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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Two quick questions:

1. Can you use self-aligning rockers, instead of guide plates, with retrofit style roller lifters?

2. Do the retrofit systems use the same length pushrods as the factory roller systems?
 

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Far as I know you can use self aligning rockers with retro fits. As for push rod lenth I`m unsure. Does the cam company not recommend the push rod? Or in the end you may have to check it yourself to get the lenth.
 

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MI2600 said:
Two quick questions:

1. Can you use self-aligning rockers, instead of guide plates, with retrofit style roller lifters?

2. Do the retrofit systems use the same length pushrods as the factory roller systems?
1. The lifters have no idea how the rocker arm tip is restrained on the valve stem tip and don't care, so yeah.
2. You'd have to have length comparisons between the two lifters, from the bottom of the roller wheel to the pushrod cup. The cam grinder should have this information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, guys. I'm tired of losing cams, so I've decided to retrofit an old 400 sbc with a roller. Since I'll probably use a set of Vortec heads which require self-aligning rockers anyway, I was hoping to cheap out and not have to install guide plates.
 

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MI2600 said:
Two quick questions:

1. Can you use self-aligning rockers, instead of guide plates, with retrofit style roller lifters?

2. Do the retrofit systems use the same length pushrods as the factory roller systems?
? #2-- Comp catalog says 7.200" pushrods for OEM Rollers. 7.300" pushrods for Retro Rollers.
This would be with a stock engine & heads. Many after market heads require +.100" longer pusrods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
After some checking with two well-known vendors, it's amazing how much they don't know about the products they sell!
 

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MI2600 said:
Two quick questions:

1. Can you use self-aligning rockers, instead of guide plates, with retrofit style roller lifters?

2. Do the retrofit systems use the same length pushrods as the factory roller systems?


I was hoping to cheap out and not have to install guide plates.
There is probably no way of vheapeing this out and end up with a reliable result.

To start with aftermarket rollers are anything but cheap.

Pushrod length when you're building an engine from disparate parts is accomplished by direct measurement of the distance from the lifter to the rocker that also supplies the proper rocker sweep at the valve stem. This requires a set of light weight test valve springs and an adjustable test push rod which which to determine the exact distance pushrod required for proper operation.

The cost between self guided roller rockers and the machine shop effort to mill the stud pedestals for sheet metal push rods guides is probably a wash. So if you're entertaining using roller rockers you need to look at how the engine gets used and what the cost differences are. Self guided rockers on high lift cams operated at high RPMs is not the best solution. For cams under .5 inch lift and operated in the mid RPM range on the street they're fine.

Vortec heads drive you to a Vortec intake which is expensive, you need to look over other GMPP and aftermarket options for best cost effectiveness. The original Vortec head not only changes the bolt manifold pattern, but also raises the ports to where a non vortec intake has trouble keeping a gasket seal. I mention that because a lot of guys think the cheap way out is to take a non Vortec intake and re-drill it, then discover they have a massive vacuum leaks over the ports.

A roller cam requires that cam thrust movements be resolved somehow. The factory used a thrust plate for its roller engines, the aftermarket cams require a thrust button be affixed to the cam nose which reacts the thrust forces against the timing case cover. This is a sensitive to set up and can be a real PIA dialing it in. The tining cover also needs to be reinforced if its the OEM sheetmetal part, this can be a bolt between the water pump and timing cover, some water pumps come with an extra bolt hole for this purpose, many do not. Or a piece of plate is welded on the front of the cover to reinforce this area to stop its flexing. Or the cover is replaced with an aluminum casting which is sufficiently stiff to restrain the cam and hold the proper clearance.

The OEM roller cam is not easily adapted to non roller blocks. It is designed for a thrust plate and the cam has a stepped nose to accommodate that. It can be used by taking the thrust plate and reducing it to the configuration a thick thrust washer and running the OEM roller cam timing set with a thrust button.

The 400 block, like other Chevy non roller blocks, will not accept the significantly less expensive factory roller lifters, which are very cost attractive for a non-racing engine. But the lifter blocks are not high enough to support the OEM long body V8 roller lifter. Certainly aftermarket self aligning roller lifters are a solution, though not a cheap one, and are way over kill for a street engine. There is an option which is to use the 4.3 V6 roller lifters. It turns out these are close to the same length as GM flat tappet lifters, therefore, don't need the raised lifter block. You can take the V8 spider and dog bones. With the engine apart, drill the main oil galley 1/16th over size all the way thru the engine. Clean your work carefully to remove all chips. Install the cam and lifters so that the spider can be aligned with the dog bones. Mark the location of the spider's locating bolt holes. Remove all the cam parts. Drill and tap thru the main oil galley for the spider's bolts. Clean all the chips super, super, super good. Reinstall the cam and lifters, set in the spider and align everything including a washer stack under the spider as necessary to hold the dog bones in position. Now you're at an option, some people do this other do not. When installing the bolts count the number and position of threads that are in the oil passage. Remove the bolts and file these threads down to the bolt shank. Redress the threads with a die to insure smooth engagement. Test re-install them to insure they work properly. When you get back to engine assembly, install these bolts with a little Locktite on the threads to insure they don't leak oil and will stay in place. Now you have an affordable roller conversion for a non roller block using more cost affordable OEM parts. You still need to measure for pushrod length just to be sure, but these should come pretty close to the 4.3 liter V6 length.

Don't forget to drill the extra cooling holes a 400 requires into the cylinder heads. The point of this exercise is to allow vapor (steam) that collects at the top of the siamesed cylinders to escape. Steam is crummy at heat transfer and needs to be let out otherwise the top of the block will locally overheat and possibly crack. Using a 400 head gasket as a template using this procedure:

A. To start this, align a 400 head gasket on the head to be drilled. Using the head alignment pins from or for the block is a great aid but you can drop in a couple head bolts, line the gasket by eye and hold it in place with masking tape to hold the gasket while you work on the hole locations. Mark the hole locations with a center punch, there are six locations, 2 between each of the adjacent inside cylinder walls. Now remove the gasket.

B. Level the head and secure it so it can?t move around. This operation can be done on a mill or drill press but if you don?t have either with care this can be done with a hand held drill motor. In any case you don?t want the bit skating off the head as this would damage the gasket surface so I highly suggest you use a newly sharpened or simply a new bit. The set of 3 holes for the exhaust side of the head are drilled vertically. The set toward the intake side are drilled at and angle toward the exhaust side, these need a pilot hole started when you drill to insure the bit doesn?t fly off over the head surface, damaging it. All the holes can be from 1/8th to ? inch in diameter, I usually use a 5/32nds or 3/16ths for all the holes.


C. With the head still level and secure commence drilling. For the holes that are toward the exhaust side get a good start on each and drill through to the water jacket. While your bit is super sharp you might want to locate all you holes before drilling through to the water jacket. In that case drill all the holes to a depth of about 1/16th inch before going back and drilling the exhaust side holes into the water jacket.

D. For the angled holes that are toward the intake side, these need to be drilled at an angle of about 30 to 40 degrees toward the exhaust side. For a drill press/mill you can re-setup the head so it?s at the proper angle. If you?re using a hand held motor depending on how good you are at drilling on angles you can go at this with the head level in its starting set up and angle the dill motor at 30 to 40 degrees. Or you can wedge the head to get the proper hole angle and re-secure it. Then drill from the vertical position to end up with the proper angle of the hole. Remember that these holes start favoring the intake side of the head and lean toward the exhaust side when they penetrate into the water jacket.


E. Lightly deburr all the holes to insure the gasket can make a seal.


Bogie
 

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My speedpro retro roller required a 7.266 pushrod. I have to disagree with Oldbogie on the OE roller lifters in a non roller block. The lifters are from 3.1L, 3.4L, and 2.2L NOT the 4.3L. The 4.3 is the same as the 5.7 which are too tall. I just did one of these conversions 355 with a ZZ4 cam and vortec heads
 

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artsvettes said:
My speedpro retro roller required a 7.266 pushrod. I have to disagree with Oldbogie on the OE roller lifters in a non roller block. The lifters are from 3.1L, 3.4L, and 2.2L NOT the 4.3L. The 4.3 is the same as the 5.7 which are too tall. I just did one of these conversions 355 with a ZZ4 cam and vortec heads
Now you're picking on my dyslexia, your right, its the 3.4 not the 4.3.

Bogie
 

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oldbogie said:
The OEM roller cam is not easily adapted to non roller blocks. It is designed for a thrust plate and the cam has a stepped nose to accommodate that. It can be used by taking the thrust plate and reducing it to the configuration a thick thrust washer and running the OEM roller cam timing set with a thrust button.

The 400 block, like other Chevy non roller blocks, will not accept the significantly less expensive factory roller lifters, which are very cost attractive for a non-racing engine. But the lifter blocks are not high enough to support the OEM long body V8 roller lifter. Certainly aftermarket self aligning roller lifters are a solution, though not a cheap one, and are way over kill for a street engine. There is an option which is to use the 4.3 V6 roller lifters. It turns out these are close to the same length as GM flat tappet lifters, therefore, don't need the raised lifter block. You can take the V8 spider and dog bones. With the engine apart, drill the main oil galley 1/16th over size all the way thru the engine. Clean your work carefully to remove all chips. Install the cam and lifters so that the spider can be aligned with the dog bones. Mark the location of the spider's locating bolt holes. Remove all the cam parts. Drill and tap thru the main oil galley for the spider's bolts. Clean all the chips super, super, super good. Reinstall the cam and lifters, set in the spider and align everything including a washer stack under the spider as necessary to hold the dog bones in position. Now you're at an option, some people do this other do not. When installing the bolts count the number and position of threads that are in the oil passage. Remove the bolts and file these threads down to the bolt shank. Redress the threads with a die to insure smooth engagement. Test re-install them to insure they work properly. When you get back to engine assembly, install these bolts with a little Locktite on the threads to insure they don't leak oil and will stay in place. Now you have an affordable roller conversion for a non roller block using more cost affordable OEM parts. You still need to measure for pushrod length just to be sure, but these should come pretty close to the 4.3 liter V6 length.

Bogie
Hey Bogie,

Just some clarification for a relative newbie, but are the modifications above similar for a 350, or is that slightly different? I've got a '79 Chevy truck with a good 4-bolt non-roller engine, and I was thinking about replacing it with an OEM roller block sometime down the road (I'm wanting to go with a roller cam for longevity). Doing that would probably be a lot easier, but it's nice to consider all options.

Also, is drilling out the oil galley to help improve oil flow for the new roller bearings, or for a bunch of different reasons?

- Mike
 

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Brimstone said:
Hey Bogie,

Just some clarification for a relative newbie, but are the modifications above similar for a 350, or is that slightly different? I've got a '79 Chevy truck with a good 4-bolt non-roller engine, and I was thinking about replacing it with an OEM roller block sometime down the road (I'm wanting to go with a roller cam for longevity). Doing that would probably be a lot easier, but it's nice to consider all options.

Also, is drilling out the oil galley to help improve oil flow for the new roller bearings, or for a bunch of different reasons?

- Mike
there are so many roller blocks that it's a lot simpler to just use one as a basis for a fresh engine.

Fitting OEM roller parts to a non roller block can save money, the hot rod retro fit kits and certainly the race kits are quite expensive. The process I described (by the way use lifters from the 3.4 Liter V6 series not the 4.3 I said as my fingers got ahead of my brain, I do that a lot with words but the spell checker catches those) above works for an inexpensive way to convert a non-roller to a roller using OEM lifters and alignment system. That is 16 V6 lifters and guide bars and a V8 spider (details I forgot to mention.

To get a really secure method of fastening the spider, I've take to drilling thru the main oil galley and tapping the hole top and bottom. But running a bolt all the way thru the galley obstructs a lot of its Inside Diameter (ID) to restore flow I drill the ID oversize by 1/16th or 3/32nds inch. This process reduces the thickness threads can be tapped into so it's something not to get crazy over making a big passage. Also, to help flow, I locate those bolt threads which will be inside the galley and file these threads off. This takes some redressing of the lead in thread to insure this goes together easily. But this is easily accomplished with a riffler file of the correct size, good tool stores and precision/hobby tool shops like Micro Mark will have these. This process trades your time and abilities for cost of expensive parts. so if your a bucks down but mechanically talented person you can pull off a roller to non roller conversion using less costly OEM parts.

Bogie
 

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Thanks for the information :thumbup:. I'm more of the type that likes to tinker, and perusing the junkyard is one of my favorite Sat morning-afternoon activities so I'll keep things in mind. On one hand, I wouldn't have to worry about storing (or getting rid of) another engine, but then again if I went with the OEM roller block I could build it at my leisure and swap in a weekend (limited storage/work space. Or, rather, I'm trying to limit space). I recently re-ringed the engine so the bottom end is in good shape (could still see cross-hatching on the cylinders from when the previous owner had had it re-built. It was burning oil and the valve seals/shields were shot/missing when I got it), so doing a roller and vortec upgrade might not be too painful.

Decisions, decisions.
 

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Brimstone said:
Hey All,

I was doing some looking into this yesterday, and came across these lifter guides from Scoggin-Dickey - I read that the block wouldn't have to be clearanced as much for these guides as for the standard dog bones, so might be a good way to go.

GEN 1 Small Block Quick Cam Valve Lifter Guide
This is a tool to aid cam installation, they are, however, an installed part with LS engines, but they do not operationally keep the lifter aligned, the spider and dog bones are still required.

Bogie
 

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oldbogie said:
This is a tool to aid cam installation, they are, however, an installed part with LS engines, but they do not operationally keep the lifter aligned, the spider and dog bones are still required.

Bogie

Those LS guides take the place of the dogbones and serve to hold the lifter up when swapping cams so you have no need to remove the intake, just back off the rockers, take out the pushrods and pin the engine over and snatch out the cam.. so they are not needed. but yes the spider still is, and I really see no need in drilling all the way through the oil gallery. just a dab will do, iys not holding the crank in, you are just bolting down a piece of tin.
 
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