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Old 05-27-2004, 01:33 AM
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Pro Street '56 Chevy

Aloha everyone from the sunshine state,

I live/born and raised in Honolulu and just retired (Feb 2003) from the military after 30 years of service. In 1988, I purchased a 1956 Chevrolet, 2 door Belair Sedan for $1,200 that was not operational. Only the body was in good condition with minor surface rust here and there. It had a 283cu. in. engine and a standard column shift trans. My initial intentions were to Pro-Street this car and to drive/show it off on the streets. From 1988 through 2000, my car traveled/towed over half the island by doing major fabrications. At some stops, my car was in limbo/not being tended to. I was impatient but my military career took this off my mind. Until 2003, just before I retired, I decided to modify my car to a full race car instead. Attending the quarter mile races (watching a co-worker's son racing a dragster) was one of the reasons what inspired me to make this decision. After constant attendance of the races, I became bored and I don't know why. Maybe because I wasn't racing, I don't know. Besides the track, I always attended the Cruise Nite event which happens 2 times per month on a Saturday Night at Wendy's Drive Inn and at Windward Mall parking lot. Only lately, there have been more Hot Rods attending this event and it's going to continue to grow. And because of this, I feel more excited to attend this than the track. Numerous local people of Hawaii are purchasing mainland rods and shipping it back here. So just 2 weeks ago I weighed my good and the bad of both racing/cruising. The bad resulted more so I changed my mind again to only cruise my '56 for now. Besides, I haven't driven this car since I bought it and it should be running this year. I can't bear to announce how much money I spent on this car. To begin, I changed all the glass, mouldings, bumpers and had it rechromed by paying double the price of what it cost to ship it here. I purchased a 454ci LS6 eng (600hp) from RHS in 1990 and this motor did not run until 2002. I installed this engine in my 454SS '92 Chevy 1/2ton pickup truck (purchased in 1992) because my current engine had a CLASS III rear main seal leak. So I decided in selling the original 454ci for $500/78,00mi. and purchasing a new 540ci/850hp. race engine for my '56 which is costing me $13,000. This engine has a comression of 14-1 with a 780 lift camshaft and Dart 1 heads which is almost completed by one of the machine shops here. I also purchased a Power-Glide trans that was recently made by a transmission shop here. My car is currently being fabricated (undercarriage) to a race ready/Pro street style at a friend's home. This task was done back in 1990 but it resulted in a bum job and that person named Tom of Performance Fabrication RIPPED ME OFF. He changed the rear end and made a 9 point roll cage only to find out later that the cage was not welded to the frame (just the body). In addition, the rear end housing was second hand, not new. He had it sandblasted and painted but the insides were worn to the max. The 5.14 gears were chipped and the axles were the original from a Econoline ford van. After his completion, he was arrested for fraud/money laundering/tax evasion and sentenced to a federal prison. So I had no way of retrieving my money back which is $5,000. So now, I'm spending a bundle again only to change the back half frame, ladder bars and a diamond rear end. And yes, refabricate the roll cage again so I can have a peace of mind. So that's my lifestory of my rodding. Right now, my only fear is "can I drive this car without breaking down on the street? And how often would I have to adjust valves/tune-up this engine"? In the newest edition of Hot Rod magazine (June 2004), they specify of crated engines and if I only knew that these engines were available, I would have waited.....that's life, I guess.

SHOCK&AWE OUT.

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Last edited by Guy Fukumoto; 05-27-2004 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 05-27-2004, 07:38 AM
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Wow, that is a story. If it were me, I would look into learning to do some of the work yourself not that you are retired. It will certainly safe on the rip offs and you will learn alot in the process. You could have a shop full of tools to do what ever you want for what it cost to have it done. But, that is just my opinion.....

As for the engine on the street, I would not really recommend it. That is just too hot an engine to cruise around on the street. I mean a trip to Sonic for a coke once in a while is not going to hurt anything, but cruising up and down the road is not what that engine was built for. If you really want to cruise in it you need to get the compression ratio down and get a milder cam. The rest should be fine, but that thing is a 116 race fuel only engine now. At $5/gallon I dont think you will be able to afford to cruise to much.......well I could'nt anyway.

Chris
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Old 05-27-2004, 08:42 PM
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Subject to Change Engine

Thanks for the advice. I'm already paying a $6/gallon for 100 octane gas for my Prostreet truck and currently using this to attend the monthly gatherings. My truck also has a 12-5 to 1 compression and a 600lift comp cam. So I'm immune to paying that price for gas. Even the race gas would not be a problem for me because I don't plan on traveling more than 60 miles in one outing. I'd be willing to spend $100 just for this occasion. When I say cruise, I don't mean to travel around the island. I just want to go 25-30 miles one way and back. Would that be a problem? You think I would overheat the engine or damage it in any way? If so, I'd be driven to purchase another crate engine for this purpose and save the race motor for racing only.

PS: I'm not married and don't have dependents and this is the reason why I can have toys.

Mahalo for the reply again,
Guy
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Old 05-27-2004, 09:13 PM
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Well, if cost is not a concern......

There is another problem that I can think of. With that big lift cam you are certainly running some serious valve springs. Valve springs on an engine like that do not last very long. I cant give you a time line because I have never delt with that much lift, but someone here can. You just want to keep an eye on them(test pressures) and probably replace them fairly often. If you break one and drop a valve it will not be cheap to fix.

As for overheating, if you have a good aftermarket radiator it should keep cool while cruising I think. I guess I am just having a really hard time with the idea of cruising with an engine with that much compression and that large a cam. Maybe some of the engine builders will chime in with any experience of trying to drive an engine like that. If the engine is not yet finished, it is not too late to drop the compression a little and put a little smaller cam in it. Pistons and a cam is all it would take.........

Chris
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Old 05-28-2004, 01:50 AM
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Decision Time

Thanks again for the info. I will do some serious inquiries to speed shops and knowledgeable friends before I make a decision. I know that I want to street/strip this car but how far will I take it is the question. As for the 540ci engine, the pushrods was just installed yesterday, it's too late for changes. Unless I want to pay more big bucks to change the pistons and cam. My bottom line is "I want a maintenance free engine that will sound radical, shake the ground and produce 7-800hp". I know I can't have the best of both worlds so I need to compromise this situation. So I think right now I need some proficient advice on how much compression/cam lift or the max capacity can I run on the street without maintenance or very little. Something tells me that I need to put this engine aside and purchase a lower compression engine. I can do this but I would have to sell my truck first....haha, what a joke!
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Old 05-28-2004, 03:16 AM
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Guy...welcome aboard. Sounds like you'll be an asset to the community, You shouldn't have any real problems running 25-35 miles one way and back. There arew ones around here that does it quite often with built up engines. I just wouldn't recommend it on a daily basis though. That's what they are built for to drive. No use slappin' that kind of green into it just so you can load it on the trailer and take it somewhere. The biggest concern I would have is overheating. If you have it set up properly with the shrouds etc. this should not be a problem either. As far as tuning, that will come quite often. It's not going to be the same as jumping in the family car and going 50,000 miles between plug changes and 3000 between oil changes. You'll be doing that quite a bit more frequent. Also you'll find yourself having to show that engine what it is capable of every now and then So you'll need to do that just to keep things cleaned out. Nothing worse on a built engine than starting it up and shutting it down. Moisture builds up, deposits build up, and you know that's not good for them. Like they say "Drive it like you stole it" If you get a chance, post some pics of your rides. They sound very interesting.

Kevin
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Old 05-28-2004, 09:23 AM
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Welcome to the board!!

I will call it like I see it. You will kill that engine in very short order driving it on the street. It is also going to be FAR from maintenance free. The reason that engine will die is from a failed/broken valve spring and you will drop a valve. A cam of that size has to be a a big solid roller, they are not meant to idle. I have a good friend with an engine that has been in the shop for a long time due to trying to drive it on the street. Those cams are made to run 1/4 mile at a time. They can only take so many cycles before they fail, sure keeping an eye on the spring pressure will help but, if you check the pressure and then set off on a 100 mile (round trip) drive there is a very good chance they could fail before you ever get home. Some guys change their springs every 10 -20 passes that comes out to 2.5 - 5 miles per set of springs. So lets just say you got lucky and managed 100 passes out of a set of springs (not likely) , that is still only 25 miles. Do you see where I am coming from?

If you are serious about driving it on the street I would either store the "race" engine for later use or sell it and build something more street friendly. With that much HP and compression over heating will be an issue as well.

The easiest safest way to make the kind of power you are looking for is with some sort of forced induction blower or turbo.

Cut your losses and really think this through, ask some of the engine builders in your area. Ask the guy that is building it and see what he says

There is no way it will live for long on the street. It won't even live long at the track if you don't keep an eye on the tune up and maintenance. Those springs will need to be checked after every pass.

Royce
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Old 05-28-2004, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by camaroman7d
The easiest safest way to make the kind of power you are looking for is with some sort of forced induction blower or turbo.

Cut your losses and really think this through, ask some of the engine builders in your area. Ask the guy that is building it and see what he says

There is no way it will live for long on the street. It won't even live long at the track if you don't keep an eye on the tune up and maintenance. Those springs will need to be checked after every pass.

Royce
Thanks for the input, Royce.(Guy, I solicited Royce's input because he knows his stuff). If you look at our setups, you can see that we both like 7-800HP street engines(and we're running small blocks).......we also both use forced induction. That equals low compression and small cams which a street engine has to have for reliability.

If you tone that engine down and stick a forced induction cam and some dish pistons in it you can have your cake and eat it to. I would probably suggest an 8-71 for induction. I like turbos better, but it takes alot of time to set them up and they are more volatile if not properly tuned.

Later,

Chris
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Old 05-29-2004, 12:47 AM
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MAHALO FOR YOUR FEEDBACK

I really appreciate the advice Royce, Kevin and Chris,

You convinced me into going into a lower compression motor. Besides, I'm not a mechanically inclined person. I'm merely a pay for maintenance/buy gas/change my own oil and drive person. Although I do have friends that will assist me in any mechanical task I need completed. So this would definitely be the right decision and unless I can find a buyer for the high comp engine, I'll store it until I'm ready to race the car. In the meantime, I'll shop around locally here briefly and if no luck, I'll look into the crate engines avalilable. Like I said before, I want an engine that will rock the ground when I enter Wendy's Drive Inn parking lot during the "Cruise Nite" events. In Honolulu, Hawaii, there aren't many '55/'56/'57 chevy's that are Prostreet, especially a '56. So that means I still need the compression and the cam. I will sacrifice the HP because I will seldom race it. But how much can I inhibit without constant maintenance? How much compression and how much cam? I don't think I want the forced induction, blower, and turbo systems like you suggested because I'm a carburetor person. Besides, my friends are not familiar with these types of setup. I informed the machine shop of my decision today and he said he was sorry to hear that. He informed me that he was building another 540ci for someone else that only had 10-1 compression and that would be perferct for the street. He also said that the owner might consider trading for a higher compression motor like mine. I told him I'll think about it. Do you think it's a good decision? If so, I'll trade only if this engine owner pays me the difference for what I paid for mine. If he's not willing to deal with me, I'll look into mainland crate engines and store the 540ci. I can't wait more than a month from now. The person who's modifying my '56 needs the engine ASAP so he can set the motor plates. ANY SUGGESTIONS FROM THE FORUM HOTRODDERS OUT THERE ON THE SELECTION OF ENGINES??? Thanks again, Chris, Kevin and Royce....

Last edited by Guy Fukumoto; 05-29-2004 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 05-29-2004, 06:32 AM
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That 10:1 compression engine would be perfect for the street assuming it is all put together properly. I am sure it is if the builder is doing all the work. A 10:1 540cid big block will still be a handful. I am not sure if you have every driven any 800HP vehicles, but they are pretty hairy on the street. I have ridden in one and it was a wild ride. You should be able to make 600HP on 10:1 with good heads very easily. The car will still be a rocket.

Chris
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Old 05-29-2004, 12:20 PM
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I think you are making the right choice. I agree that 10:1 engine would be perfect for the street.

Lets remember one thing you are talking 540ci shaking the ground will not be a problem. You are going to have PLENTY of power and gobs of torque.

Even a small big block with a healthy cam rumbles. You have a pretty large big block, you won't be disappointed. Since you are not into maintenance see if you can get him to stick a hyd. roller in the engine (he can be pretty wild with it because you have plenty of cubic inches). This will give you the sound you want, plenty of power and no need to adjust the valves ever. The valve springs will live and you will be able to run it on pump gas.

I like the idea of a trade but, make sure you get a fair deal.

Please keep us posted.

Royce
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Old 05-30-2004, 06:44 AM
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Hey Gremmie!

Hey Gremmie, did you make it to the cars and parts swap meet in Springfield yesterday? They had pro street Gremlin there.
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Old 06-01-2004, 01:44 PM
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Thumbs up Pro Street '56 Chevy

Congrats on your retirement Guy. I just retired myself several months ago and now I am enjoying being a gearhead again
now that I have the time and money.PEACE>Tony
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Old 06-02-2004, 01:50 AM
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Retirement Life

Thanks for the blessing and believe me it certainly is a blessing the way things are today. I retired at the perfect time but I'm still subject to being recalled by the Secretary of the Army within 5 years from retirement. I'm hoping that never happens. In addition, the National Guard's Infantry Brigade in Hawaii has a tentative schedule to be deployed by next year. Being a loggy (logistician) or ash & trash soldier throughout my career; I paid my dues for 24 active years as an AGR/E7 and 6 years of inactive duty training for the Guard. Now that I'm retired, I have to fulfill my dreams; and those dreams are a Pro Street '56 Chevy and a Pro Street '41 Willy's. At the moment, I have enough funds to complete my Chevy but not enough to purchase a Willy's. So I'm job seeking with the government sources but no luck yet. If and when I do obtain a job, I'll fulfill my second dream no matter what the cost. LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO ONLY HAVE WET DREAMS.....I project my Chevy to be completed by this year and I'll post the picture on this website.
By the way, congratulations to you too!!
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Old 06-09-2004, 03:38 AM
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Trade was successful

Aloha Royce,

I made the trade for the 10-1 comp, 540ci motor with some bucks back ($3,000). So I didn't lose anything. Thanks for the advice. The block and the heads are Dart brand for both engines. The only difference from my previous motor is the size of the heads. The 14-1 is 355cc and the 10-1 is 345cc. The only thing missing from my trade is the cam and kit. I just made the purchase today from Jeg's high performance. I bought a Crane w/hydraulic roller that has a valve lift of 632. I did some shopping to various cam dealers (Comp, Crane, and Lunati) prior and Crane had the most radical cam available. The tech help person at Comp Cams informed me that anything over 600 is not good for the motor. He said I will have a problem with the lifters first than the valves eventually (even with constant checks). Is this true? I told him I wasn't planning on racing and this car would be Prostreet and besides, this is a 540 big block. He told me "big block, small block, it doesn't matter. That's why we at Comp Cams don't make these big valve lifts for the hydraulic cams. We seen this happen too many times after couple thousand miles. I would recommend the 580 valve lift Comp Cam for your application and no bigger". Can you comment on this? You think I went too big? If so, let me know so I can change my order. I know that a 632 lift is a rough idle cam because my 454 in my truck has a cam with a 600 lift and that I think is suitable for my needs.
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