C3-Corvette Restoration

Restoration of a 1977 Corvette Stingray

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June 2008

Part 1



Engine Rebuild



Vettes from 1969 - 1983 are classed as C3, the most common engines fitted to this model were the small block (350Ci) and the big block (454Ci) although there are many variations on these engines, the main changes to the output of these engines was in the early 70's, the fuel crisis forced manufacturers to raise the MPG and lower power output.


The engine from my Vette is the 350 SBC, the L48 and L82 were the most popular with outputs of 195Hp and 210Hp respectively.  The orignal plan was to strip the engine, check components for wear, replace any worn parts and rebuild.  As i got further through the tear down and reading several articles on performance it was clear that this engine block was capable of at least double the HP for little extra time, effort and cash.


The 383 stroker engine was my new aim, this is acheived by a longer stroke of the oversize pistons, there are two ways to achieve this, either fit a 400 crank (longer throw) or 6" con rods.


I went with the new 400 crank as my 350 needed re-grinding & i needed new pistons, con rods, rings etc so it made sence to go with a stroker kit internally balanced.






The first problem was after standing for 14 years the engine wouldn't turn over meaning the engine couldn't be turned to remove the auto gearbox, so we had to pull the whole lump from the car.



I stripped of the intake, heads, water pump etc to lighten the load, my working area is concrete with exposed gravel meaning the engine lift wouldn't travel smoothly, so we dropped the engine onto a sheet of laminated sheet and used it as a sledge.














After the intial strip down the engine was sent away for a 0.030" rebore, new core plugs all round and new cam shells were also fitted.


I have gone with the eagle stroker kit 400 int balanced crank, Keith Black Hyper pistons, bearings, molly rings, new con rods and APR bolt kit.


The next job is to check the clearance of the larger crank in the block.
















Using engine build up grease (a very thick sticky grease) i dropped the crank in to check the clearance of the end caps on the bore ends and oil pan rail.



The caps were installed 1 at a time, nipped up and the crank rotated to check for problems, once the caps were all installed they were torqued up after the crank was tapped forwards and backwards to ensure the rear seal was seated correctly.




I found that the crank cleared one side of the block fine, the other side need some clearing work, the end caps were catching the lower edge of the bore by 0.005" - 0.010".












Tom Newman recommended i had at least 0.030" clearance but 0.040" would be better, i have read engine builders like to get anywhere between 0.020" - 0.060" obviously bigger is better in this case but any enthusiastic clearance work in thes areas could lead to grinding through the block to the water gallery.


I also checked the clearance on the cam while the crank and pistons were in, with was done with a peice of blue tack on the end cap, but rotating the crank the blue tack will be compressed as it passes the under the cam allowing a measurement to be taken of the cleanace, i had a clear 0.030" so was happy no work was rquired.


Another trick to gain clearance is to chamfer the end cap bolts slightly on the leading edge, this can gain you a few thou'








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