is it hard to teach one how rebuild small block eng

scarborough

Greasemonkey
Sep 30, 2016
126
18
now retired i would like to check off a couple of thing on my bucket list. i love tinkering with old cars and one thing i always wanted to do is learn how to rebuild a engine and have it run perfect, not so much the machining just reassembling .its not intended to be used for anything special just something to keep me busy alone with my love of fishing . i am pretty handy with tools. i'm in the process restoring a 87 cutlass with a totally rebuild 455 short block that was reassembly by a machine shop. but i never tried totally
disassembling and reassembling an engine myself. i have a 350 olds thats painted gold, and a chevy 350 truck eng with center bolt valve cover supposedly with 80.000 mile that has been sitting in the garage for about 15 yrs. i would like to buy a basic overhaul are rebuild kit for one of them,break it down get it clean up with basic machine work, an reassembly it myself hear it run and leave it to the grandkids to play with one day. i have watched a ton of video on youtube that make it seems pretty easy to do. so the question is hard to teach oneself or, are the video deceiving.
 

MrSony

Geezer
Nov 15, 2014
5,793
113
Des Moines, Iowa
It's not hard. Just time consuming.

First and foremost, you need a a clean, dry, well ventillated and organized space to build an engine in. Not all of us have that luxury, but it sure helps.

You'll need tools. A torque wrench for starters. 150ftlb max torque wrenches cover a lot of areas but 250ftlb digital craftsman units are pretty cheap for what they are. Few things above 100ftlbs on an average engine is the balancer bolt.

A $20 digital caliper will help with a lot of basic measurements like seeing if an engine has been overbored, checking valve sizes, stuff like that. Anything more and you should get set of micrometers and a dial bore gauge. For years people have used plastigauge to check bearing clearance and that works fine as well.

A good set of feeler gauges helps. Perhaps a ring filer and ring compressor and ring pliers. And lastly a good basic socket set. My 220something piece craftsman set has served me well. 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" drive ratchets, sockets in 6 and 12 point, few wrenches, Allen wrenches, bit set, etc. Standard stuff.

If you're only gonna build one or two engines you really only need what I've mentioned. If they turn out good and you wanna keep at it, you'll end up with more tools over time. With those tools I mentioned and a cam bearing tool, I only have to take the block to the shop for machine work. I do everything else.
 
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MrSony

Geezer
Nov 15, 2014
5,793
113
Des Moines, Iowa
As for the engines, everyone knows about the 350 Chevy. Kind of hard to ruin one. Easy parts availability. Oldsmobile 350 would be different. Not a lot do them. Most go 455. Not as many parts choices as the Chevy but you can build an engine from a catalog if you have the block.
 

64nailhead

Royal Smart Person
Dec 1, 2014
1,440
113
Upstate NY
Start with the SBC. Tons of info and cheap parts available. There are little things that can trip you up.When the time comes, ask what every part is and what is it’s purpose. Take a ton of well labeled pictures in disassembly.

mid you spend any extra money for upgraded parts, then buy a roller cam and lifters. Perhaps you center bolt valve cover SBC is a roller block - that would be extremely advantageous.
 

bracketchev1221

G-Body Guru
Jan 18, 2018
692
93
Well, I’ll give you my opinion. There is building an engine correctly and there is bolting pieces together. If it was easy there wouldn’t be 1000’s of posts on forums asking does this look right and why doesn’t my engine run? But actually understanding the parts design and why they are that way is correct engine building. But to bolt one together?? People have been doing that for years in dirt barns and most times they will even start and run. If you want to do it stick with the Chevy and get every book and manual you can read that not only explains engine assembly practices, but talks about the nuances to not only each engine manufacturer but the difference in the same engines from year to year.
 

Bonnewagon

Geezer
Sep 18, 2009
7,400
113
Queens, NY
I agree with the above. ^^^^ You need the tools and the talent. Buy the factory manual, and any other book that applies and read, read, read. Then if you are still game buy some basic tools as mentioned. Dis-assembling, cleaning, measuring, re-assembling, all that is easy and learnable. But take it from someone that wasted a LOT of money thinking I didn't need to spend on machine work. Any cylinder bore that is not almost perfect will need machining. Sometimes a simple hone and re-ring will get by but that is not possible on a high mileage motor. That goes double for the heads. That is where the money comes in and while a retired guy may not want to spend a lot, in the long run it pays off. Same with crankshafts and rods. A perfect looking smooth crank and rod can just be fitted with new bearings and plasti-gauged for clearance. But any scratches or spun bearings require a clean-up cut to correct. That said, building an engine is a great thing to do. Get the kids and Grandkids involved. And when it gets tiresome- go fishing! That's what I do.
 
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Clone TIE Pilot

Royal Smart Person
Aug 14, 2011
2,313
113
Galaxy far far away
80K is not that many miles on a SBC to require a rebuild unless it spun a bearing or wiped a cam. My 305 has 100k, still has factory cross hatching and high compression readings that are highly close to each other. Maybe a good idea to put in a new roller chain and oil pump through.
 
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