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Engine Swap Everything about swapping an engine into your Third Gen.....be it V6, V8, LTX/LSX, crate engine, etc. Pictures, questions, answers, and work logs.

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Old 12-26-2009, 01:14 PM   #1
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how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

Hi there everyone. I've been looking into upgrading my 89 RS with a little more horsepower. After reviewing the facts I think that I've decided I want to invest in a 350. I've ordered 'how to rebuild the small block chevy' book and I have a good grasp of how an engine works and the concepts behind it, but this will be my first project under the hood of any sort, and I lack any 'real world' experience. Maybe I should start a new thread, or maybe there is an existing one that can answer this, so forgive me if I'm breaking thread etiquette, but my question is this:

Starting with:
around $1200
a steady summer job
the 89 camaro shop manual
basic tools (friendly neighbors with more) and garage

is it possible to take a 350 block:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMITlGfDI48

and build it from scratch over a summer?

Can anyone give me price estimate as to how much it will cost to build up an engine from scratch, starting with a bare block? And is there a comprehensive list of the tools and materials needed?

I plan on buying all the parts I need in california, renting a U-haul trailer and driving it up to MT at the end of the school year to do the work at home.
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Old 12-26-2009, 01:17 PM   #2
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

well it is possible to rebuild one for $1200 or roughly in stock trim....but it depends on what you want to do with it and how much power you want from it. The more horsepower, the more money. I think I have eight or ten grand or something like that in mine....I would have to dig the reciepts out an add them up.
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:04 PM   #3
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

I'll also throw out the reminder that there are larger SBC setups than 350s and you can still build it at the approx. same price. My 400 block build has cost around what I've seen the 'same' 350 parts cost. No replacement for displacement
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Old 12-26-2009, 04:19 PM   #4
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

It all depnds on the parts you use. Building a stock 350 won't cost that much. I'm building a 383 stroker and I expect it be around 4000 by the time its completed.
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Old 12-26-2009, 04:48 PM   #5
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

Too many factors and it depends how much work is required. The cheapest you can do it for is the cost of a bearing, ring and gasket set. Reuse everything else. Strip it down, clean it up, give the cylinders a hone for the new rings and reassemble. That doesn't include any new parts and doesn't include doing anything to the heads.

Depending on the quality of the bearings, rings and gaskets, you might be able to rebuild for less than $1000. A good rebuild using lots of new parts including new water pump, oil pump, reman heads etc should be around $3000. If you need to bore out the block and get more machine work done, the cost can keep going up.

You can refresh an engine, assemble an engine or build an engine. Different skill levels and tools are required for each.

For the cost of parts and labor, my engine is worth at least $20,000 now. I've got $5,000 just in the heads.
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Old 12-26-2009, 11:28 PM   #6
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

yeah I'd love to go bigger, but I really just don't know where to start! I'm wondering if there's a swap that would be easier/better/more forgiving for a first timer? I figure I can always do something bigger later. I'd love to hear any recommendations people have for set ups!

(Also what's the difference between a big block and a short block? Will a BBC fit into a thirdgen?)

Thanks for any info, I hope eventually I can give back somehow!
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Old 12-27-2009, 12:55 AM   #7
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

If all you need is a new engine, it's probably cheaper to just buy a stock replacement. It depends what your budget and goals are. There are also prebuilt engines that may be just what you need. A 350 or 383 is common.

SBC = Small Block Chev
BBC = Big Block Chev.

The distinction between a small and big block engine is the bore spacing. Some engines like Chev have 2 different bore spacings. That's why you can have a 400 SBC and a 396 BBC. It has nothing to do with the actual displacement. Some engine models have only one bore spacing throughout the entire displacement options. Pontiac has no big or small block option. A 326 Pontiac has the same bore spacing as a 455 Pontiac.

Short block = An assembled block without heads
Long block = An assembled engine with heads. May or may not include an intake manifold.

A BBC will fit anywhere a SBC will fit although there may be a few clearance issues in some vehicles. A BBC will easily fit into a third gen with some minor modifications. Read the sticky at the top of the forum on doing a BBC swap.

Short deck BBC = Standard 9.8" deck height (distance from crank centerline to top of cylinder)
Tall deck BBC = 10.2" deck height

Using a tall deck engine (572, 632 etc) creates even more clearance issues in a third gen. A 540 is a typical big short deck engine. It can be bored out to 555 or 565. A 4-3/8" stroke crank can be installed to get even more displacement but typically going over 4-1/4" stroke, you want to go with a tall deck block.

Last edited by AlkyIROC; 12-27-2009 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:07 AM   #8
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Re: how much does it cost to build and engine from scratch?

hey also u might want to do some research around ur area and get out and meet people. There are nice people in this world that will try to help u succeed. (Well at least for me anyway)! Its a good way to find parts that u need for cheap. And it's always nice to be able to call someone up and give ya some free advice.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:07 AM
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