Keeping the valvetrain in a performance engine happy is going to lead to higher horsepower, but it will also assist in keeping the engine alive longer. Part of getting the valvetrain correct is having the right valve locks for your application. The correct valve locks will make maintenance easier, and ensure your valves don’t visit the pistons inside the cylinders of your engine anytime soon.
A valve lock’s performance inside the head is based on how much valve spring pressure it’s exposed to. As the valve spring pressure is increased, the force used to clamp down on the lock grows, as well. This also will impact the groove area around the valve, so knowing how much spring pressure you will be running plays a role in the valve lock choice you need to make.
There are several different degrees of valve locks you can choose from, and Zeke Urrutia from Ferrea Racing Components explains what the more popular choices bring to the table.
“If you’re building a street or high-performance engine you would use a seven-degree lock. If you’re building a race engine you would select from either super-seven (which is an 8-degree) or 10-degree lock. These two locks allow you to disassemble the retainer and valve lock much easier without having the lock area mend itself together.”
Beyond the degree of the lock, the style of lock you choose is equally important. The Chevy square lock and radial groove lock are two of the most popular choices, however, each has their own purpose based on the application of the engine.
“The Chevy square lock has been used for over 50 years in the automotive and racing market. It is used today and works well for most applications. The radial groove was introduced to the racing market over 20 years ago. This style of groove was a huge improvement to failure points that occurred with the square design. On the radial groove, you increase the life of the groove area by 30 percent. Movement in the groove area of a valve is always present — having a round edge on the radial groove compared to a sharp edge on a Chevy groove will most likely save you from catastrophic failure. The radial groove is now the standard groove for all kinds of high-end race engines,” Urrutia explains.
Make sure you check out the full video from Ferrea about the different valve locks. You can also head over to the Ferrea website to see all their options for valve locks that fit your application.