400 SBC Steam Holes - Plugged - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 09-13-2006, 06:00 AM
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400 SBC Steam Holes - Plugged

Was looking at a 400 block the other night and all of the little steam holes had been plugged shut. Every one also had a crack running from the steam hole to the head stud. This came out of a running circle track engine. I'm reading on past posts in here that you can plug these where you always have the engine wound tight - what kind of rpm's are you talking about? I was thinking about this for a bomber type circle track car, but I don't need any heating issues and I don't plan on having good enough internals initially to spin it past 6500rpms. Thanks for any input.

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Old 09-13-2006, 01:00 PM
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if you plug it wouldn't you need to resurface,i wouldn't waste the time or money on a bomber.
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Old 09-13-2006, 01:21 PM
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nitro baller - the plugs have already been installed and the engine was run this way. They had problems with other engine components and ended up using a different block so this one is for sale. My question is more of is this acceptable and usual on 400 blocks or is this an overheating grenade waiting to happen?
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:08 PM
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If you're looking for a street engine, I'd pass. Especially with the cracks.
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:11 PM
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I have allways been told that if its in a race condition that will see 3000 to 3500 rpms, you can get away with no steam holes.

Is it possibe to drill out the plugs and NOT damage the deck?
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:12 PM
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sorry i thought you were just getting the idea from something you seen.
i have done that to some engines in the past but like you said the rpm's were higher around 7200-7600 not 6500 max.when you say bomber car what do you mean?i'm thinking demo in a circle.no offence!just asking
are you just wanting the 400 for cubes or what?i don't think you'll have a problem .but if it's a demo in a circle you could just drill the steam holes and not worry.just put the 400 gasket on the block and mark the holes and drill make sure if your using a 350 head on this and you drill the holes that you do the same to the heads
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:25 PM
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Here's the deal: - it was a splayed cap .030 over block with head studs for $200. Some run time on it - bores aren't perfect, but are usable. Was planning on buying it, making it a budget 406 for next season (hypertectics, ok rods, reground crank) - not spinning it more then 6500. Then at the end of the season (my budget will improve after 2007) I'd have a splayed cap block that I could take out to .060 and put a good rotating assembly in. The class I run isn't a demo derby type - should have been more clear - pretty much has to be cast iron and can run headers - no roller cams though.

When I got there to look at it the block had all the steam holes plugged and cracks from the steam holes to the studs. One crack was running over towards a cylinder. This all raised a red flag to me (no experience with 400s). I decided to wait on it and ask around.

I have a good stock bore 400 block on the shelf that I could use - just needs to be machined. I was just trying to save the machining and cap costs on that block by purchasing this one. All that savings will be out the window if it pukes.

I'm starting to think if I ran in a claimer type IMCA class this block would be fine, but since I don't run the risk of being claimed I should just put the money into a good original block to begin with. Thanks for all the input so far.
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:28 PM
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if the crack is heading to the cylinder stay away
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:34 PM
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Thanks nitro baller - think I'll pass this one up.

While we are on the whole 400 question and answer session - what is your opinion on what a stock crank, reconditioned 5.7 rods (with new bolts), and a set of hypertectic pistons will take for an extended time compression and RPM wise? It would all be balanced.

Is 11:1 at 6500 going to tear that up? Any suggestions? What I'm building for next year won't put me in winners circle, but hopefully I can do a touch better then how I'm running this year and not go broke doing that (This year have ran a 9.5:1 355 spinning all stock parts 6000 every night).
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Old 09-13-2006, 03:49 PM
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we spun a 355 with a cast crank stock 5.7 rod trw 11.5-1 forged pistons balanced at 7200 no problems.one night we were trying a new trans and the trans shop put in the wrong gears for the track we were running that night so we told him to run it in 3rd gear at 7700rpm's and it stayed together through hot laps 10 lap heat race and 35 lap feature.if you are going to balance the engine take the rods and polish the beams,the casting flash on the edge of the beam.when doing this always go with the length of the rod and don't grind the weight pads on either end,also don't grind the rod bolts.
we pressed in arp bolts but this engine ran for 3 seasons and won many races.one night the carb stud fell down the engine and turned the piston sideways ending the season early we still finished 10th in points and got the hard luck award.
oh yeah and the cost was $1100 with the head work
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Old 09-13-2006, 04:53 PM
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Never plug steam holes on a SBC.
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Old 09-13-2006, 11:08 PM
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re: 400 SBC Steam Holes - Plugged

I don't know why you would plug them but I don't think it is a bid deal not to have them. A machinist told me that todays gaskets are better and more forgiving and don't need the steam hole. Doesn't hurt to have them though. I haven't seen anything run w/o them not sure how it would work, curious though.
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:13 AM
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Believe it or not the stock 400 crank is nodular iron. Its a fairly stout crank for a stocker. I have also taken a 350 cast crank to 7000 rpm over a 4 year period with no issues.

I will agree, if the cracks are towards the cylinders ...stay away....
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:56 AM
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I have a 406 with the top holes plugged that's been running on the street for years with no overheating problems. You want to make sure that the large cooling hole between the middle cylinders is drilled, some blocks don't have them.
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Old 09-14-2006, 08:05 AM
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Years ago when you could get good gas for the street we ran a lot of 400 with the steam holes plugged. Use 12.5 pistons in it with a stock crank and rods. I did not have any problems at all. I'd say buy it and run it sounds like a good deal to me.
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