why are so many guys reluctant to use solid lifters


Staff member
why are so many guys reluctant to use solid lifters? I had one of the neighbor hood guys stop by with his son, to B.S. about his kid and his kids project car, its an older 1970 Plymouth road runner with a non-original 1971 440 wedge engine that hes building and hes gotten to the point where hes going to select a cam.
theres obviously dozens of cams to choose from and his 11:1 compression engine, has professionally ported heads he found at some swap meet, the heads have the adjustable after market,rockers,and he has a dual quad intake with two 500 carter carbs and a manual transmission, with a 4.11 rear gear ratio. this can potentially be an impressive looking and fast car , but when we got into discussing options both the kid whos 19 and his dad are looking into hydraulic flat tappet cams.
when I suggested the idea of a mild to mid range solid lifter flat tappet cam, that I know from experience would really wake up that engine, the mere mention of solid lifters seemed to act like GARLIC, SOAKED IN HOLY WATER, TO A VAMPIRE, honestly a solid lifter cam with about a 235-240 duration on a 108 LSA with about a .520 -.540 lift would be nearly ideal.
I know CRANE,Part Number: 681201, or CROWER,Part Number: 32309 would work, in this application, as the cars going to be a weekend toy and the kid wants a really lopey idle, and to race the car occasionally, its not going to be transportation.
yet the father and kid are both looking at slightly more radical hydraulic lifter cams.
obviously theres good choices in hydraulic cams but I was rather amazed that they were so darn sure that they could not learn , nore did they want to hear about how to adjust a solid lifter cam, or its advantages?
this is hardly unique to guys building a plymouth engine, I see similar reluctance from guys building chevy and pontiac engines and I just don,t understand why considering that in many cases a good solid lifter cam potentially allows you to get more power and several hundred to over 1000rpm extra in the power band.
for those unfamiliar with the 440 mopar, the rockers varied by year and application, the performance versions at times had adjustable rockers, most of the motor homes and larger pass cars had hydraulic lifters and non-adjustable rockers but these are easily upgraded with after market adjustable rockers

http://www.hughesengines.com/TechArticl ... tsfehr.php

http://www.hughesengines.com/Index/prod ... rtid=29994









i think people nowadays are intimidated by valve lash and simple adjustments, they want the "set it and forget it" convenience of the hydraulic lifter setup
I prefer solid lifter cams myself Grumpy.
I don't really see the point running a Full Rolkwr cam unless your using a .750-.800- 1.00"
Lift camshaft profile.
9K Rpms intended. Ti used extensive.
Just a Given.
Go Race. Not put around making noise.
Every engine I've tuned/rebuilt, really woke up with smaller solid cams. Even when I was told the chosen cam was far too small, it worked very well. SB,BB chevy, mopar BB, Olds BB, ford sBb.
Even a 350 chevy small solid would torque better than a stock 454. I guess I had a good combo but it held its own.
yeah, Ive also had far more consistent and very good results from using both flat tappet and roller solid lifter cams,
even in applications where many other people would prefer or swear by hydraulic valve trains

heres an example
back in the late 1960s-early 1970s guys were building hot 350s almost constantly

these were the cams I used in the 10.5:1-11:1 compression versions we built and raced

crane 110921 (solid flat tappet) vs crane 114681
we built dozens of impressive engines back in those days using these cams

both these cams above were far more impressive and consistent,
than the much more publicized and frequently recommend,
chevy z28 cams that had a bit more duration and a bit less lift

or its often recommended slightly more aggressive off road version


Last edited:
Don't solid lifters require a bit more spring pressure?
I ran into this problem with a set of solid rollers I purchased . I called the cam company , and for they required 700LBs open pressures.
The same cam in a flat tappet hydraulic only required 325LBS open..
I realize that there is a huge difference between flat tappet and a roller. But I thought the solid flat tappets still used more spring pressures
than a hydraulic flat tappet.
cams with solid lifters are generally used where the intention is to have the ability to exceed about 6000 rpm, at least occasionally,
but keep in mind youll generally require the valve springs be replaced and clearances carefully checked with any cam having a lift exceeding about .470.

The following recommendations are from Erson Cams. If you have questions, you can reach their tech department at 800-641-7920.

Hydraulic Flat Tappet Camshaft: 110 lbs Seat pressure/250-280 lbs open pressure

Solid Flat Tappet Camshaft: 130 lbs Seat Pressure/300-325 lbs open pressure

Hydraulic Roller Camshaft: 130-140 lbs Seat Pressure/300- 355 lbs open pressure

Solid Roller Camshaft: (Minimum Safe Pressures DEPEND ON SEVERAL FACTORS)

Up to .600˝ valve lift: 200-235 lbs Seat Pressure/600 lbs open pressure

Over .600˝ valve lift: 250-280 lbs Seat pressure /100 lbs pressure for every .100˝ of valve lift


read these links


I got asked why I suggested a solid flat tappet cam in an old style muscle car engine build?
well just based on experience, if the engines built with a reasonably low duration and lift cam, flat tappet cam, for use on a street driven car.
the solid lifter, flat tappet cam has potentially a faster acceleration than a similar hydraulic flat tappet cam.
with the same duration, and certainly adds considerably to upper rpm valve train control stability.
now obviously other factors need to be taken into consideration, and parts used like higher ratio roller rockers,
and a well designed solid lifter flat tappet cam, in the older muscle car engines, solid lifters tend to work well at rpms that cause hydraulic flat tappet cams to float valves,
I know from rather extensive experience, that if you build something
like a 350-383 or a big block 396-427.

IT can be built so that it potentially produces very respectable power.
yes you'll need to learn how to adjust a valve train,
yes it clicks like a sewing machine, but it WORKS!

you need a high compression engine (maybe 11:1-12.5:1 )
built to take advantage of high flow heads, moderate port size heads,
like the 180cc sbc aftermarket AFR or the 270cc-280CC oval port BBC HEADS, AFR, BRODIX, TRICK FLOW
and generally a rear gear ratio near 4.11:1 and a manual trans,or a 3000 rpm stall converter in something like a camaro or nova,
if you select a cam lobe profile that has decent duration and lift at fairly low lift and duration, for the application, where the goal is to boost torque in the 2500rpm-about 6500 rpm power band, the increased valve train stability the flat tappet solid lifter valve train has ,has benefits.
modern roller cams generally do produce better peak power but the cost of the roller lifter cam components
will be significantly higher maybe $500 plus
the hydraulic roller cam might make a bit more peak power,
but the flat tappet solid will usually produce a noticeable boost in torque:like:
over the flat tappet
hydraulic cam,:facepalm:
with similar duration and lift in my experience.

Last edited:
I know a very good enginebuilder, he's built thousands in his life ,
He hates anything hydraulic!