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Username Post: Rebuild a Chevy 350 or buy a crate engine?        (Topic#325239)
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-04-15 07:16 AM - Post#2552123    

I've been getting the fire hose treatment from all the threads and links, a lot of information to go over..
I've got a 1970 Monte Carlo with a 350 in it, auto transmission, open rear end with highway gears, 2.73. I have a pretty bad oil leak either from the pan or rear main. My plan was to change the pan gasket first and see if that solves my leak but I'll still need to lift the engine to get the pan off.
With this in mind, rebuilding thoughts started creeping in. I have a friend that has a used crate engine, 350/260HP, that he has in a '74 El Camino with about 28K miles, and might consider selling it to me if I go that route.
I have yet to rebuild an engine and know very little about matching components together so everything functions as efficiently as it can, that's one reason why a crate engine is a thought.
I'm not afraid to rebuild an engine, it just may take a while.
What I'm looking for is a street car, no strip, something that runs strong, will smoke the tires when I want and is fun. Maybe drive to work every now and then or run in town with it. At some point I'd like to run around 3.30 gears when I can find a good rear end.
I have a torn down 350 block in my garage and the 350 in the car, so a few options.
Any suggestions on a path?



 




CowboyTrukr 
"7th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 3908
CowboyTrukr
Loc: Salt Lake City
Reg: 06-20-09
06-04-15 07:46 AM - Post#2552127    
    In response to Droff

Welcome to ChevyTalk.

The driving force here will be your budget. If you want it quickly and the engine your friend has is in good shape, my gut reaction would be to go that route if the price is fair.

The reason I suggest that is you can get it running over a weekend and be on your way. It gives you some flexibility to glean wisdom from the folks here about what to do with the one you have on the bench.

On the other hand, if you're not in a hurry to get the leaker fixed, then making yourself a nice package out of the bench block could be a lot of fun. You will have some significant machine shop expense to get the block into shape before assembly.

The sky is the limit on where you can go with the core. You can spend a lot of money very quickly if you're not careful. Take a look at the threads at the top of the forum. Grumpyvette has compiled a wealth of information. There are a number of very skilled builders here who can provide you with ideas and options to consider as you set your budget.

Greg

Greg

'95 K1500 Z71 EC Short Step 5.7L+0.040/NV3500
'00 Explorer XLT 4.0 V6 Auto
'94 K2500 5.7 NV4500 ECLB - SOLD

"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Sir Edmund Burke


 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-04-15 09:00 AM - Post#2552137    
    In response to CowboyTrukr

Budget is a concern, I'm just unsure what the cost of block and head machine work would run, I haven't asked those questions yet.
The engine in the car was supposedly rebuilt about 25K miles ago, I don't know really how well it runs, it's been parked while I've done some work on it and now the leak problem. I did drive it 170 miles to get her home, lost brakes once or twice but otherwise, nothing significant.
Probably the least expensive route is to get the oil leak fixed, even if the rear main, and then drive it while I put the money into other things - interior, body, electrical.....



 
Tri5man 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3546
Tri5man
Loc: Possums Crotch, KY
Reg: 06-26-07
06-04-15 09:05 AM - Post#2552138    
    In response to Droff

Its a no brainer. Why mess with an engine you know nothing about? Too many horror stories about machine shop screw ups for me. I'd buy the 290 HP Crate Motor for 2K. It even comes with a warranty.

Gary



 
Rick Dorion 
"4th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 246
Rick Dorion
Loc: Ulster County, NY
Reg: 09-21-12
06-04-15 09:40 AM - Post#2552146    
    In response to Tri5man

With the punch list you outlined, I'd fix the leak and work on the other items first like brakes and suspension.

1967 Belair - perfect floor, frame and pinchwelds. Oh boy.


 
rumrumm 
"17th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 2070
rumrumm
Loc: Macomb, IL
Reg: 10-18-01
06-04-15 09:46 AM - Post#2552148    
    In response to Rick Dorion

X2.

Lynn

"There's no 12-step program for stupid."


383 sbc, Eagle, AFR, SRP, CompCams, Edelbrock, FiTECH. Dyno #'s: 450 hp @ 5700, 468 ft. lbs. torque @ 4300.

http://photo.net/photos/Lynn%20Johanso n


 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-04-15 10:28 AM - Post#2552157    
    In response to Rick Dorion

  • Rick Dorion Said:
.... work on the other items first like brakes and suspension.



I have at least gotten to those items, new calipers, master cylinder and booster and new front suspension.
New rubber too.



 
grumpyvette 
Senior Chevytalk Moderator -- Performance Subject Matter Expert --
Posts: 17142
grumpyvette
Age: 70
Loc: FLORIDA USA
Reg: 03-16-01
06-04-15 10:47 AM - Post#2552163    
    In response to Droff

http://www.jegs.com/i/Chevrolet+Performan ce/809/12...

http://www.jegs.com/i/Chevrolet+Performan ce/809/10...

http://www.jegs.com/i/Chevrolet+Performan ce/809/12...

if the goals cost effective transportation, Ive purchased several of these and installed them, and they come with a warranty!!

if you want to build that 350 I can certainly provide the info but the chances are excellent that by the time you pay machine shop labor and buy parts it will be MORE expensive!
but keep in mind you get to spend that EXTRA MONEY WHICH COULD EASILY DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THE COST on better parts and the result is more horse power

IF YOU CAN,T SMOKE THE TIRES AT WILL,FROM A 60 MPH ROLLING START YOUR ENGINE NEEDS MORE WORK!!"!
IF YOU CAN , YOU NEED BETTER TIRES AND YOUR SUSPENSION NEEDS MORE WORK!!


Edited by grumpyvette on 06-04-15 01:23 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
japete92 
"4th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 938
japete92
Loc: No. Virginia
Reg: 01-18-13
06-04-15 11:20 AM - Post#2552168    
    In response to Droff

I had oil dripping onto my garage floor in a location that could have been from the rear main, or the rear of pan but turned out to be from the back of the valve cover (big sigh of relief). My old eyes had trouble seeing where the oil was coming from. A much younger man discovered the true location. Can't tell if my experience has any applicability to your situation but it might be worth a look.



 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-04-15 11:31 AM - Post#2552173    
    In response to grumpyvette

At a minimum, what type of machine work would I want to have done to the engine?
So far, I've stumbled across a bit of a mini list;
- Cleaned
- Pressure tested for cracks
- Bores honed (most likely bored out as well, the block out of the car has a couple rusty cylinders)
- Decked for squareness
- Polish the crank
- New freeze plugs
- New cam bearings



 
Techhead 
Senior Member
Posts: 814
Techhead
Loc: Etobicoke, Canada
Reg: 10-25-05
06-04-15 11:47 AM - Post#2552177    
    In response to Droff

Don't forget the following.
Magnaflux the block
Line hone the crank & cam bores
You will then need new bearings.

Then there is the question on heads? original or aftermarket?

I'll be Frank, this hobby isn't getting any easier.
58 Delray in disaray


 
Raven18940 
Member
Posts: 450

Reg: 09-22-04
06-04-15 11:48 AM - Post#2552178    
    In response to japete92

  • japete92 Said:
I had oil dripping onto my garage floor in a location that could have been from the rear main, or the rear of pan but turned out to be from the back of the valve cover (big sigh of relief). My old eyes had trouble seeing where the oil was coming from. A much younger man discovered the true location. Can't tell if my experience has any applicability to your situation but it might be worth a look.

I recently figured out that what I thought was a puking rear main was actually my oil filter. All fixed with a regular oil change.



 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-04-15 11:56 AM - Post#2552180    
    In response to japete92

  • japete92 Said:
.. turned out to be from the back of the valve cover (big sigh of relief). My old eyes had trouble seeing where the oil was coming from.



That's a good suggestion, I've got old eyes myself but I felt in behind both valve covers for any oil as well as where the sending unit is screwed in and there wasn't anything coming from those areas so that's why I'm thinking the lower part of the engine.




 
0utlaw 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2789
0utlaw
Loc: US East Coast
Reg: 09-10-02
06-04-15 12:57 PM - Post#2552186    
    In response to Droff

Note:
A 70 Monte Carlo is a heavy car.3565 curb weight. To move a heavy car, you need much torque, not hp. Torque is nothing but hp at a lower rpm.
For mostly cruising around town, there is no sense building a rough idling hp engine..you will be disappointed with your low end performance and in order to make it work, you'll need gears..and a tranny with od (more $$$$) ...or your highway driving will be extremely limited. To top it off, it will really chew gas. ( We have one of those rough cammed 290 HP 350 crate motors brand new in a car here in our town and the guy hates it..it needs a cam change badly as no ignition tuning can make it work) Basically, it is a real dog around town... I drove it...yech!
Suggest a plain old 350, getting a rv cam, keeping compression low (less than 9:1), install a dual plane manifold, 600 Edelbrock, Spectre air filter, keep the cast iron manifolds, a set of low restriction turbos, and reworking a HEI to run quite a bit of advance.
These engines run nice. It will work with your 2.73 rear because of the torque, smoke the tires enough if you must.... and do it all on 87 octane to boot. Just my opinion.
OUTLAW




 
LUVmachine 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1453

Age: 36
Loc: Redding Ca
Reg: 10-02-14
06-04-15 04:31 PM - Post#2552246    
    In response to 0utlaw

If your going to build something you might as well do it right the first time. My suggestions start with the machine work. Simply don't spend money at the machine shop if you can get it new for the same price or less. Next is go for the cubic inches. See if you can find a 400 block or better yet a complete engine assembly as a core. If that isn't an option look for a 383 rotating assembly. Prices vary if you are building a low rpm street machine you don't need to buy the most expensive kit. I suggest you look at speedway for a budget kit. You will want a bunch of torque to move that heavy car and more cubes will make it easier. The cost will also be about the same. Do your homework and ask questions.

71 Chevelle BBC powered
71 C-10 454 with weiand 177 (SOLD)
72 406 sbc powered Chevy LUV sleeper (SOLD)
2010 GMC Sierra crew cab 4X4
http://s626.photobucket.com/user/GJohnson81/libra r...


 
Stinky 
Senior Member
Posts: 1590

Loc: Whitewater, CO
Reg: 05-25-01
06-04-15 10:38 PM - Post#2552315    
    In response to LUVmachine

If you are going to change your axle ratio, then get an OD trans. When you step on it, it will downshift into the lower/power ratio, and when you cruise, it will shift in to OD and you'll have the rpm that you have now.





Edited by Stinky on 06-04-15 10:41 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
0utlaw 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2789
0utlaw
Loc: US East Coast
Reg: 09-10-02
06-05-15 02:54 AM - Post#2552331    
    In response to LUVmachine

  • LUVmachine Said:
If your going to build something you might as well do it right the first time. My suggestions start with the machine work. Simply don't spend money at the machine shop if you can get it new for the same price or less. Next is go for the cubic inches. See if you can find a 400 block or better yet a complete engine assembly as a core. If that isn't an option look for a 383 rotating assembly. Prices vary if you are building a low rpm street machine you don't need to buy the most expensive kit. I suggest you look at speedway for a budget kit. You will want a bunch of torque to move that heavy car and more cubes will make it easier. The cost will also be about the same. Do your homework and ask questions.


I like your line of thinking..I would have suggested a 400 torque monster, but he has a 350 block. And 400's are getting hard to find.
A bone stock 400 would move that car well. Only minor mods would be needed to extract brute torque out of it. It would be a tire smoker too and a super cruiser using the drive line that he has.
The 383 would be getting close to putting out the 400 type torque...but for more $$$$. OUTLAW



 
models916 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 4774

Age: 67
Loc: Addison, IL
Reg: 05-28-10
06-05-15 05:22 AM - Post#2552351    
    In response to 0utlaw

If it comes to pulling the pan, change the rear main seal at that time. Just a couple of additional bolts and a cheap part. Use a one piece pan gasket.



 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-05-15 05:40 AM - Post#2552357    
    In response to 0utlaw

...And this is where the initial firehose reference comes from.
I didn't expect this number of suggestions, although I like having different paths to consider and appreciate all the responses.
I had ruled out a 383, just due to cost and more unknowns there than I have with a 350. A 400 really didn't cross my mind but I hadn't considered the torque discussion as the Monte is something of a small boat.
Since a 400 was mentioned a couple times, I did a quick search on CL and to my surprise, found a couple;
400 for $800, has had work
400 for $150, needs work
400 Heads

I don't know if either is a decent price or not, and don't know what other costs would entail actually dropping a 400 into the car.



 
LUVmachine 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1453

Age: 36
Loc: Redding Ca
Reg: 10-02-14
06-05-15 06:40 AM - Post#2552371    
    In response to Droff

I would get the one for $150 and work on it as the budget allows. Buying someones troubles is much better done cheap knowing you need to rebuild it rather than dump too much money into something that is said to be good by someone who you don't know or trust.

71 Chevelle BBC powered
71 C-10 454 with weiand 177 (SOLD)
72 406 sbc powered Chevy LUV sleeper (SOLD)
2010 GMC Sierra crew cab 4X4
http://s626.photobucket.com/user/GJohnson81/libra r...


 
0utlaw 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2789
0utlaw
Loc: US East Coast
Reg: 09-10-02
06-05-15 06:41 AM - Post#2552372    
    In response to Droff

If you have the space to work, here is an idea.
I have been able to find a complete running vehicles with a decent drive train, but very rusty and unsuitable for the road. It is a neat way to get what you want and very cheaply. And you get all the extra parts as a bonus. Some times you can actually drive the vehicle and know that it runs good rather than guessing. Example...I bought a rusty, but running and driving Dodge pickup with a Dana 70 posi for $75. I swapped rear end plus had a yard truck to boot.




 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-05-15 07:46 AM - Post#2552390    
    In response to Stinky

  • Stinky Said:
If you are going to change your axle ratio, then get an OD trans.



Replacing my 350 trans with one that has OD has been mentioned by some other folks as well, I just don't know what trans to look for or what would bolt up to a 350 or 400 motor.



 
0utlaw 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2789
0utlaw
Loc: US East Coast
Reg: 09-10-02
06-05-15 08:19 AM - Post#2552395    
    In response to Droff

If you go for a torque motor, the rear end you have is good and your trans too. A good torque motor will pull a high geared rear end.



 
LUVmachine 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1453

Age: 36
Loc: Redding Ca
Reg: 10-02-14
06-05-15 02:06 PM - Post#2552455    
    In response to 0utlaw

My mild 406 shreds tires with 2.5ish rear gears in my LUV at anything over 1/4 throttle and cruises at low rpm without od. Its a low rpm stump puller and I don't have very much money invested in it. It idles smooth makes power off idle and if it were in something that would hook it would probably be fun to drive.

71 Chevelle BBC powered
71 C-10 454 with weiand 177 (SOLD)
72 406 sbc powered Chevy LUV sleeper (SOLD)
2010 GMC Sierra crew cab 4X4
http://s626.photobucket.com/user/GJohnson81/libra r...


 
Chevy 4 Life 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1393

Reg: 03-14-14
06-05-15 03:33 PM - Post#2552466    
    In response to LUVmachine

If I was to replace my 350ish with a 400, can I still use all of my sbc bolt ons, like intake, carb, headers, water pump pulleys etc? Man I want more tq to move my 4000lb baby.



 
0utlaw 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2789
0utlaw
Loc: US East Coast
Reg: 09-10-02
06-05-15 05:19 PM - Post#2552491    
    In response to Chevy 4 Life

Most of that stuff should fit with no problem. HOWEVER..if you bolt on performance heads, you will need to drill steam holes if none.... because of the siamezed cylinder walls...no coolant between cylinders. (400 head gaskets are drilled for steam holes.) so it is a good pattern.




 
0utlaw 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2789
0utlaw
Loc: US East Coast
Reg: 09-10-02
06-06-15 06:26 AM - Post#2552578    
    In response to 0utlaw

However, factory 400's are externally balanced, so 400 dampers, flywheels and flexplates are specifically balanced for that engine.



 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-06-15 07:53 AM - Post#2552584    
    In response to 0utlaw

Staying with the 400 theme..
Are there any years of manufacture I should stay away from or look to find?
Any particular heads or basically pre-smog heads?



 
Stinky 
Senior Member
Posts: 1590

Loc: Whitewater, CO
Reg: 05-25-01
06-06-15 09:16 AM - Post#2552600    
    In response to Droff

If'n I remember right...you want a 200r4, same length as your present trans and the same strength wise. The are pretty much a direct bolt-in and the 700 requires a cross-member movement.



 
Droff 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 42

Age: 54
Loc: Choctaw, OK
Reg: 05-28-15
06-08-15 06:21 AM - Post#2553054    
    In response to Stinky

  • Stinky Said:
If'n I remember right...you want a 200r4, same length as your present trans and the same strength wise. The are pretty much a direct bolt-in and the 700 requires a cross-member movement.



Good to know Stinky, but I was mainly referring to the engine with my post.
There are tons of threads online but I did find a mention of using 400 heads built from 70-74, 76cc, stay away from the stock 75 and later heads.

Does the 400 use the same motor mounts as the 350?




 




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