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You've been waiting for it! How I Build a Big Block Chevy Performance Marine Engine.

Runs2rch

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Hi Barry,
Being the RDP member who received these Bas Ass Engines I wanted All to know I couldn't be happier with the results! The entire process and collaboration was beyond expectation. There is no substitute for experience, and it shows in all things Barry does as you read in his write-up. I knew I had come to the right person the moment I meet him.
Thank You Barry and thanks for taking all the time to write this up!!!!
34 Foot Hallett in your Avatar?
 

rivermobster

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I don't have a "checklist", but keep handwritten notes about bearing clearances, crank thrust, ring gap, cam thrust, cam timing, etc. I later put those on computer and am able to supply copies.

I have seen some guys actually make up a very complete notebook including photos. One of those included a photo that clearly showed he had put a roller lifter into the block improperly, and in fact I was rebuilding the engine that had blown up after only 4 hours run time, due to that lifter not rolling on the cam.

Fucking love it!! 🤣

I had a guy blame me for breaking his taillight lenses. We looked at the pics WE took when he dropped it off, and the cracks were clearly visible in the pics.

He got Real quiet after that. 😝
 

Heylam

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Should have broke the other one after that stunt he tried to pull
 

Nanu/Nanu

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Awesome thread Barry. Can't thank you enough for putting in the time and effort to make this all come together. You're work is clean precise and dialed in. The fact that you were willing to put this thread together shows your passion for the trade.

Thank you.
 

spectra3279

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Barry, I still have not had a chance to really try out your engines. I found out from my shakedown, I do need oil coolers.and I had one of my 2 speed transmissions shit the bed. Luckily it was only a keeper that holds the planetary together and I shut it down before any damage. Should have both trans back in another week and oil coolers also. Should be able to test them then.


Been a long road with moving, finding another job and now hopefully have a good setup for the boat.

Thanks for the write up. Explains alot of what you do.
 

rivermobster

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Should have broke the other one after that stunt he tried to pull

They were BOTH broken, in the exact same way and place! 🤣

Dude was a total tool. Not the first customer I've had to fire, and certainly won't be the last!
 

wash11

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It's been a while since I've been captivated by a thread. This was a novel I couldn't put down that just wrecked today's productivity. It just delivers in so many ways.... Thank you for taking the time to educate and entertain us with this.
 

28Eliminator

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Great read Barry. Kudos to your knowledge and experience.

Quick story. My dad built engines from the mid 50’s to the late 70’s for LSR cars. His engines set 27 world records and put many guys in the 200mph club over the years. He taught me a lot, and did a lot of car engines over the years… but never a boat engine. About 14 - 15 years ago, my HP500 in my boat needed to be rebuilt and I thought nothing about it. I started poking around and ran across Performance Boat forum. Between you and Bob Graff, I quickly determined I needed to do some things different than I thought. You were a big help. That engine ran strong for almost 500 hours and 12 years before some “name brand” lifters came apart and trashed the engine.

I built a new big inch engine a couple years ago, and still found myself chasing you around the internet for advice. Very happy with the new motor. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and expertise!!

Dave
 

Orange Juice

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Those just go in the trash can when no one is looking.

Everything for this pair of engines was new except the block and oil pan. Main bolts were reused, but all external bolts were stainless steel purchased for this project.

Can you go over block prep… and focus on when to use (and not use) a torque plate? I built an engine, and had it torque plated, when it was bored out. It was my first engine. The machine shop also “balanced the rotation assembly”, before I assembled it. (350/400hp w/ vortec heads 20 years ago)

Is there a difference in block prep, used on a new block? Or does the block still need machine work?
 

Racey

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Barry, thanks for taking all the time to put this together and share with the world.

👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍💪💪💪💪💪💪💪💪💪💪💪
 

PaPaG

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I know it's a long read, hope people find it useful. Happy to answer any questions if I can. I see a few photos that didn't get taken, but this is fairly complete.
I am amazed at your patience to detail and to write down the entire process is honestly just amazing, you should write a "How To" Book. Hats off too you Berry.
 

J DUNN

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I'm very impressed with your write up. I recognize that it must have taken a ton of time and slowing yourself down through the thought process.

I think what is so important about this is that you are passing on your knowledge. That is one way we really share value gained in this life is by sharing it with others to carry on and use.

Thank you for the vast amount of information here and for taking the time to write it up WITH pictures and share with us all. VERY impressive and a HUGE selfLESS move on your part! KUDOS!
 

Bigbore500r

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Just gave this a read, that was a great write-up!
So much time goes into measuring, cleaning, and just general "double-checking" - it really illustrates whats it's like.
The sheer amount of "tricks" and "best practices" different motors require during assembly can make ones head spin.
 

Bigbore500r

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Great read Barry. Kudos to your knowledge and experience.

Quick story. My dad built engines from the mid 50’s to the late 70’s for LSR cars. His engines set 27 world records and put many guys in the 200mph club over the years. He taught me a lot, and did a lot of car engines over the years… but never a boat engine. About 14 - 15 years ago, my HP500 in my boat needed to be rebuilt and I thought nothing about it. I started poking around and ran across Performance Boat forum. Between you and Bob Graff, I quickly determined I needed to do some things different than I thought. You were a big help. That engine ran strong for almost 500 hours and 12 years before some “name brand” lifters came apart and trashed the engine.

I built a new big inch engine a couple years ago, and still found myself chasing you around the internet for advice. Very happy with the new motor. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and expertise!!

Dave
Your write-ups on Facebook was awesome too. I enjoyed following it. Identifying the piston-to-wall clearance issue and sending it back to the machine shop, checking the RA of the bores, etc. You should copy that over and post it somewhere too
 

lbhsbz

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I know it's a long read, hope people find it useful. Happy to answer any questions if I can. I see a few photos that didn't get taken, but this is fairly complete.
I had issues with a few machine shops in the past screwing up valve jobs....first noticed when I needed about 4 different pushrod lengths on one engine. The heads came off and I CC'd the chambers, since that was easy with what I had on hand, and noticed a significant variation....9.3:1 compression on the biggest chamber and 10.1:1 C/R on the tightest. I then made tooling to measure valve seat location, spring seat location, distance between sealing surface on valve and valve stem, and distance between spring seat and deck surface. I plugged all this data into a spreadsheet and with a few formulas, calculated each cylinder's difference in chamber volume just as I'd measured it with my burette. Valves were all fucked up, seat depths all different, etc. I spoke with a few head manufactures and they didn't seem too confident in their ability to control seat depth during production. That’s when I got my big mill, ordered a bunch of ball drive tooling, built a flow bench, built a cylinder head rollover fixture, bought a sunnen valve guide hone, had solid carbide guide pilots custom made with .0002” taper over 2” by a local gauge shop I found, bought a valve grinder, and at that point I realized I had about $10K to go before I was ready to start doing valve jobs properly, and I was outta time and money, so I scrapped the jet boat program and bought a boat with an old 2 stroke outboard. No valves. 😂

Do you typically find that bare heads can be assembled properly without any seat work to adjust the seat depth and match them cylinder to cylinder? What about guide clearance?
 
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Rajobigguy

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Barry:
Very detailed and professionally written. I doubt that I would have the patience to do as detailed of a write up one one of my builds. Hats off to you for a great write up and great sharing of info. , a lot of people don't realize the time effort and amount of detail that goes into a quality build.👍
 

obnoxious001

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Can you go over block prep… and focus on when to use (and not use) a torque plate? I built an engine, and had it torque plated, when it was bored out. It was my first engine. The machine shop also “balanced the rotation assembly”, before I assembled it. (350/400hp w/ vortec heads 20 years ago)

Is there a difference in block prep, used on a new block? Or does the block still need machine work?
If you want the rings to seal well, always use a torque plate. If you search you might be able to find images of a block that was done with no plate, and then a torque plate installed and a light hone done in a cylinder. The torque plate is basically making the cylinder the same shape it will be with the heads torqued in place. Some more critical race engines get the blocks honed at the operating temperatures. Think F1 or maybe Nascar type stuff, searching for every bit of power.

I just got a new Brodix block back from the shop today. New blocks need to be at least finished honed to the size piston you plan to run. In addition the main bore should be checked for proper alignment (align hone if necessary), and the block should be square decked to make so each cylinder is the same height. More important for a performance build, this particular block will be going into a drag boat with a specific horsepower in mind, so everything needs to be "right".
 

obnoxious001

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Your write-ups on Facebook was awesome too. I enjoyed following it. Identifying the piston-to-wall clearance issue and sending it back to the machine shop, checking the RA of the bores, etc. You should copy that over and post it somewhere too
That must have been someone else, I don't write about engines on FB, thanks anyway.
 

obnoxious001

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I'm very impressed with your write up. I recognize that it must have taken a ton of time and slowing yourself down through the thought process.

I think what is so important about this is that you are passing on your knowledge. That is one way we really share value gained in this life is by sharing it with others to carry on and use.

Thank you for the vast amount of information here and for taking the time to write it up WITH pictures and share with us all. VERY impressive and a HUGE selfLESS move on your part! KUDOS!
My whole purpose in doing this was that I wanted to share information. It's been maybe 10 years or slightly more since I used to do a number of slightly less detailed write ups of builds. I actually talked to RD about problems I was having with the restraints the forum puts on number of characters and photos, and he was able to help me out (after the forum had deleted some drafts I was saving and getting ready to publish all at one time so it was a continuous story). Anyway, I mentioned to Dave I wanted to share some of this before I was done building, and he asked if there was anything wrong with me! Nothing that I know of, but who knows what could happen tomorrow.
 

RobJohnson

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Awesome writing. Appreciate you taking the time. I read the part about choosing and gapping spark plugs. Just wondering if you also index the spark plugs and if so, would you please explain the process for us?

Thanks. Rob
 

obnoxious001

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Awesome writing. Appreciate you taking the time. I read the part about choosing and gapping spark plugs. Just wondering if you also index the spark plugs and if so, would you please explain the process for us?

Thanks. Rob
Usually the only real reason to index spark plugs is with a tall dome piston. I have an upcoming build that will have domes around 43cc or so, and the plugs will get indexed. Gathering parts for that one now, might write something up on it since it will be going to Westech to dyno, and then into a race boat.

Indexing plugs is not complicated, with the spark plug in your hand you orient it with the ground strap to the top, and then use a felt pen to put a line on the spark plug. Thread the plug into the cylinder head and ideally the line will be close to the 12 O'clock position. If so it's good, if not try that plug in other cylinders to see if it works in one of the other 7 cylinders. The heads will not all be threaded the same. Now, you probably will not get all 8 plugs to work without using special indexing washers that you can buy from places like Summit or Jegs or any of the others. They come with three different thickness washers, try one size and see where it moves your line, continue until you find alignment you can live with, maybe between 11 O'clock and 1 O'clock positions. If you are racing and need spare sets of spark plugs ready to install, you can buy "spark plug indexing boards" that have 8 bushings that can be rotated and locked into place with a set screw. The indexing boards also mean you can index a set of plugs without putting them into the heads. Those boards will probably not apply to any recreational boaters, so I won't detail how the boards get adjusted to match up to the 8 different cylinders.
 

BUSTI

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Great write up. I enjoy reading your write ups on builds. I always learn something.
 

maxey

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Barry, Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge. The photos and text was excellent and understandable to the layman. My question: On engine builds like this, do you check the depth of the distributor gear and adjust if necessary. I ran into that problem on a Schiada I purchased with a 555' blower engine. The timing was jumping all over the place. The dist gear was badly worn. I replaced it with the proper gear and set the depth, by moving the slip collar. Problem solved. I didn't see this mentioned in the article. If it was covered, my apologies. Great write up! I look forward to more.
 

obnoxious001

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Barry, Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge. The photos and text was excellent and understandable to the layman. My question: On engine builds like this, do you check the depth of the distributor gear and adjust if necessary. I ran into that problem on a Schiada I purchased with a 555' blower engine. The timing was jumping all over the place. The dist gear was badly worn. I replaced it with the proper gear and set the depth, by moving the slip collar. Problem solved. I didn't see this mentioned in the article. If it was covered, my apologies. Great write up! I look forward to more.
I don't recall these being adjustable collar distributors, these were standard deck blocks. The gears on them looked fine. Normally what I do with slip collars is to set it in with no gasket, mark and set the collar. I do also double check with a long screw driver and tape measure. Once I am happy and the collar is set, the gasket will provide an extra .060".
 

Blownbillybob

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So I know everyone builds engines differently!!! I always like to read and look at pics to see how everyone does there stuff!! Seen good ,bad and OH NO !!!!

Been in the industry since 1990 !! And seen all kinds of stuff ????

Good build thread !!! Couple things if U don’t mind !! Not picking at it !!!

I’ve seen the mellings pumps machine finish on the cap and housing very rough and I always check the gear depth and will lightly lap the cover and housing and mounting pad to insure a good seal !!!!

Been using total seal gapless to rings on all my boosted and high RPM builds they work great!!! And a lot of builder are using WD-40 on the rings only when assembling! Rings break in faster and no chance of glaring them up with oil !!!!!

I would look into chamber softening on boost engines especially on pump gas engines ! Helps alot with detonation!!!
 

obnoxious001

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So I know everyone builds engines differently!!! I always like to read and look at pics to see how everyone does there stuff!! Seen good ,bad and OH NO !!!!

Been in the industry since 1990 !! And seen all kinds of stuff ????

Good build thread !!! Couple things if U don’t mind !! Not picking at it !!!

I’ve seen the mellings pumps machine finish on the cap and housing very rough and I always check the gear depth and will lightly lap the cover and housing and mounting pad to insure a good seal !!!!

Been using total seal gapless to rings on all my boosted and high RPM builds they work great!!! And a lot of builder are using WD-40 on the rings only when assembling! Rings break in faster and no chance of glaring them up with oil !!!!!

I would look into chamber softening on boost engines especially on pump gas engines ! Helps alot with detonation!!!
Like you said, builders are different. I don't like the gapless rings at all, and WD 40 was completely forbidden by who I learned from. I've been at it a bit longer than you, so some of my ideas may be fashioned by my various experiences.
 

Blownbillybob

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Same here I do certain things my way !!! But am always open to new ideas and procedures!!!
For instance the total seals !! At work we were building 5.9 Cummins hybrid engines and are dyno has a blowby meter on it and Cummins called out a spec of like max440? I forgot what the measurement name was !!! And we were pulling low-mid 300 so we tried a set of total seals on the second ring cause couldn’t do it to the top ring !!! Dropped the blowby down to mid 150s !! So we started doing them all and the newer 6.7 have a meter built into the valve cover and 2 we did threw a check engine cause the blowby was lower then the perameter would allow !!!
And ya !! U can get ring flutter???

1 thing I do is !! I see everyone build a complete short block then stick in the cam and degree it ???
I always cam first,crankshaft ,chai or ??, 1 piston and rod set up and degree it !!
Way easier to do with less drag to turn the rotating assembly!!!!

I would def look into the chamber softening pro stocks been doing it for yrs !!!

Good thread !!!!!
 

bocco

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Same here I do certain things my way !!! But am always open to new ideas and procedures!!!
For instance the total seals !! At work we were building 5.9 Cummins hybrid engines and are dyno has a blowby meter on it and Cummins called out a spec of like max440? I forgot what the measurement name was !!! And we were pulling low-mid 300 so we tried a set of total seals on the second ring cause couldn’t do it to the top ring !!! Dropped the blowby down to mid 150s !! So we started doing them all and the newer 6.7 have a meter built into the valve cover and 2 we did threw a check engine cause the blowby was lower then the perameter would allow !!!
And ya !! U can get ring flutter???

1 thing I do is !! I see everyone build a complete short block then stick in the cam and degree it ???
I always cam first,crankshaft ,chai or ??, 1 piston and rod set up and degree it !!
Way easier to do with less drag to turn the rotating assembly!!!!

I would def look into the chamber softening pro stocks been doing it for yrs !!!

Good thread !!!!!
What is chamber softening?
 

obnoxious001

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Same here I do certain things my way !!! But am always open to new ideas and procedures!!!
For instance the total seals !! At work we were building 5.9 Cummins hybrid engines and are dyno has a blowby meter on it and Cummins called out a spec of like max440? I forgot what the measurement name was !!! And we were pulling low-mid 300 so we tried a set of total seals on the second ring cause couldn’t do it to the top ring !!! Dropped the blowby down to mid 150s !! So we started doing them all and the newer 6.7 have a meter built into the valve cover and 2 we did threw a check engine cause the blowby was lower then the perameter would allow !!!
And ya !! U can get ring flutter???

1 thing I do is !! I see everyone build a complete short block then stick in the cam and degree it ???
I always cam first,crankshaft ,chai or ??, 1 piston and rod set up and degree it !!
Way easier to do with less drag to turn the rotating assembly!!!!

I would def look into the chamber softening pro stocks been doing it for yrs !!!

Good thread !!!!!
Sorry, don't need someone coming on saying they are not going to criticize me and then trying to tell me how to build an engine.

I will not use the gapless total seal, period! Had one ruin a cylinder once and Total Seal's reply was that the gaps migrate sometimes.

In the 90s there were issues with Melling pumps that had to be addressed and caused a lot of issues.

Also was told the complete opposite about WD40 and rings, that they did not seal, so we didn't even use it. What I am using is basically 10wt mineral oil.

This build was far from a pro stock engine, extremely low pump gas boost.
 

maxey

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I don't recall these being adjustable collar distributors, these were standard deck blocks. The gears on them looked fine. Normally what I do with slip collars is to set it in with no gasket, mark and set the collar. I do also double check with a long screw driver and tape measure. Once I am happy and the collar is set, the gasket will provide an extra .060".
Thank you for your response.
 

ToMorrow44

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Thanks for posting this Barry! I have an old Indmar 454 in a ski boat that I want to rebuild and freshen up. Similar to what you did here. I will hit you up when I get ready to do that. 👍🏻
 
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