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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Y'all!

as you can tell from the title I'm getting ready to build my first motor from scratch. I've got the block and even better ive got my mechanic friend ready to check my work as I go. Now here's the hard part: learning what to buy.

The block is a 70's era 454, pretty good shape. I believe I can get away with using the original crank and pistons as long as I take them out and clean them up, give them the works etc. the rest of the motor is ALSO useable, but I also have a power goal in mind.

The Goal: around 550 Horsepower and similar (preferably more) torque.

Budget: roughly $3000, preferably less (I'm a wheeler and dealer and i'm in no rush, so I can happily wait for a sale or a deal. I am also not above looking at junkyards)

The Problem: I am very aware that you can't bolt on a bunch of random performance parts and expect them to make mindblowing power. You gotta make sure you get parts that breathe well together. Problem is, I got no clue which parts will do that top end wise.

Basically I need some guidance on what to do. Do you guys know of any good top end combos that will make me some serious power? (i.e. cam, intake, heads, carb etc). Should I instead opt for a top end kit? if so, which one? I also want to avoid nitrous if I can. ANY HELP IS FAIR GAME from camshaft all the way to replacing the mechanical fan. I dont care how I get there as long as I get there.

This car is a street/strip build.

I understand that asking this is a lot more difficult than it seems face value. I just want help making the right choices from you hot rod vets!

Thank you all for your help!:D
 

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A stock 454 from that era will be roughly 7.8:1 static compression ratio, which will not support any kind of speed parts unless it's a supercharger. Pistons must be changed to a higher compression ratio design in order to build any naturally-aspirated power into the motor. However, the fuel that you use in the motor will determine the maximum static compression ratio that the motor will tolerate without detonating. Current thinking puts iron heads with pump gas at a max of about 9.5:1, while aluminum heads with pump gas will likely tolerate 10.5:1 before detonation occurs.

A rule of thumb places engine build cost at about $10 per horsepower, so your $3,000 isn't likely to achieve the lofty 550 hp that you are foreseeing.

Cylinder heads will be the most important part of the build and will cost the most. The cheapest solution here would be iron heads and a brother-in-law who is a professional head porter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
A stock 454 from that era will be roughly 7.8:1 static compression ratio, which will not support any kind of speed parts unless it's a supercharger. Pistons must be changed to a higher compression ratio design in order to build any naturally-aspirated power into the motor. However, the fuel that you use in the motor will determine the maximum static compression ratio that the motor will tolerate without detonating. Current thinking puts iron heads with pump gas at a max of about 9.5:1, while aluminum heads with pump gas will likely tolerate 10.5:1 before detonation occurs.

A rule of thumb places engine build cost at about $10 per horsepower, so your $3,000 isn't likely to achieve the lofty 550 hp that you are foreseeing.

Cylinder heads will be the most important part of the build and will cost the most. The cheapest solution here would be iron heads and a brother-in-law who is a professional head porter.
Fair enough. what set of pistons would you recommend? possibly a stroker kit?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Continuation

ALRIGHT so after some research the man was right and compression ratio IS low. would it be a good idea to throw a turbo kit and a blow through carburetor on it AS WELL as some heads and intake? like I said before, this build can go anyway you guys recommend.
 

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Your budget will not support a stroker kit.

I would use a set of good-quality hypereutectic pistons with a dome volume that would give me somewhere close to 9.5:1 static compression ratio for use with iron heads or step up your budget to aluminum heads.

Other members of this forum will suggest that you use offshore aluminum heads, which I refuse to buy. I will only support American companies that use American workers.

If I had more money to work with, I would choose Airflow Research aluminum 265cc heads and use pistons that would produce a 10.0:1 static compression ratio. In my opinion, these are the best street 454 heads available anywhere.
https://www.airflowresearch.com/cylinder-heads/bbc-magnum-24-cylinder-head/

Be very careful choosing the camshaft. With any kind of stronger aftermarket valve springs, you should definitely use a hydraulic roller tappet camshaft. Big block Chevies will not get along well with flat tappet aftermarket cams that use stiffer springs than stock. This has been a very expensive lesson for most fellows to learn.

Your thoughts about a turbo build may be the least expensive and most powerful build that you could undertake on the motor, on your budget. Do some more research on that. You wouldn't need a lot of cylinder head with a turbo. I'd go with forged pistons, but you wouldn't need to get a lot more exotic than that.
 

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I'm getting ready to build my first motor from scratch. I've got the block and even better ive got my mechanic friend ready to check my work as I go. Now here's the hard part: learning what to buy.

The block is a 70's era 454, pretty good shape. I believe I can get away with using the original crank and pistons as long as I take them out and clean them up
The Goal: around 550 Horsepower and similar (preferably more) torque.

Budget: roughly $3000, preferably less
The Problem: I am very aware that you can't bolt on a bunch of random performance parts and expect them to make mindblowing power. You gotta make sure you get parts that breathe well together. Problem is, I got no clue which parts will do that top end wise.

Basically I need some guidance on what to do. Do you guys know of any good top end combos that will make me some serious power? (i.e. cam, intake, heads, carb etc). Should I instead opt for a top end kit? if so, which one? I also want to avoid nitrous if I can. ANY HELP IS FAIR GAME from camshaft all the way to replacing the mechanical fan.

This car is a street/strip build.
Have you ever rebuilt a motor at all? Say a stock rebuild on a complete worn out motor? If not, may want to do a search for 'first rebuild' articles and videos to get some familiarity.

How many miles on the 454? It may be worn out... Did it come out of a car or truck? Was it a crate engine originally?

How did you arrive at 550 HP? Do you have a vehicle in mind? Will you be driving it a lot? Is good or at least decent MPG important? Will you be towing a trailer?

Edelbrock, Skip White, and others can provide top end kits... or you can scrounge around for bargains at swap meets, online, and junk yards... sometimes a wrecked car/truck will have a built up performance engine left in it...

We usually keep the stock style clutch fan on a street vehicle... most reliable setup...

Some ideas:

https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ccrp-1009-cheap-turbos-from-ebay-on-a-350-small-block-engine

https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ccrp-1207-chevrolet-454-blue-collar-build
.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Have you ever rebuilt a motor at all? Say a stock rebuild on a complete worn out motor? If not, may want to do a search for 'first rebuild' articles and videos to get some familiarity.

How many miles on the 454? It may be worn out... Did it come out of a car or truck? Was it a crate engine originally?

How did you arrive at 550 HP? Do you have a vehicle in mind? Will you be driving it a lot? Is good or at least decent MPG important? Will you be towing a trailer?

Edelbrock, Skip White, and others can provide top end kits... or you can scrounge around for bargains at swap meets, online, and junk yards... sometimes a wrecked car/truck will have a built up performance engine left in it...

We usually keep the stock style clutch fan on a street vehicle... most reliable setup...

Some ideas:

https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ccrp-1009-cheap-turbos-from-ebay-on-a-350-small-block-engine

https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ccrp-1207-chevrolet-454-blue-collar-build
.
I've done everything except the pistons, hence why I have a mechanic friend checking my work.

The car is a 1970 Skylark, already swapped to a small block 350. I Use it as a weekend fun car, it is NOT my daily.

Motor came out of a truck that was used as a cruiser for a while. no clue on the mileage, as it was already swapped in before it got swapped out.

I arrived a 550 flywheel horsepower because I would like to reach around 500 whp, give or take 20 hp or so (I have an automatic). Miles per gallon doesnt matter to me in the slightest
 

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Discussion Starter #8
article I found

Building a 700 Horsepower 454 On a Budget - Super Chevy Magazine

heres an article I found about a budget build. obviously I'm not gonna try and force 700 hp through a stock block but I was wondering if the combination was good? I know some people have accused them of short lasting parts But i wanted to know what y'all think. I'm also aware that nowadays this would be closer to $3000 (inflation) and that they used deals I'll probably never see. But would it be a good idea to follow the exact same build plus domed pistons?
 

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Looks like the article met your HP goal without the nitrous. Might go a bit smaller on head ports as Tech/Richard suggested since not going 700 HP. Whether you use domed pistons depends on cc's of head chambers... Flat top pistons are preferred if desired compression ratio is achievable with them. Domed pistons are heavier and the dome can interfere with flame travel/combustion efficiency. As I recall, the article re-used the stock pistons but don't know if flat top or dished... As Tech suggested, 'hypereutectic cast' or 'forged' pistons would be preferable...

The truck peanut oval port heads are good to about 450 HP or so...

https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ccrp-1010-cheap-big-block-chevy-engine-build

The car stock oval and rectangular port heads can go higher...

You need to inspect your cylinder walls for wear and top ridge... If take a 4000 RPMs engine and start twisting it to 6000 RPMS, the piston/rings will extend further and run into a top ridge left from wear at the lower max RPMs...

https://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/wiki/Quench

https://www.summitracing.com/newsandevents/calcsandtools/compression-calculator
.
 

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Building a 700 Horsepower 454 On a Budget - Super Chevy Magazine

heres an article I found about a budget build. obviously I'm not gonna try and force 700 hp through a stock block but I was wondering if the combination was good? I know some people have accused them of short lasting parts But i wanted to know what y'all think. I'm also aware that nowadays this would be closer to $3000 (inflation) and that they used deals I'll probably never see. But would it be a good idea to follow the exact same build plus domed pistons?
The big red flag in that story is the "ProComp heads , with a "little work" by Dr J's porting"...Dr J was Bryce Mulvey(IIRC the spelling of his last name) of Dr. J's Porting/Airwolf cylinder heads, a professional head porter and if you had to actually buy those heads from him there goes at least 1/2 of your unrealistic $3000 budget.(He is out of business now, deceptive/poor business practices)
Not to mention the impact on power a set of pro prepped heads is likely to make above a set of off-the-shelf stuff unless you make your head budget $2000+.
Your not likely to fall into a deal on heads like that at a swap meet, junkyard, or Marketplace sale.

If you can't port heads yourself, and don't have a buddy who does and knows what he is doing, then using just about any stock head is going to make your power goals very hard to reach in streetable form.

You might be able to get 550 Hp at a $4500 price point, if you shop carefully and are willing to consider the use of an offshore head casting, maybe one finish machined and assembled here in the US like ProMaxx or maybe Flo-Tek.

On the short block side of the build, if you are going to reuse the stock crank and rods....the stock crank needs to be at the very least measured to be sure it doesn't need a regrind. Stock rods for sure need to be resized at the minimum, and adding new bolts at the same time would be a smart move, but cost of that resize and bolts is getting you close to the cost of just buying better aftermarket Sportsman level rods like SCAT or Eagle I-beams.

Pistons have got to be replaced, both for compression reasons and strength reasons.
Checking the block for bore size, taper, and out-of-round may indicate a visually good looking block still needs to be bored, the naked eye cannot see these things good enough to make that determination...it has to be measured out.

As far as cam, the only way I would do a flat tappet in a BBC is a solid lifter cam, either with oil grooved lifter bores(Comp Cams tool) or the solid lifters with the EDM cut oil hole in the face combined with Driven brand break-in oil.
No way would I do hydraulic flat tappet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Alright screw the budget I'll just add some extra time for the funding of this build

The big red flag in that story is the "ProComp heads , with a "little work" by Dr J's porting"...Dr J was Bryce Mulvey(IIRC the spelling of his last name) of Dr. J's Porting/Airwolf cylinder heads, a professional head porter and if you had to actually buy those heads from him there goes at least 1/2 of your unrealistic $3000 budget.(He is out of business now, deceptive/poor business practices)
Not to mention the impact on power a set of pro prepped heads is likely to make above a set of off-the-shelf stuff unless you make your head budget $2000+.
Your not likely to fall into a deal on heads like that at a swap meet, junkyard, or Marketplace sale.

If you can't port heads yourself, and don't have a buddy who does and knows what he is doing, then using just about any stock head is going to make your power goals very hard to reach in streetable form.

You might be able to get 550 Hp at a $4500 price point, if you shop carefully and are willing to consider the use of an offshore head casting, maybe one finish machined and assembled here in the US like ProMaxx or maybe Flo-Tek.

On the short block side of the build, if you are going to reuse the stock crank and rods....the stock crank needs to be at the very least measured to be sure it doesn't need a regrind. Stock rods for sure need to be resized at the minimum, and adding new bolts at the same time would be a smart move, but cost of that resize and bolts is getting you close to the cost of just buying better aftermarket Sportsman level rods like SCAT or Eagle I-beams.

Pistons have got to be replaced, both for compression reasons and strength reasons.
Checking the block for bore size, taper, and out-of-round may indicate a visually good looking block still needs to be bored, the naked eye cannot see these things good enough to make that determination...it has to be measured out.

As far as cam, the only way I would do a flat tappet in a BBC is a solid lifter cam, either with oil grooved lifter bores(Comp Cams tool) or the solid lifters with the EDM cut oil hole in the face combined with Driven brand break-in oil.
No way would I do hydraulic flat tappet.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/edl-2095

would a kit like this work? If so, what would I have to do with the internals?
 

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https://www.summitracing.com/parts/edl-2095

would a kit like this work? If so, what would I have to do with the internals?
It would work if you want to go that route and use a kit.

But it blows your whole budget....you've still got to get at minimum pistons and rings and a re-hone since the 110cc chamber head and a flat top piston is at best about 8.3:1 compression, resize the rods, inspect the crank and polish it if not regrind it if needed, new bearings.
Add to that it may need boring.

Edelbrock's website lists that kit as making the 540 HP number using 9.6:1 compression, so use that as the minimum spec you need to obtain for the kit to work as intended to get 540 Hp from a 454.

Also bear in mind you'll need pushrods and rocker arms...stock rockers cannot be used with that cam, so you will need to buy roller rockers and along with decent pushrods that will eat another $350-400.

Another thing to be aware or, with those heads and a flat tappet cam, you'll need to either rent low ratio break-in rocker arms from Straub Technologies, or use an old set of stock valvesprings, or pull the inner spring out of the Edelbrock set to lower the spring pressure for cam break-in or you run a risk of wiping out the cam in the first 1/2 hour of operation.

You might get there at $4500 budget, but it's gonna be a squeaker.
 

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I like the $2,650 cast iron head build by Demon Engines,
https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ccrp-1010-cheap-big-block-chevy-engine-build/
but would make a couple of changes. For instance, I would never use an Air Gap manifold on the street. It's a race manifold, not a street manifold. The other thing I would never do is to use a flat tappet cam on a hot-rodded big block Chevy. Change the Air Gap for a standard Performer RPM and spend another $400 for a hydraulic roller camshaft and this could be a very useable street big block that won't wipe out a lifter with the stronger valve springs that are required with an aftermarket roller camshaft. They built torque to 4900 rpm's with their build, so I would take their lead and install a cam something like this.........
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/hrs-120235-12/make/chevrolet
I would expect this motor to make even more power with a roller cam of about the same grind, than the flat tappet cam model that Demon Engines used.

(blurb from the bottom of the Hot Rod magazine article)........
Displacing a true 461 ci thanks to a 0.030 overbore, the Demon 400hp 454 delivered more than advertised by producing 446 hp at 4,900 rpm and an impressive 542 lb-ft at just 3,600 rpm. Torque production from the big-block exceeded 500 lb-ft from 2,800 to 4,600 rpm. The Demon 454 belted out 490 lb-ft way down at 2,500 rpm and never produced less than 400 lb-ft. That, my friends, is why big-blocks rule. This motor would be equally at home in an RV, truck, or performance street machine and (if 450 hp and 542 lb-ft aren't enough) would make an excellent starting point for a more serious buildup.

Torque is what moves the vehicle around. Horsepower is a math function of torque.
 

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I would take it to one of my local engine builders.
Tell him what my budget is, what the thing will be used for, and a realistic timeframe.

There is a guy locally who is hidden in the woods who builds race engines. He has a full machine shop in his barn. Drop him off a engine and a couple grand and around 3-5 months later depending on the time of the year you will have your full built engine.

Or you could just ask what he has sitting around that was never picked up. Sometimes you get a deal there and it is ready.

Saying you built something is nice. But expensive. Budget minded you buy it built or have it built so it is all correct.
 

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My first build was a 454 as well.

I will take a slightly different approach than TechInspector, although he has the rest of it nailed.

For pump gas, I would lean toward making your compression with head/chamber and avoiding domed pistons. BBCs are already remarkably inefficient in the quench/flame front speed category. Domes further slow flame front speeds... which requires more ignition lead, which tends to require higher octane.

All things equal, I try to get my target compression with flat-tops on a BBC. People sometimes joke that the way you set timing on a BBC is to advance it as far as it will go and then add more. It's not that far from true. The one I built I did with a Comp 262 cam and 8.5:1. I knew it was too much cam for the compression, but I had my sights set on some big dollar aluminum jobs that would bump me to 9.5:1. In the meantime to get it running right, I set the timing to 34 degrees initial, drove a screw down through the weights, and hooked up the advance to ported vacuum. Not kidding. Ran like a champ. It kicked back on the starter when it was hot sometimes, and I never did buy those aluminum heads, but I looked really good getting 9mpg :)
 
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