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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings fellow Novites,

I recently purchased a 1970 Nova that is on a truck coming from Canada. It has the original drivetrain and I would like to remove it for safekeeping. I'm a self taught mechanic and a bucket list item is driving behind an engine that I rebuilt. So my question is a simple and complex one. I would like to build a budget-ish 350. Where is a good place to start? Junk yards? What book would you recommend? What specialty tools are most helpful? Help me Obi Nova Kanobi. You're my only hope!

Darin
 

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These two are a couple of good places to start....the second and third especially if you are into mid-level cost budget performance.
Difference between second linked book and third linked is the second book is an earlier, out-fo-print edition...but it has more flat tappet cam performance info, the later version most of the info and build recipe's are hydro roller cam....so if budget is tighter, you want the earlier book for that info. Later book is more up-to-date on available aftermarket heads tho'.

The performance books don't have any torque specs or procedure info tho', like the first link, they are figuring you already know your way around that part of it.




John Baechtel 's book is also very good, covers use and prep of a lot of stock parts and procedures and performance stuff too.

 

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Thanks for the references! I've been reading some about vortec heads and curious if the books are new enough and detailed enough to suggest combinations that are proven to work.
 

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Check YouTube (I know, I know). But there is a guy on there with the handle myvintageiron. He has a complete series on rebuilding a 350 chevy. From finding a good core to firing it up and breaking in the cam. I would highly suggest watching that series. He is/was an instructor at UTI from what I put together.
 

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Thanks for the references! I've been reading some about vortec heads and curious if the books are new enough and detailed enough to suggest combinations that are proven to work.
The newest of the "How to Build Max-Performance...." books by Vizard in the link above has a pretty good amount of info on port shaping and the Vortec head modifications if your going to port them some or add bigger valve sizes,.... and a 440 HP, 35 cubic inch, Vortec head, $3250 complete build is featured as engine recipe #4 out of the 10 at the rear section of the book.

Several of the other lower cost build recipe's in the book are using ported versions of the old Camel Hump/Fuelie heads, the Vortec head will easily substitute in place of those and make the same or better power than listed for the build..
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm located in Denver, CO. I've been watching a few youtube channels, to include the vintageiron channel. I picked up a machined 4 bolt main yesterday that just happened to come with 906 vortec heads, so I will be going that route. I;m glad you mentioned the engine recipes. That's exactly what I'm going after, something that advises of what parts go together with each other. Should be a fun learning experience. Or incredibly frustrating and end in a really loud noise that isn't good. We will see!
Thanks again for the help! I ordered the book as well.
Is there a good online resources that shows proper torque/plastigauge/bolt pattern specifications for small blocks?
 

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I'm located in Denver, CO. I've been watching a few youtube channels, to include the vintageiron channel. I picked up a machined 4 bolt main yesterday that just happened to come with 906 vortec heads, so I will be going that route. I;m glad you mentioned the engine recipes. That's exactly what I'm going after, something that advises of what parts go together with each other. Should be a fun learning experience. Or incredibly frustrating and end in a really loud noise that isn't good. We will see!
Thanks again for the help! I ordered the book as well.
Is there a good online resources that shows proper torque/plastigauge/bolt pattern specifications for small blocks?
Find a 1970 or newer Motors Manual and it will have the torque specs. and bolt tightening sequences in it plus about everything you need for building a stock engine.
 

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2nd bobcatman, even a basic GM engine rebuild book will have all the torque spec's and sequences. It doesn't take long to memorize it. From the books I've seen the spec's have been very consistent hence why I love the Gen I SBC. Very easy to build a solid semi stock with little extra cost. You can run a rebuilt stock bottom end with minor top end performance mods and have a solid motor. I did it once with the matched Edlebrock Performer intake, cam, headers and a 4 barrel Holley. It will purr as a daily driver. It gets a little more complicated if you get into serious performance cams that need rear gear changes and torque converters if running a automatic. Have fun.
 

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The biggest issue and I fell into it after building engines for 30 years and working at a race engine shop, is knowing the differences in the parts. I think the intake special to the vortec heads is common, but I think the biggest one is the 80-85 oil pans are different and require a thicker front pan seal. Then of course later on you had the 1 piece rear seal and externally balanced 350's.
 

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Another book I like is The Chevrolet Racing Engine by Bill Jenkins. There are many good basic engine building tips and general engine knowledge in this book. One problem with it is that it is dated. When he wrote the book, there were no Vortec heads, for example. Good luck with your build and keep us posted on your progress. There are a bunch of smart, experienced Nova folks here, so post if you have any issues or questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the replies! I guess I'm most concerned about learning parts compatibility. For example, I just bought 1.6 roller rockers, but afterward read that there needs to be work done on the valve guides to run 1.6 instead of the 1.5 ratio. And who knows if it's even true. I'll be using LS6 springs and the retainers that allow me to run about a .500 lift, so I'm thinking about a .488 camshaft. I'm not sure if that's too much lift for the 1.6 rockers.
Stuff like this. I'm a completely self taught home auto mechanic, only experience being an aircraft mechanic in the AIr Force. Not much translates other than swinging a wrench and cussing at inanimate objects when they don't do what they're supposed t do.
 

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The basic 350” and Vortec head combo will give you 350 real and streetable HP with any small hydraulic cam. Every car mag around has written dozens of variations on this theme, it is just about foolproof. This is the cheapest and easiest combo around, and every step further will cost more, for a proportionately smaller return.
 

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If anyone around ripley WVneeds an engine built i have a real good friend that owns a machine shop and does
GREAT work

shoot me a message as ive had several members from here get engines built
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The basic 350” and Vortec head combo will give you 350 real and streetable HP with any small hydraulic cam. Every car mag around has written dozens of variations on this theme, it is just about foolproof. This is the cheapest and easiest combo around, and every step further will cost more, for a proportionately smaller return.
I'm reading everywhere about roller rockers. Some say they're not worth it, others won't use anything else. What has been your experience with them vs the regular factory stamped rockers? I have the factory rockers already.
 

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I have never used a set of roller rockers in my lifetime. The dozen or so competition engine I’ve assembled, were all built on the tailgate of a PU, using as many factory parts as possible. Generally speaking, exspensive valvetrain components are required with more radical cam profiles, not necessarily to make more power, but to allow the engine to run at high RPM.
As an example, the 383” in our mud truck runs stock Vortec heads with stock Vortec, guided rockers and the stock springs that just happened to be factory installed that day. This engine regularly sees 7000 rpm for perhaps a full second, coming off the starting line. Then the clutch is dumped, and the rom’s slowly decrease to about 5000, at the end of the run, a trip of about 250’ that requires 4-5 seconds. The single best aftermarket item I ever installed, was the Scat cast steel crankshaft. The bearing life was doubled with this single change.
 

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Agree with Midmo Joe, very little power gain from them all by themselves, stock rockers work fine for most mild stuff.
Don't bother with the ball pivot, roller type stockish style stuff, those are real crap and being heavier tip actually reduce rpm potential in a stock valvetrain. roller is in the wrong section of the rocker if you are only going to rollerize one part of it.
You'll see this done correctly in the LS engine rockers, great design that handles pretty high lift and high rpm without a hitch...roller fulcrum, but pallet/shoe tip at the valve contact end of it.....Everything a stock Gen I SBC rocker would dream to be.

Full on roller fulcrum roller tip begin to become necessary when heading up over .530-.540" lift, the stock design doesn't fit that situation well as it is beyond it's design parameters.
 

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I would check Facebook marketplace if you’re looking for parts. A lot of folks near me seem to have switched from Craigslist to that. There seem to be a lot of 350’s for sale as LS swaps increase. So you could find a complete one that might be in great shape and running or one that has decent parts to start with.
 
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