Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

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Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by fishhead on Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:20 am

Are there any aftermarket flat-tappet cams offered for pre-'80 smallblocks which don't require zinc/zddp additives for daily use? Will a billet cam spare me the constant expense or do the bearings and other
internals require the stuff to be added to the oil?

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by Joe73 on Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:48 am

I dont believe so. I'd recommend some Crower cam saver or howards direct lube lifters on any cam. And then, proper oil.

You can read here, https://540ratblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/motor-oil-wear-test-ranking/ until your head spins.

I think a brad penn or valvoline vr1 10w30 would be good. Lots of guys have been running those oils for over a decade with no cam failures. I'd also recommend putting in a plug in the oil bypass like I did in my recent post. Then at least if you lose a lobe there's a good chance of catching debris before it hits your bottom end bearings.

Also, only moly paste on the cam when installing. None of that red stuff. Also moly up between the cam lobes so when that melts off it splashes the cam.

There's also a mod out there, I have to find it, about putting a slight groove in the bottom dizzy boss to allow more oil to drop onto the dizzy gear on the cam.

I've been looking at this stuff for months and those are the best recommendations I've found.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by michiganlarry on Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:37 am

Is the zinc needed once the cam is properly broken in?
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by bracketchev1221 on Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:53 am

Zinc and phosphorus is needed wherever there is a rubbing friction occurring. There is really nothing you can do about that. There are better lifters that can be used to help with the lubrication, I have heard about people using Delphi lifters and having good luck.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by fishhead on Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:16 am

Thank you! I'll figure on using the premium oils mentioned or their equivalent when the break-in procedure is finished.It will be a long time before that happens but I like to weigh my options well in advance.I'm well aware of the proper break-in lubes.

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by pila on Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:49 pm

My '74 Malibu has flat tappets of course, in the 408 SBC. And also, the  507 Caddy engine in my '75 Elco has flat tappets. I use Comp Cams break-in goop on cam & lifters at assembly, and their additive for the oil during cam break-in.
 Both engines currently have Valvoline VR-1 racing oil in them, which has additives to make the cams survive.
Nothing wrong in using the zinc etc additives at oil changes.   That's what I have to do with my boat engine, which is a marine Chevy 327.

The so-called "modern" oil seems to be for roller cams only......

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by fishhead on Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:52 am

Thank you pila,
BTW,is it hard to find parts for your old Caddy motor? More expensive compared to a Chevy454?.I heard of a local drag racer who runs the big Caddy mills in his Mustang with some quick timeslips.

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by Joe73 on Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:31 am

Finally found my dizzy mod for more oil on the cam/dizzy gears.

OK, so if you look at the motor you know that the dizzy does not go straight down. It's canted to one side of the cam so the dizzy gear rides on the side of the cam gear. The two cast "rings" at the base of the dizzy housing are a sort of tight'ish fit down on the block casting and the space between the "rings" is the feed supply passage for the lifter galleries.

So I just take an old hack saw blade and cut a slight slot across the bottom "ring" on the side that will be nearest the cam. That way it drools oil on the cam and dizzy gears all the time and keeps them cool and well fed. Does not have to be much of a slot. A blade width and about 0.020 deep is plenty as that area has pressure oil flowing through it.


I'll be using a small triangle shape "fine" file.  Just going to use the point of the triangle to make a slight groove.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by 73ss on Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:54 pm

be sure to remove the inner springs for the break-in, That's if you are running double springs. I think alot of people skip this step.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by pila on Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:20 am

One important thing in the break-in procedure is...Don't let it idle !! Very Happy

There are some opinions about using the break-in lube in oil changes, after break-in, and it's said that it may slow down the wearing in of other parts, like rings etc.
I don't use it in oil changes myself, and don't really have an opinion about that.

It's interesting that my wife's '94 Jeep has a flat tappet 4.0 inline six in it, which they used for about 6 or 7 years after that even, while other brands all had rollers. Nothing much mentioned on the Jeep forum about flat tappet cam failures. Sure makes me wonder !

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by ant7377 on Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:30 am

Because the Jeep has a Catalytic vonv. Thats why they took the zinc out. To not have to pay warranty repairs on the Cat. My buddy just flattened a cam on his Camaro right after an oil change. Pain in the A$$.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by bracketchev1221 on Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:42 am

pila wrote:One important thing in the break-in procedure is...Don't let it idle !! Very Happy

There are some opinions about using the break-in lube in oil changes, after break-in, and it's said that it may slow down the wearing in of other parts, like rings etc.
I don't use it in oil changes myself, and don't really have an opinion about that.

It's interesting that my wife's '94 Jeep has a flat tappet 4.0 inline six in it, which they used for about 6 or 7 years after that even, while other brands all had rollers. Nothing much mentioned on the Jeep forum about flat tappet cam failures.  Sure makes me wonder !

This was about the time it went downhill. My last solid flat tappets were 1998 time frame. I was able to break them in without taking out the inner springs, and they ran fine. It was almost impossible to screw them up then if you had a little experience. Now, even with what I know, I wouldn't want to attempt it. Whether it be oil related, cam core related, lifter bore related etc, I can't risk building an engine and worry through 100, 500, 1000 miles and more if the cam is going to go flat. Even back then, if it was going to fail, it failed pretty much right on startup, or before you were done tuning it for a few days. Now it takes miles and you never know if you are out of the woods.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by REVINKEVIN on Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:00 am

I have two 400 small blocks with solid flat tappet cams. I use the Comp Cams oil. That way if they fail I can call them direct and they have a chance to make it right. I am about to do another cam change for my 1970 Camaro. I am going to use the Xtream Energy XS290S with new Comp Cams Ultra Pro Magnum rocker arms.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by Joe73 on Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:22 pm

Another good thing to check nowadays is the.dizzy gear. The cam company can tell you what type of dizzy gear material is compatible with a particular grind.
Saves headaches in the end.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by BBMALIBU on Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:21 pm

Since there exists a problem/concern regarding solid lifters and oil.

My thought is that with other options available, such as hydraulic lifters and roller hydraulic/solid, why choose solid lifters.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by pila on Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:41 pm

In regard to catalytic converters mentioned, I bought an '86 Camaro new, and after driving it a couple of months, the converter plugged up, under warranty of course, but kinda strange I thought...

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by bracketchev1221 on Fri Oct 30, 2015 4:22 pm

It's not just solid lifters. It's flat tappet lifters in general.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by BBMALIBU on Fri Oct 30, 2015 4:40 pm

bracketchev1221 wrote:It's not just solid lifters.  It's flat tappet lifters in general.


Wow.....I thought it was just solid lifters. In that case, forget flat tappet...just go roller.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by ant7377 on Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:43 pm

Its not the added expense of the roller cam but the damage when one of the rollers lets go that scares me but maybe im being over cautious.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by pila on Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:43 am

Only time I've had a flat tappet cam shell out was during break-in, on an engine that sat for over a year, even though it was prepped at assembly. It does cause a mess when it happens...
I would think that cheap roller lifters would be running on borrowed time (??)

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by Joe73 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 6:02 am

pila wrote:Only time I've had a flat tappet cam shell out was during break-in, on an engine that sat for over a year, even though it was prepped at assembly. It does cause a mess when it happens...
 I would think that cheap roller lifters would be running on borrowed time (??)

I agree. Ive heard of that happening several times with a flat tappet. They recommend breaking in a flat tappet within two to three weeks so the assembly lube doesnt all settle.

I deceided to wait for assembly but have all these new balanced internals on a shelf taking up space.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by brownbomber77 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 10:33 am

My neighbor runs Rotella T diesel motor oil in his car. Flat tappet olds 403. Has run fine since 2000

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by pila on Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:19 pm

X2 on the Rotella, except that I use the T6 in the Jeep, with the flat tappets.

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by bracketchev1221 on Sun Nov 01, 2015 6:38 pm

I used the rotella in the nova and t6 in the chevelle. The 76 has pep boys 15/40 diesel oil in it.
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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

Post by Joe73 on Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:15 pm

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Re: Aftermarket flat-tappet cams and no-zinc option?

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