* Quadra-jet Carburetor

* Pulling Engine
* Rebuilding Engine
* Installing Engine

* Rebuilding Steering Box

* Pulling Transmission
* Rebuilding Transmission
* Installing Transmission

* Differentials

Submit corrections and additions to this information to The Olds FAQ Compiler.

Quadra-jet Carburetor

When it comes to loosening that darn, blasted, made from putty and welded in place fuel line, flare wrenches are not an end all - don't get discouraged. They flex and bend and usually you're lucky if you're the first mechanic to get your mitts on it. Before using your vise-grip on the nut, try using it on the flare wrench, to prevent the opening of the flare nut wrench from flexing. This might be enough the loosen the nut. Another alternative are crows feet flare wrenches.

Vice grips on a tubing line nut = instant destruction. Fine if you want to replace the nut - but be careful, the vise pressure turns the nut into an oblong, rather than a concentric circle, and if this happens to be turning into an aluminum carb inlet, good luck sealing your inlet. Be patient, a tubing (or flare nut wrench) is all you should use. File the nut points, if they are not sharp, and sides flat, and try putting some electrical tape around the nut to make the wrench tighter. Be sure the other nut is held by a wrench also - sometimes a quick snap with a plastic tipped hammer on the wrench will break it loose. We all use vice grips as last resort sometimes, and this usually results in more work.

Quadrajets - most stock 4-barrel Olds's come equipped with one, yet most of us are reluctant to touch them, even when it comes to a simple rebuild. Why? Mostly because it is the least talked about, least understood carburetor mounted on cars. 4M, 4MC, 4MV, M4M; all these silly numbers, lots of levers, vacuum lines, and other gizmos all contribute to make that thing look overly complicated and impenetrable.

"Quadrabog", "Quadraslob", "Quadrajunk"; these and other names which I can't mention, all are used to describe what is actually a good performance/mileage carb. Most of the Q-Jet's bad reputation has resulted from the hot rodder's "bolt on" approach and the availability of the popular Holley carb.

So if the Q-Jet can be made into a good performance carb, how do we start? Well, we first must understand a little about how they are different, and then we can use this knowledge to extract the excellent performance and driveability that the carb is capable of.

The two babies up here [2 carb graphics at top of page] are 4MV (on left) and 4MC (on right). The nomenclature only indicates the choke configuration. The 4M has a manual choke, the 4MC has a choke on the carb ('70 and later Olds) and the 4MV has teh choke housing onthe intake ('66-69). The M4M is the emissions Q-Jet introduced in 1975, which has had certain adjustability added in while some of the off-idle power transition is taken out. It can be made to deliver power, but the older models will do a better job.

Basically, the carb is almost totally vacuum controlled, proper setting of the signalling devices is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to ensure it will work correctly. This should be done BEFORE ANY CHANGES ARE MADE! If you are going to rebuild the carb, do this before you set it up.

For the rest of this article, we will assume that you are in the process of rebuilding the carb as much of what you can do is done with the carb apart. Buy a quality rebuilding kit and clean everything thoroughly after disassembling the entire carb. Lay all the pieces out and familarize yourself with all of them. I suggest that you have the Olds Chassis Service Manual for your year carb or an aftermarket book on Quadrajet rebuilding. [Rebuild kits usually have excellent diagrams included.]

We'll go through the rebuilding steps while we explain how the Q-Jet works. This way, you'll learn how to fix it as well as what affects what. OK, let's get started.

With the carb disassembled, we have three major pieces: the base, the float bowl, and the air horn (top of carb). Put aside the base and the air horn for now and grab the float bowl. Most of what we are going to do is going to happen in this baby, so start by turning it upside-down and looking at the bottom. [Graphic of upturned float bowl]

FLOAT BOWL TURNED OVER: Arrows indicate main fuel casting wells. These MUST NOT LEAK [famous leaking wells] as they will draw raw fuel into the manifold and ruin performance and idle.

You'll see four bumps sitcking up. These are the casting wells for the main fuel wells. These are capped when the carb is make, but after a while, they tend to crack and leak. Mix up some epoxy and coat the tops of these bumps, covering the pressed in plugs. Set aside the float bowl and let the epoxy dry.

Pick up the carb base and run a straight edge over it [both surfaces mating to manifold and float bowl]. If it is not straight, throw it away. Go junque yarde jaunting and aquire a bunch of used Q-Jets (I should have told you this earlier) for similar years [good luck] ('66-67), ('68-69), ('70-72), ('73-74), ('75-80). Check for straightness and also check to see if the throttle butterflies open without sticking or close properly. The secondaries should open to about 5 degrees of vertical, no more, no less. Put the base aside and pick up the now dried float bowl.

Turn the bowl right-side-up and peer into hole "B" in the picture at the top to the page. This is the power piston bore. If you look real good you'll see a little spring in there that you didn't take out when you TOTALLY disassembled the carb. You're forgiven, but use needle-nosed pliers and remove it. This baby controls the idle/of idle fuel mix, and it is not happy if you have changed the cam to a long duration type. This is especially true for 350/403s. Guys who have went the W-31 route, TAKE NOTICE! [Graphic of carb w/air horn removed viewed from top]

There are many power piston springs to choose from, but some of the favorites I'll suggest are:

PP Spring Notes
7037851 72 W-30 very soft (lean)
7029922 69 W-31 soft/medium
7011967 69 W-30 medium
7036019 70 W-30 auto stiff (rich)

Install the leanest first, run the car, and then try the next, and so on. Stay as lean as possible here as these springs affect idle more than power.

Next, we'll work with the primary metering rods. These are the skinny littly guys which are stuck in the primary metering jets. [Graphic of primary & secondary metering rods]

They're attached to the power piston (which fits into the hole you dropped the spring in). No matter what set you have, go out and get the following:

Power Piston Notes
7034840 stamped 40B (richest)
7034842 stamped 42B
7034844 stamped 44B (most Oldsmobiles)
7034846 stamped 46B (leanest)

Again, start with your present rod and move richer to see if performance improves. If the car is "flat" on acceleration try leaner, then richer.

The next step is the primary jet. These are the screw in babies in hole "D". [see top view graphic w/air horn removed]. Here's the ones to have in your tool crib:

Primary Jet Notes
7031969 stamped 69 (leanest) mostly in 350s
7031970 stamped 70 1970 350 & 455
7031971 stamped 71 1966-68 all
7031972 stamped 72 1968-69 400 SMT
7031973 stamped 73
7031974 stamped 74 1968-69 W-31
7031955 stamped 75 1969-69 400 W-30/W-32

After getting the best results with the rods, start with one step leaner jet (unless you already have a 69) and work up.

Obiously, we've been combining rebuilding with tuning in this article. In reality you'd be rebuilding to stock specs first, trying the carb, then going back inside and making changes. This would hold true unless you had changed to a radical cam at the same time. Then you should have replaced the power piston spring with a leaner unit. This is because the power piston is controlled by vacuum and big cams make less vacuum, hence a softer spring. The steps from now on SHOULD BE MADE NO MATTER WHAT.

First, the fuel inlet seat ("A" on the top view of the carb) should be replaced with GM part 7035140, which should be used with all stock/modified cars using GM mechanical fuel pumps. With any fuel delivery system with over 5 psi, use GM assembly 7035130. Stay away from the seat supplied wiht most rebuilding kits unless rebuilding a totally stock carb as they are of questionable quality and do not deliver sufficient fuel.

Set our float to 9/32" and ensure that the fuel level does not climb too high and slosh into the power valve hole and overly enrich your mixture. [Graphic of front upper view of carb w/air horn removed]

FLOAT BOWL PIVOT PIN - Held in place by the air horn. Spread it slightly so that the floar/needle can't climb out under high fuel pressure situations.

Adjust the float, set it and the needle in place, then insert the primary needles/power piston in place. BE CAREFUL TO INSERT THE NEEDLES IN THE JETS AS YOU INSERT THE PISTON OR YOU WILL BEND THEM! Drop in the float chamber baffle as it keeps the fuel in the float well and has no affect on the amount of fuel in the chamber!

Assemble the air horn and the fuel float bowl using the proper gasket. There are quite a few different ones so make sure the one you use has the same holes and the same configuration as your carburetor. This operation is usually a pain as the accelerator pump lever arm link requires the arm to be inserted into it as you are trying to tilt the air horn onto the float bowl in 1968 and later carbs. The '67 and '66 units use a link wich is inserted afterwards and has a pin to hold it in place. Scrounge the junk yards for this piece and use it. CAUTION: some links are of different length, be sure to use the one with the same length.

For proper accelerator pump discharge (Olds engines) always use the inner lever arm position. Screw down the carb air horn with the two center screws. STOP HERE and turn the carb over. Check the gasket used between the float bowl and the base as you did for the air horn/float bowl unit. Place it on the base and mate the base to the float bowl. You will use either two screws or three, depending on the year and type of carb you have. I suggest you utilize small lock washers on these screws. Use ones which will fit in the screw well. This is a better method than Loc-Tite. These screws have a nasty habit of loosening up and causing vacuum leaks.

Now turn the carb over, install the rest of the screws and turn them in according to the sequence in the Chassis Service Manual. [Graphic of 7 secondary metering rods ranging from thick(lean) to thin (rich)]

Now it's time for the secondary metering rods. We are able to control fuel metering by both the rod size and the hanger. Let's discuss rod size first:

Secondary Rod Notes
7033830 stamped AY (leanest) '73 and later 350
7033658 stamped AT '70 442 SMT & 350
7033655 stamped AU '66-69 big block, W-30 & W-31
7046004 stamped DA
7033549 stamped AX '71 Toro
17056618 stamped DS (richest) Buick V-6 Turbo

Most carbs can be enriched one rod with no problem. All W-Machines should go right to the "AX" rod. The "DS" rod should only be used for racing.

More adjustment of the secondary circuit can be made with the rod hanger. These hangers are coded A, B, C, etc., in 0.005" changes in height, with "A" being the highest and "Z" being the lowest. Therefore, an "A" hanger will pull the rods out sooner and higher than a "Z". These are no longer available except for the "V" hanger, so off you go to the junk yard.

OK, now that you've acquired all these pieces, rebuilt the carb, installed bseline rods, jets, and the like, you are ready for final testing. Adjust all the fast idle, dash pot, vacuum break, etc. as specified in the chassis service manual [or the detailed kit instructions]. Now you can bolt the carb to the manifold. I suggest that a relatively SOFT gasket be used. Fel-Pro and Mr. Gasket offer a thicker unit with a composition which seems to hold up well. If this gasket gets too hard from heat (a common problem with aluminum manifolds), it will leak and ruin your idle/tuning. Remember, a Q-Jet is vacuum controlled, so...

I suggest that you run an in-line fuel filter of very high fuel flow capacity. A Fram GF-15 is what I use. If you are a stickler for stock fuel line appearance, put it in-line where the line comes out of the front of the K-Frame and attaches to the fuel pump. The reason for the in-line filter is that we want to remove the filter in the nose of the carb. This allows us to almost double the fuel available to the carb during wide-open throttle situations.

Our two final adjustments are critical. The first is the secondary air valve spring "wrap". This little guy determines when the secondaries open. While I will give you the base-line, you'll have to find the optimum by testing (PEDAL TO THE METAL!). [Graphic of secondary air valve spring & lock]

The allen head set screw (A) must be loosened first. When there is no tension on the air valve butterflies, the spring tension is set with the screw (B).

Loosen the allen head screw until you see the tension go completely out of the butterfly. Then insert a small screw driver into the screw (B). Slowly turn the screw clock-wise, while tapping on the carb lightly until the butterfly rotates up and contacts the air horn. Turn the screw another ¼ turn. Hold the screw in this position while tightening the allen head screw. (Wouldn't it be nice to have a third hand now?)

This is your base-line setting. Less tension will opent he valve sooner; more will open it later. The test should go like this:

  1. Disconnect the vacuum hose from the choke diaphram and plug the hose ONLY.
  2. Go out and try a Wide Open Throttle acceleration. (The fun part!) Decrease the wrap (loosen) until a loss of performance is noted by bog.
  3. Connect the diaphram and see if the bog goes away. If not, tighten in 1/8 turns until it does.
  4. Once that is as good as possible, go one step richer with yor secondary rods and see what happens. If you run betteer, go a step richer - if not, check the wrap again. If there is no improvement, go back to the old rods.
  5. When you have the old rods back in, go two steps towards "A" (i.e. from a J to H) with the rod hanger. Repeat the procedure.
  6. After you get the best results, check your plugs to see if you are too lean. If so, go up two numbers in your primary jets and one step in your primary rods.
  7. If you are still too lean, consult below.

The following racing mods should only be done for a car which exhibits overly lean conditions @ WOT or is highly modified and is a RACE ONLY CAR.

Mike Jones Carburetion, 7602 Talbert, Hunnington Beache, CA 92647 sells accelerator pump pistons with differing length shafts These allow more or less of a shot of gas. He also offers a ligher return spring and a stiffer shaft spring. Mixing/matching can allow more precise metering. The shaft length also allows a different point at which fuel delivery starts.

The air valve dashpot can be modified by drilling out the orfice from 0.025" to 0.035". The rear fuel bowl vent can be plugged to prevent fuel sloshing. '75 and later Q-Jets ought to be enlarged to 0.010".

The passage between the main fuel well and the two secondary wells can be enlarged to 0.050", which will allow them to fill quicker.

Here are some DON'TS!

Don't remove the baffles from the secondary bores. They ensure proper fuel mixture/atomization.

Don't remove the plastic float chamber baffle as it helps to direct the fuel into the chamber as it sits above the fuel level.

Don't try to set the idle without holding the hot idle compensator tang back on the back of the carb.

Follow these tips and your Quadra-Jet will perform with the best of them. Because it is mostly vacuum controlled, it does require a bit more setting up than a Holley, but when properly dialed-in, it can deliver better around town driveability and real Go Power when the hammer is dropped.

Try these tuning/adjustment tips. They have worked very well for me. I only have stock cars and so haven't tried the highly modified stuff.

I get as many old Quadra-Jets as I can from the junque yarde at $3-$5 each. This is a source of parts. Most all of the carbs are interchangeable as well as their 3 main parts. I believe base plates can be salvaged if necessary by twisting them in your hands until they pass the straightness test.

[ Thanks to Bill Culp for this information ]


[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Differential Rebuilding section!

Pulling Engine


[ Thanks to Charly Buehner, Bob Barry, Joe Padavano, Mick Gillespie, Dave Wyatt, Frank Boerger, Bill Culp, Andrew Green, Chris Ruper, Jason Labay, Scott Mullen for this information. ]

Getting Down to Business

Pulling Engine/Transmission

There's two ways you can do the removal. Some people (such as myself) remove the transmission from beneath the car and then pull the engine out the hood opening seperately. Others prefer to remove the engine/transmission as a pair - without unbolting the two. However you do it, the torque converter stays on the transmission - if you tried to pull the converter out of the transmission you'd have fluid everywhere. Also the transmission will have to come out unless you're going to put something under the front of the transmission to support it, because without the engine in the car the transmission has nothing on the front to hold it up. However, no matter what you do, if you ARE going to unbolt the engine and transmission, FIRST, before you unbolt the bellhousing, unbolt the 3 torque converter bolts - DON'T FORGET THESE!! I had a momentary memory lapse in this regard when doing my disassembly and had fluid all over my work area.

One more thing - if you are going to remove the transmission from beneath the car and then remove the engine, support the engine with a "cherry-picker" or an engine hoist before you remove the transmission because the engine may not stay level on the engine mounts without the transmission - it may rock backwards into the firewall and the distributor will be the first thing to contact the firewall - probably bending it or breaking it if it hits it hard enough.

If you do the job singlehandedly, it helps to tie a rope or a small chain to the front of the motor and then loosely wrap it around the back part of the hoist. The rope keeps the motor from swinging around too much while it's dangling up in the air.

A big floor jack with a pad of plywood under the transmission pan is handy so that you can lower or raise the tail to just the right place while you're sliding the engine/tranny forward.

Toronado Engine Removal Tips and Tricks

Well, being in a salvage yard (mud, etc.), I was unable to get under the car or raise it to any significant degree. I discovered that I would be unable to get the engine out alone, so I disconnected the front engine mount, rear trans mount, exhaust, and the 12-point bolts holding the CV shafts to the axle (I was lucky I brought a 7/16 12-point socket). I then had the fork truck lift the engine/transaxle out and lay it on the ground. At this point I rolled the assembly over (broke the oil fill tube and the dip stick tube off) and removed the flywheel cover and the torque converter bolts. I then rolled everything back over and removed the bellhousing bolts which allowed the engine to come loose (whew!). Yes people walked by and laughed, but I didn't care. I WANTED THAT 455.

Don't forget the flexplate->torque converter bolts; the dust shield for this is a rather complex, two-piece hinged metal affair, and one of the bolts holding this dust shield on is hidden on the driver's side, under where the exhaust manifold would be (you'll have to remove the exhaust manifold to access it. Without removing the dust cover, and the torque converter bolts, that engine isn't going anywhere without that transmission attached.

Yes. The trick is to loosen the rear transmission mount bolts with a floor jack supporting the rear of the tranny; angle the transmission backwards slightly, and angle the engine forward slightly, to get the flexplate to clear the bellhousing. Once that is clear, you can wiggle her out of there. Otherwise the axle might get caught on the oil pan.

Yes, if you unbolt (12 point 7/16" head bolts) the halfshafts and the tranny mounts, that whole assembly will be free to lift. Good luck finding mounting points that will allow you to balance that whole assembly; not that you can't- I'm just wishing you luck in doing so... Watch out for attaching the lifting chain too low; the whole assembly could swivel 180' over, which wouldn't be pretty, and could be very dangerous. Use at least three solid lifting points if you go that route.

Better than removing the halfshafts, try unbolting the differential from the transmission case. The problem is the right-front intermediate shaft, which the oil pan is hitting; unbolting the differential case might allow you enough play to get the engine out of there. The transmission and final drive are actually two separate pieces, though they are directly bolted together, so it's not simply a one-piece transaxle.

It can be done; it took me some time pulling my 455 from a '68 Toro, but I eventually wiggled it out of there.

[ Thanks to Dave Wyatt, Frank Boerger, Bob Barry, Bill Culp, Andrew Green, Charley Buehner, Jason Labay, Joe Padavano, Scott Mullen, Steve, Glenn, Paul Pate, Trevor Lee, Chris Ruper for this information ]

Balancer Nut Removal

A method I've used for removing the "Big Nut" on the front spindle of my Toro might work here. get the breaker bar, socket and short extension on the front crank bolt, and position the handle slightly below horizontal, toward the driver's side. Now, use a small floor jack, and place the jack pad at the very end of that handle. You might have to drop the starter and place something in one of the large flexplate holes to prevent the engine from turning over. Now, when you begin to pump up the jack, it's going to press up on the end of the handle, which will try to raise the car; the only link, though, from the jack to the car is the crank snout bolt. Can you visualize this setup? Perhaps a crude ASCII picture will illustrate it better:

 O======          <--- Breaker bar
        U      /
        \\    /
         \\_ /    <--- Rolling floor jack
         /   \
[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

Rebuilding Engine

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Basic Tech section as well!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Engine Buildup section as well!

Now, various topics of concern for your rebuild . . .

In General

It's good to stop and ask questions if something doesn't seem right. Check, recheck, then recheck again should be the motto when rebuilding an engine. I've seen a lot of motors ruined by big egos.

There are a few things you should know. I would highly recommend buying a book called How To Blue Print Your Engine, one of the SA or HP book series. A number of mail order book stores should have it. It covers basically every machining process and the why's and how's. Without thorough knowledge of the subjects in this book you will never be able to discuss all the options with your machinest.

Also get a chassis manual, Mondello's Catalog or Technical Reference, for the torque specs, and any other trivia about the engine you are rebuilding.

While complete blueprinting of an engine is a noble goal, its usually not necessary. If you are racing, and your class has very restrictive rules, then yes, blue print, bring every last part to its optimum configuration and size. But for a street engine, there are much cheaper ways to build power.

Stock Components
Though a Chevy's parts would be cheaper, you don't have to replace as many parts on an Olds to make it heavy duty, as the factory pieces were pretty beefy as is. In fact, the whole bottom end (apart from forged pistons, perhaps, in extreme situations) is suitable for 6000+rpm; if you don't have one, a rebuilt one from a major parts chain will automatically have all the good parts (if it is a non-windowed block, that is), and wouldn't cost much more than a lo-po Chevy 350 shortblock. Assuming, that is, you can get it with the 10.25:1 pistons.

For a mostly stock rebuild, the only non-factory parts you may be interested in is an aftermarket cam and intake, and a high-volume oil pump. Bearings, rings, gaskets, core plugs and other small items, of course.

Inspect the Engine to be Rebuilt
A full overhaul would be a full gasket/bearing/ring kit, new pistons, oil pump, cam, lifters, springs, and timing chain. On the machining side of it, plan on boring the block (honing at a minimum) and having a valve job done on the heads. This is the stuff that should be done at every rebuild past 100K miles for peace of mind. This also assumes the motor's never been apart before. There could also me some small stuff thrown in like worn out rockers and pivots, bad valves, etc that are fairly cheap by themselves, but can add up quickly.

Now, the spun bearing will throw in a couple of other expenses, like turning the crank (may have to get a new one) and either resizing the rod or machining the main caps, depending on which bearing spun. This can add up to a healthy bill but keep in mind that a good rebuild should last at least 100K miles of trouble free cruising. My advice is to honestly assess your financial situation, watch the infamous "Mightaswells", and if your forced to skimp on any part of the rebuild do it on the upper end of the motor that's easier to redo later on.

Machine Work
Your primary concern should be a 8 good bores - perfectly round when the cylinder heads are bolted on, with no taper, and piston to wall clearances at the exact minimum. Tight file-fit rings to go along. Along with the new pistons a complete engine balance job. Olds bolts and stud are pretty decent pieces (eg. 12 point rod bolts), but you could also replace some hardware with pieces from ARP.

A competent machine shop should not be able to give you an exact estimate until after they pulled the engine apart and measured every piece.

And don't let a wise guy tell you he can repair ten dozen cracks in a head, or bore 0.10" because they cannot routinely guarantee satisfactory work under this set of circumstances.

Don't skimp on the cylinder heads. A good valve seal + good oil control will lead to a long life of smooth idles. Consider refreshing that carb at the same time. A new tight engine pulls a good vacuum and should idle really smooth. Combined with a good engine balance and the engine will run better than new.

Goals For Engine Performance
You have to determine what rpms you want this engine to be running at. What transmission will you be using, what rear gears do you have, and what kind of driving will you be doing? The 403 I built for my Electra makes its best power in the 2500-5500 range; below that it still makes more power than stock, but to really make use of it I needed a higher-stall converter (2400rpm). This has diminished the responsiveness of the car around town, where at 30-40mph, with the 2.41:1 rear gears, I'm probably turning about 1200rpm. I don't drive it around town that much (it's our long-distance cruiser), so it doesn't bother me, but if I was going to drive it around town much, where I wanted good performance at part-throttle, low-rpms, I'd have gone with unported heads, a smaller cam and a tighter converter. I would have sacrificed full-throttle power, but it would have been more fun to drive down to the corner for some milk.

You can build your engine to maximize its power output at wide-open (100%) throttle, but this can diminish the performance of that engine in the car at the lesser throttle openings (say 10%-60%) you drive at most of the time. A drag car with a 4000rpm converter, 2-spd Powerglide and [email protected] would be very unsatisfying to drive to work everyday, as it sputtered and lurched along in bumper-to-bumper traffic, because at 10%-50% throttle the drag engine is probably making half the horsepower that a stock 350 would make. Those are just some of the tradeoffs you have to consider.

Goals for Cost
You can do it on a low budget, but not *too* low. Spend the money in the right places (even if you have to sacrifice things initially, like the dual exhausts or a paint job), and you'll be happier in the long run. If you've already committed yourself (intentionally or not) to a full engine rebuild. Make that your first priority, and once that is squared away, move onto other parts of the project. The danger, of course, is that you can sink a lot of money into a project, and if you don't have enough funds to do everything at once, you place your money in the wrong places, and tie it up in an immobile project.

[ Thanks to Cliff Feiler, Mike Rothe, Mike Bloomer, Bob Barry for this information. ]


Not sure about which CID's used which balancers, and if they're interchangeable, but I'd tend to lean on the not side, myself. My 403 met it's tragic demise that way. I'd found (used) the equivalent of the Fluidamper for Olds (Couldn't find any name on it, but rumored to be a Mondello product). Anyway, I just popped it on the 100K+ engine, and added an intake at the time. Ran great for a while, never really noticed any difference, but after a few months, the crank broke, right behind #2, sending everything in front of the fracture forward. Right through the block, into the water pump, and through the radiator. Messed it up hard. Near total loss on engine.

Anyway, the machine shop speculated that a faulty balancer most likely caused the problem. Didn't think you'd have to balance a balancer like that, still seems a bit odd to me, but I can't argue the fact that the engine was instantly reduced to shrapnel. Use incorrectly at your own risk, I guess.

Without getting to detailed on balancing componets let me tell you that I do not know what the factory did to engines. I was an engineer for Westinghouse and as such I balanced large steam and gas turbines for them. I learned that everything has a natural frequency which excites it to vibrate. That frequency is termed the natural harmonic for that piece of equipment. Because of operating rpm requirements sometimes it is necessary to change the mass of the machinery to move it's harmonic or natural resonant frequency. Hence the term harmonic balancer on an engine.

I would quess that GM accepted a mass or weight for each type of engine and made similar balance weights for them. I do not know but I wouldn't waste a lot of time discussing the point. If you have anything and you are of limited means as I have been and sometimes am I would try anything once. If you experience roughnes at different rpms then suspect the balancer on the engine. You better believe they are not put on cars and called balancers for nothing.

Besides static or mass natural frenquency there is dynamic balance to consider also. This dynamic balance has serveral critical rpms which are called first critical at about 1200 rpm and multipls of this first critical in this case 2400 and 3600rpms would behave differently but negatively. This is the true function of your balancer and hence it's true name is the dynamic harmonic balancer. I will bet money, and I never noticed one except to remove it on any engine that I have overhauled and replaced it as found. If you put a balancer on an engine that was not made for that engine some engineer at GM could tell you 10 reasons not to.

The problem with the dampers when they get old is the very fact that the rubber dries out, then the outer ring will slip, or worse, try to come off, and mess up the whole works. If it is a car that you plan on keeping for a long time, I highly suggest going to the local Olds dealer and purchasing a new one. Less than 100 bucks. The problem with using a "used" one, is just like you said, it could be in the same shape. The beauty of this is that the 307-455 balancers are the same part # at the dealership. I know, cause I was surprised to find out they had a new 455 balancer, which I found out later, it fit all of the V-8's. (Except the "unusual" applications, such as W-31, etc.) So they are available new.

If you are in a bind for cash, inspect the spare one you have, compare it to what's on the car and carefully inspect the rubber for obvious signs of slippage, cracking, etc. Ninety percent of the time you could get away with using that spare and have no problems, but if you are going to do some serious running with the car, go get a new one. One method of checking is to see if the #1 piston is at the top of it's travel, and the balancer reads no where near tdc.

[ Thanks to Charley Buehner, Gerald Christiana, Mike Rothe for this information ]


If you replace anything in the reciprocating assembly (say, the pistons), you should plan on rebalancing the motor. Yes, we've all built motors without balancing, but you'll be a lot happier if you do. Crank, rods, pistons, rod & main bearings, rod & main bolts, flywheel/flexplate and harmonic damper are all included in the balancing act.

The rods are balanced for both reciprocating weight (small end) and rotating weight (big end). This requires a special fixture which holds the rod horizontally, with one end of the rod on a very low friction pivot while the other end is weighed on a scale. Match all the small end weights and all the big end weights, then add the total weight of each piston/rings/pin/rod/bearing/bolt assembly, add an amount for the weight of the oil which remains on the assembly, then install the bob weights on the crank throws. Obviously if you need to do any work on the rods, such as polishing, resizing, bushing for floating pins, or machining the famous "side grooves" on the big end, that must be done prior to balancing.

The crank is then spun on a machine that can determine where the crank is out of balance (uneven rotation). Weight can be added or removed to/from the crank (by either welding in metal, or drilling out a counterweight) to put the crank in balance. It sort of works like a dynamic tire balancer. I believe the crank is held in the balancer with bearings at either end. One end is restrained while the out of balance is measured on the other end. Counterbalance weights are drilled or filled as dictated by the balancer, then the restraints are reversed and the other end balanced.

[ Thanks to Joe Padavano for this information ]

Before Starting Rebuilt Engine

Before starting the engine, pre-lube the engine. See Initial Engine Startup below.

Block Boring

When you have the block bored, try to find a shop that has a torque plate for an Olds motor (but don't be surprised if you can't find one). A torque plate is a thick (about 2") chunk of cast iron which is intended to look like a cylinder head with holes where the cylinders are. This plate is bolted to the block and torqued prior to boring the block to mimic the distortions in the cylinder walls when the real heads are installed. This ensures that the cylinders will be as close to round as possible in the assembled motor. Again, this is not mandatory, and I'll be surprised if you can find a shop with such a plate for an Olds.

Even if the cylinders do not require boring they do require a bit of honing to seat the rings, so make sure that procedure is accomplished.

Another no-no is honing without torque/deck plates. You are spending all this money, and you want to guarantee a great final hone. When you decide on piston rings, ask the manufacturer for their recommendation on optimum hone for maximum life giving your driving style. Insist the machine shop follows it.

I've had very good luck using the cylinder hones that have multiple silicone carbide balls on the end of flexible wires. This type of hone (which I'm sure you're familiar with) needs to be purchased in the correct diameter to properly fit the cylinder bore. A good one will probably run you fifty bucks; a cheap one, well. I use a variable speed drill turning at medium slow speed (perhaps 3 to 4 revolutions per second) while I move the hone through the bore no faster than 2 complete in and out strokes per second (using copious quantities of oil in the bore). I've never actually timed myself or the drill, but these numbers sound good in retrospect as I imagine the process here at the key board.

One only needs to do this long enough to completely and evenly break the glaze and crosshatch (as Joe said) the bore. Also as Joe said: this step at a minimum, is mandatory. The bore (and block) needs to be cleaned very well afterward as you don't want any silicone carbide particles hanging around. If you have a slight ridge (a few thousandths) at the top of the bore, this process tends to take the sharp edge off of that ridge, but I personally wouldn't want to have much a ridge in my engine as new rings will undoubtedly touch it and premature wear will subsequently occur.

Over bore
I do believe sonic testing is necessary for .125 over bore in a 455 block. That's 482 CID with stock stroke!

[ Thanks to Roger Peterson, Bob Barry, Joe Padavano for this information. ]

Block Prep

Do a good job of deburring the block, paying particular attention to eliminating stress risers. In addition (since this is what I was doing earlier this evening), enlarge and clean up the four oil drain back holes at the top corners of the valley. These pass through the deck surface and connect with the drain back holes in the lower corners of the heads. I found that the ones in my block were close to half their intended diameter due to mismatches in the drilled holes.

Block cleanliness cannot be stressed enough. Clean the block and components thoroughly before assembly.

When the block is clean, paint the inside with electrical motor insulating paint (that strange redish-orange colored stuff), and the outside. After painting, get a set of taps and clean up every thread. Remove overspray from the inside of bearing seats and the cylinder bores. Check that every bolt hole, gallery, and block passage is clean, clear and not blocked.

[ Thanks to Joe Padavano for this information. ]

Budgeting the Rebuild

You can save a considerable amount of money if you do the tear down and build up. Expensive operations are usually: turning the crank, and align hone. Everything else is relatively cheap (just sometimes multiplied by 8 or even 16).

Now some cost estimates:
Hot tank and inspect block, heads, crank, and cam $200 - $300
Turn crank and new bearings $175 - $200 *
Cylinder head job, hard seats and valves $100 to $150 ea **
Lifters/rings/seals/timing chain/gasket set/bearings $250 - $300
So far your you've spent $825 - $1100

* Assuming the crank needs turning.
** Aluminum plating the valve heads is a little cheaper, and works very well.

If you get a low mileage block, you may not need to turn the crank, and save the better part of a C note. If the bores are just a few 0.001"s over size, it is often possible to knurl the pistons and reuse them. This is usually not the best idea. If you got a high mileage block, you may need to bore, which means pistons, so add a couple of C notes.

Pitfalls, the engine got hot and the heads have an amazing array of cracks. This is why you pay for a clean job and inspection. They can see a lot of potential damage by magna-fluxing the engine, prior to spending a lot of money on a bad part. Crank is too bad to turn, or is already well undersize. Same goes for the bores. About 0.060" is about all that is safe to overbore a cylinder without going to much inspection expense; and the casting may not be square enough to support more anyway.

Figure on spending close to $2000 for the engine, and then add the tranny. And this is if you do the tear down, and build up yourself, ie, the bargain basement. A shop will be at least $1000 higher, and YMMV.

Including their labor, for a rebore/ground crank/stock-type rebuild, with valve job and everything, figure around $1600-$2600, depending on labor charges, the performance machine work done to it (i.e. degreeing cam and balancing, which is highly recommended, 3-angle valve job, etc), whether they pull and install it or you do, what old things break and need replacing, etc. You could be pushing $3000-$3500, depending on what extras you need/want to be done (decking block, align-honing, adjustable valvetrain, etc.). These prices will vary with geography, though

You should be able to build a 350 to 400 hp small block well within a $2000 budget. Main areas to look at are camshaft, heads, intake and some gear. Stay around 9-9.5 compression. The Edelbrock 350 Olds they talk about produced 397hp with their cam intake, timing chain and a 9.5:1 block assm.

General machine costs alone, parts not included might run you something like (and I'd do them roughly in this order):

clean, bore & hone and deck resurface is about $200-225  total= $225
long block assembly might run $350-400 ........................  625
reconditioning rods is about $75...............................  700
crankshaft regrind $75.........................................  775
file fit rings $125 or so .....................................  900
heads reworked, bigger valves, machine guides, $250............ 1150

And thats parts alone, I wouldn't build an drag strip engine without paying close attention to the bottom end (balance, crankshaft and rod recond'). If you are assembling the engine yourself, you'll say a lot of money. engine yourself, you'll say a lot of money.

New pistons, cam, lifters, gaskets, etc with run you $1000-1200. So you are looking at $2500-3000 total. Thats provided you have a good intake/carb/exhaust/ignition system.

To stay under $2000, your best bet, imho, is go for cubes. The cheapest way to get an olds 350 to 350hp, is to replace it with a 455 :-). A running 455 could be had with a transmission for $500. Add a little cam (like a comp cams 268/268 .456/.456) and you could be at your target hp, for 1/2 what building a 350 would take.

Don't forget the rest of the car in your dragstrip build up... a higher stall torque converter and eat up 1/2 a grand easy, then there is tires, shocks, and maybe new springs.

[ Thanks to Cliff Feiler, Bob Barry, Doug Ahern, Jim Chermack for this information ]

I did the porting myself, but the other stuff will still eat another $300 not including the cost of the stainless steel valves ($190), valve springs ($70) and rocker arms ($90 Crane stock type). If I decide to go with an aftermarket adjustable conversion kit you can tack on $275-$350.

    $70 - purchase heads
    $20 - mag and clean
    $20 - misc porting stones
    $190 - valves
    $70 - springs
    $300 - adjustable conversion kit or $90 - stock type rockers
    $40 - resurface
    $80 - valve job
    $72 - bronze guides
    $80 - install guides

As you can see, a well done set of heads will cost between $732-$942 IF you do your own port work. Sorry for the LARGE dose of reality, but heads ain't a cheap proposition.

As you are talking of adding up costs, lets not forget to

 $40 - Weld center divider on the exhaust side of the head
 $25 - Block heat risers with Mondello alloy mix
 $35 - Mill exhaust side after having it welded
 $60 - Optionally mill the deck 0.060" for more compression
 $40 - Mill the intake side of the intake so it fits better to the head
 $125- $150 - competion valve job

How about using cast guides instead of bronze, better for street applications.
 $25 - Mill the guide tops for positive seals
 $25 - Seals

You could go with a Crowler or Comp cam and save a few $$. Use it to get a double roller timing chain.

Recondition heads (valve job 3 angle, includes truing deck and or decking)  $150.00
Bronze Guides Install  $75.00
Bronze Guides  $48.00
Stainless Valves 2.07/1.72  $128.64
Springs  $55.00 (302/351 Ford are the same)
Total  $456.64 (top of the line overhaul)
Plus $325 street porting if wanted (includes throat cut under valves and
pockets ported, AIR bump removed and exhaust completely smoothed. Intake was
not touched.
Totals $781.64

Well I got my heads back from the shop today.They seem ok so far, but the costs sure piled up: $449.39.

 Here's what they did:
 - Took off exhaust manifolds (frozen bolts).
 - Bead blasted exhaust manifolds
 - hot tanked heads and magnafluxed.
 - machined for larger valves
 - 3 angle valve job
 - machined spring seats .100" deeper (heads were shallow seat #5s)
 - installed new seals and machined seal bosses down to match spring seats
 - clean up cut on head deck
 - assembled to 1.750" spring height for the Edelbrock  springs.
This seems to match some of the costs I've seen quoted on the list but the costs of the valves, springs, retainers, keys and seals are not included in the $449.39
[ Thanks to Mick Gillespie, Mark Prince, Jim Chermack for this information. ]

Salvage Yard Parts
Be careful in terms of purchasing salvage yard components. In rounding up 455 parts to build an engine, and so far I've accumulated bits and pieces of 5. Out of the five all incomplete but two: I've salvaged one good block, another that will bore good at 0.010" over and another that is good but is already at 0.060" over. I have one almost usable crank already at 0.030" under, several good cams. I got five heads, none of which were useable, four, actually five unusable cranks. These engines were donated from under workbenches, and in clunker cars. Good 455 components are not impossible; but are starting to be difficult.

Parts Kits
Buying replacement parts in kit form can save you some money, as long as the components are from reputable manufacturers and suppliers. Some places will let you substitute high-performance parts for the factory replacement parts, for an additional charge.

Good luck with this; it won't be cheap. If you have the time and skill, you might be able to save a few hundred by doing it yourself, but then you'd have to spend much on that on the tools you didn't already have and couldn't borrow. Then again, you'd have all those neat tools.

Miscellaneous Parts
Also replace the fuel pump, water pump, distributor cap, coil, wires, and rotor. A rebuild on the distributor should be considered too. Use an aftermarket roller timing chain and sprockets. Do not use genuine Oldsmobile timing chain parts. The factory uses a plastic cam gear (for noise abatement) and that is always the first mechanical part to fail. It is amazing how split, cracked and hammered one of those plastic gears can get and still work; but it will fail. If the engine is under a good load, and the timing goes, it can wrack the entire valve train, when the pistons come up and slap the now stuck open valves. There are always two open valves.

[ Thanks to Doug Ahern for this information ]


Cam technology has come a long way since the 70s. Due to the poor exhaust ports on Olds motors, dual pattern cams are preferred. Use a roller timing chain. Get one of the modern cams w/lots of lift & little overlap. They give nice low to mid rpm power & will absoluteley double the gas mileage of a stock 455. The idle is smooth as silk, but the engine does come alive. Cam Design
A hydralic flat tappet cam's lobes are ground with a slight taper which spins the lifter and pushes the cam rearward. Also consider the rearward thrust of the cam produced by driving the distributor gear, which also drives the oil pump. The back of the cam gear then contacts the block preventing the whole assembly from going any further back. OTOH a roller cam has perfectly straight lobes. Of course to keep the cam from wandering around you must ues a thrust plate or cam button.

Excessive cam end play causes erratic timing and causes/is caused by (in a self reinforcing loop)timing chain stretch. Using a cam button does not cause any damage, and in fact stabilizes timing at high rpm. I can't think of any reason why a device that eliminates cam end play would cause premature wear on the cam. Even the timing cover shows no effect from the cam button, since the bronze button is the sacrificial (softer) component.

Mondello makes a bronze spacer that installs behind the cam gear (between the gear and the block) for use in setting up your cam properly. This is usually used with a bronze cam button.

[ Thanks to Walter, Scott Mullen, Glenn Connors for this information ]
Cam Nomenclature
Lobe centers are the apex of the lift for the intake and exhaust lobes. Lobe seperation is the number of degrees that seperates the two lobe centers. Overlap is the number of degrees that the cam holds both intake and exhaust open at the same moment. Cams are a very simple concept, but are extremely complicated in use.

Probably the best place to learn about these terms is from cam cataloges. Most have detailed information with pictures.

[ Thanks to Danny, Walter, Mark Prince for this information ]
Cam Tech
Note that a lot of duration numbers in ads are measured at a mythical 0" lift, which is almost impossible to measure but lends impressive duration numbers for advertising. The measurement at 0.050" was created to bring about a little more truth in duration advertising and comparison.

The whole reason for the .050" standard is that the cam grinders with very gradual ramps would show huge durations, because it took so many degrees to get the lifter up by .050", while other cams with more aggressive ramps would show less total duration at 0" lift. Perhaps you could generalize regarding cams from a certain grinder, but there's no simple formula for converting lift at 0" and .050". If there was, there would be no need for the different forms of measurement.

A few notes about Lobe Seperation Angle and Advancing or retarding the cam (valve) timing.

Varying Lobe Separation Angle:

Tighten Widen
Moves Torque peak to lower rpm Moves Torque peak to higher RPM
Increases Maximum torque Decreases Maximum Torque
Narrows Powerband Widens Powerband
Builds higher cylinder pressure Reduces maximum cylinder pressure
Increases chance of knock Decreases chance of knock
Increases cranking compression Decreases cranking compression
Increases effective compression Decreases effective compression
Idle vacuum reduced Idle vacuum increased
Idle quality reduced Idle quality improved
Open valve-overlap increases Open valve-overlap decreases
Closed valve-overlap increases Closed valve-overlap decreases
Natural EGR effect increases Natural EGR effect reduced
Decreases Piston-valve clearance Increases Piston-valve clearance

Lobe separation Angle characteristics:

Above 114 degrees = Extremely wide
114 - 112 degrees = Wide
112 - 110 degrees = Moderately wide
110 - 108 degrees = Moderate
108 - 106 degrees = Moderately tight
106 - 104 degrees = Tight
Below 104 degrees = Extremely tight

Advancing/Retarding Cam Timing:

Advancing Retarding
Begins intake event sooner Delays intake event sooner
Open intake valve sooner Keeps intake valve open later
Builds more low-end torque Builds more high-end torque
Decrease piston-in valve clearance Increase piston-in valve clearance
Increase piston-ex valve clearance Decrease piston-ex valve clearance
[ Thanks to Sean Meldrum, Bob Barry for this information ]
Picking a Cam
Figure out the range you want the engine to run in most of the time, choose the cam for that range, and then build the rest of the car (converter, rear gears, tire size) around that. Or, of one of those other variables is fixed (i.e., say, you're not going to change from the 3.08 rear gear you have in there now), then choose the other parts to match. If you don't, you'll end up building a car that you didn't want to build (i.e. a high-rpm cam with some 3.08 gears would be great for 70mph+ highway cruising, but that does you little good if you do your driving in-town).

A general rule of thumb is that older cams have more gradual ramps because the materials used in the lobes and lifters got chewed up with aggressive ramps. Now, with better quality metals, cam grinders can get to the same lift with less duration. All Olds passenger-car V-8's (except the '83-'84 H/O and '86-'87 442's) after about 1973 ran the same mild cam grind: .400" lift/~260° duration. Actually, some 260's and 307's may have had an even milder cam.

The H/O-442 cam in the 307's was a bit more radical: ~.430" lift, I recall. Of course, if you've got a roller-cam, so you can't just use the grind (and especially not the actual cam) from a late-70's 350.

Some helpful cam specs:
250 HP 350: .400" intake and exhaust lift -- 250° intake duration -- 264° exhaust duration -- 111° lobe centers.
310 HP 350: .400" intake and exhaust lift -- 258° intake duration -- 272° exhaust duration -- 111° lobe centers.
325 HP 350: .474" intake and exhaust lift -- 308° intake duration -- 308° exhaust duration -- 113° lobe centers.

You will have to elongate the rocker arm slots for anything above 0.500" lift or so. There is a tendancy to bind them and break the bolts or the umbrella seals. 455's typically like lots of duration so you could stay with a lower lift cam with more duration to make it run. With the lower compression you don't want to get too radical.

For automatics, 239° on lift at 0.050" is the highest number you want to run in order to keep power brakes. I have a 232°, 237° lift cam and still pull 15 inches of vacuum.

Any cam is going to cost you in the $100-$150 range. A nice factory style cam like the 350 4-bbl/4-spd cam (see the FAQ for specs) would be good for use with unported heads and stock valves; maybe a '69 H/O cam if you use larger valves and are running a 3.08:1 or 3.23:1 rear. Be aware that cams with a reduced base-circle require you to invest in longer pushrods. Not a big expense, just a little extra or gotcha.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry, Jim Chermack, Mark Prince, others for this information ]

Reusing the Cam
I'd like to use the original cam, but since it's been sitting, it probably could use a polishing. Is anyone familiar with the procedure for doing so? I imagine that you could simply do whatever finish procedures were used for a reground cam.

Check out Hemmings, I think I saw an ad for an outfit that could regrind your old cam to new specs. Assuming it isn't cratered with a wiped lobe. If you can resurface the lifters why not the cam?

Back in olden times you had to ship your bumpstick to Isky and have it ground with a whole new base circle so you could increase lift specs and duration. Real fancy technical designations like full race, 3/4 race, 1/2 race. Nobody but the cam grinders knew what duration and lift was being shipped.

No reason why an old but good used camshaft can't be rejuvenated if the blanks aren't available anymore.

[ Thanks to Bob Handren for this information ]

Replacing the Cam
Make sure you spring the extra $35 for a new set of lifters (and $20 more for the lifter extractor tool). If the lifters are stuck in the block, don't just replace the cam. Even assuming that you could do it, you wouldn't want to; the lifters develop a wear pattern with the individual lobe of a camshaft, and will cause excessive wear on a new cam's lobes.

If you were going to try replacing just the cam, I suppose you could unbolt the rockers, take out the pushrods, and pull the lifters up in their bores enough to clear the cam journals. Once you are at that point, however, you're only an inch away from pulling the lifter out of the bore anyway. Besides, it'd be much less than fun if one of the lifters decided to take a dive into the oil pan when you had the cam out.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information ]
Degreeing the Cam
Yes, normally you just line up the dots on the sprockets when installing a cam. Unfortunately, many emissions V-8's reduced emissions (and power) by retarding the camshaft; sometimes the dowel on the camshaft would be a few degrees retarded, sometimes the dowel hole in the cam sprocket. When you add in production tolerances, it's quite possible that your cam will be *nowhere* near where it should be, even though you've matched up the dots.

This is one thing Mondello warns about in his tech manual, and that I've seen myself; even name-brand sprocket sets, with the dots matched, will retard the cam.

Now sometimes you want the cam to be retarded, sometimes you want it advanced, but most of the time you just want it installed "straight up". With a degree wheel attached to the front of the crank, you measure where certain camshaft events (max lift, opening .050", etc) occur in relation to TDC and BDC of the #1 piston; these are measured in degrees on the crank.

You can adjust the cam timing by using an offset bushing in the sprocket dowel hole, or using one of those multi-keyway timing sprockets.

And yes, if you could trust the dots, you wouldn't need to degree the cam unless you wanted to advance or retard it for some reason; I'd say that even on a stock Olds rebuild, you'd want to do it just to make sure the cam is where it should be.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information ]
Cam Advance
Advancing a cam (moving the intake centerline more toward 0) will lower your Rpm power band. Retarding, the opposite.

If a cam specs say 106 deg intake centerline, putting the crank gear on the ( + ) or ( A ) will increase the bottom end torque. So, instead of a 2500-5500 cam it's now a 2000-5000 cam. COMPCAMS tech line told me it shifts it 500 RPM for a 4 deg change in valve timing.

Most timing gear sets have an advance/retard keyways of 4 deg instead of 2.

[ Thanks to Donny Arnold for this information ]

Cam Bank Angle, Lifter Size Considerations

This area is kind of long, but read it a couple of times, go back here and there to make sure you understand what it is saying. It is important.

Cam Bank Angle (CBA) has implications for blocks and heads made before 1968. For blocks and heads made after 1968, the default cam kit (39°) that most suppliers supply will work with your block and engine. So 1968 and later engine, block and/or heads, you are unaffected by CBA - you don't need to specify a different kit. Diesel and roller lifter 307s use larger lifters though.

Cam Bank Angle (CBA) affects big blocks and maybe small blocks. 1967 330 blocks used the 39 deg CBA. The factory parts book lists two different kinds of 67 330 blocks, though.

The short story is

Before 1968, use this chart:
330  #1 coded block (64-67 ALL were 45 degree and had .841" lifters)
400  #B coded block (65 only 442, 45 degree and had .841" lifters)
400  #E coded block (66-67 442 39 degree and had .921" lifters)
425  #A coded block (65 only, 45 degree and had .841" lifters)
425  #D coded block (66-67 NON - Toro all were 45 degree and had .841" lifters)
425  #D coded block (66-67 Toro all were 39 degree and had .921" lifters

1968 and after, use this chart, as all are 39° and 0.841" lifters:
350  #2 coded block (68-7? ALL were 39 degree and had .841" lifters)
400  #G coded block (68-69 442, 39 degree and had .841" lifters)
455  #F coded block (68-76 ALL 39 degree and had .841" lifters)
And all 260, 307 and later 350 blocks.

This can become a real mess and can twist the brain trying to understand the different combinations and what to look for. It can be difficult to understand at first, but just read it through a couple of times.

This effects two things when interchanging blocks and heads, the pushrod length and the pushrod clearance in its hole in the head.

Engines, Blocks
Oldsmobile engines from 1964 onward (330, 400, 425) originally used a 45 degree cam bank angle (CBA) and corresponding 0.842" diameter lifters. This angle is formed by the intersection between the cam centerline and perpendicular lifter centerline. By 1968, all Olds engines were using a 39 degree CBA and corresponding 0.842" diameter lifters. In the years between, 39 degree CBAs (and corresponding 0.921" diameter lifters) were used mainly on blocks found in models with premium engines, like Toronado's, 442's and Starfires. 45 degrees was being used everywhere else. The CBA also affects the pushrod hole angle in the heads.

45 degree blocks used 45 degree heads, and the same for 39 degree blocks and heads. Actually, the only difference is the size of the pushrod hole to accomodate a 45 or 39° pushrod angle (or CBA). If swapping heads between 45 and 39 degree blocks, you must watch for pushrod interference at the bottom of the head. To put 45 degree heads on a (455) 39 degree block, you have to bore the push rod holes to .562" i.d. Applies to "A" heads and some "B" heads. The simplist solution for pushrod interference is to just check for interference when test assembling the engine.

Power Output
The cam bank angle does not affect power output. The valves don't know the difference, as they just do what the tip of the rocker arm tells them to do; any differences in friction due to pushrod angles would be negligible.

You can NOT swap cams between the 45 and the 39 degree blocks. They will fit, BUT the cam timing events will NOT be as advertised. By degreeing the cam you will be able to figure all the specs out using a 39 degree cam in a 45 degree block. Those using a 45 degree engine should call the cam manufacturer to have them grind it for that engine. Will only cost a couple dollars more. Big lifters were only used in the 66-67 engines. Toro and 442. 425's with big lifters are only Toro and will guarantee you a 39 degree block. They have become very difficult to find the lifters and when you do they will not be cheap. Usually around $9.00 per lifter. The other .841 lifter is common, and will run usually less than half the price of the big ones.


CBA Lifter Notes
45 0.842" Small block: Block IDs 1, 2 - all 330's. 1968-1970 350s used ID 2 as well, so check for block date code. Head IDs 1, 2, 3, 4.
45 0.842" Big block: Block IDs A, B, D, E. Head IDs A, B, and some C.
39 0.921" Big block: Block IDs D, E with drill spot on vertical rib located on timing shelf area (see below). Head IDs B, C.
39 0.842" Big block, small block: Block IDs F, Fa, G, L, all small block IDs 3 and after. Head IDs 5 and up. Most Olds engines 1968 and up. Exception: diesels and late 307's w/7A heads.
39 0.921" Diesels and 7A head 307's.


If the engine is original to the car it was pulled from, you know the year of the block and heads.

Push Rods
In the case of pushrod length, use the pushrods and lifters which are correct for the _block_ you are using. Note: The parts book actually lists three different pushrod lengths for the 330; 8 5/16", 8 21/64" and 8 23/64". All 350s use a pushrod length of 8 17/64". In the case of the clearance in the pushrod hole in the head (which is the rubbing you ask about), the easy solution is to slightly enlarge the holes in the head to provide greater clearance.

Interesting note about pushrod length vs. CBA. In all cases (big block as well as small block), the 45 degree motors use longer pushrods than the 39 degree motors. Since the head castings and rocker arms are the same, I would have assumed that the narrower CBA, which puts the lifters closer to vertical, would require the longer pushrods. Yes, the lifters are the same length in both cases. Am I wrong; is the 39 or 45 deg CBA not the angle from _vertical_?

[ Thanks to Jim Chermack, Joe Padavano for this information. ]

Checking CBA

There are a couple of ways to check for cam bank angle:

Basically, the way it worked out was that if the early (pre 1968) big block had 0.921 lifters, it was an advanced [for the time] 39-degree block, and if it had the normal 0.842 lifters, it was an old 45 degree block.

Anyhow, the presence of the drill spot means a 39 degree block and heads. Easy to spot, too.

45 degree cams can be more difficult to find, but any REPUTABLE supplier can supply the grind you want in the configuration you need [Mondello, Dave Smith, etc.]. You will probably pay more for the cam, but you can use the cheaper 0.842" lifters.

0.921" lifters are more expensive- like $100 vs. $35 for .842" units, per set. So you pay more for lifters, but can use the cheaper 39° cam.

Affects of Wrong CBA parts
If you were to install a 39° cam in a 45° block, the cam will effectively be installed 6° advanced, and for the other, it will be installed 6° retarded (assuming, of course, that the cam is installed "stright-up" relative to the cam gear, not relative to the #1 cylinder-else the other bank would be 12° off). With this installation, one cylinder bank would have its camshaft timing advanced by 6°, while the other would be retarded by 6° (assuming the timing-chain set would install the camshaft straight-up in relation to a 39° engine).

However, if you degreed the cam according to the #1 lobe, however, the odd bank would be installed straight up, but the even bank would be 12° retarded!. The reason it's not 3° advanced and retarded (totaling the 6° difference in the cam bank angles) is because the camshaft degrees are measured at the crank, which is double the actual camshaft degrees (hence, the 328° W-30 cam did not have a lifter lobe that was above the base circle for almost the entire lobe, but rather only for 164° of the cam's circumfrence.

The engine is not going to run right with the wrong CBA cam, no matter what you do. Indexing it to one bank would only make the other bank worse. Adjust the timing won't work either. The motor will run very badly and loudly at idle, but it will run. Once you got it above maybe 2000 RPMs, it will be fine, but you can hide just about any mistake at that engine speed. The best you can hope for is that one bank will see enough improvement in performance to offset the degradation of performance on the other cylinder bank; it's likely, however, that your performance will be worse than with a proper 45' cam, and I don't think you can count on it being better. Spring the $120 for the correct cam, and $40 for the correct lifters; you'll be glad you did.

I had the wrong cam in my 66 98 for about a month back in 87. Basically it ran ok from 2000 RPM and up, but idled very, very poorly. Eventually the builder discovered that he'd put the wrong one in and put in the correct one. So. It will run (cough, choke, sputter, cough), but not how you'd want it to.

It will work, but it will run absolutely terrible. My '65 442 had a 39 degree in it when I got it and it made no power, ran rough, and got sh*@ty gas milage. I put in the correct 45 degree cam with similar specs, if not more mild, and it screams and gets twice the milage. Either get a 39 degree 455 block for your 425 crank, rods and pistons or get a 45 degree cam.

[ Thanks to Chris Witt, Bob Barry, Chris Fair for this information ]


Consider rejetting the carburetor to more or less match any changes you have made to the engine. If you are basically trying to reproduce the stock performance, this is really optional. There are some nice articles on choosing jets & metering rods for your cam & other needs. This produced a nice smooth running engine w/lots of instant throttle.

Going from a 2 to 4 bbl intake on a 350, a 600 CFM carb should be enough. Again, you have to determine what rpm range you want this engine to make power in (based on the rpms it will see when you are driving it most of the time, not only the occasional full-throttle from a stop), and choose the components to match that power curve.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]


Don't skip hot tank and magnaflux, even though it costs a few bucks.

You can take the block or whole car for that matter, and use the engine degreaser at the car wash. Let it soak a while, or better yet, spray a couple cans on the engine about 30 minutes before arriving at the car wash. That will help the degreaser soak into the crud. The high pressure water will take care of blasting the crud off if the degreaser has soaked in down to the metal or iron.

I just finished this process on my 455 block, I first took the car to the local car wash, soaked the motor with Castrol Super Clean, Bleche White, Simple Green & the Carwash formula, let it sit for half an hour and then rinsed the toxic combo off. Most of the goo came off but there were the usual nooks & crannies, so I yanked the motor and slapped it on a stand, hosed the whole thing with oven cleaner, let it sit for a couple of hours, came back & scrubbed everywhere I could then went to town with the Berrymans Carb cleaner. The result was a block that appeared to have been vatted or blasted. Lots of work, but it looks great!

Try A product call S100, You can pick it up at a motorcycle shop. It works great and you only need a garden hose not a pressure sprayer.

One cleaner mentioned was Castrol's Super Clean, it does a good job. But last night I used some plain old Oven Cleaner (the type you don't need to heat the oven with) on the front frame and crossmember of the race car, and it did a real good job. Cleaned it up good enough to let me use the sandblaster on it today. EZ-OFF cold formula is probably the best engine cleaner I have ever found. But you are right about not using it on any painted surface you want to keep, it's a killer. Jim Harrell [email protected]

[ Thanks to Jim Harrell, Scott Wheeler, Ken Snyder for this information. ]


I'm not one to build an engine with much cylinder wall taper (difference in cylinder wall diameter as measured from top to bottom at multiple locations). A couple of thousandths? O/K, if I'm not going to race. How much is a couple? For me it's two, maybe three. Four is too much. Also check for cylinder wall out-of-round. This has a lot to do with how (and if) new rings will seat. A hone won't improve on this.

[ Thanks to Roger Peterson for this information. ]

Dipstick Tube

OK, the big question you have to answer is "Is the dipstick really completely missing, or is it just broken off in the block?"

If the old one was removed, and is completely missing, then it's an easy job to tap in the new one. I tried using vise-grips near the base, loosely holding the tube, until I discovered the trick of using a larger bolt with a built-in washer (something from my body panels screw bin), which I used to tap it right in.

If, however, the old stub of the dipstick tube is still in the block, it's a bit harder. You'll have to screw in a coarse-thread bolt whose outside diameter is just bigger than the inside diameter of the broken-off tube, and use a pair of vise-grips to yank it or hammer it out of there. You might also be able to use a sliding-type dent puller with the right screw. To get at this, you'll have to remove the exhaust manifold on that side (avoid breaking off the exhaust manifold bolts; that's an even worse job), the crossover tube, and maybe some other things that get in the way (steering shaft, starter, etc.).

If all else fails, you can jack up the engine, remove the oil pan, and tap out the tube from inside the crankcase. I hope to hell the old 1 is NOT broke off in the hole..if it is...HAVE FUN...otherwise..all you have to do is inert the tube in the hole and press it may be a lil tight...but if you twist is as you insert it it should ease right in...Hoagie

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

The recommended way is to use a tool which looks like a piece of tubing which has an inside diameter which will allow it to slip over the dipstick tube. The bottom portion of this tube is cut away for about 180 degrees to allow you to slip it over the dipstick tube. You then pound on this tool to force the dipstick tube into place. As an alternative, I've also used a long screwdriver applied to the upper hoop and gently tapped into place while moving the screwdriver around the periphery of the hoop. Note that while I've had success doing this, I've also damaged a tube or two when not being careful.

[ Thanks to Joe Padavano for this information. ]


If you are rebuilding the engine to be close to stock, this is really optional. But, if you really want to set it up correctly, the distributor (or advance curve) is recurved to match the rest of the car. A competent hot rod shop can do this. Consider though, a newer breakerless distributor (HEI, etc). These will do wonders for reliability & driveability. They will still have to be recurved though. Kits w/instructions can be bought for you to do this yourself.

[ Thanks to for this information. ]

Distributor Install

Genuine Old Racer's Trick: with engine at #1 firing position, stuck your paint pen [you *do* have one, right!? get one if not!] into the dist'r hole and MARK THE CAM GEAR. Any little dab will do.

Later, after you've turned the motor about 37 times installing the tork converter, etc. and then you want to install the dist'r... all you need do is line up the timing marks, peer down into the dist'r hole... see paint: #1 firing; no paint- #6 firing position.

[ Thanks to Chris Witt for this information. ]

Engine Paint

It's always good to match your paint before getting rid of the old because some companies get the color close, but not close enough. You will find each seller's paint shade differs a little bit.

Urethane, if you can get it, lasts longer. Some sources for correct colors:

Silvery Metallic Blue
Bill Hirsch's Old Blue paint
Brother's Olds Blue paint
NAPA Auto Parts Olds Blue paint
Specialty Olds Blue paint
Year One Olds Blue paint
Brothers Auto (800-442-7278) bronze engine paint is correct.
Check Plasti-kote Cadillac gold. It is a little bright at first, but it mellows out after a couple of days.
Check Dupli-color Ford gold. It is very close.
Ford red is real close to Oldsmobile red.
Any color
Bill Hirsch in N.J. Very good color matching.
Fusick's - about $9 a can.
NAPA - about $4-5 a can.
Supercars Unlimited (503-244-8249) - about $8 per can. Correct color is guaranteed.
1964-1972 330/350 gold, part number 14-214
1965-1969 400 bronze, part number 14-218
1965-1968 425, 455 red, part number 14-260
1970-1985 350/455 blue, part number 14-216

GM went to black for a minor heat reduction improvement. Black color radiates heat more effectively then lighter colors. Look at any race car engine, most are black. Like your radiator is most likely black. White REFLECTS heat, black absorbs it, but black also radiates it as well. If white was a better color, your pots, pans, and skillets would be white instead of black. Just the laws of nature!

Others may have mentioned this, but the single most important prep for an engine is a thorough degreasing. Using a pressure washer is only the beginning. I have followed that up with a complete scrubbing using lacquer thinner and a small wire brush. Follow this up with a laquer thinner wipedown, then do not touch the surface with bare hands prior to painting.

Also, I've seen suggestions of using paint primer first. My own preference is to not use primer under engine paint for two reasons. First, most primer is not designed to tolerate the high temperatures, and second, you want to keep the paint layer as thin as possible. The cast iron expands and contracts with heat, and the thinner the paint layer the easier it is for the paint to move with the metal and not crack and flake off. The factory did not use primer under the engine paint.

Finally, I've had excellent results with Fusick's engine paint. I've used the 400 cu in bronze, and while the color looks to be an excellent match, the paint is quite thin. Unfortunately the lightness of the color is a function of the applied thickness (as with all metallic paints), so if you try to shoot several thin coats (as one normally would), you'll end up with a lighter color than factory. Shooting the paint heavy to get the right color unfortunately results in runs (which would duplicate the factory paint job).

[ Thanks to Walter, Danny, Mark Prince, Everett, Todd Wallin Greg Beaulieu, Thomas Martin, Joe Padavano for this information ]

Frame Mounts and Motor Mounts

Before Installation
I just finished putting in the left motor mount on my 86 Cutlass. I would now like to pass along a couple of helpful hints I just learned.

1. The very second you take the new mount out of the box, be sure to clean out the bolt holes and make sure that there is no tough molded rubber left in them. After it is between the block and the frame is NOT the time to find out you should have done this. Bolts don't like to travel through this stuff for some reason.

2. If you ever have some inexplicable noises or bumping or vibrating, be sure to check the motor mounts. It sounds really crazy but I swear that new mount has eliminated a severe thump I used to have upon acceleration (duh!) and a rattle I thought was in the dash. I chased that rattling noise all over the front of the car but with this new mount the noise seems to have disappeared.

3. I'm so happy about this new mount and suprised at how many problems it solved, I think I will blame everything on bad motor mounts. Vibrations under the hood? Bad motor mounts. Thumping on acceleration? Bad motor mounts. Flat tire and blown headlight? You guessed it! Bad motor mounts.

[ Thanks to Brian Shankle for this information. ]
There is no difference in these years. 69-72 455/400 cars all use the same mounts. We have lots of them. 66-68 400 cars used a diffent mount that is very hard to get. They are different. They have the same bolt spacing as the 330/350 mounts. Jim Chermack

The Skinny
With regard to picking the right frame pad mount and motor mount combination, The engine crank centerline will be in exactly the same place, between a big block and small block. This is crucial for tranny alignment, fan location in the shroud, etc). The engine appears to sit higher because a big block is one inch taller than a small block - the heads and carb flange are obviously further away from the crank centerline. The problems with clearance, etc., come with mixing big block motor mounts with small block frame mounts, or vice versa.

My factory parts book says that all 66-68 big and small block cars use the same frame and motor mounts. These frame mounts should measure approximately 1.6" from the two top bolt holes to the cross bolt hole (centerline to centerline). Note that a big block will put its valve covers closer to the power booster than a small block, as the big block is about 1 1/2" taller. Olds had "notched" valve covers with indentations to clear the power booster and the A/C in these applications. Another interesting aside is that the power booster on my 66 (an original unit) is smaller in diameter than the one on my 67 parts car - and the 66 400 does not use the notched valve covers. In addition, the 67 inner fender panel on the driver's side has an indentation to clear this larger power booster, while the 66 inner fender does not. I always assumed they were the same.

There is no difference in these years. 69-72 455/400 cars all use the same mounts. We have lots of them. 66-68 400 cars used a diffent mount that is very hard to get. They are different. They have the same bolt spacing as the 330/350 mounts.

Through 68, all big and small block A-body Oldsmobiles used the same frame mount, part no. 383563. In 69, Olds went to a new design of the rubber motor mount, requiring a redesign of the matching frame mount on the big block cars (350s retained the 68-earlier design). In both cases, though, the engine crank centerline sits at the same height for both big and small blocks. Since the front cover is the same, that means the water pump also sits at the same height. All you need is to use the frame and rubber mounts for the _car_, not the engine. When installed with the correct mounts, the big block will look like it's sitting higher because it _is_ an inch taller that the small block. That's why the 70 W-31 uses a taller foam ring on the O.A.I. adapter than the W-30.

My 1972 assembly manual shows the part number for the 455 frame mount as 402953 and the 350 mount as 404752. Only other part numbers on the page is motor mount numbers and bolt numbers. It also shows both set of mounts sharing the same holes on the frame. The page in the assembly manual is called "Power Plant to Frame" part numbwer 410124 series A Year 72 manual section 6-1 page 130.

You will need the correct frame mounts in addition to the motor mounts for your 455 to sit correctly. You can install the 455 using 350 frame and motor mounts, however the engine will sit about an inch higher in the car, which may cause a problem with your headers. It might also cause a problem with your O.A.I. air cleaner.

The thing to remember is that both the frame mounts and the motor mounts differ between big and small block Olds motors.

It sounds like you may have the wrong ones or ones from the wrong year. Olds played around with motor mounts during the A-body years, and the bottom line is that: 1) Frame and motor mounts go together in matched sets (that is, a certain frame mount needs a certain motor mount to match), 2) Big and small blocks used different mounts, and 3) Different year mounts may not match, even for the same body style. I've tried unsuccessfully to compile a dimensional listing of the various frame/motor mount combinations.

That's right. That's why if you use a big block motor mount on the taller small block frame mount, the engine will sit too high. You either need the correct big block frame mounts to match the motor mounts OR the original small block motor mounts matched to the small block frame mounts. This second combination will bolt up to the big block with no problems and will allow it to sit in the correct location. I also remain mystified by Lansing's use of the two different designs, and can only offer my hypotheses:

1) The big block mounts have been tuned for NVH response, which would explain their different size. In this case, you may notice more vibration with the small block mounts, but no functional effects.

2) Due to the additional torque, the big block mounts are stronger, potentially incorporating the "fail safe" design of interlocking metal parts to still retain the motor in the event that the rubber cracks. Keep in mind that GM went through a massive recall in the late 1960s to retrofit limiter straps on Chevies due to a rash of failed motor mounts. This mentality may have spilled over into the design of the big block mounts. It is interesting to note that through 1968, all Olds motors, big and small block, used the same part number motor mounts and the "tall" frame mounts. In this case, if you are using the small block mounts on a big block, I would ensure that the rubber motor mounts are periodically inspected for deterioration, and consider adding a torque strap to the driver's side of the motor.

Again, these are theories only; unfortunately I have no proof one way or the other.

[ Thanks to Mark Prince, Jim Chermack, Joe Padavano for this information. ]

Motor Mount Dimensions
What I learned from measuring every motor mount & frame pad on hand: (frame pad selection was limited to 1968 442 and 1971 Cutlass 350)

[----Side view of Olds motor mount, lying on its motor face----
[              ___      Lip
[      TOP     \  ---___       Frame
[              / \     X---___
[             /     \ X       ---_
[            /         \       __ |
[           /             \   |  || --------
[          /                 \ -- |   ^
[         /  |                  \Y|   B: Motor boss to hole along
[        /__   __________         |   |      motor bolt axis
[______ |___|||__________|\      /  __v_____
[               Motor     \\\  /
[            |              \/
[            |                  |
[            |                  |
[            |                  |
[            |<------ C ------->|
[      Motor bolt centerline to mount bolt
[   centerline, parallel to engine boss face

X is (hidden) lip that fits on the top of the frame mount.
Y (just below the thru-bolt hole) is where some SB mounts have another lip, which prevents their fitting down over the pad on a BB frame mount.
Msrmt A= between that lip and the motor mount thru-bolt centerline. "Hole separation" below is distance from hole centerline at mount/ block interface to motor mount bolt hole center, disregarding the fore-aft offset: sqrt(B^2+C^2).

A       B     C   Hole Sep'n   ID#           Application
1     1.5   2.25   2.70       ACM 2308    unknown
1.5   2.0   1.25   2.35       401341     '68 Vista Cruiser, 400 CID, Old
1.5   2.25  1.25   2.57       -none-     '68 Vista Cruiser, 400 CID, Old
1     1.5   2.0    2.5        408452      unknown
1.5   2.0   1.5    2.5         none      '67 Cutlass 350-AT recently
1.5   2.0   1.25   2.35       394198      unknown
1     2.0   2.25   3.01        none       unknown
1.5   2.0   1.5    2.5        383564      unknown
0.75  1.75  2.25   2.85        2328       unknown
0.75  1.5   2.25   2.70        none      '78 403 OEM
1     1.5   2.25   2.70        none       unknown
1     1.5   2.5    2.91        2328      "Type 410814" KF Made in Korea
                                          F264 BOS Auto. Prod. [from NAL]
7/8   1.5   2.25   2.70        M2328     Made in China
                                          F334 BOS Auto. Prod.
1.4   1.88  1.63   2.48        2261      Korea, JCWhitney #37-9880, [1990]
1.0   1.50  2.50   2.90        23##      Chermack's
1.38  1.88  1.50   2.40        2261      Chermack's

Jim Chermack says there are at least 3 main varieties of Oldsmobile A-body motor mounts:

2286 = '66-67 big block [have a bolt thru the rubber?]
2261 = Small Block
2328 = 69-72 big block
2293 [or 2294?] = Newer version of 2328, fits 69-72 BB -and-
                  '73-up Cutlass also.

"A" is pretty critical- if the lip is too close to the thru-bolt hole, there is no way the mount will mate with that frame pad.

"B" is how far the thru-bolt hole is offset sideways.

"C" is how far the thru-bolt hole is offset downward.

Span between thru-holes on frame pads should measure 2*B + width of block where mounts bolt on.

[ Thanks to Chris Witt, Jim Chermack for this information. ]

Frame Pads / Frame Mount Dimensions
And now... Frame Pads

[                         ----
[                        /  O |
[           /--------------.  |
[          /      =[       ]  |  TOP
[         | O     =[ PAD   ]  |
[          \      =[       ]  |
[           \--------------   |
[           |    | |     \  O |
[           |    | |      ----
[           |    | |       ||
[           |    | |       ||
[           |    | |       ||     1-3/16"
[           |    |  _______ | ___/
[           |    | /    O  | ------9/16"+
[         ==-===============-==  -- 0
[           |    | |    |  ||
[           |    | |    |  ||
[           |    | |    |  ||
[           E    D C    |  A \
[                       B     \
[                              0
0 = Index = Zero point = top two frame bolt holes' centerline
A = top of frame pad
B = Thru-bolt [motor mount bolt] hole
C = pad starts to fade away
D = End of pad
E = single lower hole centerine
SB *1: 0.125" 1.5" 2.25" 3.0" 4.5"
BB *2: 0.125" 1.5" 2.88" 4.0" 4.5"
*1= from 1971 Cutlass S with 350 motor.
*2= factory 1968 442 frame pad was measured.

Basically, the BB pad is about 1/2" longer, extending nearly to the bottom bolt of the frame pad. Some motor mounts have a lower lip which is supposed to fit over the (smaller) pad [2.5" max pad length], and would interfere with the larger pad.

Both these frame pads had the same measurement from top edge of pad to thru-bolt centerline, but.... there must be some pads with the hole closer to the top of the pad, for the numerous motor mounts which have a measurement of only 1 inch to fit.

It is left for the reader as an exercise to determine the effect on motor position, etc. by mixing & matching mounts & frame pads. All the pertinent Olds V-8s share the same size (width) block at the motor mount bosses, so that is not a factor.

[ Thanks to Chris Witt for this information. ]
Hard to Reach Frame Pad Bolts
There are two holes for a socket to go through to reach a bolt, on the bottom of the crossmember. Tight, but a thin wall socket will fit.

The third bolt can be reached with a wrench through a hole in the rear of the crossmember.

[ Thanks to Bob Blanchard for this information. ]

Implications of Using the Wrong Frame or Motor Mounts
The 455 frame mounts are lower. You can bolt the engine up using the 350 mounts, but you'll end up with driveline vibration because the angle of the front universal will be wrong.

The problem of fan hitting the shroud comes about when rubber mounts for the engine are matched with the frame mounts for the car; the later mounts place the cross bolt (the bolt that connects the rubber mount to the frame mount) lower in the car - using these rubber mounts with the early frame mounts will make the engine sit high.

Headers will sit lower than normal, causing them to get scraped and be dented.

[ Thanks to Scott Woodworth, Joe Padavano, Ken Rotten for this information. ]

Big Block or Small Block Frame Mount?
I finally put a SB & BB frame mount side by side to view the difference. Hmmmm.... more meat on the BB unit, and different hole location.

For whatever it's worth, here are some dimensions on 350 & 455 frame mounts that may help you determine if you have the correct frame mounts. The only similarity between the 350 & 455 frame mounts is the dimension between the lower single hole and the upper two holes. It is 4 1/2" for both. The difference is in the location of the horizontal hole for the cross bolt.

Here are some part numbers for Anchor motor mounts:

[ Thanks to Chris Witt, Ali Zalzala for this information. ]

Big Block or Small Block Motor Mount?
When looking at the underside of the B/B mounts there is a metal tube, or whatever you want to call it, that goes from side to side where the motor mount bolt goes thru, as if to add strength to it.

[ Thanks to Everett Horton for this information. ]

Cutlass Engine Offset
Previously I mentioned the Hot Rod/Car Craft item about engine offset in the Olds A-body cars. Now I remember the exact quote that told me they didn't know what they were talking about. The response to the tech question had indicated that engines were offset in Cutlass Supreme and Cutlass S models, but not in 442s in the 1970-1972 model years. Here's the problem with this statement: the Cutlass S and 442 are EXACTLY the same body, with EXACTLY the same engine placement.

In fact, in 1972, when the 442 was demoted back to an option package, the Cutlass S WAS the 442. Both the Cutlass S and the 442 use the "77" Sport Coupe and "87" Holiday Coupe body styles. Frames, motor mounts, crossmembers, etc, etc. are IDENTICAL between these two. Basically, Petersen Publishing doesn't know what the heck they're talking about. And yes, I have put big tube headers in a big block 71 Cutlass S with no problems, as well as in a 72 Cutlass S-based 442 with a 350. Just please don't tell anyone I once owned a car with a small block, OK?

Here's the parts end of things for this thread. GM Oldsmobile parts book states:

  1. Engine Mounts (PN 406436 are the same for 69-72 400/455 A body and are also the same (PN 404461) for all small blocks 68-72.

The 68-72 Assembly Manuals State:

  1. Frame mounts are also like the above. Same for all 400/455 68-72, and 350 from 68-72.
  2. There were 3 different fan shrouds used from 68-72, 1#- 68 only, 2 69-70 only, and #3 71-72 only. These were variations in reinforcements and could be interchanged between ALL the years.

There is NO frame offset for any Oldsmobile A-body! Period. If there was (as Joe pointed out) there would HAVE to be a different engine mounting setup for the offset cars which would have a different part number. Don't know where all this BS information came from or any documentation of such offset. The few that said it was offset and closer to the passenger side of the car (a problem with 455 and A/C) must have the incorrect valve covers on the car. The A-body 455's ALL had the notched valve covers whether it had A/C or not. If these are not on the car YES there will be clearance problems. Header fit problems are going to be manufacturer problems or the incorrect engine mounts and pads, not engine to frame offset.

[ Thanks to Joe Padavano, Jim Chermack for this information. ]

Gaskets, Seals

Intake Manifold Gaskets
Some gasket sets will not have the the exhaust crossover (carb heat passage) cut out of the intake gasket. Composite gaskets for example. You must use some cast iron plugs if you are not going to cut a hole in the gasket. If you don't use the plugs, your gaskets will burn through in no time. Especially with exhaust manifolds. I would block the exhaust crossover if you do not plan on using a choke. But be sure to use those rattly little plugs! If you decide to cut the hole, you are done, this doesn't affect you.

The crossover passages in a C^evy head are MUCH smaller than in an Olds head. Also, in most Olds heads (except some castings), the exhaust crossover is fed by 2 cylinders vs one for most other engines. That's why a little piece of tin will work to block a Chevy crossover but on an Olds you need a chunk of cast iron!.

[ Thanks to Tony Waldner, John Pajak for this information. ]

Oil Pan
Use the thicker oil pan gaskets for the Olds 350 diesel to better prevent pan oil leaks.

Rear Main Seal
To change a 2 piece rear mail seal without removing the crankshaft . . .

The rope type is hard to do. To remove the old upper half you try to pull it with needle nose plyers while turning the crank. Pushing it from the other side can help a little if the seal is old and hard. If its soft it will just wad up when pushed on.

To install the upper half they made a tool that worked like chinese handcuffs with a flexable wire attached. You threaded the wire through the seal groove and pulled the rope through.The seal is long enough so you can remove the tool and trim the seal. You can't pack it in like you would if you had the crank out.

The neoprene type will usually come out fairly easily by pushing on it and turning the crank. With some oil on it the new one will slip right in. Main bearings can be changed in the same way.

I would think the Fel-Pro numbers would still be good, don't know about the FoMoCo number since I recall they drop stuff right and left, change numbers, etc. The Fel-Pro numbers can probably be cross referenced to other brands as well.

The small block can use the rear main seal for the old Ford 292 engine. It is Fel-Pro B/S 6141.

The big block Olds can use the Ford 460 neoprene rear main seal. The Fel-Pro part number is B/S 40032. The Ford part number is E9AZ-6701-A or D2VE-6701-AA.

Remember to offset the split ends, slightly off the main end caps, and seal the two ends with some gasket sealer(Peramtex 700). Also put a light covering of assembly lube or grease on the part that seals the crackshaft so it doesn't burn up the seal on start up.

The neoprene seal is designed to simply be installed parallel to the mating surfaces of the block and cap so that when the motor is being put together on the assembly line the crank can simply be dropped into place and the cap bolted on. As a result, it will obviously work if installed "straight up". Some seepage of oil is unavoidable in any seal application, however the recommendation to stagger the seal will help minimize this seepage by eliminating what could become a direct leak path past the main cap/block and the seal parting line. The bottom line is that this is one of those "extra mile" things you do when hand-assembling an engine that aren't usually feasible on a production line.

When I used to rebuild engines every day, I would stagger the ends of the rear main seals. One being at approximately 2 O'clock, and the other at approximately 8 O'clock. It's a lot better than both parallel to the back of the block. ALSO a good note is to take a THIN bead of RTV and run down each side of the block's outer edge where the main caps sits. Just a few tips I have learned in my Machine Shop Days.

Rear main saddle, as best I can do with ASCII. X = Thin coat of RTV .

        |                |
[ Thanks to Cliff Feiler, John Foster, Bob Handren, Steve Reed, Joe Padavano for this information ]

Harmonic Balancer / Crank Bolt

The front crank bolt torque is 160 - 310 foot pounds. Finger, then hand tighten. Then whack it with the impact, easy at first though. Torque the crank bolt to about what it took to loosen the bolt.

[ Thanks to Scott Woodworth for this information. ]


Make sure you have hardened valve seats installed to allow running on unleaded fuel. Try to keep the compression below 10:1, unless you plan on running racing fuel.

Intake Manifold

For a street car, a single plane manifold may give you a soggy bottom end, especially if you are using a near-stock stall converter and gears below 3.73. I'd recommend a good dual-plane 4-bbl intake, either factory iron or aftermarket aluminum.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

I hear more gripes about intake end seals than any other with the exception of rope rear mains.

Trial fit the intake to check the gaps with heads and block are not too large. If they are, you probably won't get the intake to stay sealed. If the gaps are too large, the intake or heads will have to be milled to correct the large gap. Make sure you know what you are doing before milling!

In my opinion you should put some silicone in the four corners where the intake mates with the heads and block in the back and front. I am against silicone in most gasket procedures but I put silicone in all the "corners" that appear for example.

I never use the supplied end gaskets as you can have problems with leaks there or the end pieces moving. I clean the surfaces very good and put a bead of RTV where the seal would go. Gets sandwiched inbetween the intake/block and won't move. That's the only time I use a lot of RTV.

I suggest you also use a bead of silicone around the water ports. Around the intake ports, i don't use silicone, but use brush tack or similar.

Put the silicone bead down and let stand for about 5 minutes. Then set the intake down, and put four corner bolts in to make sure lined up correctly. Walk away for couple hours. Put in rest of bolts and torque to spec. You'll never have leak again from front or rear of intake.

Use two people to place the manifold.

Another good tip is to remove the distributer. I thought that I could sneak my intake in there without removing the dist. While I did get it in there, I did manage to screw up the rear bead of RTV I had laid down and I still had an oil leak back there.

The best way and IT WILL NOT LEAK is to use brake clean to remove all oil and grease from the sealing surfaces. This is the main problem. Then you could use a bead of silicone, OR you could use the neoprene end seals and install them correctly and they will not leak.

The method for this is to apply a small (choclate chip sized) spot of silicone in the corners then set the end seal. Apply the silicone to the water passages, install the steel shim valley pan, apply another dot to all four corners, and a small bead to the water passages, then install the intake straight down, and torque to spec. It will not leak.

I have used this method on just about every make, and it hasn't failed yet. If you go with the silicone bead method just remember to take care applying the bead and make it a uniform 5/16" bead. Install the intake right away, straight down, and don't slide it around. Torque it into place, then allow the silicone to cure before starting the engine. Remove and plug the PCV to avoid having the vacuum suck the silicone into the engine if you must start the engine without letting the silicone cure completely.

[ Thanks to George Aigeldinger, Roger Hitson, Mike Bloomer, Rob Thomas, Steve Harris, Delvin Vogle, Kerry Kroger for this information. ]


Prime the lifters before installing them. Submerge them in oil, and depress the plunger until no more air bubbles come out. This allows you to properly set the preload on them and reduce the clickity-clackity racket during initial startup (until the lifters get pumped up).

There's usually a layer of varnish built up on lifters in a well-used engine. This varnish has to be "broken" to get the lifter out of it's bore. There is a tool called a lifter-puller that is designed to grab ahold of the lifter and yank it outta there. It basically looks like a slide hammer but on the end it has two hooks curving outwards which hook in on the lip on the inside of the lifter body, just above the plunger. Your local speed shop might even be able to rent you this tool.

As for the lifters, there is a lifter remover tool that I've never tried. You can push the lifters through, but then they end up in your oil pan. If you get adventurous, you can cut a length of PVC pipe lengthwise to form a little "gutter", and slide it into the camshaft journals so it will catch the lifters when you push them through. Never tried it myself, though.

[ Thanks to Trevor Lee, Bob Barry for this information. ]

I'm still looking for a reciprocating assembly and main caps for my '66 Toro block. It's got all the original lifters, but I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of resurfacing the existing lifters for use with a different cam? If they were ground in a certain way when they were produced, would not a decent machine shop be able to "regrind" them? That might be a more feasible option when the lifters run around $90-$120 a set.

Check out Hemmings. There are several sources for this in there. Like you can't walk to NAPA and get new lifters for you Hispano-Suiza (sp?). So there are outfits that recut the base of lifters. Wasn't very expensive either, a few bucks a lifter.

[ Thanks to Bob Handren for this information. ]

DO NOT USE lifters from companies that list the same for Olds as they do Pontiac. There are differences. Oiling holes are one. For good stock type lifters look to PAW for them. They are around $39.00. Lifters for 66-67 Big Blocks 400 and Toro 425s are $65.00.

Same goes with Pontiac, do not use lifters that are listed for Chevy and Pontiac, the grove for oiling is different. It is higher on the Chevy. With a Pontiac and a high lift cam you will lose your oil pressure. I have seen the same lifters for Buick as well, but I don't trust any unless they all have a different part number.

[ Thanks to Jim Chermack, Thomas Martin for this information. ]


The main reason for line boring and decking a block is to compensate for "core shift", where the block's shape changes slightly with age due to the warping from the repeated heating and cooling of everyday driving. Your machinist should be able to check your existing bores and deck, and see if they are up to factory spec, or if they need to be bored or honed, or surfaced. You may need it, you may not; your machinist should be able to tell you, though.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

Measurements / Tolerances

I mike journals in multiple locations, and I plastigage in multiple locations as well. I do this whether I had the crank turned or not. Leave nothing to chance (or somebody else). It's best to know exactly what you've got, even if it ain't perfect, so check everything, check it again to make sure, and when you're done, check it a final time (or two).

[ Thanks to Roger Peterson for this information. ]

Oil Pump

Installation / Priming
When installing a good quality pump, all you need to do prior to it's installation is disassemble it, bathe it in clean solvent, blow it out with compressed air, squirt some oil in it, reassemble it, and bolt it on.

All I did with the oil pump was put the screen on, dip it in a bucket of fresh oil, turn the oil-pump til the oil started coming out the other side (so that all the internals were oiled), put her in, and it has worked great since.

You have probably heard of the (old school) practice of packing the oil pump with petroleum jelly to "prime" the pump prior to fire up. Rather than run that stuff through a new engine, the best means of priming the oil pump (and engine) is by attaching a drill to the oil pump drive shaft and prelubing the engine.

[ Thanks to Igor Todorovic, Greg Rollin for this information. ]

If it is a TRW, take it back and get rid of it. Purchase a Melling. They are the only ones we've had any luck with. The other brand has given us two engine failures related to bad pump pressures. They look good for the first few hundred miles then you will notice that the warm idle pressure will drop 10-15 psi. This causes the front bearing to oil starve and spin. We have not had these problems with the Melling M-22F pumps.

[ Thanks to Jim Chermack for this information. ]

Pressure & Volume
We also shim our pressure spings to make sure we have extra oil pressure. Normally 70 cold idle and 30-35 warm idle. Full throttle is around 65 psi. This will ensure good oil pressure.

Obviously, you need pressure, but I have seen people shim their pumps to 110 to 125 lbs, and all they did was blow a weak link in the system and still eat the bearings. Enough pressure to supply the push the oil needs to go through the system with sufficient volume to supply the bearings. They are under extreme pressure and 90 to 120 lbs of pressure is not going to keep the oil film on the the bearing surfaces under the type of loading that occurs during heavy loads which far exceeds any pressure that we can put through an oil pump.

The John Force/Austin Coil system is close to 100 lbs psi during their runs. Pressure and volume are related but, being simplistic, pressure only, does not do the job, I could write pages on this subject but suffice to say, they go hand in hand. Pressure is not the only answer. Increase both and you are home free. Right!, wish that were true. Scatter a Keith Black and you know what it is to meet your maker, unless you have Force's sponsors to keep you in engines. Pressure only is screwing the pooch, you must have both, and to keep this short, clearances and other needs, influence the picture. I only speak from experience.

[ Thanks to Jim Chermack, Lou Biggs for this information. ]


If you're installing moly rings, DO NOT soak the piston in oil. Lightly oil the bore with a lint free rag and install piston assm. If Moly rings get soaked they WILL NOT seat.

Squirt some oil in the pin area and work it back and forth. Just wipe some oil in the cylinder. Dipping the piston in a big can of oil used to be standard practice years ago. It was discovered that the oil was burning right after startup, causing carbon buildup in the rings.

Make sure the piston/rod assemblies are in the correct banks and that the rods are installed properly. The notch on the piston top always faces the front of the engine. The oil spit hole on the big end of the rod always faces the camshaft. Watch what you're doing, check everything twice and leave nothing to chance. A backwards piston will wear the bore severely.

Install the ring compressor and rod bolt protectors. When you install the ring compressor, make sure that the bottom of the piston sticks out of the compressor to allow you to line it up in the bore. Ensure that the rods and pistons are aligned properly with relation to the block (indicator notch on the piston forward and oil "spit" hole in the rod towards the cam). Tap the piston gently into the block with a non-metallic tool (I use the handle end of a 2 lb sledge hammer) and be careful of any hangups. I usually rotate the crank throw down before installing the piston just to allow a little more room. Also, if you use a length of fuel hose as your rod bolt protectors, it will help to guide the rod over the journal.

Put both rods on a journal before torqueing either one and use shim stock (feeler gauges work) between the rods while torqueing to ensure that the rods don't cock on the journal.

[ Thanks to Scott Woodworth, Joe Padavano, Jim Chermack for this information. ]

Need for Replacement
New pistons and the associated machine work are generally considered standard with any engine rebuild. Anything less is usually considered a "re-ring" or "freshening".

Yes, unfortunately, the piston wears in addition to the walls. The piston skirt will ride on the wall due to the side load when the rod is at a large angle, resulting in wear and possibly galling on the aluminum skirt. Also, while you are correct about miking the cylinder, and especially looking for taper and ridge, excessive piston-to-wall clearance will lead to piston slap and possibly accelerate the galling process. For example, the pistons in the 455 I'm currently rebuilding, while not very old, unfortunately had excessive wear on the skirts, which forced me to make the decision to get new ones. Obviously, unless you the original diameter of the cylinder, you'll need to get piston OD as well as bore ID to get true piston-to-wall clearance. My original point, however, was that even if you're just doing a re-ring, the motor's got to come apart. This really isn't the place to be cutting corners, as you'd be really upset if 10,000 miles after the ring job you spun a bearing.

Further more, because of rod angle inclination at the time of thrust, pistons have major and minor thrust sides wherein the piston pin is not centered in the piston body. This is to further facilitate degreased wear on the piston skirt.

You *could* put new rings on those old pistons, without the necessary machine work, but your oil consumption would be high (higher than with the old worn rings), cylinder pressure would be low, and performance would be way below your expectations. The clearances on pistons and the seating of rings is of greater concern for a street motor than a race motor, as you're (hopefully) not going to be tearing it down at the end of every drive or summer to check for problems, nor will you have the opportunity to do this on a street car. Spend more money up front, and you'll save money over the life of the engine.

[ Thanks to Joe Padavano for this information. ]

While this is probably good advice with today's gasoline, just be careful about the effects of production tolerances on compression ratio. Simply selecting a set of pistons labeled as 9.0:1 is not enough - you have to take into account the real combustion chamber volume, head gasket thickness, piston dish volume, and piston deck height. In reality, these dimensions are usually on the large side, resulting in less than the advertised compression ratio. While this is certainly safe from a detonation standpoint, it is not particularly healthy for performance.

The bottom line is that during any quality engine rebuild, it pays to take the time to check all of the factory dimensions. You may not decide that it's worth the time and expense of correcting discrepancies, however at least you'll make that decision consciously.

[ Thanks to Joe Padavano for this information. ]

330, 350, 400, 425
All '64-'67 Olds V-8's (330, 400, 425, excluding the 394) had a pin height of 1.615", so theoretically the pistons would interchange if you could bore the block out. The piston sizes were:

330 - 3.9385"   400 - 4.000"   425 - 4.125"

So, a .0615" overbore (pretty reasonable) would allow a 330 to use a 400ci piston to make a 340ci motor, but it would need a .1865" (!) to use a 425ci piston, which would result in a 362ci motor. Olds 350 normally uses the same 1.615" pin height, and begins with a 4.057" bore, so it would need only a .068" overbore to use the 425 piston and get that 362ci; a bit more reasonable, but still a big overbore.

And to think, I was going to throw out those old Toro 425 pistons... Might give some decent compression with their shallow dishes in that old 350 I've got in my friend's garage.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

Port Matching

For many years I've thought intake port matching was not worth the trouble. In fact, for some intake manifolds you can end up ruining the "aim" of the intake runner design and negatively affect cylinder fill. Some years ago I read that it was definitely not recommended to port match the Edelbrock Torker for this very reason. Looking at a Torker it is obvious that some of the runners are shaped such that a large portion of the intake port on the head is not being fed. Why would they design it that way when they can do most anything they want with a new design? To positively affect flow efficiency is my guess.

Lo and behold there is an article in this months Car Craft (see, that C*evy biased rag is good for something), where they dyno tested a big block engine before and after port matching. Bottom line - no significant difference. Something like 2 HP and a couple lbs-ft of torque. Glad I haven't wasted all that time and money over the years.

Forget about port/gasket matching your intake/heads UNLESS the intake has larger passages than the heads. Then, and only then, is it worth it to even consider this expensive (if you pay someone else) and time consuming exercise. And I don't care how careful your are, how do you know that after everything is torqued down, run and re-run a couple dozen times, that your "port match" is still perfect. You could easliy introduce edges that can mess up the flow as much as help it. Waste of time for sure on a street driven car and probably also for 99% of race engines.

[ Thanks to Bob Handren for this information. ]

Redline or Piston Speed

Someone asked last week how redline was determined. This made me think of my motorcylce road racing in the 60s.

When we wanted to determine the redline of a potential project, the first things we would do is to figure the mean piston speed. Modern metallurgy will allow that to go to 4200 fps. So we'd take that as the first order redline. Then we'd calculate max piston acceleration *at that RPM*. I can't remember the cap figure, but if it was under that figure, we had our redline. If piston acceleration exceeded our cap, then we'd drop RPM until we had acceleration under the cap and take that as our redline. Now, after all that work, we'd usually allow ourselves about an extra 4% over the calculated redline in top gear when figuring our gearing. The load at high speed made the extra 4% safe, or so we said. However, we'd be very careful not to slam the throttle shut from max + 4% revs, as the piston tops would occasionally come off if we did. Back then a racing piston for a Manx or a G-50 cost $70 and that was big bucks even if nothing else came adrift.

[ Thanks to for this information. ]


If one side of ring is not marked with word "top", "up", or dot then the inside bevel goes up. If there is an outside bevel (rare) then it goes down. This applies to all compression rings. As for gap, you need enough to keep from ever butting the ends of rings. As the rings heat up the end gap gets less. 0.012" should be minimum for top and 0.010" for 2nd rings. You will never see a difference at 0.017". Most importantly, make sure the bores are clean prior to installing pistons and rings.

If you're installing moly rings, DO NOT soak the piston in oil. Lightly oil the bore with a lint free rag and install piston assm. If Moly rings get soaked they WILL NOT seat.

The compression ring gaps should be 180 degrees out aligned with the wrist pin so that the ring gaps are not subjected to thrust loading. The oil control ring separator is installed 90 degrees from the wrist pin on the non thrust side of the piston with the oil control ring gaps 1" on each side of the separator gap. On a V-8 or V-6 engine, the non thrust side would be facing the passenger side of the car for both banks.

Make sure the piston/rod assemblies are in the correct banks and that the rods are installed properly. The notch on the piston top always faces the front of the engine. The oil spit hole on the big end of the rod always faces the camshaft. Watch what you're doing, check everything twice and leave nothing to chance. A backwards piston will wear the bore severely.

[ Thanks to Scott Woodworth for this information. ]
[ Thanks to Bruce Geiger for this information. ]

Rocker Covers

I prefer rubber gaskets over cork. Then I take hardening Peratex and place it only on the valve cover and not the engine. Make sure everything is clean before the install. Wipe the gasket areas down with lacquer thinner first. When you tighten them down "DON'T USE A RACHET". I use a nut driver and only snug them well with a screwdriver like twist. This prevents overtightening which WILL cause leaks. Over tightening is the major cause of the leaks. Silicon doesn't help either. It has a tendency to let the gasket squirm too much. Five years and they still do not leak.

Victor makes gaskets that are laminated steel and cork. They work well. Take alot of on and offs too. The part number is #VS38305TC.

I like the Fel-pro "composition" (rubber/Cork) valve cover gaskets for sealing ability. If I'm not going to the track, and I don't plan on opening the engine soon, I always use the composition type.

There are three ways to seal valve covers properly. Use rubber gaskets. Use cork gaskets but before installing them, rub silicone all over them and let them set up for half an hour before installing them. Or use silicone only, putting a good bead of silicone around your valve cover, install, then let set up for half an hour before tightening them to factory specs.

[ Thanks to Jim Chermack, Scott Kozhill for this information ]


Rear Main
Assuming you are using the rope seal, you don't WANT it to be exactly super-duper cut flush with the block. Just a smidgen of crush should be allowed here, to ensure a tight seal of the ends. Personally, with a rope seal, I used a little dab of gasket sealer on the cut ends.

Just as a quick check, you've probably done this already, but it's a good idea right before tightening down the thrust bearing cap to gently "seat" the thrust bearing by using a rubber mallet to gently knock the crank back and forth, then tighten the thrust bearing cap.

The crank should turn freely with no binding, but you shouldn't be able to spin it around like a top. The rope seal is providing some drag preventing this. This is a good thing. Means it's tight against the crank, but not too tight. Just wait till you start adding the piston/rod assemblies. A lot more drag...

The correct thing to do with that rope seal is to install it in the nearest circular file [rubbish can].

The Ford 429 and 460 (not FE - 352, 390, 427, 428) block seal is for the BB and DIESEL small block. Get the Ford 460 seal, $7 at the Ford dealer. Get 2 while yer at it. The Ford 460 used both one piece and two piece rear main seals. The 460 came out in 1968 (I think??), and used a two piece seal up till the mid 80's then it went to the superior one piece rear seal. The seal that fits in the Olds big blocks is the two piece seal.

The Ford Y block seal is for all other small blocks - works well.

I install the split a teeny bit, about 1/8" offset from the block-cap split. Apply the thinnest layer of aviation permatex to the seal ends, and oil or grease on the lip. Similar permatex on the #5 main cap at the split. Where it touches the block.

[ Thanks to Mike Rothe, Chris Witt for this information. ]

Teardown Diagnosis

Cylinder Ridge
Taper is when the diameter of the cylinder varies from the top to the bottom of the bore. What you see up there is a ridge. What you need to do is have the existing bore measured, and see if the surface hone (which you absolutely need, if you've disassembled the motor and will be installing new rings, in any case) is possible, and if it is possible, if it will put your cylinder-piston clearances beyond spec (which will cause excessive oil consumption, and hurt hp). Only if the hone won't make the cylinder too large for your existing pistons (stock or knurled) can you reuse your existing pistons. Otherwise, you've got to go the piston/ring/bore/hone route.

Usually any discernable ridge is too much. Piston-wall clearances are measured in .001" increments, so if you can feel it, you probably have to bore and hone it. How many miles on the engine? New pistons and the associated machine work are generally considered standard with any engine rebuild. Anything less is usually considered a "re-ring" or "freshening".

You could put new rings on those old pistons, without the necessary machine work, but your oil consumption would be high (higher than with the old worn rings), cylinder pressure would be low, and performance would be way below your expectations. The clearances on pistons and the seating of rings is of greater concern for a street motor than a race motor, as you're (hopefully) not going to be tearing it down at the end of every drive or summer to check for problems, nor will you have the opportunity to do this on a street car. Spend more money up front, and you'll save money over the life of the engine.

I'm not one to build an engine with much cylinder wall taper (difference in cylinder wall diameter as measured from top to bottom at multiple locations). A couple of thousandths? O/K, if I'm not going to race. How much is a couple? For me it's two, maybe three. Four is too much. Also check for cylinder wall out-of-round. This has a lot to do with how (and if) new rings will seat. A hone won't improve on this.

I mike journals in multiple locations, and I plastigage in multiple locations as well. I do this whether I had the crank turned or not. Leave nothing to chance (or somebody else). It's best to know exactly what you've got, even if it ain't perfect, so check everything, check it again to make sure, and when you're done, check it a final time (or two).

[ Thanks to Roger Peterson for this information. ]

Scored Bearings
Unless you've worn all the way *through* the bearing, then the size of the main bore will not be affected. The main reason for line boring and decking a block is to compensate for "core shift", where the block's shape changes slightly with age due to the warping from the repeated heating and cooling of everyday driving. Your machinist should be able to check your existing bores and deck, and see if they are up to factory spec, or if they need to be bored or honed, or surfaced. You may need it, you may not; your machinist should be able to tell you, though.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

Spun Bearing
When you spin a bearing you will lose all of your oil pressure and possibly lock the motor. A main bearing spin can cause you to crack the crank in half. A rod knock will sound like someone is hitting the block with a hammer very quickly. A rod bearing spin can cause the rod to break and fly through the block itself destroying the block and everything else with it.

[ Thanks to Peter Landowski, Bob Barry for this information. ]


Don't use head studs, as you can't pull the heads off the motor when they're in the car.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry, David Voit for this information ]

Valve Grinding

A 1 angle valve job is definitely OLD SCHOOL. What a 3 angle valve job does is locate exactly where the valve seat will contact/mate with the valve. Using the 3 angle method you can specifically set the location at which this contact takes place on the VALVE FACE itself. You first (assuming the valve guides are in good shape, knurled or new) do a 45 (or 46) angle cut then you use a 60 degree, then follow up with a 30 degree cut. What you are doing is first creating one big 45 surface. Then you narrow down that area by using the 60 and 30 degree cutters. By doing this you specifically locate where the valve seat will mate with the valve face, and how wide the contact surface will be. You don't want it too high (Toward the valve stem) or too low. Obviously it is desired to have it centered on the valve.

One angle valve jobs are old, but three angle being cut one at a time are old school also. Most places that do headwork use the new tooling that cuts all the angles in one pass. There is also new tooling that replaces what used to be considered race only five or six angle jobs with smooth curves on either side of the margin. This new tooling is starting to become more common, but is less effective than the actual backcuts on the valves themselves. While a single angle on the seat will leave you with a very wide margin, a stock valve with no back cut will ruin a 3 angle job.

[ Thanks to Steve Reed, Mike Bloomer for this information. ]

Valve Guides

Bronze Guides
My machinist, a Genuine "Old Racer" [no shit, killer 8 second Poncho], says that bronze guides have to be set up loose or they do that. When loose [cold] they leak of course. Not a great option for street motors. I trust him.

Spiral Oil Groove Guides
For people who just HAVE to have spiral oil grooved valve guides in their Olds V-8, that Pinto 4 cylinder guides fit and are pre-spiraled? I knew a guy who did this to his 69 400 back in 1977. Olds factory guides are knurled.

Another thing that is considered old school is knurling guides. Yes, it does work, but not nearly as long as new bronze guides. If your going to go through all the trouble to redo the heads why scrimp there? Most shops I have dealt with don't even offer to knurl guides anymore. Although it is interesting the Olds valve guides were knurled from the factory!

[ Thanks to Mike Rothe, Chris Witt, Mike Bloomer for this information. ]



[ Thanks to for this information. ]

Beware - alot of cheap stainless steel valves do not have chrome plated stems. Unchromed stemed S/S valves aren't compatible with cast iron guides. They will eat the cast guides up in short order. I understand they will work ok with bronze guides though.

[ Thanks to Dave Brode for this information. ]

Valvetrain Geometry

Two things to watch out for on valve train geometry:

1) Any lift over .520" will cause interference between the spring retainer and the top of the valve guide. You can machine the valve guide down to eliminate this interference. Up to .540" is ok as long as you check the valve to piston interference with clay. This is with the stock 10.5:1 pistons. With the 8.5:1 pistons it's more, but that kind of cam won't work with a 8.5:1 compression.

2) You basically want the tip of the valve and the tip of the pushrod to be as close to the factory position as possible, to maintain proper valvetrain geometry; if one is raised and the other is lowered, you may have the proper preload at the lifter, but the rocker arm will be further along in its travel (or further behind) from where it is designed to be, and at the extreme it can cause extreme wear on the rocker tips, or bind on the rocker bridge.

Things that can throw this geometry off are valve jobs (usually raises the tip of the valve), different-length valves (raises or lowers valve tip height), reduced base-circle camshaft (lowers pushrod height), milling the block or the heads (raises pushrod height), different-length pushrods (raises or lowers pushrod height).

Many performance cams use a reduced base circle, and thus will need pushrods that are longer by the same amount (well, actually half that amount, unless you machine the heads, and then it depends what you machine... it can get messy; that's why they have adjustable-length checking pushrods, and shims to make all the valves happy.).

This is an item that Mondello will gladly sell to you. It looks like a "U"-shaped piece of square steel, and from the middle another short piece of steel descends. With an untouched assembled head, or the correct measurements, you can make your own.

 | ________  _______ |
 ||        ||       ||
 ||        ||       ||
 ||        ||       ||
 ||                 ||
 ||                 ||

This is used to check the valve stem height after a valve job is done. The outer arms of the tool rest on the valve-cover surfaces, and the middle finger of the tool is supposed to just contact the top of the valve stem. If the valve stem is too long, you cut it down to fit; the valve stem would be too long because a valve job cuts down the valve seat, which puts the valve higher in the head. This is to account for the non-adjustable rocker arms on the Olds; if the valve stem is too high, then the pushrod will be placing too much preload on the lifter.

On second thought, the arms of the tool might rest on the workbench that the head would be resting on. That is where it should rest, anyway, because you want to measure the position of the valve stem in relation to the cam, not the rocker-cover rails. Doing a valve job raises the valve stem in relation to the entire head, but surfacing the heads will lower the entire head in relation to the camshaft, so these two often even each other out.

If you use +.050" pushrods with a -.100" base-circle (-.050" radius) cam, the tip of the pushrod is exactly where a stock-length pushrod on a stock cam would be, so valvetrain geometry wouldn't be a problem. You can only go to about .060" with the shims anyway (there are two thicknesses, .020" and .030", if I recall correctly; maybe it was .015" and .020"). The job is a little tedious, but once you know the clearance figure you want for optimal preload, it goes pretty quickly (maybe two hours tops, if you're taking your time).

A difference in pushrod length accounts for the difference in valvestem length. Even between engines with the same CBA.

Lifter Preload
Hydralic lifters require a bit of preload. And no, it doesn't improve hp, but the lifter preload may keep you out of valve float at higher rpms where you otherwise couldn't go, and most of all, it will stop the valves from clattering! On the high end, tighter preload causes lifters to float early.

The one who says you don't need it either doesn't know what you're talking about, knows what you're talking about but has some alternative method for establishing proper valvetrain geometry (i.e. shimming the rockers), or knows what you're talking about but doesn't care enough to actually check these measurements. You can always ask him how he establishes the proper valvetrain geometry on an Olds engine; if he says "Huh?" or "Aw, ya don't need to do that", then run, don't walk, from that man. If he has another answer, listen carefully.

Since the stock Olds V-8 valvetrain has no means of adjustment, it is as simple as just torque the rocker stand bolts down at 25 ft lbs. If your new lifters have no oil in them, you'll be able to torque them down regardless of the position of the cam. Just bring both bolts on the stand down at the same rate. In the case of the lifters being full of oil, you should bring each cylinder to TDC before tightening the bolts.

The reason for the different procedures is that a lifter without oil will have only the resistance of the plunger spring to depress. With a lifter that is full of oil you will have to overcome the pressure built up within. Bringing the cylinder to TDC will ensure that you do not have one valve open. Which when tightening the stand will put the rockers and stand in a bind and can break or fracture the stand. You would also need to tighten the open valve side of the stand down very slowly as to bleed off some of the oil in the lifter so as not to risk bending a pushrod.

Since there is no means of adjustment with the stock setup, it is imperative that you check the lifter preload. There are many factors that can and will change the preload (i.e. head gasket thickness, surfaced heads/block, improper valve job, different cam profiles, etc.). The first thing you need to check the valve stem height. Lay a straight edge across the top of the valve stems. With a proper valve job, there should be no more than only a few thousandths between them. If they are all over the place, I would suggest taking the heads back to the machine shop and have them equalized. It always amazes me how often "machinists" tend to overlook this.

If the stem heights are equal, then bring a cylinder to TDC. Tighten down the bolts until you achieve zero lash. Zero lash is the point when tightening down the rocker stand that the rocker just makes contact with the push rod and the valve stem, and any further tightening of the bolt is met with resistance. Now with a feeler gauge, measure the distance between the cylinder head and the bottom of the stand.

Most lifters optimum operating range is 0.020" to 0.040" preload (except Speed-Pro and some others so be sure to check the mfgs spec.). Preload is the amount of lifter plunger travel after zero lash. To achieve the proper preload, you may need to shim the stand or grind the stand. In either case, be sure to shim or remove the SAME AMOUNT from both legs of the stand.

Another Method:
When tightening down the rockers, and the lifters for that cylinder are on the base circle of the cam, run the bolts down FINGER-TIGHT only. This should get the rockers setting on the valve stem AND the pushrods with no up-and-down slack.

Using a narrow feeler gage, check the clearance at the bottom gap between the trunion and head. This will be your preload after you tighten everything down to specs. If it needs to be adjusted, (usually it's too much preload if anything) shim to lower preload, and mill the pedastel mount to raise preload to get the desired range. Be careful here, you shouldn't do just one side without doing anything to the other side of the trunion. If you cock those trunions too much, premature failure will occur. So you are best to get them both in a range you can live with. 0.040" on one, and 0.050" on the other is acceptable. They don't HAVE to be the same for each lifter using the same trunion. Would be nice though.

I've checked this method against the "marking the pushrod" method and it comes out the same. Either way works, I just like my way better. There's also the "adjustable pushrods" that some have used with success, however, going that route, it's just easier to buy a Comp Cams adjustable rocker system for it. And one other VERY expensive way is to have custom length push rods made.

Another method:
For hyd lifters set the lifters for the cylinder on the heel of the cam (TDC between comp and power strokes). Tighten the rocker down while spinning the pushrod with your fingers. Stop when you feel the pushrod begin to drag. This puts you at zero preload on the lifter. Add another 1/4 to 1/2 turn to preload the lifter. 1/2 for a stock cam and 1/4 for a radical grind.

If you're worried about bending valves due to tight valve to piston clearance be sure to spin the motor by hand with the plugs out and watch for any tight spots.

[ Thanks to Greg Rollin, Bob Barry, Jim Chermack, Mike Rothe for this information ]

Shimming Rockers
You can also use a $10 pack of shims (placed under springs) to get the proper preload for each lifter. Crane makes these shims (along with others), and it won't take more than an hour to set up. They're only $10 a pack. I bought two just in case, and ended up using two from the second pack.

Equal shim height for pedestals on the same bridge is more important for the cast-aluminum one-piece pivot/bridge assemblies, where a difference in shim height can stress and crack the bridge. I've been successful in running different-height shims under the intake and exhaust with the separate steel-strap bridge and independent rocker pivots, as that strap is able to hold things in place but still allow the pivots to sit at different heights.

Myself, being er, "frugal", I have yet to be able to justify the outlay for an expensive aftermarket adjustable valve train for my engines when the stock method works just fine. This is not to say that there are some benefits to the aftermarket adjustable kits.

But remember that minor deck & head milling [under 0.030" combined] merely serve to offset the thicker head gasket that you get today. How come everyone is so very quick to jump on the "milling changes everything" bandwagon, yet totally ignore the fact that your head gasket thickness, which affects the exact same items, in now 2x the original? Is the 0.020" negligible in one case but not the other?

[ Thanks to Chris Witt, Bob Barry for this information. ]


Block Drain Plugs
A nice idea is to replace the 9/16" headed block coolant drain plugs with some drain petcocks (1/4" NPT fitting, I believe). Makes draining the engine easier. May have to bend the ears on the fitting for clearance.

[ Thanks to Robert Barry for this information. ]

Motor Test Stand
The best solution I have come up with so far is to use an old irrigation stand. If you can find one that is set up for an Olds (they are all over the midwest) everything will bolt right up. Most of the irrigation stands have a battery box already. A radiator and metal fan shroud could be easily mounted on the front uprights. Run a hose from the fuel pump to a remote gas can or fuel cell and you are in business. I was going to mount casters on the stand too so it can be moved easily and double as an engine storage stand when not in use. With large castors on the bottom of the stand, there will be enough clearance to mount a pair of turbo mufflers. Align and bolt an old set of headers on the side of the stand. Run flexible exhaust hose (like for inboard marine applications) from the headers to the mufflers. This way you have a nice, self-contained unit that is re-usable and safe. The trick is finding a suitable irrigation stand.

I was trying to do the same thing once - with an old 350 diesel someone gave me. I set it on a piece of 3/4" plywood, on the ground, that I had bolted a couple of 2x4's to (fit under the front of the oil pan) and set a couple of jackstands so they were kind of under the exhaust manifolds (the top part was between the manifold and the block -kind of). I had rigged it so it wouldn't move around much. Hooked some fuel hose to a diesel can and a couple of battery cables up to it, and took the belts off, plugged the lower radiator hose, and filled it with water from where the thermostat goes (so there was something to dissipate heat into). Then I fired it up! I wouldn't suggest you rev it up or leave it running like that for any length of time. I just wanted to see if the thing would run. Strange, seeing a running engine on the ground in the middle of a driveway! Done this also with a v6 diesel, in the back of a pickup truck. Now I have a 'stand' made out of some angle iron pieces that bolts to the motor mount holes.

It may sound bizzare to some, but i worked for a junkyard 20 years ago, and I tested (ran) many engines hanging from the rafters by a sturdy chain. The engine tries to twist a bit when you whack the throttle, but it worked fine.

I've since then built test stands[legs] out of angle iron, utilizing the bolt holes on the end of the heads, with the four legs extending to the floor at approximately a 45 degree angle. This allows for a nice wide base.

[ Thanks to Bryce Smith, David Brode, Jim Donoghue for this information. ]

Rebuild Examples

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 260 Rebuilding section for 260 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 307 Rebuilding section for 307 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 330 Rebuilding section for 330 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 350 Rebuilding section for 350 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 403 Rebuilding section for 403 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Diesel Rebuilding section for Diesel examples!

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 400 Rebuilding section for 400 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 425 Rebuilding section for 425 examples!
[ Notice: ]Please refer to the 455 Rebuilding section for 455 examples!

Initial Engine Startup

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Engine Swapping section as well!

Prelubing / Priming The Oil System


Olds V-8's distributors (and oil pumps) run counter clockwise, so set the drill in reverse. Run the drill until oil comes out of all pushrods. This is done just before initial fire up. So have the valve covers and distributor ready for immediate installation. This method of priming the pump ensures every component is fully lubed and the engine "thinks" it has just been shut off.

This is easier to do with the engine on a stand before installation. You should also pre-lube the engine once it is in the vehicle chassis for good measure.

Here's what we do when we are going to fire up an engine for the first time.

Use is a 1/4" or 3/8" drive 5/16" socket, and a 1/4" or 3/8" 6" extension with the drive end has been cut off. This will fit into a reversible drill quite nicely. The socket is tack welded on the end of the extension. Even if you have engine assembly lube on all the bearing surfaces, it's not worth the risk. It costs about $5 to get a spare 5/16" socket and extension, and prelube.

Of course, at the minimum you could try to use glue or Locktite or duct tape, the handyman's secret weapon, around the socket and extension, to ensure the socket doesn't do a skydive into the oil pan. If it falls off inside the engine, you'll have to pull the pan to retrieve it, which is a royal pain.

The relationship between oil pump RPM and engine RPM is the oil pump turns at distributor speed, which is 1/2 of engine speed. So double what you're spinning the oil pump at to get the approximate engine rpm.

You prime the engine to ensure oil flows to all the bearings and fill the oil galleries to purge the air from them. Most engine rebuild procedures tell you to lube up the rocker arm assemblies and pushrod tops with some sort of moly lube for startup. This is because oil isn't EXPECTED to reach the rockers for a short time afer starting, primed or not. You don't have to turn the oil pump very fast to accomplish air purging and cavity fill.

If you are concerned about oiling at the rockers, I suggest cutting an OLD valve cover pair in halve lenghtwise, and installing the bottom halves on the engine during start up. This allows you to inspect what's going on at the rockers. I did this with an old pair, and used rocker splash clips to keep oil from spraying ME, and it works well. I'm using the adjustable setup, and it sure helps when setting the valve lash.

Turn the oil pump driveshaft until oil is coming from all the pushrods, rotating the engine 1/4 turn to expose all the cross-drilled passages. I primed my motor with the valvecovers off (and lots of rags...), and rotated the engine a bit at a time while priming until oil was coming from the pushrods. With a high-volume pump, you may see oil pressure anywhere from 35-60psi. Standard-volume may be from 25-55psi.

I like to see steady oil pressure on the guage for at least 2 minutes (at first, you'll see the oil pressure fluctuate as air gets compressed and expelled from the air bleeds and the clearances on the bearings, etc.).

Well, turning the motor over with the starter will make the oil pump turn, and distribute oil to the engine. However, while the engine is cranking around there, waiting for the oil pump to pick up oil and pump it around, all those vital metal parts are scraping across one another without much lubrication (like just the assembly lube, etc). A better way to prime a new engine is to follow the procedure outlined above. This will distribute oil in the engine, without having to move all those unlubricated parts across/around each other. Understand?

Cranking the engine over without the coil connected is a very poor second choice in this situation. This is something I've seen, but personally would never do, especially if the motor has sat very long (more than a week), for the simple fact that when you spin just the pump (as outlined above), you get oil to all the main oil galleys ~before~ any internal parts start rotating. By pressurizing the oil galleys and rotating the motor by hand you can get oil to every part of the motor without danger of scuffing a bearing or such. Just personal preference on my part, but why take a chance on damaging something (even though you might not see it's effects for a while) when you just went through all the trouble to rebuild a motor?

[ Thanks to Mike Rothe, Brian Kerr, Ken Snyder, Greg Rollin, Bob Barry, Dave Paulison, Mike Bloomer for this information. ]

Breakin Stand

If you have an arc welder, get some 2 1/2x2 1/2x3/16 angle, 2x2 is heavy enough, but 2 1/2 gives more room for motor mount bolts. Four legs with angle connecting them. In middle of two sides, angle upright with plates at an angle to bolt to block no motot mounts. Angle at end to bolt bell housing to. At other end use 1x1 angle iron to bolt radiator to. Setting the battery on the ground makes it easeir. Make base kinda wide for stability. Real simple works good. PS. used to break in drag motors on this stand so you can even rev it up if desired

[ Thanks to Roger Utter for this information. ]

Starting The First Time

Before Starting
After pre-lubing, install the distributor and set the timing. For break-in, go conservative on the setting - you want the engine to run smoothly so you can concentrate on looking for leaks and varying engine speed, more on that later.

Start It Up!
Try to not "race" the engine, just get it to run without too much assistance. And keep an eye on the oil pressure! With a high-volume pump, you may see anywhere from 35-60psi. Standard-volume may be from 25-55psi. If you don't see enough pressure, shut it down and figure out why!

Have an assistant sit in the car and slowly varying the engine speed between 1000 and 2000 to 2500 RPM. This is crucial due to the fact that some components of the engine's internals get oiled only by splash oiling (not pressure oiling like the bearings), the cylinder walls being critical and the timing chain important (especially if you blocked the one clean-out plug with a hole in it to help out oil pressure, racer's tip).

While they're doing this, you can look over the engine for leaks: oil, water, and especially fuel. Have the assistant keep an eye on the engine temperature, it will get slightly hotter at first than normal, but you should be able to control it and see the temperature level out after a short time. I'd have to disagree about the no-thermostat deal; this may prevent the engine from getting up to proper operating temperature on that break-in run.

Also make sure your temp gauge is hooked up and operating, so you can shut her down if she gets too hot (don't be surprised at 220' temps, though). Also make sure there are no open vacuum lines, which could cause the motor to run lean (and too hot).

On our race engines, we let the engine run for about 15-20 minutes and then we are ready to do some more break-in at the track. After the track session, we get the car up on stands and begin draining the oil as soon as we shut off the engine. Replace the filter, reload the crankcase with fresh oil, and it's set to go. You could replace the track time with a short trip around the neighborhood, what you want to do is speed the car up and then use the engine's compression to slow the engine down, loading the engine and further seating in the rings.

While this is our way of doing it, it is surely not the only way. The thing to remember is varying the engine speed and draining the oil/replacing the filter after the break-in's done.

I'd agree, first with the idea of running 1500-2500 RPM for a period of 15-25 minutes (current cam cam with instruction saying so, and so have other cam instruction sheets). There's a reason. The faster RPM, the more the lifter "glides (or in this case "jumps") over the cam lobe. This is supposed to be better than letting it run at idle (this is from the cam mfg'r. It probably also has something to do with higher oil pressure for lubrication. Also, you should be pre-lubing at assembly time, and then using a drill to drive the oil pump to get pressure though the system. Also, I wouldn't run without the thermostat. It is there for a purpose, and leaving it out won't heat up the engine properly. That heat is there for a reason, it shows things are "wearing in" together. If it stays hot for too long, you have other problems. And yes, watch the temp and oil pressure guage.

The cam is already hardened at about 55-60 Rockwell "C" scale (from what I've seen with our tools used to machine the cams), and anything you do to it will not effect it. Proper heat treat would require the cam to be in a heat range your motor (and your cooling system) would not tolerate. Once you run for the initial break-in (15-25 min.) you can do whatever (does not require "cooldown period"). Also, one other thing with the heat treat idea. To heat treat, you must heat to a temp. just prior to metal deformation, then cool rapidly (there are ways of doing it to reduce stresses, etc., but for a "light" discussion we'll say a "rapid cool") to increase hardness. To cool slowly actually reduces the hardness of the part. (BTW, I know this from materials class, and the fact that we heat treat our cutting tools at our plant, daily)

For the most part I agree with Ken Snyder's ideas except. 1) I wouldn't run it as low as 1000 RPM (except for one period of time. more on that in a sec.), keep it up between 1800-2500 max., and 2) Prior to starting I have the timing light and the distrib. hold down wrench attached to their respective places. I then start the car, take a minute to set the timing right, then proceed to break-in. Reasoning is this. Start the car for the first time, and you will run on the choke/high idle, and the time it takes to set it is nothing (you are ready to do it right away, right?) and then you know your timing is correct (or very close to it) while breaking in.

Also, after break-in I will take it somewhat easy for the first hundred, or so miles. after this you won't gain much by "babying it." (if it hasn't seated by now, it never will, and also, you don't buy a chain saw to cut twigs. so go ahead and use it as intended). Now I don't mean revving the crap out of it right away, but laying some "proof strips" on occasion would be fine (making sure it works, right?). Just watch a race car (wether a car, or motorcycle motor) do they break-in a motor? Not for a couple hundred miles they don't. It gets up to temp, is adjusted, then used. If they felt it would gain them power to "break-in" a bike, they would.

Yes, you will gain some gas mileage/efficiency through the first couple hundred miles (mine have gotten better through approx. 500 miles), and power gets better, but just start using it, and it will be fine, and reward you with lots of fun.

You must first fire the engine and run it to 1800-2200 RPM for 15 minutes. This has to be done so you break the cam and lifters in. They need the oil splash that's there at these RPMs. After that you can shut it down and get ready to tune. It's best to start the car up with ONLY water in the radiator - better conductor of heat than anti-freeze/water mixture.

Once all the break in is done, drain the water, put in your coolant mixture and enjoy. Breaking in with no thermostat may prevent the engine from getting up to proper operating temperature. You also don't want to find out about overheating on your first street run with the car.

[ Thanks to Ken Snyder, Chris Ruper, Jim Chermack for this information. ]

Problems After Initial Starting

This section is not inclusive of all problems.

Low Oil Pressure
Are you sure all the galley plugs are in their proper places? There are two up front and one in the back. That would cause a massive internal leak and low oil pressure. It's also possible if you didn't get the clearances right on the bearings. How were the bearing clearances checked, with a micrometer or plastigage? If this is the problem, then you've got to redo the bottom end.

In any case, don't run the engine any more. Pull the distributor and run the oil pump with a 5/16" socket positively joined to a socket extension (I loctited mine on there) run by a power drill. If you look down the distributor hole and see a massive amount of oil flowing out from the block, then you've left out that plug. You can also check the front plugs by pulling the front timing cover. If the front ones are missing, you can replace them with the engine in; the rear one will require pulling the engine or transmission.

You obviously don't need to hear this now, but it's always a good idea to prelube the engine and check the oil pressure with an electric drill while the engine is on the stand.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

Spun Bearing
You've trashed a main or rod bearing. This is possible if you didn't prelube the engine? It's also possible if you didn't get the clearances right on the bearings. Did you assemble this yourself, or did a shop do it? How were the bearing clearances checked, with a micrometer or plastigage? What's your oil pressure? If this is the problem, then you've got to redo the bottom end.

Valvetrain Noise
Did you prime your lifters before you installed them? (submerge them in oil, and depress the plunger until no more air bubbles come out?) Until they pump up, they can make quite a racket! Is the new cam you have ground on a reduced base-circle? If so, you will need longer pushrods or an adjustable valvetrain; this is also the case if you've had a valve-job done, which changes the height of the tip of the valve stem. If you have any extra clearance in the valvetrain, it'll rock and rattle like a bunch of rocks in a coffee can. Did you check for proper lifter preload when you torqued your rocker pedestals down to 25 ft/lbs?

If all the pushrod holes are clean, you should make sure that the oil hole on the top of the lifter is clean as well. Did you check the rockers/pushrod tops for abnormal wear, or bluing? A sure sign of not enough oil. Assuming that you have no oil holes plugged, this IS something that will probably fix itself.

As the engine runs, spring resistance from the valve tends to want to keep the pushrod where it is. The cam and lifter has a different idea. The lifter rises on the cam lobe and pushes up on the pushrod, the lifter compresses just enough to seat its internal check valve. When this happens, a hydraulic lock occurs in the lifter, solidifying it. During this cycle, the lifters, cam, oil pressure, and pushrods act together in providing a sort of "pumping" action, which helps the rocker arm to get oil. If oil is coming out of all lifters, then that is definitely promising. Also, ensure the rocker arm oil holes are unplugged as well.

Oil pump speed is also a factor. Your oil pump is a postive displacement pump. This means the only way to affect its flowrate is to affect it's speed, without replacing it with a pump with taller gears. When you start your engine and rpms increase, so will your oil flow. This will also help.

[ Thanks to Bob Barry for this information. ]

Installing Engine

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Engine Swapping section as well!


  • I've found it helpful to support the front of the car by jackstands when you go to put the motor in, so that the weight of the motor doesn't cause the front of the car to drop down once installed, messing up the alignment of the tranny on its support, etc. This helped me to be able to drop my motor in singlehandedly, whereas I usually had to fight to get the engine to mate with the tranny, engage the torque converter, and land on the motor mounts, even with another person helping.

  • Lubrication, or the lack thereof, affects torque wrench readings. Dry readings with vary, while lubed reading are reproducable. The shop manual usually specifies whether or not to oil the fasteners. If you don't have a shop manual, get one. One of the best investments you'll make.

  • Scribe marks, paint, or locating holes notwithstanding, the hood will not be perfectly aligned when you reattach it. DO NOT blindly slam the hood the first time. Check for alignment carefully and adjust as required.

  • In addition, having more than one of the same car makes it very easy to figure out where something goes - you have a full-scale model.

  • Get all new hoses; this allows you to simply cut the old ones off, possibly saving your heater core (which might spring a leak from all the twisting and turning to get the old hose off; it's worth the $5 in hose).

    Consider getting the correct hoses & checking each out before you cut the old ones. A good way to cut the hoses is to slit them at the connection so that they can be spread open & off. Cutting them around their circumference still causes you to put a lot of pressure on brittle old metal parts that don't need this type treatment. Reinstallation can be made easier by coating the inside of the hoses w/Vasoline at the contact places. It allows easy later removal too - even years later.

    Always a must with a new engine. If you spend $2000 on motor, and many hours or weeks making a pro-show engine compartment, do you really want to risk running an old hose that might easily pop due to the increased heat load of a new engine?

  • Also plan on buying new fuel, oil, and water pumps, and all filters, new oil, antifreeze, and trans fluid and filter/pan gasket.

    Also, there is no sense in running the old, baked tranny fluid through a new convertor. While changing tranny fluid, make sure to flush out the cooler lines and cooler. They'll hopefully clean out the cooler at the radiator shop. If you're due for a new engine, odds are the tranny fluid needs it, too, cuz probably over 95% of trannies don't get their oil changed every 20000 miles like they are supposed to.

  • While the engine is out, replace all expendable/consumable parts, such as hoses, thermostat, distributor cap and plug wires, plugs (of course), filters, belts, rubber motor mounts, starter drive and brushes (didn't think of that one, did you), exhaust doughnuts (if so equipped), etc. This rapidly gets into serious mightaswells.

  • Put the heat shield and braces on the starter (instead of throwing them away, like usually happens when installing on the car)

  • As you slowly lower the new/rebuilt engine back into your shiny new engine compartment, you will be thanking me profusely that I talked you into getting that engine tilter. The option when the engine is at the wrong angle (not if, when), is to either pull it completely back out and reposition the chain, or to set it down on your freshly-painted crossmember and watch in horror as it slowly tilts towards the inner fender panel.

Getting Down to Business

  • When you put the engine back in, it helps to tie the headers to the fenders or shock towers to keep them out of the way.

  • All bolts being reused should be thoroughly cleaned and lubricated for installation. Pay particular attention to the six bellhousing to block bolts (voice of experience on). These bolts must be properly torqued (he said, examining knuckles slashed from sharp points protruding from firewall) and should likely be installed with Locktite. Should they loosen (which happened twice on my first 442), the flexplate will really flex, leading to rapid fatigue failure and cracking (since the crank and transmission centerlines will not be parallel).

  • When installing, I'll normally get the trans to mate up, and tight on the bellhousing mounts to the engine, then install the torque convertor bolts, but tighted once in the car (better access).

  • When reinstalling, put a dab of grease on the pilot area of the torque convertor. I'd never seen it happen, but heard of it in college. Under heavy stall conditions, the torque convertor actually balloons, and expands into the center of the flexplate. This is alleged to be a normal condition. A dab of chassis lube on the end of the convertor will prevent any binding during this occurrence. We hope.

  • Before reinstalling, make sure the torque converter hasn't moved forward (do you get the sense that there are some lessons learned here?). If so, push it back onto the input shaft while turning (there are several concentric splines which must line up).
[ Thanks to Bob Barry, Scott Mullen, Joe Padavano, Charley Buehner, Bob Barry, Bill Culp, Chris Ruper, Glenn for this information ]

Rebuilding Steering Box

The hardest part of the rebuild was to get the gearbox out of the car. To remove the gearbox You have to do the following:

Wash the PS-gearbox area.

It makes your hands less dirty. Well, as they said, the fluid is a perfect hair conditioner. After washing, jack the car and remove the driver side wheel. Wash under the fender too as the gear mounting bolts are there.

Drain the PS pump

The draining was quite easy. Put a towel under the pump to soak all spilled fluid. No matter how careful you are, there is always some "wild" drops that seem to have a will of their own.

Disconnect the return line from the pump AND plug the pump end with wood stick, another hose or something. There will be no pressure in this connection.

Stick the return hose into a large enough bottle and tape it there. Leave a hole for air to come out as the fluid enters the bottle. There is at least as much fluid in the gear as there is in the pump reservoir. Loosen the reservoir cap to allow replace air come in.

Start the engine. The PS pump will blow the fluid out of the gear as it pumps air into it. However it will be drained more effectively if you SLOWLY turn the steering wheel. This requires that you have jacked the car.

Note that the gear does not drain completely but this procedure blows most of the fluid out of it.

Pull out the hose from the bottle and tap it. Disconnect the other hose and tap it and the PS-pump connector. Don't tighten the reservoir cap as this might form pressure inside the pump causing the tappings to leak.

Disconnect the steering wheel flexible connection

There is two ways (at least) to do this. I removed the two bolts since I assumed the it would be easier to restore the alignment at installation time.

Remove the BIG nut under the gearbox to disconnect pitman arm

There is a big nut under the gearbox. I didn't have a large enough tool to loosen this one but fortunately my friend had one. It was not so tight as I had assumed it to be. The pitman arm sits VERY tight and the easiest way to disconnect it is to use a puller that fits under the edges of the arm / shaft connection. The arm sits VERY tightly on the shaft. Do not use hammer because the pitman shaft is made of some soft material. It is easy to deform it. Once loose, you have done the most demanding part of the job.

The steering linkage is flexible enough to allow you to disconnect the pitman arm while the gearing is at place. Do it now because after you have loosened the three fitting bolts the whole gearbox will come down. If the arm would be in place at this moment, it would be a nasty job to quide the gear away from the motor compartment.

Remove the three bolts fitting the gearbox and remove the gear

The gear is fitted with three bolts under the fender. After removing these bolts the gearbox can be quided away under the car. I tried to lift it but there is not enough room that way. There are shims that MUST be put back to make the gear straight. Don't loose these. It seemed to be easiest to leave the top-bolt last to be removed.

Uninstall the gear

Fortunately mine fluid connectors came out easily. Good flare tools are a must. Here are some hints if the nuts refuse to loosen:

  • Spray them with CRC or some other rust solving agent, let them soak one hour. Shake the fluid tube to make the soaking more effective.
  • If the nut does not come out and if You have a replacement tube, cut the original and use normal tools to loosen it.

Turn the steering to other end to memorize the position of the steering shaft flexible joint. Failing to do this can cause a lot of job in vain.

There is a large cup at bottom end of the gear. It is held in place by a large spring that sits in a groove. There is a hole that can be used to remove this spring. Just push a screwdriver through that hole and the spring should be easy to remove. The cup comes out by turning the steering rod. At this point there comes a LOT of fluid after the cup. Also the hose ends tend to squirt fluid.

Remove the nut over the cover. This is a lock nut for over center preload adjustment. The manual says "discard the nut". I didn't.

The cover can be removed by removing the four bolts. One of them does NOT have a washer. It should be that way. Remember the one that didn't have the washer. After removing the bolts the cover can be removed with the pitman shaft. Just push the shaft gently.

The Big piston comes out by turning the steering shaft gently counterclockwise. The worm balls come off at this point so be careful not to loose them. There is 16 of them and they come in 2 colours. 8 bright and 8 black balls. The order of the balls isn't important at this point.

Remove the steering shaft flexible joint and loosen the big ring that holds the steering shaft gaskets in place. The shop manual shows a picture with a hammer and screwdriver. I used plumbing tool to remove this one. Don't squeeze it while turning since squeezing locks it.

After braking the gear apart wash it, wash it and once more wash it.

Putting the gear together

The only tricky part of the installation of the gear are the worm balls. The shop manual describes how to use a special tool for this purpose but I found that there is an alternative method to do this.

Install the gear at a point where You have all the axial components in. Don't put the steering shaft sealings or the bottom cup. Move the rank piston to a point where you can see both ball holes through the cover opening. Move the steering assembly to a point where the worm screw just appears in the hole nearest to steering shaft. If the steering assembly tends to break apart (mine did), "glue" it with grease (not too much).

Insert 12 balls one by one turning the steering shaft clockwise. Put the balls in alternating black-bright-black. After inserting the 12th ball, you should see the first ball coming out of the other hole. If not, you didn't do it right. Use a little grease to "glue" the remaining 4 balls (check the order) in the ball return guide (which split into halves), and put it into place. Tighten the return guide screws and there you are.

Install the bottom closing cup. I used tiny amount of silicone to ensure this against leaks. Put the spring in it's place to hold the cup.

Install the steering shaft sealings. Ensure that the steering assembly is fully in. You should see an oil return hole. I used silicone to ensure tightness.

Install the pitman shaft sealings. Again I used tiny amount of silicone. Put the pitman shaft in place.

The pitman shaft cover sealing can cause truble because the seal itself is a ring but the groove where that seal belongs is merely square formed. I used (again) some silicone to fix the sealing in it's groove. Also the silicone compensated the small deformations on the cover.

I think that You can imagine the rest of the gear installation.

Oh, one more thing:

Adjusting the over-center preload

The over center adjustment is critical since if this is done wrong, the gear can crack.

The idea of this adjustment is simple. The tighter you turn the adjustment the more force is needed to turn the steering over the center line thus making the steering more stable at straight position. There should be a noticeable increase in turning force near the center. Don't make it too noticeable. Recheck the force after tightening the lock nut.

Putting the gear in car

The procedure is opposite to the removal. Bolt the gear in place checking that the steering wheel aligns properly. Remeber those shims, it's their turn before you tighten the fitting bolts.

Remember how hard it was to remove the pitman arm? You will be surprized how easily that piece of metal slips into place. Just check that the arm alignment is right before you tighten the big nut (remember the locking washer under it).

After doing all the plumbing work it is time to put the fluid into the gear.

As you noticed, there is more fluid in the gear than there is in the reservoir. I used the following procedure to fill in the fluid:

Start the engine. With engine running pour fluid SLOWLY into the reservoir. You hear a funny slurping noise as the gear soaks the fluid. There is a mark on the reservoir neck. Fill it up to that mark. SLOWLY turn the steering to the extreme left, and then to the extreme right. Refill fluid. Continue until the fluid level remains constant drops. In my case, the first lock to lock maneuver completely refilled the gear.

[ Thanks to Esko Ilola for this information ]

Pulling Transmission


  • Get the car as high as safely possible - SAFELY! This makes life much easier, but remember, the higher it is the more likely it is unstable! It's best to get the car as high AND level as possible. Level almost seems to be the most important when you're using a floor jack instead of a real tranny jack.

  • I put my car on jackstands in the front and ramps in the back. It was high enough to crawl under with ease and to get the tranny out on the hydralic jack. Adapters for hydraulic jacks are available.

  • Or make an adaptor. Cost is nearly nil. Cut a piece of ~½-¾" wood in a dimension similar to your auto trans pan shape. Drill two holes through the wood and mating ones in the jack pad. Bolt the wood "pad" to the jack pad. I countersunk the holes in the wood so the wood remains flat. The ends of the blots should not extend any further than possible since as you lower the jack they might not allow complete compression of the hydraulic piston. I can get mine within ~1" without a problem.

  • To keep the trans in place (at least help anyway) use a belt, rope, chain, whatever you want attached to the sides of the wood over the trans. Now this does not duplicate the tilt actions of a real trans jack but beats the heck out out of three guys underneath the car trying to muscle a heavy trans around. You know, oil leaking everywhere - "who moved that d#$n trans cooler line!"

  • Obviously, drain the tranny and (if equipped with a drain plug) the torque converter. Plan on about a quart of ATF landing on the floor in any case. Keep in mind that one quart of tranny fluid can adaquately cover the equivalent of five basketball courts with a few square feet left over!

  • Drop the exhaust pipes. You may wish to wire them to the frame to keep them out of the way.

  • Drop the cover on the bottom of the bellhousing. Remove the starter. Unbolt the torque converter from the flexplate and slide it as far back in the bellhousing as possible. Disconnect the linkage, including the backdrive linkage to the steering column. Disconnect the kickdown cable or electrical connector. Disconnect and remove (to get it out of the way) the vacuum line to the modulator. Disconnect the speedo cable. Drop the driveshaft.

  • Disconnect the cooler lines at the tranny. Be careful, as the cooler line flare nuts thread into adapters which, in turn, are threaded into the tranny case. You will need to use a wrench on the adapter to prevent it from turning while loosening the flare nut. Expect more ATF to dribble into your face and run down your arms.

  • Rent the best transmission jack you can find. This is very important, especially during installation, as there is no way you will get the tranny lined up otherwise. Be sensitive to the minimum height of this jack (that's why you want the car as high as possible). Many tranny jacks don't get the tranny low enough to get it out from under the car, forcing you to slide it off the jack while still under the car and drag it out by hand. Reinstallation is much worse (picture trying to drag the new tranny back under the car and lifting it up onto the jack).

  • Position the jack under the tranny. Loosen the six trans-to-engine bolts (top two will likely need to be accessed from above - you may wish to remove these two before jacking the car). Remove the crossmember-to-tranny bolts and the crossmember-to-frame bolts. Jack the transmission up enough to remove the weight from the crossmember and slide the crossmember out (you will need to angle it to do this).

  • Ensure that the tranny is properly restrained on the jack. Get a helper to steady the tranny if needed. You may wish to use a jack under the engine, as recommended in the factory service manual, to prevent the engine from tilting too far rearward with the tranny out, but I usually don't bother.

  • Remove the remaining trans-to-engine bolts and wiggle the tranny free. Lower the jack and you're home free.

  • While out, the cooler lines should be flushed clean. If you can, use an air gun setup to force solvent through the lines. Then blow them dry with air, and you should be fine. It's a good idea to go from both directions (reverse flow) You'd be amazed at how much crap can build up in the cooler.

  • Reinstallation is much the reverse of removal. If you have removed the converter while the unit was out, be sure it is fully seated in the tranny before attempting to reinstall. There are three concentric splines/keyways which must be aligned between the converter and the input shaft. Keep pushing and twisting the converter until it is nearly touching the bellhousing.

  • If you are installing a brand new or rebuilt transmission, fill the tranny to the fill line on the dipstick with ATF. Raise the rear wheels and start the car. Cycle through each gear slowly, then recheck the fluid level. It will likely drop. Top it off, keeping in mind that the level should be one pint low if the tranny is cold.

  • Also, unless "correct" and "original" are essential to you or your car, cutting the ears off that TH-xxx transmission case makes it a lot easier to get that sucker out around headers and exhaust pipes. The only purpose of those ears seems to be a pain in the ***, and a convenient place to bolt the convertor cover on. Removing them still leaves 2 holes to install a cover if you need/want it. Also allows much better access to the oil filter mount (as in installing/removing headers).
[ Thanks to Joe Padavano, Charley Buehner, Rob Turner for this information ]

Rebuilding Transmission

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Transmission Buildup section as well!

When changing the tranny filter, be sure to use a new O-ring on the filter inlet tube. Re-using the old one will result in a lack of fluid pressure from an imperfect seal. This will show up as almost no drive or reverse while in gear, and you could fry the transmission.


Troubles with the TH-200-4R is mainly caused by people who work on them with no clue about this unit. Qualified transmission guys are few and far between. The mid 1980's TH-200-4R suffered in certain Hi-Po applications, but do not confuse them with the TH-200. Totally different design and hydraulics.

There are few advantages and disadvantages in the stock design, which I will copy from Turbo Buick Newsletter - The Source.

A well built TH-200-4R will handle the 400 ft. lbs. of torque or 600 HP, that it takes to launch a G body into the mid 10's. It's limitation is the size of the case, which keep the surface area of the clutches too small for more torque, in the long term. Level 10 (a race team) indicated replacing with a TH-700-4R, caused ¼ mile times go down 0.8 seconds in a quarter due to increase in rotating mass, and weight of the car. These units have better gearing than other 4 speed units, including the 4th gear resulting in better overall mileage.

One problem area is cases of 1984 and older units, which should be replaced with 1985 and up units to prevent the splines from ripping out of the sun shell. The newer cases are 0.03" thicker which prevent this problem.


The front pump stator shaft splines strip off.
Replace with hardened stator shaft, whenever rebuilding.


Poorly implemented pressure rise system, so its clutch holding power above 4000 rpm is inadequate. This causes "flashing" between gears Between gears, the transmission will seem to "let loose" and the engine will over rev.
Check the mechanical adjustments first. Check the side servo band clearance which should be 0.06 inch. If this is correct, the hydraulic system must be accelerated to keep the pressure adequate at a high RPM. Replace the line bias valve spring with a stiffer unit. Also, there are now 10 vane pumps to replace the stock 7 vane pump, that should be a part of any rebuild


The trans oil filter slides directly into the pump and subsquently leaks at this point. This may cause the pump to lose prime for a split second, which can lead to failure.
Look for newest filter and grommet design such as Sealed Power #4402827 which has a zero leak bond. Has an SP on the box.

These solutions to problems and several other TH-200-4R rebuild tricks are available in the March/April 1993 Source (Volume 6, Number 2) available through 215-535-8336. These are very helpful car guys.

Other solutions get into part numbers of Hi-Po components that should be on the transmissions on a Turbo Regal, which may be in common with the higher performance 442. The trouble is that the GM exchange program may have replaced your unit with a common TH-200-4R unit, that is doomed to fail. There are over $800 worth of parts (mainly the valve body) that make a TR transmission strong enough to survive the torque. Be sure to get an additional oil cooler for the transmission, to help it live a long life. Maybe use an after market shift kit to harden the shifts, thus minimizing wear on the weak 2nd gear band and reduce operating temperature.

The correct Turbo Regal Transmission is labeled BR-F with a yellow (early) or pink (later) tag near output shaft.

Important TH-200-4R Part Numbers
The best stock TH-200-4R parts:
Valve body 8669987
($640 from GM, many times a heavy duty diesel unit is installed - this has the wrong shift points)
Seperator plate 8657309
Governor (for 3.42 gear ratio) 8655976
2nd gear band is adjustable and must have correct pins:
1 groove pin (shorest) 8632973
2 groove pin 8632974
3 groove pin 8632975
No groove pin 8632976
Cover 8678932
Piston outer 8678941
Piston inner 8768935
Intermediate cushion spring 8639264
Inner spring 8632147
Main line booster 8642940

[ Thanks to Loyd Bonecutter for this information ]

Installing Transmission

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Automatic and Manual Transmission Swapping sections as well!

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