of what they are doing. On the other hand they also could find that this information might actually help their cars to run just a bit faster!

Note: Readers may find Camfather Ed Iskenderian's Top Tuners Tip #33 "Can an Exhaust System Over-Scavenge the Combustion Chambers" to be a relevant precursor.

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Old 05-21-2007, 02:36 PM
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I`ll just say this, however, this is from old school heads. I`m not sure how big a difference it makes on heads of today because they are far better, anyways, here goes.
Smokey Yunick said even in stock form, the chevy heads exhaust port was very efficient and didn`t require much port work to get it in excellant shape. The intake port wasn`t very efficient and needed all the help it could get port work wise.
Ford heads were just the opposite, the intake port was "too big" and it needed to shrunk some to help maintain velocity, the exhaust port however, was a small, kinked nightmare that required major porting surgury to get it in any kind of shape. I use only single pattern cams since all I run are small block chevy`s, the exhaust port is fine with little work and with a properly run low restriction exhaust system does a excellant job, I don`t want to over scavage it. That and almost every dyno tests I ever seen a single pattern cam produced more torque and horsepower. I believe to be in chevy`s cases, the more exhaust lift and duration cams from the factory were there because of a restricted exhaust. In many chevy`s in the 60`s that came with 300 horsepower engines, many of these had single exhausts from the factory hooked to a corked muffler, so the 300 horse 327 cam had more on the exhaust side, the 350 horse 327 came with a single pattern cam and it came with dual exhaust. Even the engines that came with the duntov 30/30 cams were on a single pattern as they also came with dual exhaust. I`m not saying I`m right, understand, I`m just saying it`s something to think about. I think the vortec heads may have changed all that, being they have a very efficient intake port as well as exhaust port, so again, A single pattern works well.
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Old 05-21-2007, 04:27 PM
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Nice to see that some one is so knowledgeable about the subject and or at the least so opinionated keep up the good work. . thanks

Last edited by 383silverado; 05-22-2007 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 05-22-2007, 04:44 PM
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Me knowledgeable? that`s laughable.
It`s just my theory, it just makes sense to me.
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Old 05-22-2007, 11:39 PM
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So what would you think of the new comp cams thumpr cams? They have huge exhaust durations but less lift then the intake. they do sound very mean but they say they wil make more horsepower then comparable flat tappets and a broad torque curve. That seems to go against the loosing of low and mid range torque to gain the upper rpm power.
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Old 05-23-2007, 07:24 AM
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I know that when running nitrous that more lift and duration on the exhaust side is favorable, and if I were running nitrous I`d run one of those cams. It seems now every cam company advertises the same. Like crane when they released the power max cams and gave there sales pitch about how good they are, I tried one and wasn`t real impressed. I think the voodoo cams are a advancement as well as comp cams, they`re always doing something to make there cams better. I remember reading a dyno test where they were using 2 comp cams, one with a single pattern, the other the xtreme energy grind with around the same specs as the single pattern only bigger on the exhaust side. The single pattern made more power in the entire RPM band, which surprised everyone in the dyno room but wasn`t a surprise to me since it kinda supported my theory. Even so the power gain wasn`t a huge one, it was enough to tell a difference. The single pattern cam was supposedly a "older" grind without the technology of the xtreme energy. I`m sure many other factors play a role in this as well. Perhaps test the different cams with different heads and exhaust systems then the split pattern cam would make more power, I dunno. As I said in my before post, I think it was significant on the old school heads, but on todays heads, I`m not sure, and I don`t recall what heads they used on the dyno test.
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