I never really intended to do full rebuild on the Vette’s LT-1 powerplant, honest dear! But numerous factors contributed to my current stage 4 “might as well” condition. I was intending only to replace pistons, rings and bearings and possibly clean the heads up. Finding the valve spring height almost 0.100″ shorter than normal caused me to send the heads (and subsequently the intake manifold) to Lloyd Elliot for expert port work and machining. The rabbit hole got much deeper when I discovered a rust pit in the #6 cylinder wall.
I guess I won’t be replacing the seat upholstery and carpets this year…
A note to anyone yanking the powerplant out of a ZF-6 (manual six speed) C4 – do not waste your time trying to remove the bellhousing from the engine. The clutch design is a “puller” so the throwout bearing is held captive by the clutch fork. You can pry on it ’til kingdom come and all you’ll end up doing is making yourself angry. Pull the 5 bolts that hold the tranny on the bellhousing, remove the harmonic dampener and air conditioning receiver and it comes out without removing the hood, radiator, or anything else north of the front most k-member rail.
Also be sure to support the transmission fully before yanking anything, because there’s no crossmember and the transmission will in effect be left hanging at the end of the torque channel that connects to the differential. I don’t know (nor do I want to find out) if the differential mounts will handle the load of all that. You’ll notice how I placed the front of the car on dollies, one under the k-member and the other held to the transmission by a ratchet strap. This lets me roll the car around the garage without risking damage to the differential. Hopefully we’ll get a nice 60+ degree day soon so I can get the pressure washer on it and blast the remnants of 10 years of oil leaks out of the engine compartment.
The heads were delivered back from Elliot’s Portworks on the same day I heard from Button Automotive that my crankshaft had been balanced and was ready to go. Had I known going into this endeavor that the balancing was going to be such an expensive proposition I probably would have considered a 383 stroker kit much more thoroughly. My personal belief however is that the 350 chevy smallblock is possibly the most effective bore + stroke combination ever conceived in a 90 degree crossplane V8. Whether you want seat-of-the-pants low-end torque or holy shit I don’t want to die today mind-numbing horsepower at the ragged edge of 7000 rpm, the tried and true 5.7 will do it on the cheap. In the end I will probably end up with the same results – a 383 stroker would start suffocating about the time the 350 starts to really breathe deep north of 6500 rpm. That’s my story anyway.
So on Sunday, December 11th I finally started installing pistons. After spending at least 16 hours weight matching pistons and connecting rods, washing hundreds of parts in my $30 home-made parts washer, and hundreds of words exchanged getting the missing, mis-ordered and incompetently installed parts accounted for I would again be foiled by Federal Mogul. Note to self – count all the piston rings, including the paper-thin oil ring rails, before the day you were planning to have the bottom end buttoned up.
There will be more to see here as I have time to edit.