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383 Chevy Short Block - Torqbot

The Rebuilt Mouse That Thinks It's A Rat

By Mike Petralia

It seems we're obsessed with horsepower. It dominates our conversations and keeps us up long hours into the night. Why do we ignore torque? It's torque that gets our cars moving. It's torque that smacks you into the seat when you mash the pedal. So why have we forgotten about torque? It probably goes way back to the early days of car magazines. Throughout history, we've been trained to think about horsepower. It's all anyone ever talks about, so it must be all that's important, right? Wrong. \

Truth be known, engines don't make horsepower, they make torque and then horsepower is calculated from torque. Why are we bringing this up? Because this engine makes a ton of torque and it's not too shabby in the power department, either. It's nice too, because it's a real street motor that idles smooth and won't cost more than your next car to build. We've named it the Torqbot, because it autonomously cranks out torque like there was no letting go.

Building The 'Bot
We've heard lots of good things about the Edelbrock E-Tec heads, but all we'd seen tested so far had been the E-Tec 200s with the large runners. When we saw the kind of power Edelbrock made with their own Crate 383s and the 170 heads ("Roaring Twins," SUPER CHEVY October 2003) we decided to try our hand at it. The car this engine is intended to power will be a heavy daily driver with A/C. This motor was the perfect choice.

To keep costs reasonable, we went with a stock (read: cast) short-block assembly from Powerhouse Engine Components. The kit included all the bottom-end pieces we'd need for very little cash. All we had to so was come up with a two-bolt 350 block, which are about as plentiful as sunshine in California, and we could have the guys at Speed-O-Motive set the whole thing up for us.

The top end received a little more attention to detail, but we still didn't go overboard on the budget. The two expensive parts we choose to run were the Isky hydraulic roller cam (265/272 adv. dur, 217/225 at .050, .485/.505 lift, 112 LSA) and the aluminum Edelbrock E-Tec heads. But we felt that the performance of these parts far outweighed their higher prices. Other than that, the rest of the motor is bare bones simple, with a flare for power. The Performance Distributors HEI distributor and Live Wires ignition wires had no trouble firing this little beast.

Edelbrock supplied its Performer RPM Air Gap intake manifold and new Thunder Series AVS 650 carburetor. But for fun and games, we also tried a few of Edelbrock's other carbs, including an 800-cfm AVS and even a 750-cfm Edelbrock Q-jet just to see which one worked best. To finish everything off, we borrowed a set of 1 3/4-inch headers from Speed-O-Motive and hooked up an Edelbrock aluminum water pump to keep things cool.

Testing The 'Bot
After it was built, the dyno staff at Speed-O-Motive bolted the 'Bot onto their DTS engine dyno for a full day's flogging. It turned out that it didn't take a whole day to see that this thing was like a gorilla. Basically, everything worked great right out of the box. We set the HEI at 36 degrees total advance and made sure fuel flow was at a steady 6 psi. The dyno pulls we made with each carb showed promising results across the board. Although peak power figures were slightly lower than what Edelbrock's 383 made, our engine was almost 30 ci smaller, so we knew we had a winner here.

Torqbot Parts List
Short block parts from Powerhouse
*Crank PN 661-861-0125
*Pistons PN H345NCP .040
*Rings Speed Pro E251K
*King Bearings, Mains MB 557AM, Rods 807AM
*Pioneer Balancer & Flexplate
*Federal Mogul gasket set PN *260-100
Approx price $500

Valve train
*Isky Hyd Roller cam PN 201265/272
*HR lifters PN 2020
*Pushrods PN 203-96
*Timing set PN 300TS

Edelbrock Equipment
*Cylinder Heads-E-Tec 170 PN 60979
*Intake-Perf RPM Air Gap PN 7516
*Carb-AVS PN 1806
*Valve Covers PN 4153
*Water Pump PN 8811

* Ignition-Performance Distributors HEI w/ Live Wires
* Oil system-Moroso

*Machine Work & Assembly Speed-O-Motive

RPM TQ HP
2600 353 175
2800 363 194
3000 365 209
3200 367 224
3400 374 242
3600 385 264
3800 391 283
4000 395 301
4200 400 319
4400 407 341
4600 414 363
4800 414 378
5000 406 387
5200 398 394
5400 388 399
5600 373 398
5800 359 396
MAX 415 399
AVG 385 310
SOURCES
Edelbrock
Dept. 5.0
2700 California St.
Torrance
CA  90503
310-781-2222
www.edelbrock.com
Performance Distributors
Memphis
TN
9-01/-396-5783
performancedistributors.com
ISKENDERIAN RACING CAMS (ISKY)
16020 S. Broadway St.
Gardena
CA  90248
323-770-0930
323-515-5730
www.iskycams.com
Powerhouse Engine Components
931 19th St
Bakersfield
CA   93301
Lunati Cams
Olive Branch
MS
6-62/-892-1500
lunatipower.com
Speed-O-Motive
131 W. Lang Ave.
West Covina
CA  91790
6-26/-869-0270
speedomotive.com
Moroso Performance Products
203-453-6571
moroso.com
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By Mike Petralia
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