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Old 01-16-2004, 11:16 AM
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Best heads to redo for my smallbock.

I am currentley rebuilding my smallblock chev engine for my 65' Chevelle SS. The block is 71' and it just has plain jane truck heads on it now I was wondering if u guys knew of any decent common heads that would be easy to find in a wrecking yard that after geting redone would help give my 350 a little more grunt, thanx.

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Old 01-16-2004, 03:47 PM
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If you are starting from scratch (no intake manifold yet) I would highly suggest the Vortec heads. If this is a mild build they are perfect rof it. You just need to by a Vortec style intake, valve covers, and rocker arms.

The Vortecs will out perform/outflow any of the old stuff for less than the price to get old heads rebuilt (properly). If it is going to be a wild engine (with more than .450-.500 lift, etc...) I would go with an aftermarket head, There are far too many to list and it will depend on what your goals are.

Is it just a nice cruiser, street/strip, race car, etc...

Royce
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Old 01-16-2004, 05:40 PM
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I would have to agree. If you are going to be using a cam with over .500 lift, dont go with Vortecs. I have seen a motor with Vortec heads and a roller cam with .510 lift that did good, but that is the max for those heads. If you want to build something a little stronger, I would not go with anything but AFR heads. They are expensive, ($1,250 a set CNC ported and assembled) but they are the best things out there. I would take the time and save up the money. That is just my personal opinion though. What size of motor is it that you are building?

Adam
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Old 01-16-2004, 06:16 PM
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as they said vortec would be your best bet you can dig up a set anywhere and they are alot cheaper than aftermarket heads.
btw acording to general motors the max lift with vortec heads with stock springs is .480 lift.
im sure you could go bigger but i wouldnt chance it with those springs.
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Old 01-16-2004, 06:50 PM
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You can get a set of fully assembeled Vortecs with the high lift spring upgrade ( able to handle .550 lift) for $630 from Scoggin Dickey. I would still not recommend running more than .500 lift though. The problem then is the lack of flow at that point.

Adam
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Old 01-16-2004, 07:10 PM
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Would installing 1.94" intake valves in the existing heads not provide a decent improvement without the cost of a manifold, rockers and valve covers? For medium rpm running (maybe up to 4000 rpm), the 1.72" valve heads seemed to work okay on my truck, especially after installing headers. Maybe the small valves worked well enough due to lack of shrouding...

I also read in here somewhere that the Vortecs are somewhat crack-prone.
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Old 01-16-2004, 08:46 PM
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Any porting, polishing or installing bigger valves will help. If its a daily cruiser and your not into all out performance, then use stockers and do some mild porting on them.
If I were spending 600-700 on heads, Id use the pro lightnings. HG
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Old 01-16-2004, 09:13 PM
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you could go through the trouble of installing bigger valves but with big chamber factory heads its alot better to get different heads you'll spend less money in the long run.
it would probably cost you more than 500$ to get all the machine work done to the stock heads just to make them almost as good as the vortec heads. and you'll get less cc's
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Old 01-16-2004, 09:59 PM
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the car is just an daily driver but i want it to have some get up and go, the cam i will prob be using is Comp cam's high energy 268h with .454 lift, so it's nothing wild or anything. Iam on a pretty tight budget, the heads i have now are just ordinary truck heads with 71cc chambers, should i get these rebuilt? (and what all should i have rebuilt) or is there something common I could find elsewhere from a certain vehicle which I would be better off in my fairly stock motor?
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Old 01-16-2004, 10:32 PM
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If you make a habit of overheating vortecs they will crack, otherwise, I havent heard too many bad things about them. For the money that you will have in doing work on your stock heads, you could have bought a set of the Vortecs. I had a 355 with Vortec heads and the cam you are using and it worked very well. It made great hp and torque.

Adam
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Old 01-16-2004, 11:17 PM
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Make sure you look at the big picture (even if you are on a budget). You can either spend a minimum of $350-500 on your stock heads, if you want to make more power later you will end up needing better heads. Now add the price of what you put into the old heads and then the price of another set on top of that. You really didn't save anything (actually spent more).

To get the old heads in decent shape for daily duty, you will need to have hardened seat put in, a valve job, probably valve guides, new springs, seals, etc... That will just get them back to a usable point. Now if you want to add some performance (porting, larger valves) the price goes up.

I have been there, trust me you will spend more for less. Now if all you want is a daily driver, not performance and go with a cheapy rebuild on the heads you can save a buck or two.

Remember heads are the KEY to performance, no matter what else you do if the heads don't support it you are only going to go so fast.

Here is a good example of what I mean, a few years ago (about 6). I wanted a "cheap" performance head, so I bought a set of "performance" head from some ad. 2.02/1.60 stainless valves (basically a smog head with larger valves). they were fine for a few months, I decided I wanted real performance, so I had them fully ported, adventually I realized I just needed better heads to reach my goal, so I go buy a set of aftermarket heads. Bought the "cheap" heads for ~ $450, port job $250, good aftermarket heads (ported) ~$1200 total cost to get the aftermarket heads $1,900 (how much did I save?)

The "cheaper" heads had no name parts they would have been great if I was building a work truck or something.

Bottom line is it WILL cost you just as much to rebuild your head (properly) as a set of Vortecs or other heads (World S/R's). Shop around a little and see what's out there before you dump money into a set of outdated heads.

Be honest with yourself and your goals, if you know for sure you just want a basic 250HP 350 then don't waste the money on a set of heads, just do a quickie rebuild and call it good. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you are happy. On the other hand if you want some power, then buy a set of heads (set your price about $600-750) I think this is about as cheap as you can get off. If you buy the Vortecs, intake, rockers, etc.. or if you spend a little more for a set of Dart Iron Eagles, or World Products, Pro Action (Topline) and keep your current rockers and manifold.

You said the "BEST" heads, that makes us (me) think you want performance.
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Old 01-16-2004, 11:35 PM
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Yes, you can run stock heads and be happy but you have to install at least the 1.94/1.50 valves. But why stop there? For the same money you can install the 2.02/1.60 valves and cheap "Z-28" springs and call it good. I paid about 450 bucks for a nice set of "993" heads done up with stainless valves and a home port job (I did at home). Make sure that you install flat top pistons and around a 214/224 cam and headers and I double guarantee you will like the results. The best part is you will have some money left for other parts of the auto. If you have extra money, absolutely yes, the Vortecs are great but dont forget you need an intake and special rocker arms and special intake gasket. If you are on a strict budget like me, the stock stuff can be made to run. I built up a nice little 383 for a dirt cheap 1000 bucks. It's got about 9.3 compression using the "preped" 993 heads and will run on mid grade gas. Nice and gutsy, just right for the street!

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Old 01-17-2004, 08:52 AM
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Cool

Here we go again. Are you starting with a complete conventional engine and looking to upgrade? Or are you starting with just a short block?

Brand new machined for higher lift cam Vortecs: $740.00
Edelbrock RPM Airgap manifold for Vortec heads: $220.00
New center bolt valve covers for Vortec heads: $100.00

These prices are out of the latest Summit Catalog. I am not even counting the new narrow rocker arms you will need because your stock rockers are too wide. Add it up and you are almost in for a $1,000.00 bucks minus the rockers!

Now look in the same catalog and find the Pro Topline Lightning 23 degree heads in 180cc runner for $829.00 completely set up for hydraulic cam where you can use your already existing stuff! Maybe you want to run aluminum? The aluminum version of the same head is $1,113.00! Dart Iron Eagle go for $900.00 bucks and again, you can run your existing stuff. You don't want to go as big as 180 cc intake runner. Get some Edelbrock Performer RPM heads for $980.00 bucks fully assembled and use your existing stuff!

I am sure people will post about what great deals they found on e-bay for Vortecs and then the manifold, etc. Well, you can find just as good deals on the above heads too! Vortecs are good heads. I just don't understand how people can always seem to overlook the overall cost of making the switch. And the Vortecs might outflow some of those heads by a whopping 5 cfm at a certain valve lift. Big deal. Due to production and casting variances you could get a set of Vortecs that flow 5 cfm less.

Think about it! Plan your move to the penny! Whatever you decide to do, remember, it is your engine and take pride in it what ever you decide to do. Don't get caught up in H.P. numbers. A 350 horsepower engine in a car that hooks up well will beat a 400 horsepower engine in a car that doesn't hook up every time.
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Old 01-17-2004, 08:54 AM
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If money is tight,and you keep the valve lift conservative, run a set of low mile vortec heads,snag up the valve covers to,put a vortec performer on for 159.88 and a summit cam lifter set for 79.95.
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Old 01-17-2004, 10:31 AM
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cool rockin daddy, I understand your point and it is valid in "some" cases. Nobody said he had to go buy new valve covers or rockers and why would you pick the most expensive intake you can find? If he wants to do this on a budget it can be done with Vortecs. It all comes down to what he is trying to achieve. You don't really need special rockers if he runs guide plates. The options are endless and there are several ways to get there.

If he already has decent stuff (intake, rockers, valve covers) then by all means buy a set of aftermarket heads (standard). But if he is starting from scratch it is hard to beat the Vortecs for what you get for the money (for a mild build).

My main point is it is pretty much a waste to spend big money (anything over $300) on a set of old Chevy castings. Sure they work, but they can not compete with the newer stuff. If you want an original engine that's fine, if you are racing in a class that requires stock GM castings that's understandable.

I am not saying Vortecs are the best heads out there, but for the money you get a lot. For a mild build they are a great head, if you want to get a little wilder I would not recommend them, because you have to do too much work (which = $$$) and you could just buy a better aftermarket head.

Maybe it would help if he said how much he wanted to spend total on the heads. This would take out a lot of variables. If he only wants to spend $200 then his only option is a cheap rebuild of the heads he has. If he has $500 to work with he can look for a set of used heads that are already done, $700 he has a lot more options, etc...

If it is only about money then buy a set of the cheapest bare castings you can find and swap your valves and spring onto them (or better yet just bolt on the heads you have as is). There is usually more than one way to do things, usually the cheapest way is not the BEST way.

Are you running a stock cam? If not you need to get springs to match the cam anyway, along with lifters.

Royce
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