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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - camshaft lubrication

I,m in the process of changing the camshaft on my 73 midget and read that you should use a special lubricant when putting the new one in. the bloke at my local parts shop has never heard of this and says he just covers the new one in oil, any thoughts ? cheers as always Paul.
paul sewell

Hi Paul,

I had a similar problem to you when my local shop had "never heard" of it. The lubricant is a heavy sticky liquid which clings to the camshaft on your first start up, you can get it here:

Its not 100% required but i'd always use it anyway as good practice, indeed, some camshaft manufacturers void their warranties if it wasn't used in the installation.
Jamie Watt

Also instaling new folowers i assume!
Onno Könemann

Check with the camshaft manufacturer.
Sticky lubricant is normal + new cam followers. Then on the first start-up you run it at 2500 rpm for 20 minutes - don't allow it to just tick over. Its a bit scary with a new engine but that is I believe, the correct procedure. Perhaps

Peter Burgess or one of the other engine builders will confirm.

An engine builder I knew sugested I should use Graphogen to lubricate the cam and followers and I used it many times on different engines successfully.

However the man who built the engine for me for Lara (a mate who wanted input on the project and who used to build pretty good racing Mini engines used a 50/50 mix of engine oil and STP

This engine has stood up to many years of use and some abuse, so far very happily.
Bill 1

Correct - about 2500-3000 for the first 30 mins or so.

You don't have to use cam lube - but I always think its a bloody good idea... Millers does a Comp Engine assembly lube which is good stuff.
James Bilsland

I've used Graphogen before now for all the engine components. You can find it on ebay.
Mike Howlett

...I always thought new camshafts came with a packet of cam lube?

The concern with using motor oil in a motor build is how long it sits before it is first run (the thick goo won't drip down into the oil pan as quickly as motor oil will).
Pros probably go from assembly to run-in in a matter of hours / days. Hobbyists might take a month, or more (and so have more need/benefit from the thick assy lube).

Alternatively, you can run up the oil pressure before starting it (spin the starter without spark plugs installed to minimize load on mains/rods, and without the valve rockers to minimize the load on the cam).

Make sure that what oil you use in the sump has enough ZDDP in it, too.

Norm "protect your cam & followers" Kerr
Norm Kerr

A Moly based anti scuffing paste like Graphogen is perfect. Loctite and arp do assembly paste too. ARP is in a handy 1/2oz sachet. The trouble with oily lubes is they seem to be died rear axle thick oil to me.

P Burgess

Hey peter,

An update you really need to be aware of...because you mentioned the ARP moly lube paste

Arp has disconntinued there moly paste lube in favor of some kind of new pig snot lube... needless to say the torque specs are differant for this new lube then what was used under the (old moly lube) you will need to call them for the new specs when using th new lube... because they dont mention this anywhere on there website that I could see and the old torque values are still what is recommened on there website the last time I looked, (which are wrong with the new lube) Im not sure if they plan to update there website anytime soon to reflect the new CORRECT info... its one of those phyic things I think.

anyway something to look into.... the new lube requires more torque of around 5-10 ft lbs then the old moly lube.

WOW.. Imagine that, Me! Giving advice to Peter Burguss... Who saw that comming? HAhahaha


Hi Prop

I have some of the paste in yellow and blue packaging do you reckon it is the same as the red black and white pack? Save me cutting it open when I don't need it yet :) I have also ordered 40 packs of paste and 10 sets B rod bolts. Will check carefully when stock arrives...may have to switch to loctite or Graphogen and use 35 lbs ft ARP setting.

Thanks for your advice consider yourself Consultant Extraordinaire to PB

P Burgess

Consultant Extraordinaire Prop

an accolade

the only (minor) drawback with Graphogen is that it tends to make brand new engine oil look as if it's done several thousand as it stains the oil blackyblack

I still have most of the tube I bought years ago, still slippy as hell and still blackyblack
Bill 1

thanks folks, lots to think about
paul sewell

In the absence of the proper stuff I used low-fling chainsaw chain oil as I had a 40 litre drum of the stuff! Did the job OK for me.

New cam - use cam lube. Time to find a new local parts shop?
Daniel Thirteen-Twelve

The problem I have is an engine build is not a one off for us and is usually out of my control when it is first started and run in, I need 'Belt and Braces' to increase reliability, anything I can do to make the engine bed in better and keep going longer I will do. The record for an engine first fire up from build is five years to date! I will also happily pass on what I learn on these threads.

A series cams are basically splash fed with oil even though good quality billet cams are crossdrilled to feed the lobes.

I use Moly based paste/grease on the cam lobes and followers. My favourite is the ARP assembly paste which is more like a grease ...but now need to check what I get from them incase it has changed!

On the main bearings, big end bearings, timing chain and timing gears I use a white ptfe spray grease which sets fairly nicely and gives a good protective coating.

I use very basic mineral 20/50 oil on the bores, pistons and rings to enhance running in.

Oil seals are fitted with basic grease such as one would use in bearings and King Pins.

I use a very stringy cam lube from Millers for oiling the valves prior to assembly, I reckon it is just chainsaw chain oil in disguise :) Once I run out of the Millers stuff I will use chainsaw chain oil. I may have to come and steal some from you Guy.

P Burgess

Hey Peter

I finally got a few minutes to look at the ARP website, looks like they finally updated it

there new lube thats taking the place of there moly lube is called Arp ultra torque,, a little reading on there site, looks like this might work as a cam lube. But dont take my word blindly

... the machine shop that did my machine work gave me a tube of red slimmy goo.. for the cam, worked for me

anyway here is what ARP website says about there new lube for there hardware

Btw... I might have forgotten, But that little tip about advancing the sw05 camshaft an extra 4 degree with the high lift rockers, was sweet, thank you for that...I can really feel the advantages when getting sucked into the seat at ever stop light...LOL

Prop...Consultant Extraordinaire to PB

HAHAHA... There is something really wrong in the universe

Hi Prop

Is there a move against metals in greases and oils Stateside?

I had a quick Google over health issues with Moly....

Health effects of molybdenum
Based on animal experiments, molybdenum and its compounds are highly toxic. Some evidence of liver dysfunction with hyperbilirubinemia has been reported in workmen chronically exposed in a Soviet Mo-Cu plant. In addition, signs of gout have been found in factory workers and among inhabitants of Mo-rich areas of Armenia. The main features were joint pains in the knees, hands, feet, articular deformities, erythema, and edema of the joint areas

Environmental effects of molybdenum
Molybdenum is essential to all species. As with other trace metals, though, what is essential in tiny amounts can be highly toxic at larger doses. Animal experiment have shown that too much molybdenum causes fetal deformities. Fodder with more than 10 ppm of molybdenum would put most livestock at risk.

Moving on to the benefits of Moly as an essential trace element in body...........Molybdenum deficiency is very rare, and occurs when the body is lacking or cannot break down the mineral molybdenum. This is a mineral that aides in the detoxification of the liver. It also functions as cofactor in many enzymes essential to human body function. The body's molybdenum requirements are relatively low when compared to the other minerals it needs, and molybdenum deficiency does not normally occur in natural settings.

Most cases of molybdenum deficiency occur in those who were born without the enzyme required to break down the mineral, resulting in very rare recessive metabolism disorders. There has only been one well-documented case of acquired molybdenum deficiency. The patient developed rapid heart and respiratory rates, night blindness and eventually became comatose.

NOTE the bit about detoxification of the Liver.....does this mean anyone addicted to Moly paste can drink more and then process it in their liver? mmmmmmmmmmmm beeeeer :)


P Burgess

Hi Prop

My newest box of MGB conrod bolts has the ARP Ultra Torque lubricant just as you said. It still says it has stunning anti-sieze and incredible anti-wear properties so it should be ok for cam lube. It almost says it is the 'Best Thing Since Sliced Bread'.

P Burgess


I think its 2 part... health and economics.

As you mentioned the health issue which here in the USA means Massive trial lawsuits, like tabacoo, lead based paint, and asbestous... I think poisining from metals is the next shoe to fall

The otherside of the equation is economics... Niech industriaes/companys like ARP (automotive racing products) are facing extremely higher commodity prices and have to make big changes or go bust.. the USA can no longer get moly, thus the high price, we dont mine it any longer and china stopped all exports to the usa of Moly 2 months ago...we are on reserves until brazil comes thur

you may have known commoditys are on the rise world wide... thats because USA QE2 is in full effect ... Meaning commodity prices are falsely rising, meaning companys look better then they really are. meaning fake economic comeback.

aka the proof of any real economic rebound is wage inflation not commodity inflation

have you heard that food inflation is on the rise in the middle east... thats because of USA QE2, we are the worlds bread basket.

Thanks Glodman sucks


>>>>It almost says it is the 'Best Thing Since Sliced Bread'.>>>>>>

HAHAHA... they are selling it hard, Like you I got the impression this was the lube that Jesus was going to use during his 2nd comming in order to slip thur the earths atmospher


Aha, consider yourself also appointed World Economics Adviser to PB. I liked your State of the World address...let me know best time to order $40 worth of ARP Paste.

How can I preserve my irritability due to lead poisoning syndrome if I cannot get anything with lead in it or my 'Mad-as-a-Hatter' status if I cannot play with the mercury from thermometers I have broken in the Physics lab?

P Burgess

At the start of this thread Guy suggests it is best to start and run at 2500 rpm for 20 minutes. When i collected my new engine from Peter May he told me not to bother doing that. He even said to use a semi-synthetic oil (Shell Helix) straight away. It seems there are differences of opinion amongst the experts. Mine is a cross drilled billet cam - don't know if that makes a difference.
Chris H (1970 Midget 1275)

Hi Chris

From Piper Cams website;

Do not idle engine during the first twenty minutes of operation; rpm should be kept at 2500 or above. In pushrod engines oil throw-off from the crank may not be sufficient to lubricate the cam followers. Also contact stresses at the nose of the cam are very high at low speed. If adjustments need to be made during the twenty minutes break-in period, shut the engine down. DO NOT IDLE.

From Kent Cams website;

Do not turn the engine over on the starter over for an excessive length of time. Once the engine is running do not allow it to idle for the first twenty minutes, and keep the revs to a minimum of 2000rpm in order to ensure adequate supply of lubrication for both the cam and followers.

Link to crane cams PDF

The idea behind 'posh' oil is to reduce wear and friction. Running in a new engine requires a controlled process of wear to bed the rings to the bores and the followers to the cam, everything else looks after itself more or less. If you have posh oil and thrash the engine underload say 75% peak torque you will bed the engine in. Non additive oils are fine for normal driving to bed the engine in. If the bores do not wear properly to bed the rings (the high points on the bores bend over and form little hooks which hold oil and then burn it as the rings expose it to combustion process) the engine tends to use oil to perfection, you may not see it smoke but it uses oil. Plateau honing can help remove some of the asperities but we have found it can lead to oil burning in some older engine/ring pack combinations.
and we prefer a fairly course cross hatch finish. We always have the bores honed to +0.5 thou over standard sizings. Running in technique will vary from engine builder to engine builder but the basics of bedding in the cam and ensuring the bores work correctly is pretty standard engineering workshop practice.

I hope this helps.

P Burgess

Hi Peter

I don't disagree with you (that's what I always thought the procedure was) I was just puzzled at Peter May's comments.

Chris H (1970 Midget 1275)


Perhaps a serious mis-communiction has taken place.

I have 2 off questions on this topic that Id love to have a little extra insight into...

1. With cams that have the drilled Lobes ... do you break them in the same way and what keeps them from busting... or is that common. it just seems a hole drilled in a cam lobe is about the eqivalent of a hole drilled in the side of a lifter/tappet

2. Dont use hi lift ratio roller/(tipped) rockers for that 1st 20 to 30 minutes of 1st engine start and break in...

I was told this by my machine shop that builds alot of local dirt track Nascar type engines. Because the stress of the high lift is to hard on the lobe tips of the cam...but that tid bit of info is rare to find, is this an inside secret tip, or B.S. It makes sence and I did it with no negitive reprocations... I used the stock rocker assembly then changed it out for the 1.5 ratio roller tiped rocker after the first 30 minute engine start up/break in period


Sounds a good idea Prop, but, I suppose, if the springs are matched to perfection you shouldnt need to run in with standard rockers. We have had no problems running in full race cams which, if you think about it, are the same stress as a mild lift cam with high ratio rockers. I feel maybe your shop does well because it pays attention to detail and wants to makes sure all is ok....good attitude.

I do not know how much oil comes through the lobes on an a series cam. The basic principles of bedding in cams obtain whether you have a Pinto with spray bars etc etc.

P Burgess

Prop, the Crane Cams link you posted above also says to reduce the loading during the initial break in (in their case, they said to remove inner valve springs), I guess for the same reason as your Nascar shop recommended using the standard rockers for the break in.

Sounds like extra work, but also sounds like a prudent thing to do.

The more aggressive the cam, spring forces and the more hi-ratio the rockers, the more this sort of thing would matter, to a successful cam/follower break-in...

Norm Kerr

This thread was discussed between 16/02/2011 and 19/02/2011

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