We're not through checking bearings clearances just yet, because while out-of round crank journals might measure up just fine with Plastigauge, they'll deliver uneven tolerances around the journal circumference. A micrometer kit like Powerhouse Products' PN POW152004 will help you achieve precision measurements down to one ten thousandth of an inch for only $109.
We weren't worried too much about the roundness of our journals since we were using a new crankshaft, but those who might be using remanufactured or turned cranks in their strokers should definitely double-check theirs.
The other half of the clearance equation is rotating clearances, that is, making sure your rotating assembly will spin in the block without hitting anything. While good practice in any engine assembly, this step is doubly important when installing a larger-than-stock crankshaft, as is the case here. After cleaning all main bearings of Plastigauge residue and lubricating them with oil, the crank is reinstalled and tightened in place (using some old main bolts for now). After the thrust bearing is properly set, it will spin; if not, you probably need an align honing.
A Pro Crankshaft Turning Socket from Powerhouse Products (PN POW103050, $26.25) makes an easy task out of spinning a small-block's crank-and there will be quite a bit of it to do both during pre-assembly fitting as well as final assembly. Its knurled removable nut also means a degree wheel can be easily attached, a feature that we'll use to our benefit next time.
This Powerhouse kit uses press-fit piston pins, so installing the rods on the pistons is not possible without the appropriate machinery. We took ours to our machine shop and had it done for $42.81 with tax. This takes a step out of the assembly process for the do-it-yourselfer, but also costs a few more bucks.
With some lube on the cylinder walls, the piston/rod assemblies for cylinders 1 and 2 are installed one at a time (no rings are necessary for now, but lubed rod bearings are a must). Having both rods on each crank journal will hold the rods where they're going to ride while the engine is running. Otherwise, the rods can shift and you'll get a false clearance reading between the rod nuts and the block. Also, don't just use two arbitrary piston/rod assemblies and swap them between cylinders: manufacturing variation makes each unique, so mark each one so that it can be placed in the same location during both pre-assembly and final assembly.
Upon spinning the engine over, we noted some close calls between the rod nuts and the engine block just above the oil pan rails. Though most blocks have factory notches in this area (as this one does), they often aren't deep enough to clear the rods when a larger crank is installed. We'll note this interference area with a magic marker so that some light grinding can be done later-we'll hit the nuts a little as well. This process must be repeated on each and every cylinder with that cylinder's particular piston/rod assembly installed.
Before marking clearances on the rest of the cylinders, we take a peek into the cam tunnel and make an important discovery: the rods of cylinders 1 and 2 protrude into the cam tunnel substantially, making contact with cam lobes a distinct possibility. This is yet another important concern when building a stroker, as the increased crank throw pushes the rods closer to the cam. Though engine outfits like Powerhouse often clearance these areas of the rod for you (you can see the ground surfaces here on each rod), it's still a good idea to double-check. We therefore decided we'll need to install the cam and leave it in while we check clearances for all the rods.