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Old 10-18-2012, 08:38 PM
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350 build suggestions

Hi everyone, I'm new to the site and to building engines so I'm looking for a little help.

I recently purchased a couple of SBC 350 engines as a weekend project to keep me off the couch and so I could learn more about engines. Being that I'm trying to learn about engines some of the things I don't understand is what is over doing it and is pissing away money cause it sounds cool, versus what is going to give me additional HP. For example roller rockers, from what I've read they won't really make a difference for what I'm planning on building. What is the right size carb? How much lift is too much lift on a cam for my intended use etc... I'm HOPING to build an engine in 350-400 hp range and I would like to only spend around $1000 or so, maybe $1500.

I started looking for parts and what not and reading into it and there are a lot of parts that sound or look awesome but as I read more and more it seems pretty easy to spend money on stuff that would only give me additional HP if I were building a 600+ HP 9,000 RPM engine for the strip.

I plan to take the block to a machine shop and have it decked, freeze plugs replaced, acid dipped, cam bearings replaced and cylinders honed (bored if necessary.) I'm trying to find a set of Vortec heads and I'm going to port and polish them. Other than that I haven't found clear answers on the rest of the components. THIS IS WHERE YOU GUYS AND Y'ALLS EXPERIENCE COMES IN!!!

With that little bit info where should I go from there? What do you guys recommend for:

Cam
Intake Manifold
Rockers
Pistons
Carb
Lifters
Valves
Valve Springs
and anything else not mentioned.

I don't want to buy parts and replace them when stock would do for what I'm trying to achieve and I want to make sure I don't buy parts that are way more high performance than what I'm trying to build.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-18-2012, 09:24 PM
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350 build suggestions

Here is an article to read just like the build you want to do. Low Budget Chevy 350 Small Block Engine Build - Classic Trucks Magazine
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:38 AM
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Hopefully you bought a 96 to 2000 350 vortec engine with a factory roller cam setup.

If you want to learn about engines why not learn about modern LS engines. You can get a complete running LS engine in good shape for less than 750.

An old school 350 is getting to be like a flat head ford V8. A technically out classed engine.
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Old 10-19-2012, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 454C10 View Post
Hopefully you bought a 96 to 2000 350 vortec engine with a factory roller cam setup.

If you want to learn about engines why not learn about modern LS engines. You can get a complete running LS engine in good shape for less than 750.

An old school 350 is getting to be like a flat head ford V8. A technically out classed engine.
I don't know squat about these motors, but I have to agree.
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cdminter59 View Post
Here is an article to read just like the build you want to do. Low Budget Chevy 350 Small Block Engine Build - Classic Trucks Magazine
Thanks this was a good start.
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by hcompton View Post
He is learning and wants to play. Gen 1 is perfect and will cost much less to hobby build you can buy a rebuild kit for a couple hundred bucks with almost all new parts. Its great plateform to learn with.

Vortec and roller corvette style engines are good with roller cam. But the cost is sometimes more than a person wants to spend. Flat cam is cheap enough to replace if you get the wrong size. Roller is alot more cash.

LS is great motor. but not a cheap rebuild for a first timer.

Hotrod magazine has bunch of buget builds for 350s and 383. if you need machine work to a crank its almost cheaper to build a 383 with a new crank.

Here is a good one with general information about the 383.
383ci Chevy Small Block - Engine Build - Tech - Hot Rod Magazine

Hope this helps.
Exactly. Gen I was the only engine I could find that was cheap enough that I was willing to drop the cash on knowing I don't really have a clue what I'm doing and I may be pissing away my money.

Thanks for the suggestions!
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:28 PM
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i thuoght i would throw in you can get a 383 stroker rotating assebly for $700.00 from eagle. a little more cash for a lote more power good trade off.
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Old 10-19-2012, 11:21 PM
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machine work and balancing 8-900 dollars how many corners are you willing to cut? reliability needs care to details.Cheap horse power is not tough,and not reliable.How long does the engine need to last?
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Old 10-20-2012, 06:49 AM
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350 build suggestions

Well I checked prices on pistons, hyd flat tappet cam kit, intake, carb, rod and main bearings, oil pump, and gasket kit at Summit Racing. I came up with a total of $1590 for parts. I hope out of the 2 motors you have a good crank and rods. The crank will need polishing and the rods reconditioned and Arp bolts. Like you said you need a set of Vortec heads. The heads will need good porting and a valve job to get near 400 hp. Also the cam is over 450 lift so you will have to check the retainer to valve seal clearance. The machine shop can do this. Compression will be about 9.6:1 with 64cc chambered heads.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:28 AM
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Like I said, you could buy a complete LS engine for less than 500.00 in good shape. Take it apart and put it back together for the cost of a gasket set.

Much cheaper and much more up to date to work an a LS engine.

Could also convert the LS to a carb setup, but I don't recommend that.
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:29 AM
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For what your looking for, here's my suggestion and many won't agree, but having done it, recently....I'm speaking from my experience.
Have everything inspected, and if all checks out OK, have it honed, new bearings and rings, and call the bottom end done....leave the stock pistons and all, remember, this is a learning curve and also fun seeing what you can get for little money.
Find a set of 416 casting heads from a 305 Monte Carlo ss etc, research on here Fbird 88, do what he says pertaining to the heads, the machine shop will have plenty of 194 intake valves laying around, just ask them when you send out the heads. Assuming the motors you bought were complete, I would hope at least one has a qjet Carb on it, if not, check the classifieds, if you already have one, read, and research what to inspect, and rebuild if required.
Again, check the classifieds, find someone who "upgraded" to an air gap or single plane, and go buy their used performer rpm intake.
Order new, summit racing or jegs, lunati 10120101lk, barebones, under 100$ with lifters,
Again, summit or jegs for no name long tube headers for aroundn100$ for whatever platform your using.
Install in something that isn't a tank, run 410, gears, shift kit, and your done.
You can make this happen in your budget, the amount of motor you end up with will be decided by how much time you spend on the heads, I have over 40hrs in mine, I have driven fast cars, been in fast cars, grown up with fast cars, and was completely stunned, as was everyone else who rode in my vette, by how strong it really is...you will be satisfied....and look like a hero to your buddies for making "junk" parts work.......
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:33 AM
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In a short wheel base, 2wd 85 jimmy, with 410's it will be big stupid fun.....you will be very satisfied.....
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Old 10-21-2012, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hcompton View Post
Most junk yard engines will at least need an overbore. Best to get it done right. A larger overbore will require new pistons and rings but will allow the engine to seal up properly and run as expected. As i said previously i do not recommend any work on the crank as a new one is very cheap and since its the same cost for the 383 crank as stock and you already need pistons a 383 is a smart choice and cost very little these days.

Use stock rods and arp bolts. They will be fine. Try to go new with everything else. The cost is not too high for new stock replacement parts and it will be all new.

I recommend this because alot of ppl build there first engine thinking it wont last and it runs like a top for years. Its not a hard rebuild and will easily last. It best not to build thinking it fail. Take all the steps to make sure it is right and it will run great. Chevy is very forgiving. I have seen big mistakes run for a long time. Just read as much info as posssible. Also check youtube for videos of other ppl doing the same thing.

When you install the engine, oil pressure and temp guages get hooked up before the fuel lines. Just an fyi that many first time builders forget to do. Dont trun the key without knowing it has oil pressure. Prime the engine with the proper tool. Make sure your plug wires are in the correct order and distributor is facing the correct direction. So it will start up quickly and also make sure you have gas to the carb. Once it fires You can turn the distribuer a little to get it to run smooth enough for the cam breakin.

Read the cam break in proceedures in the wiki and follow all the manufactures instructions and enjoy! It will run great.
I do agree that if the money is there to have it bored and new pistons etc, then by all means do that. That being said the OP used a budget of 1000$ to 1500$ and I'm not sure where your from, so I may be way of base, but being a good old Canadian boy there is zero chance your going to put together any 383 in that budget when you factor in machining etc, or even a 30 over motor for that matter, unless your friends with a machine shop its just not going to happen.
I was going bang for the buck, I call my motor a grenade because I reused head bolts, stock pushrods, stock rockers, pressed in studs, etc, but I also beat my junk mercilessly. So I'm not going to cry when it eats itself, it will be self imposed I'm sure. But someone screwing together a combo like mine, on the OP's budget, is going to be pleasently surprised by the outcome. I have right around 800$ in my motor, its not the fastest car I have driven, but I would be willing to bet my left nut it will run 13:50's as it sits now, and with a 3500 converter come spring, and a plate kit I hope to take it to bottom 12's.....
Is that fast? Not really.....but for 8 bills, in Canada no less, its real real respectable. The OP hasn't built a motor before, and I'm going on the assumption (maybe wrongly) that he has never owned a 13 or even 14 second car. So a motor like mine, and not pounded constantly, would give him a huge sense of pride, and feel like a rocket ship, and likely live a long healthy life......just my humble opinion right or wrong...
Dave
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:49 PM
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I might have missed it ,but I didn't read where anyone had mentioned to the OP about the tools needed to build an engine. Here's a link for an intermediate builders tools.Intermediate Engine Building - Popular Hot Rodding Magazine
You don't have to buy all these for a budget build, but some are going to be needed. IMO you'll need to buy or borrow a 1/2" torque wrench, balancer installer, oil priming tool, ring compressor, and feeler gauges(ring/spark plug gap).
You said you were going to port the heads, so you'll need a valve spring compressor to remove/install the valves. You'll need a valve spring mic, or a set of dial/digital calipers to install new springs/shims for spring installed height verification. I recomend the dial/digital calipers as you can use them for alot of other measures like piston in the hole depth for figuring compression.
Instead of a set of micrometers/bore gauge to measure crankjournals/main & rod bearing ID, you can get some kind of idea about clearances using Plastigauge, but its not the right way to check for journal/bearing runout IMO.
You'll need a gasket scraper, and a set of engine brushes to clean-up used parts.
You'll need a degree wheel, and a dial gauge/magnetic base to verify the cam install/specs. Or do like alot guys do and just install it and keep you fingers crossed.(bad idea IMO)
You'll need a timing light, vacuum gauge, & tachometer to tune it for best performance, or at least I do.
I'm not saying you have to buy all of these, but IMO you'll need to use most all of them if you want do do the job with any kind of peice of mind.
As far as 400hp IMO you'd be happier with more of a torque engine producing around 325-350hp on the street.
For 325-350hp with ported vortec heads, I'd recommend a max 9.0:1CR, a Comp Cams HE260 cam(212 deg @ 0.050") with matching springs, an Edelbrock Performer intake, and a 600cfm Holley vacuum secondary carb. You'll get to keep a stock stall trans convertor, and have great throttle responce from idle to about 5200rpm. Might be able to run 87 octane gas if quench is tight.
For 400hp with ported vortec heads, I'd recommend at 9.5:1CR, at least a Comp Cam 270 Magnum cam with matching springs(see comp catalog), an Edelbrock RPM intake, a 750cfm vacuum secondary carb, and a 2400rpm or higher stall convertor.
You didn't say what kind of car, trans, or rear gears your using, so I'm guessing its around 3200lbs, with an auto trans, and stock gears.
FWIW
ssmonty

Last edited by ssmonty; 10-21-2012 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:01 PM
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I agree with all of the above, which is why I keep pounding the same drum....stock bottom end, honed, re- ringed, and reassembled at the machine shop. I borrowed a compressor and die grinder, bought the moroso head porting kit, and then spent days reading, then some more reading, the a couple of video's, then i bought a 6" carbide cutting stone, and spent the time..not money. Then i borrowed a torque wrench...when I was done with the 416 heads, I had the machine shop reassemble because i don't have the required tools to do so at home. Its going to come down to budget, and when just starting out, it can scare the hell out of you trying to buy everything everyone tells you you need, then buying the "right" parts, and realizing your way out to lunch on your budget and have to scrap the project.....how many times is the machine left holding half completed motors for this reason.....? Lots.....cause the guy that decided it was to daunting and too expensive, is now driving a clapped out civic with an eBay Turbo kit and we have lost them forever lol....
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