The Modern Camshaft
My last three entries were linked to articles that I thought were interesting. Together, they sort of created a camshaft time line. We learned a little about the early American development of the performance camshaft and the people and companies involved. We now know in today’s world, there is not a magic formula that can pick the perfect camshaft for the application. It seems the people that market these formulas do not have any reputation for being engine builders or have much experience running engine dynamometers (just thinking out loud). We also got a glimpse into the future where the mechanical camshaft and valve train will be non-existent. All this spans about 130-year period.
Cam profiles were initially shaped by hand with grinders, files, and abrasive materials. Models were created on paper with compasses, protractors, scales, and straight edges. The modern cam profile is designed using computers and software to run sophisticated mathematical equations until the desired valve motion is created. We now look at the early cam profile designs as crude and ridiculous compared to modern designs. The future valve actuated systems will make our modern cam profile designs also look crude and ridiculous.
The mechanical camshaft and valve train, as we know it, has reached its peak. We have squeezed out all of the performance that is going to be possible. Stronger, lighter, wear resistant, CNC machined components, larger base circle diameter lobes, larger follow wheel diameters, the best valve springs and systems without valve springs, multiple OHC systems, finger follower systems, variable cam timing systems, the best cam design software, and so on. It has all been done. If you think you are doing something new, you are probably only catching up with technology.
Even though the technology is here, many are not using it. The OEM world seems to be the most advanced. Look at the automobiles that can be bought today. Simply amazing! Power, efficiency, suspension, brakes, aerodynamics, electronics, and air conditioned. Much of the racing world is far behind in the available technology. That has not always been the case. It is all about money, I understand. It will be a very long time before the mechanical camshaft becomes obsolete. Until then, please keep me in mind for today’s modern cam profile designs.
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