Sherman's Small Block Hybrid - Big-Inch Mice In Two Distinct Flavors

Inside Joe Sherman Racing's Hybrid 408 Small-Blocks.

Doug Marion Dec 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
Sucp_0912_01_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Engine 1/29

It's been over 25 years since stroking a 350 small-block V-8 first became easy to do-hence, a very popular move-with impressive results. We're talking about the beloved torque-monster 383. We recently visited noted engine builder Joe Sherman at his facility in Santa Ana, California. Joe won the inaugural Popular Hot Rodding magazine Engine Masters Challenge seven years ago and has not looked back. When we asked him what a 383 had evolved into, he grinned and said, "As the 383 is to the 350, the 408 is to the 383."

He continued by telling us about his many hybrid 408 small-blocks, plus his latest one. The basic-form 408 Chevy small-block has been around since at least 2003-2004. But so have a lot of other non-stock Chevy small-blocks, including many factory crate engines. Why was Sherman touting his 408s, which he refers to as hybrids? Four reasons:

Sucp_0912_03_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Carb_adapters 2/29

Sherman is a big believer in testing carb adapters and spacers, even with the 1,095 cfm King Demon carb from Barry Grant. Comp Cams' cast aluminum valve covers are a nice addition.

1. It is an internally-balanced engine. Some less powerful Sherman 408s (550 hp or less) have successfully been built and put into service using a factory 350 iron block. Hence, to the onlooker, the engine looks like a 350, as the block's casting number would so dictate.

2. Many of his USA and Western European customers have requested his 408 in different horsepower levels and have reported good results.

3. With a beefier aftermarket engine block (example: Dart) Sherman has created single four-barrel, solid, reliable engines, like the one in this story, producing in excess of 660 hp with over 560 lb-ft of torque.

4. Depending on the 408, the maximum horsepower is at 5,800 or 6,800 rpm, both very livable engine speeds.

Sucp_0912_07_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Piston 3/29

The CP forged aluminum pistons are short skirt, race engine units. Sherman then coated the tops with a special agent.

408 Combinations
The key to producing the maximum obtainable torque and horsepower in a given combination is to have the correct top-end combo: camshaft, heads and induction. Sherman's 667hp 408 has a roller camshaft which delivers over 0.700-inch valve lift with 1.6 ratio Jesel shaft-mounted roller rocker arms. It was ground with a 270/280 split duration and features mechanical roller lifters. It was also ground specifically for this engine. For your convenience, we have listed all component data in the technical sidebar. Yes, flat tappet cams can be created with the same lobe lift spec but roller cams create less friction and their lobe design lets the valve stay open longer-hence, more cylinder filling and power production.

To best work with the roller camshaft, Sherman's intake manifold of choice is an Edelbrock Super Victor. It was designed for maximum power production between 4,500 and 8,000 rpm. Sherman's carburetor of choice is a 1,095 cfm King Demon from Barry Grant. So here we have a 408ci small-block with 11.50:1 compression ratio pumping out 506 hp at only 4,800 rpm with 554 lb-ft of torque. The numbers increased to a maximum torque output of 562 lb-ft at 5,600 rpm and 667 hp at 6,800 rpm.

Sherman feels there is something special in Air Flow Research's newly designed 210 Eliminator heads. He thinks it could be the combustion chamber design and/or the water jacket cooling design- along with their large 210cc intake ports. The AFR stainless steel valves feature narrower 8mm stems with bead-lock retainers. This equates to a 10 gram weight reduction in valvetrain weight.

Both the crankshaft and rods are right out of Scat's catalog. The forged steel crankshaft has a 4.00-inch stroke. The I-beam connecting rods are super strong, generally lighter than others and have rod bolts that are clearanced to avoid contact with the cam lobes.

The pistons are also right out of a catalog, in this instance CP's. They are race-type pistons and feature short skirts, three-rings and flat tops with dual valve reliefs. With a 0.014-inch deck height, 65cc combustion chambers and a 0.030-inch thick/4.125-inch bore Cometic steel head gasket, the 667hp 408 engine's compression ratio is 11.50:1.

Sucp_0912_09_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid JB_weld 7/29

For the record, small-block V-8 block grinding has been going on for just about forever. There is nothing wrong with doing so. Some pros will grind away then coat the area with JB Weld for a little insurance against cracking where the wall area is now much thinner. But for the time and effort spent in grinding, you could buy a hefty Dart aftermarket block and never loose any sleep for years to come.

Why so "low?" Sherman wanted to see if with the Comp Cams roller cam, the engine could run on his dyno using Chevron 91-octane unleaded gas and make big power. It did. It remains to be seen what octane number the 408 will need in actual competition.

The thing to always remember about Cometic gaskets is this: They offer a gasket for your engine in "any bore and any thickness."

It is much more cost effective to dial in the final compression ratio with a Cometic head gasket rather than taking the block back to the machine shop for more milling of its decks.

Aftermarket Block Recommended
There are a lot of 350 blocks and it is general racing knowledge that all stock iron block wall thicknesses are not the same. Call it "production casting irregularity." Regardless of what anyone else says about stock factory blocks, Sherman emphatically told us, "I recommend a beefier, clearanced aftermarket block (example: Dart) for my 667hp hybrid 408. It weighs 45 poundss more due to its beefiness. It costs $1,995 or so more, but they will never cause a problem.

Sucp_0912_10_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Intake_manifold 8/29

Sherman's intake manifold for the 667hp 408 is an Edelbrock Super Victor, PN 2925. With 360 degree, open plenum, big runners and air gap design, it was designed for race engines whose power range is in the 4,500 to 8,000 rpm area.

Complete flow bench results are listed in the technical sidebar. Suffice to say, the intake ports measure 316 cfm flow at 0.700-inch valve lift. This is huge. The exhaust port flow spec is 233 cfm. The biggest 408 small-block engine produces over 500 lb-ft of torque from the mid-4,000 rpm on up to 6,800 rpm. This is huge.

Horsepower output measures over 500 from 4,800 rpm to 5,600 rpm then over 600 hp from 5,700 rpm to 7,200 rpm. Big torque and horsepower numbers at every measured rpm is how Joe Sherman won the inaugural Engine Masters Challenge seven years ago. A ballpark price for this custom-built engine is $12,000. That's $17.99 per horsepower. Being internally balanced, the engine could be painted stock Chevy orange and look like a warmed over 350 to most onlookers.

Sherman's Tamer Hybrid
Joe Sherman's other hybrid 408 is referred to as "Jr." It has a smaller camshaft, a 750 cfm Speed Demon carburetor, smaller heads, an Edelbrock RPM Air Gap intake manifold, and a 10.5:1 compression ratio. It produces 568 hp at 5,800 rpm and 568 lb-ft of torque. It's ballpark price is $10,500 to $11,000.

Sucp_0912_13_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Intake_manifold_plenum 9/29

The only intake manifold plenum work Joe Sherman did was to blend in the runner dividers to hopefully increase flow and distribution.

667 HP 408 Engine Specifications
Camshaft
Manufacturer/Type: Comp Cams Roller
Duration @ 0.050-inch: 270 degrees intake280 degrees exhaust
Lobe Separation: 109 degrees
Camshaft Lobe Lift:
0.454-inch intake
0.438-inch exhaust
Intake Valve Lift (1.6 ratio rocker arm)
0.726-inch
Intake Valve Lift (1.5 ratio rocker arm)
0.681-inch
Exhaust Valve Lift (1.6 ratio rocker arm)
0.657-inch
Exhaust Valve Lift (1.5 ratio rocker arm)
0.645-inch
Valve Events @ 0.050-inch Lift:
Intake Opens-30 degrees BTDC
Intake Closes-58 degrees ABDC
Exhaust Opens-69 degrees BBDC
Exhaust Closes-29 degrees ATDC
Valve Lash: 0.013-inch intake (cold)
0.017-inch Exhaust (cold)

Cylinder Heads
AFR 1100 Eliminator 210 cc
Combustion Chamber Volume: 65 cc
Intake Valves: 2.080 -inch dia. x 5.020-inch long
Exhaust Valves: 1.600-inch dia. x 5.030-inch long

Valve Springas
Manufacturer: Comp Cams
Model: 26115
Closed Valve Seat Pressure: 255 psi @ 2.00-inch
Open Valve Seat Pressure: 663 psi @ 1.25-inch

Sucp_0912_15_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Pushrods 13/29

In a competition engine, 3/8-inch diameter pushrods are a must. The smaller 5/16-inch diameter pushrods could/would readily bend due to high valve spring pressure.

Crankshaft
Manufacturer: SCAT
Material: 4340 Steel
Stroke: 4.0-inch

Connecting Rods
Manufacturer: SCAT
Material: 4340 Steel
Design: H.D. I-Beam Type, Fully Profiled
Cap Bolts: 7/16-inch
Rod Weight: 600 Grams
Length: 6-Inch
Highlights: Stroker Clearanced

Pistons
Manufacturer: CP
Size: 4.030-inch Forged
Piston Weight: 378 grams
Piston Pin: Tool Steel, .090-inch wall, 0.927-inch dia., 2.50-inch long, 78 grams.
Lateral Gas Ports : 10
Compression Height: 1.00
Ring Package: 043-043-3mm

Sucp_0912_18_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Positioning 14/29

When using aftermarket aluminum heads and rocker arms, exact care must be given to pushrod positioning. Four of the 16 touched the head hole wall so the Jesel shaft-mounted rocker arms had to be repositioned. This is all part of custom engine building.

Carburetor
Manufacturer: Barry Grant
Model: King Demon 1095 cfm
Jetting: Primaries & Secondaries: pn 94

Intake Manifold
Manufacturer: Edelbrock
Model: Super Victor pn 2925

Engine Blueprint Data
Deck Height: 0.014-inch
Piston-To-Wall Clearance: 0.005-inch
Piston Ring End Gap:
Top: 0.014-0.015-inch
2nd: 0.018-0.020-inch
Main Bearing Clearance: 0.003-inch
Rod Bearing Clearance: 0.0027-inch
Crankshaft End Play: 0.008-inch
Head Gasket Volume: 6.6 cc
Compression Ratio: 11.50:1

Sucp_0912_19_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Combustion_chamber 15/29

Sherman massaged all the ports to meet his specifications. The combustion chambers are original. You will note that Sherman has run the heads, then removed them for more testing and flow modifications. The stock intake ports are 210cc.

Tuning
Gasoline: Chevron 91 octane
Total Ignition Timing: 35 degrees
Spark Plugs: NGK no. 5672
Gap: 0.045-inch

Sucp_0912_20_z Shermans_small_block_hybrid Valve_stems 16/29

The Air Flow Research 2.08 and 1.60 stainless steel valves feature slimmer 8mm stems. This saves about 10 grams of weight-each. A lighter valvetrain means quicker revving.

SUPER FLOW DYNO TEST RESULTS
RPM TORQUE HORSEPOWER
4,800 554 506
5,200 564 559
5,600 562 599
6,000 554 632
6,400 537 654
6,800 514 667
7,200 484 663
1 3/4-INCH dyno headers & 3-inch magna flow mufflers


Sources

Air Flow Research
Valencia, CA 91355
661-257-8124
AirFlowResearch.com
CP Pistons
Irvine, CA 92614
949-567-9000
http://www.cppistons.com
Scat Enterprises
310/370-5501
scatenterprises.com
Milodon
Simi Valley, CA 93065
805-577-5950
www.milodon.net
Joe Sherman Racing Engines
714-542-0515
www.joeshermanracing.com
Cometic Gasket inc.
Concord, OH
440-354-0777
cometic.com
Barry Grant/Demon
Dahlonega, GA 30533
706-864-8544
www.barrygrant.com
Jesel Valvetrain
732-901-1800
www.jesel.com
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