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overhead cam vs pushrod engine Post Review

Personally, I'm pleasantly surprised that it could fit an LS V8 in there without tipping over

It's an aluminium block engine. And the reason they have tiny dimensions vs swept volume is because they don't have overhead cams like normal V8s. Pushrod engine like that is just a smidge bigger than a 2L with DOHC. That's why LS engines fit in 200SX and RX7 bays amongst others

overhead cam vs pushrod engine Q&A Review

Why does Corvette still use pushrods?

They hit a crossroad and decided to see how far the pushrod engine could take them. There ,is, a Corvette powered by an OHC engine, and it wasn’t even manufactured by GM! This is the LT5, designed by Lotus (at the time a recent acquisition of GM) and built by MerCruiser (Mercury Marine) in Stillwater, OK. Part of the consideration for developing a sports car is a target horsepower number. In the most general sense, to hit that number takes a bigger “pushrod” or overhead valve (OHV) engine verses an overhead cam (OHC) engine. While both generic hypothetical engines make the same horsepower (HP) they will not make the same amount of torque (I’ll use TQ, though technically it’s pound feet of torque or lb-ft tq). This is because DOHC engines can achieve higher RPM, so OHV engines need more displacement for the same HP numbers and thus each engine will have distinct characteristics. This difference isn’t as pronounced today with VVT, direct injection and sophisticated computer controls that allow manufacturers to manipulate the power curve. The perception is also based on the optimal volumetric efficiency at a given RPM. This allows a big OHV engine to still get decent gas mileage. The DOHC LT5 powered the C4 ZR-1 making 405 HP/385 TQ in 1995 and was the first aluminum small block engine in a Corvette. ,Per this source ,as Chevrolet prepared to develop the C5 (1997–2004) there was furious debate over DOHC vs OHV. They conducted a blind test drive pitting the LT5 against an LT4 (the upgraded LT1 rated at 330 HP/340 TQ but believed to be 350 HP/380 TQ) and found that everyone preferred the low end grunt offered by the OHV to the peaky OHC that execs said had to be “wound up”. This is part perception and certainly part bias based on 90’s technology. The fact that the LT5 was ,not, developed in house and Corvettes had always had pushrod engines certainly didn’t help the DOHC mill despite a 475 HP version in development. The LT5 was a fabulous engine and directly influenced Cadillac’s Northstar engine series, but just under 7,000 ZR-1s were produced and despite setting a long list of impressive world records Chevrolet decided to stick with pushrods. The ZR-1’s LT5 wasn’t matched until the LS6 in the C5 Z06. I’ve owned both and refuse to pick one over the other. Pushrod engines are capable of amazing feats and have put a car in a tuxedo print T-shirt in rare company. Compare these two cars: 2020 Corvette Z51 6.2L OHV V8 RWD 8 speed transmission 495 HP/470 TQ/3647 lbs Nurburgring 7:29:90 2020 Audi R8 Performance 5.2L DOHC V10 AWD 7 speed transmission 612 HP/428 TQ/3638 lbs Nurburgring 7:32:00 Weights about the same, the Corvette does have an extra gear but the Audi has a BIG horsepower advantage and the added traction of AWD, yet it is just over two seconds ,slower, around the gold standard of the Nurburgring. The R8 is faster at other venues where it’s top speed is allowed to shine, but you have to respect the vette. An even closer comparison is pitting the Camaro with its OHV Corvette derived power plant to the DOHC Mustang. They have similar horsepower numbers, similar gas mileage, and similar performance despite the 1.2L difference in their displacement. They differ in character and feel. A drag race will see a Camaro jump ahead and a Mustang nearly catch it on the other end of a 1/4 mile. Which one is better is really just a matter of opinion. 2018 Camaro SS vs 2018 Mustang GT 6.2L OHV V8. . . . . .5.0L DOHC V8 455 HP/455 TQ. . . .460 HP/420 TQ 0–60 4.1 sec. . . . . .0–60 4.4 sec 1/4 mile 12.5 sec. . .1/4 mile 12.6 sec 16/25 MPG. . . . . . .15/25 MPG There’s nothing ,wrong, with an OHV engine. They have a lower center of gravity, are physically smaller, and easily lend themselves to modification. The aluminum block LT5 was actually noticeably heavier than an iron block LT4. It’s also too wide and too tall to fit into a C5 Corvette that was lovingly molded around the LS1. It reduces the development cost for Corvette engines as the pushrod architecture is shared with their trucks. Chevrolet engineers estimate just the reduced material cost saves them about $400 per engine compared to a DOHC engine. All of Dodge’s HEMI engines are OHV. Ford paid the price of converting most (or all?) of their engine offerings to OHC in the 90’s. Their big trucks performed moderately well with an OHC 6.8L V10 and a bit better with an OHC 6.2L V8. Know what they just release? An OHV 7.3L V8 called Godzilla. Sometimes it’s the right tool for the job. I’ll add a caveat - moving forward I would almost be surprised if Team Corvette decides to use OHV for their top tier offerings. Cadillac desperately wants to protect its Blackwing engine, but with at least the stated goal of making its line all electric it isn’t likely GM will forget what they spent on developing a brand new DOHC twin turbo V8 when considering the performance models of the C8. As they get closer and closer to debut it seems that hunch is all but confirmed, with the Z06 projected to be powered by something akin to the C8.R 5.5L DOHC engine derived from the Blackwing and a twin turbo version rumored for the ZR1/Zora. Edit - I love cars, especially Corvettes and actively seek more information. If you think something I’ve presented is wrong I’m glad to talk to you in the comments, ,however, you are expected to BNBR. I’ll gladly make updates with corrected information if you can provide a reputable source. Case in point - I fat-fingered Godzilla’s displacement. Oops, good catch Roy. Unnecessary clarification - overhead cam is a form of overhead valve. They’re in a separate category from ,flathead, engines. Colloquially OHV is specifically referencing pushrod and not overhead cam - see ,here,, ,here,, and ,here, and every Corvette book I own. Did you know that turbochargers were originally called turbosuperchargers? Same deal. Technically turbochargers are superchargers but nobody uses the words like that. As with all things automotive your mileage may vary.

Why do big American V8s still not use overhead cams?

You will have heard in all your answers: because you do not need overhead cams. To much space on top of the heads, too complex, only better for high revs, and push rods can rev now to 9000 as well. Pushrod vs. Overhead cam engines People who favor push rods probably also favour “live axles” in the back, or spring leaf suspensions. If you want an engine with good economy, forget your push rods, they are obsolete technology. OHC allow for better arrangements of valves, and for more valves, allowing better gas flow in your cylinder. They fill more efficient, mix more efficient burn/explode more efficient and empty more efficient. This allows smaller engines with the same power output, compared to push rods, or a lot more power if you want it. Smaller engines means overall less compression to overcome, less friction and more efficiency. Old push rods are also not very precise with the timing, but modern materials can help here (a long rod will always expand and shrink a lot with changing engine temperature). Modern OHC engines are also produce less mechanical noise and emissions can be better controlled. They can have high torque throughout a wide power band, using more devils work like variable valve timing. If you want an old gas guzzler, with lots of torque low down and no fun up top, and do not want to/need to keep any low emissions, sure take the old technology, why not? It will never be the top performer, but it may not have to be.

Why don't modern overhead camshafts wear out quickly? There is sliding friction on the valve lifters, isn't there? With pushrod engines of the past, the camshaft lobe rotated the valve lifter which created rolling friction and less wear.

If you are referring to roller lifters in pushrod engines vs standard slipper followers in OHC engines, then you MIGHT (but not necessarily) get less wear with roller lifters in pushrod engines. But even here, things are iffy. Pushrod engines have a few issues when it comes to valvetrain wear. First of all, cams must accelerate a lifter and pushrod in addition to opening a valve and rocking a rocker when valves are opened. They must also overcome the force of a MUCH heavier spring (compared to OHC engines). This heavy spring is necessary to close the large, heavy valve used in a pushrod engine (which is necessary because there is usually only a single intake and exhaust valve). A heavy spring is also necessary to push the pushrod and lifter back against the cam in order to follow it and prevent valve float. And finally, since a pushrod engine breathes less well due to compromised intake porting (due to the fact that this space in the casting competes for real estate with pushrod wells) and only two valves, a more radical cam profile is required. OHC engines, by comparison, use smaller valves (at least if there are four per cylinder), fewer components, and, therefore, lighter springs. And since intake porting isn’t compromised, they make better power with milder cams. This leads to less valvetrain wear, even with slipper followers rather than roller followers. In other words, pushrod engines NEED roller followers just to keep wear at bay while being able to make decent power. On the other hand, many modern OHC engines actually DO use roller followers. A couple of examples are the Honda K-series engine and Ford Coyote. But many more manufacturers have gone with roller followers on OHC engines in recent years in order to both reduce wear and increase engine efficiency.

How reliable are air cooled push rod engines? What are the advantages or running push rods vs overhead cams?

Water cooled pushrod engines are more reliable than an air cooled pushrod engine because the air cooled engines have a tendency to overheat on a hot day & they also have a tendency to use more oil. There's no real advantage with pushrod engines only that the more modern overhead cam engined cars use cam phasors which is more moving parts which can possibly fail,maybe the only advantage is that the pushrod engines may be cheaper to mass produce. The more modern pushrod engines have been improved with the implementation of roller hydraulic lifters & roller valve rockers which reduces friction in the valve train !

What are difference between Ford and GM?

Primary differences: Lots of GM cars are designed with the Chinese and Korean markets in mind. Most Fords are built mostly with the US and European markets in mind. Ford is much smaller in Asia then GM. GM still uses pushrod engines in many truck and muscle car applications. Ford hasn’t used a pushrod engine since 2004 and stopped using them on their top truck engines even earlier than that. Ford is in fact the only US brand to only use overhead cam engines in their light trucks. Ford cars tend to have a stiffer suspension and better road feel than comparable GM cars (ie Focus vs. Cruze). Luxury cars are important to GM and they spend a fair amount on R&D specifically for Cadillac. Lincoln is sort of an afterthought to Ford.

Why don't pushrod engines have high redlines?

The horsepower curve on pushrod engines rarely exceed 6000 rpms compared to overhead camshaft engines because the valve train is too heavy compared to overhead cam engines. When you add the weight of the pushrods, the larger lifters, rocker arms vs a simple camshaft rotating on adjustable shims or a light roller rocker arm with little hydraulic adjusters the added inertial weight will limit engine rpm. That is why overhead cam engines are used in sport vehicles. In racing, when typical rpm can exceed 9000 rpm as peak horsepower is directly related to rpm.. On the other hand pushrod engines usually have higher useable torque, that is why most trucks still use pushrod engines, especially when both engines type of engines are not force fed - Turbo charged or Super charged.

What advantages do double overhead cam shaft or DOHC engines have over SOHC and OHC engines?

What is the value of dual overhead cams? It is much easier to use 4 or more valves per cylinder, which allows greatly increased flow rates of air and exhaust. This improves volumetric efficiency of the engine and allows it to have much more power. Modern engines use variable valve timing (VVT) which optimizes the timing of valve openings and closings independently, relative to the crankshaft position, to generate higher and wider torque and power curves vs. RPM. Since one cam operates the intake valves and the other the exhaust valves, the VVT can independently optimize each valve set for optimal flow rates of cold intake air at low pressure, and hot exhaust gasses at high pressures as the engine speeds up and increases load. This further improves the engine performance and efficiency. VVT creates the magic of having very high and wide torque and power outputs for naturally aspirated engines, while allowing a glassy smooth idles like your grandmother’s car. Women really like this, and men like the torque curve for off the line performance. For turbo or supercharged engines, the on board can better optimize many aspects of the engine and its boost system using VVT technology. Before VVT engines were made, cars and trucks that used the same engine were actually set up differently. With single cam pushrod engines or single overhead cam engines, cars were set up with cams that produced extra high torque at lower speeds for better hauling and pulling heavy loads at low speeds. On the other hand, Car engines were set up to produce smooth idling and better, more efficient performance at high speeds.

Why do pushrod engines have to be so much bigger than a DOHC to make similar power (for instance the DOHC Ford 5.0 vs Pushrod 6.2 Chevy vs Pushrod 6.4 Mopar)?

The extra mass that goes with pushrods and rocker arms slows down the potential action of the valves. An overhead cam can be right above the tips of the valves, and activate them. That doesn’t mean an overhead cam is always better. For a truck, low end torque is more important than peak horsepower. A pushrod engine can handle a big load just fine. Pushrods are pretty much a known quantity, and they have been developed far beyond what most would expect they are capable of. They still have their place in this world.

Why do some exhaust systems have a deep burble noise while others have a sharp and more mechanical sound (ex: Corvette ZO6 vs. Ford Mustang)?

The exhaust note on those exact cars have to do with the engine rather than the exhaust, which is likely similar stock anyway. Corvettes use an LS engine, which is a large displacement pushrod engine. It has a rougher and deeper idle because of this. A mustang has a smaller (although still reasonable) displacement and has dual overhead cams with direct fuel injection. These advancements are more modern and allow it to rev faster and smoother. This sounds sharp compared to the corvette’s rumble. It also extracts similar power and torque from a smaller displacement.

Why does Dodge and Chevy need such high displacement V8 engines to keep up with the much smaller Ford V8s?

The primary reason American manufacturers used large displacement V-8 engines was to have high torque at lower RPM, which is where the engine was operated most of the time. The overhead valve (OHV) V-8 is smaller in size and has better low RPM torque vs an equal sized double overhead cam (DOHC) V-8 design. DOHC engines excel in high RPM horsepower due to more efficient airflow at those RPM. The reason for the difference in V-8 engine design is Ford abandoned its large displacement OHV push rod V-8 engines in favor of single and double overhead cam Modular V-8 engines to meet the tougher emission requirements in the 1990’s. Until then Ford had both small block and large block big displacement OHV V-8 just like the other two American manufacturers. Some notable OHV Ford V-8 were the 351 (5.8 L) and 460 (7.5 L) engines. Dodge (Chrysler) and Chevy (GM) instead choose to modernize their V-8 engines by adding coil on spark and cylinder deactivation (displacement on demand) to meet the more stringent emissions requirements. These changes resulted in the LS engine family for GM with displacements of 4.8 L to 7.0 L. Chrysler created the modern third generation Hemi family of engines with displacement of 5.7L to 6.4L. These changes were not to keep up with Ford but to meet the power requirements for their sporty cars and light trucks while still meeting the tougher emissions standards of the 1990’s. These changes were mainly possible due to the advent of more precise computer control of ignition and fuel injection, allowing the larger displacement engines to remain in service while making good top end power and get better fuel efficiency at highway speeds. An additional benefit is the pushrod V-8 is cheaper to build having fewer parts and a less complex overall design. The latest pushrod V-8 have variable displacement, shutting down two or more cylinders during low power cruise. They also have integrated variable valve timing and direct injection to further improve fuel economy and provide more low RPM torque.

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