This is also a good time to determine your correct pushrod length. Using a checking pushrod, mark the top of the valve stem with machinist's dye or a Sharpie and install the pushrod and rocker arm. Cycle the engine over several times by hand until the rocker leaves a mark on the tip of the valve stem.

If the pushrod length is correct, the tip of the rocker arm will travel over the center of the tip. If the mark is too high (closer to the lifter valley), lengthen your pushrod checker and try again. If the mark is too low, try shortening the checker.

After verifying that our cam measured out with the same 104 degree intake centerline that the supplied cam card stated it should have, we moved on to the next step.

Before the build is complete, you should always degree in your camshaft. I own a camshaft degreeing kit that works with the heads on the block, so I'm finally ready for this step. If you can degree your cam without the heads in place you can do this after the timing set is installed. Regardless of when you do this, you will need to pull the stock springs for checking springs so that you can also check the piston-to-valve clearance. One of the easiest ways to do this is with an on-head spring removal tool like this one I got from CV Products. You can also use an air hose adaptor to pressurize the cylinder and help hold the valves shut while you're compressing the springs.

You'll also need a degree wheel and a pointer. These are part of a kit from Powerhouse Products. We don't have space here to go through the complete procedure for degreeing in a cam, but for more information go to and type "Camshaft 101" into the search box.

You need to have lightweight checking springs on both the intake and exhaust valves to check piston-to-valve clearance. Using your degree wheel, set the engine so that the number-one piston is at 10 degrees after TDC, compress the intake valve until it contacts the piston and measure the movement. Do the same thing with the exhaust valve at 10 degrees before TDC. With a solid flat tappet lifter, you should have at least 0.080 clearance on the intake valve and 0.120 on the exhaust or you risk banging valves into the piston tops at high rpm levels.

If everything checks out, you can lock in the timing set. Remove the three bolts holding the cam sprocket to the camshaft and slide a cam button into place. The distributor gear has a tendency to push the cam forward inside the block and a cam button will prevent that.

Next, apply red Loctite to the bolts and thread them back in.