Hopping Up An AMC 360 V-8 - The Hunt For Power: Part 2

    Fixing Our Errors

    Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

    Third time’s a charm. Always read, follow, know, and love your instructions. To err is human. That feller is dumber than 40 chickens. We could keep going, but these sayings ought to give you an idea of roughly what happened and how we feel about it. We (and by that, we means me) screwed up royally and rounded a few lobes off the Edelbrock cam we installed in Part 1 of The Hunt For Power. We like doing things ourselves—that’s because we feel like it makes us better prepared to write about the ups and downs of aftermarket modifications.

    We usually like spinning wrenches (less so after tearing down this 360ci V-8 for a third time in as many weeks). After all, anyone with a credit card could pay a professional to do something to their Jeep (in hindsight that’s probably what we should have done), but where is the learning, exploration, or reward in doing that? Occasionally, our flaws as simple-minded humans take over. Simons will happily admit that he is not much of an engine guy. Here’s proof. We were in over our heads—just slightly, but still. Changing cam, heads, timing chain, distributor, rockers and so on and so forth was apparently just a little more than we could handle all at once. It started when we installed the wrong rockers on our beautiful Edelbrock heads. Don’t do what we told you in Part 1 and install Comp Cams PN 1231-16. They won’t work. We got some bad advice on that and tried to run them despite what the instructions say. Someone with more engine experience might have figured that out before hurting expensive engine parts. Luckily for us, not much was hurt.

    Add to that the new distributor. We spent way too much time trying to time the AMC 360 with our new distributor from Davis Unified Ignition. As a result of this and the rockers that didn’t open the valves all the way, we never really broke the cam in properly. The incorrect rockers we got pressed down on the valve spring hat rather than the valve stem. All in all, we’re lucky we didn’t drop a valve. That would have been very bad. These rookie moves resulted in a ruined cam, some pretty messed up lifters, and a bunch more work for us.

    Somewhere during this debacle, we drove the unknowingly hurt Pig truck to Big Jim’s exhaust shop in Phoenix for a clean dual exhaust. Once the duals were in place and we got a hundred miles or so on the truck, we knew things were not right. A little advice from a mechanic friend (thanks, Doug) helped us realize the horrible truth that we had screwed up—royally. So, the lesson to be learned here is: In the future, try to follow the directions, even if it hurts.

    Getting the correct rockers would have been as easy as reading the instructions that came with our heads. Also, it turns out cam break-in is important. Again, that was in the instructions that came with the cam. We blame the many nights assembling Swedish furniture while scoffing at the strange instructions. Oh well. The reality is, if this is the last time we screw something up, it’s going to be a miracle. Anyway, time to move on and fix what we ruined. Hopefully this time the cam will take, the Pig will be healthier and happier, and maybe you will learn from our big old screw-up. Here’s what we did.