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Resto Tech Tip of the Month - November 2013

Mark Lundquist Dec 18, 2013
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Tip of the Month

Is everything old new again?, Sometimes I think so. Back in 1978, the Campbell Boat Company made a few 24-foot cuddy cabin day cruisers equipped with a Gail Banks dual turbo, intercooled 454. One such example of the boat eventually ended up in the hands of a good friend, Cliff Lee. I hadn’t realized it, but Cliff has been running the boat every summer on Lake Havasu in Arizona for the past 22 years. The amazing thing is the engine is original and has never been apart except to replace a broken rocker arm. That’s quite a testimonial for an engine putting out 840 horsepower and 900 lb-ft of torque at 5,800 rpm. Unlike most turbo applications that utilize a blow-through intake system, this system draws through an 850 cfm Holley electric choke carb. The intercooler sits on top of the engine with the intake manifold sitting low and to the front. The twin turbos are Rajay units with about 15 lbs of boost. Horsepower gets to the water via an Art Carr-built Turbo 400 trans. Cliff’s wife, Kathy, regularly races the Campbell on Lake Havasu in the Powder Puff division. Kathy admits to leaving the trans in second gear by mistake during a recent event, sending the 454 to 7,200 rpm, according to the telltale tach—another testament to the durability of the 454 and the Banks set up. I’m sure by now you can see the correlation between the marine turbo 454 and what the possibilities could be if adapted to a street car. We understand a few versions of the potent set up did find their way into various Chevys, but to date I haven’t actually come across one. Cliff claims the parts for these turbo set ups are rare but are still around and can be found with some research. How cool if you could claim your classic Chevy had an 840 horse/900 lb-ft marine engine built in 1978 under the hood. Sometimes looking to the unusual in this cookie cutter world can be a lot of fun.

Feeling The Heat

I need your help. I have a 1967 Nova with a 350. Since we live in Palm Springs, California, the summer heat can be quite a problem. This car is sometimes a daily driver, and with some short drives to the store, etc., to turn it off and then restart it is near impossible. You have to wait for the engine to cool to restart. The problem is the starter.

My mechanic says the header is too close to the starter and heats it up. I have tried installing a smaller starter, wrapping it with heat-resistant tape, all to no avail. The mechanic suggested getting a header that would be mounted a little further from the block. Is there such a device available? During the cooler times this problem seldom happens.

Ron Fought
Via email

Although exhaust manifold or header heat can cause starter problems, I wouldn’t blame it on the exhaust just yet. I live in your area and through experience have learned how to battle the excessive heat in both cooling and electrical systems. When your starter heats up from radiant heat, it naturally builds up a resistance to incoming current. This assumes your starter is in perfect shape. Small things like a shielded, larger positive and negative battery cables, along with ground straps from the engine to the firewall, can help to overcome the resistance from a hot starter. Most stock cables are 2 gage. Stepping up to a 1 gage larger cable may make the difference. It’s a little like plumbing. If you want more water through a pipe, increase the size of the pipe. There is no substitute for a quality set of battery cables, not to mention a quality high amp battery. Also, companies like MSD manufacture a powerful 3-horsepower DynaForce starter made for super hot environments like yours. In fact, its ad indicates the starter will crank the highest compression engines on a hot day in Death Valley. Summit Racing sells the starter under part number MSD-5095. Summit Racing can be reached at or 1-800-230-3030.

Got a restoration question that’s been puzzling you? Send it to: [ m ] Super Chevy, Resto Tech, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619. [ e ] [ f ] 813/675-3557

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