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Old 01-15-2012, 12:02 AM
Nitrominis Nitrominis is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Santa Cruz
Posts: 1,308
Default MINI Adjustable Cam Gear

MINI Adjustable Cam Gear

Using a MINIs 1.6 R50 or R53 engine, an adjustable cam gear will allow you to change the power curve to a specific area in the rpm range or to dial in a cam to specifications. If your Dyno graph shows a drop at X=RPM range then you can effectively change X to +/- 500+/- RPM’s. By advancing the cam timing this will improve bottom end power and retarding timing conversely improve top end power.

Camshafts mechanically open and close the intake and exhaust valves at the "proper time" relative to engine position (piston travel) to either supply Air/Fuel for combustion or to allow the exhaust gases to flow out the combustion chamber and on its way through the exhaust system.

For stock engines OE Cam manufactures will usually set the cam timing during its design specifications at a point where it allows the engine to start and run well under a variety of most condition presenting itself for a daily driven car. Also the EPA has set standards for emissions that engines must operate at so stock cams are very conservative with there specifications. That is why there is no choice other then stock for the R50, R53 and even the JCW upgraded engines from MINI. The R53 and the special JCW engine upgrades use the same camshaft.

After the installation of performance parts like heads, header, CAI, etc you sometimes change the optimum performance of the stock or performance ground camshaft.
To bring the engine back into optimum power under these changes one of the tuning tools is an Adjustable Cam Gear. By changing the cam timing you mechanically change the RPM performance power range of an engine. Even a bone stock engine can benefit with cam timing for optimum drivability and performance. This means no matter what your performance modification level is to your engine you can easily have the power level range changed and in some cases produce more power.
Some ECU/EFI Calibration Technician (tuner) will tell you that they can electronically via an ECU Calibration adjust the power graph levels the same as using an adjustable Cam gear, but the difference is whatever the ECU Calibration is changed to is not the same as mechanically changing the cam timing. And you can even improve on the ECU Calibration adjustment mechanically with an adjustable cam gear even more precise engine operating levels.
So you really need both adjustments adjusted together for best overall results on an ECU/EFI controlled engine.

For the “Track” MINI using an adjustable cam gear can allow the precise power adjustments for track condition that could help with faster track times.
On the street you can mechanically adjust your cam for improved fuel economy by altering where the RPM builds the best torque. Or if you have a planned spirited weekend ahead you can adjust for those twisties in the mountains for more low-end power. Or at the local “run what you brung” track weekday drag race you can adjust your cam affecting your ETs.
Adjustable cam gears are easy to learn how to use them and once you have personally adjusted your cam a few times you should be able to change the cam timing in less than an hour on most applications of the R50 and R53 engine.

Some common Q & A’s

What level of experience do I need to install it in my MINI?

All that is needed is a simple basic knowledge of an engine and a little common sense. The installation is the same procedure if removing a camshaft only you don’t need do all the steps in that process to replace a Cam gear.

How hard is it to set up the cam gear once installed?

This is the part that you may need assistance with someone experienced in cam degree set up and adjustable cam gear’s to help you to learn how to do this. Once you get the basic how to you should be able to successfully change your cam timing without help.

Will I feel or see the results right away from any changes?

Every engine is different and therefore results vary. If cam timing is done correctly you would see the changes in your performance monitoring devices or a Chassis Dyno Graph. In some cases where you are altering and lowering your RPM power RPM level you may feel the difference.

How much Horsepower will adjusting my cam give me?

The adjustable cam gear does not always increase horsepower levels in all cases like other performance engines parts like say a BV Head but mechanically adjusts where you want your existing power level at in an RPM area it will ultimately be the most use for you.

The cost spent per gains makes adjustable cam gear a rather expensive power enhancing part, so how can I justify the cost?

No matter what other engine performance parts you buy this is one of the only ones that you have control to be able to mechanically change the power rpm operating range of your engine. Even if you install every performance engine part available you can still use an adjust cam gear to get more precise and optimum engine output levels. All in all the initial cost of a cam gear will pay for itself in a short time.

I have heard that some have tried the adjustable cam gear for the MINI and concluded it not really needed?

Simply put there is no stock or highly modified R50 or R53 engine that could not benefit with an adjustable cam gear. It is just another tool to aid in adjusting the power of the engine where you want it and where it will give the optimum performance.

Who sells these MINI adjustable cam gears?

This thread is not about who sells them. There are a few vendors offering them in the MINI market. Some offer the labor to set them up on your head. You should talk to your regular MINI aftermarket parts supplier or independent MINI service shops along with the many MINI forums and their sponsors to see who is offering them.

This thread will only serve to help bring a better understanding of existing MINI Adjustable Cam Gears. The basic FACTS about adjustable cam gears and other cam timing devices and their positive usefulness has been time tested on thousands of engines over at least five decades and clearly shows the benefits of its use on most any an engine. As with all performance parts installed and used on any engine the end results will vary.

It is not the intent of this author to entertain counter productive comments that would distract from the basic structure of information provided. The information network available to everyone i.e. internet, local performance parts suppliers, engine machine shops and even your local yellow pages can be used to researched facts about the content of this thread regarding the mechanical ability to adjust camshaft timing using an adjustable camshaft gear.

In other words for some of you try to post respecting the MINI community as a whole and see this as a useful informative thread and respect its content and all others that will be reading it.

Last edited by Nitrominis; 01-15-2012 at 12:11 AM.. Reason: font sizing change
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