the cost of assembling an engine correctly


Staff member
Obviously what your building, your power goals, your budget, the basic engine family your working with, and the extent you intend to go to insure its reliable, will determine a great deal of what you will want too do, during any engine build and what components you have to choose from and the cost of those components.!
depending on the quality of the components selected and the extent of the work required and the type of work required most shops will charge a minimum of $500-$600 for the assembly of a stock street engine, not including machine work or gaskets or parts required, once you start into performance applications your easily going to double, or triple that at a MINIMUM. just for the balance and assembly work, thats still less parts and any machine work
I get asked frequently about what I charge to build an engine, well the truth is I really don,t charge much , as I enjoy helping out and I rarely make more than $300 on the whole deal, and I generally won,t start until we have agreed on the intended use for the engine, its rough power goal, the parts to be used in the build, and we won,t start till we have the discussed parts list .and have those parts are on site, but in that process, which requires a constant step by step, approach, where every component used is discussed , purchased ,and its fit function and clearances are checked and verified, theres a logical process thats followed. I generally have the satisfaction of knowing I helped both educate someone on how to properly build an engine and in the vast majority of cases I make a good friend and a life long repeat customer as we both learn to enjoy the engine builds and see the results.
the owner of the engine buys the parts and pays for the machine work, done off site,and we generally come to some mutually agreeable arrangement as to any payment for my guidance in the process is usually based on the time it takes and whats required,during the build before we begin.
Now you can read a hundred magazine articles and if you do, youll quickly get the idea that, any guy with a few wrenches and a spare weekend can throw some parts together and build a 500hp small block chevy in his drive way, for under $4000, well the truth is some what different and if you expect an engine to live for awhile, it generally requires some careful detail work, and quality parts, careful assembly and decent components carefully fitted and clearanced, theres a great deal of difference between a crate engine you buy that makes 300hp for $2000 and a kick butt custom hot rod 406-or 454 chevy or 383-440 mopar engine, that makes 500-600hp plus that can easily have $8000 in parts and $2000 in machine work in the build, and a great deal has to do with the expected long term durability of the engine and its whole power curve, not just its peak power.
(keep in mind that cost is for parts and machine work, generally not including labor which is usually added on later to the cost total, so learning to do as much of the assembly as you can, yourself , helps lower the total expense and adds to your knowledge)
I generally simply have the guy who wants the engine built, buy the parts, and we carefully check all the dimensions and clearances and I suggest various local machine shops he can have necessary machine work done at if I can,t do it with the tools I have, and he will pay that machine shop for their services and we will check and confirm the quality of the work but that doesn,t mean the cost won,t add up fast, and the expense incurred won,t be much higher than most guys think it will be before we start, because most guys have no idea whats involved or what needs to be checked or how expensive the required machine work is, nor do they understand the time required to check and verify, or the care and time it takes to do it correctly. as a comparison,of the common machine work costs and how they rapidly add up,

we had a great thread on the process that detailed a great deal of this you should read thru, when RICK built his T-bucket SMALL BLOCK ENGINE
heres a good thread with several links on valve jobs


viewtopic.php?f=51&t=3169 ... tions.html

HERES A QUOTE FROM CARL on the cost of a 540 big block short block assembly
CARL said:
On a big block that goes through my shop this is what is done.

Caps and hardware are removed and main housing bores are chamfered. Some want main studs caps are retorqued and the main line is line honed to at least to middle of the spec and some builders want the mains to the high spec,

Oil galley holes are tapped deeper

Core plug holes are chamfered along with rear cam plug hole

Block is decked to zero or what the customer wants

If boring is needed cylinders are bored to with in .005 of final size

95% of the blocks I machine the customers seem to be going to the .904 lifters now, No matter what size I have lifters in hand and fit to the bores.

Fuel pump oil return is poened up.

Bottom of cylinders are chamfered

Plate honed using the same hardware and gasket that will be used in the end build

Block is jet washed and oil galley holes are brused out

I just sent a 540 build out the door machined the lifter bores for '904 Morel lifters

Balanced Callies rotator, crank, H-beam compstar 6.385 rods, 10CC dome Mahle pistons, ACL rod and main bearings.

Rods come with L-19 bolts. Rods were broke down and retorqued and checked for size. Pin end was fit to wrist pins rods were checked for bend and twist.

Pin bores in pistons were checked for sizing.

Crank was micro polished

Supplied Morel .904 lifters

Used GM-12 cam bearings with 2 holes installed

Brass freeze plugs and dowel pins installed

All customer needed to do is paint the block, fit rings and bearings.

This is truely ready to install engine kit.

This went out the door for 6995.00 with freight [/b]

My kit went out the door for 2715.00 more. Block needed no extra work, Cam bearings installed cleaned ready to go.

Block was machned for .904 lifters and Morel lifters were supplied.

Rotator was ready to assemble.

If anything was missed let me know?
Compare and let me know



Staff member
I recently got asked about the cost of machining a block , heads etc.obviously what needs to be done and what your intended use for the engine is has almost as much to do with the cost as the blocks true condition and what the machine shop charges.
this has never been a cheap hobby, especially if you want things done correctly so they last under high stress conditions
I know many guys are staggered by the costs a machine-shop charge's for the machine work, and thats one reason that that super bargain block you find, on craigs list or e-bay for a couple hundred dollars could very easily cost you an additional $700-$1500 in machine work alone , or found too be worthless junk once its carefully checked for bore wall thickness, the deck, main caps and other component parts are checked carefully, its not all that uncommon for scam artists to try to sell flawed blocks ,they own to recoup some value from what is essentially scrap cast iron, from the less knowledgeable , members of the hot rod community.
you can very rarely just buy a block,wash a block, install new freeze plugs and oil gallery plugs etc. hone the cylinders and start assembling parts to build an engine in most cases youll need to have the block magnetically and sonic tested for cracks and bore wall thickness, checked for, straightness, maybe have it , line honed and decked, possibly bored, clearanced, have the main caps checked, maybe ARP studs installed , cam bearings , freeze plugs etc. obviously you can,t do major machine work like decking or boring a block but theses a great deal of time intensive and expensive work you can do!
the short answer here is that you could very easily spend enough on a used block in machine work cost to match or exceed that a near fully machined DART BLOCK cost thats far stronger , has thicker castings made from better alloy.
If your anything like I was when I was younger you look at the price of these blocks and were shocked at the cost, simply because you knew a dozen places you could buy a "GOOD USED 4 BOLT MAIN CAP BLOCK" for a few hundred dollars, but once you delivered that block to a local machine shop and got the bill for the work required that price on the DART block didn,t look nearly so outrageous, in fact in the long run it might be a bargain, vs dumping $1000 plus in, machine work,in a far weaker OEM block casting

related info threads










Clean 22.00
Chamfer oil holes 30.00
Magna flux 25.00
Clean & polish _ 60.00
Grind - most 145.00
Cross-drill mains _ 150.00
Disassemble race heads ——— 40.00
Clean aluminum heads ———— 60.00
Competition Multi-angle
valve job —————————-- 250.00
Assemble & Set installed height 80.00
Back-cut valves ea.——————- 4.00
Cut for teflon seals —————— 50.00
Cut for over-size springs
diameter only ————————- 65.00
Machine for screw-in studs —— 165.00
canted heads ———- 200.00
Install bronze guides & wet hone
to size ——————————— 220.00
Machine for oversize valves —--180.00
Drill steam holes SBC — iron — 55.00
Drill steam holes — aluminum —94.00
Pin rocker studs w/pins ——— 75.00
Standard Passenger V-6 or V-8 255.00
4 cylinder 200.00
Crankshaft ONLY V-6 or V8 168.00
Straight 4 or 6 cylinder 137.00
Pistons HR
Rods HR
Flywheel or flexplate Plate 68.00
Pressure plate (after flywheel is balanced) P.O.R.
Heavy Metal Installation Labor
Each 63.00 Welding and
Excess Metal Removal
per hour 75.00

Crank, rods, pistons & pins, locks, rings,
bearings,flywheel and bolts,pressure plate
and bolts,Vibration damper and bolt.
All parts must be clean and unassembled
(pistons off rods and rings off pistons etc.)
File-fit rings 75.00
Blueprinting P.O.R.
Side clearance rods P.O.R.
Degree cam per hour 75.00
C.C. heads per hour 60.00
Custom engine assembly P.O.R.
Check bearing clearances min 150.00
First hour 75.00
Each additional hour 75.00

Minimum charge (up to 4 hours) 400.00
Hourly rate thereafter 75.00
Full day rate 650.00
Time includes Automotive Machine
personnel setting up the engine and
removal of the engine from dyno, it does
not include Automotive Machine
personnel working on engine during
the session unless it is an engine that we
have assembled.
Automotive Machine is not
responsible for damage
incurred to engines while ran on dyno
Miscellaneous Cleaning Services
Clean iron intake and magnaflux 50.00
Clean & glass bead
aluminum intake 60.00
Shop Labor not covered in this price list is
based on a minimum charge
of $75.00 per hour
Credit Cards Subject to 3% Charge
Because of core shifts in heads we cannot
guarantee that machining will not go
into water jackets
Machine shop price list, HP machine shop, race car machine shop, machine shop labor charges, machine shop prices,
Pre-clean ——————————- 45.00
cam bearings & galley plugs)
Oven bake and steelabrate —--- 85.00
Clean misc. parts ———————- H.R.
Pressure check V-8 block ——-- 89.00
Tap oil holes & install restrictors
SBC or BBC ————————— 36.50
Tap front galley holes ———— 27.50
Clearance block for rods ———— H.R.
Install deck plugs ——————— H.R.
Resize block (up to .060) 4 cyl -150.00
6 cyl —175.00
8 cyl —200.00

Resize V-8 w/torque plates
Street ———— 240.00
Plateau hone Race finish —— 275.00
Competition re-hone w/plates — 180.00
Deck square to mains ————- 150.00
ea. add. .005 per cyl. —————-- 1.50
Install sleeve (labor) ————— 165.00
Ball hone V-8 ————————- 60.00
Install cam bearings —————-- 75.00
(hand fit extra)
Install galley plugs ——————- 33.00
Install freeze plugs, each ———— 3.00
Line hone (touch -in) ————-- 165.00
includes cut caps ——— 200.00
Line hone 400 SBC —————- 250.00
Line hone damaged blocks ——— H.R.
Fill block w/HARDBLOK ———- 175.00
Sonic check block —————— 120.00
Install Buick block girdle ———- 550.00
Machine & install Poston Pan — 150.00
Clean rods - each ———————- 3.50
Remove & replace press fit
Each ———————————–——10.00
Remove & replace non stock
applications ————————–——-H.R.
Check big end - each ——————- 4.00
Check big end & hone to size
Each ————————————–-- 10.00
Re-condition rods
stock - each ————————–-— 24.00
using HP bolts - each —————–- 28.00
Magnaflux rods - each —————— 4.00
Pin-fit small end - each —————- 8.50
Re-bush small end - ea ————— H.R.
Drill & chamfer oil holes
Each —————————————- 5.00
Pin fit piston - each ——————— 8.50
Fly-cut reliefs, dome machining &
contouring ——————————— H.R.
Oven bake & steelabrate ——— 32.00
Magnaflux —————————- 18.00
Valve job —————————— 80.00
Overhead cam add. Hourly rate
Overhead cam 4V ——120.00
Diesel 2V —————-————-120.00
For non-adj. valves add ———--20.00
Straight 6-CYLINDER
Oven bake & steelabrate ——— 43.00
Magnaflux —————————- 25.00
Valve job ——————————110.00
Diesel —————————------ 180.00
For non-adj. valves add ———-- 30.00
V-6 & V-8 cylinder
Oven bake & steelabrate ——— 54.00
Magnaflux —————————- 35.00
Valve job ————————— 135.00
Diesel —————————--— 240.00
Perf. valve job ——————— 175.00
(any non-stock cam)
For non-adj. valves add ———- 30.00
One ———--each —————- 18.00
aluminum head -------------- 22.00
2-4 ———— each ——————12.00
aluminum head ----------------16.00
5 or more —-each ——————- 9.00
aluminum head ---------------13.00
Set up & first seat —————— 22.00
aluminum head ------------------ 30.00
Each additional seat ------------- 14.00
aluminum head -------------------18.00
Cast Iron Aluminum
4-cyl 45.00 50.00
Straight 6-cyl 50.00 63.00
V-6 or V8 Pair
(up to .010) 75.00 95.00
Each additional
(.0050 per cyl) 2.00 2.00
V-6 or V8
Machine Shop - Labor Prices
Head Work
V-8 Valve Grind (Pr) $120.00
Pro Sportsman Valve Grind & Blend (Pr) $250.00
Competition Valve Grind (Pr) $350.00
Grind Valves (Set) $ 40.00
Back-Cut Valves (Set) $ 20.00
Surface Heads (up to .020) (Ea) $ 25.00
O-Ring Heads (.041 wire) (Pr) $120.00
Cut Heads for Loc-Wire (Pr) $120.00
Cut for Teflon Seals (Pr) $ 32.00
Cut for Large Springs (Pr) $ 32.00
Mill & CC Heads (Pr) $100.00
Clean Assemble Set Spring Height $ 80.00
Cut for Seats (1st seat) $ 30.00
Cut for Add'l Seats (2-7) (Per Head) $ 20.00
Hone Guides (Ea) $ 2.00
Install Guides (Ea) $ 5.00
Mill Int. or Ex. Side (Per Surface) $ 5.00
Angle Mill Head Correct Int. Side & Ream Head Bolt Holes $200.00
Clean Heads (Ea) $ 20.00
Custom Machine Work (Hr) $ 60.00
Head Repair - Aluminum Heads Per Quote

Block Work
Bore V-8 Block (up to .060) $120.00
Pro Sportsman Hone (with plate) $250.00
Competition Hone (with plate) $350.00
Finishing of Custom Unfinished Race Block Per Quote
Align Hone $125.00
Block True/Square Deck (up to .020) $185.00
Deck Heights over.020 Removed By Quote
Install 3 center 4 Bolts Caps $350.00
Install 5 Caps $500.00
Sleeve Cylinder Bores (Ea) $ 60.00
Install Cam Bearings $ 30.00
Machine / Align Bore for Big Ford Cam Bearings $600.00
Big Ford Bearings $125.00
Hone Small End to Float Pin (Ea) $ 5.00
Hone Big End to Resize (Ea) $ 6.00
Rebuild Rods (Ea) $ 10.00
Replace & Hone Pin Bushings (Ea) $ 10.00
Balancing V-8 Assemblies (Heavy Metal to Balance Additional Time & Material) $250.00
Balancing Flywheel & Pressure Plate $ 75.00

Pro Sportsman Porting Work
Gasket Match Intake Side (Pr) $125.00
Gasket Match Exhaust Side (Pr) $125.00
Bowl Blend (Pr) $150.00
Polish Chambers (Pr) $285.00
Intake Match, Bowl Blend, Polish Chamber& Exhaust Port (Pr) $650.00
Full Competition Port & Polish (Pr) $1,100.00
Port Welding to Reshape (Per Hr.) $ 80.00

Crank Grinding
Index Rods - Grind Mains $100.00
Polish Only $ 50.00
Offset Grind for Stroker $250.00


Machine labor & maching operations are much lower around me GrumpyL.
Looks like Big City Rates shown above.
Real money to be made if the clientele is there is Race Machine work & engine builds.

There is only a small percentage of guys left that can spend $10-50K to build a race engine today.


Staff member
when I was younger I very quickly realized that there was no way in hell that the average home hobby level performance car guy could afford to do all the required parts prep that the magazine articles mentioned if you had to pay machine shop pricing, it very quickly became all too obvious that I would be forced to buy some tools and learn to do a great many of the simpler ,clearance work, verifying, proper assembly and basic machine work myself.
for example the local machine shop wanted $170 to install screw in rocker studs in a set of cylinder heads , now its true that price included the ARP rocker studs ,but those cost roughly $50, so they were getting about $120 for labor on a job most guys with a good quality drill press or mill can do with the correct tooling, yes its true that tooling and the studs wound up costing me the same $170 for the first set of heads, but after dozens of sets of heads being done it was obvious that in the long run buying first a good drill press and years later a mill and a few other tools like welders and hydraulic presses etc. allowed me to do a good many jobs in my shop rather than pay thru the nose at the local machine shops.
your not stuck paying top dollar if your willing to learn a few new skills and buy a few tools, and while a $200 hydraulic press, $500 drill press or even a $4000 mill or $2000 welder may seem like a waste of cash they can very easily pay for them selfs in less than a year in reduced machine shop bills.



S-450-KIT.jpg ... tId=744892

think about that, replacing 6 u-joints on your corvette, at $20 each, just to install in labor cost, thats $120 for a one time labor charge on a job thats going to eventually need to be repeated, and I own two corvettes and most of my friends own performance cars that have u-joints, many have corvettes, owning a hydraulic press pays for itself in no time, in fact the labor cost replacing just one corvettes u-joints pays for almost 75% of the press on the first job ... 32879.html



having a valve spring micrometer of the correct size and knowing how to use it helps a great deal, not only can you verify things are correct, the machine shop charges far more to check one set of heads than the tool costs
the last time I got a quote the local machine shop wanted $570 to assemble a short block, and clearance a 383 sbc if I supplied all the parts, you can easily save about $500 of that if your willing to do research and labor yourself, theres a hundred smaller time consuming jobs that you pay a machine sop dearly for that you can do and eliminate the need to pay a machine shop if your willing to learn basic skills and buy a few tools and do some research











I took a look at the 1st & 2nd links Grumpy.
We think alike......Tools....Machining Mills & Lathes.

Have quite alot compared to most mechanics.
Miss the good old days when times were good.
Guys like you & me worked 24/7/365.
Never on forums. Never had time to.
Earning an extra $500-$1500 per week working at night after the day job.

Olds 425 still top to complete.
Least cash outlay.
The goofy 3/8" -3/8" screw in rocker studs may or may not be used.
Bought a vintage set of 3/8" Polylocks.
If they won't work then I will drill & tap for special ARP Rocker Arm studs I have.
Made for Pontiac SD421. 7/16"-20 Top. & 1/2"-13Tpi. Bottom.
Have a Bridgeport Verticle Mill to use.
Never been done on Olds 425A heads.


solid fixture here in the forum
it would be nice to have both the space for the tools, and the tools themselves at ones disposal, but it takes some people a lifetime to accumulate that stuff.


philly said:
it would be nice to have both the space for the tools, and the tools themselves at ones disposal, but it takes some people a lifetime to accumulate that stuff.
I started buying lots of tools in 1999-2008 Phi.
Right before it Got Shity with Queenie Bam Bam AssFuck saving us all.
One thing I never sell is Tools.
Mechanics need them day & night.


solid fixture here in the forum
yea i dont part with tools easily. i just think the price of some of these things is ridiculous


philly said:
yea i dont part with tools easily. i just think the price of some of these things is ridiculous
Its real tough right now Phil.
Usually by end of June I would have earned an extra $2-5k doing sidejob repairs or builds.
Not so good in Florida I know .
Watch for sales.
Mechanics retiring. Shops closing down. May find bargains.


Staff member
philly said:
it would be nice to have both the space for the tools, and the tools themselves at ones disposal, but it takes some people a lifetime to accumulate that stuff.
yeah! it took me 35 years to afford the shop I wanted with a few machine tools, acquiring decent tools is both expensive and time intensive


The most important aspect for you Phil I think is getting your 280Z back together.
Run 9's or Faster in 1/4.
Sidework & Race work will come in.
Be a local Race Hero.

C4 Corvette not a good choice today.
Must replace entire driveline & get rid of IRS.
Good for 1984 but all crap today for fast drag race.


solid fixture here in the forum
yea ive gotta dip into other revenue streams just to make ends meet. im buying honda civics and pt cruisers with blown head gaskets for a couple hundred bucks, fixing them and selling them for 1500-2500


solid fixture here in the forum
same time my property taxes are due (kill me now) and im past due on my sunpass bill... theyre gonna come break my kneecaps soon. so its like as soon as i get a couple nickels to rub together, i gotta use em for everything EXCEPT the datsun. might just keep one of these little hondas and daily drive it, sell the vette and get a big boost... should get atleast 5-6K on ebay


philly said:
same time my property taxes are due (kill me now) and im past due on my sunpass bill... theyre gonna come break my kneecaps soon. so its like as soon as i get a couple nickels to rub together, i gotta use em for everything EXCEPT the datsun. might just keep one of these little hondas and daily drive it, sell the vette and get a big boost... should get atleast 5-6K on ebay
I hear Ya Phil.
Vette is sitting for most of this year.
Only way to get the '63 GP Going.
Shit hits the Fucken Fan its My battle Wagon.
1 Target Bam Bam .
Fuckass can't run fast enough.

Need a Thread on how to earn extra income for Mechanics today..


solid fixture here in the forum
87vette81big said:
philly said:
same time my property taxes are due (kill me now) and im past due on my sunpass bill... theyre gonna come break my kneecaps soon. so its like as soon as i get a couple nickels to rub together, i gotta use em for everything EXCEPT the datsun. might just keep one of these little hondas and daily drive it, sell the vette and get a big boost... should get atleast 5-6K on ebay
I hear Ya Phil.
Vette is sitting for most of this year.
Only way to get the '63 GP Going.
Shit hits the Fucken Fan its My battle Wagon.
1 Target Bam Bam .
Fuckass can't run fast enough.

Need a Thread on how to earn extra income for Mechanics today..

thats a good idea... i think i'll start one