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Old 11-12-2010, 01:40 PM
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Engine Block

Whats the differnce between a big block engine and a small block engine and what are the pros and cons of each?

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Old 11-12-2010, 01:53 PM
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Well from my limited-knowledge on the subject, the biggest difference is actually the size of the block as the name titles each. Also from my understanding, generally a small block gets more RPM then a Big Block and a Big Block uses a bigger volume of fuel, so it's suppose to make more power but it doesn't wind up as fast.
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Old 11-12-2010, 02:33 PM
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A couple thoughts:

Small blocks are, well, smaller. LOL They are generally cheaper to buy and to build, they fit into engine bays that a BB will not fit into, they're lighter, can be more economical to run, and given the parts available today, they can be built to power levels that used to be BB territory. They are very flexible and can be made to fit any number of applications.

Big block engines are bigger, heavier, generally stronger, generally make more power. They are capable of making power in excess of what can be done with a SB, unless expensive aftermarket parts are used. Their size can limit their application to some extent, and generally speaking, more robust components throughout the powertrain should be used.

The BB engines are looked at as being "bad", where SB engines are everywhere, and barely garner a second glance unless a blower is on top of it, or it's outfitted w/chrome/billet doo dads and gizmos. A BB engine only needs to sit there, and guys think it's bad already.

Olds, Pontiac and Buick engines are generally thought of as all being the same basic physical size, so you won't hear them referred to as being BB's or SB's too often. Chevy, Ford and MOPAR engines are physically different, and are often referred to as being BB's or SB's- though there are gray areas, like MOPAR's "B" and "RB" engines- both of which are different deck heights than each other, but both are also larger physically than "LA" engines.
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Old 11-12-2010, 02:53 PM
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The real answer is that there is no "legal" definition of big block or small block. In the case of Chevy motors, there are two completely different engine families and very little interchanges between the two. Of course, there was the W-engine family, which some people consider a big block, and the LS family, which people consider a small block, even though it has nothing in common with the original SBC.

Ford has several engine families, some considered big blocks and some small. Chrysler has the A-engine family (the "small block") and the B- and RB-engine families. The RB is just a taller deck version of the B engine.

The bottom line is that "big block" and "small block" are imprecise descriptions. There are small block engines with more displacement and longer stroke than big block engines and thus don't rev as easily. Worry about physical dimensions, not inaccurate descriptors.
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Old 11-12-2010, 06:31 PM
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I would try classifying an engine more as familys rather than BB or SB because there is a lot of grey areas. But as others said big blocks are generally larger displacement motors which means bigger heads bigger pistons longer stroke cranks bigger blocks physically yada yada yada. oh yeah gm made a 400ci sb but a 396 BB which always confused me. Try searching wikipedia for different engine families and you will see how different manufactures classify their engines and distinguish them from others.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:01 PM
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This debate has raged for decades.

It makes me a bit nuts when I hear someone call a Cleveland Ford a "big block" or a Pontiac 400 a "small block."

I have always made the distinction in terms of bore spacing.

Anything above 4.60 bore spacing, I consider a big block.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:41 PM
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I'll give my take on this big block/small block thing. Several auto manufacturers have more than one design of engine blocks. For instance the Chevy small block origionally starting with the 265, then the 283, etc. In 1958 they came out with the "W" head 348, 409, 427 "big block". The 396 to 454 replaced the W head engines, but they still had two completely different designs of engines. Ford has had several different designs of engines, both big and small. Even Buick had a small block as well as a big block, as did Oldsmobile. It's the same with Mopar. Pontiac, on the other hand, has had only one design of V8 engine from 287 cu. in. through 455 cu. in. They did use a Buick designed aluminum engine in the 61 and 62 Tempest, but that could not be called a Pontiac designed engine. It makes the hair, on the back of my neck, stand up when someone calls a Pontiac a big block or a small block. It's just a Pontiac. There weren't two sizes/designs of Pontiac engines.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:57 PM
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My point, WD, is that displacement isn't the determining factor.

I have never seen a Pontiac 287 block in person, but would you say it has more in common, physical size only, with a 283 Chevy small block, or a 454 big block?
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nofearengineer
My point, WD, is that displacement isn't the determining factor.

I have never seen a Pontiac 287 block in person, but would you say it has more in common, physical size only, with a 283 Chevy small block, or a 454 big block?
A Pontiac 287 block has exactly the same outside physical demensions as any other Pontiac V8. The Pontiac heads have changed substantially, but they will all bolt. to any of the other Pontiac blocks. The origional 287 was more closely similar to the small block Chevy, in size and weight, and not even close to a BBC.
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Old 11-13-2010, 04:57 AM
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POPULAR AMERICAN V8 ENGINE DIMENSIONS

http://carnut.com/specs/engdim.html
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Old 11-13-2010, 11:54 AM
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Pontiac deck height (except for the 301) = 10.243 inches
Pontiac bore spacing = 4.62 inches

BBC deck height = 9.8 inches (10.2 in tall block)
BBC bore spacing = 4.63 inches

SBC deck height = 9.000-9.125 inches
SBC bore spacing = 4.4 inches

I'll leave it to the reader as to whether a Pontiac is dimensionally "big" or "small."
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:23 PM
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Nofear, that's true- but only as far as what you show. There are external dimensions (and weights) below that support the Poncho engine being "smaller" than a BBC and larger than the SBC...

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Old 11-13-2010, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nofearengineer
Pontiac deck height (except for the 301) = 10.243 inches
Pontiac bore spacing = 4.62 inches

BBC deck height = 9.8 inches (10.2 in tall block)
BBC bore spacing = 4.63 inches

SBC deck height = 9.000-9.125 inches
SBC bore spacing = 4.4 inches

I'll leave it to the reader as to whether a Pontiac is dimensionally "big" or "small."

I think you need to check that BBC bore spacing again. Last I heard it was 4.84".
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Old 11-13-2010, 01:47 PM
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Aggghh...you're right, WD. BBC is indeed 4.84.

The FE Ford big block had the 4.63 bore spacing. Still sorta supports my view though.
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Old 11-13-2010, 02:07 PM
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Pontiac is shorter in length, shorter in height and weighs less than a BBC. Hell, except width and weight, a Pontiac is smaller than a 273 LA MOPAR!
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