Can roller rocker arms actually help add horsepower? The mechanically savvy will likely consider that question and say: “If you have more lift, and open the valves more, then you’ll make more power. That’s obvious.” And they’d be right, because getting more air into the engine does indeed equate to making more power – provided your fuel system can deliver enough gasoline.
But there’s something else to consider: frictional losses between all the myriad moving parts in your engine. Stock rockers, in which metal slides against metal, create a lot of friction. Reducing friction by using needle bearings, some say, helps make the rockers easier to actuate, which means they sap less power from the engine.
But is it true? This episode of Engine Masters attempts to answer that question by comparing stock-type stamped-steel rockers, roller-tip rockers, full rollers, and full rollers with a higher ratio (1.6:1 vs. 1.5:1) on a push-rod LS V8.
What we like about these videos is that they often shy away from giving a finite, black-and-white answer. Instead, they give the viewer as much pertinent information as possible, and let him or her decide from there whether or not the upgrade in question is suitable for the application.
With that in mind, go ahead and click play to see if upgrading the rocker arms in your LS makes sense for your build. Actually, even if you don’t have a build, knowledge is power.
Plus, the transparent valve covers installed on this engine are awesome to behold.