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Old 09-02-2005, 04:47 PM
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Bulet proof 406, tricks and tips?

I have finally found the 400ci block to start my dream engine….I think. This is where I am asking the collective whole of you masters of metal to share with me some of your tips, tricks and experience in the parts selection and build up. The casting number for this block is 3951511 my research shows this to be a HD pickup casting made from 1970-73. I have heard my share of problems with the SBC 400 but the power numbers are hard to ignore. And from all my loves of all motors in there varying size and applications, the big inch small block Chevy holds my fascination and my wallet at it’s mercy. There are a few questions I need answered and I think its best to just list them numerically and allow you to answer, comment and contest (if you desire) at your leisure.

1.) Lifter valley cracking is one rumor to the 400 block, and heaven help me I have seen an aftermarket set of lifter valley braces installed on a cast block for a Horsepower TV buildup, but for the life of me I can’t seem to find any mention that these exists anywhere. If this rumor has any merit to it at all, and the bracing dose exist, is this a known ”fix” to the problem?

2.) I know of over heating issues, but put little concern to this due to the fact that a well planed quality cooling system and using the correct head gaskets should keep the thing running cool.

3.) I plan on building a high compression motor for the strip and maybe a little street time. I like the idea of using a set of Dart’s 43cc heads to get me over the desired 500 hp mark, or a set of worked over Vortech heads. But if you know of a set of OE heads that can be modified to do the job I’m all about doing things the cheaper but just as good if not better way.

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Old 09-02-2005, 05:11 PM
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1) i looked into the valley gridles i even talked to a few pro 5.0 guys( i have a mean soild roller 347) on line and called there shop .they told me not to use a valley gridle all it will do is hold the block together longer after it has broke and it will cause more problems when it finally comes totaly apart


2) make sure the block is clean of rust..use a good water pump not a cheapie..and use a alum radiator and of couse the correct head gaskets

3)useing 43cc heads will put even a flat top 400 way up in compression..im talking 14 or higher...afr make great heads but a 400 chevy will make 500 hp even with 10-11 compression and on pump gas...and right now in oklahoma cheap gas is at 3.29 a gallon...93 is like 3.50...
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Old 09-02-2005, 07:18 PM
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1) The valley girdle braces are for fords. Chevy 400's are not any more prone to this than other solid foundation engines.

2) Cooling will not be an issue

3) The small chamber Dart Iron Eagle in a 215cc runner is a proven HP maker.
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Old 09-02-2005, 07:34 PM
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I am curious about the block I found “3951511” has anyone built from this platform before? And what about head selection for a budget build?
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Old 09-02-2005, 07:41 PM
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I never heard of a 400's lifter valley cracking. The only weaknesses I ever heard on a 400 is that the 4-bolt block is weaker than 2 bolts which can cause a crack in the main webbing if it is stepped on hard. You can always splay the main caps to help alleviate this problem.

400's cause more heat due to siamezed cylinder walls but a good cooling system as you know will along with the steam holes drilled on the heads will eliminate this problem.

A set of the Dart 43cc heads will put you needing hi-octane fuel even with dished pistons. It is pretty simple to get 500hp out of a 400. Here are some buildups from AFR which make excellent sbc heads. Hope this helps you. http://airflowresearch.com/articles.htm
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Old 09-02-2005, 08:28 PM
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I use that same block in my truck but my build is far from budget as I spent over $6G on mine with majority on machine work. I used ported Dart's since I require an iron head for rule compliant. If not, I would easily have used the AFR's. 400's love and need air so don't skimp on the heads.
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Old 09-02-2005, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayfast77
I am curious about the block I found “3951511” has anyone built from this platform before? And what about head selection for a budget build?
I have a 4 bolt main. The two bolts are stronger.

I am running 11:1 compression and somewhere around 450 to 475 hp and 500 ft./lbs of torque.

Get the #1014 I think it is, Fel Pro head gasket. It has a revised cooling passage that will even out the block temperature better. You drill a 7/16" hole in the center of the block between the exhaust valves. Then, the gasket will restrict the outside exhaust valves.

Deck the block to achieve a zero deck. Then you can run the head gasket above and get a .045" quench.

There is a kit on Ebay I used that has KB hyper. pistons, and Eagle crank and light rods. It also came with rings and bearings. It was $700.

Only bore it .020" if you can get away with it. The thicker the walls the better.

Watch out for the Milodon Diamond Stripper windage trays. Some of the older ones are made only for 350s and lower. They won't work without serious grinding. The new ones supposedly work no matter what.

Run a small chamber head if possible. 64ccs.
400s have a larger bore so you can unshroud your intake valve quite a bit. Don't hesitate to do it. Just make sure you don't pass up the cylinder wall or the head gasket line. Otherwise, "Goodbye ex-perfectly good heads!"
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