‘Wheelin Ready Small Block

There are all types of wheeling you could be into.  Each takes a different type of suspension, drive train, tire and engine to perform at the absolute highest level.  You can build for a specific environment or you can try to generalize hitting the key points of each.  For the type of wheeling we have here in PA I decided to build for a little of everything when setting up my K5.  We will chat about the rest of the truck at a later date but for now lets talk engine.

The Engine

I started with a bare “010” casted four bolt main 350CI Chevy block.   The block went straight to the machine shop and got a good review.  They also reviewed the bearing surfaces on the stock crank.  I received a clean bill of health on everything aside from the cylinder walls.  A .030 over cut and hone job was in order as the remedy.   I also had the shop order a new set of hypoeutectic pistons, rings, and bearings.   About a week and 800 bucks later I had a ready to build block on the engine stand.

With the basics in place it was time to make some choices.  Like I said earlier, I was looking for an all ‘round solid setup.  For starters, I chose an aluminum head and intake kit from Edlebrock.  I wasn’t after anything crazy but I did upgrade to the .202 valves in the head.  The intake was an RPM Air Gap; A solid choice for medium RPM and torque plus it delivers cooler air to the engine like you would expect to see in a higher RPM intake.  The key piece to the puzzle was the cam.  I like the lumpy idle of the higher RPM street cams but had to take a different direction this time…  I opted for the Comp Cams 4×4 extreme.  There are a few different variants of the cam but my decision fell on the 600-4600 RPM option with Comp Cams part number 12-231-2.  The cam boasts good economy and excellent torque.   The cam is available individually, with lifters or as a complete kit.  I ordered through Amazon and beat prices of Jegs and Summit.

Comp Cams 4×4 Extreme The Full Kit

I topped the valve train with a set of roller rockers I got gently used from a fellow gear head.  While roller rockers are typically associated with higher RPM engines I figured a little less friction could benefit me as well.  They look fairly sweet too I must say…

Valve Train assembled and ready to go!

Finally, I topped the engine with a Holley Truck Avenger carb.  This thing is second to none when it comes to ‘wheeling carburetors.  The spec sheet mentions that spillover does not occur until 35 degrees; We will see

A Few Wheeling Trips Later

Overall the engine has worked out very well.  I have had it to Raush Creek and some of the other local trails as well.  The 4×4 cam and carb have been the most noticeable difference.   The cam is rated from 600 to 4600 RPMs and it performs like it.  The idle is smooth even turned the whole way back to 500 RPMs!  Letting the clutch out with your foot off the gas is no problem either.  The torque in the low end is amazing and perfect for the type of wheeling I do.  The carburetor needed some adjusting but works great as well.  The spec sheet said 35 degrees of tilt but even after having the truck all but on its side and back bumper I have not noticed any symptoms of fuel spillover.  The combination has truly proven strong so far!

Final Thoughts

For anyone looking to build an engine I suggest only a few key points: Research, ask questions from people more experience, and try it!  There might be a scientific way to get exactly what you need but what fun is that?   I don’t consider myself an expert on engines by any means but there are readers who are.  Jump to the forum and check out the appropriate tech forum for your vehicle type.  There is sure to be someone with engine experience there!


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