The Leading Source for VW Performance and OEM Parts

Camshaft Design

The camshaft plays an important role in the SportTuning of your water-cooled VW.  The correct application of camshaft design will ensure a proper balance between drivability and performance.

Race cams normally have rough idling characteristics due to the large overlap required for high rpmAutotech Camshaft Design power.  Street cams generally use a short duration and keep the lobe centers spread apart to prevent too much overlap.  Too much overlap on fuel injected cars equipped with Lambda is especially bad.  This can cause the airflow sensor to buffet up and down, forcing the system to overcompensate in either direction in an attempt to keep the CO in check.

Diagram #1 explains what happens to the fuel mixture when cam overlap causes both intake and exhaust valves to be open at the same time.  Some of the mixture introduced into the combustion chamber is lost out of the tailpipe when the overlap is lengthy.  The loss of partially burnt fuel increases hydrocarbon emissions without generating the low-end power desired for the street.  However, a little overlap can help scavenge the mixture into the combusition chamber on normally aspirated vehicles.  This is where the correct technology plays an important role in today's cam design.

The duration of a cam is measure in degrees of rotation on a circle when the valve is opened off its seat.  An example would be a cam having 225 degrees of duration at .050".  This is a portion of a 360 degree circle when the valve is lifted at least .050 inches off its seat.  The longer the duration, the more chance of the intake and exhaust lobes both being open at the same time (overlap).

Another factor affecting overlap is the distance between adjacent lobe peaks.  This is referred to as a lobe center.  Simply stated, it is the measurement of distance in degrees of rotation from the peak of the intake lobe to the peak of the exhaust lobe.  The closer the lobe centers are to one another, the more overlap.  Fuel injected Volkswagen cams run best on 110 to 115 degree lobe centers.  Racing cams are on the other end of the spectrum and run as close as 102 degree lobe centers, creating very rough idling characteristics.

The base circle of a cam is the diameter of the heel dimension. Base circles on cams may vary depending on certain design features in the cylinder head. Such things as valve stem length, valve seat height (how far down the seats are set in the combustion chamber), grind on the valves and seats, thickness of the lifter/cam follower, location of the bore in the cam towers, and the basic dimensions of the cylinder head casting are all factors. The base circle diameter of a factory solid lifter cam is between 1.496 and 1.500 inches. On the hydraulic lifter cam the base circle is between 1.331 and 1.336 inches. The top of the hydraulic lifter is approximately .0825 inches closer to the cam centerline than the solid lifter.

A smaller base circle can change the valve train dynamics during running. If a cam, such as a regrind, has a reduced base circle, the cam profile becomes more sharply pointed. This can lead to harsh opening and closing of the valve, and may even cause the lifter to skip off the cam surface during high rpm conditions. High wear or harmonic valve spring failure may result from these problems.

A quick and easy way to measure the lift of a short profile cam is to subtract the measurement of the base circle (B) from the measurement of the lobe height (A) using a set of vernier or dial calipers.

An example: (Line A) 1.919"
minus (Line B) 1.496"
Cam Lift =0.423"

Both intake and exhaust profiles should be checked because there may be a difference in the lift and duration of each respective lobe (referred to as an asymmetric cam). This "quick" method of measurement is not always accurate on racing cams. Long durations can cause inaccurate measurements at the narrowest point of lobe. In this case, the only accurate means of measurement is by using a dial indicator and a set of "V" blocks for rotating the cam, or a computerized cam measurement device.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when searching for that "perfect camshaft" is this: Don't be mislead by the numbers! The lift and duration of a camshaft are not the only features that make a cam behave the way it does. Things like ramp profile, lobe center, and nose shape all affect a cam's behavior. It is virtually impossible to determine exactly how a cam will perform, or where it makes power, just by looking at the numbers. Ultimately, all of a camshaft's design aspects play a role in how it will perform.

AUTOTECH SPORT 286 Solid Lifter Cam (MK1 84 & earlier)
The last word in performance solid lifter cams. This cam runs strong after 3000 rpm and peaks at 6800 rpm, netting a 13 horsepower gain. The profile is 11.2mm lift with a 286 degre ... [click for more info] .
Part#: 10-109-01-102
AUTOTECH SPORT 270 Hydro Lifter Cam
What we feel is the finest sport hydraulic lifter camshaft available. Extensive experience with the VW engine design as well as consistent engine dynamometer testing has resulted i ... [click for more info] .
Part#: 10-109-01-109
Ground on Autotech's own, custom manufactured, chill-hardened billets, our Sport 16V camshafts achieve power levels higher than the benchmark Schrick 260 with far better low-end to ... [click for more info] .
Part#: 10-109-418K
AUTOTECH SPORT 260 Hydro Lifter Cam
hydraulic lifter camshaft was originally developed for use in Volkswagen G60 engines. The unique demands of a forced-induction engine require a special cam design to fully optimize ... [click for more info] .
Part#: 10-109-420
AUTOTECH 262 Sport 12V VR6 Camset w/ Alignment Tool
Autotech is pleased to offer 262 cams for the 12V VR6 engine. These are fantastic performing cams, providing fat mid-range power and a strong top end without sacrificing bottom-end ... [click for more info] .
Part#: 10-109-460K
Autotech Sport 195 1.8T 20V Intake Camshaft
After many months of testing Autotech is pleased to introduce the 1.8T intake camshaft. This is an excellent addition to any 1.8T whether it has a software flash or not. Autotech d ... [click for more info] .
Part#: 10-109-480
Part#: 034-109-309AD
Hydraulic Lifter Kit 12V VR6
OEM INA brand. .
Part#: 034-109-309ADK
Part#: 034-109-309A8K
Part#: 034-109-30916K
Timing Belt - ABA Motor
Replacement OEM Timing belt. For ABA Motor. .
Part#: 037-109-119C
20V 1.8T OEM Hydro Lifter Kit (20 pieces)
OEM VW/Audi Hydraulic Lifters - 8 exhaust/12 intake (recommended to be replaced when installing new camshaft(s) on high mileage motors) .
Part#: 058-109-309K
OEM B Update FSI Intake Camshaft (now superceeded to J)
Update your problematic intake camshaft with this B series factory revision. Original Equipment VW/Audi part. .
Part#: 06F-109-101B
Lightweight Hydraulic Lifter Kit 12V VR6
INA brand 1.7oz compared to the 2.3oz standard hydro lifter. .
Part#: 050-109-309ADK
Lightweight Hydraulic Lifter Kit 8V
INA brand 1.7oz compared to the 2.3oz standard hydro lifter. .
Part#: 050-109-309A8K
Lightweight Hydraulic Lifter Kit 16V 1.8L & 2.0L
INA brand 1.7oz compared to the 2.3oz standard hydro lifter. .
Part#: 050-109-30916K
Lightweight Hydraulic Lifter (individual)
INA brand 1.7oz compared to the 2.3oz standard hydro lifter. .
Part#: 050-109-309J