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How To Build Big-Inch Chevy Small Blocks

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Who says you need a big-block in order to add cubic inches?

You can add cubic inches to your current engine without the need to replace intake manifolds, headers, motor mounts and so on, all at the same time. By building a "big cube" small-block Chevy, you can have all the benefits of a big-block, such as more torque and horsepower, without the associated extra weight and without the need to spend additional money.

In this new, all-color edition, Graham Hansen shows you on a step-by-step basis, how to build a big-inch short block powerplant. Hansen also goes into detail as to how you can select the best cylinder heads, camshaft, induction and exhaust systems intended specifically for a big-inch motor.

The book also includes dyno graphs for seven different, big-inch power combinations. From 383 to 454 cubes!

Book Excerpt: How To Build Big-Inch Chevy Small Blocks


If you were building a house, you?d want to ensure that the foundation is as solid as possible before you built the rest of that multi-story dream home. The same is true of engines, and that foundation is the cylinder block.

This chapter will deal mainly with the first-generation small-block Chevy that includes the post-1986 modifications for the one-piece rear-main seal and hydraulic roller camshafts. We will not deal with the LT1 or LS1 engines in this book.

There?s still plenty to talk about when it comes to blocks since GM Performance Parts alone offers 16 different iron and aluminum mouse-motor blocks. Add the castings from Brodix, Dart, World Products, and others, and there are dozens of variations to choose from in the world of cylinder blocks.

Let?s start with the most basic information for the small-block Chevy production blocks. Chevy produced several blocks prior to the 350, but since these blocks do not offer much in the way of large cubic inch potential, we would refer you to one of the many other books that deal with the older small-block configurations. We will concentrate on the 4.000, and 4.125-inch bore blocks that make up the bulk of small-block Chevy production blocks.

There are basically three types of intake manifolds ? individual runner, single plane, and dual plane. Individual-runner manifolds are essentially like the old Hilborn or Enderle mechanical fuel-injection manifolds. These manifolds do not employ a common plenum between each intake runner, choosing instead to allow each port to operate independently and without interference from the other intake ports.

Dual-plane, or divided-plenum manifolds do employ a plenum, or common area between the ports. They use a divider that splits the plenum and the carburetor down the middle to the left and right. The two left-side barrels feed one half of the engine while the carb?s opposite half feeds the remaining cylinders. It?s not a left vs. right bank thing either.

The main reason for dual-plane intakes is to create 180-degree phasing, giving the plenum time to rest between pulses. If you look carefully at a typical dual-plane intake, the runners end up feeding cylinders on both banks. This also increases the number of twists and turns the runner must make, which is not the best thing when working with air and fuel, but is a necessary evil that can?t be avoided.

The third type of intake is what is called a single-plane or open-plenum manifold. In this configuration, all eight intake port runners feed into one large area directly underneath the carburetor called the plenum.


Graham Hansen has been a Chevy fan all his life, and has been building high-performance Chevrolets and Chevy engines for more than 25 years. His knowledge of Chevy engines and engine parts is nearly encyclopedic, and he's particularly interested in large-displacement small-blocks for street and racing use.

Subject: How to build a big-inch Chevy small-block engine. ISBN-10: 1934709662 | ISBN-13: 9781934709665 | CarTech SA87


  • Introduction
  • Stroker Theory
  • Cylinder Blocks
  • Crankshafts
  • Connecting Rods
  • Pistons and Rings
  • Camshafts
  • Valvetrains
  • Cylinder Heads
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Induction Systems
  • Lubrication Systems
  • Building and Blueprinting
  • Power Packages
  • Appendix
  • Source Guide
  • Engine Build Sheet

  • Publisher: CarTech Books
  • Author: Graham Hansen
  • Pages: 144 - Over 300 color photos, 30 b&w photos and illustrations
  • Binding: Paperback - 8.5 x 11 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1-934709-66-5
  • How To Build Big-Inch Chevy Small Blocks
    4 Stars based on 1 Review(s)
    Don the "383 fanatic"
    4 Stars
    I would recommend this item to a friend.

    Worth the price
    September 21, 2014
    Very good book. Great illustrations. Covers everything you need to know.