Congratulations! Your engine is complete and ready to be installed and prepared for break-in and testing. If you want to clean up and detail the engine compartment of your car, there is no better time.
Installing the Engine
Before you begin, remember that maneuvering a heavy engine into a tight engine compartment often requires more hands and muscle than most of us can muster on our own. If you can persuade a friend or two to help out, the job will be a lot easier. Before you get started, review Sidebar “Shop Safety,” on page 28. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of completing your engine project. Never take chances or become impatient. Keep your mind focused, and if you feel yourself starting to rush, take a break for a few minutes.
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:
SHARE THIS ARTICLE: Please feel free to share this post on Facebook / Twitter / Google+ or any automotive Forums or blogs you read. You can use the social sharing buttons to the left, or copy and paste the website link: https://www.chevydiy.com/installation-and-break-in-guide-how-to-build-chevy-small-block-engines/
While the installation is usually straightforward, there are some details to keep in mind. If you are re-installing an engine into the chassis from which it was removed, the job will be a lot less difficult if you have detailed notes, sketches, and/or photos to refresh your memory. It may be several days, weeks, or even months since you removed the engine, and it’s easy to get some details confused—especially in late-model engine compartments that may be overflowing with electronics and complex emissions systems.
The first step is to obtain a method of lifting the engine into the chassis. The most common technique is to use a “cherry picker” hoist. If you rent one, make sure that the hoist is rated to lift at least 750 pounds or, even better, 1,000 pounds. Most V-8 engines weigh at least 600 pounds, often more, and an “overrated” lift will provide an added measure of safety. It is also important that the lift arm—and the engine suspended beneath it—will rise high enough to clear the fenders (or other obstacles). This is, incidentally, another important consideration when you purchase a hoist. The maximum lift-over height will also depend on the type of apparatus used to connect the engine to the hoist. Inexpensive methods of “grasping” the engine include a simple length of chain about 24 inches long, or an “attaching point” bolted to the intake manifold in place of the carb. Another common type is simply a steel cable (or chain) with a moveable loop for attaching to the hoist. These engine “chains” are available from Goodson. A third type—the handiest and, unfortunately, the most expensive—has a long adjusting screw to move the attaching point back and forth. This allows the user to easily vary the balance point and/or tilt the engine when it is lowered into place. This type of lift adapter is available at some rental and tool stores; it is also available from Goodson.
In some cases it may be better to leave the carburetor and distributor out of the engine during the installation. A distributor cap can easily get broken or throttle linkage can get tweaked during the process. If you do remove them, be sure to cover the holes in your clean, new engine with duct tape to avoid dropping dirt grime or other debris inside. Also, before you remove the distributor, note the rotor’s position, as well as the housing in the block.
Once the engine is lowered into the engine compartment, it can be carefully positioned on the engine mounts. In most cases, the cushion mounts should be bolted to the engine before it is lowered into place. When the cushion mounts on the engine interlock with the chassis, the engine mount through-bolts can be slipped in place and tightened. Some engines, particularly on trucks, have an adaptor bracket attached to the engine. The cushion mounts are bolted to the chassis before the engine is lowered into place (see Step 57, page 137). Then the mounts are attached to the engine adaptor brackets when the engine is installed.
The engine can be installed with the transmission attached or still in the car. If you choose to install them together, be sure that the cherry picker can handle the extra weight, and be prepared to play with angles as you lower the drivetrain into the engine bay. If they are separated, make sure the clutch/flywheel/flexplate are attached to the engine (or that the torque converter—with a new front seal—is installed in the automatic transmission) before the engine is lowered into place. Whatever the case, once the engine is in position, the rear of the engine can be attached to the transmission, or the rear motor mount (on the transmission tailshaft) can be bolted down.
With the engine and transmission in the chassis, the driveshaft, shift and clutch linkage, and exhaust system can be attached. If no modifications have been made or specialty equipment used, these steps are simply the reverse of disassembly procedures. However, when the engine or auxiliary systems have been modified, you may have to fabricate or improvise some of the installation procedures. Most of these difficulties can be overcome with patience, careful thought, and common mechanical techniques, but in some cases—exhaust system modifications being the most common—the chassis may have to be transported to a specialty shop to have the work completed. If this is a possibility, or a certainty, check the rental yards to locate a trailer or towing dolly that can be used to transport the chassis.
The external accessories—alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor, AIR pump, etc.—can now be bolted into place and fitted with new drive belts (check your notes). Finally, the electrical, coolant, and fuel connections can be completed As the block fills, pockets of trapped air can sometimes overheat and damage new components. Removing one of the manifold plugs or sensors will help push air out of the engine as the water fills. Once the water level tops off, reinstall the plug, hose, or sensor.
Here’s a tip: don’t add antifreeze yet. Wait until the engine has been running long enough for you to make sure that there are no water leaks or other engine problems that might require draining the cooling system (usually a few hours or about 100 miles).
Here’s another tip: if you have installed a new set of aluminum heads, you may want to add a can of stop-leak to the cooling system. New aluminum castings sometimes “sweat” through miniscule pores in the casting for a short period of time.
If it has been a while since you first pre-lubed your engine, you may want to remove the distributor and spin the oil pump over again. Before you pull the distributor, mark its position in the engine and pay attention to where the rotor is positioned.
Starting Your New Engine
The time has come to get your new engine fired up for the first time. Appropriate initial startup of is imperative to its performance and longevity. The first 20 to 30 minutes is when the rings seat in the cylinder bores and the cam and lifters all break-in together. It is important to be prepared to fire up the engine and let it run for at least 30 minutes.
Filling the cooling system in a “dry” engine requires special attention.
Step-by-Step Engine Installation
Step-1: Install New Motor Mounts (if applicable)
Since we were installing a small-block in place of an inline 6-cylinder, we needed new engine mounts. YearOne Restoration Products had the set of smallblock mounts we needed for our 1964 Chevelle. The original mount, on the left, is much taller and positioned much more different than the standard small-block.
Step-2: Secure Engine Mount Bolts
The new engine mounts bolted right in place on the chassis, although getting to the bottom nuts in the chassis took a little articulation.
Step-3: Gather Hardware
This is the hardware you need to install the engine. Two long engine-mount bolts, three torque-converter-toflexplate bolts, and five bell-housing bolts.
Step-4: Install Torque Converter
Whether your transmission is already in the car or you plan to connect it to the engine out of the car, you’ll need to install the torque converter. It is imperative that the converter slide onto the transmission input shaft all the way. There are several steps on the shaft that the converter needs to slide over. If not, the converter bolts or the flexplate will not align properly. Note that we have a floor jack under the transmission to help angle it properly.
Step-5: Secure Engine to Hoist
Mount a chain to the engine using the holes on the front and back of the cylinder head. It is best to position the engine so the rear of the engine is slightly lower than the front. This generally helps out when you’re lowering the engine into position with the transmission. It is also recommended to install an old set of spark plugs because one or two will get broken during the install.
Step-6: Lower Engine Into Car
It is best to have a couple sets of eyes when lowering the engine into the bay. Having a pal over to control the cherry picker is a huge help. Use extreme caution and do not reach or guide in the engine by reaching below the engine! Also use care and keep an eye on other wires and hoses as the engine is lowered into position.
Step-7: Align Transmission
As the engine gets closer to being in position, you’ll need to align the transmission. The engine has two locating dowels that help in making the big connection. As the engine and transmission align, it’s a good idea to install one of the bell housing bolts and start the threads—don’t tighten it, just start the threads to hold it steady. This will give you the opportunity to start a couple other bolts.
Step-8: Align Motor Mount Bolt Holes
With the Transmission loosely connected, align the motor mounts. Sometimes you may need to use a screwdriver to wiggle into the mounts and negotiate the bolt holes to align. Once in place, install the mount bolts on both sides.
Step-9: Align Torque Converter and Flexplate
With the bellhousing bolts installed and the mount bolts in place, crawl under the car and align the torque converter with the flexplate. Be sure that the converter bolts are the correct ones for your converter (some are fine thread, some coarse thread, some may be metric). Install all three bolts (Blue Loctite is recommended) and tighten them at even intervals with a final torque to the manufacturer’s specs.
Step-10: Install Radiator
Next up is the radiator and cooling system. If you’re going to a bigger engine, or one with more power, now would be a good time to consider an updated radiator. Use care when installing the radiator as not to damage the fins. Also, if you’re using an automatic transmission, connect the cooler lines at this time.
Step-11: Install Hoses and Clamps
With your new engine, it’s time to install new hoses and clamps. To aid in installation of the hoses, apply a small bead of grease to the inside of the hose. This will help the hose slide over the inlet and even add to the sealing of the connection.
Step-12: Install Carburetor, Lines and Linkage
Remove the duct tape, install the new gasket, and position the carburetor. Connect the fuel line from the pump to the carb. If you changed carburetors, make sure to route the new line away from any moving parts (fan) and secure it away from edges and high heat sources. We used a braided line from Edelbrock that features a built-in filter and routes from the carb to the fuel pump. Also, connect the throttle linkage and return spring making sure it moves freely and returns to its closed position.
Step-13: Install Fan and Shroud
Cooling your new engine is important—very important. Using the proper clutch fan and shroud is imperative to keeping the engine from overheating. If space is an issue, or if you are looking to upgrade the system, moving to an electric fan is a popular choice. Companies such as Be Cool offer direct-fit radiator fan kits for a variety of applications. This kit is supplied with dual fans and a fan controller. They’re easy to wire and very effective in keeping your engine in its proper operating temperature range.
Step-14: Install Radiator
This wiring diagram shows many of the common electrical connections you need to make to the engine. This diagram from Painless Performance Products is a helpful tool in checking off your starter, ignition, distributor, and charging system.
Step-15: Double Check!
Our engine is getting close to firing up for the first time. This is also a time to step back and review all of your steps and pay attention to the details. Are all of the hoses connected? Are the brackets installed and the belts tightened? Check the gauge connections and fuel lines again. In short, take your time to ensure the engine is ready to go!
Step-16: Check Fluids
Confirm that your engine is topped with coolant mixture and you have more standing by. Generally, an engine will accept more coolant once the engine fires up and the fluid is rotated throughout. Also, check the fuel lines and oil level. We used Royal Purple’s break-in oil, a nonsynthetic oil that is formulated to assist in proper ring sealing and engine break-in. It also contains important additives and high levels of zinc and phosphorous to optimize longevity in flat-tappet engines.
Step-17: Check Spark Plugs and Wires
Make sure all of the spark plug wires are connected to the plugs, and that they’re positioned away from engine heat sources. Trace the wires to the distributor cap and check the position and firing sequence one more time (1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2).
Step-18: Check Throttle Linkage
Make sure the throttle linkage and return spring are connected and move smoothly with no binding. At initial startup, you’ll need to adjust the linkage to hold the RPM in the 2,300 range for over 20 minutes.
Step-19: Pour Fuel Into Carburetor (if applicable)
If your vehicle has an electric fuel pump or electronic fuel injection, jump to Step 20. Before you start the engine, make sure there is fuel in the carburetor. Don’t crank over the engine just to fill the carburetor, you could damage the camshaft before the carburetor is filled. A better alternative is to pour a small amount of clean gasoline directly into the carburetor. Using a “lipped” cup and/or a small funnel, carefully pour about 2 to 4 ounces of fuel into the primary bowl vent. This should be enough fuel to keep the engine running for several seconds—plenty of time for the fuel pump to take over and fill the carburetor.
Step-20: Initial Startup
Once the engine fires bring it up to 2,000 to 2,500 rpm immediately (if it didn’t fire, see Step 21). Be sure to confirm that there is ample oil pressure and be alert for fuel leaks. Adjust the idle stop and don’t let the RPM drop during these first 20 to 30 minutes. This higher RPM is required to properly break-in the cam and lifters. While the engine is running, watch for leaks, smoke, and oil and temperature pressures. Having an extra set of hands and eyes is a good idea during the initial startup.
Step-21: What To Do If It Won’t Start (Professional Mechanic Tip)
If your engine won’t start, or spits and backfires, don’t continue cranking. Find out what’swrong before you continue; when everything is right, most engines will start after only 1 or 2 seconds of cranking. The first thing to check is the ignition system. If you installed a capacitive discharge ignition control like an MSD 6A or Crane HI6, follow their troubleshooting procedure to check for spark. If you used a stock-style distributor and ignition, check to make sure that there are 12 volts on the coil’s positive terminal. You can then remove the coil wire at the distributor and hold it about 1/4 inch from a grounded object. Crank the engine; you should see an intense blue-orange spark jump from the wire. If there is no spark, recheck ignition timing then look into the fuel system.
Step-22: On-the-Road Break-In
When the engine has run about 20 to 30 minutes, back off the idle speed to about 500 to 700 rpm. Take another minute to check everything over one last time. Make sure there are no fuel, oil, or water leaks. Make sure no electrical wiring or vacuum hoses are near the hot exhaust system. Finally, shut the engine off and recheck the oil and water levels. When everything looks good, it’s time to take your new engine out for a test drive. Don’t plan on any all-out power blasts. For the first 200 to 300 miles, pick destinations that will keep you out of stop-and-go traffic. Don’t “baby” the engine; drive normally, keeping peak engine speed below 4,000 rpm. After your initial break-in drive, drain the cooling system and add the correct mix of antifreeze. After about 500 miles, change the oil and the filter.
Written by Larry Schrieb and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks