Here's some musclecar math to think about: a little bit of grease on the hands + some quality time spent in the garage = savings of more than a little dough, and the satisfaction of a job well done to go with it. While this formula can apply to just about any automotive repair job, nowhere is it truer than with a ground-up engine build.
With this theme in mind, we've been detailing the assembly of a budget-minded homegrown stroker mouse motor in the last two issues. In case you missed the previous segments, our short-block was based around a four-bolt 350 block and a 383 stroker kit from Powerhouse Engine Components ("Shoestring Stroker," June 2007). We went on to add parts like as-cast 190cc Powerhouse heads, a hydraulic Elgin cam, and Milodon oil system components to finish our 10.7:1 compression long-block in the July issue. Doing all of the assembly labor ourselves has saved us a good amount of funds, and at the close of business last time, we'd spent right about $3,300 inclusive of all parts, a few engine build tools, and machine work.
Avid readers looking for tons of torque with limited funds have likely been anxiously awaiting this engine's completion. Would we deliver on our promise of big power on a minimal investment, or would we be left to offer Chevy enthusiasts little more than a subpar power quote and an equally unimpressive apology? As you'll see below, our power prayers have been answered-but before getting to that, it's time to put the finishing touches on our mill.
Some of the Milodon engine covers we picked up for this build include a PN 65501 steel timing cover ($14.73) and tall chrome valve covers retailing for $58.32 (PN 85500). These valve covers are baffled and include breather grommets. Why'd we choose a gold timing cover, you ask? Well, it's a couple bucks cheaper than chrome! We also picked up Milodon's $4.76 PN 85260 timing cover bolt set and $9.02 PN 85375 valve cover stud kit (neither shown).
After installing our crank seal into the timing cover, we put our timing cover loosely in place on the block (both the gasket and seal were included in our Powerhouse gasket set). Before the timing cover bolts are installed, it helps to press the harmonic balancer into place, a process that requires a harmonic balancer installer tool (a standard item for most home garages, and readily available). Doing so helps better align the timing cover to the block. Don't forget to use some oil on the seal. With the balancer in place, our Milodon timing cover bolts are installed and torqued to 21 lb-ft.
Milodon also hooked us up with its PN 30901 Low Profile oil pan as well as PN 32102 windage tray, both designed to work with our somewhat-unusual passenger-side-dipstick four-bolt block. These items retail for $201.57 and $29.39, respectively. Since this tray affixes to the block and not the pan, we also grabbed a windage tray installation kit (PN 81150, $52.06).
Milodon's windage tray uses a double-nut design (one above, one below) as its mounting system, which allows the tray height to be adjusted. This lets you ensure proper clearance between it and the spinning rods. After some visual measurements, the nuts receive the specified torque, and the crank is spun to ensure no interference.
After carefully setting all oil pan gaskets in place and applying RTV at all the right spots, the Milodon pan goes on. For $6.37, we got a set of the company's PN 85000 oil pan bolts, which we install and torque to recommended spec. It's time to flip the engine over and move to the topside.