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I've found a 1970 L48 that I'm going to put in my Nova. No, not a #'s match but it is a 300H.P. out of a 1970 Chevelle. It needs a rebuild & so I was considering a roller cam system to deal with the oil changes & better grinds. I wanted to keep the looks & h.p. as close to original as possible. It'll be bored .030. The motor has all the original, with dates on all the bearings, etc.. It was very cool taking it apart & seeing it all in it's original state. Anyway, I thinking of changing to a roller cam to bring it into the modern era but wanted to keep the original outside appearance. Possible? Suggestions? If no to the roller cam, could I please have suggestions on today's oils to use & what to consider when it comes to the modern fuels. Thanks. Time is urgent for I have the motor at the machine shop now. :)
 

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1970 Nova SS 350 Brandon, MS
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Only my opinion here, if your pockets are deep, a retro fit roller cam/lifters and whatever oil you choose to use along with minimum 91 octane gas. If your pockets are shallow like mine, a good flat tappet cam/lifters, proper break-in, and Valvoline VR1 ( or other high-zinc oil) along with minimum 91 octane gas would work fine. Neither setup will change the exterior appearance once everything is built.
 

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I think your strategy is good with the modern cam. I'm not super familiar with that motor but if it's apart and you want to keep the OEM heads, I'd find a great old school head guy and see if they can make some gains by some basic cleanup.

For the cam, you will not get better direction than calling several cam manufacturers directly and telling them all the same story about the motor and what you are trying to do. What you may see is they all trend toward pretty much the same type of grind. Gives you some piece of mind that you are dropping in the right bumpstick.
 

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I'm dealing with that question myself at the moment. As stated, cost to do a roller cam is considerably more expensive than a flat tappet cam. Low prices on retro-fit roller cams from reputable suppliers are at best $700 for cam and lifters. If you really want to take advantage of the potential performance of that swap, it would be wise to add complimentary parts.

Flat tappet cam kits can be had around $200. As noted, it would very wise to use high zinc oil to avoid wiping out a cam lobe.

So go roller if you want optimal performance. If the goal is stockish performance, use a flat tappet and be sure to use high zinc oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the input all. It sounds that my research & the response here leads me toward the flat tappet cam. Will put in the original grind. Some what dismayed about the oils to use but I guess price is neither here nor there compared to the price of the roller cam system. Replaced many a cam in my day & got caught & lost a couple of cams before finding out about the changes in our oils. Thanks for the help! Love my SNS site & members!!!
 

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I wouldn't go with the original grind, it's the 3896929 Hyd. - 195掳/202掳 - .390"/.410" - 112掳 lobe centers. There are so many more modern grinds to choose from that will improve the all-around performance of your engine.
 

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Thanks for the input all. It sounds that my research & the response here leads me toward the flat tappet cam. Will put in the original grind. Some what dismayed about the oils to use but I guess price is neither here nor there compared to the price of the roller cam system. Replaced many a cam in my day & got caught & lost a couple of cams before finding out about the changes in our oils. Thanks for the help! Love my SNS site & members!!!
I would say X2 on the Valvoline VR1. I've been using for 8 years with my flat tappet cams..never had a problem with a wiped lobe. To be extra safe I also add about 1/2 pint of Lucas zinc additive too at each oil change--Makes me feel better anyway! :)

 

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I wouldn't go with the original grind, it's the 3896929 Hyd. - 195掳/202掳 - .390"/.410" - 112掳 lobe centers. There are so many more modern grinds to choose from that will improve the all-around performance of your engine.

I Agree with Mike, I did however do the retro fit hydraulic Roller in my motor and could not be happier.

Get a updated flat tappet while your in there and you will be glad you did as it will wake the motor up.
 

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I Agree with Mike, I did however do the retro fit hydraulic Roller in my motor and could not be happier.

Get a updated flat tappet while your in there and you will be glad you did as it will wake the motor up.
Gonna "third" this as well.

Modern grind for sure. Regarding roller vs. flat tappet, if you don't plan on driving the wheels off of it and just change the oil once a year or so getting the "special" oil should be no big deal.
 

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:yes:I'm with CEW & kimrobertson on the VR1 racing oil. I change the oil and (WIX) filter in the fall when I park it, and it's ready to go in the spring. No issues in my stock engine.
I'm not a chemical engineer, but I try not to use additives as I'm not sure just how they will react with the oil. I think that the VR1 doesn't need any additional zinc added. Just my :2cents:.
 

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I wouldn't go with the original grind, it's the 3896929 Hyd. - 195掳/202掳 - .390"/.410" - 112掳 lobe centers. There are so many more modern grinds to choose from that will improve the all-around performance of your engine.
I have used that cam before, it's "ok". It was also used in various hp renditions by Chevy.. When I rebuilt my 350, I used a 350/350 hp cam from Blue Racer. It's a copy of the original 350/350 hp cam from GM. Nice lumpy idle, and good all around performance.
 

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I'd go with the retro-fit roller, its honestly worth every extra cent, lets just suppose for a second that the break-in procedure does not go perfect and you lose a lobe (it has happened to me). Just that aggravation in having to do the job again? Plus from what I've been told by the guys who run all the reputable machine shops I know say pretty much all the flat tappet lifters today are poor quality. My last 6 engines, both small and big block's I've used Struab Tech custom ground cams and Morel lifters, have beat them all way beyond what I should have and never once had an issue. I build em, fire them up using Brad Penn 10w40 and drive em, no crazy break-in procedures.
 

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Chevy roller lifters are cheap compared to the linked retrofit ones you need to figure a way to retain the "dog bones" that stop them from rotating. Maybe you could attach the spider to the bottom of the intake manifold??? Or some kind of bracket that runs from head to head down to the bottom of the valley.
 

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Retro roller in my last 3 Novas in the last 12 years that I've done plus in my buddies 72 Nova. I also have a new Howards retro roller for my spare 400 sbc build.
 

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Did some research and the retro fit doesn't have to be that expensive.Use chevy roller lifters without the link bar and quick cam guides for early small block. You have to drill and tap to use the quick cam guides and you need shorter push rods. The lifters are around 100 bucks the guides are 18 bucks two required and push rods are all over the place price wise depending on features. They didn't have this stuff when I put the Crane retrofit hydraulic roller in my engine,you can do it fairly easily.
 

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I Agree with Mike, I did however do the retro fit hydraulic Roller in my motor and could not be happier.

Get a updated flat tappet while your in there and you will be glad you did as it will wake the motor up.
Quoting this again.

I'm finally looking at rebuild of the untouched number matching block for my Nova 1970 SS 4-speed and asking the same question: Retro-roller?

I've been collecting number matching, date coded pieces for this engine far too long and last week located the final missing part on CL: an original forged crank #39411182-1B. :) NOS in the original GM cardboard box, the casting number does end with "-1B" and the seller told me his friend used to be a GM parts supplier.

As I think it through, I'm really asking the same rhetorical question as this one: If I'm rebuilding the original 1970 heads, should I install hardened valve seats?

It will cost an added $500-$700 to go with a retro-roller cam. The resulting engine will likely never grind a cam lobe, sport less internal friction, have higher HP, and not require specialty oil or additives.

For me, the only remaining question is: Flat-tops or domes?
 

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Get a retro kit, drilling the oil galley to add the spiders or trying to convert it some other way will likely lead to disaster. If the block is not important to you, I guess that would be an input for consideration, but then why not just find a early 90s roller block and be done with it?

Go from 2 too 1 piece rear seal.
Factory roller set up = cheaper parts.

You likely already know, the roller cams have a significant increase in lift, most heads will need more work for clearance (guides and springs).

Howards camshaft, certainly!
 

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Get a retro kit, drilling the oil galley to add the spiders or trying to convert it some other way will likely lead to disaster. If the block is not important to you, I guess that would be an input for consideration, but then why not just find a early 90s roller block and be done with it?

Go from 2 too 1 piece rear seal.
Factory roller set up = cheaper parts.

You likely already know, the roller cams have a significant increase in lift, most heads will need more work for clearance (guides and springs).

Howards camshaft, certainly!
LS CHEVY II,

Frankly, I've been too busy to concentrate. My problem. 3 months and no reply and they changed the site format in between and well... I've been studying and thinking. Not sure which is worse.

Seeing your post, I'll report coming to some conclusions, as follows:

1) I already have a 5.7 Vortec short block - needing attention - not afraid - I've rebuilt two before - this is left-overs - it would make a great build.
2) My original 1970 block is, well, original (so it is important to me)
3) My heads are not original - though they might be - swap meet find 15 years ago - date coded to the engine - guide-plates and screw-studs already installed
4) Here's where imagination takes over... with...
4)a) Dome pistons (SpeedPro 8KH618CP)
4)b) Pink rods
4)c) Mechanical cam (Howard's #117222-16)
4)d) Roller rockers
4)e) Original disc brakes, factory #58 Autumn Gold paint and 12 bolt positrac differential, and
4)e) Swapped in buckets seats, console gauges and tachometer (in the dash)...

Would, or would not, I be sporting around in a ride (with options) Don Yenko himself could be proud of?

No need to answer. Sleepers are what he intended and I've one more trick up my sleeve.

Being in possession of an Edelbrock built Quadrajet with appropriate CFM tuning - See Wiki for this quote "Edelbrock Q-jets have been discontinued, although at this time Edelbrock still supplies some replacement parts." .. Simply add a Performer RPM Q-Jet manifold and, as if by magic and ignoring all the work ahead...

I'm driving one-of-a-kind: a Q-Jet LT-1 350 w/ 'nondescript' gold paint, SS badges and bucket seats. (though there's gotta be something I forgot)
 
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