Re-using Used Lifters on Another Cam

Small Block Mopar Engine

  1. greymouser7

    greymouser7 Vagrant Vagabond “Veni Vidi Vici” FABO Gold Member

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    How many people have had or know someone (for certain) had NEW lifters fail?

    Is this recent manufacturing (Chinese products)? Or even 40+ years ago?
     
  2. oldkimmer

    oldkimmer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Basically it’s the cam that failed and ate the lifter, well maybe not. The lifter didn’t spin so it ate the cam. But why didn’t it spin? Maybe to tight in the bore or too much spring pressure. Cam ground wrong. Too long of a pushrod. Not enough zzdp in the oil. I’ve seen a few cam and lifters fail. Not mine thankfully. Kim
     
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    • dartfreak75

      dartfreak75 Restore it, Dont part it! FABO Gold Member

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      I used used lifters on a new cam once back before I knew better. Then engine ran like "chit" too! I never knew why I drove it a while. Knowing what I know know either my timing chain was off (used the wrong dot) or the cam wiped a lobe. Or possibly both. Haha
       
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      • mullinax95

        mullinax95 Well-Known Member

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        I would use new lifters. Not going to take the chance.
         
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        • nm9stheham

          nm9stheham Well-Known Member

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          And its not just the risk; it is the potential consequences to the whole engine when it goes bad.
           
        • oldkimmer

          oldkimmer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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          Yupper. Do it once not over. Kim
           
        • pishta

          pishta I know I'm right....

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          lifters have a convex shape to the face, you can rock 2 together and see the radii. if they are concave (my slants were when I pulled them) 2 things happen: 1 is that the different cam is not faced to that lifter as it has its own crown to its lifter lobe tip so there is going to be a mismatch, an area of extreme pressure, like a knife edge, that lube will not be able to float. 2nd is the cam lobe with its different profile will no be able to turn the lifter in its bore to equally distribute the high pressures a lifter face sees, that will lead to failure very quickly. If you choose to reuse a lifter for any reason, you can help yourself by making sure it still has a convex shape to the face, rock it on a straight edge. also check the cam to see of the lobe tip has a very pronounced biasing of wear toward one edge. If that is the case, the cam has worn its nose taper. These 2 factors will reduce the chance of the lobe being able to turn the different lifter in the bore, and that will lead to failure. You can reface lifters with a valve grinder that has the right attachment or send them out if they are special (Porsche, diesel, old Volvo, etc) IIRC Oregon cam grinders will resurface your old slant solids for $2-3 a piece when sent in with a cam core. I saw a video of a guy doing his GM's on a drill press, bearing them down on a piece of sandpaper over some soft backing so as to get a convex shape onto them. Dont know his success rate....we built a buddies Cleveland with used lifters on a new Erson Cam and it worked. The stars were in alignment that night.....
           
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          • oldkimmer

            oldkimmer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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            Too me that is taking a chance I can’t afford. Time or money wise. U can put new lifters on a used cam, but if the lifter is worn enough to be replaced, so is the cam. Just how I feel. Kin
             
          • aaronk785

            aaronk785 Well-Known Member

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            Back in the early 80s when I was poor did it several times with no issues. Had no idea about break in either. Start, idle, drive. Would never consider it now.
             
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            • grimreaper

              grimreaper Cross Member

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              Ya, me too. In the early 70s I did it several times without issue, probably because I didn't know any different. Then in the 80s I started having lifter failures on new cams with new lifters. I put in a new Comp Cam and had two lifters fail early. I went to NAPA and got two new lifters. About a year later another failed so I replaced all of them. Those ran for many years. That was about the time the ZDDP, lobe / lifter ordeals began for me. I would not think about using anything but new lifters these days. Not sure what changed.........
               
            • Treblig

              Treblig FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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              The oil changed....now you have to buy additive to "break in" an engine properly. I think they took the zinc out of the oil...not sure??
               
            • oldkimmer

              oldkimmer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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              In the late 70s early 80s Chevy had thousands of cam and lifter failures. The cams lobes would wear round like the base circle. Lifters would be concave. Did an oil change, changed cam and lifters, broke them in and then kicked them out the door. I did about a hundred in 4 years. Kim
               
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              • rumblefish360

                rumblefish360 So close, yet so far away

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                In my poorer ($$$) days, yes, I’ve done it, I don’t recommend it, I Hesitated to write this because I don’t want somebody going, “Well if he did it, I can do it!”

                I’ve reused head gaskets, mixed up lifters, etc... a gaggle of major “Don’t do THAT!” things and of away with it.

                Again, that is something I do not recommend even though I did get away with it.

                Do it right, do it once, save a ton of money and time and you will be way happier and ahead of the game.
                 
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                • RustyRatRod

                  RustyRatRod 30 Degrees Outta Whack

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                  That's how every car was started way back when and still today. Bust it off an go. You think they were gonna take time to break in every flat tappet camshaft the oils back then had a higher zinc that left the factory? Not just no, but hell no. Of course, the oils back then had a higher zinc content, too. Most spring pressures were mundane to say the least.
                   
                • nm9stheham

                  nm9stheham Well-Known Member

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                  Exactly! If it is me, I'll take my lumps if I try something and fail. My whole point in the other forum was to let a newbie know that what he wanted to do was not a good idea.
                   
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                  • toolmanmike

                    toolmanmike FABO Staff Staff Member FABO Gold Member

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                    And the lifter bores were closer to newly machined and the OEM lifters were made in the USA of quality materials and machined with pride! LOL
                     
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                    • Wyrmrider

                      Wyrmrider Well-Known Member

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                      Do not add ZDDP to SN oils it makes EP worse
                      buy oil mixed by the mfg/ blender
                      newer synthetic base stocks for premium oils is better than dino oil
                      (red line, Mobil 1 ESP, Dexos 2 (not Dexos 1 version 2) a few others
                      pricey but you get what you pay for
                      some lifter QA is so bad that I refaced even new ones or gave them back to the customer
                      I can put on a super finish
                      cams should be parkerized. helps hold the break in lube
                      ISKY and Crower and a few others use what I call a superior brand of lifter
                      (ask our resident crower rep)
                       
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                      • fishmens67

                        fishmens67 Well-Known Member

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                        It is a metal problem. lol it ain't what it use to be.
                         
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                        • harrisonm

                          harrisonm Well-Known Member

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                          Let me condense. It might very well work out OK, but DO NOT do it.
                           
                        • j par

                          j par Well-hung Member

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                          I'm on my cams 3rd use and on my lifters Second.. pretty high spring pressure no problems...
                          $79 each time to have the cam reground and $4 each to have the lifters resurfaced..
                          $143 total.. of course that's a custom cam grind one off to my personal specs...
                           
                          Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
                        • LocuMob

                          LocuMob Fluid Technician FABO Gold Member

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                          I get the used cam to go with the used lifters, on my second free used cam/lifter set.
                           
                        • nm9stheham

                          nm9stheham Well-Known Member

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                          Yes, but I assume those are kept together and the lifters kept in order? The original premise was to put a used set of lifters on a completely different cam. Different kettle of fish....

                          There does not seem to be any issue having the lifters re-ground.. I've done that too, and am getting ready to put regrinds on a new Isky cam... I'll trust those particular re-ground 70's GM lifters more than new stuff. But that was not the topic.
                           
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                          • j par

                            j par Well-hung Member

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                            I was just trying to offer a little hidden cure for anybody who has reservations. For$4 each having them touched up...
                             
                          • oldkimmer

                            oldkimmer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                            Not so long ago u could buy new lifters for $4.00 each. Kim
                             
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                            • 318willrun

                              318willrun Stomper 4x4... we kept energizer in business

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                              Didn't read all the posts, but I have re-used lifters and had them mixed up. I've not had a problem, but the spring pressure was like a factory spring. However, just because I didn't have a problem doesn't mean I recommend it. I recommend new lifters.
                               
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