1. OVERVIEW & HISTORY                7. IGNITION
2. FUEL FLOW                                8. INDUCTION
3. HEADS                                       9. EXHAUST
4. CAMSHAFTS                             10. LUBRICATION
This is my favorite subject, it’s no secret that I’m a
camaholic, I never met one I didn’t like. The stock camshaft
for the Ford and Mercury Flathead V8 is a mild unit, built
for lugging up hills, tooling around town and giving
adequate performance when required. It’s a good piece and
would probably work well in a supercharger application as
well but it’s not what we as racers are after as it is a
compromise in relation to performance. The Full Race
camshaft is another story altogether, it’s not a compromise
at all and in fact is only used to its full capacity when the
throttle is wide open and the engine is reaching its limit as
far as still remaining an engine. That’s what we’re after.
The camshaft is the heart of the engine, its job is to open
the valves at the correct time allowing fuel-air mixture to
enter the combustion chamber and do its work. The longer
the valve stays open, the more fuel that gets into the
chamber, the bigger the bang that follows. Following this
line of thought, all one had to do was make the lobes bigger
on the camshaft and you would get more performance and
that’s pretty much how it started. A fellow named Pierre
Bertrand started this practice with 4 cylinders in the 1920’s
but one of his disciples; Ed Winfield, was the first true high
performance cam grinder and his cams were copied for
decades. Ed took everything into account in his designs,
lift, duration, overlap and lobe centers, scavenging effects
and spring rates, anything that affected the overall
performance of the engine. He was genius and everyone
who has followed owes a tip of the hat to Ed.
OK, let’s get to the racing cam, there are three basic types
for the Flathead racer: One; Flat Tappet which is the most
prevalent, easiest to install and most closely resembles the
stock cam, Two; Mushroom Tappet, same basic cam as the
flat tappet with mushroom lifters which have a larger
contact area thus making the cam ‘bigger’, and three;
Radius Tappet, the widest and most cantankerous of the
bunch, the forerunner to the roller cam which we’ll throw
in with it.
Some quick basics and we’re off. Duration is the amount of
time, in crankshaft degrees, that the valve is open. Lift is
the height as which the valve is lifted off the seat. Overlap is
the amount of time that both intake and exhaust valves are
open, this is affected by the centerline of the intake versus
exhaust lobe (hence lobe center) as well as duration.
Scavenging is the affect of the exhaust charge being pushed
out and subsequently drawing intake charge in. Got it,
good.        First, the Flat Tappet camshaft. Most flathead
racing cams are of this type which uses the stock type, flat
bottomed lifter. In fact most racing cams actually came from
stock cams in the first place; the grinders would just
decrease the base circle of each lobe in order to gain the
desired lift. Think of it this way, the greater the amount of
volume of the lobe (minus the base circle), the greater the
amount of fuel mixture that gets into the combustion
chamber. There are several advantages to a flat tappet
camshaft; they do not require any specialized tools for
installation, usually a hole drilled in the lifter bore and a
nail will do (if you’re using adjustable lifters). They are
usually easier on the valve train as they do not require as
much spring pressure to hold the lifter to the cam and as
such have excellent wear characteristics. They are also still
available new, or as they were more prevalent than any
other style, easily found. Ed Winfield preferred this type of
cam mainly because of the spring rates required, less
spring pressure equals less horsepower to work the valve
train and subsequently less heat. His cams had gentle
ramps, moderate lifts (in comparison to later cams) and
were the noted ‘top dog’ of the late 40’s. Other cam grinders
followed such as Clay Smith and Ed Iskendarian, they too
started with moderate lifts but soon explored higher rates.
Still, Winfield’s SU-1A was the hot cam of its day with 0.350
lift and 280 degree duration. It was the basis of many a
following racing camshaft, including Chuck Potvin’s
masterpiece; the Potvin 425 Eliminator. It was aptly named
as it often either eliminated the competition or the engine.
OK, so why the nail? Placed in a hole in the lifter bore it
holds the lifter in place while you adjust it and is a lot
easier than working with the Johnson wrenches, anyone
who has worked with either will agree. Adjustable lifters
help make up the difference removed from the base circle of
the cam and although they aren’t a must, they are easier to
work with. Or you can do it like Henry did and either grind
the valve tip or tip of your nice light non-adjustable lifter – if
you can get one with enough tip left on it to make the valve
lash. In the end, these are better as they are lighter, and
never go out of adjustment. I’ve seen plenty of adjustable
lifters with either a jam nut on them or a glob of weld to
hold the adjusting screw in place. OK, so what are some of
the best cams? The SU-1A is highly regarded, the Potvin
425 works extremely well from my experience, likes the
RPM’s and keeps pulling. I’ve tried a Giovannani 999 and
that cam worked real well, especially at Syracuse. Crane’s
353-2 was recommended by Bob Hayslett, I know that ‘Pop’
Enders used Isky 1007 LD cams and we’ve had good luck
with an Isky 1007B as well. Friends from New England
swear by Literio’s (Isky of the East) L100, we’ve also had
good luck with Racer Brown and Schneider grinds. You get
the picture, there are a lot of good cams to try and many
such as Isky’s 400Jr., Potvin’s 425, Schneider’s and
Literio's cams are still available. My recommendation as a
good rule of thumb for circle track racing is to get a
camshaft with around 0.370 total lift minimum and 270
degrees of duration, that’ll run and you won’t have to do
any carving in the valve pocket of the head. More lift equals
more work, check the depth of the heads you plan to use
first. If they have a stamping on them that says ‘400’ (and
haven’t been planed too much) then you can probably get
away with 0.400 lift. Edelbrocks usually have the
compression ratio stamped, the higher the ratio, the
shallower the valve pockets, measure first.
Next up, the Mushroom Tappet cam. Another basic
brainchild of Winfield’s and again, used subsequently by
Clay Smith and Ed Iskendarian. These cams look just like
the flat tappet offerings but used a larger based lifter which
immediately made the cam ‘bigger’ in that the opening and
closing rates were accelerated by the larger surface area the
lifters provided. This obviously increased what I call lift at
duration and got more air in the engine over the same
amount of time the valve is open.  A Real Good Deal. Also,
since it’s still a flat tappet cam, wear characteristics are still
great (even better than a flat tappet cam), spring rates are
still tolerable and the lifter still spins in the bore with even
less side thrust than the 1 inch flat tappet. Think of this
combination as ‘mechanical advantage’ much in the same
way that an OHV engine can gain lift at duration by using a
different ratio rocker. Obviously, Flatheads don’t have
rockers but by using the larger based lifter (the mushroom
tappet has a 1.182 inch base versus the standard 0.999
inch base of the flat tappet), the ‘volume’ of the lobe is
increased so to speak. The only drawback is installation
which requires the use of a back cutter to spot face the
bottom of the lifter bore and provides clearance for the
lifters larger base. You’ll also need a set of bronze bushings
with the lifters, if you can find them. The lifters used came
on Studebaker Champs, which were 6 cylinders so you’ll
need to find two of them. They were also made by
Whitteman in the 50’s and can still probably be had at Egge
or similar restoration parts manufacturers. The one I have is
a Clay Smith X-270 grind that Little Joe Lawrence
bestowed me with (it actually says ‘Potvin 60’ on it – just
another decoy often used by racers and cam grinders who
didn’t want their competitors seeing what grind they were
running when they took the front mount ignition off). He
related it worked real well with a supercharger which I’d
like to try out someday. Joe and his driver, D.D. ‘Rebel’
Harris sure did well with the set-up they had in the early
1960’s at the eastern NY tracks and it should be noted that
Barney Navarro has always favored this setup although from
what I gathered he did it with a Winfield SU-1A. Bottom line
in my opinion is that this is a fine set-up.
Last up is the Radius Tappet camshaft, this is the one most
of the top Flathead racers used. This cam had extremely
high lift rates and lots of lift, although usually less duration
(to build compression) than the flat tappet offerings. They
were easily the most radical cams and the forerunner to the
roller. When Fred Offenhauser bought out Henry Miller and
wanted to go into business he consulted with Ed Winfield
about the cams, Ed said make everything bigger (like the
mushroom tappet) but Fred couldn’t afford it so they came
up with the radius (cup) cam instead, so that’s where these
types of cams originated.  Due to their radical design, they
usually exhibited greater wear then a flat or mushroom
tappet but who cared, once worn out it was going to just be
replaced by another and it gave the greatest performance
on a short track, at the drags, and often the dry lakes as
well. The lobes of a radius camshaft ramp up quickly, often
with no clearance ramp, flatten off at the top and then come
back down to the base circle just as quickly. They are the
limit as far as ‘volume’ of the lobe and since they can return
the valve to its seat so quickly, they also help the engine
build compression. With the lobe ground as it is, the lifter
had to have clearance and thus was radiused on the
bottom, in one plane only. This meant that the lifter had to
be held in that plane to stay aligned with the cam lobe and
again, special tooling was required for installation. There
are two different types of lifters: The Weber 1 inch radius
and the Isky or Crane type 2 inch radius. Each used a
different type of aligning mechanism, both worked well if
installed properly. The Weber has the retaining key in the
lifter itself and then a slot has to cut in the inside of the
lifter bore in the block with a broach. Weber made the tool
and it should be noted that the new Crower roller liters
(with a 1 inch roller ball) use the same approach. The only
tool I know of like this resides in Michigan at Mark Kirby’s
Motor City Flathead shop but he’ll let you borrow it if
needed, at least he let me borrow it. The lifter is then
aligned to the camshaft (in this case a Weber F-7 Giant) and
the setup works perfectly. More common was the
Iskendarian or Crane set up which used a 2 inch radius
lifter with the key placed on the inside of the lifter bore,
and then the lifter itself is slotted to hold it in alignment
with the cam lobe. This requires the use of a jig to drill the
lifter bore from the oil valley side of the block, a ‘flattening’
tool to jam the key in place and then bending over the ends
of the ‘key’ on the outside of the bore to hold them
securely. It requires a lot of patience, a file to ensure the
lifter doesn’t hang up and maintenance. If that lifter gets
out of the key it’ll wipe a lobe off the cam pronto. Also, don’t
use a block that has been previously drilled for lifter
adjustment via the previously mentioned nail method, the
holes have to be perfect to hold the key in place. OK, so  
that's the tough stuff, now for the good part, these cams
were used by nearly all of the top racers in Central NY that
I know of and they won a lot of checkered flags. I honestly
think that a Mushroom Tappet cam is the best setup but
they were not as prevalent as the Radius cams. There’s
nothing wrong with a  Flat Tappet cam either, they also won
a lot and were easier to maintain but if you talked to the
top racers at Waterloo, Watertown, Midstate or the NYS
Fairgrounds, nearly all had a radius type cam. OK, onto
some of the best, obviously the Iskendarian 404A Track was
the most famous of the bunch and won a ton, Crane’s
offerings of the 425, and the 425-2 were also excellent and
since they were offered by Bill Beamon of B&M Speedshop
in Rochester, were often used by racers at Waterloo. Clay
Smith’s 4-54 is a good cam in a big engine, as is Weber’s    
F-7 Giant. Bob Hayslett sold me an F-7 that I’m using now
and it’s super, he related that I should try the 2 inch lifters
on it (instead of the 1 inch Webers), as Woody Van Order
did. I thought about it but went with it as engineered
instead, where you gonna find another one if you ruin this
one? It works real well on the 1 inch radius and although I
understood what Bob was getting at – faster action – in the
end I didn’t want to chance it. Lastly is that cam that only
one guy I’ve talked to here in NY knew about and that’s
John Schoolers offerings from Jacksonville, Florida. Cliff
Kotary won 5 of his 6 NYS Fair Races with Schooler cams,
Willy Wust would’ve had to pay plenty of peso’s for that
information. While many of the cams were ‘single pattern’
(the Isky 404, Potvin 425, Crane 425, etc.) a few were of
‘dual pattern’ design such as the Crane 425-2 and
Schoolers. Harvey Crane went to the dual pattern cam later
with his 425-2, using the same intake lobe as the 425 but a
355 exhaust lobe and it worked extremely well with less lift
on the exhaust. I’ve run the one Bob Hayslett had in his
original B29 and it cooks, excellent cam. Schoolers
approach was different though, he felt than in order to get
fuel into the engine, you had to get the exhaust out first
and ground his cams accordingly with higher lift on the
exhaust lobe. This thought goes hand in hand with the
philosophies of the Racer Rocket and Al Sharp’s heads. I
was fortunate to find a Schooler a few years back and must
try it out. One would have to note that Cliff did pretty
darned good with his equipment and has always related to
me that the Schooler cams were the best he ever ran.
Bottom line, if you can find a good radius tappet camshaft
for your Flathead race engine and have the means of
getting it installed, then use it. All of them turn up fast and
hard so plan accordingly. I prefer the chilled cast iron
lifters, they’re a little heavier but wear much better than
the lightweight steel lifters from Isky, remember these   
lifter’s don’t turn so wear is an issue. Pay attention to your
spring rates, Isky requires 195 lb. open so test your springs
at open height and shim accordingly. I use the Isky 185-G
springs as they’re available and much easier to work with
than the dual spring setup although those work well also. If
you can’t find a radius or mushroom tappet cam then there
are several other flat tappet options that also work
extremely well. The Potvin 425, the Howard M-16, Isky 431
(the later Isky 433 is good too, blew one of Dad’s engines
into the weeds), the Literio L-100  (which John Flach uses
and is available through Cam Techniques in Florida) and
Schneider will grind you anything you want. Plenty of
choices. The thing to do is to take everything you want to do
into account, what do I have for engine size, what will my
budget allow, the heads that I have and what do I want the
engine to do? Do the research and then plan your engine
around your camshaft. Properly applied, any of the
camshafts mentioned here will give satisfactory results, but
again, that’s only one piece, although the most important
piece, of the puzzle.
Other pieces of the valve train puzzle include the guides,
valves and springs. Guides are simple, find a set that isn’t
heavily worn and use them. I have had guides reamed and
lined with knurled bronze inserts for greater lubrication
and less wear but have noticed no difference over stock
guides. My recommendation is to use guides with 0.0005
clearance minimum and make sure that the valve slips in
and out of them easily. That’s it, you can use Permatex #1
to glue them in place if you wish to keep any fuels out of
the oil but this generally isn’t a problem with new o-ring
gaskets. I put them in place in the block when I do the
porting to contour them as I wish. For springs there are a
couple of choices; Reds Headers sells a Lincoln Zephyr
spring which works very well and is affordable, so does
Iskendarian, part # 185-G which is what I generally use. I
wouldn’t hesitate to use either. If you have used springs
just be sure to test them before installation, over time they
deteriorate and used springs aren’t always good. For the
185-G springs on a radius camshaft I use an installed
height of 1.950 inch which equals 100# on the seat. Check
your installed height as assembled as many factors such as
valve length and lock groove placement may vary from valve
to valve. Usually, two 0.060 shims will work on a stock valve
set-up. I don’t generally use the Isky dual springs just
because they have to be disassembled and re-assembled in
the block which is more difficult and I have found that the
185-G gives the same performance. The 185-G can be taken
out of the block with the guide and valve as an assembly
which is easier to work with. Not that the dual springs   
aren’t a fine piece, they are, just tougher to work with.
Valve seats: in the block I have used both 45 and 30 degree
seats, I now use 30 degree seats on the intake and 45 on
the exhaust. On the valve faces themselves I use 44 degrees
on the intake valve and 29 degrees on the exhaust valve,
this gives an interference between the seats and I lap them
in lightly to ensure the seal. It also moves the seal to the
outmost section of the valve face which offers more surface
area for better sealing and cooling. I check the seal by
placing the block on the stand with the valve flat, click it
shut and spray carb cleaner on it to create a puddle. If the
valve will hold carb cleaner you have a good seal. For valves I
have used several types, SI for oversize valves, of course
stock valves and Manley ‘Race Flow’ as well. Stock valves
work fine, they are 1.500 inch diameter and with a little
work can actually flow quite well. Don’t use the one with
the big stop on them that butts up against the guide, not
the hot set-up. We used a carbide cutter on an engine lathe
to rid ourselves of that lump and these valves worked great,
and still do. The oversize 1.600 – 1.625 inch valves require
ample porting and seat reaming work to really make a
difference, not to mention the extra work in the heads to
get the flow around them. I have used them and they have
run well in engines but at this point I don’t see a great
advantage over my first choice which is Manley small block
Chevy (ok, so it’s not the valves fault, they don’t know    
they’re for a chevy) ‘Race Flow” valves P/N 11521, 1.500
inch diameter, with 11/32 stem. These are just beautiful
valves, undercut below the valve tulip in the area of port
flow, swirl polished, stainless, light, stellite tipped for great
wear characteristics and they’ve also 0.060 inch longer (add
a shim) than stock valves which means you can now use
that stock adjustable lifter (versus the heavier ‘race cam’
adjustable lifter which has a thicker head on the adjusting
screw, and is consequently heavier). Great set-up. Now, get
some retainers from Flathead Jack and the corresponding
hardened 7 degree valve locks and you have a kick ass set-
up that will last for years. Ok, now let’s get to the bottom
end and look at the
Stock cams were often ground
for quicker opening and
closing times, giving
additional duration.
Stock, 3/4, and Mushroom
Tappet Camshaft lift rates.
One ratty sounding camshaft.
Radius and Flat Tappet cams,
both ground from stock cores.
The full gamut of lifters, stock
lightweight, stock adjustable,
race adjustable, mushroom with
bushing, 2 inch radius Isky type
and 1 inch radius Weber.
Radius tappet cam left and flat
tappet, note the difference in
Whitteman tappets, flat and
Flat tappet 0.999 in. dia. vs.
Mushroom @ 1.182 in. dia.
Mushroom tappet & cutter.
Spotface lifter bore.
Clay Smith X-270.
Weber 1 inch radius lifter, key
in lifter, slot in bore.
Isky instructions for installing
radius lifters.
Installation tools and key.
Drill jig in bore.
Key holes drilled in lifter bore.
Finished installation.
Weber F7RS Giant timing card.
Clay Smith 4-54 Timing card.
Harvey J. Crane's 425-2 timing
card. Harvey ground these
himself on a '32 steel billet.
Isky dual spring rates.
Stock, Tuliped, and Tuliped
and Undercut valves.
Grind 'em slowly and carefully.
Update 11/2/08
Through the years I've been fortunate enough to have talked with several former racers as
well as the men who made the racing equipment. They all answer their own phone and
it's just a metter of picking it up and calling them. Barney Navarro gave me good tips on
blower applications, Ed Iskendarian sent me some Olds valve springs for my Ardun,
Mickey George sent several sets of radius lifter wires he had made as well as pictures and
a diagram of his jig so I could make my own. All very nice people, all into flatheads and
willing to share their knowledge. I was pleasantly surprised to recieve this letter in the
mail recently.
I responded with a letter including a few timing cards I had received from Bob
Hayslett and after a couple of phone calls sent my 353-2 to Harvey for his analysis.
An interesting fellow, Harvey started modifying flathead heads at the age of 13 and
continues his work at age 77. Obviously, as one would expect, he's way over my head
in camshaft design, I just use them, he designs them and his work has been used by
many to great success on the track. He's sending some more info on the 353-2 cam
this week and has also opened other doors for me by simply dropping a few numbers
my way. One number he dropped was of a man named Speedy Spiers who worked
with John 'Pop' Schooler (and still has his first cam grinding machine, a small unit
used for making Indian 45 cubic inch cams), which held records for years. Interesting
fellow, he went on to work for Bill Fish at Fish Carburetor and was a mechanic on the
Fish cars, driven by Glenn 'Fireball' Roberts. Later he wrenched cars for Tiny Lund.
When I talk to fellows like these, I take notes - more to follow - for now here's a link to
Harvey's Website which many may find interesting - (to be continued).
Ready to go..
Click this Logo to go to Harvey's site.
Update 11/9/08
Harvey's analysis of the 353-2 is done and the cam is on it's way back, along with
a couple from Speedy which will make my Monday (they're at the post office
ready for pickup) seem a lot like Christmas.. Harvey sent along a few notes on
Flathead cams in general that I've attached here, these guys are fun to talk to
although I have to think through what they talk of as I related before, they're
over my head a bit, and talk so 'matter of factly' about what they have found ,
that it takes a bit of time for me to digest it. Much more to learn..
Update 7/5/09
Received a nice package from Speedy Spiers this week who still likes to twirl the
wrenches. He sent along a picture of his beautiful coupe which is a replica of the
one he raced in 1960-1961. The car has a 439 Chevy small block pumping 868 HP @
7900 RPM according to his notes. That's more than I could handle.. Speedy has a
dyno in his shop and obviously likes to make horsepower. As a co-worked with John
Schooler (Speedy still has John's first cam grinder) and later at Fish carburetor, he
got to know the ins and outs of NASCAR racing in it's infancy. His drivers through
the years included Glenn 'Fireball' Roberts and Tiny Lund. Together they raced for a
living so I doubt you'd be able to bring up much new to Speedy. His latest flathead
employs a Iskendarian Mushroom grind, flat top pistons, 4 1/4 inch crank, and 305
cubes. As he called it 'A little one'. That's a big one to me. The head volume is
and the pistons pop up 0.012, for a compression ratio approacing 15:1. With 1.630
exhausts and 1.812 intakes, this is a breather as well - and on the edge I'd say. But
the real secret here is the manifold which in our conversations he relates 'Frosts up'
- that's good. He related acheiveing 307 H.P. @ 6300 RPM and 303 Ft. Lbs. of Torque
at 5900 RPM. 300 HP Flatheads are not a myth in Speedy's world.
Speedy's replica stock car, betcha it's faster than the original.
The 300 HP Flathead, check out the intake.
Speedy related a Carter WFB 4 barrel gave the best results.
Update 4/24/10
Ok, here's the e-mail that got this latest investigation re-opened... from Phil Hobbs
on 3/29/10:
Hi Jeff,
Thanks for your quick response. I acquired a Crane R425-2 cam and radius lifters from
Dirk Chesbro. His wife, Melody wrote me a note regarding the cam. She thought it came
from an engine that was built by her father-in-law and won numerous dirt track events
back in the '60s in upstate NY. She's pretty sure that cam won the NY State Fair
Championship race in the early '60s 2 or 3 years in a row. Do you have any info that
relates to this? I'm just curious, it is interesting if possibly factual. I also received a
second cam from them which has had the I.D. ground off except for the word "Track".
She thought this also came from another engine built by Mr. Chesbro.
I would appreciate any info you may have regarding this story. I've thouroughly enjoyed
all the articles and info in your website. I ran a 180 degree flathead in my early drag
vehicles in the fifties, real interesting "rumored" background on that engine. Thanks
again, Phil Hobbs.

I knew the answer, from many conversations with Cliff and Roy Kotary but gave
Roy a call just the same to confirm, here's the story:

Hi Phil - Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you, I pretty much knew the story about
your camshaft but I called my friend Roy Kotary to confirm. Roy is Cliff Kotary's son and
worked with his father on the 60X and 90 cars that won the NYS Fair Championship
races from 1960 thru 1965, 6 in a row. In 1960 Cliff was driving the 60X he and his
brother Albert built, and often 'tested' camshafts for Bill Beamon of B&M Speedshop in
Rochester, NY. B&M was a Crane camshaft dealer (and Cliff's defacto 'sponsor') so Cliff
often ran other customer's (of B&M) camshafts after those customers complained to
Beamon that they were no good - and of course Cliff beat those other customers with
their own cams... Crane at the time had a radius cam, the 425, which ran very good but
according to Bruce Fleishman (who worked at B&M when I was going to college at RIT in
Rochester) - the cam always had a 'pop' on the exhaust. Harvey cured this by using
another camshafts (the 355 Crane) exhaust lobe and thus the dual pattern 425-2 was
born. According to Bob Hayslett, Harvey ground these cams himself on 1932 cores
which were steel. In 1960 Cliff won the NYS Fair with a 425-2 but it was his own cam,
not Leon Chesbro's. At that time Leon was working with Carl Rice on the Three Aces
coupe out of Fulton driven by Roger Dunsmoor. For 1961 Cliff  changed over to Schooler
cams at the suggestion of the Petty's whom they had met in Florida and Fonda. Cliff
liked the Schoolers better and stuck with them through the end of his flathead racing
days. I'll add that this is not information that you could have gotten from the Kotary's at
that time... In 1963 Cliff was without a ride as he and Albert had sold the 60X after the
1962 Fair win. Leon Chesbro and Carl Rice approached Cliff with an offer to drive
another car for the fair, the #90 which had been wrecked by Bill Dudley early in 1963
and sat idle in Fulton. They repaired the car, and Leon provided the engine which had -
most likely - your 425-2 Crane in it - but Cliff insisted on changing the cam out to the
Schooler, which Leon did.  In fact, Leon set the valve lash and then went to degree the
Schooler cam, and found that degreeing was not needed as the cam was ground
perfectly. For 1964 the team built a second (new) 60X and sold the #90 to Gordy Wood
who repainted it as the #96 in his colors. They continued to use the Schooler cams
(which were virtually unkown outside of a select few racers, including the Petty's,
Smokey Yunick and Frankie Schneider) in the new engines they built for the fair in
1964 and 1965, the engine they won with in 1963 got the Crane 425-2 back and sat in
Leon's garage as a spare. They didn't plan on racing the fair in 1966, and did not build
an engine for it. Cliff related when they went to the fair that year and timed the cars,
they were no faster than the year before so they decided to get the 60X out again and
try it. He noted that one cylinder had a bit higher compression than the others and he
knew a rod was stretched but there was not enought time to change it out. He finished
second in the heat to Mike Miller who was running a 12 port Wayne head on his 261
Chevy, which was not legal according to the rules but allowed on this day regardless. In
the feature Cliff said the engine had a bad vibration, and had told Roy to let him know
when there was 5 laps remaining as that's when he was going to let it go. He ran second
to Miller up to that point and my father related no one else was even close, 1/2 lap or
better behind. With 5 to go Cliff gunned it and caught Miller, with two to go he overtook
him in turn one - and the engine blew. Almost simultaneously Miller's right rear tire
went flat and they were both out, Larry Nye inherited the lead and won over Kelly
Walker and Dick May, although May thought he had won it. Not unusual for the time
before electronic scoring. Afterward Leon said to Cliff that the winning engine was home
in his shop, and Cliff agreed. That would most likely be the camshaft you have now. As
Roy said to me, 'We would have had to win the Fair 100 times for everyone who's
claimed to have our engine or cam to actually have it." Bottom line, they're gone. I
chased engines and cams, have come close and found where they went up to a point
but now it would be impossible to trace them back. The Schooler cams have no
markings on them, I have three - so I have the (two of) the same grinds, but not the
actual cams. Thanks for your interest, it's been good exercise to write this stuff down
and I'll put it under camshafts or on Cliff's article when I update the site next. The
'Track' cam is most likely an Isky, if it's a radius then it's a 404, if not it could be one of
many grinds, 1007B, 1007LD, etc. Iskendarian is the only one I've seen who stamped
'Track' into the end of his cams. If you ever decide to part with the 425-2 then please let
me know, I'd be interested in owning it. Also if Dirk Chesbro has any other parts or
pictures of Leon's - I'd like to know, I'd add the pictures to the site, or make offers if he
wants to sell any parts of interest.
Take it easy Phil -  whatever happened to that crossfire???? And what was the 'rumor'?
- Jeff
Crane 415S I purchased from George Taylor.
NOS Crane R425.
Crane 425-2 from Bob Hayslett.
NOS Schooler 365, Cliff won with a similar, but higher lift cam in 1961 and 1962.
NOS Schooler 412. This is the cam Cliff won with in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
NOS Schooler 430Am.
The 425-2 tming card.
Cliff Kotary, 1960. The year he won the fair with the 425-2.
The Crane radius cams use
the 2 inch radius lifter and
are beautifully ground. They
run strong too..
Cliff was always looking for an advantage,
and often asked his cam grinder, John 'Pop'
Schooler of Jackson, Fla. for more power.
Schooler started Cliff out with a approx.
0.380 lift, which he won with in 1961 and
1962. Then as the cubic inch limit came up to
280 he then sent Cliff the 430Am (according
to Speedy Spiers, that's the time he finished
grinding it..) which was 438 lift...
unfortunately Schooler sent it by Grayhound
bus and upon arrival it was broke in half. So
he sent Cliff another cam, the 0.412 in it's
place as he had no more 430 Am's ground.
Cliff told him it wasn't the same cam and
'Pop' told him not to worry, it'd be plenty, and
it was.. Cliff never did get to try the 430Am.
1966, Cliff's engine lets go as Mike Miller's right rear goes flat, Larry Nye wins.
1964, Carl Rice and Leon Chesbro with the 60X.
Update 3/6/11
     A couple of weeks ago I received
another phone call from Phil Hobbs
who had a novel idea: "I have a set of
nice 1" radius lifters, how do you think
they'll work on a 404 on the street?"
Hmm, pretty good I think... The Isky
404A was made for a 2" inch radius
lifter so using a 1 inch radius lifter
instead would make it a 'smaller'
camshaft, lift would be the same but  
the intake and closing times would be
affected (later and earlier, respectively)
as would lift rate. My late friend - Bob
Hayslett had passed on the idea of
going the opposite way; using 2 inch
radius lifters with a Weber F7 which
was ground for use with 1 inch lifters -
in effect making it a 'bigger' cam. I've
tried to display this in the detail above,
with all items in relative scale - a 2
inch lifter will give greater duration
and lift rate, and hence more volume of
charge into the combustion chamber.
According to Bob, Woody Van Order
used this setup at Watertown and
Kingston Speedway with great success.
He also ran 0.010 under on his crank
with standard bearings..... the point
here is this: Will it create more power -
the answer has to be yes, it will. But
for how long? Another friend  - Ben
Stevens, related once that they were
running a 'big flathead, stroker with a
404 and a couple of lifters got crossed
up in the bore. (In other word's they
came out of their keys, it happens..)
the lifters were junk and we didn't
have any others. It was race day, the
engine leaked a little water, but it was
all we had so we put some flat lifters in
it. Boy! Did that wake it right up!" I'm
sure it did - and eventually knocked
the lobes off the cam. The flat lifters
have one advantage over radius - there
is less side thrust with the flat lifter
which is allowed to 'float' in the bore
and rotate as it works over the lobe. A
radius lifter is set in one plane by a
key in order to keep the radius in
contact with the cam lobe, this creates
a side thrust in the bore - which would
be increased when going to a 1 inch
radius lifter. Speedy Spiers had a good
suggestion for this - just file a small
groove on the thrust side of the lifter
bore to allow for more oil there, makes
     Phil sent along a set of 2 inch
radius lifters and the Weber cam they
had been running on... I'm glad I
didn't try Bob's idea. I'm sure that this
set up ran great, just like Benny's did,
but I can't just go get another one
when this one wears out like they
could. Going the other way, as Phil is
planning, is much safer and I think it'll
work great on the street.
     Also want to thank Phil for sending
along the Crane 425-2 that we
discussed last year. My father wants to
give it a try so in it goes........
An oil groove on the thrust side would help.
Leon Chesbro's Crane 425-2
Wrecked Weber F7 - used with 2 inch radius lifters.