Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Heads up

Yes, I know some of you have already seen the car and the photo above. And for those who aren't in my immediate life circle, to recap, this is my first car and has supplied me with (mostly) trouble free transportation and a lot of fun since 1987. Yes, I agree that's a long time. 

In a previous post I took us through the entire ride that she and I have been on and the recent facelift/transformation that the old girl received. I'm still very pleased with the results and stand by my decisions of going with period wheels/tires and the sometimes controversial matte-black paint scheme. For the record, I still am planning to lay out gloss black versions of the original optional SS stripe package. As my brother Rob pointed out, "That'll at least let people know that it is done." 

Well, as Robert Earl Keen once wrote... The road goes on forever and the party never ends. The same could be said for vintage car projects, especially if they are yours and you spend a lot of time with them. And I spend a ton of time with my Chevelle, as it is my primary source of transportation. I should have know that this would happen, but apparently the paint job is not going to be enough. That's right folks, the engine is coming out. 

Now don't completely blame me for this. As was earlier reported, I had a rather spirited drive with a friend earlier in the year that resulted in bent valves and pushrods. The key here is to never believe that you can't hurt something- no matter how well you think you know it or how many times you've beat it to death only to see it ask for more. That is certainly the case with my little 406 sb that lives between the fenders of the Chevelle, but nothing ( I don't care what it is ) likes to be over-revved. Consider this lesson now officially "learned" by yours truly. 

So, here we are. Time to correct some issues with the way she's running these days. Now if it feels like I'm not appropriately heart broken over the situation, it's because I'm not. I built this engine many years ago ( I believe in '92 or '93 ) on a budget. The short block was actually constructed by my old friend Kyle Ray of R-n-S motors fame. A great Chevrolet performance guy in southern Indiana. The engine was built with great care, but couldn't be considered "Blue-printed". At the time I wanted something stronger than the original 350/270 that was equally as street-able, but would lay down respectable quarter mile times. In those days that meant somewhere in the 13s to me. Remember, when I installed this engine the first gen 5 litre Mustangs were kings of the street and if you could safely run in the 13s in street trim you were at least not embarrassing. 

Fast forward nearly 15 years. Since the car has been under ultra mild 406 power it has never laid down anything better than a 14.00. In fact, almost every time I've ever made a pass in it I get a 14.0 something back. Should be bracketing it I guess. Anyway, I've always known that the main culprits in holding back the performance were the heads and cam. They almost always are. The heads were what I could afford at the time, which are stock mid '70s sbc head with 1.94/1.50 valves, standard three angle valve job, and Comp Cams roller rockers. The cam is a Crane (RIP) and I honestly don't remember the grind. I remember it is a dual pattern hydraulic grind with the lift being something like .497 on its highest side. So obviously there is a lot of room for improvement here. The engine has always felt fantastic as far as balance, always pushed perfect oil pressure, and appears to be in fine condition short block wise. But it's time to not only fix the car properly so I can enjoy driving it again, but to outfit the engine with the top end that I've always wanted for it. 

This is where you come in. Any thoughts, opinions, feelings, criticisms, two-cents, that any of you have will honestly be greatly appreciated. I used to be very into the street/drag racing scene, and kept up on all of the latest heads, cams, intakes, carbs, exhaust, everything that made a street car go faster. But that was 15 years or longer ago and I know a lot of progress has happened. So you folks who are super up on this please chime in. I plan on knocking this out sometime in the next month or so, or as soon as the Bronco is finished and gone, so it's definitely on the table. 

I'll just tell you what I have so far, what I have in mind, and we can go from there. 

The car weighs 3,800lbs for starters. The engine is a 406 sbc, currently running 9.1 comp, Holley 750, Edelbrock Performer RPM, stock GM HEI, the current headers are shot and will be replaced during this BTW, 2 and half inch exhaust all the way out the back with flowmasters, 3,500 stall conv with T350 AT equipped with B-n-M shift kit and manual valve body ( trans is fresh ), 3.73 12 bolt posi. The rear susp is stock, the axles are stock, the driveshaft is recently rebuilt but stock, the cooling system is a four-core with a multi-blade flex fan. No AC but power brakes...  and that's about all I can think of that might come up. 

My plan right now is to upgrade to good quality high-performance heads ( Maybe Edelbrock RPM alum ) , a much more aggressive Comp Hyd cam, possibly larger than I have now tube headers, rebuild the Holley to match the new set up as well as the dist. , and leave the rest the same. My goal is to keep the car reasonable as a daily driver but run solid 12s. And that's it. That's the goal. 

Seems simple enough I know, but I'm sure a lot of you out there will have plenty to say on the subject. And I say this for my own profit...  bring it on! 

PS  The good news is I'll be doing this build and keeping you up to date throughout it and will post my first timeslips to see if I meet my goals.       Stay tuned!!!  

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