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I am assembling a 350 SBC with a OEM type stamped steel replacement oil pan w/stock baffle and a Melling MEL-M55 oil pump. What height from the bottom of the oil pan should I set the pickup/strainer assembly. Should I set the height from the block assembly to the pickup, or from the pickup to the bottom of the oil pan?

Also; how do you rate the one piece oil pan gaskets? I have read quite a few reviews, most of them rate the Conneco Gasket better than Felpro due to installation leakage issues!

Thanks for all answers ahead of time.

John Lighthart
James Island, SC
 

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Install the pickup tube only part way into the pump so it still moves alittle. Put the pump on the motor and turn the pickup so it will hit the pan when you put it on the motor. Put the pan on without the gasket this will push the pickup tube down. Then put the pickup the rest of the way in the pump. When you install the pan with the gasket you'll end up with a gasket thickness distance from the bottom of the pan to the pickup.
 

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1/4 to 3/8 and you'll be fine.

Personally I'd toss the M55 pump and run the Melling Select series 10552 with the 12557 bolt on pickup. On a 7 inch pan it'll be right at 1/4 from pan bottom and there is about 1/4 adjustment for you due to the holes on the pickup being slightly larger diameter than the pickup tube bolts. Drill and safety wire the bolts and you're done. The M55 pump is no longer recomended by Melling for a performance build, it's not the same quality M55 pump they made back in the 70s and 80s. Do a search for topics on the M55 pumps here and you'll see for yourself. Check out the Melling Select series pumps and see the difference.

Depending on what pan you run there are three bolt on pickups available, for 7, 7.5 and 8 inch pans (12557, 12558, 12559). If you decide to keep your M55 I'd suggest you braze the pickup onto the pump body. Some will tell you it's overkill, but the last Camaro I bought when I tore down the 355 the pickup tube was loose and ready to fall out of the pump. So it can and does happen. Wouldn't have believed it myself until I saw this.
 

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Do your pickup first(1st) thing on engine assembly. No crank or pistons in your road.

Put #5 maincap and the pump, loosely fit the p/u. Put the gasket and pan. Reach in through #7 with a piece of 3/8"(not pronounced quarter inch) key stock or allen wrench and put it under the p/u. Stuff the p/u in there as hard as you can, and scribe it maybe. pull the pump and beat that junky press p/u in there. Or better yet buy a 10552C with bolt on 3/4"(not pronounced 5/8") p/u and some junky metric allen headed 6mm screws and tighten it down while it's still in the oil pan with your arm through #8 hole and verify the keystock or allen will pass under the p/u. Then you'll know what you got. Any other way is just a guesstimate.
 

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Install the pickup tube only part way into the pump so it still moves alittle. Put the pump on the motor and turn the pickup so it will hit the pan when you put it on the motor. Put the pan on without the gasket this will push the pickup tube down. Then put the pickup the rest of the way in the pump. When you install the pan with the gasket you'll end up with a gasket thickness distance from the bottom of the pan to the pickup.
i've always done it this way.
 
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