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View Full Version : Roller rockers worth doing?


denverd1
02-06-2008, 04:34 PM
Hey folks! first post here on TMC. I am an owner, so lets get that out of the way. 1986 Tristar 220. 351W engine. Turning out to be a decent little wakeboard platform. Came with a tower, dropped in a ballast system and fresh prop.

The point is: working on the 351W to get more life out of it. At 700 hrs it runs pretty strong. Thinking: intake, camshaft, gt40 heads with minor work.

Are roller rockers something i should while its torn down? for another 100 bucks, i might as well. I like the idea of improving the engine's internal efficiency. Also, any guesses on how much more power it will produce with them vs. without?

ShamrockIV
02-06-2008, 04:35 PM
welcome!!!
sounds like u got a nice boat!!!
wish i could help but i am not the best mechanic!!
You will get TONS of great advice on here!!!

Muttley
02-06-2008, 04:45 PM
Although I'm not a mechanic either, I've heard that updating the carb is an option. Maybe removing the muffler and rejetting?



...edited 'cuz I r not gude spellr

TRBenj
02-06-2008, 04:47 PM
Youre on the right track.

You'll get the best bang for your buck out of a intake/cam/head upgrade. Roller rockers will get you a little bit of hp (Ive read ~10-15hp), but I wouldnt necessarily recommend them, though I do have them installed on my engine. You wont get the same hp return for your dollar as with the other upgrades. Its not difficult to pull the exhaust manifolds and valve covers to install them if you decide to add them in the future. You may also find that you cant fit all brands of roller rockers under the stock valve covers.

Whatever you do, do not buy cheap rockers- either stick with the stock pieces or buy quality parts (FMS/Crane, Scorpion, etc). New ones will cost upwards of $300, though you can find used ones for less. I went with FMS.

http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e260/TRBenj/FMSrockers.jpg

Monte
02-06-2008, 04:50 PM
Hey folks! first post here on TMC. I am an owner, so lets get that out of the way. 1986 Tristar 220. 351W engine. Turning out to be a decent little wakeboard platform. Came with a tower, dropped in a ballast system and fresh prop.

The point is: working on the 351W to get more life out of it. At 700 hrs it runs pretty strong. Thinking: intake, camshaft, gt40 heads with minor work.

Are roller rockers something i should while its torn down? for another 100 bucks, i might as well. I like the idea of improving the engine's internal efficiency. Also, any guesses on how much more power it will produce with them vs. without?

Welcome to the board.. Good boat selection;) I am not mechanic so.. Just sayin welcome.. There are several very knowledgeable engine gurus on the board:cool: Someone should be along shortly

denverd1
02-06-2008, 05:00 PM
thanks guys!

TRBenj, wow. you had to raise the doghouse a little, right? i'm looking at edelb intakes. Better question, what intake would you recommend? Thats kinda what I was thinking on the rockers: cheap isn't good. And I may add them later for grins.

I see you went hi rise, Al heads, rockers, lo-pro arrestor. I was thinking straight performer intake. I don't think I'll get to 350hp, where an RPM may start to benefit the enginge.

Muttley, the carb I may have to jet differently, but I'm staying w/a 4160 for now.

monte, I love the thing. are you in 190/220?

Monte
02-06-2008, 05:04 PM
monte, I love the thing. are you in 190/220?

220;) Love mine too:cool:

denverd1
02-06-2008, 05:10 PM
wakeboard setup? ballast? do tell. We don't see many of these.

TRBenj
02-06-2008, 05:12 PM
TRBenj, wow. you had to raise the doghouse a little, right? Do you think performer or RPM performer on the intake? Better question, what intake would you recommend? i see you went hi rise, Al heads, rockers, lo-pro arrestor. I was thinking straight performer intake. I don't think I'll get to 350, where an RPM may start to benefit the enginge.
I actually didnt have to raise the motorbox. I did have to go with the low-profile arrestor. You might not be so lucky- Ive heard the MC boxes are tight on clearance.

My intake is a Weiand Stealth (~2.5" taller than stock), which is comparable to the Performer RPM. I would recommend either of those over the standard Performer- they'll flow better over the midrange. Dont worry about losing low end power- it wont happen. If youre tight on clearance, the Performer is 1" shorter than the other 2 and is still a decent upgrade over stock.

My heads are not Al- theyre just iron GT40p's with fresh paint.

the carb I may have to jet differently, but I'm staying w/a 4160 for now.
Good call on rejetting. You'll want to do some plug reading after making the changes to make sure youre not running lean. The 600cfm 4160 is plenty of carb, but you might want to consider a metering block conversion kit- it will replace the rear plate and allow you to tune the jets on the secondaries. 68/76 (F/R) would be a good starting point for jet sizes.

Monte
02-06-2008, 05:37 PM
wakeboard setup? ballast? do tell. We don't see many of these.

I have a tower off a 2001 x-star.. The wake is as nice as anything else I have seen. Heavy boat naturally.. I really couldn't find much room for the ballast. I only run one 500lb fatsack in the middle.. Where did you place your ballast? I'd be interested in knowing.

denverd1
02-06-2008, 05:44 PM
TRBenj, I found an old thread where you mention Cam Research. any camshaft comments?

I not 100% sure what's been done to these heads. Still have to get my hands on them. i was planning to have them cleaned up and flow tested. not much i can do with cams, until i know more about the heads, right? I think they have thicker than stock valve springs, so I may do the rollers sooner than later. still trying to figure out how all this ties together. I think I'll have the heads monday, so i should be able to get going on this.

Monte, the back seats came out and a sunpad platform was flush mounted to the top deck. (before I bought) spans from transom to doghouse. I built a box and have a sac under there. 2 700 sacs under front seats that fill about 1/2way. all hidden on switches. 2 1100 gph rule aerator pumps, fed by a 1 1/2" thru hull. 2 more to drain.

icewake
02-06-2008, 06:21 PM
please take many pictures of your progress on the engine build, i am very interested

Jerseydave
02-06-2008, 06:49 PM
Welcome denverd1!

Your mods you mentioned are all good for increasing hp
Is your engine is need of "freshening up"? If so, why not keep it stock? You won't get much more top speed (if any) with extra hp like the go-fast boats (Donzi, Fountain, Formula, etc.)

Maybe I'm just getting old and don't take this the wrong way, but seems like alot of $$ for little gain. (GT40 heads $$$) Sure it will pull-up riders a bit quicker with extra ballast, but you're still going to go 22-24 mph right?

Try a few different props.........that makes more difference than anything when it comes to wake boats. Just my $.02

Best of luck with your MC.............show us some pics!

TRBenj
02-06-2008, 10:23 PM
NJ, he wont run with the Donzi's but he may see a 5mph increase in the top end with an extra 80hp (depending on the hull). I did.

If youre smart about buying the parts and do the install yourself, you can put a VERY nice head-cam-intake package together for $1000-1500 (total) including gaskets and all incidentals. GT40's and GT40p's can be found in nice shape (used or remanufactured) for $400-600. Holeshot and midrange power get the biggest boost- which is great for all skiing disciplines. The improved engine breathing will also increase engine efficiency- meaning it wont labor as hard to do the same amount of work, and may result in slightly better fuel economy.

Denverd, absolutely use Cam Research- their prices are low, their products are high quality and they know Fords better than any other cam company I spoke to- and they even know ski boats. As you speculated, it would help to know the specs on the heads before ordering the cam. If theyve been milled (common for a head refresh/valve job) the compression ratio will be increased. You may want to measure the size of the combustion chambers to be sure. Either way, Cam Research will come up with a good recommendation for your parts and performance goals.

The upgraded valve springs will allow you to run a more aggressive cam- theyre usually good up to .550 of lift, where stock springs may only be good up to .500 or so. You probably wouldnt exceed that amount of lift anyways- mine is just under that figure and I went fairly aggressive (the stock 351w cam is on the order of .430-.450 of lift). The upgraded springs have nothing to do with the ability to use roller rockers or not. That decision should be based on whether you want to spend the money for them, and if you have enough clearance under your valve covers.

NJ is right about the prop- thats the single biggest performance improvement you can make for a ski boat.

denverd1
02-07-2008, 11:59 AM
Ice - here's the first pic. I did this before work today. One of my friends asked about me rockers: pedestal or stud. I said, lets find out.


NJskier - thanks for the welcome. Yea, "running with the Donzi's" is not the gameplan at all. I feel like I hit a wall with props. I'm still only putting out 250'ish HP. (Realistically, the old girl is doing less than that) I think I found a suitable prop in the Acme 537 with 15" of travel in 4blade application. I could go with a lower pitch, but I'm close to what I need there.

The difference truely is night and day. But when I load the heck out of the boat for surfing, she just wasn't putting out enough juice.

I started looking into this engine to "freshen it up" turns out for $1000 or so I can throw out AT LEAST another 50 horses. this is my first engine "tune up" job and its fun. a lot more fun than just finding another prop.

Also, the intake manifold on this engine is just terrible. Heads aren't much better, from what i understand. So in reality, everything I'm doing should be "stock" if that makes any sense.

And, I'm getting a good deal on the heads, otherwise I probably wouldn't throw them into the mix.

So, looks like we've got pedestal mount rockers!

TRBenj
02-07-2008, 01:21 PM
So, looks like we've got pedestal mount rockers!
Yup, all recent (mid 70's on) Ford Windsor iron heads use the pedestals. Your stock rockers will swap right over to the GT40's if you decide not to go roller.

On another note, are you sure thats a marine carb? Ive never seen a marine 600cfm 4160 use those float bowls.

denverd1
02-07-2008, 01:49 PM
No, I'm not sure of anything with that carb! Had problems with it last year, tore it down. rebuilt with fresh gaskets. a guy told me it wasn't marinized. I haven't had any problems with it for 4 years... of course "having problems" = Boom!

any comments on what it is different in the two? I'd rather not toss it in the trash and start over...

TRBenj
02-07-2008, 03:17 PM
No, I'm not sure of anything with that carb! Had problems with it last year, tore it down. rebuilt with fresh gaskets. a guy told me it wasn't marinized. I haven't had any problems with it for 4 years... of course "having problems" = Boom!

any comments on what it is different in the two? I'd rather not toss it in the trash and start over...
The biggest thing is the J-tube vents in the body that will redirect fuel back down the carb rather than overflowing everywhere. Ive also heard that there are difference in the linkage to prevent fuel fumes, etc from escaping- not sure how true that is. Im also not sure how leak-prone all the float adjustment screws are, as marine units dont have them.

A safety issue like this isnt one I would mess with- so personally, Id sell the auto carb and buy a proper marine unit. If youre interested, shoot me an email- I may have a spare rebuilt 600cfm come springtime: TRBenj@gmail.com

denverd1
02-07-2008, 03:27 PM
well, I know for a fact the j-tube on the inside has been modified as you describe. So, primaries and secondaries have a return j tube.

but, for peace of mind, lets talk. sent you an email with my address.

denverd1
02-10-2008, 02:52 AM
TB, i'll prolly take you up on the carb. Sounds like cheap insurance.

Got everything off, except the pulleys and timing cover. I'm thinking intake, then heads. Any tips on getting the intake or heads off? Also, the belts are off and the top pulley spins free. Any ideas on getting the bolts out? and the distributor itself is corroded and stuck. Not sure how i'm goint to get it out...

Ran out of time today. Painted a few parts. Doing it all black. I'm realizing i've got a lot more things to add the list. You can't put rusty bolts on a nice black engine... Not to mention the melted exhaust tubes and hose I found.

I'll try to get some pics up tomorrow.

TRBenj
02-10-2008, 11:12 AM
Good deal, just shoot me an email about the carb.

Not a bad idea to replace bolts. I got a 351 ARP bolt kit, but not everything fit my application (they say it varies). If nothing else, do make sure that you replace the head bolts (preferably ARP), as the stock bolts are torque-to-yield and are NOT reusable.

Black paint will look nice, but realize that it will be harder to see any oil leaks afterwards. That may or may not be a good thing.8p

Laurel_Lake_Skier
02-10-2008, 12:10 PM
Also, the belts are off and the top pulley spins free. Any ideas on getting the bolts out?
If you can get an impact wrench on the bolts, that should do the trick. The jarring action used will get the bolts out without a lot of force being needed to keep the pulleys from spinning.

YooperScott
02-10-2008, 12:31 PM
I did not read through all of the responses but to answer the original question back in my LT-1 car engine I installed roller rockers and saw a little over a tenth and a little over a mph pickup in the quarter mile. In that speed range of car a decent rule of thumb was each .1 and/or 1 mph in the quarter was about 10 horsepower. Therefore the 10-15 horsepower gain (at least on an LT-1) from 1.5 stamped rockers, to 1.6 roller rockers seemed about right. Just adding a data point for you.

Scott
'95 LT-1 Prostar 190

TRBenj
02-10-2008, 04:39 PM
Therefore the 10-15 horsepower gain (at least on an LT-1) from 1.5 stamped rockers, to 1.6 roller rockers seemed about right. Just adding a data point for you.
Good to know, but the comparison is only valid if he were considering going from 1.6 to 1.7 RR's. The benefits you saw were partly due to the roller tips of the rockers, and partly due to the increased valve lift. I assume he wont be changing ratios since he's upgrading the cam at the same time.

denverd1
02-11-2008, 01:50 AM
Here's a few pics. got the head bolts loose, but didn't pull them off. Most of the small engine parts have been sanded, primed and painted. Working on getting the block, pan and bellhousing cleaned up. I think black is going to look good.

denverd1
02-11-2008, 10:18 PM
Just picked up the heads. Bought an intake today. Things are moving along. no more cell phone pics! got the camera back today too.

TRBenj
02-12-2008, 10:46 AM
Just picked up the heads. Bought an intake today. Things are moving along. no more cell phone pics! got the camera back today too.
Nice! Which intake did you go with?

denverd1
02-12-2008, 04:23 PM
performer RPM.

The heads have 3 piece springs and look good. Trying to get them on a flow bench this week.

been readin some posts on low profile arrestors over at correctcraftfan.com. And you were right, those guys are on it when it comes engine mods.

TRBenj
02-12-2008, 04:30 PM
performer RPM.

The heads have 3 piece springs and look good. Trying to get them on a flow bench this week.

been readin some posts on low profile arrestors over at correctcraftfan.com. And you were right, those guys are on it when it comes engine mods.
You have room under the motorbox for that?

Yep, its the best resource on the net if you want to build up a Ford motor for a ski boat.

denverd1
02-13-2008, 03:18 PM
I think I do. Measured spacer, carb and arrestor and added 2.5". It will be close, but thats with the stock arrestor. looks like its 3" tall, so a lo-pro arrestor may be in the cards, but thats cool. I like shiny chrome stuff anyway... I need to get on this, but I've been swamped at work this week.

The heads ...ugh.. the heads are not GT40s. BUT, they do have some port work done and the nice springs with dampeners I mentioned. and they were free. I finally got a chance to look closely at them last night. In the interest of getting the boat back together and on the water in a few weeks, I'm going with these heads anyway. about to call a shop to see if they can flow test.

So now i have an enormous intake and a choke point in the heads...

TRBenj
02-14-2008, 12:23 PM
I think I do. Measured spacer, carb and arrestor and added 2.5". It will be close, but thats with the stock arrestor. looks like its 3" tall, so a lo-pro arrestor may be in the cards, but thats cool. I like shiny chrome stuff anyway... I need to get on this, but I've been swamped at work this week.

The heads ...ugh.. the heads are not GT40s. BUT, they do have some port work done and the nice springs with dampeners I mentioned. and they were free. I finally got a chance to look closely at them last night. In the interest of getting the boat back together and on the water in a few weeks, I'm going with these heads anyway. about to call a shop to see if they can flow test.

So now i have an enormous intake and a choke point in the heads...
Maybe, maybe not. If proffessionally done, ported e7's can come close to flowing like GT40's. Unless it was a total hack job, they should at least outflow the unported stock heads. If theyve been gone through (valve job, surfaced), it might give you a slight bump in CR too. Regardless, make sure you check your lifter preload at every single valve and shim accordingly.

denverd1
02-21-2008, 11:36 AM
Got the block and trans painted and it looks awesome! ordering cam and intake this week, after I talk to machine shop to see how heads tested out. Heads should be done. Maybe I can get her back together next week. Pics coming.

SkiDog
02-21-2008, 11:54 AM
220;) Love mine too:cool:
I heard that your wuz fer sale! Something about a new cooler on an X2!

denverd1
02-24-2008, 02:40 PM
Now we're getting somewhere. :)

31836

31837

denverd1
02-26-2008, 03:46 PM
a few more pics. Machine shop guy is takin his time. Not a big deal, but now I'm stuck waiting on him. Need to know head flow stuff before I buy a cam...

31905

31906

31907

31908

denverd1
02-26-2008, 03:58 PM
for those considering this upgrade:
first pic in my last post is a shot of whats under the intake manifold. Camshaft sits right below the casting numbers. cam lobes move the lifter and pushrod which moves the valve rocker and valve on top of the cylinder.

distributor was a ***** to get out. it finally come out when i straddeled the engine and yanked on it. after that, the camshaft (bolt sticking out it, previous pic) slips out easily.

Also, there are 4 bolts that come thru the oil pan and bolt to underside of timing cover. Don't forget those guys! Oil pan is covered by rag in previous pic.

rkmason
02-26-2008, 06:00 PM
a few more pics. Machine shop guy is takin his time. Not a big deal, but now I'm stuck waiting on him. Need to know head flow stuff before I buy a cam...

Every automotive machine shop I've used thru the years promised a reasonable turnaround but never actually performed to the promise. I guess they like to have a steady backlog of work setting there waiting on them. Anymore I just figure it will take about twice as long as what they tell you.

Storm861triple
02-27-2008, 02:01 PM
Good to know, but the comparison is only valid if he were considering going from 1.6 to 1.7 RR's. The benefits you saw were partly due to the roller tips of the rockers, and partly due to the increased valve lift. I assume he wont be changing ratios since he's upgrading the cam at the same time.
That's right. Althought the gains seen on the LT1 were MOSTLY (not partly) due to the ratio change. HP increas from a swap to RR are not noticable...especially on an engine peaking at ~4400RPM, and with reletively low valve spring pressures.

TRBenj, I dig your GM HEI conversion.

denverd1
02-27-2008, 04:27 PM
what if the valves have stiffer springs? Again, waiting on shop, but the springs look like 2 piece w/ dampener obviously aftermarket.

And looking camshafts, most mild cams take it up to 5000/5500 rpm.

Still not worth doing?

Storm861triple
02-27-2008, 05:43 PM
what if the valves have stiffer springs? Again, waiting on shop, but the springs look like 2 piece w/ dampener obviously aftermarket.

And looking camshafts, most mild cams take it up to 5000/5500 rpm.

Still not worth doing?
IMO it depends how much money you have to spend. If you were in a "competition" to build the most powerful motor you could for say, $2000.00, you'd be better off spending that roller rocker money elsewhere. But if money was no object, then sure, there's benefits; lower friction, less heat, less deflection (due to cast aluminum or forged steel construction), consistent ratio's (factory rockers are usially way off their 1.6 spec), less valve guide wear with the roller tip. But keep in mind that all these "marketable" benefits are very minimal. It's marginal utility to spend money on roller rockers; a lot of money, very little gain.

In an engine that is at this state of tune, and the application (one with a heavy load and LOTS of friction), the marginal gains provided by roller rockers will never be noticed. A better way to spend that same money would be to covert to a retrofit roller cam. Or a PSS seal. Or a better prop. Or...

rcnjson
02-27-2008, 07:08 PM
for those considering this upgrade:
first pic in my last post is a shot of whats under the intake manifold. Camshaft sits right below the casting numbers. cam lobes move the lifter and pushrod which moves the valve rocker and valve on top of the cylinder.

distributor was a ***** to get out. it finally come out when i straddeled the engine and yanked on it. after that, the camshaft (bolt sticking out it, previous pic) slips out easily.

Also, there are 4 bolts that come thru the oil pan and bolt to underside of timing cover. Don't forget those guys! Oil pan is covered by rag in previous pic.

I noticed you still had the dizzy in with the intake and timing cover off. I've never done it this way but I suspect that had something to do with how hard it came out. Sometimes, if it the dizzy is a little stuck in there you can rotate the crank back and forth a little and loosen the cam up off the dizzy gear. This trick helps when you are dropping the dizzy in too. If you just stuff it in, there are a lot of things that have to line up (cam gear, oil pump drive shaft, pilot surface). Moving the crank back and forth a little helps draw it in. Just make sure you drop it back on the right tooth!
k

rcnjson
02-27-2008, 07:14 PM
Oh yeah,
I did roller rockers about 2 years ago. I had 'em layin' around so it wasn't really an issue of spending more money... that money was spent. I run 1.6's but I've got different heads too.
I'm looking into roller lifters right now. Couple ways to go about it
link bar retro fit lifters and a off the shelf roller cam
or
retro fit cam (smaller base circle) and off the shelf lifters
We'll see
If my block doesn't check out, I might just find a roller block...

denverd1
03-03-2008, 10:07 AM
I spoke with Cam Research on Friday. Told them what I wanted and they are cutting it. Should be here in 10 days or so.

Machine shop should have heads ready by Tuesday.

TRBenj
03-03-2008, 12:23 PM
I spoke with Cam Research on Friday. Told them what I wanted and they are cutting it. Should be here in 10 days or so.

Machine shop should have heads ready by Tuesday.
Denver, what are the specs on the cam?

denverd1
03-03-2008, 12:53 PM
int/exh
.450/.480 lift
260/275 duration
112 separation
1800-4800 range

I'm excited. Sounds like exactly what I want. No wonder I couldn't find it elsewhere...

Did you break it in or have them do it?

denverd1
03-03-2008, 01:23 PM
Just talked to machine shop. Getting the heads setup for the cam. He said the heads had some port work done, but not a stellar job. He'll port the bowls out a bit more.

TRBenj
03-03-2008, 02:32 PM
int/exh
.450/.480 lift
260/275 duration
112 separation
1800-4800 range

I'm excited. Sounds like exactly what I want. No wonder I couldn't find it elsewhere...

Did you break it in or have them do it?
Good deal, Im sure that will wake your motor up a bit.

I had them break it in for me- seemed like it was money well spent. Ive got over 50 hrs on it now- so far, so good.

denverd1
03-25-2008, 03:41 PM
Finally! Got all the parts I was waiting for. Camshaft arrived last week. Intake was waiting at the machine shop.

Best part: ported heads flow 180 cfm!!

So, i'll start getting her back together and post up a few pics if you guys are interested.

denverd1
04-03-2008, 01:14 AM
Got a few things done last weekend. Here's a few shots of building it up. Need to get jets for the carb and rebuild the carb I got from TRBenj and this thing is ready to fire! :)
33225

33224

33222

33223

Looks like I need to touch up a few spots, but its coming together.