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Chevy Corvette 350 Engine - One-Stop Topping

With Help From TFS, We Make 428HP From An Old 350-And It's 87-Octane Friendly.

By Dan Ryder, Photography by Dan Ryder

While many car-crazed enthusiasts enjoy spending time researching the options necessary to create the ultimate engine combination, some of us don't have the time-or we don't know how. Fortunately for us, there are top-notch manufacturers such as Trick Flow Specialties in Tallmadge, Ohio, that can ease the pain with a complete line of top-halfengine packages. Each package is available in a range of horsepower ratings, depending on your habits and what you want to achieve.

After a brief search, we found a suitable short-block to perform the installation and testing of the TFS 445-horsepower package. As many of you recall, we performed a three-part installment titled "Shoestring Stroker," written by Chris Werner, which was a 383-inch mouse motor built for Editor Jim Campisano's '72 LT1 Corvette (Project Homewrecker).

After yanking the crusty old 75,000-mile passenger car 350 from the Vette, it was set in the corner like a child in detention. Editor Campisano and I figured the reliable 350 would be a great candidate for the swap because they're readily available and were found in many Chevrolets over the years. This particular unit was originally from a 1973 passenger car, which was ultra low in the compression department (8.0:1), thus allowing for emission compliance and the use of 87-octane unleaded fuel.

The Trick Flow top-end package includes the TFS 195cc 23-degree aluminum cylinder heads, a roller camshaft with .558/.558-inch lift, ARP cylinder head bolts, guide plates, rocker studs, 1.5-ratio roller rockers, a complete timing chain and gear set, a complete SBC gasket set and pushrod length checker.

Since our engine was originally equipped with a flat tappet camshaft, we ordered Trick Flow's new tie-bar roller lifters for our project. Considering the array of engines to which this kit will adapt, you must measure for pushrod length once the cylinder head, lifter and camshaft are installed onto the engine.

In order to properly distribute fuel to the engine, we called upon Edelbrock in Torrance, California. TFS suggested the use of an Edelbrock RPM Air Gap intake manifold (PN7501) designed for '55-'86 262-400 cid Chevy V-8's. The air-gap design features open air space keeping the runners separate from the hot engine oil, resulting in a cooler, denser charge into the engine, hence creating power. The RPM Air Gap is recommended for use in the 1,500-6,500 rpm operating range.

Next we removed the valve covers and loosened off all of the rocker arms, leaving the valves closed for a cylinder leak-down test. The cylinder leak-down will give us a general idea on the condition of the engine, and whether it has any substantial leakage through either the valves or the rings. Surprisingly, our 350 test mule performed very well, with the highest percentage of leak-down coming in at around 12 percent, which is normal for an older unit with some miles on it.

By Dan Ryder
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