Anybody had their SBC swap done by a shop/individual?

motorheadmike

Geezer
Nov 18, 2009
8,981
113
Saskatchewan, Truckistan
Labor is typically closer to around $100/hr for a legit shop where someone is paying rent for a building that your car is secure (inside) while is their possession.

Even $100/hr is low with the state of things today.

26 hours (mascarading as an undervalued 18 hours of labour) to slap a grime covered junkyard engine into a car is a lot of time.

Committing that kind of money, represented as a sunk cost, to an unknown junkyard relic is problematic. And then to throw a bunch of new "good" parts at it is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

What recourse do you have when this all goes sideways? Who do you hold to account: you for trying to value-engineer a solution to a problem of your own design (fast/cheap/reliable: choose two) or this "guy" for taking advantage of a cash cow walking through his door.

Spend the other $3500 and do it properly with a crate motor and suitable transmission. Or don't.
 
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scoti

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Sep 5, 2019
1,691
113
Texas
So if he charged 100 and hour and this was a 19 hour job the numbers would stay the same. Where am I off on the labor hours? I'm genuinely asking because I haven't done it so maybe YouTube and the internet is way off on total hours.

Remove old engine (and disconnect all old crap): 8 hours
Drop in and reconnect everything: 8 hours
Misc: 3 hours
Calculating. If it was a straight swap (sbc for a sbc), I'd say they can estimate fairly close on the labor time/hours like the posted 8hrs to remove + 8hrs to reinstall & 3hrs misc. But, swapping from this to that means there can & are uncertainties. Those uncertainties take time to resolve & you really can't anticipate until it comes up in the process.

What if the headers you linked don't fit? What then?
What if he notices something while swapping intakes? Proceed w/o concern or stop to discuss w/customer? That = time you get charged for.
 
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bracketchev1221

Royal Smart Person
Jan 18, 2018
1,245
113
With enough ingenuity it can be done by one person if that helps. Pull the engine out of the car and then pull the trans. Do it the opposite going back in. This makes it easier than trying to wrestle the engine in to line up with the trans. I put the 350 in my nova and my 78 malibu with the hood still on. I used to put the engines in the race car by myself all the time. But I won't use that as an example as the car had no inner fenderwells and 5 piece headers.
 
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DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
7,768
113
*CENSORED*
My best piece of advice is to be very specific about the details with whoever is doing the work and put it in writing. You said you're getting a running engine out of an old truck and the intake manifold in your cart indicates it's a lat 80s - early 90s TBI. I saw no mention of resealing, degreasing, or detailing the engine before it goes in your car. If you're only expecting "just slap a tree-fiddy in der", then you probably won't be disappointed. A 4.3 -> 5.7 isn't a direct swap but it's close. There will be some predictable speedbumps -- always are.



I'm in no way trying to talk you out of it. Just want you to have reasonable expectations.
 
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DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
7,768
113
*CENSORED*
Now, here's something else to consider. If your 4.3 runs okay, why not work from the other direction? A rear gear change will make a huge difference in how the car feels. My 305 is rated with roughly the same power numbers as your 4.3 and going from my hella lame 2.29s to 3.42s felt like a 100hp bolt on. You could do a gear swap and add limited slip at the same time and change the whole personality of your car. Upgrading to 28 spline axles would be a good idea as well.

The next upgrade would be a nicely built overdrive. Snappy shifts and a bit more converter will make the car feel even more zippy.

Then you have a 400hp/400lb-ft drivetrain instead of a 250hp/250lb-ft drivetrain. You can build a nice healthy SBC without worrying about the parts downstream.
 
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oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
2,044
113
mpls
Any plans on the fuel delivery system modifications you'll need in this swap?
This might account for the added time some people have questioned.
 
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PBGBodyFan

G-Body Guru
Supporting Member
Mar 3, 2009
762
93
Wisconsin
It sounds like you're mind is made up to have a shop to the work but if you have the space (even a single car garage is probably enough) an engine swap can be done by yourself. I'm sure many on here have done it on their own, the first couple I did were with a lot of help by a friend more experienced with swaps, the one I did last year was all on my own. Another person can be helpful for sure but definitely isn't necessary.
 
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Kamloops cutlass

Master Mechanic
Jan 27, 2021
315
63
Kamloops bc
I’d keep at least another 1000 aside for the stuff no one thought of .
don’t let these guys make you feel bad for not wanting to do it yourself .
Your car ,your life ,you know what you want
Also , I’ve fixed a lot of stuff homeowners have done on their own home because “it’s easy - just watch a YouTube video and do it “ lol
I’ll pound nails cause I’m good at it and I’d pay a mechanic to do a motor swap because he’s good at it .
And yes I have done several swaps myself ,scratches on frame, header panels and firewalls to prove it
Not to mention pinching starter cable in motor mount putting me on side of freeway at 1am
Or wondering what that little black box does , then drive to buddy’s place and explode the battery all over the trunk
 
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87National

G-Body Guru
Apr 15, 2009
623
93
eastern SD
Man I'd love to and i know I can get a hoist and stand for $350. But every video I've watched and every guide has the words "have a buddy" sprinkled through it and I don't have any friends that would be willing to spend 3 hours helping me do something like this. And my dad is barely able to walk.
So when I ask things like this in threads I'm already feeling like sh*t about it. I've restored four motorcycles and done all the work myself but that is a 1 man job. You need an extra set of hands if you want an engine swap to not be a nightmare.
I've done numerous engine swaps exclusively by myself.....I say go for it.....you are obviously mechanically inclined if you have restored motorcycles.....anything you don't know can be learned on youtube, posting on this forum or with a google search.
 
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arlowf

Apprentice
Thread starter
Feb 11, 2022
81
8
Calculating. If it was a straight swap (sbc for a sbc), I'd say they can estimate fairly close on the labor time/hours like the posted 8hrs to remove + 8hrs to reinstall & 3hrs misc. But, swapping from this to that means there can & are uncertainties. Those uncertainties take time to resolve & you really can't anticipate until it comes up in the process.

What if the headers you linked don't fit? What then?
What if he notices something while swapping intakes? Proceed w/o concern or stop to discuss w/customer? That = time you get charged for.
So I'm going to ignore the "buy a crate motor" comment from the previous post (nor by you), because I plan on having this engine for 15 months in there before having the heads rebuilt and the cam swapped for another $2,500. And it's a 5.7l from a 96 Chevy 2500. The guy got it as a core charge at his shop when he did an engine swap for someone else.
The parts will fit because he picked them all and he has the exact car I do. I'll be posting his car and name after this job is done.
I do expect hang ups though that's why his 3 week estimation I am realistically expecting to take 30 days.

The shop is legit and registered, with hundreds of customers per year. This is just a little different than what they normally do and I trust the guy.

I’d keep at least another 1000 aside for the stuff no one thought of .

don’t let these guys make you feel bad for not wanting to do it yourself .
Your car ,your life ,you know what you want
Also , I’ve fixed a lot of stuff homeowners have done on their own home because “it’s easy - just watch a YouTube video and do it “ lol
I’ll pound nails cause I’m good at it and I’d pay a mechanic to do a motor swap because he’s good at it .
And yes I have done several swaps myself ,scratches on frame, header panels and firewalls to prove it
Not to mention pinching starter cable in motor mount putting me on side of freeway at 1am
Or wondering what that little black box does , then drive to buddy’s place and explode the battery all over the trunk
Yeah, I was really just looking to see what these guys thought of the hour estimation.
The guys saying this should cost $3,000 in labor to get done are just getting screwed. This job is at most a 20 hour job. At 120 an hour that's still nowhere near 3k. $70 an hour, what I'm paying, is a very low but not unheard of shop rate in the south.
And the parts cost of the parts cost; which in my case come out around $1,700 because the motor was $500.


Long story Long I talked to him again and his ship will give me an invoice and whatnot with line items and he absolutely knows what he's doing. He's making me a streetable vehicle that he expects to see again a year after I pick it up to add upgrades to, rebuild, etc for another $2,500. Nothing wrong with starting small (240-250hp) and building up the next year to 375. The stock 4.3 has 140HP, so I'll definitely feel the difference.
 
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