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FORDMUSCLE.com
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Story by Jon Mikelonis and Day Scovel

Introduction
If great customer service is the sign of a bad economy, which cam manufacturers are detecting the signals and which are still conducting customer service as usual? It's been exactly 5 years since FordMuscle performed their first undercover analysis of camshaft manufacturer tech help hotlines in the article Cam You Help Me 1. So now that we've reached a fresh decade in a down economy, we figured it was the perfect time to put the most notable cam manufacturers to the customer service test once again through FordMuscle's own undercover audit.

Which manufacturers have adjusted their approach? Which manufacturers have given the human connection with the customer a higher priority than just "getting through the calls"? Which manufacturers truly want to understand your build and application before making a recommendation? Which manufacturers understand that you're going to research their website BEFORE and AFTER your call?

Background
If you are familiar with the original research concept, you'll know that the first time around, a FordMuscle staff writer inquired with various cam manufacturers by phone with a consistent, yet hypothetical, engine build profile and common vehicle application. For Cam You Help Me 2, FordMuscle put one of their premiere Tech Exchange contributors on the job. Day Scovel made the calls in search of a cam recommendation in a standardized manner, all the while paying special attention to our own quantitative and qualitative measures of customer service.

A few things made 2010's research different than 2005's with respect to strategy. This time the engine profile was real, not hypothetical, and we also made a special effort to seek a recommendation for a mild street carbureted Small Block Ford, so as to better represent the C-level street enthusiast still growing in the hobby. This worked out well since Day happened to be in the middle of a modest SBF build for his own '62 Galaxie. We also felt that by using Day's uncomplicated build and application, we could better analyze what impact the pure human element of service and over-the-phone hospitality played into making the final cam choice.

 
1962 Ford Galaxie - Mild 302
This subject application was the perfect profile for which to base our phone calls. Owner - Day Scovel
 

Build and Application
The following chart indicates the specific attributes used to collect the six cam recommendations from the six different manufacturers. At FordMuscle's request, we specifically asked Day to "let the sales rep do the talking" during each call. This way we could get a solid reading of each manufacturer's method for determining the "right" cam. Only when asked specifically, was an individual line item in the table below offered to the sales rep.

Build Profile
Model Galaxie 500 Compression 9.0:1
Year 1962
Intake Edelbrock Performer
Weight 3800 lbs
Carburetor 600 CFM
Edelbrock EPS
Axle Ratio 3.50:1 Heads Stock E7TE
(1.78 Int/1.45 Exh)
Trans T5 Rocker Arm 1.6:1
Tire 225/60/R15 Exhaust Dual 2.25" with crossover pipe
Block 302/5.0 RPM Range 2000-4500
CID 306.4 Fuel Premium
Bore 4.032" Street or Strip Street
Stroke 3.00" Roller or Flat Flat Tappet


Metrics
Before we get started, let's cover each metric used to evaluate each cam manufacturer:

On Hold Time: While you can't expect to be tended to immediately when calling a tech line, automotive or otherwise, those manufacturers that are available immediately always score points with consumers. Measured in minutes.

Overall Call Time: When "Overall Call Time" is relatively high and "On Hold Time" is low, chances are the sales rep is digging deep to understand your build, application, and usage. Flip it around and chances are you held on to have your build run through some canned software program. Measured in minutes.

Level of Hospitality: You can't expect anyone else to care about your build as much as you do, but it's OK when they fake it! When calling for a cam recommendation, a good dose of "I've been there man" goes a long way. For this reason, we paid special attention to how well each manufacturer seemed to appreciate us a potential customer. A purely subjective metric, measured on a 1 to 5 scale with "5" being the highest "Level of Hospitality".

Level of Inquiry: Singly the most important metric used during our audit, "Level of Inquiry", represents how well the manufacturer inquired about the build and application in order to provide the best possible cam recommendation. As the popularity of aftermarket heads and fuel delivery methods have evolved over the years, cam recommendations have become more scientific. These days there's a good amount of detective work on the account of the sales rep in order to properly execute the job. Also a subjective metric, measured on a 1 to 5 scale with "5" being the highest "Level of Inquiry" possible.

Cam Recommendation:
Not necessarily a metric, but the final "Cam Recommendation" is, after all,
the reason why we called. Comparing and contrasting all of the recommended cams is not unlike looking at a number of bids from a group of home contractors. Really low or high bids, or in this case mild or wild cam specs, should raise your suspicions.

Price: By the time we publish this article, we are still hoping that the quoted price for each camshaft in our audit will be measured in U.S. dollars and not Yen.

Website Remarks: Obviously not a part of our over-the-phone audit, a review of each manufacturer's website tells us who understands the importance easy-to-access product information (cam cards) plays pre and post sale. After receiving your over-the-phone recommendation can you locate your cam's specs on the manufacturer's website with ease? Can you browse a line of cams without fumbling through a PDF?

All right, let's get busy. On to the phone calls...

ISKY Racing Cams
While it would seem appropriate to distinguish "ISKY" as one of the most legendary names in the performance aftermarket, year after year the term "legend" is losing
its spark within the industry. After all, we are 60 years past the dawn of the performance automotive pastime and any manufacturer that's still
around can be considered a legend. Well the good news is many have
survived. Holley, Crane Cams, Erson, Edelbrock, MSD, Mr. Gasket, etc. With so many legends, who really is legendary?

The call into ISKY was rather "vanilla" in nature. While the rep did not come across as apathetic, he also did not come across as enthusiastic. Considering the technical expertise that exists within the walls of the ISKY facility, we gave ISKY a modest "Level of Inquiry" score since the rep never asked about our cylinder head, intake, or carb combination.

Iskenderian Tech Line Evaluation
Tech Line Number: (323) 770-0930
Time of Inquiry
10:29 AM Wed 02/17/10
On Hold Time
1 minute
Overall Call Time
4 minutes
Level of Hospitality
(Poor 1-2-3-4-5 Excellent)
Level of Inquiry
(Poor 1-2-3-4-5 Excellent)
 
* Make, Model, Year, Axle Ratio, Trans, Block, CID, Bore, Street or Strip
Cam Recommendation
PN 381262, Intake Lift .445”, Exhaust Lift .445”, Duration 208 @ .050", Lobe Separation 108, RPM Range 2000-5500
Price (cam and lifters) $213.00
Other Remarks  
* List of "Build and Application" attributes adjacent to "Level of Inquiry" score represents those for which each sales rep inquired during call.


ISKY was the only company we called that recommended a single pattern cam. Single pattern cams are ground with the same duration and lift values for the intake and exhaust. It is commonly thought that single patterns are old technology and only guys "nostalgic" for true 60's cam specs are still installing them. Certainly the oddball of all the cam recommendations we received during our research, the specs on ISKY's "262 supercam" were much different than the rest. From the short 208 duration, low .445" lift, and curious 2000-5000 rpm range, the ISKY cam could stand a follow-up call based soley on its relative "out-of-range" personality.

Website Remarks
www.iskycams.com

During
Cam You Help Me 1, we warmed up to ISKY's website. In 2005, the site seemed clean and modern, particularly due to having the ISKY catalog integrated into the site. Now however, we find the site clumsy and annoying. If you have a part number you can easily get a cam card by typing the part number in. However, if you want to browse comparable cams you have to open their catalog in PDF format and manually enter part numbers back into the website to get a cam card. It's 2010 guys! Then again, all of ISKY's SBF cams appear to be single pattern. Maybe ISKY is just nostalgic for how cams and websites USED to be done?

(Edelbrock, Lunati, Bullet, Crower, Comp Cams)

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In This Article...
FordMuscle puts six camshaft manufacturers to the test in this updated follow-up to 2005's Cam You Help Me 1. Does a down economy mean improved customer service? Let's take a look at who's stepping up and who's conducting business as usual in the world of performance camshaft manufacturers.

The Hit List!
Just because they all sell camshafts and have you in their crosshairs, doesn't mean they're all the same by any definition. Each manufacturer we called has their own company personality and specialties. This year we included:

Iskenderian

Edelbrock

Lunati

Bullet Cams

Crower Cams and Equipment

Comp Group


 


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