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85 Engine project: The break-in phase


Well-known member
Dec 17, 2001
Eaton Rapids, Mich
!985 ,blue coupe, 4+3 Z51
85 Engine project begins

Tomorrow I take my engine block in for the start of my engine rebuild. Not sure if I'm going the the 383 route or not. Here's why , maybe I could get some feed back on this.
I came across a deal on AFR heads ,190 cc, fully ported and have dyno time only. They are complete and also a complete tune port system consisting of the TPI Big Mouth Manifold ported and Big Runners . ported plenum and 58mm TB and injectors that are actually too big , didnt work well. All are practically in new condition. the whole package for half the price new. After talking with TPIS I found out that the package would yeild about 500ftlb and 400 hp. The said its all done at about 4800 rpm. One of my concerns is the torque. Dont think it will be all that necessary for the street and it wont see the drag strip. And I'm afraid of tearing up the drive train. another option is the min-ram with the 383. I would lose about 60 ftlbs ,but gain about 80 hp( total of about 480hp) Or just do A 355 cu in and go with the first package.
Do you think the 52mm TB would be a better way to go with the Big Mouth ,runners etc.? The last option is the least expensive and that is to use my tune port parts and do all the porting and a 52 mm . Has anyone had experience with the Accell injectors? I installed a new rack yesterday and have all the polygrafite suspension bushings and and front end parts ordered plus wheel bearings and the clutch goes in tomorrow for a redo at Clutch Dynamics near me. They are fantastic .
Lingenfelter seems to knows what hes doing. That said the typical engine they do for our cars is a 383 Stroker With the 58mm TB (Im pretty sure)

Also my mechanic says to go with the 383 route (He can't wait to build it) He says the HP is incredible but allows me to expand further with turbos (as in the Callaway cars)


Theres a couple links for you to check out.

Heres my Favorite (I want to buy half they're stock)
52mm is good for up to a mild 383, but if you go bigger cubic inches, go bigger throttle body. ;)

_ken :w
I have to agree with you on the TPIS guys . They are great to talk to . My engine builder is also pushing for the 383 . I think I'll go that route. I'm putting all new parts in it . Im going with stock cast steel crank and rods from Eagle . The Mini-Ram is the way to go. They suggested updating the computer to the 86 model . Supposed to be alot faster and gives more info. They sent me a link to the procedure. it looks pretty complicated. Thats another thing that concerns me, tuning it!!. I also dont think the 4+ 3 will hold up to the torque. Hope to have the Richmond 6 speed before to long.
Ken, I think for what I want, the 52mm will be right. I'll be talking with TPIS again soon. Many many questions .
maxrevs85 said:
I also dont think the 4+ 3 will hold up to the torque.

:L The "4" will hold up just fine, it's the "+3" part you'd have to be concerned with Dave. The overdrive is the weak link. ;)

_ken :w
Keep us posted on your progress. I am interested since I plan on rebuilding my 85 motor, but just keeping it stock. I already replaced the bushings and tie rods etc. Replacing the bushing on the front upper controll arms was very difficult. I did it with a vice. I would suggest having a arbor press handy. At one pt, I gave up and brought it to Pepscrewups and they claimed it was impossible. I finally completed the controll arms along with the entire suspension and had an alignment. The car handles great, but just a little stiff (used the z-51 Bilstein shocks). I guess you have to remember its a sports car, you should feel every bump in the road, not like the soft feeling new vetts.
Well , As of yesterday I change my mind again !! But this time its final. I not going with the 383. It will be a 355. The heads are 190 cc AFR's and it will most likely have a hydraulic compcam non roller and 1.6 roller rockers. We're looking at 430 hp and torque. I will be useing the the stock tpi setup with all the porting done for now and plan an upgrade in the future. Also going with the 52mm TB and Accell injectors. Its not what I really want , but ok for now. I'm a carb guy and the tpi is intimidating to me . I need to learn alot about it. ........ok as far as the bushings on the front I drilled out the rubber with a 3/16 drill and then pushed them out with ease. The lowers I will press out. I here what your saying about the stiffness the poly bushings will give . It'll be fine. I just went to the dentist .all my fillings are tight( for now) :D. I also ordered new bilstiens also. New ball joints and tierods too. The rear will be rebushed too. I'll keep ya posted........Oh yea ,I'm hoping to stay with the stock computor with a chip . Trying to keep it simple.
Holy crap......I changed my mind again !!! No i didnt have a sex change.!!! :L This time its final. The 383 is the choice . I'm also having the block fitted with splayed caps and a steel #1 cap. I pretty sure I'll be using the Big mouth manifold and the siamesed runners and the 58mm TB. I'm getting too good a deal to pass them up. And the AFR heads are still a go.
:L Hey Dave, you remember how "My Engine Project" started out don't you? I must have changed my mind fifteen times! :crazy

_ken :w
Thanks Ken ,I do remember, but it was a great learning experience. My engine builder said he'll hurry and order parts before I change again:)....The next order of business is the ECM .Ideally I'd like to stay with the ecm I have ,but that probably wont be the case .I really have no idea or should I say clue about that part. Do they make ECM 's that replace mine with the updates necessary to carry out the functions of the mods being made. Like a plug in and go deal? Or am I dreaming. TPIS said to wire in the 86 Ecm . Dang , the info they sent me was pretty complicated. I'd like to just put in a chip and go.....I'm going to need some guidance with this. So if anyone has any thing they would like to share ,pleeeease do.:D
Pulled the complete rearend (differential ) out today. Set it up on a table and gave it a good bath . Getting ready for the new bushings, wheel bearings and shocks. Went alittle crazy and shined up the half shafts. Oh yea new u-joints too. It realy was'nt too bad a job. I'm going to completely assemble it before it goes back in. Also have to get a couple torx bits . Dont have one big enough. The rest of the parts should be here soon. It would be nice to get the chassis finished before the engine is finished.
Welll ,i guess the mini ram is out. Yes I changed my mind again. I bought a complete tuneport system . Big mouth manifold , siamesed runners and a ported plenum. It came with a 58mm TB and injectors ,fuel reg . I bought it from the same guy I purchased the heads from . The manifold is matched to the heads. Its practically brand new.The block is redy to be machined ,so its getting closer. I'm looking into the radiator part now. I finished the front suspension , new bushing ,poly, and balljts and tierods and is all back together on car. waiting for my u-joints for the rear and that will also be complete and reinstalled. Cleaned the underside of the car while it was apart. All the aluminum sure looks good cleaned and shiny agan.:D
Its been a fun and interesting project so far . You really get to know your car.
I need to buy a digital camera. :(
I have enjoyed reading this thread!

...are you sure you aren't related to my mother? ;)
She can change her mind 16 ways 'til Sunday on just about anything!

She and Pop have knock-down-drag-outs whenever they do a home remodeling project. I fully expect Pop to keel over one day in the middle of some mission impossible project! :L

(Home is a CA mission-style, 2-story stucco, red-tile roof...hence Pop calling it Mission Impossible!)
I have to admit, its definitly amusing.:).....I can relate to your dad . Ive been remodeling the house too :argue.......just finished the kitchen%$@&$#@*......Now its been garage time.....the Vette is more fun then house. :D But as far as the engine ,I cant change again. Parts are bought and work has begun. Whew.
Gus , Nice website . i enjoyed it . very nice Vettes and Pettes :) I realy liked the plane too.
As for the camera ,it might be awhile . I ordered the 7qt. oil pan and the level 5 prom and the MSD 6AL to HEI harness. I already have the MSD . After my engine builder talked to Comp Cams today with the engine specs I got a cam coming .

268 intake 274 exhaust
224 230 @.50
.506 .506 lift
112 112
Hydraulic flat tappet
What kind of exhaust are you going to use. Stock or are you going to replace it? I'm replaced mine with power-effects and love em'. I've got info and pictures on my site if you want to check them out.
BTW all the pics on my site were with a digital camera. You can get a real nice one now days for $350-500. 2.1 mega-pixels is good enough for most.
The car came with flowmaster mufflers. The rest of the exhaust is stock. The cat is gutted . I Looking for headers right now and its a little limited. $600 to 800 is pretty crazy ,but there are few choices. Its like the radiator thing . $500 to 600 for a radiator ,when i was buying High end radiators with oil coolers and such for $350 for racing. I believe they are over priced because they really arent that special.
My engine builder said about 2 weeks and I'll have the engine home. I recieved the TpIS oil pan. pretty nice pan and got the level 5 prom too. Looks like I'll be going with the TPIS coated headers. The suspension is done including new bilstiens :)
Getting closer to cruising in June.:D

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