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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m 17 and just bought a 1977 C10 I don’t know much about cars yet but would like to work on it and try getting some hp gains without having to get too technical, what would y’all recommend?

This is my daily driver to get to work and back so don’t want to do anything crazy to it just something to give it a little kick u know
 

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Unfortunately this is an early SMOG era truck so big power gains are out of the question without digging deep into the engine. These engines mostly lack compression and cam. After that follows carb and ignition tuning.

First practicality is that this is most likely got a lot of miles on lt and is ready for a new timing set (cam and crank gear and chain plus gaskets and crank seal. This is somewhat of an ugly job where the pulleys, damper, coolant pump and front end accessories need to come off just getting to the timing case cover, then the oil pan needs to be loosened so the timing cover can be removed. This is basic stuff to insure the cam and crank are timed together. These old engines still used the old 929 cam which with decent head’s and a good 4 barrel carb would deliver an honest 300 horses. But you don’t have decent head’s. An issue you can have is the cam has lost a lobe or two, this was a common problem back then, it wipes the lifters as well. You can observe for this by running the engine with the rocker (valve) covers off to observe how much lift is at each rocker’s valve stem.

Everybody gets excited about stripping off the external SMOG equipment, which if still there removal cleans up the engine room, but stripping this stuff out does nothing to add power. That problem is inside with the big expensive stuff.

The quickest way to pick up some ponies and maybe a few foot pounds of torque with the least offense to your budget and time is long tube headers and dual exhaust. Next would be a decent intake like the Edelbrock Performer RPM and depending on what you have for a carb either a good rebuild or replacement. In total these in a well functioning 350 of that era will add about 25 horsepower and about as many more foot pounds of torque.

After that you gotta do a deep dive into head’s as you just gotta get the compression up. But before playing that hand you need to know what shape the bottom end is in. Putting better head’s on a tired bottom end usually ends up with rods sticking out of the block,

These days it’s easy to pull 400 horses with a cam like the Comp XE268H using L31 Vortec head’s or an aftermarket head and a like amount of torque out of a 350, but it takes a fair chunk of change and a bit of time and of course you need to invest in some tools beyond the necessary wrenches. Add to your immediate needs will be a damper puller and installation tools along with a torque wrench. Fortunately for a young fella today we have Harbor Freight who sells pretty good stuff at affordable prices. If you live in a decent size city you can try vintage and antique stores as sometimes they have a vendor specializing in estate tools where you can get high quality older tools at a decent price.

Starting out in life is hard your dreams generally exceed your technical and financial abilities, all of us geezers were there at one time, so it isn’t like we don’t know.

Bogie
 

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post some pics of the current engine set up , so we can see what has already been done..
I agree with Bogie,start with a better intake and some headers and dual exhaust , I would not be surpirsed if that has not already been done ... Those old square bodies and the 60's models were pretty common for my generation of young lead footers and hotrodders when I was a teenager in the 80. and 90's.
 

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Another quick upgrade is to bump up the base timing and mechanical advance. With the low compression engine you can use 12-16 degrees base timing and 20 degrees more from mechanical to a get a little more low end power.

First use a piston stop to verify the timing pointer and tab are correct. Set the idle down low (to prevent any mechanical advance) and adjust base timing to about 12 BTDC. Then borrow an adjustable timing light to verify you get 18-20 degrees more from mechanical as you rev up the engine. You want mechanical to come in quickly (by 2000 rpm?) but might not get that with a stock distributor .

Your engine should tolerate up to about 34-36 degrees total advance, but do it in steps and watch out for pinging before you get carried away. Also check to see that the vacuum advance adds 18-20 degrees when cruising at high vacuum. Vacuum advance does not add power, but will help get better highway gas mileage.

I’ve never added headers to my K25 because they seemed to be a PIA to install, but they would be a good upgrade if you can get them for a reasonable price. Installing one of the Edelbrock dual plane manifolds is a simple and effective upgrade, and you can probably find a used one for a decent price. Depending on what carburetor you have, there are also many tweaks that should help.

Bruce
 

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I’m 17 and just bought a 1977 C10 I don’t know much about cars yet but would like to work on it and try getting some hp gains without having to get too technical, what would y’all recommend?

This is my daily driver to get to work and back so don’t want to do anything crazy to it just something to give it a little kick u know
You want to improve it some way and make it your own - do something you can be proud of! I get it! You are the future of hot rodding! Lots of us old geezers willing to help a guy like you.

I vote for headers and dual exhaust. Might be good for 15-25 hp. Slip these mufflers onto the outlet of these headers. Then get a couple 90 degree mandrel bends and some straight pipe - and turn them out in front of the rear wheels yourself. Don't end them under the vehicle unless you like a constant loud drone on the highway.

Or have full exhaust out the back done from the mufflers back at an exhaust shop if your pocketbook can take it.

Summit Racing SUM-638230 Summit Racing® 2-Chamber Performance Mufflers | Summit Racing
Schoenfeld Headers 1307 Schoenfeld Headers | Summit Racing
Hedman Hedders 29036 Hedman 90 Degree Mandrel Bends | Summit Racing
Summit Racing SUM-640030-1 Summit Racing® Exhaust Tubing | Summit Racing

Project should be around $500-$600 unless you get an exhaust shop involved.

This setup should help support any upgrades you may do to the engine in the future (for the street). For example you wouldn't want to put a cam and intake or different heads on your engine with a single exhaust system. First things first. But if you stop with just the headers, know that the power gains on a stock engine are not so much.

If you want to have the headers look nice, the paint they come in will quickly burn off. Better I think to order them directly from Schoenfeld and ask them to not paint them when they are built. Then you don't need to have them sand blasted before painting with header paint. I did this with my Schoenfeld headers. Be aware that header paint will bubble horribly when engine is started if not fully dried and cured over time (don't ask me how I know).
 

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Not cheap, but lower gears will give you more go off the line. It will burn more fuel on the highway, so this mod is good if you mainly drive around town.
 
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I recently installed a Flo-Tech 2 1/4” dual exhaust, H pipe and Magnaflow mufflers on my K25 and it was a reasonably easy driveway project. Everything came from Summit Racing. The kit uses mandrel bent pipe, so it should flow well. It would be even easier on a 2WD where you don’t have to deal with the transfer case cross member. The Magnaflow mufflers are wide open inside and have no drone in normal driving. They aren’t exactly the ultra low tone I was looking for, but close.

This set of pipes (and most others) comes in multiple parts so you can work the pieces around and get the angles you need to clear everything. Lots of clamps, but it still works well. I dropped the exhaust pipe angle down right near the start of the driveshaft and then used the v-shaped crossover pipe to route the H-pipe under the driveshaft. The pipe flanges on the Magnaflow mufflers were a loose fit on 2 1/4” exhaust pipe, so I ended up switching to band clamps to get a better seal.

Since you are on a budget, this was my cost.
  • $183 - dual exhaust pipe set
  • $47 - Summit H pipe
  • $192 - 2 Magnaflow mufflers
You could leave out the H pipe and use store brand turbo mufflers ($35-$45) to reduce your cost.

Lower gears would also help, and depending on where you live you might be able to find a complete axle swap in the junkyard. 3.73 is probably the lowest ratio you will find in a 1/2 ton axle, but it’s better than the more common 3.07 you might have now. 3/4 ton axles often have 4.10 gears, but then you have to use 8 bolt wheels.


Bruce
 

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I like glass packs, cheep, relatively light and get the job done. Loudness depends on length. Probably not the best answer for pulse tuning but at your career stage in hot rodding that’s probably more rocket science than you need to agonize over.

The best use an inner tube formed from punched round stock then rolled and welded. The worst start with a tube then saw slash openings, this leaves big twisted burrs in the exhaust stream that create flow resistance. Of course with an electric drill, a hole saw that fits the tube inside diameter (ID) and enough drill bit extensions and a can of WD40 to lube the saw’s outside diameter (OD) this can be solved.

Going back to the punched tube style you will see either dimpled round holes or a slit style louver. The round dimple holes are not directional they flow the same either way that are installed. Louvered slits are directional especially if the bulge is facing inside the tube, with the open end facing the flow they are quieter but more restrictive while facing with the flow noisier but less restrictive.

You can see these differences in the tubes by looking in them with suitable lighting.

For sound I like the old time low tone rumble of a V8 with glass packs over the contemporary Euro screech mufflers, which as a box with not much to nothing in them are really expensive. Which also brings me to Harley Davidsons but that’s another expensive bad habit which of all my bad and expensive habits is the one that my wife treats as the other woman.

Stainless steel is nice but pricy if you intend to keep the truck for 10 to 15 years maybe the cost is justifiable other wise it’s not.

Keep in mind that much the rest of the world is not as enamored with the sound of loud exhaust as the typical hotrodder so your first ticket will be as espensive as your exhaust system or more and the court settlement on top of the fine will require you return the system to something resembling “stock” which is more money out of your hard earned income. The younger and the poorer you are the more the system likes to relieve you of you cash, so keep these constants in mind.

Bogie
 

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I recently installed a Flo-Tech 2 1/4” dual exhaust, H pipe and Magnaflow mufflers on my K25 and it was a reasonably easy driveway project. Everything came from Summit Racing. The kit uses mandrel bent pipe, so it should flow well. It would be even easier on a 2WD where you don’t have to deal with the transfer case cross member. The Magnaflow mufflers are wide open inside and have no drone in normal driving. They aren’t exactly the ultra low tone I was looking for, but close.

This set of pipes (and most others) comes in multiple parts so you can work the pieces around and get the angles you need to clear everything. Lots of clamps, but it still works well. I dropped the exhaust pipe angle down right near the start of the driveshaft and then used the v-shaped crossover pipe to route the H-pipe under the driveshaft. The pipe flanges on the Magnaflow mufflers were a loose fit on 2 1/4” exhaust pipe, so I ended up switching to band clamps to get a better seal.

Since you are on a budget, this was my cost.
  • $183 - dual exhaust pipe set
  • $47 - Summit H pipe
  • $192 - 2 Magnaflow mufflers
You could leave out the H pipe and use store brand turbo mufflers ($35-$45) to reduce your cost.

Lower gears would also help, and depending on where you live you might be able to find a complete axle swap in the junkyard. 3.73 is probably the lowest ratio you will find in a 1/2 ton axle, but it’s better than the more common 3.07 you might have now. 3/4 ton axles often have 4.10 gears, but then you have to use 8 bolt wheels.


Bruce
The H-pipe is a good idea if you can afford it. You can put one ahead of the mufflers on a header system as well. I have heard it's good for maybe 5hp and seems to quiet things down because exhaust frequency pulse rate is doubled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
post some pics of the current engine set up , so we can see what has already been done..
I agree with Bogie,start with a better intake and some headers and dual exhaust , I would not be surpirsed if that has not already been done ... Those old square bodies and the 60's models were pretty common for my generation of young lead footers and hotrodders when I was a teenager in the 80. and 90's.
If I can figure out how to post pictures on here I’ll go take some of the engine in the morning
 

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Rod...from a Chrysler?
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Beside the chain in the reply box is a rectangle with a mountain in it. Click it to open it. Open your photo folder, left click and hold the left click down and drag your photo to it.
 

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Every young blokes first mistake. ( me included) Brakes & suspension bushes. Make it stop and handle better and you can go into corners harder . That makes the car seem faster. It'll out perform your mates' cars and be more fun to drive. Good luck.
 
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