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QBM Adjustable Camshaft Timing Tool
In a piston engine, a camshaft is a shaft in the engine head which has lobes (cams) on it that operate the valves. The camshaft is driven by the crankshaft, via a belt, chain, or gears at one half the crankshaft speed. As the camshaft turns, the lobes on the camshaft open and close the intake and exhaust valves in time with the motion of the piston, as illustrated here:There is a direct relationship between the timing of the camshaft lobes and the power output and power characteristics of an engine. The shape and size of the camshaft lobes as well as the overall timing of the camshaft (along with other variables) determines the power output of an engine. By adjusting camshaft timing, you can build more low end power for off-the-line acceleration, high end power for acceleration once you’re moving, or fatten the midrange for torque over a wide rpm range.Camshaft timing is fixed on most vehicles and generally cannot be changed without installing an adjustable camshaft pulley, usually available from aftermarket performance companies. Adjustable camshaft pulleys enable owners to match camshaft timing with their vehicle’s tuning state by advancing or retarding the cam profile. Aftermarket performance adjustable camshaft pulleys sell for $250 or more EACH for other makes of vehicles.
A little known secret is that Volvo had the foresight to put adjustable camshaft pulleys on the engine from the factory! The Volvo camshaft pulleys have a generous 15 degree adjustment range, and the camshaft timing can be adjusted to change the power characteristics of the engine. The ability to unlock the potential of their engine has been lurking right under your hood!
The problem is that unlike aftermarket performance adjustable camshaft pulleys, the stock camshaft pulleys have no timing marks other than top dead center (TDC). Volvo mechanics use an expensive and complicated Volvo camshaft tool for making adjustments, but vehicle owners do not have a way to easily adjust their camshafts themselves. Until now.
Quickbrick Motorsports has developed a Camshaft Timing Tool that allows anyone to easily and safely adjust their camshaft timing using the factory adjustable camshaft pulleys. The QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is constructed of high quality materials, and has laser etched timing marks that are precise and easy to read. Simply attach the tool to the stock camshaft, dial the camshaft to the desired setting, and remove the tool!
Camshaft Adjustments Explained
The 2 main concepts to understand when adjusting the camshafts are overlap and advance/retard. These 2 things have an effect on engine power output, driveability, and idle.OVERLAPOverlap is the angle in crankshaft degrees that both the intake and exhaust valves are open at the same time. This occurs at the end of the exhaust stroke and the beginning of the intake stroke.On normally aspirated vehicles overlap allows the rush of exhaust gasses out the exhaust valve to help pull the fresh air/fuel mixture into the combustion chamber through the intake valves. Increased engine speed enhances the effect. Increasing overlap adds top-end power and reduces low-speed power and idle quality. Therefore on normally aspirated vehicles you want to INCREASE camshaft overlap by moving the camshafts TOWARDS one another (retarding the exhaust camshaft and advancing the intake camshaft).
On a turbocharged vehicle you want the least amount of overlap as possible because the turbo forces air into the combustion chamber – overlap is not needed to pull in fresh air like on an NA engine. Excessive overlap on a turbocharged vehicle will actually hurt performance because pressurized air blows right out the exhaust ports. Therefore on turbocharged vehicles you want to DECREASE camshaft overlap by moving the camshafts AWAY from one another (advancing the exhaust camshaft and retarding the intake camshaft).
Advancing or retarding the camshaft moves the engine’s torque band up or down the RPM scale by moving the valve timing events further ahead or behind the movement of the piston.
In general, advancing the camshafts improves low-end power and response. Likewise, retarding the camshafts generally improves top-end power and response. Not all engines are the same however. You should experiment with advancing or retarding to see what works best for your particular setup.
Begins intake event sooner
Opens intake valve sooner
Builds more low-end torque
Decreases piston-to-intake-valve clearance
Increases piston-to-exhaust-valve clearance
Delays intake event
Opens intake valve later
Builds more high-end power
Increases piston-to-intake-valve clearance
Decreases piston-to-exhaust-valve clearance
What you can expect
It is important to understand that changes in camshaft timing basically shift the engine’s powerband. Changing the camshaft timing does not just move the whole power curve up or down X HP. You will however see noticeable areas of gains in portions of the powerband (low end, midrange, and/or top end).How much gains are possible? On our 100% stock turbo model we were able to realize dyno proven gains of up to 30 whp and 40 ft-lbs of torque! This should give you an idea as to the potential camshaft timing will provide. While our bone stock turbo model gained 20-30 whp, it does not mean every engine will. Some setups may make less, some may make more.Non-turbo models can benefit from camshaft timing adjustments too. While the normal aspirated engines do not have the potential to make the huge gains the turbo engines do, gains of up to 6 whp have been experienced.Engines are very sensitive to camshaft timing changes. When adjusting camshaft timing it is common to see large gains in one area of the power curve, but loses in others. The goal is to adjust timing such that the total gains exceed any losses, and you end up with overall net power gains.
How to use the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool
Adjusting the camshafts using the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool couldn’t be easier:
With the vehicle turned off remove the plastic timing cover (held on by 1 bolt).
Remove 3 bolts holding the camshaft to the camshaft pulley.
Attach the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool and reinsert the bolts.
Adjust the camshaft using the easy to read timing marks.
Remove the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool, replace the bolts and timing cover.
That’s all there is to it!
So what area of the powerband is the best to concentrate on – low end or top end? Since our turbo model was stock, it still had the restrictive stock downpipe and exhaust. The stock turbocharger does not breathe well at high rpms either. It would have been fruitless to try and gain top end power when there is so much backpressure present to begin with. We therefore chose to concentrate on low-end power gains at the expense of losing some top end horsepower. The difference was amazing. The car was transformed from a peppy family car to an exhilarating and fun to drive rocket. The car powers through turns like never before and off the line acceleration increased tremendously.
When adjusting your camshaft you may find that some camshaft timing settings provide gains with little/no losses, while other settings will provide losses with little/no gains. Most camshaft timing settings will provide some of both. The key is to try multiple combinations until the desired results are achieved. It does not take much of a change in camshaft timing to see results. A 0.5 degree change can make the difference between making 10 HP and losing 10 HP. This is why an accurate way to measure camshaft timing is essential. Without it, there is no way to know what timing a camshaft it set to.
To realize the maximum benefits from adjusting the camshaft timing, It is important to have a way to measure the results. A dyno is the easiest, fastest, and safest way to find the optimal camshaft timing for your vehicle. However, other methods can be used – a G-Tech or similar meter, drag racing, and even some OBD-II scanners/dataloggers have built in dyno functions. Detailed installation instructions are included that even list suggested camshaft timing settings.
QBM Camshaft Timing Tool Details
QBM Camshaft Timing Tool Features:
6061-T6 Aircraft aluminum and TIG welded construction
Separate timing marks for intake and exhaust camshaft
Laser etched timing marks (accurate to within +/-0.01 degree)
Easy and install and use – a 10mm socket and torque wrench is all that is needed
Detailed installation instructions are included, along with suggested timing settings
The QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is available for the following models:
Adjustable Camshaft timing tool: $60
(Camshaft pulley for illustration purposes only and is not included)
Frequently Asked Questions about the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool
Q: How much power will the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool give me?A: QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is just that – a tool that allows you to adjust the camshafts to known values. The QBM Camshaft Timing Tool itself does not give any power increases, and QBM cannot guarantee power increases when using the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool. The engine’s power output is determined by the camshafts themselves; not by the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool. Changing the camshaft timing affects the power characteristics of the engine, sometimes in a positive way, sometimes in a negative way.Q: Does the ECU interfere with the camshaft timing changes? Do I need to reset my ignition timing once I adjust the camshafts?A: No. The QBM timing tool adjusts camshaft timing which is different from ignition timing. Base ignition timing is however referenced via the distributor pickup on the intake camshaft. So moving the intake camshaft will change base ignition timing in the short term. But as soon as the vehicle is started, the ECU will automatically reset the base timing back to what it should be. Therefore base ignition timing will remain unchanged.
Q: My car has variable valve timing (VVT). Will I be able to benefit from the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool?
A: On models with single VVT, only one camshaft is controlled by VVT – the other is not controlled by VVT and stays static. The static camshaft is the one that can benefit from the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool.
Q: Does the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool require me to remove or replace parts like the timing belt, water pump, camshafts, etc?
A: No, the ONLY part that gets temporarily removed is the plastic timing cover (held on by 1 bolt). Detailed installation instructions are included, and it takes less than 60 seconds to remove the plastic cover.
Q: What are the long term effects? Will there be more wear and tear on the engine?
A: There are absolutely no long term effects as long as your engine is in a good state of tune. Wear and tear on the engine won’t be any different than it normally would, regardless of what your camshaft timing is set to.
Q: Will I need a remap once I adjust the camshaft timing?
No. The QBM timing tool simply changes camshaft timing, not ignition timing. Camshaft timing controls when the intake valves open to let charge into the combustion chamber, and when the exhaust valves open to expel the spent gases.
Q: What if I adjust the cams too much – can I damage my engine?
A: The camshaft gears are slotted from the factory (+/- 7.5 degrees), so Volvo intended the camshafts to be adjusted for various reasons. Volvo has already determined the “safe” adjustment range, and you cannot exceed that 7.5 degree safety factor. However, if you are using larger camshafts (NA cams) or have extreme engine modifications like a milled head or decked block, you should make small adjustments until you have determined the valve-piston clearance is not an issue.
Q: I have the following mods: ECU chip V, turbo upgrade W, air intake X, exhaust Y, downpipe Z. What should I set the camshaft gears to?
A: There is no one magical setting that is perfect for every engine. The idea behind using the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is to determine the best camshaft timing for your vehicle based on whatever modifications you have. This can be performed a number of ways (dyno, G-Tech, drag racing, stopwatch) and is the best way to ensure optimal results on your vehicle. Detailed installation instructions are included, as well as “universal” settings and guidelines in the instructions. Those can be used to get you in the ballpark. In general you can gain low end power by advancing the camshafts, and top end power by retarding the camshafts.
Q: Will QBM Camshaft Timing Tool affect my idle?
A: No, in most cases idle quality is not affected. In some cases (like running the larger NA cams on the turbo engine) the idle can be more sensitive to changes due to the higher lift and increased overlap characteristics of the NA camshafts.
Q: Does the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool stay permanently on the car?
A: No, the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is a tool for adjusting the camshafts only. Adjustments are made while the engine is not running. Once the camshaft has been adjusted the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is removed before the vehicles is started.
Q: Is this something that I can install and adjust myself, or should I have a mechanic do it?
A: With the included instructions, it’s easy. There is a giant + and – sign on the timing plate. If you set it to “+4” that means the camshaft is advanced 4 degrees over top dead center.
Q: Is it better to advance or retard the camshaft timing?
A: In GENERAL, for low end power you advance the camshafts, and top end power you retard the camshafts.
Q: I don’t have access to a dyno. Can I tune my camshafts “by the seat of my pants”?
A: A dyno is the easiest, fastest, and safest way to find the optimal camshaft timing for your vehicle. However, in a pinch other methods can be used (G-Tech, drag racing, stopwatch, etc). The key is keeping all variables constant (environmental variables like wind, temperature, humidity, etc), and repeating all tests on the the same stretch of road. This way, you can attribute any differences you measure to camshaft changes.
Q: OK, I am going to go to the dyno. What procedure should I use to tune the camshafts using the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool?
A: Tuning the camshafts using the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool is just a matter of trying different combinations. The following is an EXAMPLE for illustration purposes:
Let’s say you started with both camshafts at 0 and you made a baseline dyno run. You then advance the intake camshaft to +1 and the exhaust camshaft to +2. After retesting the car on the dyno you notice that you gained some low and and midrange power. Since you don’t know if the gains were from advancing the intake camshaft or advancing the exhaust camshaft, you will have to adjust 1 or the other (not both at once) and do another dyno run. Leaving the exhaust at +2, you advance the intake camshaft to +2. After retesting the car with the new intake camshaft setting, you lose power. The power loss indicates that the intake camshaft likes it best when set back to +1. You set the intake camshaft back to +1, and now try adjusting the exhaust camshaft by itself. Leaving the intake camshaft at +1, you advance the exhaust camshaft to +3 and retest. If you gain power, that means you can adjust the exhaust camshaft some more. With the intake camshaft still at +1, you try advancing the exhaust camshaft to +4 and retesting. Let’s say this time you lost power with the intake camshaft at +1 and the exhaust camshaft at +4. The power loss indicates that the exhaust camshaft likes it best when set to +3. Therefore, your final dyno tuned settings are +3 on the exhaust camshaft and +1 on the intake camshaft. You set the cams back to those settings and you’re done!
Q: How does this affect gas mileage?
If your car is red or black, you will get better gas mileage. If your car is blue or silver, you will get slightly worse gas mileage. But if you have a wagon, your mileage will get better no matter the color, except on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Q: Do you ship outside of the USA?
A: Yes! QBM has many customers outside of North America, including Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, etc.
:: Customer Comments
“It’s a great tool to have for optimizing and enhancing your performance, especially if you can’t or don’t want to buy an 850 with a turbo (for all those people asking how to make their NA cars faster).The NA cars don’t have many modifications available to them that can give significant performance gains, but I found that being able to make slight timing adjustments easily and for a low cost with the QuickBrick timing wheel resulted in a big improvement in my ’93 850 GLT’s performance. My ’93 used to struggle up steep hills and even on the flats when merging on to the freeway, but now I can easily climb the hills at a fairly fast speed (faster than or as well as most of the other drivers around me).My weekly commute for work is at least 300+ plus miles, so with the adjusted timing, stage 0 maintenance and an Auto-Rx cleaning, I’m seeing decent performance now while still getting almost 400 miles on a tank of gas!I’m still looking for a nice R or T5 wagon though and look forward to trying the timing wheel on it when I find it.
Plus, QBM’s excellent documentation and support is what really makes this a complete product.”
Bing_0Following QBM’s advice I advanced both cams +3…Oh man what a difference. On one stretch of road about near my house, I started with a 5mph roll and timed two runs approximately right below 6 seconds to go over the 60mph mark. On subsequent runs I broke loose the right front tire at around 20mph. Fantastic! Low end feels a lot stronger.Thanks for a fantastic product and great advice.
Lextildeath”I retarded both the intake and exhaust timing on my car. The higher the boost you use, the more it makes a difference. Like I have said before 17 PSI throws you in your seat, but 17 PSI + retarded camshaft timing KEEPS you pressed against your seat. It is a nifty feeling of G forces.”
JCviggen”Very useful tool for the price! Well thought out, and a must-have when you start changing the power output of the engine in my opinion.I had always suffered a very nasty power loss around 5K, and QBM’s tool proved my suspicion that the exhaust cam was too advanced from the factory (+5°)Changing it gave me a much nicer top end and got rid of the huge torque spiking at lower revs.”
Piran21″I used this tool on my car and advanced both cams to +3. It feels smoother.”
YOUR commentIf you would like to tell us about your experience with the QBM Camshaft Timing Tool, we would love to hear from you. Contact us and tell us what you think. Your comments may just end up right here!