November 2011 Chevy High Performance Q&A

Kevin McClelland Sep 22, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Finally, you can help by adding some lubricant directly to the distributor and camshaft gears. These gears run in a mist of oil from the windage of the crankshaft and the oil thrown off the rod bearings. These two gears are in the very back of the block and are somewhat shielded from a good amount of splash lubrication. Most of the oil comes from directly above, in the clearance between the block and the distributor body. The distributor body has a radial groove that connects the oil galley passage from the rear of the block and down the lifter galley. If your MSD distributor has a nice, snug fit, there can be very little oil leaking past the housing. With your distributor in place, timed properly, put a mark on the distributor body pointing to the driver side of your truck, 90 degrees to the camshaft centerline. This line will be directly over the cam and distributor gear meshing area. From this mark, transfer a new mark to the end of the distributor, right above the distributor gear up to the oil transfer slot. With this mark you would want to use either a small triangle file or a high-speed die grinder with a small cutter, and make a very small slot. You would be amazed at how much oil will flow through a 0.020-inch slot under 60 psi of pressure. This slot will give a direct spray of oil on the two gears while they are at work. This will cool and lubricate these gears and cure most wear issues.

We’ve got it easy with our Chevy engines. Again, we usually don’t see any wear issues with our design. Now, Ford engines are another story. You put a high-volume pump in a small-block Ford and they will eat distributor gears. It’s not pretty.

Big-Block Camaro fun

I have an ’80 Z28 with a 350 ci. It was the 18th car off the assembly line back in 1979. I was wondering if you could fit a 454 big-block in it. Would I have header issues with the fenders, and will the trans fit? Do I need to change the crossmember? Any info would help!

Al Castillo
Rio Rancho, NM

The second-gen Camaros were released in 1970, and this platform wasn’t built until 1982 with very few changes to the actual chassis; they simply hung new sheetmetal and bumpers onto these cars. Yes, a big-block engine will fit into the engine bay of your Camaro, and headers are on the market that will allow it to fit right in. Have you thought about putting a more relevant engine into your Camaro? An LS-based small-block will also bolt in with mounts and headers. These engines are slightly lighter than your original small-block, and with the proper parts will run and handle like a dream. The added 200-plus pounds that a big-block places squarely on the front tires really changes the characteristics of your Camaro. If you’re looking to cook the hides, then this is where you want a big-block!

We assume you have a 454 around looking for a home. The big-block will actually bolt right into the chassis where your small-block lives with the same transmission, mounts, and crossmember. You will need to use a standard 4-quart passenger car oil pan, or a Milodon street/strip oil pan. Milodon offers a 7-quart pan that is 81/2 inches deep and is now notched for easy oil filter removal with close-fitting headers. The Mark IV (’65-89) big-block pan is PN 30951, and the Gen V/VI (’90-and-up) is PN 30956. We’ve used these pans in plenty of big-block swaps; the additional 3 quarts of oil are really important. If you truly knew how much oil is in a standard 4-quart pan at high rpm, you would not run your engine there!

You can go many directions for headers. Hedman offers full-length (PN 65105) or shorty (PN 66617) headers for this application. The shorty headers are 13/4-inch primary pipes with 3-inch collectors and will accommodate both power steering and air conditioning. The long-tube headers feature 2-inch primary pipes and 3-inch collectors. They will fit with P/S, but not with A/C.

Between these choices of headers and oil pans, your big-block install is just a credit card and mouse click away! Keeping a transmission behind your big-block, keeping it cool, and keeping tires on the beast is the next question. You didn’t state if you had a rare Saginaw four-speed model or if you have the more pedestrian TH-350 automatic version. Yet, you will either need to rebuild and modify to contain the torque your big-block will produce. Just remember, you can bolt anything together. Making it live is in the project planning. Good luck and have fun!



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