matching parts and a logical plan

Discussion in 'Engine Combos and Dynometer Database' started by grumpyvette, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    I just had a rather long and detailed discussion with a guy who it was all too obvious ,was basically just, trying to get me to give him a detailed list of engine components to build his of the main secrets , too building a really effective combo is to match the engine and drive train components you use too the intended rpm range and power range.
    now thats hardly rare, and Ive had similar discussions a hundred times, Ive build a whole lot of engines and seen a whole lot more than those built and raced, and 95% of the time the guys building or racing those cars have made mistakes that were eventually corrected.
    many guys ignore proven combos, because it may cost more than they want to spend, and either insist on using components they own currently or think they can buy far less expensively than the components, I know from experience will actually work.
    it helps a great deal if you take the time and effort to find a trust worthy and reasonably priced local machine shop , and trust me when I say this is critical, and yes, the machinist will seem to point out endless things that should be done to increase durability, or just allow proper component function,and a good machinist will try to guide you in component selection to help avoid mis-matched parts and low quality parts being used, yes quality parts and machine work, ALWAYS COST more than you may expect them too!

    but the thing that made me crazy during this discussion, was that Id ask specific questions, as to his goals, his budget, his skills and what he wanted to accomplish, and then suggest parts,, not necessarily a brand or a specific part number most of the time, but Id suggest something like find a deal on some cylinder heads that have about a 210cc port, 2.02 intake valves and flow in the 270-280cfm range at .600 lift and list detailed reasons why I thought those parts were a good match to reach his listed goal, and it was all too obvious that his real goal was to get me to suggest he use, or approve of or some how validate a huge list of totally miss matched, and mostly stock components, components that I strongly suspect he all ready owns, that were never going to allow him too reach his stated goals as to power and rpm range etc..
    Cylinder Pressure Note: youll generally want to try hard to maximize the useable compression as the higher the compression before you get into detonation the more efficiently the fuel can be burnt and the more torque the engine can produce, if limited to pump high test 92-93 octane fuel,165 psi # of cylinder pressure is about the best cylinder pressure for Iron heads with 92-93 octane, using pure un-ethanol laced fuel, gasoline. while the faster heat transfer rate of aluminum cylinder heads will usually allow 190psi # as the upper limit or best for aluminum heads.
    anyone can slap together parts and a few get lucky and find a combo that runs fairly well, but the chances wildly favor those guys that take the time to follow well known previously successful engine combos or at lease very similar builds

    look, I,m probably never going to see this guy, Ill never make a single dime on his build and theres no possible reason Id want him to do anything but succeed with his build and be happy with the result, I don,t get anything, no financial kick backs or commissions, But I would like to see him reach his goals and not waste a ton of money and time building something thats doomed from the start to be restricting his potential power levels to far below his stated goals.
    I started and maintain this web site mostly on my own dime with some very appreciated assistance occasionally, but its whole purpose is to help prevent the members from going thru the decades of frustration, wasted cash, mistakes and wasted effort I went thru and many (most) of my friends went thru before we learned some basic facts about what WILL and what WON,T generally work well when building a car, an engine or a garage and related subjects.
    keep in mind your very unlikely to find a problem thats unique , or build something that someone else has not already built or at least built something very similar, so do some research, and follow previous successful car builds, look over those similar builds and be aware that knowing how the previous guys solved similar problems, can save you a great deal of time and effort, and if you want an engine that makes lets say 600 hp the best route is to duplicate a previous successful build that reached or exceeded that goal, not throwing together random components and hoping your combo will work.
    heres some basics that won,t change theres a couple thousand related threads here to help you.
    You may find this a bit different from other forums, as I can assure you I spend about 97% of my time on this site adding links info and valid additional text, where its needed in older threads as I see the need, I don,t think youll find many threads that are 6-8 months old or older that have not had additional sub links or pictures or text added
    rebuilt or new chevy 383 crank


    you need a decent , dry, level place to work, and at least some decent tools, you don,t need a huge garage, a 10' x10' shed or a single car garage, with a level concrete floor might do, but you do need a safe place to lock up and store tools and parts
    a few hour or days of research can save you weeks of wasted effort, and having skilled friends helps so make as many contacts as you can in the hobby.
    it helps to have friends that are willing to help.
    find a decent quality machine shop you can trust.
    parts and machine work always cost more than you think they will.
    you need a plan with a well researched and detailed parts list.
    youll need a decent engine stand and an engine crane if you do many engine builds.
    lighter weight cars tend to be faster and easier to stop, and break fewer parts.
    even a great engine matched to the wrong drive train or gear ratios will be well down on performance.
    access too an air compressor , a drill press and a decent welder and a few accessories helps a great deal.
    you NEED decent dependable transportation, and thats NOT going to be your performance car project.
    any money you spend on parts that don,t match your well researched list , no matter what kind of a "DEAL" you get is likely to be wasted cash.
    you will NEVER have the best or fastest car, unless bill gates is paying your bills,
    but that certainly will not prevent you from having a really nice car., persistence and a well though thru plan are the key.
    don,t get frustrated,everything you do is likely to take 2-5 times longer that you expect and cost more money, its part of the hobby, take the time to improve your skills, acquire parts and tools and make contacts in the hobby.
    COMMENTS? THOUGHTS?USE THE CALCULATORS to match port size to intended rpm levels... but keep in mind valve lift and port flow limitations








    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2018
  2. busterrm

    busterrm solid fixture here in the forum

    I love it, my best friend is one that just throws together mismatched parts and expects the moon. I have made that mistake with one engine in the last 4-5 yrs and won't do it again. I am planning a build right now and have a list but it seems to change daily. hahahahahaha!!! Thanks Grumpy, very good post friend!
  3. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    By David Reher, Reher-Morrison Racing Engines

    “Here’s a Reher analogy you’ve never read before: A racing engine is like a bowl of Jello.”

    My daily fitness regimen is a brisk morning walk at Texas Raceway near my home in Kennedale, Texas. It’s just me, my dog, and a drag strip.

    It’s quiet there on a weekday morning, and a man can think. Among things I’ve been thinking about recently are the common mistakes that racers make. One of the biggest errors is collecting parts for an engine that will be built “someday.”

    Some racers build engines on the installment plan by stockpiling parts over a period of time. I know that a limited racing budget often dictates when parts can be purchased. However, the problem with this plan is that better parts are constantly being developed. Many components that were state-of-the-art a few years ago are now far behind the development curve. I think it’s a better strategy to collect the money to build an engine with current technology than to collect obsolete parts.

    The pace of change in engine technology is accelerating. I see the evidence whenever I walk through our shop. Piston rings for sportsman engines rival the rings used in Pro Stock just a few years, at a fraction of the cost. Precision-machined dry-sump oil pumps that were once reserved for high-end engines can now be bought for a third of the price. Some sportsman cylinder heads can now outperform the extensively welded and modified castings that the pros used just a few years ago. And when I look at the valves and springs available now, I am amazed by the progress that’s been made in metallurgy.

    It doesn’t take long for components to become obsolete. If you’d asked me two years ago about cylinder heads, rocker arms, and cam profiles, my recommendations today would almost certainly be different. My advice back then wasn’t wrong – it was simply based on what was available at the time. If you intend to race in the fast eliminators that have become popular with sportsman racers, then you can’t expect to be competitive with “antique” parts, even if they are only a few years old.

    Another potential pitfall of buying parts piecemeal is ending up with an unworkable combination. Consider the staggering variety of big-block Chevrolet cylinder heads on the market – conventional ports, raised ports, spread ports, symmetrical ports, 18-degree heads, 14-degree heads, and many other variations. Each distinctive design requires specific complementary components, from intake manifolds and pistons to rocker arms, gaskets, and valve covers. Consequently that trick manifold introduced in 2010 may not work with the cylinder heads you buy next month.

    It’s painful when a customer brings a pile of mismatched parts into our shop and asks me to build an engine out of them. I hate to turn business away, but I have a responsibility to be honest when someone shows up with a collection of incompatible parts. When a customer asks me to put a set of CNC-machined large-port cylinder heads on a marine engine that’s going to cruise at 3500 rpm, I really have to point out that he’d be much happier with smaller ports.

    Here’s a Reher analogy you’ve never read before: A racing engine is like a bowl of Jello. Why? Because you can’t wiggle a bowl of Jello in just one place. Touch one part and the whole thing moves. To continue the metaphor, you can’t change just one part of a racing engine without affecting the entire combination. Change the intake manifold, and you may need to change the cam, the carburetor, and perhaps even the rearend gear ratio to get maximum performance with a new setup.

    It’s easier than ever to purchase parts through online auction sites, virtual speed shops, and manufacturer websites. But are those parts in your shopping cart really the best for your application? Are they compatible? Are they high-quality components or cheap knock-offs? Before you hit the “Buy” button, it’s worthwhile talking with people who have real-world experience with building, testing, developing, and maintaining race engines.

    Let’s say you buy pistons that are advertised as having a 14:1 compression ratio. And when you assemble the engine, you discover the actual ratio is 11:1 because the valve pockets and domes are designed to clear any conceivable cam/valve/cylinder head combination. A universal piston isn’t going to be effective and efficient in a serious racing engine. You don’t need or want .300-inch piston-to-valve clearance, but that may be what you get unless you talk with an expert.

    There is no shortage of Internet experts who claim to have all the answers on engine building. Unfortunately, some keyboard gurus have little practical experience. I see endless discussions about rod length-to-stroke ratios on forums and bulletin boards, yet on the list of important factors in engine performance, rod ratio ranks about fiftieth. And please don’t get me started on cylinder head flow numbers. CFM is one of the least important characteristics of a competition cylinder head. Two head designs can have identical flow numbers, yet one will rev up and run on a racing engine, while the other is as flat as West Texas. In level of importance, the average air speed, port shape, and the efficiency characteristics of the port rank much higher than simple CFM numbers. Yet these vital characteristics are often overlooked, and most cylinder heads are sold on the basis of CFM figures.

    Drag racing is a technology-driven sport that is continuously evolving. The winners constantly look for the next step forward, not yesterday’s hot setup.
    Share this:

    Verifying your engines clearances, and rocker geometry, and use of A rocker stud girdle and high quality roller rockers go a long way towards maintaining valve train durability

    the higher rocker ratio increases the effective acceleration rate of the cams lobe ramp, being transmitted to the valve so the higher ratio tends to cause valve control issues at a lower rpm level UNLESS the valve spring load rates increased to compensate. this allows a greater area of lift or open port area so the engine will tend to run better in the mid rpm range, generally making it well worth while as the mile duration cam can use the extra lift and duration at the valve.

    before you install any cylinder head on any engine clean it carefully , verify there's zero crud in the internal passages, and verify the clearance that you can, and first clean both the block deck and cylinder head mating surfaces with a clean lint free cloth soaked in acetone,
    don,t even think of using copper paint its not designed as a true sealant in a similar application, use the correct sealant

    be aware of the quality of the components you select, there are several merchants that advertise a great deal based on lower prices, who generally deal in the lower and mid range quality products,
    and its goal seems to be a low price volume discount supply house.
    now Ive seen a few good deals, over the years but keep in mind,
    youll generally find discount price parts, use lower quality components or,
    less extensive precision machine work, or imported components or a combination of those factors to reduce price.
    now I'm not picking on the lower price parts suppliers, they certainly have a place in the economy and hobby.
    I use rockauto and advanced auto, walmart and several other suppliers,
    if I need too ,but I generally know the parts and use name brands not cheaper import clones.
    remember thats frequently a very noticeable difference in quality, in similar components,
    you may pay more for name brand parts and at times the higher cost is not justified in my opinion,
    but many of the better known brands do tend to have better quality control and R&D
    I would suggest you do research and avoid using the lowest cost import parts like bearings, brakes, and suspension parts ,
    as Ive seen horrendous quality control on some import component examples

    DO yourself a huge favor and carefully read the threads and sub links.. below
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2018
  4. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    the first few rule's of GRUMPY'S engine assembly





    (2) if in doubt, about how to do anything, on an engine, do some detailed research,
    find and compare at least 3-5 valid trust worthy sources info,
    read the instructions over again, several time's very carefully
    and if available watch several related videos.

    (3) if any component will not easily function as designed or requires a good bit of physical force to install ,
    or your not 100% sure your doing something CORRECTLY

    theres a reason, and you better verify your clearances are correct , and your following the instructions before you proceed.

    (4) never assume the parts you purchased can be used without carefully , cleaning them prior too,
    checking the physical condition, verifying clearances and using the correct sealant, lubricants etc.

    (5) the quality of a component is generally at least loosely related to the cost to produce it,
    and the amount of detailed research and quality machine work that went into its production.
    if you got a significant reduced price, theres typically a reason.
    it might simply be because a new improved part superseded the one you purchased,
    but it might be a far lower quality imported clone with lower quality materials and machine work.
    its the purchasers responsibility to research quality.

    (6) if you did not do the work personally or at least take the effort to verify it was done correctly and personally verify clearances

    ITS almost a sure thing that it was NOT done , correctly, and yes that mandates you fully understand what your looking at,
    and how the components are supposed to function and have high quality precision measuring tools.


    When the Mark IV was installed in production vehicles for the first time in 1965, it carried the Turbo-Jet name on the air cleaner, displaced 396 cubic inches, and was rated at a maximum of 425 horsepower in the Corvettes.

    Here’s a quick look at milestones in the big-block’s expanding and contracting history of displacement:

    396 cid – introduced in 1965, with 4.094-in. x 3.760-in. bore and stroke (first production Mark IV engine).

    427 cid – introduced in 1966, with 4.250-in. x 3.760-in. bore and stroke (aluminum versions used in COPO supercars).

    366 cid
    – introduced in 1968, with 3.935-in. x 3.760-in. bore and stroke (tall-deck; used in truck applications).

    402 cid – introduced in 1970, with 4.125-in. x 3.760-in. bore and stroke (advertised as 396 cid).

    454 cid – introduced in 1970, with 4.250-in. x 4.000-in. bore and stroke.

    502 cid – introduced in 1988, with 4.466-in. x 4.000-in. bore and stroke (Gen V block, originally developed for non-automotive applications; adapted later by Chevrolet Performance).

    572 cid – introduced in 2003, with 4.560-in. x 4.375-in. bore and stroke (developed by Chevrolet Performance; no production vehicle applications).

    the longer exhaust duration and wide LSA is an advantage if the exhaust is provides more time for the mass of exhaust gases to exit the cylinders,keep in mind its that properly timed exhaust that drags in the following intake charge.
    if your using open long tube headers with the proper length primary and collector design,to match your displacement ,compression ratio, and cam timing, longer exhaust duration rarely provides a useful advantage.

    read through these links, and sub links,
    yes it may take a couple days,
    but after understanding how and why things work,
    the info is sure to save you a great deal of wasted time,
    and a bunch of wasted money.

    there's a bit of discussion on cam selection in the thread links posted above and in this thread, notice the cam selected is far from the most radical that might fit the application,and there's discussion on the differential gearing intake selection and trans gearing and converter stall speed, and while the cam and heads selected were not (BY DESIGN) the components that would cost the least or produce the best peak power numbers they ARE well matched and can quite easily do two things, provide dependable and instantly available and impressive torque, and allow the car to drive without problems on the street, something, in the cars drive-able characteristics, that a much more aggressive cam, that makes a bit more peak power would most likely not provide.
    this is a factor that a great many people don,t grasp or understand, and thats correctly matching the combos characteristics to the true intended application, it makes no sense to build a 600 hp sbc that produces peak power at 6700 rpm if your car has a transmission and gearing that restrict its operation to the 1500 rpm-6300 rpm range, yet I constantly see guys read the magazine articles in places like stock car magazine and decide to try and duplicate some 600 hp plus combo they read about on a street car engine build, then they proceed to really screw it up further because they decide that the expensive cylinder heads and block machine work can be ignored to save money, so they substitute much less expensive components and don,t match the drive train and gearing and act stunned and amazed when the combo of mis-matched components runs like crap, gets into detonation issues and surges and bucks at anything under 4500 rpm.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2018
  5. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    Im always amazed frankly at guys that insist they need a certain cylinder head port CC size for an engine, especially when I doubt theres been much if any time spent actually doing the required calculations required to find the correct cross sectional area of an engines intake port or manifold runner length, and you can,t possibly do that required math with out matching the engines displacement, compression ratio, intended power band,rear gear ratio, tire size,cam timing (lift & duration) valve curtain size, after measuring the cylinder head port cross sectional area, and header primary size and length.
    I see guys have long discussions about things like the difference in port cross sectional area or the best connecting rod length, to use, no one factor is going to make your engine totally dominate the competition, its a combo of small almost insignificant individual component choices being made and a good deal of time and effort taken during the assembly and clearancing work, that stack up to give you or prevent you from maximizing the engines performance.
    you may not even think about factors like polishing crank journals, or valve train geometry or intake runner cross sectioinal area or length ,or intake runner port matching or surface finish, but the combined effects of your choices and components selected do mater!
    look guys I think a good deal of this discussion is missing the point here, Ive built well over 150 engines in the last 45 years, (I lost cound decades ago)
    but I can assure you that longer rods and the easily verifyable slight increase in dwell time, the longer rods produce will be totally meaningless UNLESS, you design the engine for and select components too take full advantage of the minor increase, by carefully calculating the REQUIRED compression ratio,fuel octane required,all the factors related to the cam timing,(duration,lift, LCA) you calculate and build and install, and tune the engine for , a matched exhaust header scavenging (header primairy length and diameter plus collector design) and the intake runner length and cross sectional area, to maximize the cylinder scavenging effects, plus you match the fuel/air ratio, and ignition advance curve, to maximize that longer dwell times potential advantage.

    I often have guys state they NEED a 180cc or 170CC port head to maintain low speed torque, then the same guys insist they need a VIC JR single plane intake and a 750 cfm holley double pumper carb, (for better peak power) and they will also point out the need for RAMS HORN EXHAUST MANIFOLDS to maintain good flow but save the cost of headers..obviously the list of mis-matched parts selected could be endless, the main point is that guys read some magazine article , and assume the limited info they read, is valid! (and not knowing that most of the stuff not being mentioned, and purposely over looked is critical) like the fact the car has a 4.11:1 rear gear and a 3200 rpm stall converter, ported heads, and extensive tuning, a non-stock ignition, and other mods.. and then they mistakenly assume the little info they do see, relates to every possible combo.
    guys come away from reading the magazine articles, thinking all, thats required to built a killer engine, is slapping a listed cam and vortec heads with some trick intake manifold on a low compression 350 sbc to run killer times and do endless burn-outs

    the very mention of the fact that theres MATH formulas available to actually calculate the correct matched components has never once been mentioned, and when it is I get that deer in the head lights stare or Im ignored as an OBVIOUS JERK who is just out to piss on their pizza , as they have read through several magazine articles so they know exactly whats needed!
    selecting the CORRECT MATCHING CYLINDER HEADS is not a randomly made choice if your doing it correctly, its a process of matching the needs of the engines requirements under known or at least expected conditions.
    yes its a KNOWN process with well understood MATH and REQUIRED testing, if your not following a know recipe exactly.

    mention the fact theres actual tests for ideal fuel /air ratio, exhaust back pressure in the exhaust system,and intake plenum vacuum , fuel distribution, bearing surface speeds, rpm limitations , and ignition timing , valve float, air flow rates in the intake ports , port stall and they look at you like you are 9 feet tall and just stepped of a flying saucer

    While cheat sheets might have frowned upon in your sixth-grade classroom, we strongly encourage them in the garage, shop, or pits. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 13 key performance formulas you should know when building or tuning your street or race vehicle. dynamic Comp Ratio.htm

    Racing Carburetor CFM
    Racing Carburetor CFM = RPM x Displacement ÷ 3456 x 1.1
    Note: Summit Racing also offers this CFM Calculator to make the job easier.

    Displacement = .7854 x Bore2 x Stroke x Number of Cylinders

    Correct Compression Ratio (CCR)
    CCR = FCR (Altitude/1,000) x .2
    Note: You can also take this Compression Ratio Calculator tool for a spin.

    Tire Diameter
    Tire Diameter = (MPH x Gear Ratio x 336) ÷ RPM

    Rocker Arm Ratio and Valve Lift
    Gross Valve Lift = Camshaft Lobe Lift x Rocker Arm Ratio

    Horsepower = (RPM x Torque) ÷ 5,252

    Torque = (5,252 x HP) ÷ RPM

    Rod Ratio
    Rod Ratio = Rod Length ÷ Crank Stroke Length

    Average Piston Speed
    Average Piston Speed = Crank Stroke x RPM ÷ 6

    Rear Gear Ratio
    Rear Gear Ratio = (RPM at Finish Line x Tire Diameter) ÷ (MPH x 336)
    Note: You can also save this link to a handy Gear Ratio calculator.

    Volume (CCs) of Deck Clearance
    CCs of Deck Clearance = Bore x Bore x 12.87 x Depth of Deck Clearance

    Volume (CCs) of Head Gasket
    CCs of Head Gasket = Bore x Bore x 12.87 x Thickness of Head Gasket
    felpro # 1204=Port Size: 1.23" x 1.99"=2.448 sq inches

    felpro # 1205=Port Size: 1.28" x 2.09"=2.67 sq inches

    felpro # 1206=Port Size: 1.34" x 2.21"=2.96 sq inches

    felpro # 1207=Port Size: 1.38" x 2.28"=3.146 sq inches

    felpro # 1209=Port Size: 1.38" x 2.38"=3.28 sq inches

    felpro # 1255 VORTEC=Port Size: 1.08" x 2.16"-2.33 sq inches

    felpro # 1263=Port Size: 1.31" x 2.02"=2.65 sq inches

    felpro # 1266=Port Size: 1.34" x 2.21"=2.96 sq inches

    felpro # 1284 LT1=Port Size: 1.25 x 2.04''=2.55 sq inches

    felpro # 1289 FASTBURN=Port Size: 1.30" x 2.31" 3.00 sq inches

    heres a chart FROM THE BOOK,HOW TO BUILD BIG-INCH CHEVY SMALL BLOCKS with some common cross sectional port sizes
    (measured at the smallest part of the ports)
    ...........................sq inches........port cc
    edelbrock performer rpm ....1.43.............170
    afr 180.....................1.93.............180
    afr 195.....................1.98.............195
    afr 210.....................2.05.............210
    dart pro 200................2.06.............200
    dart pro 215................2.14.............215
    brodix track 1 .............2.30.............221
    dart pro 1 230..............2.40.............230
    edelbrock 23 high port .....2.53.............238
    edelbrock 18 deg............2.71.............266
    tfs 18 deg..................2.80.............250


    you may be amazed to find a great deal of research and testing has been done and theres actually proven facts rather than random guess work to use in planing a well built engine combo



    reading a few links and sub links is well worth the time and effort


    why is it that darn near everyone just reads a few magazine articles and assumes that when they show remarkable gains from a cam swap that they don,t mentally step back and ask what to me is an obvious question, "WHAT DID YOU DO THAT YOU FAILED TO MENTION?" like new valve springs ,new rockers, larger injectors porting etc. look the fact is that most stock valve trains are not designed to run at over 6000rpm, and most cars have injectors sized for the original power level, and most cars have automatic transmissions and rear gear ratios , and compression ratios more designed to lower emissions and increase mileage than to maximize peak power, so swapping a new more aggressive cam MANDATES other changes, like long tube low restriction headers and a low restriction exhaust behind the headers, to allow it to function to its full potential, and additions like an additional trans fluid cooler to math the higher heat produced by a higher stall speed torque converter and a different rear gear ratio, and better valve springs, higher cost roller rockers and porting the heads and intake is conveniently ignored,and that the original stock parts won,t work well with the new performance cam, without the parts they forgot to mention when that miracle cam jumped the peak power 80 plus hp is simply ignored, as posting that info might reduce sales of the cam the articles pushing for sale are not compatible with a noticeably longer duration cam. its the combo of small improvements and intelligently selected matched components that adds up, to allow you to build an impressive engine.
    choices like upgrading from the stock rocker arms on an Lt1/Lt4 to a set of quality aftermarket full roller rockers with a 1.6:1 ratio might only produce small gains by themselves but
    keep in mind that on an LT1/LT4 engine, in a corvette, that had about a 330-350 hp rating, the rockers having a gain of 12hp-17hp like I mentioned is about a 4%-5% boost, while its not going to pin you back in the seat during acceleration it might put you an extra 8-10 feet ahead in a 1/4 mile drag race as you go through the lights compared to the old combo

    spending a few days or even weeks doing careful research well before you start writing checks or pulling out a credit card, can save you thousands of dollars and months of work, understanding the difference in component quality ,correct clearances and how and why each component is supposed to perform and the potential stress its under helps you make far more intellegent choices and tends to allow you to get an engine built that far exceeds the quality and performance of the average crate engine assembly

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2017
  6. 87vette81big

    87vette81big Guest

    I Really enjoy Reading your Personal Ancidotes Grumpy.

    Big Blocks for me.
    1 Street Engine.

    The other Race Engine.
  7. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    they purposely
    little things like having to spend 45 hours porting the heads and intake,or clearance milling the block, or welding on the oil pan,to get them functioning correctly, or having to junk the original valves and valve springs and retainers to get the proper geometry, just get ignored
    and concentrate on promoting this month favored part vendors product
    most engine builds are at best thinly disguised advertisements for some vendor, or LIST OF VENDORS components
    notice the list of manufacturers commonly listed in the article

    youll rarely if ever see any detailed description of the valve train components
    what the exact valve train clearances were the type of valves used the multi angle valve jobs
    the back cuts on valves
    what the part number was on the valves, or keepers, retainer, valve springs, shims cups clearances.

    thats simply because, of experience!
    lets assume you have a 1969 camaro , that looks great like this

    with several aluminum or fiberglass components and get the weight down near 3200 lbs with you in the car!
    I learned decades ago that you can have choices and choices have concequences,spin a small efficient , high compression (12.5:1) engine , like a 302 sbc with a carefully assembled solid lifter valve train to 7500-8000 rpm
    and make lets say 1.5 hp per cubic inch (302 x 1.5-or 1.6:1 = about 450 hp- maybe even 480 hp) and use expensive race octane fuel, which gets constantly more expensive and limits what you can do and where you can go with the car,
    or you can build a 496 BBC,
    now lets say you build it to have 10.5:1 compression so you can run it on premium pump 95 octane(hard but not impossible to find, especially if you are willing to add some octane booster occasionally.
    4200 fpm with a 302 and its 3" stroke = 8400 rpm
    lets say you cam that 302 so your making 350 ft lbs at 7000-rpm. thats 466 hp
    or you build the 496 and make lets say 1.3 hp per cubic inch, and 1.3 ft lbs per cubic inch of displacement and with its 4.25" stroke the same 4200 fpm, limits you to, about 6000 rpm.
    the 496 BBC makes nearly 645 hp and 645 ft lbs, and while it weights about 100 lbs more and might cost an additional $1000-$2000 additional to build
    (remember the small blocks going to require an expensive valve train and decent forged components just like the BBC if you want both engines to last long term)
    lets say we go with a 4 speed muncie in the 302 and match it to a 12 bolt with 4.56:1 rear gears
    on the BBC we instal a 4l80R and a dana 60 so between the transmission, 3.55:1 rear differential and engine the BBC 496 car easily weights an aditional 330 lbs

    your killer sbc in the 3200 lb camaro with its 466 flywheel hp is maybe at 400 rear wheel hp, that equates to about....Your ET / MPH computed from your vehicle weight of 3200 pounds and HP of 400 is running near, 11.65 seconds and MPH of 116.01 MPH.

    your much more street friendly 496 cubic inch pump gas BBC 3530 lb camaro has about 540 rear wheel hp
    Your ET / MPH computed from your vehicle weight of 3530 pounds and HP of 540 is running 10.89 seconds and MPH of 124.09 MPH.
    or close to a second faster, its much easier to drive and you can actually go on trips because if your careful pump gas can be used.
    think about the difference here, one car sounds impressive like a chain saw running nitro methane, its damn impressive running mid 11 second times at near 116 mph in the 1/4 mile but you don,t get to drive it much on the street because race octane fuel cost over $4 a gallon, and it runs like crap under 3500rpm

    on the other hand the BBC version runs pump high test (maybe a bit of octane booster) and costs you maybe an additional $3-$4 k to build but its damn near bullet proof and you can jump in and drive from Colorado to Miami if you wanted to with a more reasonable expectation of arriving without having had and issues.
    (keep in mind with 28" rear tires
    the manual muncie sbc car spins roughly 3800 rpm at 70 mph.
    the BBC version with the OD trans and the same tires is spinning about 2300 rpm on the same trip at 70 mph

    yeah! thats one extremely common reason why guys fail to build a decent engine,
    I can,t begin to list the number of times I've had some guy ask me to build him an engine ,that will make 500,or 600 hp, for his muscle car, and when I explain whats involved in time and money to do it correctly,
    and propose a very detailed list of the required machine work and draw up a parts list,of a well tested , known combo, I've built, before
    without any doubt the first thing out of their mouths is the fact they want to substitute 1/2 of the parts for less expensive components,
    and skip 3/4's of the machine work and then use a few parts they already own
    they invariably are convinced that cheaper similar parts will work out fine and cost less!

    When I explain that we can follow their version but it won,t make anywhere near the same power,
    they generally can,t or won,t believe me.... at first!

    I generally say, look this is a bit like backing a cake, if the recipe, calls for 2 cups of cane sugar and that sugar costs $4, and you go to the local store and find you can buy SALT that looks identical, for 79 cents, you could use that and save almost 80% on the cost!
    both items are white granular substances, they look almost identical,, both are commonly used and there,s not a damn thing wrong with either product,
    but I can assure you the resulting "
    cake"or ENGINE, built using the less expensive substitute product will result in a much different finished result.
    then I point out that THEY will be buying the parts and paying the local machine shop bills for the things I don,t have the required , tools to complete, and I'm probably not going to make over $5 an hour for the week or mores time that the project will require.
    they have a choice, they can go to almost any local machine shop or buy a crate engine and in either case spend less money, but they are also not going to get the same end result.
    you can take your time, take advantage of decades of experience, and learn how and why things get done a certain way ,and measure and carefully clearance and fit components and do things correctly
    you can buy and assemble any random list of parts, or buy a crate engine, in either case your car will probably be up and running in a few weeks,
    if you want things done correctly you,ll spend a good deal more time and probably 60%-to 200% more money , but I will not be making squat on the deal,but I will get a good deal of satisfaction from the end result.
    yes I enjoy the builds and enjoy teaching, and yes I love watching guys, who correctly built their engines, blow the doors off the guys who go the crate engine route , or slap together random components.....this is not and never has been a money making proposition, and I don,t work too a stop watch....if it takes longer and costs a good deal more thats the price of quality, ..but I do have a decent list of satisfied people who like the results they got from building their engine with a good bit of help, many have returned several times over the decades, and I sleep well knowing they did the job correctly.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  8. Loves302Chevy

    Loves302Chevy "One test is worth a thousand expert opinions."

    Yeah. That's funny. When is the last time you saw anyone that could actually make change for a dollar without the cash register telling them?
    If we lost power long term today, within a week 1/3 of the population would be DEAD.
  9. 87vette81big

    87vette81big Guest

    LOL Mike.
  10. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    I was recently over at a friends home where he showed me a back un-used bedroom,
    it was partly filled with a stack of boxes from summit, jegs etc.
    and he had a legal pad with a good percentage of the parts he wanted to use,
    listed and checked off,and it was obvious he had put a good deal of thought and money already into his dream car.
    I think most of us have run into a great many similar choices, between buying tools and auto parts,
    its simply the result of a limited budget ,in most cases,
    and most of us make a few mistakes ,
    but as long as you keep the goal of building the car in mind you'll do ok.
    after you gain experience there's both engineering and art involved in the process,
    you'll generally start with a goal, you've envisioned for your car, reality and physics will provide some of the limitations, you'll be limited to a budget and at times by your access too tools and limited by your skills and knowledge, youll generally start,by simply making a very detailed list of the components you want too use ,to upgrade and modify the car to gain the performance and look of the car, and once you have that list of components, and being forced by going back through that detailed, list and doing the required math too verify you have selected the correct matching parts, and when you find you have to change a few components you go back, change the list and again revue the math, most of us start out without the required knowledge to accurately match parts and your goal.
    yet this process forces you to do some research into what you can reasonably accomplish with the tools and skills you have and the realization that you may need to acquire both skills and more tools as you proceed.
    He had that legal pad, where he had listed the exact components he had decided he needed to build,his dream car and its engine and drive train.
    I looked over the list and if he ever gets it completed and assembled he will have one kick-butt car & engine combo.
    I had to admire his determination, as his intention is to build a 540 cubic inch, centrifugally super charged, and intercooled,
    and fuel injected, big block chevy engine that should easily put 800hp to the rear wheels.
    he wants to put a 4l80e transmission and dana 60 rear differential in a 1969 camaro
    I'm fairly sure many of the guys reading through this don,t or have not dealt with, or built enough engines, and been involved with enough of the engine builds to realize the various manufacturers approach building components with a great many different objectives in mind,
    component parts vary and careful research and selection is required!
    I've always found SCAT and CROWER parts seem to be a good value!
    keep in mind the "weakest link in the chain" concept,
    Any logical engine builder needs to sellect components with a firm goal in mind and recognize the intended power band and rpm limitations.
    need there's not much sense in selecting a rotating assembly that is built to easily handle lets say 1200 hp and 7800 rpm, at 4500 fpm in piston speeds,
    if the block main caps walk at much lower stress levels, or if the block your thinking of using it in,will most likely have the caps walk well below that stress level.
    nore would it make sense, using such a high dollar rotating assembly if your going to match it with a valve train and hydraulic roller cam that floats valves at 6400 rpm, or heads that reach port stall at 6700 rpm
    have you ever taken the time, and effort,
    too step back and grab a legal pad and pen, and logically make a reasonably complete list of the parts you,ll need,
    and do the research required too list every part, (including all the small components like bolts, bearings gaskets) and their current cost, where you can find those components for sale, and part number, brand and supplier, and the phone numbers etc.
    and call a local machine shop to get a better idea as to the labor cost of a project your looking into starting?
    once you do theres commonly three things youll face,
    the first is generally a sense of being over whelmed and depressed at the un-expected,total projected cost!
    the second is a very common and strong temptation to either scrap the whole idea or to start substituting cheaper and generally considerably lower quality components that in the long run will eventually make the completed project either not worth owning and certainly something your less than proud to own.
    and the third is the strong tendency to purchase parts that you find for bargain priced that either are not well matched to the intended projects goals, or nearly useless when matched to the project goals, but the bargain price seems nearly impossible to pass on.

    all these tendency's result in a great many partly complete or abandoned projects, or projects that don,t resemble anything close to the original intent, or projects that never get started in the first place.
    the completion of a well designed project will take some detailed planing and the ability to stick with the original projects part list and goals, and doing your research in detail, as to both the parts and machine shop costs, the time required and in many cases the tools that you might need,and of course youll need a place to work and store the project while its being built or repaired, well before you start buying components
    my dad always stated..

    "A couple hours , well spent in doing carefully documented &,detailed research,
    before.... jumping head first off the dock,
    into any project,....can prevent you from wasting month's of non-productive work and a wheel barrow full of cash!!"

    I was impressed that he had taken the effort to select matched components like
    AFR 315cc heads


    holley throttle body

    holley 83 lb injectors

    3200 rpm stall converter

    crane hydraulic roller cam

    crane roller rockers

    dart block
    • Siamesed Extra-Thick Cylinder Walls: Resists cracking and improves ring seal (minimum .300'' thick with 4.625'' bore).
    • Scalloped Outer Water Jacket Walls: Improves coolant flow around the cylinder barrels to equalize temperatures.
    • Four-Bolt Main Bearing Caps: In steel or ductile iron have splayed outer bolts for extra strength.
    • Crankshaft Tunnel: Has clearance for a 4.500'' stroke crank with steel rods without grinding.
    • True ''Priority Main'' Oil System: Lubricates the main bearings before the lifters.
    • Oil Filter Pad: Drilled and tapped for an external oil pump.
    • Rear Four-Bolt Cap: Uses standard oil pump and two-piece seal - no adapter required!
    • Lifter Valley Head Stud Bosses: Prevent blown head gaskets between head bolts.
    • External Block Machining: Reduces weight without sacrificing strength.
    • Simplified Install : Fuel pump boss, clutch linkage mounts and side & front motor mounts simplfy installation on any chassis.
    • Dual Oil Pan Bolt Patterns: Fits standard and notched oil pans.
    • Bellhousing Flange and Rear Main Bearing: Reinforced with ribs to resist cracks.
    • Note: Does not include cam bearings, freeze plugs, or dowels
    rotating assembly
    It really pays to step back and make a list of your basic goals, your skills, and to think through where your going to work on any project you start and think through what you want to have once its built, and realistically think about your budget, and the time it will take, and realize any budget you write out at the start of any muscle car restoration project,is likely to realistically be about 1/3 to 1/2 of the real price,by the time your finished and it runs correctly, you'll have a good grasp on the hobby.
    a good many guys start a project without listed goals, It helps to join a local car club to make contacts in this hobby so you can gain skills and get discounts on parts, and having several friends who are building similar cars rarely hurts either.
    and if you really don,t know what you want too be driving in a few years you can spend amazing amounts of cash on parts you really can,t use and waste a great deal of time on a car that your never going to be happy driving.
    but if you stop and think things through carefully and list the type of car, its engine and drive train, your favorite color, the type of interior, and other, characteristics, and then make a detailed list of the components and tools you,ll need and the skills you might need to acquire to build it, your much more likely to accomplish your goals and be happy with the results.
    this whole forum.. is installed and maintained to make it easy for both the beginners and the very experienced hot rodders to find, or post information regarding various car and engine related subjects, youll find threads generally have links to related info,
    no your not having anything extraordinary happen,
    if your building your first engine and running into quite a few problems ,
    with the assembly process or sloppy machine shop work!
    slapping something together vs
    are vastly different concepts
    I look back on the first few engines I built when I was about 17,
    and I'm amazed they even ran.
    I had never heard of ring gaps,
    yet in-spite of that the cars engine started and ran.
    A great deal of the content in this whole web sites based
    on the idea that readers can benefit from reading about how too ,
    avoiding the expensive mistakes many of us older geezers made in the past,
    and learning how things should have been done correctly
    theres no possible way that I can know each particular problems cause, or suggest the best possible parts choice, or process to fix it, in every case ,unless you post detailed info and perhaps clear pictures. so I try to make it far easier to find answers to the more common problems and questions.
    I try to give a good over view on how things work, how they can be tested and what commonly fails.
    or I try to provide links to related sources to make your search for information related to any subject covered both easy to find and as extensive as you care to push into your research. I've been building engines and racing for 45 plus years and while I have done many things.
    I've built well over a 170 plus engines in 45 plus years , but keep in mind thats only 2-4 engines a year most years, Im always learning and looking to learn from others in this hobby ,so if you can add useful links or information or just as questions to clarify an answer or question you read on the site,to clear up a question or find an answer too the info please do so.

    loosely related threads

    each area has machine shops with different tools, experience and unfortunately some machinists have attitude issues
    and don,t seem to think delivering top quality work at reasonable prices and on promised delivery dates are a reasonable expectation.

    related threads
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
    Strictly Attitude likes this.
  11. Strictly Attitude

    Strictly Attitude solid fixture here in the forum

    Plans on paper are way more likely to happen then one in your mind
    Loves302Chevy likes this.
  12. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    I recently got an e-mail telling me they really appreciated the advice I had previously given them on a BBC engine project,
    but I had made a point out of suggesting they print out a detailed list of the parts and machine work they needed to accomplish the goal they set,
    and now for some strange reason , every time they get a few hundred dollars saved they look at the list, and have an obsessive urge,
    to buy some minor component that they can currently afford so they can cross it off the list of components,
    they know they need, but because of that, purchase they seem to always be depressed that they never seem to save up the money to purchase the major components,
    like blocks or rotating assemblies or cylinder heads.and looking at shelves full of dozens of components they know they need to build their planed dream car combo, is getting very depressing!
    I fully realize all too well that this hobby is rather expensive and it also takes a good deal of time and effort to learn the skills and afford the parts for most of us.
    one of the major reasons I started this web site was to help readers on this site avoid making expensive mistakes ,and too learn those skills, thus reducing the time and expense required.

    learning from mistakes , and successes other people have made helps reduce your potential cost and effort.
    it helps a great deal if you take the time and effort to find a trust worthy and reasonably priced local machine shop , and trust me when I say this is critical, and yes, the machinist will seem to point out endless things that should be done to increase durability, or just allow proper component function,and a good machinist will try to guide you in component selection to help avoid mis-matched parts and low quality parts being used, yes quality parts and machine work, ALWAYS COST more than you may expect them too!

    yes logically they could save up and spend the cask on the major components like the blocks or rotating assemblies or cylinder heads, but inevitably, if they wait that long some family emergency developed and the cash reserve,
    they had planed to spend gets spent else ware?
    I simply stated that is an all to common in fact expected result in this hobby and many guys go and use the credit card option and as a result they get themselfs into financial issues !
    theres simply no free lunch in life and the best option Ive found is to get side jobs and use that cash toward the project goal rather than the basic household budget.
    have any of you gentlemen found better options in the course of financing your projects?
    this whole forum.. is installed and maintained to make it easy for both the beginners and the very experienced hot rodders to find, or post information regarding various car and engine related subjects, youll find threads generally have links to related info,
    no your not having anything extraordinary happen,
    if your building your first engine and running into quite a few problems ,
    with the assembly process or sloppy machine shop work!
    slapping something together vs
    are vastly different concepts
    I look back on the first few engines I built when I was about 17,
    and I'm amazed they even ran.
    I had never heard of ring gaps,
    yet in-spite of that the cars engine started and ran.
    A great deal of the content in this whole web sites based
    on the idea that readers can benefit from reading about how too ,
    avoiding the expensive mistakes many of us older geezers made in the past,
    and learning how things should have been done correctly
    theres no possible way that I can know each particular problems cause, or suggest the best possible parts choice, or process to fix it, in every case ,unless you post detailed info and perhaps clear pictures. so I try to make it far easier to find answers to the more common problems and questions.
    I try to give a good over view on how things work, how they can be tested and what commonly fails.
    or I try to provide links to related sources to make your search for information related to any subject covered both easy to find and as extensive as you care to push into your research. I've been building engines and racing for 45 plus years and while I have done many things.
    I've built well over a 170 plus engines in 45 plus years , but keep in mind thats only 2-4 engines a year most years, Im always learning and looking to learn from others in this hobby ,so if you can add useful links or information or just as questions to clarify an answer or question you read on the site,to clear up a question or find an answer too the info please do so.

    Its up to the guy who assembles or builds an engine to verify that the machine work on any components been done correctly,
    theres unfortunately a good percentage of machine shops that don,t employ people that have the skills and experience,
    or the tooling to do the work correctly, or in some cases and desire or capacity to accurately measure the components accurately,
    before and after precision machine works been done.
    I'd bet 90% plus of the people who have a machine shop do precision work on any major engine component, like that
    would have naturally assumed that the precision machine work was done correctly,
    and simply assembled the engine without thinking a second about that work being done correctly.
    this is one reason I strongly suggest most serious engine builders may want to have some precision,measuring tools,
    and spend the time and effort to check that machine shop work you paid good money for, was in fact, done correctly ,

    taking the time too verify the precision machine work was done correctly,
    takes a good deal of the time required, in any engine build
    (vs slapping parts together out of the box and wondering why it never quite runs up to your expectations)
    and yes you probably could use the block in its current condition and find the engine runs,
    and most people would never know the engines measurements were not correct or why the engine did not produce power to its full potential,
    and the results might be so close that it would hardly matter ,too most car/engine owners.
    but that engine block machine work ,being off specs, does not mean its been built correctly either
    I have to point out I have 50 plus years devoted to gaining knowledge ,
    about how you succeed at building reliable engines,and I pay a great deal of attention to the successful combos ,
    and I've taken the effort too learn why the less successful combos failed.
    now the truth is Ive made more than my full share of mistakes, but unlike most people,
    I learn from my mistakes and the mistakes made by others and don,t generally repeat them.
    I also take the time and effort to find out why parts fail, or why various mis-matched components don,t work well.
    that seems to be a rather unique skill, from what I've seen.
    if you take the time and effort required to read enough threads and linked info you'll see a pattern emerge!
    its based on a concept that its far better to sacrifice a few peak potential horse power if thats required,
    if that change can make a very noticeable improvement in the engines long term durability!
    or as SMOKEY YUNICK used to say, the most important characteristic in building a race winning combo,
    is simply that the most successful engine combo is based on an engine that has to finish the race in good running condition.
    that in no way should be read as I can,t build a kick-butt engine with massive power, it just means that rock solid durability ,
    takes presidence over adding a few additional peak, bragging hp, and a wide torque curve in the intended rpm range ,
    adequate lubrication, cooling and staying out of detonation, and proper exhaust scavenging and a stable valve train,
    are factors that take a far higher level of concern than bragging rights on a dyno.
    or put differently, do it correct the first time, use the best parts you can afford , check your clearances, mandate 100% durability,
    and strive for max torque in the intended rpm range, and let the hp numbers fall where they may!
    Ive build almost 200 engines now over the last 50 years, and I can,t remember anyone having one fail unless they did something stupid,
    like forget to check oil or coolant levels too repeatedly try to hit absurdly high rpms on a frequent recurring basis.
    piston speed should be kept under about 4500 fpm, and even that should not be done constantly.
    most engine failures are the result of valve train component or rotating component failures,
    use of parts not designed for the stress levels,
    detonation or lack of proper clearances and lubrication and lack of proper cooling,
    control those factors and your engine lasts considerably longer
    my dad always stated..

    "A couple hours , well spent in doing carefully documented &,detailed research,
    before.... jumping head first off the dock,
    into any project,....can prevent you from wasting month's of non-productive work and a wheel barrow full of cash!!"

    related threads
    I know that a good deal of the money I probably would be spending on my dream project,
    of installing a killer BBC in one of my corvettes with a 4l80E transmission,
    goes too keeping this web-site up and running,
    or supporting my sons family who seems to have permanently moved into my home,
    and lets me basically support him now that hes too sick to work,
    so getting financially side tracked is hardly rare!
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  13. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    When your planing to build a performance car, I've found it helps,
    you see progress being made and prevents you from getting discouraged as easily,
    if you work on accumulating components for each of the 8 basic sub assemblies,
    and checking off your list those components and grouping those on a separate shelf,
    as doing so tends to allow you to see more consistent progress,
    being made, and you get a feeling your getting someplace.
    look through these threads
    yeah I know a few of you would rather gargle broken glass scrap than read links and sub-links but trust me if I tell you in the long term, youll gain a wealth of info you need to use to build an exceptional and durable engine, the secret is mostly in getting each component working to its maximum efficiency and in maximizing durability, you won,t win many races or enjoy owning the car if it spends most of its life being repaired or waiting for replacement components to arive, and in many cases simply thinking things through, and selecting the best quality matched components you can afford, and carefully installing them with the correct clearances and lubrication and cooling goes a long way to reaching that goal.
    if you, as the engine builder, have a choice.
    ID suggest you always give up that 5% in peak power potential,you might get by running on the ragged edge , if you can gain 10%-20% increased durability, by not pushing things to just at the point the parts are likely to fail, and knowing that point takes either experience or knowledge gained by watching others fail. and in many cases thats an option if you fully understand exactly how and why things are intended to function.
    porting that intake port wall paper thin , pushing the rpm's you your constantly bouncing the valve train into valve float, or not having consistent oil flow on the critical components might seem like a route to gain an edge in power needed to win races, its much more likely to see you drain your checking account trying to do expensive repair work when components get pushed to the point of catastrophic failure


    notice how the rod bolts come close to the cam bearings and cam lobes,as the pistons reach top dead canter in the bores, this clearance must be individually checked and should be no less than about .060 (generally you cam use a LARGE plastic tie-wrap, you must install the timing set and index the cam correctly to get a valid clearance , as the cam lobes rotate and at some point they can be incorrectly indexed too hit the rods, while they would not if correctly timed.

    placed between the cam lobe and connecting rod bolts or connecting rod shoulder areas to check clearances as the soft tie-wrap will not damage the cam lobe while you verify clearances)



    why you need to verify the cam to rod bolt clearance

    rods that use bolts with nuts like pictured below will be weakened if excessively clearance ground
    stroker profile rods offer more clearance to cam lobes, and yes the stroker clearanced profile rods are available in both (h) and (I ) beam designs
    on some stroker applications SOME rods need to have the bolts ground for cam lobe clearance
    first step.

    before you start panicking and potentially wasting money and time.
    would be to assemble a single piston and rod assembly without rings,
    but ideally with some old bearings on the crank and connecting rod and install the cam, in the block
    ( indexed with a simple,dot to dot timing on the timing gear sets should be ok at this point)
    move that connecting rod and piston to all 8 locations and very carefully verify clearances (remember the rod clearance bevel faces the crank counter weight and the piston valve clearances face the outer block)through the full 720 degree rotational cycle, remember the cam spins at 1/2 the crank speed so the cam lobe comes close to the rod every other rotation,
    and actually verify you DO, have or DON,T have a potential clearance problem
    theres zero sense in runninbg around pulling your hair out and screaming until,
    theres actually a PROVEN ISSUE too SOLVE (THERE MAY NOT BE!)
    now if you find theres an issue to be solved you proceed using facts
    and while your checking the cam lobe to connecting rod clearance check the connecting rod to block clearance ....yes the same minimum .060-.080 clearance is suggested

    generally its a minor easily done clearance job
    don,t forget to verify the cam to connecting rod clearances
    a cams VALVE LIFT is determined by the DISTANCE the lifter moves as the cam rotates under the lifter base as it moves from the cam lobe base circle
    (the closest the lifter comes to the cams center line)
    up to the cam lobes ramp to the lobes peak,
    (the furthest the lifter up off or from the cams center line)
    don,t forget to carefully check the piston skirt to crank counter weight clearance, it should be a MINIMUM of .080 thousands

    heres some pictures taken of an engine assembly that use a crank designed for a MINIMUM of a 6.25" connecting rod that was used with a 6.135" connecting rod

    you can clearly see where the piston pin boss was being hit bye the counter weights, even though the builder checked one piston and found it had .025 clearance during assembly


    the result was a trashed engine with lots of damage


    (1) BLOCK (bearings, freeze plugs main caps and machine work)

    (2) ROTATING ASSEMBLY (crank, rods pistons, rings, flywheel,damper etc.)

    (3) CYLINDER HEADS and VALVE TRAIN ( valves, valve springs, cam, timing gears, rockers, valve guides, push-rods lifters . etc.)

    (4)INDUCTION(manifold, throttle body, sensors, carbs, supercharger, injection , fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator injectors etc.)

    (5) DRIVE TRAIN ASSEMBLY COMPONENTS(clutch, stall converter, transmission ETC.)

    (6) ignition system (distributor,coils, ignition wires, magneto etc.)

    (7) LUBE SYSTEM (oil pan, oil pump, windage tray,oil cooler, ETC.)
    these threads and links and sub-links might help

    (8) EXHAUST (headers and exhaust system, mufflers ETC.)

    please let us know the parts list and machine work you have done,
    and the eventual results you get and your driving impressions.
    once the cars engine is installed and tuned and tested out.
    you'll have much better results if you don,t randomly select parts,
    and keep in mind a trusted machine shop, and listening too advice from an experienced machinist,
    can help prevent you from a great many mistakes ,Try to find some friendly, knowledgeable older geezer,
    with 30-45 plus years of experience building race engines

    and if your going too build an engine for bracket racing,
    you,ll want to get the static compression up to about 11.5:1-12.5:1 ( MINIMUM,)

    and use race octane fuel, (do the required calculations) not crappy pump gas.
    youll want to build the lightest weight car you can, because weight,
    or increased mass takes more energy (hp) to accelerate,
    building an engine to maximize torque over the intended rpm range,
    and gearing the car too match that, and tuning the tires and suspension to use that available torque is key,
    as it tends to maximize your cars potential.

    if you find the rotating assembly is more difficult to rotate than you expected, you may want to verify some clearance issues that get over looked at times,
    theres also some, other potential issues,
    theres a slight potential for the piston wrist pins too not rotate effortlessly in the piston pin bores ,

    that may add to the difficulty in rotating the assembly in the block.
    the piston rings must have vertical and back clearance in the piston ring grooves



    Piston Ring Groove Clearance
    Pistons are grooved to fit rings that seal the cylinder’s compression and allow for lubrication of the cylinder walls. Piston rings come in a set. There are two compression rings. The top ring is affected by the most cylinder compression pressures. The second compression ring reinforces the top ring. The third ring down is the oil ring. It controls lubrication between the piston and cylinder bore.

    Place the new ring into the top piston groove, and then place a feeler gauge into the gap between the new ring and the upper land. Move around the pistons groove and obtain a few measurements. Compare this reading to specifications. If this reading is too much and the gap is too large, the piston must be replaced. The top ring takes the most compression. This causes the ring to slap against and wear the lands in the piston groove.



    and of course the pistons must have the correct piston too bore clearance. and connecting rod can only be installed facing one direction
    [​IMG] dynamic Comp Ratio.htm

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
    Strictly Attitude likes this.
  14. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    (Words and photos by Scott Liggett) – We know many Bang Shifters are not made out of money. We are in that crowd ourselves. Any way we can save money on our project cars allows us to have a better car or truck. The easiest place to save money using our time and sweat instead of paying shop labor rates. One place many people often over look is the assembly part of rebuilding an engine.
    Sure, there are few that have access to the tools necessary to do machine work on our engines, but putting together an engine doesn’t require fancy tools. A good torque wrench is about the only fancy tool that we needed putting together a 454 we recently had machined for a rebuild. Since we were getting estimates up to $500 from machine shops to assemble our engine, we decided that we save that money by taking the time to do it ourselves. That is just putting the new parts and machined block, crank and rods back together.

    Yes, we were a bit apprehensive to do it. Engines are not cheap to get built these days. That can scare many people away from attempting this kind of work. But, after talking to some friends and our machine shops, we decided to go for it.

    Truth be told, this is our second time assembling this 454 after machine work. But, the reasoning for this had nothing to do with the machine work done, or assembly job. We had two things that had us pulling the engine again after only 10,000 miles. First, we had constant lifter noise after the engine warmed up. Second,was piston slap from only doing a dingle ball hone with the original pistons with new rings and bearings. All the lifters failed a bleed down test and the pistons had too much clearance after the home honing job. This time we bought new pistons and had the block completely machined top to bottom with a .030 over bore. The rotating assembly had to be balanced for use with the new pistons.

    You want to work in as clean as space as possible to avoid debris getting into your fresh engine. We were working in Scott’s one car garage at his house, which is pretty clean. We kept the engine covered by old, but clean towels in between days we were working on the engine.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is how we received our 454 block back from the machine shop. The guys over at BluePrint Engines did the work for Scott and the block came back looking like a brand new casting, not like a 45 year old block. In case it isn’t obvious, the first thing to do is to get it on an engine stand. We got our from Harbor Freight, but this one is the big dog. A fully dressed 454 weighs near 700 lbs. They also replaced all the freeze and galley plugs for us.

    After taping off the areas we didn’t want painted, we shot the engine in Chevy Orange. We were told not to paint in the oil filter housing, so we took some time to clean that up later in the build.


    Before doing any assembly, we decided to see if our factory windage tray would work with the Milodon 7 quart oil pan and Melling high volume oil pump we are using. We also decided to upgrade to ARP main studs instead reusing the original main bolts for better support for the crank. The studs have provisions for the windage tray.


    Even though the Milodon pan has these dimples to make room for the studs, we had to dimple them a bit more so the pan would sit flush on the block.


    BluePrint Engines did the crank turning and balancing for us as well. The crank was standard when we took it to them, but polishing did not get all the scratches out of the bearing surfaces, so we had it turned .010/.010. They balance all their rotating assemblies below 2 grams, but ours came out .41 grams on the front and .89 grams on the back. We first laid in the block sides of the main bearings and carefully laid the crank in the block without any assembly lube at this point. Forged big block cranks weigh in excess of 60 pounds, so if you can get help to set it in the block, do so. Dropping it on your bearings, or your foot, would not be good.


    Next, we cleaned the main caps with Brakleen and a lint free rag before installing their half of the main bearings. Even though the block was thoroughly washed after machining, their was still some dirt after sitting around for two weeks before getting to work on it. The rear main seal is not needed at this point.


    We got some Plastigauge from the local parts store to double check bearing clearances. Your machine shop should have done this during the machining process with their measurements. You are just making sure. Taking your time and being anal during engine assembly is a good thing. After laying the piece of waxy, plastic string across the bearing surface on the mains, you place the main caps on and torque them down to manufacture specs. In the case of our 454, it was 105 ft lbs.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Next, remove the main caps and check the measurements on the Plastigauge’s paper cover. Our Chevy Factory Overhaul Manual says that the main should have between .001 and .003 clearance. All of our mains had .015 readings. This is only approximately, but you are being sure of what you got before you have the engine together and running. The alternative is finding bearing material in your oil filter after a few miles. Not a good day. Repeat this process on all of the main caps and bearings.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Remove the crank from the block, then get out your engine assembly lube and liberally cover the main bearings. Then, you need get out the rear main seal from your engine gasket set. Fel-Pro includes instructions on which way it is suppose be installed to keep it from leaking all over your driveway.


    Some people say you should install the rear main seal halves offset slightly for better leak protection. Others don’t. We did.. We did add a little bit of RightStuff sealant on the seal ends for added security.


    Now your crank is done. Time to move on the connecting rods and pistons. We used the same plastigauge on each of the rod bearings to check their clearances as well.


    For the purpose of checking the bearing clearances with the pistons already installed on the rods, we did this before installing the rings on the pistons. This made sliding them in and out of the bores much easier. The rods were stamped with their numbers when Scott took the engine apart before machining, but he wrote big numbers on the end caps cause he is slowly going blind like all middle aged men. The machine shop added those colored paint dabs as part of their checks and rechecks. They mark the side of the rod that has the rod bearing tabs. The tabs should face towards the outer part of the block.


    Torque the rod bolts to their recommended specs. Before removing the rod caps and checking the clearances with the plastigauge you used, check the side clearances on the rods. We checked between the rod pairs and between the rods and the crank sides. On our 454, those clearances should be between .015″ and .021″. Bearing clearances on our 454 is the same as mains, .001″-.003″.


    After checking the rod clearances were all good, we moved on to installing the rings on the pistons. Even if you buy rings that are supposed to be pregapped, we suggest you check the clearances anyways. Remember what we said about being thoroughly anal? Our rings came with our piston set from Keith Black. They are moly rings, but we had to gap them. It is tedious, but necessary. Too tight of clearances and you will break them and the ring lands on the pistons. Too loose and you can have oil usage problems and lack of power. We wanted to get consistent measurements, so we always made sure they were the same distance down in the bores each time.

    Using a feeler gauge find the clearance on the ring. The measurement will depend on the type of rings you are using and the intended purpose of your engine. The use of nitrous and boosted engines need more clearance for the added cylinder pressure and heat. We wanted .021″ on the top ring, and .024″ on the second ring.


    Our rings needed a bit of filing. here are ring gapping tools available from many companies, but we put a metal file in the bench vise and gently ground them a bit. Do a little bit at a time. Don’t get in a hurry. It’s better to go back to the file a few times, then over gap your rings.


    Once all 16 rings are gapped, they need to be installed on the pistons. Certain types of rings are reversible. Ones that are not often have a dot to which side is the top. Keith Black’s instructions said not spiral them onto the pistons. This means we needed to spread the two ends apart in order to get the rings on the pistons. There are many inexpensive tools for safely doing this. We should have gotten one ourselves as we got impatient and broke one of the rings trying to install it. The oil rings are the easiest to install and are usually three pieces.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Since ring sets don’t come with spares, we had to order another set. We were able to get another set of the same style and material from another brand, but it will work.


    Clock the rings 180* apart before moving on to installing the pistons and rods in the engine for the last time.


    Now that there are piston rings on your pistons, getting them into the block is a little more work. So not damage the bearing surfaces on your crank, cover the rod bolts with rubber hoses or specific boots so not to scratch crank. We just used 3/8″ fuel line.


    Now, it’s time to install your rods and pistons for the last time. You will need a ring compressor. There are fancy, size specific ones available. We just used this $18.00 one we got at Napa. Set the rod into the bore, then tap the compressor flush with the deck surface of the block. Be sure the valve reliefs in the pistons are oriented in the correct direction.


    We used the rubber handle of a ballpeen hammer to tap the piston down into the bore. A dead blow, or a specific dead blow piston driving tool will work as well. Just do not use anything metal against the piston face. That would be bad.


    With this type of ring compressor tool, you do need to stop a couple of times during the piston installation to be sure the compressor stays flush with the deck surface. If the piston ring slips out, you will be starting over.


    Use the engine assembly lube on the rod bearing halves just like the main bearings. When you get the piston driven down to where the rod meets the crank throw, put the rod cap on the rod and tighten the bolts down to recommended specs. Our ARP rod bolts were torqued to 50 ft lbs.


    You will need to install your oil pump next. Don’t forget the oil pump pickup screen as well. We are using a Melling high volume pump and a pickup screen for use with a 7 quart oil pan. This pickup screen is pretty much dummy proof in it’s installation. We still checked for it’s clearance to the bottom of the oil pan. Before installing the oil pump, make sure you install the oil pump drive shaft first, or the day you fire up your engine will not be a good day. The oil pump’s bolt gets torqued to 60 ft lbs on our 454. The rotating assembly installation is complete.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    We took some extra time to install our factory windage tray for better oil control and a few more horsepower. Our ARP stud kit included the four longer studs for its use. Be sure to check the rod clearance under the windage tray. Rotating parts need at least .060″ clearance.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Flip the engine back over for the camshaft installation. Apply liberal amounts of moly lube to the camshaft lobes and bearing surfaces. We only add the moly lube to four lobes and a bearing surface at a time, then install the cam up to that point. Then add some more to the next set of four. The keeps your hands cleaner and it easier to install. We used a 5/16″ x 6 inch long bolt in the front of the cam for more leverage. Or, you can buy a cam handle. We’re cheap.


    We used this cam moly lube we got from Isky. This tub has been used on five or six cams and we still have plenty left.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The last thing to do is install the timing chain. First, drive the crank gear on the crank with the round dot on the crank key way and the dot pointing straight up. The cam gear goes on with the dot pointing straight down. This Cloyes timing set has a three way set up for advancing, or retarding the cam 4*. We installed ours straight up.

    That’s it for the short block. The cam’s lifters will go in with the pushrods and valvetrain. It wasn’t all that hard, was it? We did this over a weekend.

    a few related threads that might help you build a better car

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  15. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer. Staff Member

    heres some calculators you might use
    gear spread sheet that comes in handy THANKS TO 1FATGMC
    a few resources to allow you to calculate the ideal results
    heres some differant calculators
    average the results

Share This Page