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Old 05-19-2004, 09:42 PM
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400 SBC Daily Driver Buildup

Hi Everyone,
I'm a new member here. I have been reading some of the posts and its obvious that there is a vast amount of knowledge available here. I am hoping to get some advice on a 400 Chevy small block I am building.
The project started as a weekend car but my circumstances have changed and now I will be building my 64 Chevelle as a daily driver. The engine is currently put together for power more than driveability. The engine is a .030 over 400 with Silv-o-lite KB flat top (7cc valve relief) hypereutectic pistons, 5.7 rods, Comp Cams 280H cam - 230 dur. Int/Exh .488 lift, Sportsman heads with 200cc intake runners - 64cc chambers - angle plugs, Victor Jr. intake with a 750 Holley carb.
I feel this is not a good combination, especially compression wise for daily duty. The motor is fresh and has not been run yet. I would like to make some changes to get better everyday driveability, decent mileage, and still be fun. The focus is on daily driveability though with power brakes a/c etc to be taken into concideration. Also I would like to keep costs as low as possable so I would like to use as many of the same parts or parts I already have on hand.
I have some other speed parts I have are a Performer RPM intake, a Peformer EPS intake, a 600 Vac. Sec. Holley carb, a Comp cams 260H cam (212 dur @.050 .440 lift)
Right now I am thinking of a piston change to a 30cc dished piston and using the same heads or getting a set of Sportsman or S/R Torquers with 76cc chambers. I'm not sure of the cam or intake selection. By the way it will be backed by a 700r4 auto and 3.73 gears.
Sorry for the length of the post. I appreciate any advise that can be given on this engine to make it more streetable. Thanks in advance to all.
Mike

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Old 05-19-2004, 11:21 PM
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Well first off changing the heads would be your best bet, because you could lower your compression and get smaller higher velocity intake ports. The smaller ports would work much better with your new plans. The 200cc Sportsmans you have now would cause the to be engine lazy at lower RPMs. Now as for the camshaft, the one you have would be fine, but a better choice would be the XE268H from comp cams. It would meet all of your requirments and give you more power than the 260H. Its dual pattern would help with rather poor exhaust flow characteristics that are inherent to the S/R torquers. If you wanted to spring for the added cost of an intake manifold you could get the ever popular vortec heads, which flow better than the torquers. You could probably stick with the 750 holley if its a Vac Secondary if not the 600 will work. If it were me, Id put all the parts I wasnt going to use in the local trade paper and on ebay to generate some cash and go with the vortec set up. Then of course the new edelbrock E-TEC aluminum heads would be worth a look. The chambers are 64 cc so you'd keep the compression but thier aluminum which would allow you to run that compression ratio on premium pump gas. Though they might be a bit more money you should be able to offset the cost with the sale of all the unused parts. The Well thats my .02 worth..lol...good luck

Last edited by Docs91RS; 05-19-2004 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 05-19-2004, 11:35 PM
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I wouldn't change anything in the engine. I am running almost exactly the same setup as a daily driver.

Do not run the smaller cam with the pistons you have now.

If you keep everything as is, you will have more bottom end than if you were to change to the small cam and dished pistons.

Polish the combustion chambers in the head. It will help keep detonation away.

It will run fine with 91 octane.

My engine idles at 600 RPMs. At idle, in gear it has 21 in. of vacuum. It is very streetable.
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Old 05-20-2004, 08:05 AM
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Like lluciano77 said, its a good set up but compression may be a little high. I'm running Sportsman ll heads, rpm intake 18cc dished pistons in my 400. As far as I'm concerned its a mild set up. 425hp @ 5200 rpm and 470 lb ft torque @ 4200 rpm on the dyno. My car is a 65 Beaumont, 3100 lb car and goes like stink. 3.73 gears and 4 speed, idles easy at 700 rpm, lots of vacuum and rubber through 3rd gear.
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Old 05-20-2004, 09:08 AM
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Hi,
Thanks for the input. I am all for keeping my combination as is except for changing to a dished piston to reduce the compression some. I like the cost of this option. I am curious as to how well this combination does on mileage when driven easily. I have a 25 mile drive each way to work and back and with the rising cost of gas, mileage is definately a concern. Also will this combination run in 100deg. heat in stop and go traffic without over heating? I have a 4 row radiator in the car and will be using a/c.
I am looking into the Vortec heads. This also sounds like a nice streetable combination. It is more costly but as stated I think I could sell some of my other parts and recoup most of the cost. Do you guys think this would be a better option for mileage and overall driveability? I'd like the motor to have some pep, but I am really more concerned with mileage and running everyday, no matter what the weather, dependably and without concerns.
As for the Vortec heads what else needs to be changed beside the manifold and self aligning rockers and valve covers? Can I use my push rods and head bolts from the regular heads? Do standard headers bolt up? Do the regular head gaskets work with these heads? Do the a/c and alt. brackets bolt up the same? Is there any thing else I have over looked?
Thanks again for all the input and ideas. It sure has given me some food for thought. Any other ideas/suggestions are certainly appreciated.
Thanks again,
Mike
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Old 05-20-2004, 12:39 PM
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Hi,
I just talked to a guy that will swap heads with me. I want to run this combination by you guys to see what you think.

Dart Iron Eagle 180cc heads 72cc chambers
18cc dished pistons
Comp cams XE268H cam - as mentioned earlier or XE262H
Performer RPM manifold
Holley 750 vac. sec. or Holley 600 vac. sec.

Do you think this combination would meet the goals for driveability, mileage etc that I mentioned earlier? Would the Performer EPS manifold be better? Also, Is it wise to use roller rockers for everyday use (already have them) or would a roller tip or plain long slot rocker be better.
Thanks agiain for all the input.
Mike
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Old 05-20-2004, 03:43 PM
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I would not change the motor either. I had a motor similar to that, that I drove every day in the city and on the interstate. I think you will like that motor in your daily driver. If you use 180cc heads and the 268h cam on a 400, the motor will stop making power around 4500-5000 rpm probably. I would stick with the 200's

Adam
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Old 05-20-2004, 08:02 PM
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keep the 200cc runners, and if you must swap out the cam to a comp XE 274, but I suggest the 284 XE grind... your combo is solid, whomever is telling you otherwise is pulling your leg...unless you want a truck engine...but hey, thats up to you...

good luck! 2wld4u
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Old 05-20-2004, 08:39 PM
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I've got a 406 with 12cc dished pistons, with 64cc Vortec heads and I'm still at about 10:1 static. I've been happy with the XE268 cam and an Edelbrock 750.
But... this is NOT a fuel economy engine, even with an overdrive trans.
With your 3.73 gears, even with the 700R4's .70 overdrive, you'll be hard pressed to get good daily mileage.
Of all the options presented, I'd go with the second engine you posted, and maybe think about less steep gears.

As to your other questions, everything will bolt up, i,e, headers, etc. Make sure you have steam holes in the heads. I used head studs instead of bolts for (hopefully) better clamping, but that's another $100 and pulling a head means pulling the engine...trust me on that one.
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Old 05-21-2004, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 31rdster
Hi,
Thanks for the input. I am all for keeping my combination as is except for changing to a dished piston to reduce the compression some. I like the cost of this option. I am curious as to how well this combination does on mileage when driven easily. I have a 25 mile drive each way to work and back and with the rising cost of gas, mileage is definately a concern. Also will this combination run in 100deg. heat in stop and go traffic without over heating? I have a 4 row radiator in the car and will be using a/c.
I am looking into the Vortec heads. This also sounds like a nice streetable combination. It is more costly but as stated I think I could sell some of my other parts and recoup most of the cost. Do you guys think this would be a better option for mileage and overall driveability? I'd like the motor to have some pep, but I am really more concerned with mileage and running everyday, no matter what the weather, dependably and without concerns.
As for the Vortec heads what else needs to be changed beside the manifold and self aligning rockers and valve covers? Can I use my push rods and head bolts from the regular heads? Do standard headers bolt up? Do the regular head gaskets work with these heads? Do the a/c and alt. brackets bolt up the same? Is there any thing else I have over looked?
Thanks again for all the input and ideas. It sure has given me some food for thought. Any other ideas/suggestions are certainly appreciated.
Thanks again,
Mike
I wouldn't run Vortecs. They don't leave much room for improvement. I always recommend aftermarket heads over Vortecs.

I am getting 13-15 miles to the gallon with my 400.

I got 8.5:1 compression with 72cc heads and -18cc pistons. That is even low for the cam you selected. Either go with a different piston or head. I would shoot for 9:1 at the absolute minimum. That is in the higher range for the XE268H recommendation.

I would aim for 10:1 compression and use a slightly higher duration cam. You won't loose any fuel economy, and you will gain driveability and torque.

Last edited by lluciano77; 05-21-2004 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 05-21-2004, 10:24 AM
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Hi,
Boy, all this info has really got my head spinning. Seems like most agree that the combination I have is pretty good. After a lot of thinking I believe I will keep my basic setup, maybe go for a different piston to yield between 9 and 10:1 compression as
lluciano77 has suggested and use either the XE268 or XE274 cam.
This should keep me safe with pump gas and provide fairly decent mileage and driveability. Instead of changing heads I will maybe use the $$ to go to a higher rear gear as MI2600 has suggested. I think these changes should produce the results I am looking for. If I have missed something and am not looking at this correctly please let me know. Otherwise thanks to all for all the input and ideas. I appreciate everyone taking the time to give thier thoughts and ideas.

Mike
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Old 05-21-2004, 05:12 PM
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Well, I think that these guys that are pushing for a high compression driver are not being realistic. I think that you have the right idea. I am actually running a 400 with 18cc dish pistons and old 461 heads with polished chambers and a .246 dur. solid cam. It is still very sensitive to detonation. I think that if you are driving it every day the ability to run 87 octane would be a must for me.

I would suggest keeping the heads you have and going for the largest dish piston you can find. Make sure and go with a D dish piston so you do not loose quench. Some of the cheap forged pistons are O shaped dish.....they suck.....ask me how I know .

Another thing is that I think cam selection most definately will effect mileage. With more lobe overlap, the resulting exhaust contamination and lower cylinder pressure at cruise speed I think will cause mileage to suffer.

Chris
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Old 05-21-2004, 08:16 PM
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If he went from an XE268 to a XE274 and raised his compression one point I think he would end up with better mileage than the opposite. Look at the specs. They aren't much different.

http://www.compcams.com/Technical/Cu...ML/128-169.asp

Again, at 11:1 my engine is not very detonation sensitive.

For being a Turbo dude, you sure are paranoid about higher cylinder pressure Turbo S-10!
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Old 05-21-2004, 08:32 PM
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Thanks for the input Chris. I think you have a good idea of what I'm shooting for. The combo I have now is a great setup, but for what I want to accomplish I think it is a bit unrealistic. I plan to use the vehicle daily and being able to run on pump gas, even premium, without it being too sensitive to detonation is a must. I was planning on using the KB Silvolite hypereutetic pistons 30cc D dish. What compression ratio would you shoot for? I was thinking of staying around an 8:1 effective compression ratio. Also, what do you think would be a good cam and intake manifold choice? It sounds like something with a little less overlap would be a better choice.
Again, thanks to everyone for all the input and ideas. I have learned a lot from all the input and it is definitely going to help me make a wise choice.

Thanks again,
Mike
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Old 05-21-2004, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lluciano77
If he went from an XE268 to a XE274 and raised his compression one point I think he would end up with better mileage than the opposite. Look at the specs. They aren't much different.

http://www.compcams.com/Technical/Cu...ML/128-169.asp

Again, at 11:1 my engine is not very detonation sensitive.

For being a Turbo dude, you sure are paranoid about higher cylinder pressure Turbo S-10!
I am not really paranoid about cylinder pressure, but for a daily driver I think that being able to run on 87 is a good idea. As far as mileage and cylinder pressure goes, it is a good thing. I think with the smaller cam and the higher compression he would see better mileage, but then you get into detonation problems at high load. The important thing to understand is that with the increased overlap of a larger cam cylinder pressure will be somewhat lower at low RPM. Of course the little bit of difference would probably be alliviated with the raised compression. With the small difference in these cams mileage will probably not change much I guess in the end.

Cylinder pressure in forced induction engines is a whole other ball game.......that is another thread.

Chris
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