Still no word yet from the shop about my balanced assembly. I've already called them several times in the past asking for updates and I hate to bug them, but so far we're almost two weeks past the date I was originally quoted for completion.
In the meanwhile, I've been working on the front of the car. I didn't want to stick a shiny new engine into a corroded, dirty, oily engine bay so I decided to remove the fenders and grille assembly to clean up the frame a little and paint the firewall. Well, as usual for me, once I saw was was underneath all of this, I couldn't stop taking pieces off. The plan now is to completely remove the front sub-frame and paint it, along with the firewall as originally planned. Only now, I think I'll paint under the car as well. I've orderd a polyurethane body mount kit which will arrive in a couple of days, so my goal is to have all of the painting done by then.
It won't be a full frame-off restoration by any means, but it should be nice.
I got the new block back from the machine shop on Tuesday, all painted and pretty. No picture yet because it's still in a plastic bag on the floor of my garage. I still need to sell my old block before I can get the new one up on the stand. I really want to switch them and put the old one on floor, but if anybody is going to buy that block, I know that a thorough inspection will be needed and that is much easier to do with the block on the stand.
During the downtime while pulling and rebuilding the engine, I decided to tear into the interior. The dash pad is in terrible shape and needs to be replaced and the gauge cluster needs freshening up, among other things. Not shown is the dash completely gutted and the heater core and fan box pulled out of the firewall. The fan still worked when I tested it, so that's awesome, but the switch never did work, so I need to track down the wiring to figure out why. The heater core and all associated gaskets and seals need replacement as well. Hopefully I'll be able to patch these things up at least somewhat by the time the engine is installed again so it'll be road worthy.
The climate control assembly is in decent shape, but the clear plastic face is cracked and ugly. As a small side project, I tried fabricating a new one out of plexiglass using my Dremel, but it's just too intricate; there is no way I can recreate anything close to the original. I am trying to figure out an easy, but still aesthetically pleasing alternative.
I took a grinder to my rods to get rid of the ridges and porosity left over from the forging process. The main benefit is to get rid of the huge ridges that can contribute to cracks forming in the beam, and a secondary benefit is that it gets rid of some excess weight. Although the weight saving is mostly negligible, every bit of weight that I relieve from the rotating mass helps. I didn't have a scale or a rod balancer to keep track of how much metal I removed, so I tried to concentrate on removing as little as possible while still getting a smooth finish on the beams. Hopefully I was able to keep them all consistent, but I guess I'll find out when the assembly gets balanced this week. I half expect the shop to call, telling me I destroyed my rods. Oh, and they have had ARP bolts installed and the big ends were resized to compensate.
The first picture is an untouched rod next to another rod after rough grinding. The second picture is a rough rod next to a finished rod. The rough grinding was done with a couple of stones, and the finish was acheived with a 120 grit flap wheel.
After finishing the tear down and preparing myself for to dive into the machine work, I decided to go with another block. My machinist had a beautiful, untouched late-model 350 short block with a factory roller cam and four-bolt mains in his shop which he gave me a deal on. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go to a roller valve train with this rebuild, and this block just makes it so much easier and, more importantly, cheaper to do that. Not to mention the four-bolt mains and better later-model stock rods, and the fact that the thing had never been rebuilt. The old block will be sold for whatever I can get for a 38 year-old, two-bolt SBC, which probably isn't much.
The new block is still at the shop, already decked .008" to square it up and waiting for some piston measurements before it gets bored. Other stuff such as cam bearings, freeze plugs, threaded oil galley plugs, and main studs will also be installed.