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Old 01-18-2013, 10:36 PM   #1
BDoc
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Default Long term plan advice

Hey guys. So here's the deal.. within the next year I want to do the following to my 1974 L48

-- Upgrade to 454 engine
-- Upgrade to 5-speed (currently automatic)
-- Reinstall removed AC
-- Paint

Here's the catch. I know next to nothing about auto-repair. I've spent my life working on computers, and wasn't lucky enough to have a cool dad to teach me any of this. However, I am highly motivated to learn. I'm currently swapping out all the brakes, and am not afraid to work and get dirty.

All that being said, my gut tells me it's not a good idea to try to learn the engine swap or tranny change out at this point, especially since I have nobody to help with any of the heavy lifting.

So what I'm looking for is some really solid advice. Consulting, even, if anyone is willing to help. I'm basically just blindly searching for "454" on ebay, but don't really know what I'm looking at. What's the deal with 2-bolt vs 4-bolt? Will any 454 fit? Should I get all this done at once? Is there a best fit for a particular engine with a particular tranny upgrade kit? How do I find out what my rear gear ratio is?

I really want to do all this, but really need help man. I've already spent $3000 on just interior ******** like seat covers carpet, and dash components. The cost of this stuff is staggering. $699 for seat covers? Really? I just got mine in and they look like something that should cost MAYBE $300. I'm not afraid to put another ten grand or so in to this vehicle to get it the way I want, but I want it to be RIGHT.


Here's one engine on ebay that looks promising, but what do I know?


http://www.ebay.com/itm/CHEVY-BBC-45...26637f&vxp=mtr
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:52 PM   #2
Big Block Dave
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Ok...Im going to say something that will blow your mind, but always remember this....the whole car is just nuts and bolts. On top of that its a series of systems..just like those computers you play with.

Heavy lifting? You dont have to be He-man to do most jobs. Tools and leverage are your friends. Jacks, engine hoists, breaker bars, and brains. Muscle does come in handy on many occasions like tranny removal, but for the most part, just being in decent shape is all thats required.

My recommendation for you is this, before you go wild, start small with some little projects on your current L48, so that you build your confidence, and get familiar with how everything works. Can you change your oil? If so, maybe you have a leaky valve cover that youd like to change the gasket? Maybe change a set of plugs. When you get a little more advanced, maybe there is a waterpump in your future.

Once your confidence is built and you have a good feel for how things work, then you are on your way to having the confidence to pull the drivetrain, and reinstall a new one. The first time you do it, you will get that sinking feeling of "this is never going back together". When you get it back together you'll feel like youre a freakin genius.

Anyway, 1965-1990 is the mark 4 bbc and in general the most commonly used BBC. The one you spotted on ebay looks like a decent set up, but personally Id poke around a local machine shop and see if there are any leftovers that someone hasnt paid their bill on. 2 bolt vs 4 bolt is the number of attaching bolts on the crankshaft main caps. Generally 4 bolts are preferred, but quite honestly for most applications it doesnt matter. Gen V I believe is from 1991-1995 and Gen VI is 1996 and up. I may be off by a year or so in those models, but try to avoid the Gen V unless its such an outrageous deal....there is little interchangeability between this motor and other models.

Auto to 4 speed swap is definitely harder than the other way around, but the parts are readily available. You want a 5 speed, so be prepared to spend some cash on that.

Paint is something I know nothing about, but breaking stuff and putting stuff back together cost effectively is something I have experience with.

Remember, its all nuts and bolts. Some things on these cars are more challenging than other cars, but its all nuts and bolts working together in systems.

BTW listing your location may spark someone to physically lend a hand based on proximity. If you ever need "consulting" or "consoling" feel free to drop me a PM. Im not a wrench for a living, but Ive swapped a few motors and trannys and rears and put together some decent junk from about 1996 through present.

Last edited by Big Block Dave; 01-18-2013 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:58 AM   #3
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That's some pretty good advice already from Dave. Probably the best single thing you could do is try to find a good Corvette club in your area. Join up and ease into your project. Hopefully other members will get to know you and be willing to share knowledge and help turn wrenches with you. You want to connect with folks who have hands on experience and know some specifics about your year. For example, I'm not sure but your current hood probably doesn't have enough clearance for a big block. Small block hoods are flatter since the motors aren't as tall as big blocks. I'm personally not that familiar with 74 hoods. Even with the taller regular big block hood, there are only a couple intake manifolds that will fit under it on my 69 without changing to the L88 hood.

Your project is very do-able but take your time and do plenty of research before you start spending $$$ on parts. Scheme it out on paper. I'd pass on that motor and would try to find a reputable local shop to build one. Or buy a crate motor from GM or a solid, established shop. You first need to identify goals for what you want the car to end up like and work within your budget. Talk it out here or with local Vette enthusiasts and you'll get there. Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:30 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice from both of you. I hadn't thought of a local machine-shop.

I guess to distill it all down, what I really need to figure out is what engine and what transmission kit to go for. Maybe they can give some advice at the local machine-shop, or if I get in to a 'vette club here. I'm in Jacksonville, FL. I'll have to take a look around.

Getting my calipers back from powder-coating here in a few, so back to work!
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:06 AM   #5
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Tackling those brakes is a great place to start building confidence. Dont get worried if you have difficulty with bleeding them, as these cars are real tricky with that.

As for the drivetrain, I'll be honest, if I had a small block car, I probably wouldnt put in a BBC. Dont get me wrong, I have owned 3 different running BBCs in 2 different cars, and many sbcs. Big block torque is awesome. BUT....in a C3 that was born with a sbc, Id go 400 sbc or 383 any day of the week.

It will require zero modifications to make the motor fit, and properly assembled will perform as well as, if not out perform many bbc cars. Opening a hood and seeing a BBC is cool, but sometimes simplicity is the best recipe. The best part is that you can still disguise it as a stocker if you like.

I have 3 friends whom have run 400 sbc's in their cars [all 80's monte carlos]. The "slowest" one ran 11.7's on motor and had great street manners. I believe that car dipped into the high 10's on spray. Similar results can be had from 383 combos. One of these fellas is now building a 454 sbc.

You have many options as this is all in the planning phase, but Im just saying, I would build a big small block rather than cram a BBC in there
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:07 AM   #6
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To add to the good advise above:

Get the Assembly Instruction Manual and Chassis Service Manual for your car. Someone on this forum was selling a 1974 Overhaul Manual the other day. Nice to have, and not easy to find for some years (like 1971).
Go to car shows. It's a good place to find folks with a lot more experience and tools and facilities than you have. I have rented garage space from hot rodders who have very nice private garages. Be polite, and listen. A lot.
Don't rush into anything. You'll only rush toward disappointment.
Research is your friend, as is this forum.
In my opinion, helping others is what hot rodding is all about. Without it, it would be a suck-y hobby.

Carter
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
Easy Mike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDoc View Post
...Upgrade to 454 engine...
Why?

Quote:
...Upgrade to 5-speed...
Why?

Quote:
...I know next to nothing about auto-repair. I've spent my life working on computers...
If you can learn computers, you can learn auto mechanics.

Quote:
...wasn't lucky enough to have a cool dad to teach me any of this...
Something going on between you and your dad?

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Old 01-19-2013, 12:20 PM   #8
BDoc
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Haha, no the old man was alright.

So you guys think just taking the existing block to a machine shop and getting it rebuilt for maximum HP? Or would it be smarter to get a (larger?) small-block that is already built for HP?

Easy Mike - I just really want some horsepower under the hood. It's just what I'm in to. I'll never take it drag-racing or anything like that, I just like to know it's there, and feel that torque when the light turns green
As to going to a five-speed, I just love driving a manual transmission. It makes me feel more in-control of the car. I know that this is going to the be one of the biggest challenges, though. It already has me wincing.

I told myself I couldn't go wrong buying this 'vette for $4200 since no matter what, I have so much room to "put money in to it." Well, that is not turning out to not be the case, LOL. I probably should have just kept looking until I found one that was already closer to what I want... but hey. Then I'd have nothing to do!
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Block Dave View Post
Tackling those brakes is a great place to start building confidence. Dont get worried if you have difficulty with bleeding them, as these cars are real tricky with that.

As for the drivetrain, I'll be honest, if I had a small block car, I probably wouldnt put in a BBC. Dont get me wrong, I have owned 3 different running BBCs in 2 different cars, and many sbcs. Big block torque is awesome. BUT....in a C3 that was born with a sbc, Id go 400 sbc or 383 any day of the week.

It will require zero modifications to make the motor fit, and properly assembled will perform as well as, if not out perform many bbc cars. Opening a hood and seeing a BBC is cool, but sometimes simplicity is the best recipe. The best part is that you can still disguise it as a stocker if you like.

I have 3 friends whom have run 400 sbc's in their cars [all 80's monte carlos]. The "slowest" one ran 11.7's on motor and had great street manners. I believe that car dipped into the high 10's on spray. Similar results can be had from 383 combos. One of these fellas is now building a 454 sbc.

You have many options as this is all in the planning phase, but Im just saying, I would build a big small block rather than cram a BBC in there
You should have some help the first time you bleed brakes- you want to make sure it's done right before you drive the car. Corvettes can be tricky and there's a specific sequence you need to follow, although I can't remember it offhand. Somebody here will probably post it for you. Also, be very careful with the brake fluid- it will eat up paint in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:51 PM   #10
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Thanks!

Yeah bleeding the brakes has been a nightmare so far. One of the bleeder valves broke off inside the caliper, and on another one it had been cross-threaded when installed apparently, and the threads were completely toast. So, long story short, I've purchased four new calipers (one was leaking) and a new rotor. I have nobody to help with the bleeding, so I think I'm going to get everything installed and bled as well as possible, then take it to a brake shop and spend $50 to make sure 100% of the air is out of the lines.

ALSO, if you'd happened to read my thread about this earlier, I had to remove the rear trailing arm suspension to get to one caliper because someone had installed it wrong and it was blocking a bolt. It's been a journey!!!
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:24 PM   #11
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BDoc, Welcome to the addiction.

You're going to get alot of differing opinions on motors, from crate to rebuild to LS and so on. I'm only going to share what I've done to date as my motor has not been started yet. Your going to find alot of cheap HP motors on E-Bay. I've learned from some of the experiences on the forum that you cannot get durable cheap HP. In the end I went with a local HP builder. I probably paid a little more but the guy has a very good reputation and even wants to be the one who starts it for the first time. He said he will stand behind his work but will not fix stupid. I decided I wanted a solid bottom end, so like yours mine was an L-48 with 2-bolt mains. Had splayed 4-bolt mains, clearanced for 383, forged crank, h-beam rods, SRP forged pistons, all balanced with clutch. 6-QT oil pan. Top end was bored .030 over, decked and aluminum headed 64cc 220cfm heads. Solid roller valve train. Just wanted to give you a basic idea or ball park on rebuilding yours for HP. The cost of machine work, parts and assembly was 6300.00, not including intake, carb, and distributor although he did install my intake. The only thing I took him was my block. Should be close to 500HP. Like I said I probably paid a little more than some but this may give you a basic idea of going the rebuild route. The components I used were personal preference and may not be what you would want. As I'm sure others may tell you. I went this route mainly because of the builders hands on reputation from others and if I had questions I can go to his shop and talk face to face. Good luck with what ever route you take. By the way there is no known cure for the horse power disease
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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So you want more HP? Join the party, but you better by ready to pay the piper. There's a whole spectrum of choices to help you acheive more HP. But even if you get your HP fix on the cheap, don't ignore the fact that your car wasn't designed to handle much more than it was originally built with.
Whether you decide to have a local builder rebuild and "hop up" your existing L48 or you go with a BBC don't ignore the cost of upgrading the driveline to be able to handle those brief moments of youthful exuberence that more HP brings out.
You've stated you have a $10k budget to work with, I'm here to personally warn you that you could easily eclipse that when you start going down the "more HP" road.
I fell for the temptation of upgrading my small block 1964 to an affordable "but used" 383 off of Craiglist. Only to find after buying and installing it that it had a cracked crank. So to make a long story short and $6k later I have a strong, locally (re-)built 383 SBC pushing somewhere in the mid to high 400hp range. Which I absoluely love and couldn't be happier with (except for the hard earned lesson of buying a used engine form somebody I don't know).
The problem now is that in less than 150 miles after installing the new engine I promptly sheared in half one of the inner axles and twisted the other while exploring the new power. And these were new case hardened inner axles from one of the most popular Corvette performance parts suppliers that frequents this forum.
So now I'm in the middle of researching and identifying what it's going to take to make the driveline stand up to the increased HP. And it's not looking to be a cheap fix.

So before you decide to jump too far into the more HP endeavor just make sure you know what you're getting into and plan accordingly. This isn't a cheap hobby, but it sure as hell is a fun one.
And this forum is a great place to learn about your new endeavor and share your own experiences as you have them.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:31 PM   #13
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Thank you very much to everyone for the info and advice. I think I've definitely been talked in to staying with the SBC. It's an after-market 350 in the car, so I think I'll just work on suping that up.

Next step after fixing rear suspension.. new exhaust headers I think!
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