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Here's the thing: rockers are all over the map. Some guys have measured generic eBay "1.25" rockers and found them to lift almost 1.4:1. I bought a set of CB's "1.4" rockers that measured out at 1.47:1.

The stock VW cam is split lift and duration (the intake is different than the exhaust). The specs I'm finding claim a stock cam lifts .297 on the intake at the cam.

If Kaddie Shack's "1.4" rockers really did lift 1.4:1, they'd be bumping the intake valve .4158", which seems to be in the range for single valve-springs. If they measure out to 1.47:1 (like mine do), they'd lift the valve .4366".

The stock cam's duration is 224*/228* and 210*/215* at .050" (intake/exhaust), which is very, very mild.

It's an interesting question. According to a cylinder head chart over on TheSamba, a VW 043 dual-port cylinder head flows 109 cfm at .400" lift and 117 cfm at .500" lift. According to the Wallace Racing cfm/hp calculator, the stock heads should support 109 hp at .400" of lift. This is clearly poppycock, but it makes me tend to believe @ALB's link.

I'd use 1.4s with a stock cam and heads. What's the worst thing that can happen? Broken valvesprings are cheap and pretty easy to change.

@R Thorpe posted:


For me part of the fun getting a VW powered car is the very inexpensive parts and interesting upgrades that one can do in ones garage. As soon as my car is out of warranty I plan on having some cheap fun. Cheers.


Sure thing, Rich. Have you looked at the Weddle Industries webpage lately?  

FWIW, I got a rebuilt trans for my Manx from a place in Vegas for $600+exchange in ~2003. The same price as the 1-2 shaft I wanted for a custom gear ratio.

Regarding cost-- before I bought my first speedster, I bought a "Hot VWs" magazine and thumbed through the ads, thinking I'd found the perfect hobby for a cost conscious and sensible gearhead.

The parts that get you to 80 hp are ridiculously cheap... but they are gateway drugs-- because really, how can a God-fearing car guy not feel like a wannabe-weenie when he's piloting a plastic clown-car with an 80 hp roto-tiller engine that says, "SPEEDSTER" right there on the side of it? It feels ridiculous.

That's the point where the whole thing starts unraveling. "More" is revealed to be more. 80 hp becomes 100. 100 becomes 130, and after 130 or so, each and every pony comes at about a $50 premium. After 150 hp, that $50 becomes $100, and after 180, the bell curve goes straight up. You stop talking about how cheap these cars are when you realize that the guy with the '69 Camaro with the LS crate-motor spent a quarter the money for 4x the power.

But you are in too deep now to climb back out. Money gets shoveled into the boilers of progress. Receipts are hidden from less understanding spouses. Accurate accounting becomes irritating. Parts are acquired, installed, and discarded without fanfare. That friendly 1776 grows into a serious 2110 before it becomes a barely-idling 2387 with a dry-sump and 1-3/4" headers. Your browser history contains searches for "Type 1 nitrous oxide systems" and "heat management in turbocharged air-cooled engines" (if you forget to clear your cookies).

You talk your car down at cars and coffee or down at the gas station to avoid having to say out loud what all this stuff costs. If you say it-- it becomes real money, and not the Monopoly money you've been spending. You burn precious vacation time driving across several time-zones to get together with people who don't need to have the entire thing explained to them. You enjoy their company, much in the way junkies tend to congregate at crackhouses. Since you are out there anyhow, you look at their cars. You can talk freely about crank-fired this and billet-milled that. You make the mistake of driving somebody's Raby T4 car and think, "I don't know-- $35K isn't so much for an engine, is it?" You drive back home wondering how to install a lift in the garage.

You delay retirement so you can keep going. You get beat off a light by some kid in a 5.0 Mustang, and you seethe. You get on Pat Downs' waiting list. You call Carey Hines while your wife is at book club and ask him to quote a coupe (you know, for a second car). Dean Polopolus' 911/4 is something you know the cost of. You go to the JP Motorsports page and think about a Type 1 with 4" cylinders.

Yeah. It's a cheap hobby

in the beginning.  

Agree that using 1:25 rockers alone will not show a big difference, combined with  decent carbs, exhaust, distributor / ignition.. having those items set up properly will get you some noticeable performance.

I'm just saying, Alan, that IF you're going to go to the expense of adding ratio rocker arms to a stock cammed engine, you'll get better bang for your buck with the 1.4's. You probably wouldn't feel much of a difference using the 1.25's

@dlearl476 posted:

I figure I've spent around $1K at the Ace Hardware by my storage unit/shop in the last three years on nothing but SS hardware and drills/taps/dies.

I am glad that I am not alone with hardware purchases, even with drawers of garage stock hardware at least twice weekly I do a "Meet & Greet" with the employees at the local ACE Hardware. A full speedster build I budget $400 for misc. caulk, hardware etc. and run through that like a summer's night beer inventory.

To expand on @Stan Galat's scholarly details regarding valve lift, rocker arm ratio consistency and horsepower potential, consider the results recounted here with the ne plus ultra 4-cam engines.

My initial reaction was stunned wonderment: If you take an original, quarter-million-dollar 547/1 4-cam engine, hire the foremost expert available and have him punch it out to 1792ccs, increase the compression ratio to 10.4-1, install custom Nikasil cylinders, Dilivar head studs, custom rods, lightweight wrist pins and ultra-thin rings, special valve guides, custom valves, 911 valve springs with titanium retainers, a lightened flywheel and a full dual electronic MSD box with computer-adjusted spark table . . .

you'll get almost as much power as a Standard-issue CB Performance 1915cc Type1.

But then with the header it's almost as good as a 2110!

My second thought was stunned wonderment at the original "One Dot" 1500 Spyder cam, which reportedly provided 10mm lift at the valve.

AKA .393 valve lift.

—In an engine that reportedly produced 110hp at 6200 RPM and routinely exceeded 7500 RPM on the track.

By comparison, the Engle W125 cam in my 1914 engine reportedly makes (with 1.1 ratio rockers) .460 valve lift and 262 degrees duration which, combined with big-valve heads, dual springs, big Webers and a bunch of other cool stuff results in 120 peak HP at 5500 and about the same torque at 4000.

What might cam specs like that do to a 4-cam? Would it rev to 12,000? Make 170hp out of 1600ccs? Blow up?

I guess my point is, if you really have a stock cam in your engine (and I'd make very sure I did know what the cam's specs were before proceeding), ratio rockers are an excellent way to start to wake it up. But as @ALB advises, you also will need to upgrade your intake and exhaust to make use of it.

Last edited by edsnova

I was asking about a VW 1500 I’ve had in storage for years out of a fabled 67 the one with the hump. I wanted to get it going as a mild build, no case separating I recently saw vids on high lift rockers.  The car I’m expecting soon has a wonderful fully realized engine built by one of the best builders  there is but for contractual reasons I do not know who it is specifically. I know it’s a crazy wold. Cheers to all, I love where these posts go, you never know but they are always open and informative.

@R Thorpe posted:

I was asking about a VW 1500 I’ve had in storage for years out of a fabled 67 the one with the hump. I wanted to get it going as a mild build, no case separating I recently saw vids on high lift rockers.  The car I’m expecting soon has a wonderful fully realized engine built by one of the best builders  there is but for contractual reasons I do not know who it is specifically. I know it’s a crazy wold. Cheers to all, I love where these posts go, you never know but they are always open and informative.

You have a single port 1500, bone stock? Leave it alone. That thing is as reliable as a boat anchor.

Ed, my Webcam 86B and Pauter 1.5 rockers net me 0.575" lift at the valve. And mind you, I've spent a lot more than the initial motor purchase, what with the top-end rebuild(head rework, new pistons, cylinders, and Total Seal #2 ring) after 40K,  the dry sump installation, crank-fire ignition, etc.

But what really kills me is all those 547 motors make less power and torque than mine, but at higher rpm(because 4-cams have no torque). And you know they all cost BUCKETS of money to build. So even with the 10K(plus or minus 1k) I've spent, I don't even want to know what 547s cost to hop up.

Last edited by DannyP


A little off topic, but maybe not.

Here's some driving video of the fabled four-cam motor that Ed mentions - here in a 356 Carrera GS. Yeah, it's got more poke than a barnyard 356, but power and torque seem about the same as my mild two-liter (which has an Engle 120 and 1:1 rockers, BTW).

The difference is that the power in the four-cam doesn't come on until about 4000, and it looks like you need to shift at 4500 to keep it on a boil. And at 70 mph, it's turning 4200 !

We've made some progress since then.


@Stan Galat, in your post above, you left out adding the Rancho tranny, Upgraded exhaust,   4 wheel disc breaks.  You, Sir, have been a profesor to me (and maybe others) on the cost of searching for that perfect “clown car.”

Although Mr Drewek’s build with the Raby T4 was a great example of fun vs cost. Driving it quickly got one to forget the cost involved.  

I look forward to more lessons from you as you continue your future project (s).

Tom L

I have had the more engine vs 5 speed transmission debate a few times. Anthony's position is dollar for dollar the smiles per miles are greater with a 5 speed. It is an interesting conversation because the 5 speed is as expensive as a decent high output motor. In my dreams I want both of course. For the time being restoring a classic sailboat is sucking up most of my funds and time. If any of you have an interest here is a link to boats website. It is a very interesting story and the boat has a similar following of fanatics like our little cars.

Same thing for BeetleCat boats or Cape Dory boats and on and on - Seems like every decent boat has a "group"!  

My 18' BeetleCat was all wood and a classic but I would never buy another wooden boat.  The cost of the Speedster build was refreshingly cheap after that.  My last boat was an 18' fiberglass Catboat made by Stur-D Boat Company in RI and had an extended Cuddy cabin.  It was an absolute dream to solo or crew sail, with an exaggerated prow for the chop along the SE New England coast.  Would have been a great boat to keep, but we're currently 1-1/2 hours from the coast.  It's now sailing up on Lake Champlain.  

Had a Morgan 27, Catalina 30, center console with a T-top. All fun but you never use it as much as you think you will. Used to sit on the mooring for weeks without seeing it. Gulls got more use out of it than I did. Not worth it unless you're retired or something. Add in the short seasons of New England? You sit there every September wondering where the summer went.

Used to have to clean the bottom off you boat (in the boatyard) by Thanksgiving or pay $4 /foot. One year I didn't make it so the boatyard guy did it. I sent him an email "Thanks you Mr. Davenport for cleaning my bottom. The check is in the mail." Problem was, I had the email wrong. Guy called me a "Freak" and told me if I ever contacted him again he'd call the police.

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