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Discussion Starter #1
I'm starting to do my homework for a new engine build early next year. Right now, I have no idea what I've got, other than its a 350 with a mild cam. I believe that I'm having some clearance issues in one of the bearings, which may be the source of my knocking and why my oil pressure fluctuates. Rather than tear this motor apart, I figured that I'd start fresh so I know what I have.

That said, my budget is about $4-5K. I can't go crazy, as I've got a few other things that I need to do while I'm at it, i.e. new clutch assembly and possibly an M21 rebuild, so need to keep the cost in perspective. I also don't want to build a econo junk machine either. I'm leaning towards a 383 stroker, as I'd like to hit the over 400HP mark, but not really sure if a 383 is the best road to get there from a return on investment standpoint. I know that I want to remain with a small block.

Then the last consideration are the ready made engines. I've seen quite a few on ebay or JEGS that are roughly $1K or so less than what it would cost me to build, and they have warranties. I realize that all parts are not created equal, but for a street car, does it really make all that much difference? Just want to explore all of my options, as an extra grand saved in my pocket could go towards a new rear end.

This will be my first engine build. Thought that I'd get my son involved and get a family project going, which of course has a value all in itself. I also have a friend that is willing to let me use his stand and lift to pull the motor, along with his advice, as he's built many.

If anyone has any thoughts on my direction above, or build advice, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!
 

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just MY opinion. I could not build an engine as to what I wanted for the price I paid for one with a warranty
do some research on the net. there is a lot of companies that offer great packages at an affordable price.
blueprint engines has a 420 horse engine for $3500.
I bought mine from united racing engines. it was a true turn key with a three year warranty, or 100K miles
you will also have some tell you that it makes you feel proud to build it your self. this is true, but if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing you can ruin an engine in an instant. then you get to start all over again, if you have any money left
good luck on your decision
 

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I agree with Kevin on this one.
With pre-built, you get guaranteed results, and you also don't have to deal with "scope creep", meaning you get partway through and you think "Hey...maybe I should spend a few hundred $$ more and get those other heads that are a little bit better", etc.
I was fortunate...mine was built by a guy who knows what he's doing, has built hundreds of motors, holds a couple of titles, etc. So I have complete faith in what he did...but if I'd done it, I'd be constantly second guessing myself.

Jim
 

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First thing is to get down to basics. Torque is what moves the car. It is what accelerates the car away from the stop light and it is also what breaks parts (if you should happen to have a 10 bolt 8.2 inch ring gear with a 28 spline axles). Cubic inches make torque (which is why big blocks are so popular despite the 0.200 second handicap imposed by their added weight). So you want the biggest big block or the biggest small block you can find. While looking for a bigger motor, keep in mind that a longer stroke also builds torque (but this only applies to Otto cycle engines not applicable with a Diesel cycle engine).

So why is horsepower all that gets ink in magazines and was painted on the hoods of NASCAR stock cars back when they were mostly "stock" cars? Because horsepower wins races (remember you said you want a street driven car). In the case of NASCAR it is horsepower that overcomes the friction of tires, gears and bearings as well as the biggest drag on the car air resistance (fluid friction) allowing them to race around the high bank oval track at a more or less steady speed. In the case of drag racing it is horsepower that wins the race because of how horsepower is defined. It is torque applied over time. Since the elapsed time is all important you want to build a motor that created the most torque at the highest RPM you can twist the motor (RPM is revolutions per MINUTE) it is all about time.

On the street you have nearly all day to get from your house to the car show, or to just cruise for the enjoyment of driving. Keep in mind it takes only seven horsepower (the same level of power as it takes to run your A/C compressor) to push your car down a level road at 45 mph. The faster you go above this speed the greater is the horsepower requirement (it increases exponentially which means a small increaser in speed requires a tremendous increase in horsepower to push the air out of the way. To "feel the power" you need only stand on the side of the interstate as a semi passes you a few feet away (I think they were aiming for me when I worked as a cop). The blast of air pushed out from in front of the truck can nearly knock you over.

Ok you want a big motor that makes gobs of torque. So what goes inside it to make it work? Let me demonstrate graphically (with a picture) the difference between an all forged bottom end (piston rods and crank) compared to a cast piston and crank (all Chevy rods are forged unlike Pontiac and Olds that used cast rods in their low horsepower applications).

First a forged bottom end after something goes wrong:



The block is still useable though it requires one sleeve to maintain the same bore size, or over bore and buy eight new pistons. Point being catastrophic damage but contained because forged parts bend instead of break. Now to look at what you get to work with cast or in this case hyper parts (that are still cast only out of a different alloy).



This was a 383 that someone was proud of that was destroyed by detonation. The point is in what happens when something eventually goes wrong. Forged parts are not stronger than cast, the difference is cast parts break into pieces and forged parts bend rather than break. The store bought crate engines for the most part all use cheaper cast parts instead of forged parts which makes a difference in the final price.

Finally let me address the popular rumpitty-rump noise that race cars make at idle, and everyone wants to emulate. I would first point out that race cars never race at idle (I have a John Deere Model M tractor that used to compete in how slow can you go, and thus ran at idle, which on my tractor was about 45 RPM, and in double low gear hardly moved). Race cars however race at wide open throttle which a street driven car hardly ever encounters. To increase the RPM of their motors they have very long duration numbers. This holds the valves open longer to give air a chance to move in an out of a motor at 10,000 RPM. As much as you may want a rumpity-rump idle it isn't worth the hassle on the street. The duration and LSA for that matter needs to be examined closely. As your displacement increases you need to lengthen the duration for the same reason a race car needs a longer duration, A bigger engine takes more time to fill with air than a smaller one does.

Larger Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the feedback guys. So when a warranty is offered with a preassembled engine, what does that generally cover, and how is the warranty redeemed? For example, if something went wrong, would you merely take the car to an 'approved' service center and then the builder is billed?
 

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Thanks for the feedback guys. So when a warranty is offered with a preassembled engine, what does that generally cover, and how is the warranty redeemed? For example, if something went wrong, would you merely take the car to an 'approved' service center and then the builder is billed?
THAT would depend on the place where you bought the engine.
I doubt that every warranty would be the same .
call the company that you are interested in and ask them
 

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If you bought a GMPP (General Motors Performance Parts) crate motor and any thing went wrong you would drag or tow it into any GM authorized dealership and they will fix or replace it free of charge within the first 364 days that the warranty is in effect from the day and hour purchased (so don't buy the motor and leave it on an engine stand for a few years while you repair the body and get it painted).

For the others what you are doping is buying an insurance policy (the engine builder buys the policy based upon previous claims records so the fewer claims he has then the cheaper the warranty becomes to the builder). So if it goes bad you take your motor to any authorized shop (the insurance policy may specify restricted locations but most will accept any licensed shop that has ASE certified mechanics on the shop floor) to get it repaired at your expense. You then submited the bill to the insurance company to begin dickering upon what they will or will not allow as to reimbursement.

I used to build motors and offered warranties on them when a customer insisted upon it. It proved to be cheaper to me with some customers that could break a rock in a padded cell. To the others it was my famous 30/30 guarantee: thirty feet or thirty seconds. They got to hear it crank up and run and I gave them the dyno sheet. But other than my rep as a builder that was it, and this saved them the cost of buying the insurance policy that I just passed through. Most of my customers preferred to put their money into parts. I would work with someone however if I thought I might have made a mistake, or a part that I bought and installed broke abnormally (keeping in mind I built engines to race).

Big Dave
 

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as I stated above, united racing engines has a 3 year, 100,000 mile warranty.
others will vary. do your research for the best deal that you can afford
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Kevin. I looked at URE's website, and the baseline 383 that they show is roughly $8K, which is out of my budget. Can anyone else recommend a decent builder with a warranty?

I'm still not over the fence one way or the other, but want to take a look at all options. What I'd like to do is find an engine that I like and that is within my ballpark, then part it out to see how much professional labor there is tacked in for assembly.
 

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Chad, take a look at prestige motorsports, they appear to build quality engines at reasonable prices. I've not dealt with them myself but have read reviews from a few very satisfied customers. Their 408 has had my interest for a while now.
 

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As a retired engine builder I recommend this outfit. They have been doing it for a while and though their warranty is only for a year it is a true warranty: no questions asked (assuming you remember to remove the nitrous system before you bring it in for repair or replacement).

http://www.chevrolet.com/performance/crate-engines/small-block-zz-383.html

If you are building a motor from scratch chose to build a 406 or larger (which implies using a longer than a stock 3.7500 inch SBC 400's stroke). Ignore the 383 as both cost about the same to build so long as you are using "off the shelf" or common build combinations.

As far as that goes Chris Straub is an engine builder that has competed in the old Popular Hotrodding magazine's Engine Master Series. He belongs to all of the Team boards and offers advise on building motors (though I am sure he is still trying to sell his wares such as in his most recent post:

http://www.camaros.net/forums/showthread.php?t=305641

I think he could gain a bit more torque with a wider LSA of 112° to 114° and a shortening the duration by five degrees to about 232° on the intake side but he makes a lot of torque with what he has built (check out the lower RPM numbers where you need power for the street).

Big Dave
 
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