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Stroker's Long Block - Shoestring Stroker, Part 2

More Budget-Minded Parts Allow Continuing Construction Of Our 383 Small-Block - While Keeping The Wallet Fat.

Aug 6, 2007
Sucp_0707_01_z Stroker_long_back Long_back 2/32

In our last issue, we assembled a stout, yet affordable short-block based around a 383-stroker kit from Powerhouse Engine Components ("Shoestring Stroker," June 2007). This task was accomplished in the author's home garage, and our do-it-yourself methodology has saved us a bunch on labor-related dough. Picking price-friendly parts appropriate for our application has helped keep the bills low as well-to date we've spent just over $1,540 on engine parts and machine work (inclusive of a four-bolt 350 block).

Although we had some specialized engine build tools in our garage already, we also had to grab some more-but around $250 thus far ain't bad, especially when you consider these tools can be reused on subsequent motor builds or other garage projects. Perhaps most importantly of all, we're enjoying the process of building our own mill.

It's time to continue the engine assembly right where we left off, and we'll stick with the theme of suitable-yet-affordable engine components as we put together our stroker's long-block. Our goal of garnering a minimum dollar-per-horsepower ratio is within sight, so follow along to see how it all comes together (no pun intended). And be sure to join us next time for the remainder of our assembly and the all-important dyno results.

Sucp_0707_02_z Stroker_long_back Valvetrain 3/32

As with our rotating assembly, our valvetrain was sourced from our friends at Powerhouse. Here we have our cam, lifters, and timing set (sans crank sprocket-we already pressed it onto the crank snout last time). Our $19.95 S.A. Gear double-roller timing set (PN 73017), Powerhouse lifters (PN 817, $29.92 a set) and, most importantly, Elgin camshaft, keep it affordable, yet dependable and torque-friendly. This PN E1067P hydraulic bumpstick, which features 234/244 duration at 0.050 and 0.488/0.510 lift, is a virtual steal at $64.95 and will help feed our 383 cubes the air and fuel they need.

Sucp_0707_03_z Stroker_long_back Cam 4/32

The cam slides into the front of the block. It makes things a lot easier if you install a couple of long bolts into it to help give you some leverage. This proves especially important when the cam is almost all the way into the block, leaving little to grab onto otherwise. This is a flat-tappet cam, so don't skimp on the break-in lube on the lobes (and distributor gear, of course). Make the least mess by resting the cam on its journals and lubing each lobe group just as it's about to disappear into the block.

Sucp_0707_04_z Stroker_long_back Crank 5/32

After turning the crank so that its sprocket's timing dot faces straight up, the timing chain and cam sprocket go on. It's best to soak the chain in oil before installation, though this means you will experience some drippage here. You'll likely need to spin the cam by hand a bit to help get the cam sprocket onto its locating pin, and make sure the timing mark on the cam sprocket will face straight down once it's on.

Sucp_0707_05_z Stroker_long_back Arp 6/32

As with last time, we're turning to ARP for many of our fastener needs. The company sells its SBC cam bolt kit for $4.57 under PN 134-1001. We'll be using the PN 230-7003 oil pump stud kit ($5.88) momentarily. Also pictured are a balancer bolt (PN 134-2501) and flexplate bolt kit (PN 100-2901), but we won't get to use them until next issue. They go for $26.22 and $11, respectively.

Sucp_0707_06_z Stroker_long_back Cam_bolts 7/32

To help ensure the cam bolts stay in, use some red thread locker on each. Torque to 20 lb-ft.

Sucp_0707_07_z Stroker_long_back Cam_installed 8/32

We're not doing anything fancy with cam timing on this engine, but we still want to verify that the cam has been installed correctly-and you should do the same, stroker or not. Powerhouse Products (a division of Comp Cams) sells this heads-off degree wheel kit for $141.95 under PN POW101580. Its universal nature means it'll work on just about any engine you're putting together, and the inclusion of a padded carrying/storage case is a definite nice touch.

Sucp_0707_09_z Stroker_long_back Degree_wheel_kit 9/32

Perhaps the best thing about this particular degree wheel kit is that it works in conjunction with Powerhouse Products' Pro Crankshaft Turning Socket, an item we showed you last time. Just use the knurled nut at the front of the socket to tighten the wheel on. Keep it only snug for now though, since we'll need to rotate the wheel while we're establishing top dead center (TDC).

Sucp_0707_08_z Stroker_long_back Tdc_stop 10/32

After bending the provided piece of wire to act as a timing pointer (bottom left of photo), we install the degree wheel kit's TDC stop onto cylinder number one. The crank will need to be turned backward slightly in order to drop the piston into the cylinder and allow the stop to be tightened in place (using a couple of head bolts and some spacers).

Sucp_0707_10_z Stroker_long_back Turn_crank_forward 11/32

Now turn the crank forward (clockwise) until the piston hits the stop. Mark the pointer reading on the degree wheel. Then, turn the crank backward until the piston drops to BDC, comes up, and hits the stop again. Mark this reading on the degree wheel as well. The halfway point of where the two marks are is your zero, so adjust the location of the wheel on the crank socket to accomplish this. After doing so, verify that zero indicates TDC by spinning the crank forward and then back again, making sure the pointer indicates the same number each time the piston hits the stop (albeit on either side of zero). Here, we get 17.5 degrees each way, meaning our degree wheel is properly positioned.

Sucp_0707_11_z Stroker_long_back Intake_centerline 12/32

The most common way to verify that the cam is installed correctly is via the intake centerline method. At the risk of over-generalizing, we'll just say that this measures the crankshaft angle where the cam's intake lobe reaches maximum lift. Install a lifter into cylinder number one's intake lifter bore, and mount the Powerhouse Products fixture so that the dial indicator's tip touches the lifter. Every part of this fixture must be secure and tight for accuracy, and the dial indicator's stem needs to be parallel to lifter travel. Zero the dial indicator at maximum lifter travel out of its bore.

Sucp_0707_12_z Stroker_long_back Spin_crank 13/32

After bending the provided piece of wire to act as a timing pointer (bottom left of photo), we install the degree wheel kit's TDC stop onto cylinder number one. The crank will need to be turned backward slightly in order to drop the piston into the cylinder and allow the stop to be tightened in place (using a couple of head bolts and some spacers).

Sucp_0707_15_z Stroker_long_back Heavy_iron_cylinder 14/32

We're on a budget, but the marginal dollar savings incurred with heavy iron cylinder heads simply didn't make sense in our minds, particularly when there's the possibility of a home porting job down the road (stay tuned on that one). That said, our heads of choice are Powerhouse's fully-assembled, angle-plug aluminum units (PN 123400090A). Retailing for $799 a pair, these as-cast, 190cc intake runner heads are a very good buy, reportedly flowing 260/209 cfm at 0.500 lift. Equipped with 2.05/1.60-inch valves, you can also have them in polished versions for another hundred bucks. The guideplates are included, as are screw-in rocker studs.

Sucp_0707_16_z Stroker_long_back Clean_deck_surface 15/32

After cleaning the block's deck surface, we lay our driver side head gasket in place. These ROL units are included in the gasket set provided as part of Powerhouse's stroker kit and are designed to be installed dry-so no RTV to get our fingers sticky with here.

Sucp_0707_14_z Stroker_long_back Head_deck_surface 16/32

All 16 lifters are soaked in oil to get them lubricated(but they are't pumped up, so as not to interfere with proper valve adjustment), and cam break-in-lube is spread across the before sliding them their bores. then the purshrods are inserted, being sure to put some back in lube on the tips of each well.

Sucp_0707_13_z Stroker_long_back Small_block_chevy_head_bolts 17/32

ARP provided us with its PN 134-3601 small-block Chevy head bolt kit for $85.74. Rated at 170,000 psi, these 7/16 bolts provide plenty of clamping force without breaking the bank.

Sucp_0707_19_z Stroker_long_back Head_bolt_holes 18/32

Since the cylinder head bolt holes on a small-block Chevy intersect the water jacket, it's important to use sealer on the bolt threads in lieu of moly lube. ARP sells just the stuff to do the trick and prevent coolant from creeping up the threads.

Sucp_0707_20_z Stroker_long_back Installed_head_bolts 19/32

The head bolts are installed and torqued in sequence to a final value of 60 lb-ft (ARP's recommended value for aluminum heads). We repeat the previous steps for the passenger side cylinder head.

Sucp_0707_18_z Stroker_long_back Rocker_stud 20/32

Our upper valvetrain consists of rocker studs (included with our cylinder heads), 0.100-inch longer 4130 chrome-moly Elgin pushrods (PN 777, $59.04), and 1.5-ratio extruded aluminum roller rockers (PN 1538, $159) made by Powerhouse. All of this will help keep our stroker's top end as reliable as possible.

Sucp_0707_17_z Stroker_long_back Rocker_stud 21/32

The 31/48-inch rocker studs are torqued atop the guideplates. Sealer should be used on these threads as well. As an aside, now is a good time to spread some assembly lube around the areas of the guideplates that will contact the pushrods.

Sucp_0707_23_z Stroker_long_back Valve_adjustment 22/32

All 16 lifters are soaked in oil to get them lubricated (but they aren't pumped up, so as not to interfere with proper valve adjustment), and cam break-in lube is spread on the bottom surface of each before sliding them into their bores. Then the pushrods are inserted, being sure to put some break-in lube on the tips of each as well.

Sucp_0707_21_z Stroker_long_back Instal_rocker_arms 23/32

While attempting to install the rocker arms, we found that the underside of the rocker interfered with the valvespring keeper, preventing the rocker arm tip from contacting the valve stem. Look closely and you can see the gap between the roller tip and the valve in the photo. Some rockers encountered more interference than others.

Sucp_0707_22_z Stroker_long_back Valve_keeper 24/32

You can see the point where the valve keeper was contacting the rocker here (which we revealed by pushing down on the rocker and wiggling it back and forth atop the valvespring, thereby making a mark). Powerhouse recommended that we grind the underside of the rockers for clearance, so we did, and in the process matched each rocker uniquely to each valve.

Sucp_0707_24_z Stroker_long_back Rocker_adjustment 25/32

With all rockers clearanced, the valves can be adjusted. Spread some assembly lube in the pushrod cup before setting each rocker in place. Turn the crank and adjust the rockers one cylinder at a time, setting lash for the intake rocker just as the exhaust lifter begins to rise and adjusting the exhaust rocker as the intake lifter has fallen nearly to the bottom of its bore. Use an Allen wrench to tighten each adjusting nut in place once you've put the desired number of turns on it.

Sucp_0707_26_z Stroker_long_back Adjust_rocker_pairs 26/32

It's best to proceed along the firing order of the engine (1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2) as you adjust rocker pairs. With all of them completed, we've finished assembling the valvetrain of our stroker!

Sucp_0707_25_z Stroker_long_back Engine_covers 27/32

There's one more mechanical item to take care of before we can start installing engine covers, and that, my friends, is the "heart" of the engine: the oil pump. We sourced Milodon for its PN 18750 high-volume, high-pressure SBC oil pump, which is a deal at $37. We also grabbed a chrome-moly oil pump driveshaft (PN 23050, $15.26) and stroker-appropriate extreme-use pickup (PN 18316, $59.27), which will work with the pan we install next time. Choosing the right parts here will keep your stroker alive, but, as you can see, it won't bankrupt you either.

Sucp_0707_28_z Stroker_long_back Flipped_engine 28/32

With the engine flipped upside down in its stand, the Milodon oil pump driveshaft slips into its hole on the rear main cap. There's no plastic on this piece; the high-strength pinned steel collar will pop into place on the pump when the distributor is installed.

Sucp_0707_27_z Stroker_long_back Pump 29/32

We'll be securing our pump with the aforementioned oil pump stud kit made by ARP. The stud is snugged in place with an Allen wrench. Now is also an excellent time to final-clean the area about this stud, which is where oil coming from the pump will enter the block's oil galleys (you can see the oil entry hole in the main cap peeking from behind the stud on the opposite side).

Sucp_0707_29_z Stroker_long_back Rear_oil_pan 30/32

Milodon's rear oil pan baffle (PN 32500, $6.37) is sandwiched between the pump and the main cap, and the pump torqued atop it. This baffle (which will work with the Milodon oil pan we'll be bolting on next time) is an inexpensive way to prevent oil from creeping up to the crank area under hard acceleration. Though not shown here, we ended up having to drill a couple of holes in this item to allow the main cap bolt heads to protrude through; you may be able to tell that the baffle is bowed slightly here, and this ended up interfering with the oil pan installing properly.

Sucp_0707_30_z Stroker_long_back Rear_oil_pan 31/32

Finally, our Milodon pickup is slid into the pump and its bracket is bolted to an existing location on the pump housing. The fit between the pickup's CNC-machined, billet inlet tube and the pump is so tight, you'll actually have to put this pickup in the freezer for a couple of hours so that the metal contracts to the point where it will slide into the pump. This designed-in tight fit (along with the bracket) means it's not going anywhere-and there's no welding required. Note the additional braces, again for extreme use. We'll be running our stroker hard.

Sucp_0707_31_z Stroker_long_back Completed_assembly 32/32

We've completed the assembly of our homebuilt stroker's long-block and have only blown another (approximately) $1,383 in parts and $142 in tools, bringing to-date totals to a bit over $3,300-all-inclusive. Catch our next segment for our final parts installations, as well as dyno results, where we reveal just how low our dollar-to-hp quotient can go.



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