Doing things yourself when it comes to engine assembly can be very rewarding. We're not saying there's anything wrong with having someone else do the work, just that when you do it yourself, there's a bonus feeling of accomplishment and pride.
If you're a rookie when it comes to engine mechanics and assembly, having a shop put together your short-block is one of the smartest things you can do. Assembling bare cylinder heads yourself and setting them up for your particular engine has several advantages, however. One, you can hand pick the parts such as valve-springs, retainers, valves, rocker studs, etc., to best suit what you're building the engine for. Flat tappet and roller cams require drastically different valvesprings, the same as hydraulic versus mechanical/solid lifter cams. If you're going racing, you might want to lighten the valvetrain with titanium valves, beehive springs, titanium retainers, etc. Regardless of your application, starting with a bare head gives you many options.
To show how easy assembling heads for a street-oriented application is, we called our buddies at RHS for a set of their Pro Action small-block 23-degree bare cylinder heads, PN 12053. This is a great street head with a lot of room for performance and porting/modifications if you so desire, retailing for about $633.00, fitting into most budgets. Don't be alarmed though, the steps we're going to show will work with any small-block head, iron or aluminum. So, follow along as we give you a crash course in bare head assembly.
|RHS Pro Action 23-deg. Head||12053||$633|
|RHS Cylinder Head Assembly Kit||12987||$165|
|Comp Valvetrain Organizer Tray||5327||$37.95|
|Comp Valvespring Compressor||5337||$99.95|