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How To Build Max Performance Chevy Small-Blocks on a Budget

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For more than 50 years, the high-performance Chevy small-block has made history, both on streets and tracks all over the world.

In this revised, all-color edition of How To Build Max Performance Chevy Small-Blocks on a Budget, author and renowned engine builder David Vizard, reveals the latest techniques and the best equipment on how to get your Chevy small-block motor to produce the most horsepower, and within a limited budget.

The information in this book will allow you, the do-it-yourself engine builder, to build a 400 to 800 hp small-block Chevrolet engine for a fraction of the price a professional speed shop would charge.

Book Excerpt: How To Build Max Performance Chevy Small-Blocks on a Budget


A problem confronting many engine builders is making the best choice of cam and valvetrain components. Picking up a cam catalog doesn?t necessarily help because of the number of choices. On a single page you may see several cam specs given, and many may seem fine if you base your choice on the application description. Maybe one has a little more lift than the other, but a little less duration. Another may have slightly less duration, but be on a tighter lobe centerline angle than yet another possibility. Sure, you can ask people what?s worked un their motors.

Although that may seem a simple solution, let me assure you it can easily fail to produce within 30 hp of optimal results in 95 cases out of 100, and I?m talking about a 350 here. If the engine is bigger, the discrepancy can be even greater.

Why so far off? Ask yourself if the person you are seeking advice from has successfully built a motor like you intend to build. If so, do you intend to closely follow the specifications that were used? How do you know this person was qualified to give advice?

For the record, I?ve found that even among successful, professional, race-winning engine builders, real camshaft expertise is rare. I hate to sound like I am blowing my own trumpet here, but this is a subject I teach at University level. Along with that, I have also redesigned a whole line of cams for several cam companies to very good effect.

In two instances this was done to the extent that the engines in question made more power from my hot street cams than they had previously seen from their race cams! The advice you are getting here is based on 40 years of testing cams in general plus well over 10,000 combinations (8,000 in one six-month-long session alone for Crane) for small-block Chevys. My recommendations are based on obtaining the maximum output, especially in terms of torque, for a given intake duration.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Foreword by Roger Helgesen
  • The Importance of Good Parts and Engine
  • Building Practice
  • Inspection
  • Preparation
  • Flow Bench Relevance
  • Heat Management
  • Dynamometer Results
  • Rating Standards
  • Block Logic
  • What to Look for
  • Block Selection
  • Casting Material
  • Locating the Right Block
  • Teardown and Cleaning
  • Block Strip
  • Pre-Machining Details
  • The Oil Return Holes
  • Professional Cleaning and Checking
  • Moving Bores
  • Machining Operations
  • Acquiring Your Performance Block the EasyWay
  • Post-Machining Detailing
  • Stock Cranks
  • A Little Money, A Lot More Torque and Horsepower
  • Fast Mover
  • Clean Sheet
  • Other Applications
  • Buying a Forged or Billet Crank
  • Bearings
  • Strengthening Process
  • Crank Vibration Dampers
  • Connecting Rods
  • Lightening and Rod Balancing on the Cheap
  • Rod Upgrades
  • Rods: The Final Choice
  • Rod Lengths: What to Use
  • Pistons: Type to Use
  • Pistons: Aftermarket
  • Piston Selection
  • Rings
  • Balancing
  • Loosing ZDP
  • Power Versus Oil Type
  • Oil Temperaure
  • Oil Filters
  • Oil Pumps
  • Internal Pump Clearances
  • Oil Pump Chatter
  • Pressure-Relief Valve
  • Oil Bypass
  • Alternative Oil Pumps
  • Oil Pan Design
  • Oil Pan Modifications
  • Top-End Restriction
  • Oil Movement
  • Factory Heads for Performace
  • Production Heads: Basic Overhaul Work Order
  • Machining Sumamry
  • Basic Small-Block Chevy Head Porting
  • Port Re-Shaping Techniques
  • Valves
  • Exhaust Ports
  • Compression: The Budget Racer?s Big-Power
  • Ticket
  • CR Increase Versus Cost
  • CC?ing Equipment
  • Cylinder Heads Detailing and Assembly
  • Porting 186/041-Style Head Castings
  • Porting L98 Corvette Heads
  • Porting L31 Vortec Heads
  • Aftermarket Heads
  • Port and Chamber Volume Selection
  • Basic Porting Results
  • Aluminum Heads
  • Basic Five
  • Fuel Octane and Dynamic CR
  • Overlap
  • LCA Selection
  • Duration
  • Dual-Pattern Cams
  • Lift Versus Output
  • Lift Versus Wear
  • Making a Cam Selection
  • Springs
  • Retainers
  • Lifters
  • Stock Hydraulic Roller Lifters
  • Pushrods
  • Timing in the Cam


David Vizard is revered engine builder, technical writer, and author. In fact, he has authored more than 30 highly respected engine building and automotive titles, penned about 4,000 magazine articles, and contributed scores of web pieces to popular sites.

Often referred to as Vizard the Wizard, his work is frequently the subject of blogs and editorial pieces in popular automotive magazines.

He currently owns and runs an engine research and development business in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lives.

Subject: Building max-performance Chevy small-block engines. ISBN-10: 1932494847 | ISBN-13: 9781932494846 | CarTech SA57

  • Publisher: CarTech Books
  • Author: David Vizard
  • Pages: 160 - Hundreds of color photos and illustrations
  • Binding: Paperback - 8.25 x 10.50 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1-932494-84-6
  • How To Build Max Performance Chevy Small-Blocks on a Budget