When you are doing an engine swap or planning some upgrades for your GEN III or GEN IV GM engine, the cams are always a good modification. When selecting your performance camshaft, it’s always a good idea to understand what concepts of your engine are going to be changing with the upgrade.
For a guide on how to select the right LS1 camshaft, take a look at our How To pick a LS1 cam guide. If you are performing this job with the engine in the vehicle, make sure you have enough clearance to remove and insert the camshaft correctly.
If you have any questions or doubts about your ability to work on your LS engine, stop now and have a professional install your camshaft. While it’s not a difficult job, it’s certainly one that can cause serious damage to your engine and maybe yourself if not performed correctly.
Our How to Install LS Cams Guide begins with the assumption that you already have the ignition coil packs and harnesses unplugged from your valve covers. Your first order of business will be to remove the valve covers completely and then remove the rockers from the tops of your cylinder heads.
Do not remove the pushrods from the engine, but leave them there for now. Next in our How to Install LS cams article, remove the serpentine belt and the water pump. The crankshaft damper will also need to be removed, because the LS1 crankshaft pulley is interference fit, you will require a pulley gear puller to remove the LS1 crankshaft pulley.
Next you will need to remove the front timing cover of your LS1.
You will need to remove the oil pan to access the oil pan pickup and baffle. Remove the oil pan, windage tray and oil pump pickup tube. Be careful not to lose the oil pump pickup o-ring that’s mounted inside the oil pump orifice. Inspect the oil pump o-ring and replace this unit if you see any damage to the ring or wear.
The part number for this LS1 oil pump o-ring is 12584922. Also check your oil pump pickup tube for any damage and replace if necessary, the GM part number for this unit is 12558251. Unbolt the oil pump and pull it off the front of the engine, and you are now ready to align the crankshaft.
Temporarily reinstall your crankshaft damper bolt into the crank snout and turn the crankshaft to push up on all the engine lifters. Because there’s no rocker arm pressure on the pushrods the lifters will pop into the lifter buckets and stay.
With the timing chain removed rotate the camshaft gear to make sure that the lifters are pushed up and there’s no risk of the lifters falling into the engine. Now remove the three bolts that hold the camshaft gear onto the camshaft. Once this gear is removed you can pull off the gear gently from the camshaft nose.
The next part of our How To Install LS Cams Guide is accessing the camshaft. Remove the camshaft retainer plate that holds the camshaft in the block. Once you have all four bolts removed from the front of the LS1 engine, you can remove the plate.
With the retaining plate removed you can now remove the stock camshaft from the block. Using a GM installer tool or similar camshaft nose guide, pull out the cam. If you don’t have such a tool, you can insert a 8mm x 1.25 bolt into the cam nose and use pliers on the bolt to wiggle it out.
Carefully guide the camshaft out of the engine without nicking or touching the camshaft bearings or scarring them. Damage to the camshaft bearing can compromise your oil pressure and can cause catastrophic damage.
Inspect for any damage or uneven wear and replace the cam bearing if needed. We prefer the Clevite bearing part number 5C1000S, although many complete camshaft bearing sets can be found for a great price. Make sure to align these bearings properly to ensure proper oil pressure in your LS1.
Now take your replacement or new camshaft and clean very carefully, checking for any shipping contaminants or debris. Generously lube with assembly lube or a thicker assembly lube that’s engineered for high pressures. Many new camshafts are sold with prepackaged assembly lube, taking the guesswork out of this part.
Gently and carefully re-insert the camshaft back into the bore and use the bolt trick for the last part of pushing the camshaft into the block if you don’t have the proper tool. Again you do not want to scrape or otherwise damage your cam bearings. When the cam is flush with the face of the block, reinstall the camshaft plate and torque the four bolts to 18 ft lbs. You will want to apply thread locker or a similar heat treated locker for these bolts.
Turn the crankshaft until the zero mark on the crankshaft gear is at the top position. Then rotate the camshaft until the dowel pin is positioned at 3 oclock. You can now install the cam gear and timing chain, making sure to align the timing marks with the camshaft gear zero mark.
Torque the camshaft gear to the camshaft with more thread locker and torque to 25 ft lbs. You can now push down on your pushrods to snap each lifter from the plastic buckets. Because your new cam is installed, some lifters may pop into place, while others may not move much at all.
Reference the LS1 Torque Specifications sheet for more torque values like the water pump and oil pump when putting your LS1 back together. Unless you have flat tappet cams you will not require a camshaft break-in period so long as you have used the proper amount of lube.
That does it for our How to Install LS Cams Guide, please let us know if you have any questions or comments below!
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