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Tech Questions Answered in CC's What's Your Problem?

You Got Questions, We Got Answers

Terry Mcgean:
You should be able to reuse the column shifter, and you may not have to compromise as much as you think. First of all, there is a better way than trying to force uncooperative factory shifter parts to work together. Lokar offers a trick little column-shift kit that was probably originally intended for street rods but works great even on cars that have the stock column and trans. The kit includes a solid-steel rod with two small Heim joints along with a billet-aluminum shift arm. Instead of using a bell-crank arrangement like a lot of older GM cars, the Lokar setup connects the stock shift tab on the steering column directly to the shift arm on the side of the trans. The billet shift arm is splined so that it can be clocked in any position, and the steel rod is shipped extra long to accommodate a wide variety of applications. We've used this on two or three different vehicles with great success. Not only does it work, but the shift action is very positive, and as a bonus, the new linkage often cures header/shift linkage conflicts.

As for your indicator, try finding one from an '80s Chevy or GMC van with overdrive, as these used steering columns that were similar to the earlier GM trucks, though many left the factory with overdrive. It may not bolt directly in place (we haven't tried this one yet), but it should be fairly easy to adapt. Of course, the shift gate in the column won't be exactly right for OD, but altering that will take a little more effort.

Nose Art
Robert Atteberry, via e-mail: I am building a '94 350 (383 now) and have run into trouble with the timing chain and cam retainer. Every timing gearset I have tried does not fit the camshaft. Cloyes recommended its PN C-3056, but the bolt patterns don't match. I have tried several different gears with no luck. Either the bolt pattern does not match or the gear hits the block.

Furthermore, I am trying to locate the camshaft retaining plate. The engine has the mounts for it, and without one the cam walks 11/44 inch back and forth. To the point, I need the proper timing-gear/chain kit, along with the right part number for the retaining plate. There are two plates: One has a bolt-spread distance of 3.60 inch and the other is 3.294 inch.

Specifics:
'94 Chevrolet 350, block No. 10243880; Comp Cams kit PN CL12-211-2. All else is stock, except for the Eagle 383 kit (rods, pistons, crank, machine work). Any help would be greatly appreciated

Jeff Smith:
It used to be that interchanging parts in small-block Chevys was simple-almost everything bolted right on. Those days are unfortunately long gone. Your '94 Chevy truck engine is still basically a Gen I small-block, but in the early '90s GM converted all its small-blocks to accept a roller camshaft even if the engine didn't come with a roller cam. The truck engines fell into this category. The block is set up for a roller cam, which means it also would require the thrust plate you mentioned. The thrust plate holds the cam in place and requires a smaller-diameter cam-nose bolt pattern to squeeze through it. Regarding your question about the retainer plate, Nickey Fowler at Scoggin-Dickey says the wider first-design retainer plate is PN 10088128, while the narrower-bolt-spread second design is PN 10168501. Word is that GM created this narrower bolt spread because of retainer-plate and cam-gear interference problems.

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