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How To Build A Cheap Small Block - $650

Not Every Car Crafter Needs A High-End Race Engine, So We're Going To Dive Into . . .

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Small-Block Chevy Spec Chart
The accompanying chart lists both recommended clearances and torque specs for a small-block Chevy. The ranges for some clearances are slightly wider since we are not blueprinting this engine. Factory specs list much tighter acceptable bearing clearances, but we prefer ours. Torque specs were taken from a '60s Chevrolet service manual and may be different for your engine based on the specific components used. This is especially true for aftermarket rod bolts.

COMPONENT CLEARANCE (INCHES)
Main bearing 0.002-0.0030
Rod bearing 0.002-0.0030
Connecting rod side 0.009-or more
Crankshaft endplay 0.005-0.010
Retainer to seal 0.050 minimum
Valvespring coil bind 0.050 minimum

FASTENER TORQUE SPEC (LB-FT)
Main cap 80
Connecting rod 45 (3/8-inch bolt)
Oil pump 65
Cylinder head 65
Camshaft sprocket 20
Harmonic balancer 60

Chevrolet's published main bearing clearance range for a '66 283 is an amazing 0.0003 to 0.0034 inch.

PARTS LIST
DESCRIPTION PN SOURCE PRICE
Long-block NA Friend $100.00
Summit main bearings 173000 Summit Racing 12.95
Summit rod bearings 172000 Summit Racing 12.95
Summit piston rings, 4.00 133-139-00 Summit Racing 25.95
Fel-Pro gasket set, 1 piece rear main KS-2666 Summit Racing 99.95
Summit valvespring kit 174001 Summit Racing 63.95
Summit oil pump 121155SV Summit Racing 16.95
Melling oil pump pickup 55-S1 Summit Racing 6.95
Summit intake manifold PC22001 Summit Racing 99.50
Lunati cam and lifter package 10000LK Summit Racing 89.95
Summit carb cleaner, four cans SP1503 Summit Racing 23.80
Summit Chevy orange paint SP1005 Summit Racing 5.95
Brass freeze plug kit G1581 Summit Racing 13.95
Summit nonroller timing set G6501 Summit Racing 13.95
Summit assembly lube LUBE Summit Racing 1.95
Summit spark plug wires 868836 Summit Racing 29.95
Autolite spark plugs FRM-25 Summit Racing 12.00
GM HEI distributor Used Swap meet 5.00
Engine oil 10W-30 Local auto parts 10.00
Oil filter, Wix 51069 Local auto parts 6.75
TOTAL $652.40
GMPP rail-style 1.5 rocker arms 12495490 Summit Racing 59.95

How-to References
Measuring bearing clearance: carcraft.com/techarticles/ccrp_0805_high_performance_engines_bearing_clearance/index.html
How to measure rod bolt stretch: carcraft.com/techarticles/116_0609_using_rod_bolt_stretch_tool/index.html
Plastigauge vs. micrometer: carcraft.com/techfaq/116_0701_plastigage_vs_micrometer/index.html
How to degree a camshaft: carcraft.com/howto/116_0701_how_to_degree_a_camshaft/index.html
How to set valve lash: carcraft.com/howto/ccrp_0702_camshaft/index.html
How to start a new engine: carcraft.com/howto/ccrp_0903_how_to_start_a_new_engine/index.html

SOURCES
Lunati
662-892-1500
http://www.lunatipower.com/
Autolite
39 Old Ridgebury Road
Danbury
CT  06810
800-890-2075
http://www.autolite.com
Summit Racing
Akron
OH
800-230-3030
330-630-0240
http://www.summitracing.com/
Chevrolet Performance Parts
P.O. Box 33170
Detroit
MI  48232
800-577-6888
http://www.gmperformanceparts.co
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37 comments
Stewart Ambrozewicz
Stewart Ambrozewicz

So much complaining, forget "true rebuild" and "why bother building anything else but an LS engine" and just do it for the love of the car and for the challenge of building an engine at or under $650.

Ken Woodward
Ken Woodward

I had one of those too. If that's a '66.

Chip Bonham
Chip Bonham

Always liked the "Cheap & Easy for the average car guy" approach you all have had lately! Those AMC issues w/ D. Glad were excellent! $650 build a little harder to do w/ a Ford or Mopar (LOL), Lot of great ideas & thoughts in there tho.......Best Mag out there for sure.

Joshua Pugh
Joshua Pugh

And this is why everyone builds chevy's.

Jennifer Tyndall
Jennifer Tyndall

What he's doing is a shirt and tie backyard job! Anybody with a can of orange paint can do that or blue if you are a Ford guy!!

Kevin Tyree
Kevin Tyree

Who cares... It's just a piece of chevy...

Jennifer Tyndall
Jennifer Tyndall

You can't bore the block, grind the crank , resize the rods and rebuild the heads for $650!!! And if you don't do that it's not a rebuild done the right way!!!

Bill Skoros
Bill Skoros

Would be nice if they figured in a block from a junk yard into that price. I cant think of a friend that has an extra block just laying around. Plus with some of the build up of LS1 engines i have read, id be hard pressed not to go the LS route.

Tony Mealor
Tony Mealor

Yeah it can be done I've done it....but if you don't think machine work is a must you're fooling yourself...it'll bite you in the back side every time!

Rod Launer
Rod Launer

Christopher Kill, this was originally run in May, 2010......

Weston Cutler
Weston Cutler

Its impossible....true rebuild..machining costs that much!

Michael Smith
Michael Smith

I rebuilt my LT1 for under $1000 and thought I did good. The rebuild consisted of a whole different block and rotating assembly. But still.

Gene Stribling
Gene Stribling

the 50+ year old chevy motors will never go away will stay in 90% of the cars and truck's

Gene Stribling
Gene Stribling

NO NO NO we will never go to a junk ( LS )Motor my jeep run's like new and we will keep it till I pas away?

Kyle Armstrong
Kyle Armstrong

lol i can get a 5.3 for 400$ complete and clean it up and jam a cam in it and rape an old 350 anyday lol. BUT i love old 350's. cant live without ether one. :D

Jake Ingalls
Jake Ingalls

But Karl, how much are you gonna sink into a Gen 1 to make 450-500hp reliably? Like I said, if your car already has a decent gen 1 and you don't want much more power than stock you have a reason to keep it.

Flavio Leon
Flavio Leon

its just a newer setup...all things move forward...we cldnt just stay gen1. i like them both. ls is about to become vintage too.

Flavio Leon
Flavio Leon

There u go ...there u go...getting gritty with it old school style...shove that toilet brush in there and let the old lady scream!!!

Chris Marshall
Chris Marshall

Yeah but how about the cost involved in the switch to ls from a gen 1 in a 70 nova

Luis Matías
Luis Matías

With all those chevy engine's you can make a cheese cake.

Jake Ingalls
Jake Ingalls

I figure that unless you already have a gen 1 sitting in the car, are running a racing class that requires it, or are restoring to retain the oem engine there is absolutely zero good reason to run a gen 1 anymore. They require too much massaging to make what a ls truck engine does stock, let alone with mods and aren't even strong enough to handle serious mods with stock internals, unlike many other engines. You can get a 5.3l engine for $500 all day long.

Lindsay McGeorge
Lindsay McGeorge

Why??? I REFUSE to build another non LS engine. Stock heads are garbage and aren't worth the effort. The technology is 60+ years old. For the extra money it would cost to build up a 6.2L LS you're ahead of the game by leaps and bounds. And the stock heads on an LS flow pretty darn good compared to old shitty SB heads. Just not worth the effort anymore.

Baharudin Din
Baharudin Din

Clefz Anderz Isfa Dean jom koret haed ada tempat ni hahaha

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