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To put things in perspective, .0015? isequal to 32 micron. These particles are small enough to get into that space justahead of the cam lobe and lifter contact area. Small particles can get in betweenthe roller and the axle on a roller lifter. Even worse, hard particles canscore the bore of the plunger in hydraulic lifters, and this can causehydraulic lifters to bleed down. This leads to lifter “rattle” on start up.

In any case, the cams and followers(both flat tappet and roller) need to be properly cleaned and lubricated priorto installation and break-in.

Here are a few practical steps can youtake during the assembly and initial break-in of an engine to rid yourself ofthese unseen assassins.

1-  Wash off the cosmoline coating that ison the parts just prior to installation. Afoaming degreaser is recommended to really lift the greasy film from the part.That film seals out moisture and keeps it from reaching the surface of thepart, but it also traps fine particulate. You don’t want an abrasive slurryworking on your flat tappet lifters, so make sure the metal surfaces have beendegreased before you apply the break-in lubricant.

2-  Apply a high zinc break-in oil beforeassembly. Break-in oil is like primer for yourengine. The Break-In oil establishes an anti-wear film in your engine, and thatis the foundation for lasting protection. After cleaning the camshaft, dip thecamshaft in the break-in oil. Next, clean the lifters, and dip them in thebreak-in oil. For hydraulic lifters, allow them to soak for several hours ontheir side with the oil hole pointed up.

For flat-tappet lifters, apply engineassembly grease to the foot of the lifter prior to installation. It is betterto get an extra coat of primer, than to leave a few spots thin.

3– Use a finer micron filter during break-in. Aproduction car filter will have a finer micron rating than a racing filter willhave. For example, a WIX 51061 small block Chevy filter has a nominal micron of21 with a GPM flow rate of 11. A WIX 51061R racing filter has a flow rate of 28GPM and a nominal micron of 61. WIX even offers a specific break-in filter fordry-sump systems.

4– Prime the pump before firing the engine.It is critical to have a supply of oil to the cam and lifters at initialstart-up, so the oil system must be primed to avoid a dry start.

5– Do not idle the engine. Uponstart-up, bring the engine up to 2,500 RPM. Vary the speed of the engine by afew hundred RPM for 20 to 30 minutes.

6– After the initial 30 minute break-in, change the oil filter.Now you have removed all the larger particles that could cause problems. Nowyou need the high flow rate filter when you start making dyno runs or go to therace track.

The tighter the micron, typically theless flow you have. Ideally, you want a micron tight enough to filter outclearance sized particles and a flow rate high enough to supply the requiredvolume of oil to your engine.

7– Change the oil. Most of the wear metalsthat will be created in an engine’s life will occur during the first 1 hour ofoperation. While everyone hates to throw away something that looks perfectlygood, it is cheap insurance to change the oil after the initial break-in. Again,high quality break-in oil is like primer for your engine. It establishes theanti-wear film in your engine, and that is the foundation for lastingprotection.

Thisis especially true for a hydraulic lifter engine. Any particle that getstrapped in the lifter can cause the lifter to bleed down and make noise. Thebest plan of action is to a high quality break-in oil to reduce the amount ofparticulate created during break-in, and then change the oil and filter afterinitial break-in. Continue to use a high quality break-in oil during dyno runs,the first weekend at the track, or for the first 500 miles in a street car.After that, change to a high quality oil designed for that application andfollow normal change intervals.

Keeping clean, high quality oil in theengine is insurance against lubrication related problems – because what youcan’t see, can hurt you.

Do you have what it takes to be thePerformance Engine Builder of the Year? Engine Builder magazine and DrivenRacing Oil are looking for the best example of performance engine buildingexcellence. Engine builders of all sizes and types are eligible – andencouraged – to enter the Performance Engine Builder of the Year contest.

The Performance Engine Builder of theYear Award will showcase the best example of creativity and innovation,training and education, merchandising and promotion, professional standards andconduct, appearance, solid business management, community involvement, businessgrowth, achievement and victories. The winner will be announced at a specialceremony at this year’s International Motorsports Industry Show inIndianapolis, December 6-8.

Engine builders can nominate their ownbusinesses, or others can nominate performance engine building businesses. Theentry process is a simple online procedure: when you make the nomination at, you just need to provide some basic informationabout the engine builder being nominated and write a short (300-word maximum)essay explaining why that operation should be considered. From there, allentrants will be reviewed and a group of semi-finalists selected. Thosesemi-finalists will be asked to provide additional information for judging.”

A panel of judges, including Drivenrepresentatives, IMIS Officials and Show representatives and the Engine Builderstaff, will then select the three finalists and, ultimately, the PerformanceEngine Builder of the Year Award winner.

The shop judged as the PerformanceEngine Builder of the Year will receive the Performance Engine Builder of theYear Award trophy, a check for $1,500, an Apple iPad, a trip for two (twonights lodging at the Indianapolis Hyatt) to the upcoming IMIS in Indianapolis,IN, and a feature story on their business in the January 2013 issue of EngineBuilder’s High Performance Buyers Guide, as well as other prizes from sponsors.

Second- and third-place finalists willalso be awarded.

Nominations will be accepted throughSeptember 30, 2012. More information, complete contest rules and the nominationform are available at

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