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Small Block Chevy Project

Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I had a relatively lengthy post but it was really all fluff.

I'll keep the question sweet then, how much time and money does it take to throw together a small block chevy like one of the 80's Firebirds or Camaros?
I've always heard they're pretty simple even for an amateur, especially if you keep it carbed.
Lots of room to work with and the swapability of Chevy parts etc etc.

They're just so damned cheap and everywhere.
I know it's not something to do at the drop of a hat, but start me off with some numbers.

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Posts

  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Depends.
    Do you have a complete block? Do you have just the block itself with no rotating assembly? What do you have, and what do you want to do with it?
    Do you want to take something as it is and modify it to make the most torque, or do want to start from scratch and build from the ground up?
    If you're just looking for something to tool around with to get some experience, I don't see how you can go wrong. As you've said before, they're cheap and everywhere, and there are tons of parts and support for it.

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  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Don't have anything. Was mostly looking to just get one going in my free time. Nothing special, stock.

    I was mostly worried about misc. costs.
    But what am I looking at to pay for all the random hoses and what not?
    Or any special tools? We have a garage with just about every standard tool you could imagine.
    I'm sure that's enough for a project like this?

    Edit: Tranny question answered

    Edit: also, I've never done anything near this level before. I've done all the standard car stuff, changing oil, brakes, plugs and what not.
    One of the reasons I'm going with a simple Chevy, I assume a Chilton/Haynes manual would be more than enough?

  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    It depends on exactly what you want to do, but I'd say anywhere from a few hundred to $2-$3K tops to get it up and running depending on the condition you get it in. Obviously you could spend tons more depending on how fast you want it to be, but on average, I'd guess in that range if you're able to do most of the work yourself.

    I just had a DOHC 4.6L Ford motor rebuilt this past winter - pulled motor out of the car, completely disassemled, new forged rods, crank, and pistons, valve job, block decked, and reassembled for somewhere in the $4k range. It was more total, but I also had a gears installed in an IRS rear end, bought a tuner, and had a custom tune done.

  • wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    It'd also depend heavily on what you're planning on putting it in. If it's a vehicle that originally came with a SBC then there probably won't be too much you have to do to make it work. But if you're planning on putting it in some other car there are a lot more things you'll have to do than just build the engine.

  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    wmelon wrote: »
    It'd also depend heavily on what you're planning on putting it in. If it's a vehicle that originally came with a SBC then there probably won't be too much you have to do to make it work. But if you're planning on putting it in some other car there are a lot more things you'll have to do than just build the engine.
    Nope, nothing crazy.
    I mention the 80's Camaro and Firebird and I'm fine with either (pretty much the same) and I just want a 305 or 350 with a 5 speed. Both have had the options so I wasn't really worried about anything not working.
    Just money or if there were some crazy tools involved that I might not know about.

    The big question that nobody answered really was should an amateur be fine with a Chilton/Haynes manual and the standard garage? I've got knowledgeable people I can pump for info in the more murky parts but I've always heard the manuals go through everything pretty throughly.
    I'm not to intimidated, I remember tossing together my first computer easily enough.
    Jimmy King wrote: »
    It depends on exactly what you want to do, but I'd say anywhere from a few hundred to $2-$3K tops to get it up and running depending on the condition you get it in. Obviously you could spend tons more depending on how fast you want it to be, but on average, I'd guess in that range if you're able to do most of the work yourself.
    Now do you mean 2-3k to rebuild a small block? Or is this everything?
    Because most cars (not even shells) seem to be around 1k and engines seem to be the same (even new or rebuilt ones).

    Spent most of the night in Google and this guy:
    You can purchase a rebuilt transmission on craigslist with a shift kit for 300-400 dollars. You can buy a decent used 350 Small block on craigslist for 400-600 dollars if you really take the time to look. Usually, they are out of old trucks. This is the route I went and could not be happier. In some cases, people will let you come and hear the motor run before selling it.
    This is what I'm hoping pricing looks like basically.
    Or would it be smarter/less painful to go with a newer rebuilt one like this site offers
    Or I guess the third option is rebuilding it myself. But I feel like that is making another project all itself.
    But some guides make it sound quite easy (except the parts that a shop pretty much needs to do, or so it seems in this guide)

  • KryptykSolKryptykSol Registered User
    edited September 2010
    buying a used engine and rebuilding it shouldnt cost you more than $1500, chevy motors have some of the least expensive parts out there, and you could put them together with duct tape and a hammer. Honestly I would not be surprised if all you need is a torque wrench and a basic socket set to do 99% of it.

    Also, they are one of the best platforms to build some ridiculous power. I've heard it said that you can build a 350ci chev motor to 400 horsepower for less than $3k. And the skys the limit, one of my favorite videos is this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp7U91e1h-c&feature=related

  • KryptykSolKryptykSol Registered User
    edited September 2010
    granted, thats a big block, and it probably cost quite a bit more than $3k, but you get my point ;)

  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    KryptykSol wrote: »
    granted, thats a big block, and it probably cost quite a bit more than $3k, but you get my point ;)
    Yes, that's pretty much everything I wanted to hear.
    Awesome, thanks guys.

    Guess that pretty much answers most of my questions. But I'd love to leave this open so if any other gear heads pass though I can get some more pointers.

  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    wmelon wrote: »
    It'd also depend heavily on what you're planning on putting it in. If it's a vehicle that originally came with a SBC then there probably won't be too much you have to do to make it work. But if you're planning on putting it in some other car there are a lot more things you'll have to do than just build the engine.
    Nope, nothing crazy.
    I mention the 80's Camaro and Firebird and I'm fine with either (pretty much the same) and I just want a 305 or 350 with a 5 speed. Both have had the options so I wasn't really worried about anything not working.
    Just money or if there were some crazy tools involved that I might not know about.

    The big question that nobody answered really was should an amateur be fine with a Chilton/Haynes manual and the standard garage? I've got knowledgeable people I can pump for info in the more murky parts but I've always heard the manuals go through everything pretty throughly.
    I'm not to intimidated, I remember tossing together my first computer easily enough.
    If you get something that already runs and doesn't need rotating assembly work, you could probably do it all with a chilton or haynes manual yourself. You may end up going to buy a tool or two to make your life easier, but it would rarely be required.
    Jimmy King wrote: »
    It depends on exactly what you want to do, but I'd say anywhere from a few hundred to $2-$3K tops to get it up and running depending on the condition you get it in. Obviously you could spend tons more depending on how fast you want it to be, but on average, I'd guess in that range if you're able to do most of the work yourself.
    Now do you mean 2-3k to rebuild a small block? Or is this everything?
    Because most cars (not even shells) seem to be around 1k and engines seem to be the same (even new or rebuilt ones).
    That $2k-$3k range would be only if something was really wrong and you needed to replace rotating assembly parts or something along those lines and I would guess is at the high end for an old pushrod small block chevy. I actually just took a quick look and rotating assembly kits for a chevy 305 or 350 are even less expensive than I expected. You also hopefully won't be buying an engine that needs that level of work. If you get something that already runs, isn't burning oil, isn't knocking, etc. it should be relatively inexpensive to just get it into something and driveable.

  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Pretty much even more of what I wanted to hear <3
    I was leaning a bit toward buying one from that site I linked, or something similar (that's just one of the first ones that I found).
    Any reason I shouldn't besides maybe saving a couple hundred bucks?

    If only to save myself the headache of dealing with more craigslist people then I'd need to.

  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I don't know if you've addressed this, but tools and time and money aside, what kind of space do you have to work on this? Is it going to be in a garage? Is it a two car garage? Do you have problems keeping a working car parked outside for an extended period of time while a non working car takes up all of your space.

    My general rule of thumb when working on a vehicle is having an enclosed and secure space roughly twice the width of the vehicle to work in.

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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I got a mate on a buggy forum who was getting rid of a couple of spare small blocks he wasn't using, I'll message him and see if he's still got any of 'em.

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  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I got a mate on a buggy forum who was getting rid of a couple of spare small blocks he wasn't using, I'll message him and see if he's still got any of 'em.
    Not looking to buy just yet, but that would be awesome to hear from someone about price/shipping etc.
    I don't know if you've addressed this, but tools and time and money aside, what kind of space do you have to work on this? Is it going to be in a garage? Is it a two car garage? Do you have problems keeping a working car parked outside for an extended period of time while a non working car takes up all of your space.

    My general rule of thumb when working on a vehicle is having an enclosed and secure space roughly twice the width of the vehicle to work in.
    Well right now my living condition is in a house with a bunch of guys (school) and we have a large driveway. Most of the time we end up parking on the street as to not park each other in (6 of us on a 4 car drive). So we can easily put it there. But I also have a garage available (single) that's about 15-20 minutes down the road.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    He's got a 305 left. Probably not what you want, hey?

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  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    He's got a 305 left. Probably not what you want, hey?
    Was hoping to pick up a 350 for the extra power, but was entertaining the idea of a 305 simply because I don't think any of these cars came with a 350 and a 5 speed, all the 350's were autos.
    But I'm told they're virtually the same and putting in a 350 is just as easy.

    Getting into sales and stuff on PA I believe is against the rules.
    But I'm still super curious on what he'd be charging (for shopping arounds sake)
    Could you PM me some details?

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Well the 305 he's got has a turbo 350 tranny bolted to it at the moment, you'd have to source a manual box from elsewhere.

    Where are you at? If you're on the opposite side of the country there's not much point as freight will cost more than the motor...

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  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Well the 305 he's got has a turbo 350 tranny bolted to it at the moment, you'd have to source a manual box from elsewhere.

    Where are you at? If you're on the opposite side of the country there's not much point as freight will cost more than the motor...
    That's true, I'm in PA. I wasn't planning on buying anything just yet.
    If he had to sell just the engine, what would he quote it at? What's the mileage?
    I'm just trying to get a feel for when I do start looking locally if somebody will try and gouge me.

  • LaPuzzaLaPuzza Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    God bless the SBC.

    I drive a GTO (I know, the LS2 technically isn't invited to the SBC party), and apparently everyone else with one likes to wreck them. www.ls1gto.com is full of people parting out wrecked cars. Similar sited devoted to the mullett-mobiles certianly exist, and many have local-specific forums. There's a good shot that someone around you is spending their life savings to put a new LS9 in an IROC, and needs to sell his old motor.

    If I didn't know LaPuzza wasn't a spambot I would think that was a spambot post.
  • BeltaineBeltaine The End of TimeRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I recommend this book.

    If you live anywhere near a drag strip or race track you will be able to find most everything you need on the second-hand market.

    Also, stay away from 305's. Those were gas crisis V8's. They're poo.

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