What lifter for flat tappet cam?


Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2018
In the market for some lifters, my cam is 218/218 flat tappet. NOT changing cam to a roller, not planning on spinning more then 5800-6000max rpm. Just looking for lifters for flat tappet. I have champion heads, t&d rockers, 66mm turbo if that matters or helps. Any thoughts or suggestions would be very much appreciated. I have to call Johnston and Morel to see if their lifters even work with a flat tappet. I see compcams has lifters listed for flat tappet, they have 2 different part numbers - 1 are called "High Energy" part #869-12 and 1 are called "Pro Magnum" part #865-12.

Thanks in advance.
Call Johnson and ask for a slow bleed down lifter part number and buy them. Turbo motors have high cylinder pressures and that tends to make the lifters collapse or " bleed down" under boost, effectively shortening the effective duration and lift. If the lifter bleeds down about .050 that shortens the lift by that amount multiplied by the rocker ratio, and that is right at .0775". Thats a LOT! Now look at the duration of your cam at advertised and at .050".
A Comp 270 cam is 270 degrees advertised, and 224 degrees at .050".
Yup, you will lose 46 degrees of exhaust duration!
Turbo motors need more spring pressure due to the boost trying to push the intake valve open, and back pressure in the exhaust pushing that valve open too. This causes premature valve float.
Some cam companies compensate for this in their blower Hydraulic cams by lengthining the exhaust duration.
It used to be said that turbo cams should have shorter exhaust durations to "keep the exhaust velocity higher" to help spool the turbo quicker. That may have been fine 30 or more years ago when turbo tech was not advanced as it is now, and boosts were MUCH lower.
The more preload used means less bleed down can occur before the lifter bottoms out, and that means more HP.
On our boosted and big hydraulic cammed cars and Harleys (Harleys use Chevy lifters, but with restricted upper oiling rates) we lash the lifters up a half or 3/4 turn UP from the bottom to minimize collapse.
On my 136 H.P. Harley, it loses 4 to 6 H.P. if lashed a half turn down from the top, depending on oil temp! And it is naturally aspirated! AND H.D.s all run 10w-50 oil too!
I have done a lot of lifter testing on hydraulics in H.D.s because of the Chevy lifters, and ease of changing lash EXTERNALLY with quick adjust pushrods, and cover tubes.
I first discovered the bleed down phenominon when I bought one of the first aftermarket Hydraulic roller cams for my Vette in 1985 or 6. It was supplied with dual springs of about 175 seat pressure. And going from the stock F.T. cam to the bigger Hydraulic roller cam SLOWED the car down by about 7 tenths, and 6 M.P.H. on the dragstrip. After rechecking the lash and making another bad pass, I noticed the valvetrain clattering on the return road, and on a hunch, I bought a can of STP from the fuel vendor and made another pass. It ran almost as fast as the stock cam. The next day I bought a set of solid roller lifters, and installed them at .005 lash, and ran the car again next week. The car then picked up 8 tenths over stock and over 7 M.P.H.
The only Hydraulic roller lifters available then were the stock Chevy ones, so I tried removing the inner springs and changing to fresh oil. The car again slowed down a few tenths and a couple of M.P.H. so I put the solids back in and ran it for another 4 year till I sold it.
As I remember, Hylift Johnson now makes over a dozen different bleed rate Chevy Hydraulic lifters.
Performance Hydraulic cams were lashed "back in the day" at a half turn down from the top. That was because ramp rates exceeded spring tech at that time, and if over revved, the lifters pumped up, and valve/piston contact was possible. Spring tech is much better now and "pump up" only happens with old or incorrect spring application.
Don't worry about lashing "up from the bottom", as the parts in the engine: block and heads, run hotter and "grow" more than the cooler pushrods, especially aluminum heads.
Sorry about the long post, but this is good info!
If you can’t find some original GM hydraulic lifters (with hardened stellite face), then it looks like Johnson has what you’re looking for :
I used cheapo melling lifters when I did my cam lol. 9000 street miles and lots of hard running at wot and no issues or sparkly oil…
New lifters on a used cam are fine with proper lube and break in. I have done that dozens of times, no problemo.
You break them in just like you would with a new cam. You can use the Comp Cams Redline lube, but I prefer ARP stud and bolt lube on the cam, lifter face, and side of the lifter body. The #1 and 2 causes of cams going flat are: tight/varnished lifter bores that don't allow the lifter to rotate freely (THEY HAVE TO!!!), and using Redline lube but not starting the engine immediatly after assembly. Use ARP bolt/stud lube if it won't be started for a while. I have had customers not install new engines for up to 15 YEARS, with ARP lube on the cam with no issues! That motor came back in my shop because the BBChevy was resold several times UNSTARTED, due to divorce, death, and pregnancy! The latest customer brought it in because of metal in the pan after cam break in. He munched a roller pilot bushing installing it incorrectly, and it took out the thrust bearing, not the cam. The cam is fine!
I made a "lifter handle" on my lathe about 40 years ago, it works with all brands and all domestic engines lifters, since every domestic lifter I have ever installed has the same plunger size!
Also, hardened face GM lifters will just remove the cam lobes if not broken in properly anyway. Ya still make junk out of it!
Cam companies sell carburized hardened cams to prevent/ minimize break in issues, but they cost about as much as a roller cam!
Cam lobes are still good, I found no shavings or metal in the pan since changing the oil 2 times after overheating. If a cam lobe was wiped I would have been seen in the pan, I drove with the noise for 20miles home??

At this point I'm going to do lifters instead of pulling the motor out and doing a full rebuild. Trying not to get crazy out of budget. I don't want to even think about the cost of a new cam set up, new lifters, and a rebuild cost including head work n gaskets ect.

Looks like its between Compcams and Johnson so far! My buddy who is helping me has said the same thing timinator said, you CAN put new lifters on a used cam but not a WORN cam, and you have to break it in properly. He has done it on many motors as well. ITS NOT IDEAL or the normal procedure but its more cost effective then a rebuild. If I had the money I'd just pull it and fully rebuild but that bank account doesn't exist for me atm.

Also unfortunately over 20 years its sat I lost the gdam cam card, all I know is its a 218/218 flat tappet.

Again big thanks to all who have shared your input and experience. This is my first time going this far on a GN motor so your experience and posts mean alot to me! This is what the board is for imho, sharing and giving your opinion based on YOUR experience.
I still think it's an exhaust leak or preload issue. But I'm not looking at it.

Here is the video of the noise. My exhaust is fully welded except for exhaust manifolds to head n test pipe to ypipe which has 4 bolts and gasket. Cross over, dp to test pipe n mufflers to tail pipes are welded.

When I took off the ex manifolds to re torque head 4 inspection I didnt see any cracks. Used new gaskets to install. After re torquing heads n installing new push rods, the sound is STILL the same. So that's why I ordered lifters.

Ty Timinator for your input
I have not, I will do so before going to install the new lifters. I'll start the car with valve covers off n check.
No need to start the car, you could pull the cam sensor & Prime the oil pump (with a priming tool) to verify oil is getting up to your top end).
My engine does that. I don’t have enough preload on one of my lifters. I don’t have adjustable rockers so I can’t fix it. It only does it at idle so I just deal with it. Sounds like you have multiple making noise. Either miss adjusted rockers or lobes are going out..

Here’s what mine sounds like
Use a push rod checker to verify lifter pre-load.
It’s easy peasy & you might find the need to replace some pushrods to get your lifter preload back in the proper range .
I set my hydraulic flat tappet lifters up recently at 0.050” pre-load and they are nice and quiet on an old school Lunati VooDoo 210/205 cam
Hydraulic lifters (unless limited travel) have around .100 to .120" travel.
Pushrods from comp cams and others are available in.050 increments.
Anyone know if the lift is any different from the 212/212 flat tappet to the 218/218 flat tappet.
Hydraulic lifters (unless limited travel) have around .100 to .120" travel.
Pushrods from comp cams and others are available in.050 increments.
I got Manley pushrods 8.850, just installed.

Johnson got in touch with, they DO NOT seal flat tappet lifters.