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Time Vortec

16343 Views 213 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  FoaRyan
It's time to really get moving on this long-overdue engine swap & truck restore project.

The story: in 2014, I took my S10 "Amelia" to a garage to have them replace my leaking intake gasket. It only leaked when it was cold, but winter was really cold that year so I was in need. From the drive home from the shop, a tick started to develop. Took it back to the shop, they said it was a rod knock and I should replace the engine.

Fast forward almost a year, and I had driven this truck another 6k miles with the tick. Finally something worse happened inside the engine, and I haven't run it since.

Meanwhile, Mr friend gave me this engine, a 350 Gen 1 sbc he used to have in a Chevelle. According to washer what he told me, it wasn't the original engine, and he had it swapped for a 454 after about 30k miles.

I haven't taken the heads off yet, but everything looks to be in good shape. Plan is to put a Vortec top end on so I can keep the computer and fuel system. After I finish the swap then I can head down to a junkyard and find me some parts to repair the front end damage.

So with that background, my engine is now on the stand and I'm ready to start inspecting and testing. I'm a Doctor Who fan, and also very corny, so I'm calling this (for now at least) Project Time Vortec. (Get it? First gen block, vortex, Vortec... yyeeeah, anyhow...)

Here's the engine, now up on a stand as of this weekend:

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And a look at the damage on the truck:

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Nice. Didnt think thered be another doctor who fan on here. Whats your favorite Doctor. I love ten but i started with 9. Will always wish i could have had more 9 but im a big Tennant fan.
What happened to the front end?
Yeah NevurMind85, I don't know how many you could expect to find on an automotive forum, though who knows, I mean he does like to tinker with things. Tennant is my favorite Doctor, hands down. But Eccleston was my "first." Well, actually 11/Smith was. Long story. But anyhow I'm definitely a fan. I got carried away with decorations for a Who Halloween party last year, and accidentally built this for my front door:

It still needs hinges on one side, and a permanent window, but I ordered a traditional lock and installed it a couple of weeks ago, looks really nice.

tajohns34: Before the engine troubles began, I was driving to work one day when a motorcycle decided that in between two crowded lanes was a good place to speed by. He went past me, then a few cars ahead and someone slammed on their brakes. (because that's what you do in Oklahoma, no matter what the reason, just slam on your brakes. Want to turn? slam on the brakes. Lane change? Hit the brakes. See a motorcycle next to you on the highway? You guessed it...) So basically, the hit-the-brakes chain made it back to me and I couldn't stop quickly enough to not hit the Jeep in front. They didn't get much damage because of the spare tire mounted on the back, but it crunched in my fender pretty good. Everything was functionally ok, though.
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Hopefully it just sheet metal and your core support is OK.
The support might be bent a little bit, tajohns, but from what I've seen on V8 swaps here, most people have to cut the support anyway. As long as everything fits, I'll be getting the engine in before doing any body work.

So I'm back from Colorado, went to Denver for a work conference/few days of vacation. Now I'm ready to do the compression test, will post results hopefully this weekend. I think I'm going to get this ACDELCO 3361913A starter, which was stock for '93-'97 LT1 Camaros. It looks to have the straight bolt pattern (not staggered), which is how my block bolts are set up. Got to run to Harbor Freight and grab a compression test kit today or tomorrow. Found one on sale with multiple adapters, should come in handy in the future.
Throwing this in here for [my] reference: http://www.thirdgen.org/forums/dfi-ecm/665974-gen-1-sbc-crank.html

Found a discussion on thirdgen about doing EFI with a Gen I block, which is exactly what I'd like to do. That way I can use my 0411 computer (after getting it flashed for the V8 setup.. whatever shape it takes). The hindrance is the Gen I, as it sits, has no crank sensor. I need a reluctor, timing cover, and balancer off a V8 Vortec to go with it. Plus the crank sensor if it's different from my V6 Vortec.

What this avoids: upwards of $500 on some aftermarket kit to basically accomplish the same thing OR completely changing the fuel setup (or going carb).

I will have to get an appropriate distributor to go with it, but I already don't have one so I'll be buying one anyhow. I'm open to alternatives if there are any, but this looks to be the ticket!
Ran the compression test yesterday. Spent Saturday getting the starter and setting up. Had to rearrange the garage some so I can now work with a little room without having to pull the cars out of the garage.

Starter with all shims shimming away. The bolts in a standard bolt set, with 3 different lengths, all do not work. I found someone posting on another site with the same issue, said he wasn't able to find the right bolts so just use washers. I need more washers but it's good for now. I'll have to reposition the starter anyhow because it kept getting stuck after a few rotations.

**If you need to know how to do a remote start switch for your garage engine compression test** I brushed up on electricity (ha-ha) and wired this 3-prong switch to avoid killing myself and losing teeth.

The setup: 12v battery (from my S10), power from + battery terminal to power terminal on starter and the small white wire to power on the switch (I think prong #1), - (negative) terminal on battery to good ground on engine block, middle prong (#2) red wire to 'S' terminal on starter, prong #3 to ground on block.

Hint!! - You can connect the 'S' terminal but leave the other power term on the starter unplugged to check engagement. If you're more educated than me you could probably do your shim adjustments from there before risking breaking things.
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^^ Starter with shims.

^^ Pictures of setup. Was having issues before so hopefully the links work this time. BTW only reason there's 2 wires connected to + terminal is that I had this split before. It's just one wire on the other end.

Compression test results: low 60psi, high 145psi

2 cylinders got 60, one 90, the rest between 120 & 145. I would be concerned except that I was having issues with the starter getting stuck. It would turn over once, maybe twice, then jam and I had to reset. All 3 'low' cylinders were toward the front of the engine. Either way I'll get a good look at them when I pull the heads, hopefully this week.

If everything looks visually in good condition, I won't mess with the rings, but if those 3 cylinders show signs of damage or wear I'll probably order a ring kit, in addition to other misc parts I need like a gasket set.

**Another random tip** At first I grounded to a bolt sticking out the head. The starter would engage but get stuck after the first attempt, then not engage any more. I used a multimeter and measured resistance. Found it was a bad ground so I moved it to a better one. Then it magically worked. Electricity -- magic!
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Found a Vortec for sale locally (actually a 45 minute drive, but that's basically local in this city). Seller says it had a rod knock, selling the whole shortblock complete with intake, valve covers, etc. Planning to check it out if he still has it this weekend I could have taken care of acquiring:

  • Valve covers
  • Exhaust manifolds (but I'm 92.1% sure I'm ordering some shorty headers)
  • Intake manifold
  • Possibly fuel injectors but probably not
  • Timing chain + reluctor wheel & timing cover to set up my crank sensor stuff
  • Some pulleys, etc.
  • I think there's even a power steering pump still attached.
All for $100 - I'd be paying that much for individual parts separately. Then I can sell what's left of the block to whoever wants it.

Auto part Vehicle Engine Car Technology
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Blimey. I called up the guy to confirm yesterday on the address and pickup time for the engine. Someone else already scooped it up, but I still like the idea of parting an engine, could save me money. Or I can head to the game of thrones yard. If you can make it to the register alive with your parts, they're yours to keep for a nice price. I'm sure there's plenty of late 90's Vortecs available in any number of trucks out there.

So back to the garage now, it's time to remove the heads and check out my cylinders. Pics later!
Well then, I got some things done this weekend. Which is the main reason I'm just now getting around to posting pics - it's hard to accomplish work while you're typing, and I lose enough time queuing songs to keep the music going as it is!

The goal for the day was to pull the heads, inspect everything and clean some more gunk off the block. I started with getting the exhaust manifolds off, which was a breeze. All I had to do was spray a little PB blaster on each bolt, and they came off easily.

Lots of gunk on here, I don't know if my friend didn't tighten his valve covers or what, but either way it still came off easy, probably thanks to the low miles.

One of the gaskets was torn up a little bit. I think it not have been torqued down properly, or came loose over time.
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Next I pulled the heads, which also came off easily, and stuck the push rods in this here cardboard.

The heads looked pretty good underneath, very little carbon on the valves, no signs of clogged water jackets.

Should make for nice resale value after I clean them off. Some people love these 882 heads. Of course the reason I'm taking them off is to do a Vortec top end, and to raise my engine compression ratio. More on that later.
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The cylinders themselves:

They look great. Some debris was sitting on top of them from the gunk all over the intake valleys. In the piston-to-deck clearance area there is a slight buildup of carbon, which I cleaned the best I could with warm soapy water. It's going to take another cleaning session, but where I was able to get the clean metal exposed, I can't feel a ridge or anything at all, which is also good.

I know that's not the best method to clean cylinder walls, what do you guys use/suggest here?
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The light doesn't hit it just right in the above pics, but when I removed the heads, I discovered something new about this engine. It's bigger on the inside. ... as in, 0.040" bigger, lol. Yes, that's right, the engine is something like a 357, rather than a 350. Should be good for an extra 4.5 hp to the rear wheels! :)

I now know more of the history on this motor. It's been rebuilt, so the stamp on the front of the block which says, "COTTON RACE ENG." now makes a little more sense.

I've looked up Cotton's Race Engine in Quinlan, Tx, before. There was a number available online, which I called, and got Mr. Cotton's wife (I think), so I never actually spoke with him. She said he'd be back later. Cotton Owens was a famous NASCAR racer, and was recently inducted in to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was a successful driver & owner for many years. Unfortunately he died in 2012, so this is probably a different Cotton. Maybe the name was a tribute. I'll have to call back again to find out.
just me but id have to remove a rod cap and check a bearing..if good re torque it back down correctly and maybe go with it.
but the black oily tops of the pistons"not that anythings wrong with that" would make me go ahead and take out crank and pistons..bearings are cheap,just time consuming job is all,when trying the best you can for .002 .0025 tolerances on the rod bearings..

dude,i would def think its one of the cottons engines myself if its stamped like you say..id have to find out the inside of the engine myself :) it may have forged pistons that are good for real juice abuse..i always wanted a button just never done it yet.
then again youd hate to put all this time and effort into it then the piston skirts and side walls be worn so bad u wouldnt wanna use them...dont take me wrong this is just me talking lol.
in your first pics i seen the heads looked like 882 like i had on the one i just got,then you mentioned they were.
but in your first posts i see 062 vortec heads on the ground,or 906 iirc..schweet deal thats where im headed hopefully.
so hurry up and figure out the heads and intake swap cheapest as poss so i can stop reading so muc,haha:)
btw,,i see your in oklahoma. im a street outlaws follower like a kid my wife says..she will never understand a gearhead mindset like mine lol..she goes with the flow,just bitches about it all the time lol..the motor did come on back porch"she said hell no" and it will be coming in my man cave inside the a/c soon,,she says no but it has always been this way,,and i always win :)
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and heck,,youd be happy if you found out it had longer rods and was a stroker motor:)
lets get pics of inside oil pan..4 bolt or 2 still could have high dollar rods and all sorta things..i have many many old school chevy books and will gladly look up the crankshaft and block numbers if ya need info..real easy to fins online also.
i have a few crank ser numbers on top of my head from yrs ago..if it has a steel crank id def have to tear it down as not to ruin a crank that couyld be worth a grand or lil less...c,mon..rip that pan off:D
maybe h beam rods in there:D

edit; not everyone would bore a engine 1 to 2 times so ya never no whats in there really.
Heh, yeah lots of good questions there. I'll try to post all the relevant casting numbers this weekend. Planning to get the pan and timing cover off maybe tomorrow, and head to the junkyard on Sat.

To clarify, the current plan is to ditch the 882 heads (for sale!!) and go with the Vortec 062's, combined with a Vortec intake, MPFI, and a modified timing chain so I can get the crank speed sensor in there. Looks like Jegs sells a cover that will work, then I just need to make sure the camshaft is appropriate for my setup. I know that's backwards but this is a work-with-what-you-got build not an exercise in performance mechanics. XD

I have a little more info on the engine, starting to figure out what compression ratio is going to look like. Was about to post the other night, by my macbook crashed on me while I was typing it. I think I'll wind up somewhere between 9.5-10:1 CR with the piston/bore/stroke/head combo I have. Pretty sure it's not stroked - I measured one cylinder to about 3 1/2" down the hole, which is stock (3.48" stroke on a 1972 small block).

BTW you think the pistons look oily? I don't have a trained eye, but they look pretty clean to me. I should have some better lit pictures, it may just be the forging or whatever process was involved in creating them. They have a rough surface as opposed to a brushed or smooth one.
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Never mind on the pistons question, I looked again in better light and realized their color is due to carbon/oil or something. Guess I'll do some cleaning on them while I'm cleaning everything else.

*Speaking of which!* I had a very successful parts run yesterday, got the Vortec intake upper/lower with a throttle body, valve covers, and the v8 fuel injection plug needed in order to add 2 more injectors with two wires each to my wiring harness. That's a total of 4 wires, for those who grew up with Common Core math.

Here's everything I have assembled, so I can get some before & after pics. This is after cleaning the valve covers yesterday. Now I'm waiting for O'reilly's to get their act together and have a harmonic balancer puller shipped to the store this afternoon. In the mean time I'm going to eat a pizza and pull the oil pan.
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