What exactly is a crate engine? You can buy just about any kind of motor combination you want and have it sent to your door-assembled and ready to install. From big to small to outrageously exotic, any and everything can be labeled as a "crate engine."
These engines come assembled from a plethora of aftermarket (and OEM) companies. All of these firms claim to have made internal changes in search of a desired power range. But what about those who enjoy assembling their own powerplants? Where do they go for quality parts and machine work? It is more than apparent that original GM blocks are becoming harder and harder to find. If you do find them, there is a good chance that they are beyond saving.
The days of finding those lost jewels in a junkyard are long gone. If anything worth saving arrives at one of these places, you can guarantee that it will be gobbled up in a matter of minutes.Imagine being able to choose the parts that you want out of a catalog and receive everything through the mail, fully prepped and ready for assembly. The experts at PAW (Performance Automotive Warehouse) work diligently on recovering and prepping short- and long-blocks. With a full-time machine shop run by an experienced staff, the quality work that is demonstrated is top notch. To give everyone an idea of what their possibilities are when ordering a motor, PAW was happy to assemble, as an example, a stroker 383.
After arriving we were shown around the machine shop and watched how things were done. We followed our project through as it went to all the proper stations. The machine work done to the bare block was absolutely flawless, as was the machine and balance work on the rotating assembly. The rest of the components were specifically chosen to work as a union. All the parts used were chosen from the PAW catalog which is all readily available by mail. An engine is only as good as the parts that are assembled. So with that in mind, we will give you a rundown of what was used to complete this particular project.
We started with a set of Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads. These castings come complete and ready for use out of the box. These heads are one of the best bets for high-quality, low-cost performance. To accompany the cylinder heads we also used the Performer RPM Air-Gap intake manifold. The unique design of this manifold has proven itself by producing a substantial horsepower increase over most other dual-plane manifolds.
The carburetor is a nicely polished piece from JET Performance. They are best known for their high-tech parts in the late-model aftermarket but also provide a line of high-performance fuel meters. This carb should work just as well, if not better, than it appears.
For our valvetrain we used a cam that is specially ground for PAW by Crower Cams. The bumpstick has a mild street profile with a decent amount of lift. The specification card read like this: 520/501 inches of lift with 278/286 degrees of duration, with a 108-degree lobe centerline. This should give us a little bit of lope without being overly aggressive. Along with the cam, Crower components were used for the rest of the valvetrain. This includes hardened pushrods and roller-rocker arms. The special-grind cam called for the use of staggered ratio rockers, meaning 1.60 on the intake and 1.50 on the exhaust needed to be used.
Buttoning up the engine is a Milodon oiling system. Milodon, a leader in aftermarket oiling systems, supplied a high-pressure/high-volume oil pump and a deep-sump, kick-out-style oil pan, providing a sure-fire way to make sure the engine stays properly lubricated. Milodon also supplied most of the fasteners for the top side of the motor.
Now that you have an idea of what was used, you can follow us through the machine shop to see the type of attention this engine received during the machining and assembly process. With the stellar list of parts that were used and a good machine shop, you can see how easy it is to build your own "crate engine."
The complete Fel-Pro EIS gasket set and Clevite 77 bearings should just about be second nature for anyone building any kind of engine. A Streetdampr harmonic balancer will help keep everything spinning in precise harmony.