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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guy's I put togother a 350 small block.It's a stock lower end out of a mid 70's truck and a set of vortec heads with an edelbrock performer RPM.The heads are fresh from the machine shop.So I don't believe there the problem.

I fired the motor up last night and it ran great.So tonight I installed the radiator and water pump.And let the motor get up to operating temp.Probably ran it for 15 minutes.

I had to let it cool off so I could adjust the clutch.After that I drove it for maybe 5 minutes.Then I noticed the oil pressure dropping off.It got down to around 15psi at idle.So I pulled the dipstick and it was milk.

So where do I begin?I pulled the intake and everything looked alright.The heads are clamped on with ARP head studs and brand new gaskets.

Now the for intake gaskets there also fel pro.But there for a stock intake.I was thinking maybe these are not correct for the aluminum intake?Also the intake has no rear water cross over.Do the gaskets need to block that off also.This is one thing I am thinking is wrong.


Also what are the chances the bearings survived?Do you think I should take the motor out and check them or I caught it quick enough?Of course I plan on mutiple oil changes right away in order to flush the motor.

Of course new bearings and a polish job is alot cheaper than a new crank and ruined block!I can't believe this is already happening.I have been working on this thing every night for 2 weeks.It's making me sick...


Any advice would be awesome.And if some of this doesn't make sense it's because I had to put down a few beers after seeing that dipstick!
 

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Well if i were you id just change the oil, and add some trans fuild to help wash everything then get new good oil and a bottle of lucus oil stablizer for added protection and see was the pressure is, if its lower than before the mess up then you now what time it is. How did you seal the head studs? someone here had a issue with those. Maybe you have a warped intake, get the oil square and i would try to pressurize the cooling system with air and listen for a leak, last time i had a 77' truck block it had two crackes in it.
 

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ARP head studs or arp head bolts? If you used the studs you just found your problem. It is VERY common for head studs to leak if the proper sealant isn't used on the threads of the studs.

You caught it quick so the engine should be fine.
 

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If you do a search of this forum on "studs leaking" you'll find quite few threads on the subject. Read them all before proceeding.

I noticed you fired it up before installing the radiator. That's not a good idea to run an engine with no coolant. You may have cracked the block or head(s).

Is your intake gasket a Vortec intake gasket? You may be leaking at the coolant crossovers. I would put a pressure tester on the rad cap and pull the valve covers. Pump up the system and find all the places where the water leaks.

If you installed a new flat tappet cam and lifters you may have a new "flat lobe" problem brewing since break-in process was started and aborted at least twice while oil quality went south.

I would take the engine out, disassemble, clean and check everything over.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes I did use studs on the engine.When I was installing the heads the first time I was using arp bolts and pulled the threads out of one the head bolt holes.So I bought a set of studs and installed a heli coil in that hole.All the nuts torque down fine to 85 ft pounds after that.

I used ARP thread sealant.And oil on the nuts to lubricate them during assembly.

Luckily I did not install a new cam.We all know the vortecs have issue's with seal to retainer clearance and I've read any where from .450-.500 being alright.I didn't want to chance it.I know I am getting ready to get laid off so I decided to just use the cam and lifters that where in the motor already.

The intake I am using is a brand new performer RPM.That doesn't mean it's not messed up.But I doubt it.

I am thinking it has something to do with the rear water cross over passage.I used new fel pro gaskets for a stock vortec.Meaning for a stock intake.Maybe there gasket's don't work with the aftermarket.I plan on calling edelbrock in a minute and asking them.

Also the intake doesn't have the rear water cross over built into it.It's blocked off.I am not sure if that is the problem.I remember reading in magazines and there was something about that rear cross over and vortec heads.


Thanks for the info.Guys.

Also when I first fired the motor it was for about 30 seconds.Just long enough to make sure it was gonna run.I have installed the timing chain 180 out before.(In my much not so smart days)And had to tear everything back out again.So I just made sure it was right.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well I called edelbrock and was recomended a couple intake gaskets...

One them being the 7235.So I got on summit's website and looked it up and found what I thought might be the problem..

"Compatible with Vortec style intake manifolds only. These gaskets do not have the embossed silicone bead around the ports."

The stock intake uses the silicone bead and I don't believe the aftermarket intake needs this at all.

I also read about the head studs leaking and was wondering just how fast they could possibly be leaking.When I checked the oil.(which was right at the full line before.)It seemed to be about a qaurt above that.So that is alot of water.Could the studs be leaking that bad?

Also I read about the sodium silicate.And might try that.First thing I am going to do is order the correct style gaskets and give that a try.I might remove the motor and have a look at the bearings and what not while I am waiting for the gaskets.

I just hope I don't see a bunch of wiped bearings.If I do atleast it's a sbc and there cheap to work on!
 

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sounds like ,,

sounds like a bit of hot rodder fatigue going on here. I'd do the pressure test but i bet your most likely area is where the heli-coil is or the studs in general. How milky was the oil ?? How much water did the system loose ??

I think i'd take a day or 2 away from it , rest and recover.
 

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Also replace the intake gasket with "ONLY" a Edelbrock gasket with Edei manifolds and heads, every fel-pro ive used leaked. Dont know why, but i had to replace mine several times last summer and the Edelbrock never leaked, as where the fel-pros all got sucked into the intake.
 

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One thing you can do that may make things simpler to track the leak(s) while the engine is out is to make some block off plates out of 1/4" aluminum.
Two for the water pump holes on the block and one for the thermostat housing. Use the gasket for a template. They don't have to be pretty. Drill and tap the top one for a compressed air fitting. Install pipe plugs in the heater hose outlets. Adjust your compressor regulator to about 20 psi and connect the hose and look for leaks.
 

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I thought Vortec heads needed a Vortec compatable intake also you might want to check that out.
to bolt a non vortec manifold to vortec heads is impossible without re-machining a bunch of stuff. the same goes the other way around. this is likely not his problem


i use GM gaskets on my vortec stuff. never had a sealing problem. also, they only recommend 12 #'s of torque on them. That's another thing you might wanna look into. anything more might have warped the gasket. good luck
 

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i heard about people using arp studs and having problems with them..a machinist told me that arp studs on a mild small block is overkill and your just llooking for problems...good luck
 

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i heard about people using arp studs and having problems with them..a machinist told me that arp studs on a mild small block is overkill and your just llooking for problems...good luck
The problem is with using a proper sealant. Not the studs. Im a firm believer in using the best fasteners on a car that you can afford, its never over kill. And not to say the stock bolts arent fine either. But when I hear an engine builder or machinist saying fasteners are overkill and you are buying problems it always sounds like the thin wallet speaking. ARP produces some of the best fasteners available and the price increase is minor. JR
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Like I said the reason for the studs is because I was worried about pulling another thread out of the block.I figured that the studs would help with the problem.And they did help in that respect.

As far as if they are sealing or not I was wondering exactly where you could see them leaking from?Out from around the washer and nut.In between the head gaskets or what?Gotta pull the heads to find the problem?

I drained the oil out and like I said it appears about a quart of water was put into the engine.Which makes me very worried.I am debating on if I am going to pull the motor.If it is messed up I will see it fast hopefully.

Also someone mentioned using atf to clean the engine out.How much should I add to the oil?


I ordered the edelbrock brand gaskets today along with some of there gaskacinch stuff.(don't know if I needed that or not)

All's I know is that motor sounded really good for the short time it was alive.Even with the stock cam it sounded really crisp.I am betting I will like this combo if I get it straightened out.It's a standard bore 010 4 bolt main 350 that ran really good in the truck it came out of.Just had 882's on it and had these vortecs layin around....

Well thanks for the advice and keep your fingers crossed......

BTW Levisintshirt You are exactly right.I started working on this motor for a couple reasons.After redoing the subframe on the nova I was tired of grinding,sanding and painting.Plus I have almost everything to assemble a nice 396 bbc for the nova.This motor was on the stand for ever with pulled threads in the head bolt hole.So I finnally broke down and spent the money on the studs and now I am already getting tired of working on motors.Sometimes I wish I didn't think about cars all the time!
 

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Leaking head studs are a common problem. Mine did when I put the engine together and it lasted a short while. I think it was even in the ARP stud instructions about leaking coolant. I used stop leak that was recommended by the machine shop to fix the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Don't know if anyone cares.But I think I have the leaking coolant issue figured out.

After installing the correct intake gaskets and following the installation instructions to a T the intake is sealed correctly.

I changed the oil 5 times.(yes that was expensive)And the this final time I added the lucas oil stabilizer.At operating temp it idles with around 25-30psi.

I believe that the motor is running out fuel.I ordered a fuel pressure gauge and the fittings to install it today.Thinking it's doesn't have enough to keep up with the motor.

I also put some liquid glass stuff in the coolant and then flushed and installed new coolant.

Seems to be runnin alright now.

Thanks for the help!
 

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so what do you think the problem was? gaskets or head bolts...you have me all worried now cause my motor is ready to be fired up. i have rpm intake and some gm steel vortec heads and i used a felpro intake gasket,i didn't use head studs just some arp bolts....last thing i want to do is change a gasket right now!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I believe it was the intake gaskets.Honestly the first time I put the intake on I just tightened the bolts without a torque wrench.

Edelbrock did recomend to me a fel pro gasket and there own edelbrock.I am not sure what the other gasket was they recomended.But just call them up it only took about 5 minutes.

With the amount of water that went into the motor I would have to say it was the intake gaskets.A quart of water doesn't leak through threads in that short amount of time.

Just make sure you tighten the intake to 12 ft pounds and follow the instructions to a T.

Sorry I don't remember the intake gasket part #......
 

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Discussion Starter #20
lets us know , post a pic or 2 as well of how its doing
Will do!The motor isn't in my nova.But there is a bunch of smart fellers on here and they are ussually helpful....

It's in my 69 c-10 and I will post some pics up.After I do some minor details to it.This truck has been sitting for about 2 years with nothing in between the fender wells.Glad to have it able to start up again.....

Not sure if the stock 5/16 fuel pickup is the culprit or what.But in 2nd gear revving high the motor wants to cut out and die.Like it's not getting fuel.

Thanks for the help guys.
 
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