Ah, the black art of successful engine building. If you're going to step down the path of having an engine built for big power, you're going to need some skill, a ton of research, a little luck and, ultimately, a lot of money. We've all known someone who has been burnt by an engine build (some literally), so we understand if it makes anyone nervous, but engine building needn't be a terrifying experience if you are willing to build the right team, trust in their decisions, and work together towards a common goal. For this particular series, we're focused on building a 370 cubic-inch LQ9 engine for our standing mile WS6 Trans Am, which we've covered in past issues during the turbo system fabrication and front suspension install. If you're familiar with the project, you know we're going all out, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a thing or two about your own project, whether it's a mild rebuild or an engine more radical than ours, by following along as we watch the masters of our industry assemble SALT's new iron lung.
Of course, every build begins with a block and for us, that meant procuring a stock GM LQ9 iron "truck" block, which is a tried-and-true foundation for almost any boosted or sprayed engine build. Although the LQ9 engine block is a cheap alternative to the much more robust aftermarket offerings, it still offers plenty of strength and has proven itself reliable around the 1,000-hp mark in several builds we've seen over the years. And, while this obviously isn't a budget build, having 500-bucks into our block made it a lot easier to get started, as opposed to dropping thousands. Of course, we will have to be careful with overall power production and our tune up as the factory iron block can only do so much, even with the upgrades that Proline Racing had planned.
Inside, we didn't want to cut any corners, so we selected parts that had a proven track record, could hopefully withstand our abusive testing, and help us reach our final goal of 200-mph in the standing mile. Down low, this meant selecting a killer Lunati Pro Series 3.622-inch stroke crankshaft (PN JH711ER), which has been forged in America from 4340 steel and tested to withstand over 1,500-horsepower. With gun drilled mains, 3/4-inch drilled rod journals for reduced inertia, micropolished journals, and a pulse plasma nitride treating, the Pro Series line of crankshafts from Lunati are a top quality piece and something we can count on under duress even in harsh environments such as the mile.
We paired that Lunati crankshaft with a set of matching Pro Series I-beam connecting rods, which are forged from the same 4340 steel as the crankshaft and CNC-machined to perfection. Designed specifically for "higher horsepower and more RPM" the 6.125-inch rods (PN JP6125-8) feature ARP 2000 rod bolts, weigh in at 635-grams a piece and are shot peened, magnafluxed, and sonic tested before leaving the factory. With Ampco 45 bushings and file-hardened locators, the Pro Series rods can handle a significant amount of horsepower and torque for sustained periods of time. A set of chamfered Calico coated bearings (PN 5M 7298 H and 1B 663 HD) were also spec'd for the build, and are more than capable of handling the job and keeping everything inside the engine rotating freely.
Up top, we continued picking killer parts for our rotating assembly and ordered a set of serious slugs from Nick D'agostino at Diamond Racing. Built for "1,800-hp and 25-to-30 pounds of boost," Diamond constructed a set of custom 4.030-inch finish bore pistons from a 2618 alloy, which feature a .240-inch thick crown, 1.5/1.5/3.0-mm ring grooves, a .280-inch thick top ring land, a conical dish, double pin oilers with slots, side gas ports, and Diamond's in-house hard anodizing coating combined with a Moly-skirt coating for superior thermal management, power production, and reliability. Built for our Trick Flow 235cc heads (oops, did we just give that away?) with 70cc chambers, the Diamond pistons will give us an aggressive 10:1 compression ratio and round out the combination with 370 cubic-inches, which should make for killer power under boost. Tough .927-inch diameter wrist pins were also spec'd for our build and were fit to the pistons before shipping by Diamond, which is a nice touch and they even shipped with a set of Total Seal rings (PN 201035), which we would have to file to fit.
Finally, we come to the most important piece of the puzzle, the builders. You already know how crucial the right engine team is, so it should come as no surprise that we teamed up with some of the best in the LS game for this engine build, namely the crew at Vengeance Racing and the engine builders at Proline Racing, both of whom are located just outside Atlanta, GA. Ron Mowen, the owner of Vengeance Racing served as our spec man, offering guidance and years of experience to help select the parts you see here. Jay Healy of Vengeance Racing is our lead fabricator and you'll see his handy work on the top end in an upcoming issue. For the bottom end, shown here, Ron brought in the big guns at Proline Racing: Eric Dillard, Tim Lynch (yes, that Tim Lynch), and their talented team of machinists to prep our 6-liter iron block. We can't stress enough how important the right team is for a build like this or any build really, so make sure you do your research (we've featured several excellent engine builders in the past) and pick people you trust... your engine, money and happiness are all on the line with a project of this caliber.