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Chevy Performance Tricks - Fast Facts

A Dozen Easy Tips And Tricks

Wayne Scraba Jan 1, 2001
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1 Get Converted
OK-you've just rebuilt your engine and you're getting ready to slide it between the front fenders of your Chevrolet. A new flexplate is part of the plan. Before you drop the engine into the chassis, test the torque converter bolts in the flexplate. You might be surprised to find that the bolts don't fit. And you better believe it's easier to enlarge the holes now instead of working under the confines of your chassis.

2 Decal-Mania
When putting event (or other) decals on your car, cover the sheetmetal with soap and water before you slip the decals in place. The soap and water allows you to adjust the position of the decals before they dry. When you have the decals in a spot you're happy with, simply blot them dry with a soft cloth.

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3 Chamber Maid
How much volume will a head lose when milled? Generally speaking, a Chevy engine will lose 1 cc of volume from the combustion for every 0.004-0.005-inch of material removed through a standard milling operation. It's something to think about, especially if you're shooting for a specific compression ratio.

4 Zipper Bags
When disassembling various pieces of your Chevy for a rebuild (i.e. an automatic transmission), don't put all of the various little parts in one big box. Use Ziploc bags, label them with a felt marker, and store all of the parts in order. Better yet, hang the freshly bagged parts on a sheet of pegboard. The parts will be easy to find, and if you're even partially organized, very easy to locate when the time comes to clean 'em up and reinstall them.

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5 Light Headed
When dealing with aluminum cylinder heads and/or aluminum cylinder blocks, cold lash numbers can vary greatly from the hot figures. Why does this happen? Simply because aluminum moves around significantly more than cast-iron when hot. Because of this, you can understand why (and how) valve lash figures often become decidedly different with "aluminum" combinations. Although it's difficult to provide hard and fast numbers for all cam and engine combinations, Chevrolet offers this advice: "Cold lash all aluminum engines .010-inch tighter than hot lash specifications." Generally speaking, you can use this as a starting point. Some aluminum head/iron block combinations are very close to an all-iron engine in terms of cold lash, while others might be anywhere from .005- to .010-inch tighter. Your best bet is to contact your cam grinder and ask for a specific cold lash number for your particular combination.

6 I Can See Clearly Now
Many aftermarket gauges are manufactured with plastic lenses. So are most factory gauges. And being plastic, they tend to scratch and become milky with age. While there are a number of great products on the market to cure the "fog," try running down to your local motorcycle dealer. They sell a number of products designed to polish cycle windshields and helmet face masks. Most are cheap, readily available, and work quickly. Best of all, some are available in simple-to-use aerosols that can be sprayed on without disassembling the gauge.

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7 Double Trouble
When installing hose clamps on your Chevy, be sure that the clamp is behind the respective hose nipple. If the clamp is positioned on top of the nipple, you will almost be guaranteed to have a leak. The same applies if the clamp is ahead of the nipple. It's a simple tip, but one that stops errant coolant leaks dead in their tracks.

8 Leaky Tests
While performing a leakdown test on your Chevy, keep in mind that a healthy engine will leak less than 5 percent, while a chronic leaker can exhibit numbers near 50 percent. Some of the best-sealed engines in motorsports leak less than 3 percent. Use your own judgment when it comes to a leakdown test, but if your Chevy leaks more than 10-15 percent, it's time for a rebuild. As a side note, leakdown testers are available from a number of sources including Moroso (single-gauge model), Manley, and Tavia (double-gauge models). Aircraft supply houses are also good sources if you can't easily locate a leakdown tester at your corner speed shop.

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9 Thick Is Trick
When wiring accessories under the hood of your Chevy, give some thought to the actual size of the wire. You see, wire gauge is very important. If a wire must be long, try to increase the size of the wire. You can never go wrong with too large a wire-it simply becomes a case of "manageability." Very large wires are hard to route, hard to bend, and sometimes hard to wrap. On the other hand, wires that are too small will not be capable of carrying a given load. This is a situation where bigger really is better.

10 Flat Fuel
If you have a Chevy that burns exotic fuel (race gas) and you plan on storing your car for any length of time, be sure to drain the gas tank (or fuel cell) and run the carburetor(s) dry. Gas that's left to sit for a long period of time (say a few months) will form a varnish. And if that varnish forms in your fuel system, you can be assured that the fuel pump(s), regulator(s), and carburetor(s) will have to be rebuilt.

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11 Bolt Bashing
Here's a little tidbit for you: Check each bolt that is used to fasten the cam gear to the cam to ensure that it doesn't bottom out in the cam. If it does, you know what happens next: The cam sprocket wobbles and takes an unscheduled vacation. In most cases, the threaded holes in the cam are the right depth, the sprocket is the correct thickness, and the bolts are correct when they come out of the box. The problem usually occurs when a cam or gear is re-machined for a button or a thrust washer.

12 Hammer Time
Phillips-head screws are used in numerous locations on a built-in-Detroit car-and Chevys are no exception. Have you ever noticed that they can sometimes be next-to-impossible to remove-especially if they haven't been touched for 20-odd years? To solve the problem, insert the screwdriver in a normal fashion. But before trying to turn the stubborn screw, give the end of the screwdriver a quick tap with a hammer. This dislodges any corrosion and also makes the screwdriver fit the head of the screw perfectly.



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