Not too often do we show up at a trade show and get an education on a topic that has been around for decades. That’s what happened when we passed by the Erson Cams booth this year.
Customarily, camshafts are produced by casting or forging a blank of cast iron, steel or other metal which is then hardened by heating and quenching. After the blank camshaft has been formed, the lobes and bearing journals are rough and finish machined, and then the lobe surfaces are hardened. After hardening, the lobes are ground to provide the desired contour and surface finish of the cam surface on each lobe.
Jack McInnis, longtime Rod Authority friend and engine expert, gave us the lowdown on camshaft cores that are off-index ground, potentially thinning the hardened surface of the cam lobe. This usually occurs when racers or engine builders ask for advanced timing built into the camshaft’s lobes.
“Cam lobes with thinned hardness area won’t endure the stress of racing valvesprings at high engine RPM – especially stronger valvesprings that produce higher nose pressures,” said McInnis. Because of the hardness surface thinning phenomenon, Erson Cams uses a process they call “index-grinding” to ensure the cams they grind maintain a consistent margin of hard material around the lobe.