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MONDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2009

HVX MODS; How To Do It To it

Long, long ago, in a garage far, far away, a gaggle of VW mechanics gathered around a 1700 engine, which Volkswagen had brought out to replace the 1600. We were anxious to tear one down and see how you could improve on perfection. Actually, we were a kind of cheering section, giving the usual hi-fives and 'We're Numba Won!' as the autopsy progressed. Right off the bat we got a winner when we pulled the valve covers to get at the rocker arms because the rocker-arm shafts were grooved for lubrication channels. That means a mod some of us had been running for nearly ten years had now been blessed with the Holy Crescent Wrench of acceptance in all factorybuilt VW engines (ie, this was in the early 1970's). Then came a minor scuffle over the thermostat; missing as they usually are on so many Volkswagen engines, with some of our band of experts admitting they'd

never even seen one. In the HVX MODS you need to cut eight rather accurate grooves in the existing rocker-arm shaft and things were heating up between the How-Toz who were automotive machinists with twenty years of grease under their fingernails and the Street People, which included the Shade Tree experts, arguing first, that the 1600 and earlier engines didn't need them because they'd run just fine until now, and the Do-ItRight Group which included some pretty good wrenches who had followed the HVX logic but were arguing how to cut the required groove. Those who were machinists were holding out for a shaped carbide cutting tool, whereas the Lo Buck Warriors with a teenie-weanie 7x10" lathe and a bench-top drill-press were insisting an angle-head grider with a 1/16" blade did the job just fine.

As usual, tasks ultimately descend to the abilities of the craftsman rather than the tools, with several examples of guys who built race-winning engines with a very modest inventory of tools. With jobs such as

this the task often breaks down on how to hold the work... or how to hold the tools. In the photos you can see the rocker-arm shaft held in the three-jaw chuck of the lathe whilst the angle-head grinder is attached to the cross-feed by humungous rubber bands. Which is pretty smart. The grinder's speed is marginally controllable through the use of a 15A motor speed controller. This gives the machinist the ability to find a cutting speed that produces a clean, even cut without having the grinder try to climb the bar. The rubber bands provides the necessary amount of flex between the lathe and the grinder as each is brought up to speed, at which point the cross-feed is used to feed the tool -- the 3" dia. carbide disk spinning as fast

as 18,000 rpm -- into the work, producing a groove of the required shape, depth and width. (Click on the picture). The builder, Mike Sample, has built a Double Eagle and has now turned his obvious talents to making himself an engine. Or rather, engines. Unsatisfied with the first, which I judged to be of about Porsche quality, he has turned his hand to a second which I'm guessing will be equal to something with entwined R's on the cowling. Here's a shot of Mike's 'dirty' work surface - a section of marble counter-top. Next comes the grooving of the rockers and confirmation of their ability to flow oil through the Ford/Subie type adjusters. These swivel-foot adjusters date from the early 1960's when they were introduced by Ford of Germany. Additional pictures and some early HVX drawings will show how the lubricating oil wends its way from the oil pump, up the push rods, through the rocker arms and out of the adjustable rockers where it pools in the tops of the valve-spring retainers, to be thrown off, carrying with it a considerable quantity of heat whilest at the same time, reducing the wear of the rocker-arm shims. Off-road racers and hot-rodders have been using these mods since the mid-1960's but it came as a considerable surprise to find that many builders of Flying Volkswagens appeared to have never heard of them. -R.S.Hoover PS -- Some folks didn't like the look of the pix, worried that abrasives were getting into the lathe's guts & gearing. Personally, I've found that showing people what you set-up REALLY looks like generates more mail, asking if I've cut holes in a quilt and installed it over the tools. Basic rule with abrasives is to catch them before they can get to surfaces that can be damaged by them. The usual method is to lay-out shop-towels, overlapping, giving each layer a spray of kerosene (then) or WD40 (now) . By the time you get done, the shop has vanished from your How-To pix, leaving you with pix that look like you've set-up atop your bed. While these pix may not display reality, they have the advantage of showing the newbie how the parts are mounted in the tool and what tool(s) you are using. Nowadays, with the ready availability of tempered aluminum and small lathes that are accurate and affordable, it's as though our shops have shrunk. Covering it up with shop towels gives an even worse impression, in my opinion. - rsh

HVX MODS

The air-cooled Volkswagen engine doesnt have a very good lubrication system. (Which isnt surprising, seeing as the design dates back to Xavier Reimspiess original 1931 boxer engine.) Its inadequacies became evident in the late 1950's when me and a few other fools started hot-rodding the things. The Ford Motor Company had recently published a study of the effects of oil filtration systems on engine wear and the results were so impressive that by the time you could say Jack Robinson wed retro-fitted our bugs with oil filters. But the main problem wasn't dirty oil but not enough oil, especially at high rpm. The inadequate amount of lubrication reaching the heads resulted in excessive friction, leading to high temps and failed valve-train components, which put you out of the race. Auditing the engines lubrication system we found that all of the oil for both heads came through a single 5mm drilling. In theory, a hole that size should have provided more than enough oil. And it did, but only for the left-hand head. And then, only at low rpm. Which was fine for a stock 1200cc 36hp engine, but wed already bored & stroked that puppy to nearly 1700cc and were running them at over 5000 rpm. But not for very long. Volkswagen was aware of the valve-train lubrication problems and added a drilled oil channel to the rocker arms and a larger main oil gallery on later engines but the basic problem was that not enough oil was reaching the heads, especially the one on the right-hand side of the engine. (NOTE: VW orientation is always relative to the driver. The right-hand head is the 1 & 2 cylinder bank, left-hand is the 4 & 3 bank.) To get oil to the right-hand head, VW cuts a square groove in the bearing saddle for the #2 cam bearing. All of the oil to the right-hand side of the engine gets there through that channel. (And still does, if you havent modified the crankcase.)

To make matters worse, the oil to the heads gets there via the cam-followers... but only when that particular valve is actuated. In effect, the VW cam-followers act as a valve, shutting off the oil to the heads for approximately 92% of the time.

To get an engine that could run flat-out for 24 hours we had to get more oil to the heads. To do that we tried opening up the oil channel in the cam-bearing web. That worked but we still werent getting eno

ugh juice. So we modified the cam-followers to allow oil to reach the heads 100% of the time instead of only when the valve was actuated. Majorimprovement, but we were still seeing galling on the right-handrocker-arm shaft, plus an occasional hair-pin fracture. What we needed was still more oil... especially to the right-hand side of the engine.

To do that, on the right-hand case half we extended the oil gallery for the cam-followers to intersect with a new oil channel we drilled into the #3 cam bearing web. Big, BIG change. And lower head-temps, too. With that as a clue, we grooved the rocker-arm shafts to match the oil channels drilled into the rockers. Fitted with the Ford/Subie type swivel-foot adjusters, which have a matching oil channel, we could now provide the heads with approximately eight times as much oil as before. Heads ran much cooler... which meant the oil coming fromthe heads was hotter, so we had to come up with a better oil-cooling scheme. Which we did, moving the oil cooler outside of the blower housing.

All of which is pretty old news to anyone hanging out at the finish line. Bu

t a total blank to just about everyone else. The magazines were only interested in the mods when there was something tosell, such as an oil filter bracket or an oil cooler core. All of the fiddley bits that made the system work, such as drilling the new oil channels or grooving the rocker shafts, were seen as just more of those unimportant details professional engine-builders are always messing with. (Most magazine 'technical' articles are nothing more than infomercials, intended to sell whatever product is being touted. ) A key point here is that a high-output engine needs all of the modifications described above: 100% filtered oil, increased oil volume to the right-hand side of the crankcase, 100% oil flow through the lifters, grooved rockers & rocker-arm shafts, and the Ford/Subie-type swivel-foot adjusters, which act as spray-bars. Some guys would modify the rockers and say they didnt see any improvement. Others would modify the lifters and say the same. But not one in a thousand incorporated all of the modifications. And still dont. But its interesting to note that Volkswagen included all of the modifications to the Type IV engine. In fact, you can find them in every modern-day engine. Which is just another of those unimportant details.

AV -- PULLING THE PLUG II

Back in the Day, send a VW crankcase to Jack Riddles shop (aka Riddle Machine Company or RIMCO) for an align-bore or other machine work and it would come back with the some of the gallery plugs pulled & threaded for pipe-plugs, which were included with the returned case. Why? According to Jack, machining caused swarf to get into the oil galleries and it was impossible to clean them out unless you pulled the plugs. Which sounds perfectly logical, especially to any experienced mechanic or automotive machinist because seeing oil galleries sealed with pipe plugs is a familiar sight to anyone who has worked on aircraft engines or big V8's. And removing those plugs is a normal procedure in order to clean the oil galleries during overhaul. So pulling the plugs becomes a standard part of building a high-performance engine based on VW after-market components. Your engines run sweet, your customers are happy and those mysteriousbearing failures become a thing of the past. Not so with the shade-tree types, for whom pulling the plugs is another of those unimportant details. Lotsa folks still dont pull the plugs, especially on a new crankcase. Their logic goes something like this: New crankcase has never had any oil in the galleries so theres nothing for the swarf to cling to; that a blast of compressed air is enough to clean everything up. And about here it might be a good idea to go read... http://bobhooversblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/vw-pulling-plug.html

Starting about 1997 professional engine-builders here in southern California be

gan seeing Brazilian crankcases in which the oil gallery for the #4 main bearing wasblocked by the factory-installed plug. Which wasnt a problem because we routinely pulled the plugs... which was how the problem came to light. Nor was it much of a problem to the dune-buggy crowd, folks who routinely did not pull the plugs. After all, the #4 main wasnt a real main bearing - - it was added when VW found the asymmetric load of the blower caused the pulley to oval-out the nose of the crankcase. In most cases the blockage wasnt 100% and the #4 usually got enough oil for passenger-car service. But complaints were heard now & then from the dune-buggy set who came up with an Idiot-Fix: running a 7/32" drill down the oil gallery for #4. Sometimes it even worked :-) But it was a problem for flying Volkswagens, especially those who put the prop on the wrong end of the engine, which back then was virtually everyone. Heres what Steve Bennett has to say about the problem... http://www.greatplainsas.com/service1.html Read both of the above articles and youll note significant differences in our methods; Steve drills-out the offending plug whereas I pull it out - - along with three others of that size. Steve threads the bore to a

ccept a 1/8-NPT socket-head pipe-plug whereas I used whatever is available, my preference being 1/16-NPT pipe plugs. The VW engine uses four 5mm plugs; one for the #4 bearing, two for the oil galleries feeding the lifters and one for the oil gallery going to the reservoir(s) behind #2 cam bearing shells. Ive never found a long plug anywhere except on the #4 gallery but other engine builders have said theyve seen them installed at the other three locations, sometimes with catastrophic results. A long plug wont cause a problem with the lifter galleries but even a partial blockage of oil to the reservoirs behind the #2 cam bearing shells guarantees the engine will have a short, unhappy life, since that single 5mm gallery is how oil gets to all

eight of the lifters and through them, to the heads.

Posted by Bob Hoover at 1:02 PM

1 comment:

buglover34465 said... Bob, I am following your instructionsand learning much. I have a question as the longer plug to the #4 bearing is supposed to be a flow balancer/ restricter to the # 4 bearing so most of the oil goes to the crank/cam bearings. This is according to a forem on the samba. It appears to me that the idea has some merit. I have pulled the plug and tapped it according to your and several others instructions. I have done the HVX oiling mods, ( I am at the jugs assembly point now.) any thaughts to the idea? Buglover34465@gmail.com
October 12, 2008 at 10:28:00 PM PDT

AV -- CRANKCASE BASICS
I was dismayed to learn that some folks having no Volkswagen engine experience have been buying components, mostly from ads in car magazines, expecting to simply bolt things together, hang a propeller on one end, an airframe on the other and go flying. In at least one case a fellow thought he could buy a bunch of parts, haul them up to my shop, wave a lot of money at me and drive off with an assembled engine. It simply doesnt work that way. Heres why:

When you buy a new crankcase what youre actually purchasing is a universal REPLACEMENT crankcase. These were originally provided only to VW dealers, where they were used for the repair of an existing engine whose crankcase has cracked due to age-hardening or collision damage. As received, your new crankcase cant be used to build an engine from scratch because it is not complete. Whats missing are the things that make the crankcase specific to the vehicle Type and the model year. There is no sump-plate or oil screen, no studs for the oil pump nor fuel pump, no head stays (ie, studs) and no nuts & washers for the studs that are there. Youre expected to remove all that stuff from the original engine, the one with a cracked crankcase.

You can buy all the miss ing bits either in kits or per-each but if youre building a flyingVolkswagen youll be pissing away a lot of money because the parts in the kits are specific to automobiles. For example, in the standard case kit (about $20) you get the oil control pistons, springs and slotted cap-screws. But for a flying Volkswagen you need a cap-screw you can safety-wire and an oil pressure relief spring that pops-off at 45psi instead of 27. Youll also get a mild steel cover-plate for the big hole in the lower right corner of the sump where the dip-stick attaches on the Type III vehicles. Which goes straight into the trash because it weighs three ounces and one made of aluminum weighs barely half an ounce. Ditto for most of the studs since youll be using drilled-hea

d bolts which youll have to procure and drill yourself. Bottom line is that it generally costs less to ignore the kit and buy the parts onsey-twosey. A head-stud kit consists of the sixteen stays (in three lengths) that secure the heads to the crankcase, along with the required washers & nuts. Unfortunately, oft times one of the studs or nuts wont have any threads and you end up having to beat the bushes for a replacement, since any effort to have the retailer replace the kit is like pissing into the wind. Indeed, youll often receive a head-stay kit clearly marked as

being for a single-port engine that turns out to have the four short stays for a dual-port.

Even when you receive the proper head-stud kit, the things are bare metal. Before you can use them on any properly built engine they need to be plated, painted or coated - - and done well enough to withstand twenty years of exposure. (I usta have all my head-stays cadmium plated but when the tree-huggers forced the local plating shop out of business I went to two-part epoxy paint. Most recently Ive been using powder coating.) Finally, you will need nuts and washers and bolts to fasten the case studs and parting-line. Here again, there are kits available but most are the shoddiest stuff imaginable and price is no guarantee of quality. The nuts and washers may have a wash of zinc plating, good for at least a weeks exposure to the weather. Or they may not. And you can toss the exhaust nuts. They are copper plated steel. (The good stuff is bronze.) Before you can use any of this crap on an engine you must provide it with some form of corrosion protection. If you dont, not only with the nuts rust to the studs, youll see galvanic corrosion between the washers and the crankcase that will eventually cause the fastener to loosen. But the biggest problem is that your new crankcase is for a stock 1600' engine. Flying Volkswagens tend to be larger, which means the crankcase must be machined to accept bigger jugs and, in some cases, a

crankshaft hav ofwelding .

ing a longer throw. Plus it needs a critical bit

In the stock crankcase the spigot bore for the #3 cylinder is sort of hanging out in space. Even on the stock

engines this area is prone to cracking. Indeed, a cracked #3' is one of the most common reasons for the existence of Universal Replacement Crankcases. Machine the case to accept bigger jugs and youve made the situation worse by an order of magnitude. Its no longer a question of IF #3 will crack but simply when. To deal with that you preheat the new crankcase case and weld in a reenforcing plate using TIG.

A 94mm barrel will hit the threaded steel inserts that are standard on all new crankcases. Not only must you open up the spigot-bores to accept the larger barrels, you must deck the case to provide a uniform sealing surface for the bigger barrels. Since decking the case moves the heads closer to the centerline of the engine, it upsets both your valve-train geometry and your compression ratio. Because of the normal variation in the size of after-market parts, resetting both the CR and geometry is best done by inspection,

meaning youll need to devote a couple of pre-assemblies to ea those procedures.

ch of

Opening up the interior of the crankcase to accept a bigger crankshaft is called clearancingand while most shops use a humongous cutter to do the job at one go it leaves a lot of feather edges that are guaranteed to precipitate cracks, so you have to dress the edges smooth by hand, using a flapper wheel, files and #600 grit sand paper. If youre doing the HVX mods you need to pull the plug from the oil gallery on the right-hand side of the crankcase, extend the existing oil gallery and connect it to the #3 cam bearing saddle. This is when you also open up the oil channel behind the #2 & #3 cam bearings (which is how all of the oil gets to that side of the engine.) If youre installing anything in the distributor hole other than a plug you must also do the grub screw mod. If youre going to install the oil temp sensor in the location used by Volkswagen you need to pull the 3/4" plug to the lower-right of the oil pump and thread it to accept a 1/2"-NPT x 1/8-NPT adapter. The oil temp sensor then threads into the adapter. If youre running a full-flow oil filtration system (and you should) you tap the main oil gallery to accept a 3/8-NPT to AN8 (flare) adapter. Some engine-builders also thread the oil gallery leading from the oil

pump to accept a 1/4-NPT pipe-plug. If youre going to run an external oil cooler you thread the oil cooler ports to accept pipe plugs. And having done all that, its time to clean the crankcase. No, you cant just blow it out with compressed air. There are a couple of blind corners in the oil galleries that act as swarf-traps. To clean them out you must pull all of the soft aluminum plugs (except the two small ones associated with the oil pressure valve... you can check for contamination by using a mirror down the bore of the valve) . After pulling the plugs you tap the oil galleries to accept socket-head aluminum pipe plugs of the appropriate size: 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8.Now you can scrub the bores and visually inspect them. As with the case kit You can buy a plug kit but they dont include the four 1/16-NPTs youll need for the 5mm plugs. Instead, theyll sell you eight 1/8-NPTs and shug; thats what they use in dune buggies. And finally, once all the machining is done and the case is cleaned and sealed up, if its a magnesium case you paint it. Because if you dont, its going to corrode. Use regular flat-black Rustoleum. If you cant get flat-black use gloss-black cut with a little naphtha. (If its an aluminum case you apply Tech-Line Coatings TLTD thermal dispersant then bake the thing in an oven not used for food preparation.) -------------------------------------------------So whats all that going to cost you? Dollar wise, it depends on where youre located and how much of the work you can do yourself but at a guess, expect to pay between $150 and $400 over and above the cost of the crankcase. Here in southern California there are several good shops that do nothing but highperformance VW engines. In other parts of the country I know of guys who have paid twice as much and gotten less for their money. If youre tooled-up to do the drilling & tapping you can cut the cost by as much as $200. And thats just for the crankcase. The cylinder heads, crankshaft, camshaft, pistons & cylinders, push-rods and push-rod tubes also require a significant amount of preparation before theyre ready to be used. So hold your horses. You are not building a dune-buggy engine. Youre building an aircraft powerplant meant to deliver at least twenty years of reliable service. In future posts Ill show you how I do it - - and why. Its up to you as the Mechanic in Charge of your engine to decide if you want to follow suit.

Cam Hard = Chunkie Attacks

Failure to properly prep the cam is one of the most common methods of trashing an engine. (Originally posted in 2003 after being rejected by the usual magazines :-) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------Stock VW engine, youre looking at more than fifty years of continuous development and production. Not a lot of secrets in a stocker. Which wasnt always the case. When it was introduced the Volkswagen engine violated many Conventional Wisdoms associated with automobile engine design. For example, each lobe of the cam actuates two cam followers. Conventional Wisdom insisted the four lobes on a VW wiggle stick would wear twice as fast as the eight lobes on all other four-banger cams... unless you came up with some way to precisely control the hardness of your cams and lifters, which no one had back then. Oh, there was that new gaseous nitriding process but that only worked with steel. VW cams and lifters were cast iron and no one had come up with an accurate hardening process that was economical enough to be used for mass produced cast iron parts. Except an outfit called Krupp. Ditto for that magnesium alloy crankcase. Never work, not for mass production. Way too expensive.

Unless you can come up with a better method of extracting magnesium from sea water. Like that Dowmettal company. Same story for those crazy molded rubber parts in the torsion-bar suspension system. Just wont work, unless you can come up with a synthetic rubber thats actually better than the real thing. Maybe some of that Buna stuff would work... (nowadays we call it Neoprene). Professor Porsche and his gang of engineers didnt see such things as limitations, they saw them as challenges and came up with an engine that remains in production today. (You can get new replacement engines from the VW plant in Puebla, Mexico. Pretty good little engines.) And if you liked the torsion bar suspension system on the original Peoples Car youll find it still going strong under our main battle tank. --------------------One of the tricky bits on a VW cam is getting the hardness just right. Not a big problem nowadays, thanks to Krupp and Adolph Fry. Today you simply look it up on a chart and set the dials to produce whatever hardness and depth is required, duplicating a process that has been in common use now for more than sixty years. Its no more difficult than, say, programming your VCR. (Yeah, I know... But there it is :-)

For those of you not familiar with surface hardening, take a look at CAMHARD01. Nowadays there are lots of ways to harden the surface of iron, steel or cast iron but one of the handiest heats the metal in an atmosphere of nitrogen gas. The depth of the hardened surface can be controlled by the temperature to which the metal is raised, how long it stays in the oven, the concentration of nitrogen inside the oven, how the part is cooled and so forth. Hardening a cam is a bit tricker than most other hardening chores because

cams have lots of corners. When hardening a part the corners are exposed to the heat & gas on two sides and tend to become harder than other areas of the part. To give you some idea what Im talking about go see CAMHARD02. A brittle corner on a cam can be fatal to an engine. The corners approach the hardness of a diamond (seriously! Nitriding can produce a Mohs hardness of better than 9. [Diamond is a 10]). Talk about the perfect abrasive! Microscopic fragments of diamond-hard material being chipped off and distributed around the inside of an engine... You can bet your bean-bag it caused the VW engineers more than few headaches before they figured it out. Corners on a cam? (Someone said.) Where the hell are there cornerson a cam!

See Figure 3. Thats a picture of a typical after-market cam, fresh back from nitriding. See all those nice sharpedges? That is where the metal turns a corner. Those edges are so brittle that casual handling can cause them to chip like glass. (Look closely. See that tiny notch near the nose?) Even, worse, see the moldlines on the cam? (Remember, cams are just high-density cast iron.) The blank comes out of the mold with a chilled hardness that is nearly as good as nitriding (although not nearly so deep). Nitride a chilledcast surface, you end up with hardness well past 9 on the Mohs Scale and a virtual 100% guarantee of chipping those edges unless you do something about it.

Figure 4 sh ows the pointy end of the lobe on an after-market cam. It also shows all those un-dressed edges. This is normal for after-market parts. It is up to the person assembling the engine to determine which edges need to be chamfered, by how much and the method most suitable for doing so. For comparison, Figure 5 is a stock VW cam. (Notice that the end of the stock cam is not as sharp.) Note that all of the edges on the stock cam are nicely chamfered. Take another look at CAMHARD02, the drawing showing how the hardness penetrates the metal. The tip of the lobs concentrates the heat during the hardening process in much the same fashion as does a corner. In fact, the tip of the cams lobe has to be harder than its slopes or heel if you want the thing to wear at a slow rate. And if the tip is harder than the heel, you can bet your bippie that the edges of the lobes nose are even harder still. You simply cant allow fragments from those edges to get inside your engine. Even with a full-flow oil filter such debris still gets one shot at your oil pump. And with stuff approaching the hardness of a diamond, one shot is all is takes. So we dont let that happen. And neither did Volkswagen. But I dont have to tell you that because you can see it for yourself. See those nicely chamfered edges in Figure 5? Thats a stock Volkswagen cam. Look at Figure 6; there it is again. Thats a used VW cam, something I pulled out from under the bench. But you can clearly see the chamfering and, if you look real close, the VW logo cast into the metal. See the lower lobe in Figure 6? You can see that the chamfer is a bit smaller

than on the heel of the upper lobe. The chamfer doesnt have to be very big if all you want to do is get rid of the chunkies. In fact, a chamfer of only thirty-thou or so is enough to make the edges of an after-market cam safe for society. Sure enough, theres a picture of a lightly chamfered after-market cam lurking in Figure 7. (Wider would be better. I just whizzed this one up for the photo-op :-) If youve never clearanced a cam nor chamfered one, one slip of the grinder can screw the pooch in a major way, as in trashing the cam. I suggest you cover the lobes and journals with masking tape before doing any grinding. Normally, you chamfer an after-market cam when you grind the notches that allow it

to work with a stroker crank. That is, you do all your grinding - and clean-up - at one time, usually in a dirty area of your shop. (Engines are always assembled in a clean area. Its not an operating theater but the assembly area should be cleaner than the average kitchen.) No stroker? Then you can chamfer it any time you wish. (Its called dressing the edges and is a standard pre-assembly procedure with any after-market part.) Just be sure to clean that sucker to within an inch of its life after doing any grinding on the thing. The idea here is to keep abrasive debris out of your engine. Grind on the cam (or anything else) then use the part without a perfect clean-up simply doesnt make sense. -------------------Cams are made from cast iron because it is easy to grind to the required curves. After the lobes are ground, the surface of a Volkswagen cam is hardened to a precise degree. The result is a cam with lobes just hard enough so that the rate of wear for one cam-lobe is compatible with that of the distributed wear across the face of twocam-followers (i.e., the lifters rotate to distribute the wear). This results in uniform rate of wear allowing reliable long-term performance. The process of surface hardening concentrates the harness along edges and thinner sections. By the time you have achieved the desired hardness in the middle of the piece any sharp edges will have been hardened to the point of brittleness. Cast iron has a granular structure; harden it to the point of brittleness, it will chip like a piece of glass. But only if you let it. Standard automotive engineering practice is to ensure such debris is never allowed inside an engine. When hardened debris passes through the oil pump, it will create a scratch or score. Once the metal has

been scored, it will not heal. The more times such debris is allowed to pass through the pump, the more wear that will accumulate. When building an engine, any edge capable of spawning debris is chamfered, rounded, stoned or even polished, as the case may be. ANY EDGE. Throughout the engine. The need for such attention to detail is understood by every competent mechanic. The proof of that need and the practices required is clearly evident by simply examining a professionally built engine. ------------------------There are no secrets in a VW engine. Or so I thought :-) Are you using an after-market cam? Did you clean it up and chamfer the edges? Gap your rings? Stone the edges? Balance everything? Thats your job, you know; attending to all those unimportant details the phony experts brush aside. Because when you build an engine, youre the Mechanic in Charge.