1979 Chevy Corvette - Part 9: We assemble a new 383 for Project Shark Attack

Building a 383 to give Shark Attack some serious bite

Chris Petris Oct 20, 2005 0 Comment(s)
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The ring end gap should be checked and adjusted before installing therings on the pistons. Most piston rings are a little looser thanrequired so they don't require sizing, but you never know. The rule ofthumb is: .004-inch ring-gap clearance per inch of cylinder bore, whichcan vary with manufacturer. Piston ring sets that require file fittingfor all-out performance engines are available. File fitting piston ringsis tedious when done properly.

Now Glen was ready for a trial fit of the rotating pieces. Thelong-stroke crankshaft can make the connecting rods interfere with theblock at the oil-pan rails and at the bottom of the cylinder bores. No.2, 5, and 6 connecting rods also come close to the camshaft. It'sdifficult to check the clearances of the connecting rods and camshaft,but it must be done. Because the engine rotates freely during assembly,it's still not a sure sign there is enough clearance when engine rpmincreases.

Stock-type I-beam connecting rods have more clearance than theperformance H-beam-style. Anytime a stroker engine is assembled,clearances should be checked carefully while the engine is rotated atleast two full turns. At least .050 clearance of reciprocating partsshould be maintained at all points of concern. Once all the clearancesare sufficient, a through cleaning is necessary before final assembly.

Be aware that there is no parts warranty if the engine is assembledincorrectly or if dirt and debris clog the oil passages. This means thatall pieces must be checked carefully before, during. and after assembly.Once the trial fit is accomplished and the engine is ready for assembly,every component should be washed again. You get one chance to assemblethe components correctly to prevent catastrophic damage. The cleanedparts should be blown off and all oil holes blown out with compressedair, not dried with a shop cloth. Shop rags or cloths have fibers thatwill leave lint sticking to the components. It may seem insignificant,but the cumulative effect is that the fibers are washed into the oil panand are sucked into the oil-pump pickup screen. If the fiber doesn't endup in the oil filter, it will still limit the amount of oil flow to theoil pump. Good oil pressure with limited oil flow will destroy a set ofcrankshaft bearings and usually causes valvetrain noise from the limitedsupply of oil to the hydraulic lifters. Be aware of this when doing anyengine repairs that require extensive invasive repairs.

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Keep a close eye on the compression rings' gap position. If all thecompression ring gaps are lined up during assembly, excessive oil usagewill occur. It's easy to miss a ring out of position when installing thering compressor and finally the piston. We make a habit of installingthe piston rings in one particular order, which helps prevent incorrectring installation.

Main and connecting-rod bearing clearance is critical for proper oilpressure and flow. If bearing clearance is too tight, the flow of oilwill be restricted, causing the bearing to become overheated from lackof oil over its entire surface. Excessive bearing clearance will causelow oil pressure, and additional flow is necessary to keep thehydrodynamic wedge of oil between the bearing and crankshaft surfaces.Glen used micrometers to measure our crankshaft clearances, which arecostly for the home garage. At the very least, bearing clearances shouldbe checked with Plastigage.

Good-quality engine oil is fine for bearing lubrication if the enginewill be started within a week of installation. If it will be longer thana week, assembly lube should be used to keep the bearings coated.Flat-tappet camshafts must be lubed well with moly lubricants to preventcam-lobe wear, even if the engine is to be started the same day asassembly. We'll prime the oiling system right before startup to ensureadequate lube during break-in procedures.

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The oil pan requires modification for connecting-rod clearance (in mostsituations) when a stroker engine is assembled. The blue dye was used tolocate the clearance issue. A small ball-peen hammer can be used tomodify the pan enough for clearance. The same engine rotation ruleapplies here: rotate the engine through two full revolutions with thepan in place before final assembly.

An application of light oil should be applied to all internal boltthreads to allow proper bolt torque. The exception would becylinder-head bolts. These bolts go into open holes in the cylinderblock, requiring sealer to prevent internal coolant leaks and externalleaks at the outer cylinder-head short bolts. Teflon or Permatexaviation sealer works well sealing the bolts to the cylinder block. Thesame open bolt-hole situation applies to the intake manifold andwater-pump bolts. As a rule, Teflon sealer should be used to seal theintake bolts that go into the aluminum cylinder heads. Permatex aviationsealer works well sealing the intake bolts in cast-iron cylinder headsand the water-pump bolts.

A clean, well-lit shop area allows assembly with minimal concerns.Clearance issues and final cleaning are the toughest to overcome. PAWassembles a great 383 crankshaft kit that will work the first time withminimal assembly required. PAW has many engine options available, fromrotating assemblies to complete engines.

The Tremec five-speed transmission is on the way, and the engine will bedyno-tested before our next Shark Attack installment. We'll show you theengine and transmission install, along with the dyno results. We can'twait to give the shark a long road test. We're trying to have SharkAttack ready for the Hot Rod Power Tour, which starts June 4 inMinneapolis and ends in Kissimmee, Florida, on June 11. Hope to see youall there.

Chevrolet Engine Torque Specifications

Main bearing bolt (two-bolt main) 80 lb-ft
Main bearing bolt, inner (four-bolt main) 80 lb-ft
Main bearing bolt, outer (four-bolt main) 70 lb-ft
Oil pump to main cap bolt 65 lb-ft
Connecting rod nuts 45 lb-ft (Connecting-rod-nut torque varies depending on connecting-rod-bolt manufacturer)
Harmonic balancer bolt 70 lb-ft
Cast iron cylinder head bolts 65 lb-ft
Aluminum cylinder head bolts 67 lb-ft
Intake manifold 35 lb-ft
Camshaft-gear bolts 15 lb-ft


Performance Automotive Warehouse
Chatsworth, CA
GT Automotive
Eustis, Fl




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