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Old 7th-June-2007, 12:33 AM   #1
bosox
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engine build challenge... on a budget

I was thinking today about a new project for my car. I must have been bored for 10 seconds or something. I love my engine, a 406 that sounds and runs awesome, built rock solid, but I want to build a new engine and learn how to do it. Maybe for the convertible, maybe for a wagon in the future... I have a few challenges in doing this. First, I have not done any engine work since, well a long time, and that was very limited. Very little experience to speak of, basically starting from scratch on the engine building. Second, I would like to do all this for less than $2000 start to finish. Nope, not insane, I just want to see if it can be done and what it would take to do it.

I want to do the build mostly myself so I understand what is involved and be able to troubleshoot what might be causing that issue and how to fix it. I see everyone on here ask questions and there is such a wealth of information, it is awesome. Someone posts a problem and immediately there are 10 things to check. Does anyone have any opinion of any of these DVD's that are on ebay and other places giving "fully detailed instructions to build your own motor"? I have my doubts, but my thought was if I am out 10 or 20 bucks or whatever, maybe i can pick up something along the way. Is there a better source to learn this from?

I want to build a small block. A 327 or a 350, about 350 - 400 horse on pump gas, ((maybe even E85, is that possible) just trying to be responsible in my fun) nice rumpity cam, pump gas, bolt up to my current 3" exhaust, and backed by an overdrive 200 or 700 to slow it down a bit on long runs. Did I say pump gas? I don't mind the race gas, I don't even mind the cost (you have to pay to play), it just is more of a hassle to find the fuel sellers when out of town at shows, not to mention the trip there and back. NO RIDES ON TRAILERS, unless it's broke (knock on wood, nothing yet)! I don't necessarily want to drag race it for any number of reasons, but that would be a very rare occurence, if ever.

I just want a street cruiser that i can drive anytime reliably, buy pump gas, drive to any show anywhere.

Maybe 2500 but like to keep it under 2000. Anybody have a "recipe" for this. Let's assume I have 2 of each of the above blocks already but that I don't have heads or manifolds for any of these.

Is there an advantage to one over the other as far as parts availability and pricing goes? I would assume it is probably easier to get the parts for a 350 than a 327, is that correct?

Some work I can get done from friends but the goal is to build most of it myself for the budget. So labor is not so much of a factor here. Mostly a "what parts would I buy top to bottom that would fit my budget"

Anyone here interested in taking on this 'math problem'. Sort of a preferred list of all the parts a person would need detailed by brand and model, carb to pan, alternator to starter, and then i go and try to shop for all the parts to come in under the budget. A drop in ready to wire and start engine.

The only thing I don't know is what I would need to budget for minimum mandatory machine shop work. By the way, what would be considered minimum mandatory machine shop work? Does it have to go in?

Is this budget unrealistic for what I am trying to do? Let me know as I don't know. There is so much knowledge and experience here, somebody surely can tell me if and how this can happen. The goal here is not to be frugal so much as to learn the process of how it goes together, what works together and why, and to try and do it for less than the cost of a crate motor. I could easily buy one for 2 -3 k more, get a warranty, fill with oil, hook up alternator etc, but i still can't work on it, and there is a satisfaction in building it yourself, right?

cale
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Old 7th-June-2007, 12:48 AM   #2
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in my opinion there's "rebuilt" and then there's "REBUILT"


it all lays in the amount of machine procedures performed. you CAN rebuild an engine pretty inexpensively with bare minimum machine work and let the specs be what they are... but once you start talking performance then there are so SO many variables that "might" stack for you OR stack against you... deck height might be fine... or the piston might be too far in the hole... so now ya deck the block... balancing... the factory balance may be within "specs" but "Balancing" (a form of blueprinting) you now bring these specs within a much higher degree... so now there's more cash... i could go on and on and on... Yes, i think you could "rebuild" and engine for $2500.00 i also think you could basically rebuild the same engine and spend 10 times that much and have a higher degree of "Rebuild"



i've rebuilt a few engines in my time and REBUILT only a couple... the REBUILT engines ran much smoother (even with a radical cam & hi compression) than the same engine without all the fancy-schmancy machine work... it's all in the machining processes (yeah, quality of parts too )



sorry ta ramble


if you've never rebuilt an engine i say go for it... i think it's a lot of fun. a great learning tool too
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Old 7th-June-2007, 01:49 AM   #3
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What you are referring to John is the difference between a slapped-together "rebuild" and blueprinting an engine. Blueprinting an engine means building an engine with perfectly fit components using maximum and minimum recommended clearances and restoring all of the components to the recommended tolerances (or better), balancing the rotating assembly, and basically just checking every component to ensure it's the way it's supposed to be.

Some engine shops will go all-out and machine and hand assemble and rework everything to perfection and others will just slap the engine together after a quick hone job.
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Old 7th-June-2007, 06:26 AM   #4
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We have shops locally that will rebuild a stock 350 and guarentee it for 12000 miles for less money than you want to spend so the budget can be met with no problem and they'll even do a small lumpity cam that will sound like an old Z28 did. Like everyone else has said you pay for HP and reliability which is not cheap. You can have a block bored .030 and honed for a stock application for an old car cheap. Then you can have a block decked to true the surface and correct the deck to crank centerline, then bored .030 to true the bore to the crank center line, honed with deck plates to keep the bore true, with hand gapped rings and it starts to get costly. Neither motor will smoke or have excessive blow by but one will be better than the other. You can have a standard valve job done with a 45 degree cut on the seats and put together stock for cheap and you can have a valve grind done with a 3 angle cutter to set the valve height then assembled with good springs and retainers/locks with the correct spring pressure and height so the valve clearance is equal on all cylinders and no coil bind and it gets costly. Both will work on a stock motor. And so it goes. You get what you pay for. So I'd say you can do it for your budget but it won't be a great performance motor just a rebuilt motor. JMO, RM
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Old 7th-June-2007, 07:31 AM   #5
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I have previously used a 400 in a 39 Buick coupe buildup. I loved that engine, even though it ran hot.

Have you ever considered destroking a 400? Somewhere in my files I have a article on this type engine.

I believe they used a 327 crank and Ford L6 rods that were about 6.3" in length.

Supposed to put out about 400 hp and run on regular gas.
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Old 7th-June-2007, 07:33 AM   #6
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Doing work yourself is great and comes with a great deal of satisfaction but it also requires a lot of specialty tools to do it right and they can be a little costly, just an expense to keep in mind.


....what about this destroked 400???
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Old 7th-June-2007, 10:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ready2run View Post
....what about this destroked 400???
http://airflowresearch.com/articles/...e003/A3-P1.htm

A nice engine build that they claim can be done for $2999, but they are using that fuzzy math that car mags tend to do. $150 for a 400 block pre-bored .030 over?? Plus, there is no cost listed for Machine work which is extensive in this build... so you are looking at bare minimum another $1000.

Last edited by grooves12; 7th-June-2007 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 7th-June-2007, 11:00 AM   #8
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You could build a 500 hp 355 for around $3000.00 dollars it just takes the right parts. I built one for my friend and it made 502HP

Basic parts list

Pace Performance 355 new gm Short Block $1150 ( free shipping)
(Short block comes with flat top pistons and a factory roller cam block!!)

Patriot performance heads heads $795.00
(milled the cambers to 60cc)

Custom Hydraulic roller $295.00

Lifters $120.00

RPM air gap intake $210.00

Intake porting $400.00

those are the hard parts the rest we got at the swap meet and reused his old carb, oil pan, and valve covers

We ran a .018 felpro head gasket to increase the squish quench on the engine. the piston to head clearance was .043. This really helps the low end tq and it made best power at 28 degrees total timing on pump gas 91

Good luck with your build

Bryce
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Old 7th-June-2007, 12:32 PM   #9
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I think it can be done. I also know that you get what you pay for. However, from the sounds of it, you are not building a drag race motor, or high horsepower engine that needs that kind of detail.

As an example, the engine that came out of my car last year went high 12's and was more of a street engine than drag engine. This engine was originally rebuilt by myself way back in 1990. As you can imagine, things have come a long way since then.

That block was not decked, however it was honed on a Sunnen machine with deck plates. I purchased an engine rebuild kit from Nothern Autoparts Warehouse or NAPA (I can't remember which) for about $350. It cam with flat top cast aluminum pistons with 4 valve reliefs, gaskets, bearings, etc. I reused the stock cast crank, and rods. I also purchased a set of 441 chevy heads and had them opened up for TRW swirl polished 2.02 and 1.6 valves purchased from Northern Autoparts Warehouse. These were nothing fancy and you would be better to purchase a new set of Vortec heads by far. I used plasti guage to check tollerances, and bolted it together. I purchased an old Edelbrock streetmaster intake from a friend for very little, bought a 73 pontiac ventura for $100 for some interior parts and used the quadrajet carb from that car on my "new" engine. It worked well on the street, but was nothing to speak of at the track.

Back in 2003 I pulled the engine to make some modifications. I tore it down, had the bores checked for taper, etc. and found those to be "tollerable". I then purchased as set of Eagle SIR rods for a couple of hundred, had my cast pistons removed from the stock rods at the machine shop for around $50, taped the ring grooves up on the pistons, glass beaded the skirts for oil retention, did the no no and used some scotch bright pads on the skirts to clean them up, and had them installed on the new rods. I then purchased a used GM steel crank from a local machine shop for $75 (it was ground .010 on the rods and mains, purchase some bearings and threw it back together with a set of Edelbrock RPM aluminum heads, an Edelbrock RPM cam, and an RPM Air Gap intake and ran it at the strip. It never ran over 6000 RPM, and held together well. In fact, it is still sitting in my garage as a complete engine.

While I'm not saying this is the best way to build an engine, you can see that they don't have to be perfect to be reliable and functional. I was on a budget, and did what I could afford. It worked until I could get the new 383 together. I would do it again if I had to.

Anyway, a lot of reading and I hope it makes sense.
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Old 7th-June-2007, 12:35 PM   #10
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All great answers and information. Never ceases to amaze me the level of expertise and breadth of knowledge this site provides. Nice job everyone.

I kind of figured, like anything, the more you pay, the better you get. Like I said initially, One of the main goals of this project is to learn to build it myself. Another is to try and do a decent performance motor that is reliable for the budget. I see in all the magazines, where they have these high horse strokers and most hp small block challenges but they are all high dollar also. I am not afraid to spend the money, I just want to see if it can be done. Clearly, I have learned that some machine shop work is critical to the build by creating a good foundation for all other parts to be installed on. Is that about right. Would it stand to reason that I should allocate x dollars of that 2000 to go toward the machine shop first, and then buy parts with what is left? Obviously, there is still a lot of parts to buy but I will have to get an idea of the rate of shop hours around the Omaha area.

One nice advantage is that I do have a few friends that can help me with the build and have offered the use of their tools, or for that matter I will buy the tools myself. I would consider tool purchases outside of the budget - my theory is, if I need a tool, I go buy it and then I own it for life.

I would like to try it an see if i can buy all of the parts I need to match everything up and maybe I look at machine shop time as a secondary budget item, create another budget for that. Maybe too generic of a question, but anyone have a preferred "shopping list" that would accomodate this budget for the above specs.

cale
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Old 7th-June-2007, 12:50 PM   #11
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throw a cam only LS1 in it. Not only will it make 400hp....but to the wheels.
All can be had for $2k
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Old 7th-June-2007, 01:01 PM   #12
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With a budget of $2000 almost any TRUE rebuild needing any amount of machine work is going to eat pretty much all of that up, just building out the short block.

For your horspower range, you can probably get away with buying one of the rebuilt short blocks at your local parts store (such as Kragen's/Schucks) and just upgrading the cam, heads, intake, carb, and ignition with some higher performance parts.

You should be able to get 350-400HP, and have it hold up pretty well... if you've never torn into an engine at all, it would give you good experience with all the bolt-on items and would be able to easily meet your budget.
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Old 7th-June-2007, 01:05 PM   #13
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Help me understand - what is a cam only LS1?

Man, the good info just keeps coming.

cale
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Old 7th-June-2007, 01:10 PM   #14
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I learned the hard way that the machine work reallly adds up and befoe you know it you got your entire budget in some block of cast iron .
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Old 7th-June-2007, 01:21 PM   #15
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Pace shortblock, vortec heads,summit cam kit.= $2000.00
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