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Kirk & Buford on Pinning

new 1/31/03, updated 06/09/2004

Both are a good way to resolve the problem. But I don't think ANYONE (not directed at any one shop) has done the research to use the correct strength pins. The shaft and sprocket are 2 different RC hardness, if the pin is too soft its doing nothing, if its to hard it will oblong the shaft and fall out, causing MORE damage to the shaft/sprocket assembly. 

Nobody that is presently PINNING can tell me the Hardness of the pin that they are using, So I feel because they don't speak up that they are unsure of it - And that scares me.

Pinning needs to be done outside the car, the cams must be removed which hide costs until its time to reinstall. You need 3 different gaskets about 25.00 total, and you must pay your favorite mechanic about 30hrs in labor for the teardown and reassembly. Somewhere its stated that its 12 hrs to R and R the cams. That too is BS when FORD themselves do not have a listing for it in the car. The do list a few things but that is after dropping the entire Motor and tranny on the ground. Now this doesn't have to happen to send out your cams, but most shops after looking at the book will OPT to. It can be done in the car (I did a head swap in the car) but is was a royal pain.

So if you can loose the car for a MIN of a week for pinning and don't mine paying about 1000.00 give or take for labor + fluids and have the FORD timing tools specific for the V8SHO pinning is OK. But you still have a car with XXXXX miles on it and no tune-up.

Sam, thanks for the good words but FPS has seen about 75 cars to my measly 40 cars. So I would say they are the leaders by far. They created the procedure that several shops follow, some just do more than weld the cams. I'd say that I'm number 2 (no cracks!!!) but with 27 scheduled and the Tulsa trip see me in another month 

Like I said either way is ok for now, nothing is really tested for normal everyday use and longevity, The present tests that are being used to determine the length of time the cams will operate are BOGUS. running a total of 4 cams for these tests are not proof - if they ever happened. We only have one persons word to go on, and if they are true Ford will never let the results out of their hands.

They way I look at is this way:

(again this is not to kill pinning, or directed at anyone person, place or thing)

Pinning will get you (cant find the real numbers) so going from what I remember)

4 Million miles, at 500 for pinning and a Minimum of 1000 in labor if you cant do it yourself, also a Min of a week down time and 25 or so in gaskets plus your favorite oil.

Welding goes 1.3 million miles, for a cost of about 500.00 in and out in most cases same day and its over. Some do more than just weld the cams so expect a little more for some expected maintenance items. (same items should be done either way)

So most bang for the buck (which matters to all of us) is welding, and welding by a properly certified welder, and good equipment. You don't want the same setting used that was just used to hang a muffler. Because of voltage variations and temp variations a test piece should be on hand for every single job before its started to test on. Also for 1.3 million miles which no one here will ever surpass you will need 13 transmissions. To get to the 4 million mark you will need 400 transmissions. 


AND (dam I'm long winded tonight) if that don't get my point across, here is some more data for people thinking of getting your cams welded or pinned, this is unbiased data no me telling you whets better and not the pinners telling you what's better but actual data.

Copied from a post from Doug Lee (thanks Doug!!)

"Not that anyone really cares, but here's my two cents... I have put this situation into some finite element software. For those who don't know what finite element analysis (FEA) is, it's a means to analyze where stress concentrations are. This is denoted by color changing areas on the graphical output. A red area means high stress concentrations are at that point, and failure is definitely within the realm of possibility. Although both means of fixing the gear to the shaft are viable, I see two things in the graphs. With the pin option, a high stress concentration area occurs right where the hole would be drilled. Stress risers occur when there are holes in material, and thus the explanation of the red areas. Looking at the welded output, no stress risers occur here. This is because no metal has been removed, and thus why the red area is not shown anymore. The heat affected zone (HAZ) will occur near the weld, and actually hot work the metal. Thinking logically about these two options... pinning removes metal, whereas welding adds metal. I believe the welded option, when done properly, is the best way to fix this problem. My opinion is backed up by the FEA analysis. You make the decision."

(copied from SHO Forum)

We can agree on this,

Cams must be removed from the car to be pinned, labor is much higher. Kirk who has patched together as many V8 motors (or more) than anyone will tell you cam removal & replacement is not easy or trivial. It can be done with the engine in the car but the front cover must be removed, You need special tools to reinstall the cams in correct time and you want the Helm if you try the procedure. Most shops can weld two cars a day but pin job will require about 20 hours billable labor and can tie up your car for 2-3 weeks.

One advantage of welding is the cams never leave your car, you need not ship them, worry about how they are treated or worry about getting the right cams back.

Is pinning more reliable than welding?

I am told by a reliable source Ford tested 6 V8SHO engines to failure last summer. One engine was a stock V8SHO, one had a modification like the DOHC Marauder, One was MIG welded, one was TIG welded, One was pinned with soft pins, one was pinned with hard pins.

They put the engines on a engine dyno (as opposed to a chassis dyno) and run some thing like a Cologne (sp?) engine test.  They basically flog the guano out of the engine for days on end. It is severe abuse.

As noted the sample size is small, and results are in engine hours.  Assume the stock V8SHO lasts an average of 75k miles. Then scale the other cars using that same conversion and Marauder design lasts twice as long 150k. (Scaling the results is my idea - Buford)

The welded cams lasted 1.4 or 1.5 million miles. Was that 3 tack welds or strong 360 degree micro weld like Performance Plus does? I have no idea. I can only assume it is (3)  3/8" or 1/2" long welds.

Pinned cams lasted 3.8 ( soft pins) or 4.0 million (hard pins) miles. In the end the pins ovaled the holes and pulled out. Had the pins been tack welded in place they should have lasted longer and that should be easy to do, but in the end impact loads do hammer the hell out out of the pins and holes.

As of last November about 17 folks had pinned cams and about 155 folks had welded cams, a nine to one vote for welding. 

Several folks have welded their own cams or had someone learn on their car. I can think of 4-5 engines ruined by do it your self guys or inferior shops.

I hope this helps,


The problems with the SHO Shop have no bearing on the issue of weld vs pin for the cam repair. In fact, the durability test that was supposedly performed on a welded and a pinned camshaft showed that the pinned cam had a longer life span then the welded cam, though both had life spans much longer then the average life of the automobile.

I went with pinning the cams, mainly because no local vendor existed that had experience with the weld fix (Los Angeles area). The big difference between the two methods is welding repair can be performed without removing the cams, but pinning requires removal of the cams. Removing the cams significantly increases the cost and time to complete the repair. Most weld repairs cost around $500. The pinning repair the SHO Shop performed (actually they sent it out to a vendor) cost $500, plus about $1800 to remove the cams and replace them after pinning.

For either of the repairs, the key issue is the competency of the person performing the repair. And, as far as I know, the SHO Shop was the only place advertising the pinning repair. Since they are no longer in business, pinning is moot unless you do it yourself or have someone else do it that may have no experience in this repair.

John Stoessel

Johns assessment was pretty much spot on, but I would add this:

There have been reported problems with both welded and pinned cams, but those problems were exclusively with botched jobs. One major engine rebuilder chose pinning over welding at least in the beginning.

Costs are a lot less with welding, and if done right, there is no known downside. Pinning, it seems requires a lot more cost in taking the motor apart and down time (days instead of hours with welding) plus the shop MUST do a good job, not much room for error. Also, it has been recommended to weld the pins in place, as they have been known to work loose.

All in all, Welding is the choice of probably 98% of the people doing this repair.

The SHO Shop came up with a solution early in the game, and they offered a valid service, it is no surprise that they would promote it over other services. I think they even admitted eventually that welding was an option.

Get the cams welded.

As far as you engine lasting to 130,000 miles, that means nothing. Like I said....NOBODY, at least no mortal, can determine when or if any cam will fail.

Most seem to fail about 80,000 miles, but they have failed as early as 10,000 miles or after 150,000 miles.

As long as your name is on the title, then it is obviously your choice. You have heard the good advice of a lot of people that know a LOT about these cars. Only the person doing the work stands to make anything off your choice to weld, so nobody else has reason to tell you anything but the truth. Trust me that if this wasn't a REAL problem this group would not allow me or anyone else to continue to warn people about it.

Weld or don't, but here are the facts. I get calls EVERY WEEK from people that put it off and now are asking where they can get a motor for less than the many thousands they have been quoted for a repair. Most of those people have called me at one point or another and been told to get the cams welded (or they got that advice on this or other internet lists/sites) and they put off the decision. Now they face junking the car or paying more than it is worth to get it fixed. They could have solved the problem for as little as $400, or they could have traded the car off while it still had some value.

If you choose not to believe or you decide to take your chances, please don't expect anyone to have a lot of sympathy for your financial burden when the motor fails, although we will grieve for the loss of yet another great SHO.

Don Mallinson
President SHO Club

Don & I met an old friend last weekend at Ford Bloomington Days. He has a TR 97 with 110,000 miles and is well maintained but never welded.  At 100k he paid less than $700 for the 100k tune up.  We have told him last 3-4 years running "you may want to get those cams welded."

We think most first cam failures occur at 100K +/- 25k so this owner, like all most all other surviving un-welded V8SHOs are just plain luck so far.

For the same cost of a dealership 100k  he could have got the cam weld, plug change, surge tank clean, wire wrapping, and valve lash check from some one who works on nothing but SHOs.

I suspect he doesn't care because he has enough disposable money to consider the car disposable too.

What a shame.

Timothy Wright

IMHO, I think it's the proverbial "not if, but when." The cam design is faulty and that's what leads to failures. It is not a problem with assembly or quality control, where a particular production run has problems. The design was not adequately tested to prove durability (or it was and Ford discarded the tests because they did not like the results). Since the design is inadequate, the cams on all cars will fail, given that the car stays in service long enough.

It is really a credit to the quality of this website and the concern of its members when I read the responses from active members to new people regarding the cam fix. Honestly, the responses are almost begging the person to get the cams fixed. And that is time after time after time. Many of you have much more patience then me and that is a good thing.

Keep up the good work.



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