THE ENGINE LOGS
This is the history of the engine buildup. It's taken me a long time to get all the bits and pieces together, but hopefully it will all pay off! I'll keep this updated as I make more progress...
2005-01-04 Working slooowly on getting the clerance right. The pan rail and the outside bottom of the cylinder wall is pretty easy to get to, but the side of the rod also comes pretty close to the inside edge of the cylinder wall bottom in one spot (per cyl). Not sure how I am going to get that just yet...
2004-12-04 I have the crank and one piston/rod in to do the initial mockup. There are some tight spots (.010 clearance) between the rod and the block, so I have been working on doing a little bit of grinding to get the clearance up to .050 minimum.
2004-11-19 Picked up the block (pictures here) at R&L, all wrapped up in plastic and on a little wooden palette. Much shinier and cleaner than I dropped it off... Carted all of the pieces home, and lugged it into the mudroom. A friend helped me carry the block down to the basement, so I cleared out a spot and set up the engine stand. Voila! I can work on it over the winter. The bare block is just barely movable by two people (assuming one is me), so I'll have to disassemble it before it gets carried up to the garage again in the spring...or do a bunch of strength training over the winter. Did some measuring, and everything seems like it is as-requested. The only hitch during the machining process was one of the new holes for the splayed cap bolts went into the water jacket a tiny bit. Leo suggested putting a drop of epoxy down there to seal it up, and using thread sealer on those bolts. The #5 cap oil pump inlet is all ported and smooth now, that should help things flow a whole lot better.
Here's the bill:
$125 - bake/blast/mag/wash
$43 - install cam bearings
$30 - install block plugs
$240 - bore/hone cylinders with plate
$130 - resurface deck/cylinder block
$350 - align bore/inst 4 bolt caps
$150 - block prep - tap 3/8 NPT front plugs/drill .030 timing chain oiler/radius-polish #5 cap/enlarge main oil feeds to 9/32
$8 - hasmat disposal charge
$22 - cam bearings
$1098.69 - TOTAL
So...the 4-bolt caps were the budget breaker - $69 + $350 = $419 spent on that
upgrade. That would have covered a cam and the balance job. (Then again, switching
to using the main studs, I would have had to do a main hone anyway...) But...now
I REALLY don't have to worry about the bottom end of this. Ever.
2004-11-16 The block is done!
2004-11-01 Leo called, everything is set to go ahead. He recommended a few 'block prep' items, and I told him to go ahead. My budget is about done for now, so I am returning the cam and having Leo hold off on the balancing until I save up some more. I still have plenty of work to do with checking the clearance for everything in the meantime.
2004-10-26 Dropped a bunch more parts off at the machine shop today: crank, rods, pistons, caps, main and head studs. Talked with Leo for a while, he's going to do the main cap install, bore/hone, and then deck to 9.00. He's going to take another look at the block and recommend some 'block prep' stuff for me. We talked about him installing a pinhole on the front block plugs for additional timing chain lube, think I am going to do that. Also will get rotating assembly balanced.
2004-10-18 Leo called, they did the clean and inspect routine on my 400 block. The magnafluxing showed some minor 1/8" long cracks between the center head bolts and the steam holes, but he said those cracks have run as far as they are going to, and that is very common on 400 blocks. He also said this was about as good of a core as I was likely to find, so I was OK to move forward with the machining work. It looks like it wil clean up at .030, which was my major concern.
Next step is the actual machining. I only left him the block, so I have to drop off some more parts for him before he can continue. The splayed caps are in the mail, I have to get my head studs, pistons, rods, crank, and a cam+chain to him as well. Originally I was going to have him just do the mains + bore, then I'd do the mockup and check the clearance, then give it back to him for the decking. He said it would be cheaper to have them do that part, since they would only have to set things up once instead of twice...so:
$125 - clean/measure/magnaflux (done)
$75 - install cam bearings and block plugs (including parts)
$240 - bore/hone/finish with torque plate using my head studs
$120 - deck and index to 45*
$350 - install splayed caps (fit caps, drill, hone)
Had a bit of sticker shock on the splayed caps install, still going through with it though.
Gotta check on balancing too...don't think that's included in that list from what I can see.
2004-10-15 Decided to go ahead with the new main caps, ordered them from www.gofaststuff.com for $69.
2004-10-14 Dropped off the block at R&L Engines in Dover, NH. Leo said they'd do a thermal cleaning, glass bead cleaning, then magnaflux to check for cracks, and measure to check to see if I can get away with a .030 overbore. He said I should think about adding splayed 4-bolt caps since it would need a line hone going to the main studs anyway.
2004-09-06 Bought 20cc dish Wiseco Pro-Tru forged pistons. .030 overbore - $445
2004-08 Cleaned block, tapped all threaded holes, did some deburring of outside of block
2004-03-18 Sold stock 400 damper on eBay - $10
2003-11-28 Bought Eagle 4340 crankshaft on eBay - factory second unit, turned 10/10 - $369
2004-11-09 Bought fluidamper on eBay - $180
2004-02-24 Sold PM rods on eBay - $102
2003-10-24 Bought Eagle 6" h-beam rods on eBay - $280
2003-07 Kept block, crank, rods, damper, one head, and tossed pretty much everything else.
2003-03-28 Bought PM rods on eBay - $65
2003-03-17 Stripped down engine, discovered heads are one 482024 and one 333882. Neither one looks very good. Tossed the '024 head, kept the 882 head for possible ebaying. Pistons are completely shot, they're laying in a cardboard box and look extremely corroded. Rods look OK, but pistons are definitely toast. Crank looks so-so, needs at least a polish. The other crank that I picked up ($40) looks better, but still not in drop-in shape.
2003-03-16 Went to Laconia to pick up engine - literally in pieces in cardboard boxes. Paid $100. Loaded it into the back of the pathfinder and hauled it home. On closer inspection, it really isn't so much an engine as a collection of parts. Most of 'em anyway.
2003-03-05 Got several responses to ad...narrowed it down to one likely candidate. Cheap!
2003-03-04 Listed 'Chevrolet 400 engine wanted for rebuild project' in local want ad section