This chapter shows you how to professionally assemble your engine. Not included in this chapter are measurements, tolerances and checks of bearing clearances, cam timing, and other critical dimensions. Important issues of parts selection, machine work, cleaning, and pre-assembly component fitting were detailed in the previous chapters. Do not assemble your engine unless you have performed all the appropriate steps in those chapters. The reliability of your engine, and a good chunk of your wallet, is riding on it!
Even when all of the required preparation is done, don’t undertake final assembly until you recall the basics of successful engine building. You can never remind yourself too often to take your time, read everything thoroughly, and think ahead. Don’t let your excitement get the better of you. After all, watching your engine come together with shiny, new parts is exciting! Make sure you take the time to be 100-percent sure of everything. Then, just to be safe, check it again. Measure twice, install once. If you come across something that you don’t feel right about, ask your machine shop or do more reading and research.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book “SMALL-BLOCK CHEVROLET: STOCK AND HIGH-PERFORMANCE REBUILDS“. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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When you begin assembly, don’t invite a bunch of friends over to watch. Don’t turn the volume on your favorite radio up to “11.” Don’t roll the TV into your shop. Don’t start assembly when you’re tired. And save the celebratory beers for when you’re all finished. Assembling an engine requires your full attention. Experts with years of experience often trace mistakes to interruptions and distractions. Don’t let a “stupid” mistake happen to you. Keep your attention focused on the job at hand.
Tools and Supplies
Assembly requires many of the same tools used during disassembly and preassembly checking. However, several additional tools and supplies are needed for final engine assembly.
Thick Assembly Lubricant. An acceptable lubricant for final assembly is STP mixed 1:1 with engine oil. Applying it from a squirt-can will keep components, and your fingers, clean.
Petroleum Jelly. A fail-safe thread lubricant for fasteners and other general assembly purposes (commonly sold as Vaseline) produces uniform tightness for “standard-lubricated” torque specifications and won’t over-tighten and pull threads. Torque specs included in the upcoming step-by-step instructions assume that petroleum jelly or a similar lubricant is used on threads and bolt head contact surfaces.
ARP Thread Sealer and Assembly Lubricant. ARP, maker of specialty fasteners for performance applications, offers two fastener lubricants. 1) ATP Thread Sealer is Teflon-based with special lubricants added. It seals head bolts (and other fasteners that protrude into the water jackets) and provides optimum lubrication for uniform bolt torque. 2) ARP Assembly Lubricant is a moly-based lubricant that minimizes thread friction. Bolt torque values must be reduced when using either of these lubricants (bolt tightness, however, isn’t reduced). See torque chart on page 155.
Anti-Seize Compound. Applied to bolt threads in the exhaust system, it will prevent “frozen” and broken fasteners when the engine is disassembled in the future.
Camshaft Break-In Lube. Some types of molybdenum-disulfide (black) cam break-in lubes are too “dry” to prevent lifter/lobe scuffing. Add a little GM Engine Oil Supplement or STP to these moly lubes—not enough to make them “runny”;just enough to give them a distinctly “wet” appearance.
Silicone Rubber Adhesive. Available everywhere as Silicone Gasket or Silicone Sealer. CRC and Permatex offer it in a convenient dispenser that doesn’t clog up.
Weather-strip Adhesive. This fastdrying adhesive holds specific gaskets (such as pan gaskets) in place until they’re tightened.
Loctite. There are two types of Loctite used during engine assembly: Blue and Red. Both act as a thread-locking compound; however, they’re for different applications. Blue should be used on bolts that will be removed for service at some point in your engine’s life. The Red Loctite is intended for permanent installation of retainers. Do not use this compound on fasteners unless instructed.
Complete Gasket Package. All engine gaskets, including head gaskets from Fel-Pro, Mr. Gasket, and SCE, will have everything you need. Note: if piston- to-head and piston-to-valve clearances were close to minimum safe values when checked in the previous chapter, make sure to use head gaskets no thinner than those used during testing.
Set of “Core” and Oil Passage Plugs. Can be purchased as a kit (from Milodon or others) or individually. Make sure you also get the large “core” plug used at the rear of the cam.
Rod Bolt Protectors. Lengths of 3/8- inch rubber hose or plastic protector boots are absolutely essential to prevent damaging the crankshaft during final assembly. Goodson and other manufacturers offer inexpensive protectors. You may feel that if you’re just careful you won’t need these, but trust us, cover the rod bolts.
Bench Vise with Soft Jaws. A firmly mounted bench vise with about 6-inch jaws will make several engine assembly steps much easier. A pair of soft (aluminum or plastic) jaws is essential for clamping items that should not be marred, such as connecting rods.
Rod Installation Tool (optional). A tool that attaches to a rod bolt and guides the rod down the bore when installing the pistons is very helpful. B&B Performance offers an inexpensive Pro model, or you can make one yourself (see Step 44 on page 38).
Torque Wrenches. It’s best to have two sizes available: a 3/8-inch drive with a range to about 100 ft-lbs, and a large 1/2-inch drive wrench with a range to about 200 ft-lbs.
Internal Snap Ring Pliers. If your pistons and rods use floating (not press-fit) pins and standard lock rings, you’ll need to use snap ring pliers for assembly. Don’t try to insert a snap ring without the proper tool—you could easily damage the piston and/or the snap ring (not to mention fling one across the garage). Ring Compressor. The recommended type (very strongly recommended) is a taper-bore compressor available from B&B Performance. In addition, adjustable taper-bore compressors are available from Goodson. You can use a steel band compressor, but it must be a single-wrap band model that is compressed with special “pliers.” Though we don’t recommend it, use care when using a multi-wrap band compressor that is tightened with a square “key” (they’re notorious for breaking rings). Vibration Damper Installer. The vibration damper should be installed with a special tool, available from B&B Performance and other sources. Do not drive it on with a hammer or pull it on with the crank center bolt. Do it right! Buy this tool before you begin assembly. It’s something that you’ll use again, on your next engine project.
Pre-Oiling Tool. Another must-have item. The B&B Performance Pro model works great, and MSD Ignition offers one that also helps you set the distributor gear depth (if your deck surfaces have been modified). You’ll also need a 100-psi pressure gauge and 1/8-inch pipe fittings to install it in the pressure access at the rear of the block.
Engine Oil and Filter. At least enough oil and filters for initial fill-up and one oil change (after initial breakin). Do not use synthetic oils during break-in.
Other Items. The following items may need to be rebuilt, replaced, or purchased to complete your engine buildup: distributor, coil, spark plug wires, carburetor, choke, bi-metal actuator, EGR valve, PCV valve and hose, oil pressure sender, water pump, thermostat, belts, hoses, and antifreeze.
Final Assembly Tips
Before you begin your final assembly, here’s a short “top ten” list of important things that should be completed. If any machining or cleaning step was overlooked, make sure to thoroughly reclean the component(s) before proceeding with final assembly.
- Block and other components detailed and (optionally) painted.
- Front oil gallery passages deburred or tapped to accept new plugs.
- All threaded holes cleaned with tap or “chasing” tool and/or repaired.
- Cam bearings installed in block (and cam degreed).
- All machine work on block, heads, crankshaft, and other components completed.
- Rotating assembly balanced.
- All pre-assembly checks completed.
- Rods and pistons assembled (for pressed pins only).
- Bores scrubbed with oiled paper towel until spotless.
- All components, including fasteners and small parts, cleaned, stored in plastic bags, and ready for final assembly.
One final thought before you begin: if you run into problems, don’t just forge ahead, hoping everything will turn out fine. Stop, locate, and understand the problem, then correct it before you proceed, even if that means taking everything apart and re-cleaning (again!). While the thought of all that“wasted” time may be hard to stomach, you’ll be more than pleased when the engine is installed and running great. You’ll soon forget the long hours of preparation if everything works out fine; you’ll never forget the frustration if your rebuilt engine runs badly or malfunctions.
Step-by-Step Final Assembly
Step-1: Getting Ready
Do not begin final assembly until you have completed all of the step-by step instructions in previous chapters, especially those in Chapter 6, “Component Cleaning,” and Chapter 7, “Pre-Assembly Fitting.” Make sure you’ve read the information presented earlier in this chapter on tools, supplies,and other final-assembly preparations. All components, including fasteners and small parts, should be cleaned, stored in plastic bags, and labeled for easy identification. If you haven’t painted your engine, take a look at Sidebar “Detailing and Painting” on page 92. You should have all of your parts, manuals, information, and tools organized and ready to go.
Step-2: Cylinder Head Assembly
If your cylinder heads are assembled, skip to Step 4. First, thoroughly lubricate the valveguideswith assembly lube. Work the valves in and out of the guides and make sure the lubricant has completely penetrated every crevice in the guides. Double-check valve numberingto make sure the correct valves are installed in their matching chambers. If guide-mounted seals are used on your engine, squirt some assembly lube in the “cups,” then slide the seals over the valvestems and onto the guides (using the thin protective sleeve supplied with the seals).
Step-3: Cylinder Head Assembly Continued
Now, install a retainer, spring, and matching spring shims over their matching valve. Note: Do not install shims thinner than .030 inch in direct contact with the spring coils unless they are made from hardened spring steel. Compress the spring, and if your valves have a second stem groove, lubricate a rubber O-ring seal and install it on the valvestem. Install a pair of split-locks and slowly release the valvespring compressor tool. Verify that the locks have seated in the retainer. Repeat the procedure for the remaining valves.
Step-4: Install Rear Water Jacket and Gallery Plugs
Before you mount the block on an engine stand, install the six rear block plugs. Start by smearing a thin layer of silicone sealer on the edges of the two water jacket (core) plugs and the bores in the block. Drive in the core plugs using a large socket with an OD of about 1/8-inch smaller than the ID of the plugs (a 11⁄16-inch socket often works). Stop when the edge of the plug lines up with the center of the chamfer in the block. If the core plugs are retained with safety screws, apply silicone sealer to the threads and install the screws. Next, apply silicone sealer to the threads on the three oil gallery plugs (apply none to the threads in the block). Install and tighten the plugs to 20 ft-lbs. Wipe excess silicone from all plugs.
Step-5: Install Rear Cam Plug
Apply a uniform, thin film of silicone sealer to the edge of the cam plug. Apply no silicone to the bore in the block. Don’t use excess sealer; it can work its way into the cam bearing. The plug is shallow and must be carefully aligned when it is driven into the block. Drive the plug in using a large socket (again, about 1/8- inch smaller than the ID of the plug). The edge of the plug should end up 1/32 inch below the machined surface; if it’s much deeper than that, it may contact the rear of the camshaft.
Step-6: Install Cup-Type Oil Gallery Plugs
Install the block on your engine stand. If your machine shop tapped the front of the oil galleries for 1/4- or 3/8-inch plugs, jump to Step 7. The 1/2-inch (type P5) front gallery plugs press fit into the front of the oil galleries. Note: If a .030-inch hole was drilled in one of the plugs (see Step 6, page 84), install that plug in the center oil gallery. No sealer is required on these plugs. Use a 5/16-inch straight-shank punch (no larger), and drive each plug in until it seats against the step in the gallery passages (deepest portion of plug will rest about 1/4 to 3/8 inch below the surface). To be on the safe side, place two or four chisel marks in the edge of each bore to keep the plugs in place. Jump to Step 8.
Step-7: Install Screw-In Gallery Plugs
Install a 1/4- or 3/8-inch pipe plug (depending on the size of the tap used) in each of the main oil galleries. No silicone sealer is required. Note: If a .030-inch hole was drilled in one of the plugs (see Step 6, page 84), install that plug in the center oil gallery. Torque the 1/4-inch plugs to 20 ft-lbs and the 3/8-inch plug to 40 ft-lbs.
Step-8: Install Remaining Block Plugs
Using the same technique as illustrated in Step 4, page 119, install the remaining seven water jacket core plugs in the block. Then, apply silicone sealer to the threads of four 1/4-inch pipe plugs, and install: 1) one plug in the oil gallery passage located in the side of the block, near the oil filter mount; 2) install a second plug in the oil passage at the top rear of the block; and 3) install the final two plugs in the water drain holes near the oil pan rails on each side of the block. Torque all plugs to 20 ft-lbs. (Note: A 1/8-inch pipe plug will be installed in the oil-pressure sender takeoff in Step 63, page 139.)
Step-9: Install Oil Passage Plugs (Important!)
If the cup-type plug in the oil passage under the rear main cap is in place, jump to Step 10. If you removed this plug as instructed during disassembly, install a new plug in the passage now. The plug is the same type used in the front of the oil galleries (1/2-inch, type P5). Apply a little assembly lube to the OD of the plug and drop it into the bore; it will fall about 1 inch down and then stop. Use a 3/8 inch straight-shank punch and drive the plug in another 3/8 inch. Warning: If you drive this plug in more than 1/4 inch, you can restrict engine oil flow. If you leave this plug out, engine oil will not pass through the oil filter.
Step-10: Install Main Plugs
Make sure the main bearings, the block bores, and the caps are spotlessly clean. Install the bearing shells in the block and caps by pressing them firmly in place with your fingers, rocking them back and forth to make sure they are fully seated. Install grooved bearing shells in the block; non-grooved shells in the caps. Bearings for number-1 through number- 4 are interchangeable; number-5 is a wide bearing with a thrust face. When all bearings are firmly seated, proceed to Step 11.
Step-11: Install Neoprene Rear Main Seal
Early smallblocks Used a rope seal for the rear main. When using a rope seal it is important to let the seals soak in engine oil and to really work the seal into the block and cap. Be sure to review the instructions with the new seal. (There are conversion seal kits available also.) If you have a two-piece seal, apply a very thin film of silicone sealer to the backside of both seal halves; install them in the block and main cap (seal “lip” must point inward). We offset the seal halves just a little. Apply a small amount of silicone to the mating edges of the seal and the adjacent block and cap surfaces, as shown. Make sure there’s a shallow “bead” of silicone in the corners of the block (arrows). Now jump to Step 13.
Step-12: Install Crankshaft
Generously lubricate the main bearing shells in the block (and the cam bearings, while they’re still accessible) with assembly lube. If your engine uses a two-piece rear seal, apply a thin coat of assembly lube on the seal surfaces in the block and cap; too much will mix with the silicone sealer on the ends of the seal. Lightly lubricate the seal surface on the crankshaft. Then carefully lower the crank into the block, rotating it slightly as you set it in place.
Step-13: Install Rear Main Cap
Apply assembly lube to the bearing in the rear main cap. Make sure the cap and block mating surfaces are clean, and then install the cap on the block. Tap the cap lightly with a softhead hammer to fully seat it in the block registers. First, refer to Sidebar “Bolt Torquing Techniques” on page 120, for information on lubricating and tightening fasteners, and then lubricate the main cap bolt threads and heads with thread assembly lube. When you are sure that the main cap is properly seated, install the bolts and tighten them finger tight. Then strike the rear of the crank two or three times with a softhead hammer to seat the thrust bearing against the block.
Step-14: Install Remaining Main Caps
Install the remaining main caps, then lubricate and install the remaining main bolts (if you will be using a windage tray, you must install studs in the three center caps). Make sure all the caps are in the correct location and not turned end-for-end. Note: The following torque values are for normal grade-8 fasteners lubricated with petroleum jelly; for other fasteners and lubes, refer to the torque chart on page 155. Torque all the main bolts in 25-ft-lb steps to 75 ft-lbs (65 ft-lbs for outer bolts on 4-bolt caps). With the bolts tight, the crank should turn freely; with rope-type rear seals, about 15 to 25 ft-lbs is required to rotate the crank.
Step-15: One-Piece Rear Main Seal
Perform this step if your engine uses a one-piece rear main seal; otherwise, skip to Step 17. Smear a thin coat of silicone seal on the outside of the seal and install the seal in the appliance with a hammer. Apply a thin film of silicone sealer to one side of the appliance gasket. Set the gasket against the block surface. Apply another film of silicone sealer to the mating surface on the appliance. Finally, lubricate the seal and crankshaft, and carefully position the appliance against the block, making sure the seal does not “fold” backward. Install two short and two long 1/4-inch mounting screws and torque them to 8 ft-lbs.
Step-16: Assemble Floating Pins and Connecting Rods
If your rods and pistons use press-fit pins and are already assembled, skip to Step 18. First, make sure the pin bores in the rods and pistons are well oiled with assembly lube. Then assemble the pistons and rods following the piston and rod orientation rules described in Chapter 7, “Pre-Assembly Fitting,” Steps 16 through 19, on page 105. Use internal snap-ring pliers to install standard Tru-Arc lock rings, while Spirolox should be worked in—one loop at a time—with a small probe or screwdriver. Important: Install Tru-Arcs with the open ends pointing up or down only and make sure the flat side (with the sharpcorners) faces out. Never use old, damaged, or weak lock rings. Make sure all lock rings are fully seated in the grooves in the pistons.
Step-17: Install a Three-Piece Oil Ring
Gently clamp the number-1 piston/rod in a vise with soft jaws.The valve pockets should face away from you (pockets face toward you on even-numbered pistons); the front arrow should always point to the left. Install an oil-ring wavy expander with the ends facing directly away from you. Make sure the ends butt and that they do not overlap. Install the first oil rail by inserting one end just below the expander and wrapping it around the piston. Position the rail gap about 45 degrees to the left. Then install the upper rail and position its gap about 45 degrees to the right. Make sure the expander ends still butt and have not overlapped. If the ring is properly installed, it should slide smoothly in the groove with only slight drag. After you’re finished inspecting the ring, make sure the ring orientation matches the drawing in on page 156.
Step-18: Install Compression Rings
Refer to the Instructions included with your ring set to determine which rings are the second rings and which are the top rings. Also, find out which side of the ring should face up. Most rings have the word “top” or a dimple that should face up, but some are not marked. Don’t guess! Find out, even if it means a call to the ring manufacturer. Now install the second ring. You can expand it with your thumbs, or you can use a ringexpanding tool. Position the gap facing directly toward you. Finally, install the top ring and position its gap facing directly away from you. Note: You can install the top and second rings with your thumbs by just prying the end-gap apart (like an expanding tool) or you can “wrap” the rings around the piston (as shown on the right), similar to installing oil-ring rails.
Step-19: Install Rod Bearings
Make Sure the rod bearing halves, the rod bore, and the cap mating surfaces are spotlessly clean. Install a bearing shell in the rod by pressing it firmly in place with your fingers. Then install another bearing shell in the rod cap.
Step-20: Protect the Crank Journals
Before the rod/piston can be installed, two important steps must be taken to prevent damaging the crank. First, install protective sleeves (these are from Goodson) or short lengths of 3/8-inch rubber fuel hose on both rod bolts. Second, rotate the crank so the rod journal you’re working on (in this case, the number-1 journal) is close to the BDC position.
Step-21: Use a Ring Compressor (Professional Mechanic Tip)
There are two types of ring compressors that are known for ease of use and reliability. The first, and by far the best, is a onepiece taper-boresleeve that is designed to fit a specific-size bore and piston. These are available from Goodson and other tool sources. You can also use a steel-band compressor, and there are also multiwrap band compressors that work, but use care as they are known for breaking rings.
Step-22: Lubricate the Pin/Piston
Before you continue, make sure the pin and pin bores have been thoroughly lubricated with assembly lube. Then lubricate both rod bearing shells and the matching crank journal. Thoroughly lubricate the cylinder bore with engine oil using a clean, lint-free rag. Then, obtain a 6-inch-diameter plastic container and add about 2 inches of engine oil. Dip the piston and ring package into the oil to thoroughly saturate the rings, grooves, and skirts. Remove the piston and let the excess oil drip off.
Step-23: Prepare to Install the Piston
Double-check the end-gap location of all rings (refer to Step 30, on page 127), and then carefully install the ring compressor over the ring package. If you’re using a band-type compressor, compress the rings until the band is snug. If you’re using a taper-bore compressor, slide the compressor over the skirt until the top of the compressor is flush with the top of the piston. Make sure the rings don’t slip out of the grooves as they start to compress.
Step-24: Install the Piston
Slide the rod in the piston (side-to-side) toward the rear of the engine (slide even-numbered rods toward the front of the engine); this gives the maximum clearance to the crank counterweight. Slide the piston into the bore. Make sure that you are installing the correct piston, and that it’s correctly oriented “up” or “down.” Hold the ring compressor seated flat against the deck surface and firmly (but not hard!) tap the piston into the cylinder with a hammer handle. If the piston “hangs up,” STOP! Review Step 25 for help in solving problems.
Step-25: Detect Ring/Piston Installation Problems (Critical Inspection)
If the piston stops as you are tapping it into the bore, look for the following problems: 1) Ring has “popped out” (arrows) between the compressor and the block (start over, holding the compressor firmly against deck surface). 2) Rod or rod bolt has contacted the crank or block (make sure the crank is at BDC and the rod is slid to one side, away from the crank counterweight). 3) Wrong size taper-bore ring compressor. 4) Ring end gaps not set properly (see Step 22 on page 106).
Step-26: Continue Piston Installation
When the ring package has fully entered the bore and the ring compressor has been removed, reach around and hold the big end of the rod while you continue to tap the piston down the bore. As the rod approaches the crank, make sure that the rod properly aligns with the crank journal (you may have to twist the rod slightly or slide it side-to-side). Take your time and carefully tap the piston until the rod bearing seats against the crank journal. (If you are installing a second rod on the crank journal, make sure that the rods don’t contact one another as the second rod approaches the crank.)
Step-27: Install Rod Caps
Before you continue, make sure that: 1) the bearing shell in the rod has not slipped out of position, 2) the numbering stamped in the rod matches the correct installation sequence, and 3) the bearing-tang side of the rod faces away from the engine. Remove the protective sleeves from the rod. If you haven’t already, lubricate the bearing shell in the rod cap with assembly lube. Also, apply thread lube to rod-bolt threads and install the cap and nuts (cap and rod mated tang to tang). Torque the rod bolts in 10-ft-lb steps to the manufacturer’s recommended torque (usually 35 ft-lbs for 11/32-inch bolts, 45 ftlbs for 3/8-inch bolts, and 75 ft-lbs for 7/16-inch bolts).
Step-28: Check Rotating Torque
Check the torque required to rotate the crankshaft after each rod/piston is installed. It should not increase more than about 5 ft-lbs per piston/rod. If the reading is much higher, there are possible problems such as improperly installed rings, pistons in wrong bores, or improper bearing or rotating clearance. Find out what’s wrong and fix it before you continue. With the bottom end fully assembled, it shouldn’t take more than 35 to 40 ft-lbs to rotate the crankshaft. (If your engine uses a rope-type rear main seal, it may take as much as 45 to 55 ft-lbs.)
Step-29: Check Bore Wall
Rotate the crank two turns and position the piston that was just installed at BDC. Inspect the cylinder wall for scratches by feeling the bore with your fingernail. While you may see faint vertical marks—sometimes caused by the top ring end gap—they pose no problem unless you can feel an indentation in the bore with your fingernail. If this happens, remove the rod/piston and look for a broken ring or improperly deburred ring ends. A deep scratch in the bore wall can hurt engine performance; if you find one, you may have to consider taking the block back to your machine shop for inspection and consultation.
Step-30: Ring End-Gap Locations for All Cylinders
Use these optimum ring end-gap locations for all cylinders. Jump back to Step 17 on page 124 and repeat the installation steps for the remaining rods/pistons. Remember: On the even-numbered cylinders (number-2, -4, -6, and -8) make sure to clamp the piston in Step 18 so that the valve notches face toward you while the front arrows point to the left as you install the rings.
Step-31: Final Rod/Main Bolt Torque Check (Torque Fasteners)
After you have installed all pistons and rods, recheck the torque on all rod bolts by starting at the front of the engine (number-1 cylinder) and moving toward the rear, one rod at a time. Similarly, recheck the torque of all main bolts.
Step-32: Install Dipstick Shield
If your engine uses a dipstick shield that extends between the crankshaft counterweights, insert it in the passage in the side of the block from the deck surface end. Use a 3/8-inch punch to gently seat it in the end of the passage; the tube should protrude from the pan rail surface about 21⁄2 inches.
Step-33: Install Oil Pump/Pickup
Before you install the oil pump on the rear main cap, install the driveshaft. If you are using a stock-type driveshaft, use a new plastic sleeve and “snap” it on the driveshaft and pump. If you’re using a high-performance replacement shaft (strongly recommended), a permanently attached steel collar (that does not “snap” together) replaces the plastic sleeve. Turn the pump and driveshaft upside down and lower them onto the rear main cap (no gasket is required between the pump and cap). Lubricate the threads and install the single 23⁄8-inch-long, 7/16- inch attaching bolt. Torque to 65 ft-lbs (see Step 35 first). If your oil pump pickup screen was not installed in Chapter 7, now is the time to bolt it in place.
Step-34: Install Oil Filter Adapter
Set the oil filter adapter in the block. Note: There are three types of oil filter adapters; yours may look different from the one pictured here. The adapter can be installed with the pressure relief valve either facing toward or away from the crankshaft. No gasket is used between the adapter and the block. Locate the two 1/4- or 5/16-inch bolts, lubricate the threads, and torque 1/4-inch bolts to 7 to 8 ft-lbs and 5/16-inch bolts to 13 to 15 ft-lbs.
Step-35: Prepare the Cam for Installation
The following “journal-by-journal” installation and lubrication procedure will keep break-in lube on the cam lobes instead of all over your hands. Rotate the engine right side up. Attach a “handle” to help you support the cam (use the Goodson tool, a 4- inch or longer bolt, or temporarily install the upper sprocket). Lubricate only the two rear cam journals (number-5 and -4) with assembly lube. Then generously lubricate the four rear lobes and the distributor drive gear with cam break-in lube (refer to “Tools and Supplies” on pages 116—118 for information about break-in lube).
Step-36: Install Camshaft
Begin installing the cam, twisting it slightly, and keeping it centered in the bores as you go. Stop when the number-4 journal enters the block. Apply assembly lube to the next cam journal and break-in lube to the next four lobes. Continue installing the cam, journal-by-journal, lubricating as you go (don’t forget to lube the fuel-pump lobe—arrow—just before the cam is fully installed). Try to prevent the cam from “banging” against the bearings as you slide it in; this will keep as much cam break-in lube on the lobes as possible.
Step-37: Install Cam Drive
Both crank keys and the lower sprocket should already have been installed (if not, see Chapter 5, “The Machine Shop,” Step 7, page 84). Rotate the crank so that the keyway points to approximately 2 o’clock, and rotate the cam so that the dowel pins point to approximately 3 o’clock. Lubricate the thrust surfaces of the upper sprocket and block with assembly lube, and saturate the timing chain with engine oil (right). Refer to your Work-A-Long Sheet (and the marks you applied during pre-assembly) and install the correct offset bushing and/or lower keyway configuration (see Chapter 7, “Pre-Assembly Fitting,” Step 32, page 110). Then install the upper sprocket and timing chain. Make sure you align the timing marks and any additional marks applied during pre-assembly fitting.
Step-38: Secure the Upper Sprocket
Before you proceed, take a moment to doublecheck the timing marks (refer to Step 37). When everything is properly aligned, apply Red Loctite to the three attaching bolts and install them in the upper sprocket. Note: If you are using an offset bushing or a cam thrust bumper, you must install a lock plate—this one is from Goodson—to prevent the bushing or bumper from coming out of place. Torque all three bolts to 20 ft-lbs.
Step-39: Install Timing Chain Cover Seal
Smear a thin coat of silicone sealer inside the seal bore in the timing chain cover. Place a piece of wood under the cover for support or position it on the edge of your workbench. Use asmall piece of wood over the seal and drive the seal into the cover. Make sure the seal starts straight in its bore. Continue hammering until the seal is flush with the front of the cover. Before you continue, make sure the cover is free of wood particles or other debris.
Step-40: Install Timing Chain Cover
First, make sure the gasket face of the timing chain cover is flat; tap down any “high spots” with a hammer. Apply a thin film of weatherstrip adhesive to the block face to hold the gasket in position. Slide the gasket over the two alignment dowels and press it against the block. Apply a thin film of silicone to the gasket surface. Install the cover and all the bolts and lock washers (if your cover uses a removable ignition timing mark, refer to your Work-A-Long Sheet for the proper bolt location). Torque all bolts to 6 to 8 ft-lbs. Note: Some small blocks (pre-1961) used an oil slinger inside the front cover.
Step-41: Install Vibration Damper
Install the vibration damper with a special tool. Don’t use the crank center bolt as you could end up pulling thethreads out of the crank. And don’t drive it in with ahammer! Thoroughly lubricate all threads on the installation tool and screw it snugly into the crank. Lubricate the oil seal surface on the damper with assembly lube and position it on the end of the crank. Slide the roller bearing and thrust washer against the damper and begin tightening the nut. Stop when the damper is fully installed.
Step-42: Install Crank Pulley
Refer to your Work-A-Long Sheet to determine whether the pulley-attaching bolts are coarse thread or fine thread (verify they are correct by screwing them into the damper but only with your fingers). Install the lower pulley, making sure that its locating ridge fits into the damper centerbore. Install the three pulley bolts and tighten them to 30 ft-lbs. Finally, install and tighten the centerbolt to 60 ft-lbs (use a little Blue Loctite on all fasteners).
Step-43: Establish TDC Mark Accuracy
Move the number-1 piston down the bore (turn the crank using the crank centerbolt) and attach your TDC stop tool. Slowly turn the crank clockwise until the piston contacts the stop; mark this point on your damper. Turn the crank counterclockwise until the piston again stops; mark this point. True TDC lies exactly halfway between the two marks (use a ruler or dividers to find midpoint). We installed a timing tape from MSD on our TDC mark. This tape will also help us set the mechanical advance in the distributor. To determine which size tape you require, measure the diameter of the balancer and choose the corresponding tape.
Step-44: Prepare to Install Heads
Both head-alignment dowels in each deck surface should be installed (see Chapter 5, “The Machine Shop,” Step 2, page 82). Steel-shim head gaskets: A variety of techniques are used. Some experts apply a very thin film of silicone sealant around the bolt and water holes (if you apply too much it will ooze out and close off small water passages). Others spray or coat the gaskets with heatresistant aluminum paint. Composition gaskets: Most head gasket manufacturers (including Fel-Pro and SCE) strongly recommend that their gaskets be installed dry, without any additional sealant whatsoever. Whatever method you use, make sure the head and deck surfaces are perfectly flat and clean.
Step-45: Install Gaskets and Heads
Install a head gasket on the left deck surface (look for any orientation marks, such as “TOP” or “TOWARD HEAD”; on Fel-Pro gaskets, the “Fel-Pro” name faces up—arrow). Steel-shim gaskets should be installed with the sealing ridges up. Firmly lock the wheels on your engine stand. Install the left cylinder head. Head bolts enter the water jackets and require a special installation technique to prevent water leaks into the engine. Apply silicone sealant or ARP thread sealant to the first 1/2 inch of the threads on each head bolt. Then install all 17 bolts: 8 short along the bottom, 2 medium on each end of the head, and 7 long in the remaining holes. Repeat this procedure for the right cylinder head.
Step-46: Torque Bolts in Proper Sequence
Make sure the cylinder heads are installed on the correct sides (you stamped an identification mark on the front of each head during disassembly). Following the helical tightening sequence illustrated in the diagram, torque all bolts to 25 ft-lbs. Then repeat the process in 20-ft-lb steps until you reach the full 65-ft-lb torque. After all bolts in both heads are tight, check each bolt one final time. Make absolutely sure you haven’t missed any!
Step-47: Install Lifters and Pushrods
If you are Reinstalling used lifters, the same lifter must be returned to its matching bore. Generously lubricate the cam contact surface with break-in lube. Apply assembly lube to the outside diameter of the lifter and insert it in the block. Using the same technique, install the remaining 15 lifters. Then apply assembly lube to the pushrod cup in each lifter. Now, install all 16 pushrods, making sure they are fully seated in the lifters. Finally, apply assembly lube to the pushrods and guide slots or guideplate contact points in the heads.
Step-48: Lubricating and Installing Ball-Pivot Rocker Arms
If you are reinstalling used rocker arms, the same rocker and matching pivot ball must be returned to its original location. Apply assembly lube to the pushrod cup and valve tip contact points. Squirt a little more lube on the rocker arm surfaces that contact the valves and pushrods, and then slip the rockers over the studs. Apply lube into the rocker-pivot sockets. Then lubricate and install all pivot balls. Slide them down over the studs until they seat in the rocker arms.
Step-49: Install Rocker Arm Locknuts
Lubricate the threads on all the studs with assembly lube. If you are installing self-locking nuts (they should be new; old nuts may not stay tight) lubricate the threads, screw the nuts on until they are hard to turn, and then tighten them about three additional turns. If you are installing nuts that lock with setscrews, lube the threads and screw on the nuts until they just begin to tighten. Repeat this lubrication/installation procedure for the remaining 15 rocker arm nuts.
Step-50: Prepare for Valve Adjustment
Rotate the crank clockwise so the number-1 piston is at TDC on the compression stroke (intake and exhaust lifters on cylinder number-1 are on the base circle; those on cylinder number-6 are both slightly raised in overlap). To make your job easier and less error-prone, mark the intake- and exhaust-valve positions on the intake surfaces of both heads, as shown. By using the chart in Step 51, you can set all 16 valves by only rotating the engine two full turns. This is important because the more you rotate the engine with the valvetrain installed (before engine fire-up), the more likely flat-tappet camshafts may be damaged.
Step-51: Initial Valve Adjustment
Mark your vibration damper in 45-degree increments (8 marks nearly equally spaced) starting at TDC, as shown. With the crank at TDC, set the correct clearance on the number-8 exhaust valve. A rule of thumb for hydraulic lifters is to rotate the pushrod as you tighten the rocker arm nut. When you begin to feel pressure against the pushrod, tighten the rocker nut another 1/8 to 1/4 turn. Be sure to review your cam manufacturer’s lash specifications. Now turn the crank 45 degrees (1/8 turn) clockwise and, following the valve adjustment chart, set number-2 intake. Continue the procedure and in nearly two full turns you will set all 16 valves. After all valves have been set, rotate the crank 45 degrees one last time to bring cylinder number-1 back to TDC on the firing stroke. Leave the crank in this position and do not rotate it any farther.
Step-52: Prepare for Oil Pan Installation
Rotate the engine bottom side up (the engine is now quite heavy so be very careful). There are three basic types of pan gaskets: 1) 1955-1975 use 1/4-inch rubber end gaskets (lower arrow); 2) 1976-1985 use thicker 3/8-inch rubber end gaskets (upper arrow); and 3) 1986 and later use a one-piece pan gasket that uses integral 3/8-inch-thick front and rear seals. You can now also get a one-piece pan gasket for the 1976-1985 systems. If you are uncertain whether your engine uses thick or thin end gaskets, measure the distance from the pan rail to the lowest point on the front pan lip and compare it with the above diagram. Finally, determine the proper orientation of the long pan-rail gaskets, and then mark “F” or “FRONT” on them with a felt-tip pen.
Step-53: Begin Oil Pan Installation
First, wipe off any oil from the pan rails and front cover and rear main-cap grooves. Then smear a thin layer of weather-strip adhesive or silicone on the block rails and gaskets. When the gasket adhesive has set up (takes about 3 minutes), make sure to orient the long gaskets properly (“F” or “FRONT” forward) then press them against the block. Remove any excess silicone sealer that may have squeezed out of the rear main cap. Apply a small bead of silicone along the full length of the end-gasket grooves in the timing cover and rear main cap.
Step-54: Continue Oil Pan Installation
Apply four small “blobs” of silicone sealer between the rubber end gaskets and the pan rail gaskets. Then press the rubber gaskets in place in the front cover and rear main cap grooves, overlapping the ends onto the rail gaskets, as shown.
Step-55: Complete Oil Pan Installation
Next, apply a small continuous bead of silicone sealer on top of both the rubber end gaskets and the rail gaskets (every surface that will contact the pan). Lower the pan onto the block and install four 5/16- inch bolts, two at each end of the pan; tighten finger tight. Install the remaining 14 1/4-inch bolts and star lockwashers. Tighten all bolts in several increasing stages; final torque is 8 to 10 ft-lbs for the larger bolts and 6 to 7 ft-lbs for the smaller bolts. As the gaskets compress, the bolts will loosen. Retorque all fasteners until they remain tight. Do not overtighten and cause the gasket to squish out of position.
Step-56: Install the Starter
The small-block that we’ve rebuilt is equipped with a 153-tooth flexplate, compared to the 168-tooth model that was originally installed. This means a different starter is required. We went with a gear-reduction starter from Powermaster. These models are much smaller and stronger than a traditional starter. Once the starter is installed, check the mesh between the starter’s pinion gear and the flexplate. When engaged, there should be .020- to .030 inch between the valley of the starter gear and the tip of the flexplate tooth. You can check this with a standard paperclip. Check the clearance in at least three positions.
Step-57: Install Mounts/Brackets
Refer to your Work-A-Long Sheet (and photos taken during disassembly) for this step. First, install the starter and torque the bolts to 35 ft-lbs. Note: Some installations require installing the starter after the engine is replaced in the vehicle. Next, locate the left and right motor mounts or mounting brackets. They should have been identified with a stamp (remember, the engine is upside down and “right” and “left” appear switched). Install the brackets/mounts and tighten to 35 ft-lbs.
Step-58: Install Fuel Pump Pushrod/Support Plate
Rotate the engine so the fuel pump pushrod bore is level. Lubricate each end of the fuel pump pushrod with break-in lube. Squirt some assembly lube into the pushrod bore, then slide the rod into the block. You can lock the rod in position by gently installing a 11⁄4-inch-long bolt through the second hole from the bottom of the block. With the rod held in place, apply a thin film of weather-strip adhesive on the gasket surface of the block, then place the gasket in position. Apply a thin film of silicone on the gasket. Position the pump support plate and install the two lower 1/4-inch bolts. Carefully line up the two larger holes and tighten the small bolts to 8 ft-lbs.
Step-59: Install Fuel Pump
If the fuel pump won’t be in the way during engine installation, install the pump now. Apply a thin film of silicone sealer to both sides of the fuel pump gasket, install the pump, and tighten the two bolts to 30 ft-lbs. Don’t forget to remove the long bolt you installed to hold the pump rod in place! Also, you’ll need to install a short bolt with a bit of silicone sealer on the threads to prevent engine oil from leaking out of the hole.
Step-60: Install Dipstick Tube
If you are installing a new dipstick, it will fit snugly in the block. Apply a little silicone sealant to the tube surface. Then insert a 5/16-inch bolt into the tube and tap the bolt to seat the tube in the block. If the tube fits loosely, apply weather-strip adhesive to the tube, press it in place, and let the adhesive set up. Note: You may have to reposition the tube later to provide clearance for the exhaust manifold, spark plugs, etc. Install the new oil filter. We recommend pouring half a quart of oil into the filter to help prime the engine quickly. Spread some of the new oil on the O-ring seal and spin the filter onto the block.
Step-61: Pre-Oil Engine
Before you rotate the engine right-side up, install a new oil filter, and make sure the drain plug in the pan is tight. With the engine upright, pour about 4 quarts of oil into the pan through the distributor hole (minimizes “washing” break-in lube off the cam). Install a pre-oiling tool, which can even be an old distributor shaft, and connect a 100-psi pressure gauge to the oil gallery takeoff at the rear or front of the block. Install a 1/8-inch pipe plug in the other, unused, pressure takeoff. Use an electric drill in clockwise rotation to turn the pump. Pressurize the system for about 30 seconds. Continue with Step 62.
Step-62: Continue Engine Pre-Oiling
The entire valvetrain will usually pre-oil with the crank in one position. However, if a rocker or two refuses to oil, turn the crank a half turn and run the drill another 30 seconds. If all is right with the valvetrain, every rocker will eventually receive oil. When all rockers have oiled, return the crank to TDC with the number-1 cylinder firing (intake and exhaust lifters on cylinder number-1 on the base circle). Remove the pre-oiling tool, and remember, don’t turn the engine upside down again!
Step-63: Prepare to Install Intake Manifold
You can install the manifold on the front and rear valley rails using two methods: 1) use rubber gaskets supplied in your rebuild kit, or 2) use a bead of silicone adhesive. If you use the rubber gaskets, apply a layer of weather-strip adhesive to the front and rear valley rails on the block. Position the correct gaskets on each rail and let the adhesive set up. If you decide to use silicone (preferred method), lay a 1/4-inch-diameter bead of silicone along the full length of each gasket rail. Regardless of which method you use, apply a thin film of silicone sealant to the water passage holes at each end of both heads (use none around the intake ports). Refer to your Work-Along Sheet or the instructions with your gasket package to determine the proper heat-rise passage configuration. Many engines use a restricted passage (see arrow in Step 64) on the left (as viewed from the driver’s seat) and an open passage on the right.
Step-64: Begin Manifold Installation
We used a set of SCE gaskets for the intake because of their embossed seal around the intake runners. Position the intake gaskets on the heads and apply another thin layer of silicone around the water passages. If you are using rubber valley-rail gaskets, make sure the gaskets properly interlock with the valley-rail gaskets (arrow). Apply a bead of silicone sealer along each end-rail gasket, and apply a little extra “blob” in the corners, where the rubber and composite gaskets meet. If your intake manifold uses a shield to cover the heat-riser passage, reinstall it now (apply a drop of Red Loctite to the threads of each screw).
Step-65: Complete Manifold Installation
Now, carefully position and lower the intake manifold onto the engine; don’t slide it around or you may dislodge the gaskets. Install all bolts (must be no longer than 11⁄4 inches or some will interfere with the pushrods!). We used a set of ARP’s 12-point intake bolts. Following the torque-sequence drawing, tighten the bolts in 5-ft-lb steps to 30 to 35 ft-lbs. As the gaskets compress, the bolts will loosen slightly. Continue retorquing until fasteners remain tight.
Step-66: Install Water Pump
Apply a thin film of silicone sealant to the water passages on the block. Position the gaskets and then apply a thin film of sealant to the gasket surfaces. Position the water pump and install the appropriate bolts and brackets; refer to your Work-Along Sheet and the photos you took during disassembly for help in locating and attaching accessory-mounting brackets. Note: The lower-right bolt (as viewed from the front of the engine) enters a water jacket and should have silicone sealant or ARP thread sealant applied to the thread. Torque all bolts to 30 ft-lbs.
Step-67: Install Thermostat/Housing
Install the thermostat in the intake manifold with the temperature bulb pointed down (opening temperature is usually stamped on it). Apply a thin film of silicone sealant or gasket adhesive to the manifold surface, set the gasket in place, then apply another thin film of silicone to the gasket. Install the thermostat housing and bolts (refer to your disassembly photos for proper bolt types) and torque to 30 ft-lbs.
Step-68: Installation Considerations (Important!)
The remaining steps in this chapter install components and accessories that, if performed now, may make installing the engine in your vehicle more difficult. Because of the virtually unlimited possibilities, we suggest only that you reinstall the engine in the same state of assembly as when it was removed. Perform the balance of assembly after the engine is installed. Make sure that any open access holes, such as spark plugs, carburetor, water inlet and outlet, distributor, exhaust ports, etc., are covered with duct tape during engine installation. This will keep out dust and errant nuts and bolts.
Step-69: Install Exhaust Manifold
Apply anti-seize to the exhaust-manifold bolt threads. Then attach an exhaust manifold (make sure it’s the correct side—check your marks) with only two outside bolts (leave them loose). Slide a gasket between the manifold and the head (metal side of composition gasket goes toward manifold). Start all the remaining bolts with your fingers, then tighten and torque all bolts to 20 ft-lbs. Finally, increase the tightness of the four inside bolts to 30 ft-lbs. Repeat this process for the other manifold. If your vehicle uses a smog pump, apply anti-seize to the injector tube fittings, then install and tighten both injector lines.
Step-70: Crank Positioned Correctly? ( Important!)
The crank must be set on exactly TDC of the compression stroke for cylinder number-1. If the crank has been rotated since Step 53 on page 136 (or you’re not sure that it’s positioned correctly), remove the left valve cover, and rotate the engine clockwise until the number-1 exhaust valve opens fully then almost completely closes. Check the mark on the damper; it should be close to TDC. Rotate the crank one more revolution clockwise until it again comes to exactly TDC. At this position, both intake and exhaust valves are closed and the number-1 cylinder is at TDC, just at the ignition point. Reinstall the valve cover.
Step-71: Prepare to Install the Distributor
Apply a little gasket adhesive to the bottom of the distributor and to one side of the gasket, and after it has set up for a minute or so, press the paper gasket in place. Next, rotate the oil pump shaft with a screwdriver until the notch points to the number-7 intake valve (or approximately the 10 o’clock position). Before you install the distributor, liberally apply the break-in lube on the gear. Have the rotor installed before you drop the distributor in place.
Step-72: Install the Distributor
As you lower the distributor housing into the engine, remember that it will engage to the helical gear on the cam, which will turn the rotor about 45 degrees clockwise. Many installations position the rotor pointing directly forward for a good starting point. Remember, you can make nearly any cap terminal number one. If the oil pump drive does not engage, the housing will not drop down into position (as shown). Wiggle the housing and if it doesn’t drop into position, remove the distributor, rotate the pump drive slightly with a long screwdriver, and try it again. When the housing drops against the manifold, note the position of the rotor. When you install the distributor cap, the terminal that the rotor points toward is number-1. Install the distributor hold down clamp.
Step-73: Install Ignition Wires/Spark Plugs
Align the rotor with a mark on the engine to determine where the number-1 will be (it is okay to rotate the distributor housing to position the vacuum advance where you want it). Once you establish which terminal will be number-1, mark the housing. Next, install the distributor cap and note which terminal on the cap aligns with the rotor terminal. Now, moving in a clockwise rotation install the spark plug wires beginning with number-1 and the following in this order; -8, -4, -3, -6, -5, -7, and -2 (the firing order of a V-8 Chevy). Route the wires through clips and supports so that they stay clear of hot exhaust manifolds. Finally, gap the spark plugs to the factory recommended spec, then install and torque them to 25 ft-lbs.
Step-74: Install Carburetor
The carburetor you install should be in new, like-new, or just-rebuilt condition. Install a fresh base gasket on the intake manifold. The best gaskets are made from thick, heat-insulating material, with hard inserts at each bolt hole. The non-compressible inserts prevent distortion of the throttle plate, a common cause of throttle sticking and fuel/air leaks. Install the carburetor and torque the fasteners to 7 to 8 ft-lbs.
Step-75: Install Remaining Topside Accessories
Install topside accessories, including the choke bi-metal spring and housing, the oil pressure sender, vacuum takeoff fittings, EGR valve, and all connecting vacuum lines. Install a new rubber grommet in the (usually LEFT) valve cover and press in a new or clean PCV valve. Install a new 3/8-inch hose between the PCV valve and the carburetor (or a custom bent one as shown). Also, install a length of vacuum line between the ported vacuum takeoff on the carburetor to the vacuum advance canister on the distributor. Refer to your Work-A-Long Sheet and disassembly photos to make sure you’ve properly reinstalled all components. If you choose, you can now also install remaining front-mounted accessories, including the air conditioning compressor, alternator, AIR pump, power steering pump, and all pulleys and support brackets. Install all remaining hoses, including AIR-injection hoses (if so equipped) and the fuel line to the carburetor (make sure you install a new fuel line).
Step-76: Install Flywheel or Flexplate
Remove the engine from its stand with your cherry picker and install the flywheel or flexplate on the crank flange. Apply Blue Loctite to the bolt threads and install all six bolts and star-type lockwashers. Torque the bolts to 60 ft-lbs. To prevent the engine from turning, insert a screwdriver between the ring gear and starter. Note: If you are installing a flywheel, be sure that you have installed a new pilot bushing in the crankshaft. Also, keep all oil and grease off the flywheel and clutch surfaces.
Step-77: Double-Check Everything
Now’s the time to look over your notes, photos, and even reread the assembly steps in this chapter to make sure nothing was overlooked. Examine your engine carefully and compare it with the photos and notes you made during disassembly. Make sure all vacuum hoses and wires are reconnected properly. Go over Steps 69 through 74 to make certain that the ignition system is properly timed so the engine will start up quickly. Finally, double-check the oil level and make sure the drain plug in the pan is tight. This completes final assembly.
Written by Larry Schrieb and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks