Camshaft Bearings Install - Bearing The Load
Installing a Set of Camshaft Bearings
From the September, 2011 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Sean Haggai
Photography by Henry De Los Santos
It’s easy to overlook the detailed process that goes along with building a reliable mill from the ground up. Much of the time the engine shop will handle most, if not all, of the prep work. This would include honing the cylinder bores, decking the surface, align-honing the main caps, and even installing the camshaft bearings. Most reliable machine shops make these otherwise unseen jobs, effortless. Although not everyone has the understanding or tooling to machine a block, installing a set of camshaft bearings can be accomplished with some basic knowledge.
Considering the bearings support the twisting load of the camshaft and act as a protective shell, it’s no wonder more enthusiasts leave this task to a professional builder. Factoring in the bearings’ job, installing a set can seem like a task that only the most experienced can handle. However, we’re here to tell you even the most timid wrenchers can tackle this task with confidence.
With the right information, you don’t have to be a seasoned veteran to learn what’s involved with installing a set of camshaft bearings on your own. In short, once the bearing is lined up in the journal, it’s just a matter of knocking it in. It’s also important to note that nothing stops the bearings from being hammered in too far, or even all the way out the other side. Therefore, frequently checking the position of each bearing will ensure the correct fit.
To get the basics, we headed out to A.R.E. Performance & Machine in Simi Valley, California, to get the lowdown on cam bearing basics. After our freshly machined big-block was cleaned for final assembly, we could begin the quick process of installing the set of camshaft bearings. We began at the back of the block and worked our way forward. Best part, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to handle a set on your own. Although A.R.E. had a camshaft installation tool on hand, most local parts stores offer rental programs. Follow along with our process to make your next install a breeze.
 Installing a set of camshaft...
 Installing a set of camshaft bearings is a simple task. However, it should only be attempted with the correct tooling. Not using specific camshaft bearing install equipment can damage bearings during the process and even set them in the wrong position. For our job, we used a complete camshaft bearing install kit. The kit contains a set of various driving heads, each covering a range of diameters. We picked the head which best matched our bearing diameter.
 It’s important to keep...
 It’s important to keep track of the bearings as they are unpackaged from their wrapping. Bearings are machined to fit specific cam journals and each bearing kit comes with a machining reference spec sheet that you need to adhere to. This sheet lists which order the bearings can be installed into the block.
 With the block flipped...
 With the block flipped upside down, we first slid in the cam bar through the block. Just before it reached the number five cam journal, we dropped in the bearing over the tool. We made sure to line up the oiling hole to match up with the oil galley hole in the block.
 In addition to the cam...
 In addition to the cam bearing, we also placed the plastic cone on the other end of the cam install bar. Once against the block, this cone will center the cam bar and bearing in the journal for a perfect fit.
 Then, using a large mallet,...
 Then, using a large mallet, we hit the end of the bar until the camshaft bearing is fully seated in the cam journal.
 To check our work, we...
 To check our work, we inspected the sides of each bearing and made sure the bearing was fully seated in the journal.
 The bearing is in the...
 The bearing is in the right place when the oil hole in the shell lines up centered with the oil hole in the block. If it has driven in too far, we could knock it back from the other side and try again.
 We used a small shot...
 We used a small shot of compressed air once the bearing was installed in the journal to check the oil galley for obstruction. During the install process, small shavings of bearing material can peel off and clog this galley.
 Next, we followed along...
 Next, we followed along the same process as outlined before. We lined up each bearing onto the tool and hammered it in again. After each install, we checked the bearing for correct oil hole alignment.
 During the install of...
 During the install of each camshaft bearing, we used a small flashlight to help align the bearing in the journal. With the light shining down the oil galley hole, we can assure that the bearing has lined up properly. Any misalignment here could starve the bearing for oil, increase heat, and cause the bearing to fail.
 Once all of the bearings...
 Once all of the bearings are installed, it's a good idea to visually inspect each bearing for damage that may have occured during the process. Finally, we oiled the bearings and installed the camshaft to guarantee a bind-free environment.
A.R.E. Performance & Machine
2243 Agate Court