Any enthusiast who has ever uttered the phrase “duration at fifty” has a connection to Harvey Crane, Jr. The founder of Crane Cams in 1953, Harvey was an innovator in the truest sense of the word and passed away on Friday, May 31 at the age of 81. Many of today’s camshaft masters have built their knowledge on the foundations that Harvey Crane established.
The industry first took notice in 1961 when “Sneaky” Pete Robinson won Top Eliminator using a small-block Chevy with a Crane camshaft, but it wasn’t long before the sport was inundated with science emanating from Harvey’s futile imagination. Eventually, he was forced to leave the company that bore his name and it has recently been reformed under new ownership with many high quality products.
Despite this apparent setback, Harvey did not give up on his desire to be involved. He was the one who decided that “advertised” duration numbers were confusing, establishing instead the use of duration specs set at 0.050 inch of tappet lift. He also patented the first mechanical roller lifter in 1967 and was the first to design and patent a hydraulic roller lifter when everyone said it couldn’t be done. He coined the camshaft-specific terms “hydraulic intensity” as well as the more playful “snap”, “crackle” and “pop” to define much more difficult areas of camshaft lobe design.
On the personal side, Harvey and first wife Mildred had four children, three of whom were with him during a Florida ocean fishing trip (including friend Bill Pemberton of JE Pistons) when the boat quickly sank. All were eventually rescued by the Coast Guard after more than 24 hours in the water and the event had a big impact on his life.
Harvey continued to be actively involved with camshaft design, his life-long passion, by conducting schools to teach others about the technology of camshaft design and manufacturing. You can learn more about the man on his website harveycrane.com. He leaves behind a well-earned legacy of camshaft design and manufacturing and a name that will always be synonymous with high performance valvetrain components.