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Old 08-17-2010, 06:27 PM
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NEWB Advice for My 1st 350 Rebuild

Hey there, like the title says, this will be my first small block rebuild. I've built quite a few VW projects, and I'm getting bored with it, so here I am. My Uncle gave me the 350 out of his 57 GMC truck that we're selling. I tore the block # 3970010 down and I've been cleaning up the parts, getting ready for the machine shop trip. My intentions are to get a mid 70' to early 80's Chevy truck to build for this project. Keeping the motor mild for fuel economy and to be a boat towing rig, I could use some advice on which way to lean for heads and other parts. I'm going to need pistons, rods are ok, crank ok, my heads Cast# 462624 are pretty questionable. Really rusted and valves are pitted badly. I was checking around on some other sites and these heads aren't the greatest I guess. 9-1 compression using flat top pistons and machined for 2.02 intakes and 1.60 exhausts. Gm says they were machined specifically for the lower octane fuels. I know nothing of Gm heads, except I do know about camel backs, or humps depending where you are. What I really need is some help, to set me up with a goal. I want a mild motor, however, the best bang for the buck setup, that's easy on the budget, and reliable. Any suggestion out there from you experienced guys or gals would be awesome? FYI, I have the rebuild books already, however most we're written before Vortec was even a dream. So help me out if you have some advice on where to go with this! Thanks guys!

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Old 08-18-2010, 07:38 AM
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what kind of budget do you have, i see that the motor is originally from 69-79' and could be had in either 2 or 4 bolt mains. this is really not a problem if you have a 2 bolt as you dont seem like you are into pushing the limits.

you mention that this will be in a truck that will tow a boat, since you mentioned that i would build a 383 instead of a 355. the 383 will give you way more pulling power where you want it, not that a decent 355 wont pull just fine, but i just mention that if it were me i would build a 383. it can be done for about 300.00 more than you would spend on rebuilding a 350.

what kind of budget do you have, that will make a big difference, do you have 2000-3000 to spend on this engine or is it more like 500-1000, as these two different budgets will get you completely different suggestions. personally i wouldn't go into a rebuild project with expecting to spend less than 2000 but some do it all the time but they use used and reconditioned parts. i would rather buy new parts than stuff with 20 years of wear and tear on it already.

fill us in on exactly what you expect, example : will you be looking for a 3/4 ton truck or just a 1/2 ton (i would shoot for the 3/4 ton because you will be towing with it) do you want to use larger than stock tires. with the years of trucks you mentioned they all used higher rearend gears do to the energy/emissions crisses so do you plan to change out the rear gears (yes!) are you looking for a manual trans or and automatic trans and if you get auto are you willing to rebuld it and get a new torque converter (yes!). do you have any hp/tq goals, and how much is your budget.

answer these questions and we will be more than happy to help you
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Old 08-18-2010, 07:54 AM
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scrap the engine you have. Pick up a running Vortec 350, do a cam/intake/distributor swap. You're done. Cheapest easiest power you can make. You'll pay mor efor just the block machining than a running Vortec 5.7L goes for.
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbolover
scrap the engine you have. Pick up a running Vortec 350, do a cam/intake/distributor swap. You're done. Cheapest easiest power you can make. You'll pay mor efor just the block machining than a running Vortec 5.7L goes for.

this would be a good 500-1000.00 option

i personally wouldn't do it as i would never put an engine in my vehicle that had been running for the last 10-14 years (and likely 125,000+ miles on it) and expect to get another worry free 4-5 years out of it. but that is just my opinion. if your budget is on the low side though this would be a decent option, i think i would atleast tear the motor down hone it and freshin it with new rings, bearings and gaskets that would be the least i would ever do.
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:43 AM
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I used to feel the same way about used engines, but I realized after needlessly tearing many of them apart that if they used good oil those engines can go 300,000+ miles. Pop the pan and check for sludge, get a bleed down test if you can. Really though, if its a running engine and has no sludge on the heads or in the pan it'll more than likely give you more than 5+ worry free years.

Its all in the oil for stock OEM engines. When you modify it it becomes all in the oil and tuning (fuel and spark).
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbolover
I used to feel the same way about used engines, but I realized after needlessly tearing many of them apart that if they used good oil those engines can go 300,000+ miles. Pop the pan and check for sludge, get a bleed down test if you can. Really though, if its a running engine and has no sludge on the heads or in the pan it'll more than likely give you more than 5+ worry free years.

Its all in the oil for stock OEM engines. When you modify it it becomes all in the oil and tuning (fuel and spark).

this is very true for these 96-00' vortec engines, i have torn down and rebuilt 2 of them so far, and i am currently in the process of rebuilding (with some minor mods) for a hunting buddy of mines 97' Tahoe. one i rebuilt went in to a 87' blazer that i used to have and i turned it into a 377, it was in great shape i only had to hone the cyl walls. the second went into my 87' camaro before i put the current 385 in there and turned it into a stree/strip car, with that one i did need to bore to .030 and use new pistons but that was it, when i went to have the old crank, rods and new pistons balanced the machinest told me that it seemed as if the crank had barely been balanced from the factory, but other than that everything was good. the one that i am doing for my buddy is in horrible shape, i haven't taken it to the machine shop yet but it will atleast require .030 if not .040, two of the cylinders have some pretty nice gouges in them and one of the heads appear to be cracked, the headgasket on this side was also blown, i suspect he overheated a good bit.

this is just me being me but i still think that i would freshin the motor up before i put it into my vehicle
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:06 AM
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OK, the block is a 2 and 4 bolt. Meaning it has four bolt caps in the center and 2's on the end. I have a couple grand to mess with on this. The block will need to be gone through because I had a rust issue in one of the cylinders, that required a serious amount of hammer time to get the piston out.
We really would like to stay with a manual trans, which is an option on the truck years I mentioned. A/C is a must as I live in Lake Havasu AZ. 115 isn't a once a year thing. Highway drivability would be great for those long camping trips or Lake Powell. I'm looking for a good recommended set up basically. I know that when you start miss matching components, you can either create issues, or create something that works really well. A 383 is not out of the question since I will need block work. I was thinking, RV cam and lifter kit, at the very least and possibly a top end kit if the price is right. I don't know? You know better than I, and that's why I'm here! Remember, reliability! A 3/4 ton 2wd, manual trans, I think will be perfect for my needs. Thanks Guys
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frodin1
OK, the block is a 2 and 4 bolt. Meaning it has four bolt caps in the center and 2's on the end. I have a couple grand to mess with on this. The block will need to be gone through because I had a rust issue in one of the cylinders, that required a serious amount of hammer time to get the piston out.
We really would like to stay with a manual trans, which is an option on the truck years I mentioned. A/C is a must as I live in Lake Havasu AZ. 115 isn't a once a year thing. Highway drivability would be great for those long camping trips or Lake Powell. I'm looking for a good recommended set up basically. I know that when you start miss matching components, you can either create issues, or create something that works really well. A 383 is not out of the question since I will need block work. I was thinking, RV cam and lifter kit, at the very least and possibly a top end kit if the price is right. I don't know? You know better than I, and that's why I'm here! Remember, reliability! A 3/4 ton 2wd, manual trans, I think will be perfect for my needs. Thanks Guys
You don't have anything worth saving. Go the Vortec route, it'll be better and cheaper in the long run. You might be able to sell that block for $50 on craigslist to help offset the cost.
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Old 08-18-2010, 11:51 AM
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the vortec route is still not a bad option but since you have the money to rebuild and engine, that is what i would rather do than pick a 12 year old motor out of a junkyard that has 125,000+ miles on it unless your plan was to rebuild/freshin it up as well.

i would probably scrap the old crank and rods, as is practically cost just as much now-a-days to have them turned and resurfaced as if would to just buy brand new cast steel ones, you will have to decide if you want to expand your budget a little more for the 383 as the best way to build one of those is from a rotating kit. otherwise find a cast steel crank (170.00) some new or reconditioned PM rods (150.00), buy a set of cast aluminum pistons pay attention to your compression height on them though as you only want onces with a compression height of 1.560 and no less, unless you plan to have the blocked decked (about 100.00 for the pistons) have it internally balanced and buy a new 6" internally balanced dampener (harmonic balancer 55.00) you want to use a manual so what untill you get the truck to get a flywheel. buys some cast rings (25.00) tri-metal bearings (35.00). buy a set of RHS pro torker vortec heads (750.00) you will need to know what pistons you are buying and whether you need to deck the block before this as you will want to know which size combustion chamber to look for so that you can keep your compression lower than 9.2:1 (for a towing truck). if you have the money go ahead and buy a hyd roller cam/ lifters (retro fit) price wise here is where you would be better of with a vortec motor as the hyd roller retro fit cams and lifters cost more (450.00) or you could go the cheaper route and look for a hyd flat tappet cam/ lifters (150.00) just know that roller cams last longer and with a flat tappet cam you have to be especially carefull how you break in the motor and what oils you use in the motor. you will want to use an oil with increased Zinc and Phospherous such as Royal Purple, Brad Penn, or Shell Rotella T, or you could still use regualar oils but you will need to use a specific flat tappet cam oil additive with every oil change. find some long slot self aligning 1.5 rocker arms (100.00), you will have to measure for the correct length push rods (30.00), buy a performer RPM vortec manifold (200.00) a 650cfm vaccum secondary carb (325.00), buy a simple HEI distributor (skip white has procomp ones for 50.00 on Ebay, and i use one on my 500hp street/strip engine with no problems) by a local parts store standard water pump (35.00) buy a gasket kit, but read up on what quench is and make sure you buy a headgasket to get a .040-.050 quench (100.00). buy a melling M55HV oil pump with pick-up (40.00) use the stock pan it should fit into a 70-80's truck, find some 1 5/8" headers (200.00), use the old pulles and buy a new alternator (80.00)


machine work cost would be about 700.00 for block and balancing

so for the flat tappet = 3300.00 (complete)

for the roller = 3600.00 (complete)

i can't lie the vortec option with honing, rings, bearings, i would rebalance, rebuild the stock heads, convert to carb, and headers would cost about 1000.00 less, the old vortec motor that i put in my camaro with new pistons cost me about 2400.00 to complete and made about 325hp/350tq all day long
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Old 08-18-2010, 11:58 AM
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i would be looking at cams with specs in this area;
duration at 050 208-216
advertised duration 255-265
lift .425-.450"
lobe seperation angle (lsa) 110-112
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:18 PM
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If I was to go with a newer Vortec motor, I would need to get everything with it as well correct? So I would have to search for a wrecked vehicle that still has everything in it. Harnesses, ECU, " well everything"! Is there a write up available for wiring these computers into older vehicles?
Turbolover: What would you recommend with a Cam Dist. and intake swap?
FYI, my uncle mentioned a turbo, "He's a big fan of them" however, everything I've read about putting turbos on, requires massive cash and engine work to get it done reliably, is this true?
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:53 PM
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Well, it definitely looks as if the Vortecs are pretty costly. Yea, you can get one for 500-1000 dollars, but like it was mentioned, they all have 100K plus on them. Anything with low mileage, people are wanting 2-2500 dollars for them " and that's low". Only if I could luck out and find one with low mileage, would I be going this route. I fear, purchasing something like this, and then ending up having to rebuild it anyhow. That would be a major ouchy on the ol' wallet!
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frodin1
If I was to go with a newer Vortec motor, I would need to get everything with it as well correct? So I would have to search for a wrecked vehicle that still has everything in it. Harnesses, ECU, " well everything"! Is there a write up available for wiring these computers into older vehicles?
Turbolover: What would you recommend with a Cam Dist. and intake swap?
FYI, my uncle mentioned a turbo, "He's a big fan of them" however, everything I've read about putting turbos on, requires massive cash and engine work to get it done reliably, is this true?
You basically just need the a vortec long block. You do away with the computer / efi intake, put a carb intake on it, wire up the distributor like you would with a Gen I block and go.

Using a roller block would be a better option. If you can find a vortec, great. If not, then I would use what I have. Have them machine the block, get new pistons / rings, install new arp rod bolts, cam bearings, etc. Then just buy a new set of vortec heads, a matching rpm vortec specific intake and stock self-aligning rocker arms. It'll make for a reliable motor with pulling power down low. The cam selection earlier seemed good. The only problem with using the older block is you have to take special precautions to keep the flat tappet camshaft alive. Like break in lube on cam, 20 minutes break-in at 2000+ rpms, the use of high zddp oil like Shell Rotella T, AND on top of that you have to use a cam additive / break-in lube every oil change. It's really not that bad, but you need to be aware. Being that it'll be a fairly stock build, I don't see any reason to really worry about that cause you wont be using a high lift cam with high pressure springs.
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frodin1
Well, it definitely looks as if the Vortecs are pretty costly. Yea, you can get one for 500-1000 dollars, but like it was mentioned, they all have 100K plus on them. Anything with low mileage, people are wanting 2-2500 dollars for them " and that's low". Only if I could luck out and find one with low mileage, would I be going this route. I fear, purchasing something like this, and then ending up having to rebuild it anyhow. That would be a major ouchy on the ol' wallet!

i completely agree, it is hard to find these motors for what everyone says you can. the way i found the two that i used in the past was from Junkyards (pick n pulls to be exact) and i didn't pay more than 550.00 for either one.

you dont need the ECU and wiring because you will be conveting it to a carb induciton motor instead of using the stock EFI. this is very simple, the intake is a vortec compatiable intake (because of the vortec bolt pattern heads) which can be found from Edelbrock in any performance magazine (summit, jegs, scoggin dicky etc) then a carb, cam, and distributor.

the only way this will benifit you is if you can find one for less 600.00, and still be able to use it's crank and rods, and possiblely pistons. i still have the block honed and use new rings and new bearings, if you were to go this route you could expect to spend about 200.00 on the block work, then 80.00 for rings and bearings. then buy a new roller cam with the type specs i mentioned and the OE style after market lifters from Howard or another reputable company like that (cam/lifters 350.00) then you sould still need to get the heads checked out and you can spend some money doing that. to have a mag test and have then cleaned up with a rebuild you could certainly expect to pay 400.00. then 100.00 for the rockers, 30.00 for the pushrods. 200.00 for the inake, 325.00 for the carb, 50.00 for the distributor, 40.00 for the oil pump and pick-up 35.00 for the water pump, bla-bla-bla the rest you should already know

for this route you are still looking at about 2700.00 for the complete engine, and with the cam recomendations i made to you with the engine and stock vortec heads you could expect to get about 315hp/350tq

but with the other engine and the RHS pro torker heads and that same cam you could expect to see about a 20/20 increase so more like 335hp/370tq so in my opinion it would be worth it. personaly i think that these vortec motors and their heads are getting a bit too much credit, i've built/building 3 so far and only one of the three only needed a hone job the other two needed an over bore which pretty much negates the whole point, and then for the matter of the vortec heads, yes they are the best performing sbc head that GM has ever produced i will certainly admit that but they are also amost absolete now with all these head manufacuters taking the design, making dual bolt pattern compadible, better flowing, thicker deck and made with better studs, spings, and valves for just over the cost of buying a set of used vortecs, having the machine work done and rebuilding them. so i dont really get he point in redoing the vortec heads, i would rather spend the extra 200.00 on the RHS heads and get the extra power from them. ive mentioned this before but that is a 1hp per 10.00 and you just can't beat that
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:57 PM
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IMHO go in the direction you were thinking of, first off talk to your machine shop about kits, here is an example of a budget kit there are many others:

http://www.northernautoparts.com/Pro...uctModelId=380

Thats 190 bucks for all the bottom end stuff you need (short block). You have a good casting # block there to start with so have the shop check the crank, rods and block to make sure its rebuildable, if not then just buy a budget short block complete. Have your heads rebuilt and use them on your basically bone stock 350.,,,,OR:

#1 get your machinist on board and get a good one,,,

Buy these pistons with a 0.030 over bore

http://www.kb-silvolite.com/kb_car/p...tails&P_id=154

Cam just an example of a good towing type cam:

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/HRS-CL112011/

Now look for some vortec heads, search this sight for 500+ threads that refer to these excellent heads, maybe 500 or so bucks for a complete set ready to go depending on the cam lift, a good RV cam will most likely be OK with stock vortec head as the lift will be below .450 and duration should be around 208 to 212. These heads are 64cc so make sure to get the dished pistons not flat tops to keep the DCR at about 9:1 this is were your machinist comes in cuase he will need to use compession height of pistons to determine deck height when machining block to end up with about 0.040 -0.045 squish with a 0.040 head gasket.

Intake,,,edelbrock spread bore, 175 bucks, suggest this one for factory Qjet carb, you may find carb easy for about 325 new or 125 rebuilt, go with Qjet on your build if you want to get some good mileage and still have good WOT pulls, maybe you have this Qjet already on the 350?. Use felpro MS98000T intake gasket kit they are expensive but you may just be able to buy the intake gasket (2) if you know your parts guy, these do a better job of sealing up the vortec heads to intake and can be reused.

HEI Dist
http://www.skipwhiteperformance.com/...px?Item=6500-R
can't beat this value

Oil pan, timing cover, valve covers, plugs/wires, balancer,fuel pump another $400 maybe or search the junk yards for the covers and pan to save$$$

Add some headers if in the budget and some dynomax turbo mufflers another 800-900 maybe other wise just good dual system with the same mufflers, but headers would be best for sure.

You will have about 325HP and 375ft/lbs on a completely driver freindly truck that you can use for your towing and have some fun while doing it on regular gas. There are some that will have you building a street/stip motor before you know it, don't go there if this is a work horse.
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