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Old 10-26-2017, 10:41 PM   #1
72kool
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Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

I apologise for my many questions lately. I am trying to get a finalized plan and budget together for this winter.

Subject: original 350 engine
Problems: leaks oil all over itself
Goal: the opposite of the problem

Here is where I would greatly appreciate everybody's opinion!
My 350 engine is original to the truck. It leaks oil from top to bottom and I'd like to improve that department of the truck build. This is a semi daily driver so minimal down time is a priority.

The truck only has 68000 miles on it. I have verified to my satisfaction that it is not higher miles/rolled over odometer. I do not have any issues with the engine otherwise. No knocking, does not smoke, runs pretty good.

I can not pull an engine out to fix leaks and leave it stock. Just doesn't seem right or even possible.

I have some vortec heads that I want to use after I have them checked and cleaned. And also swap out the cam and intake to match. Paint the engine and good to go.

My concern comes from, can I get away with this and not touching the bottom end?? Everywhere I read, they always machine the block. I know I can do a preliminary check of the cylinder walls and compression test and a leak down. But will I be asking for problems if I just bolt on my new parts and not work on the bottom end?

I have a limited budget and basically no time. So that is why it's such a big deal to me. Don't want to waste what resources I have and lose my butt in the end.

What would you do if you had my engine and budget? What have you done?

Sorry for the long post, thank you for all your help!
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Old 10-26-2017, 11:14 PM   #2
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

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Originally Posted by 72kool View Post
I can not pull an engine out to fix leaks and leave it stock. Just doesn't seem right or even possible.

I have some vortec heads that I want to use after I have them checked and cleaned. And also swap out the cam and intake to match. Paint the engine and good to go.
You CAN pull it and leave it all stock - but if concerned about originality, why install vortec heads?. Doesn't hurt any originality to pull and put it back in, even if you want to swap heads - just keep your originals in the closet. So, I don't necessarily agree with it "doesn't seem right" (not that you were asking for agreement! I do understand how you feel about it). Possible is a different story though and I can understand the hesitancy. Paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 are kind of at odds. If you didn't want to paint the engine, I'd say, yes, leave it in. But considering all you want to do to it AND paint it, I'd find a way to pull it or it will be a half-way looking paint job. I've been in your shoes, and didn't want to pull engines either, for similar reasons.

If it's impossible, it's impossible, completely understand. Bottom end doesn't need to be touched if it runs fine now and you're just adding heads. But does the oil pan leak? If you pull the engine, ALL the rest that you want to do is so much easier on an engine stand (sorry, I realize this is the "if it's impossible" paragraph..)

I'd do the compression check etc, address leaks on the bottom first, then pull the top end and replace what you want heads, gaskets, etc etc. Personally, I'd just degrease and clean it up real well and skip paint until you can actually pull it out in the future.
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Old 10-26-2017, 11:30 PM   #3
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

Since you're going to pull the oil pan, I would Plastigage the bottom end just to see where it's at. It's cheap insurance.

If you want to spend as little down time as possible, get the heads done first and have the parts on hand before you pull the engine. You'll need a temperature sending unit that will fit the Vortec heads - I got mine from board member A1971Blazer - he's a really nice guy (name is Whit) and he turns them down on a CNC machine.

As long as the bottom end checks out I wouldn't worry about putting new heads on that block.
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:10 AM   #4
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

I once pulled an intake manifold for a cam swap... ended up with a full on drag car that ran in the 11's. HAHA! One extreme to another.

Gary
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:46 AM   #5
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

Ok...I'm reading two messages here:
-You want to fix some engine leaks
-You have a Vortec package you want to install

...so what is the priority?...no leaks?...or installing a new Vortec package?...noting that one might not solve the other.

now, you don't want to pull the engine...fair enough....you might not have the space, tools and overall set up to do this....and it isn't an 'afternoon/overnight operation' for 95% of the population and once the engine is out....you are looking at a boatload of time before you probably will want to put it back in...because you will suffer from 'mission creep' once you see the engine is out of the truck.

So here are a few initial thoughts:
-Determine 'where' the engine is leaking oil from first? ...valve covers? intake? timing cover? oil pan? ....where?
If you do a Vortec upgrade you might eliminate a bunch of the leak points in the process.
....so I would start with seriously determining exactly where the leaks are coming from first.

My two bits
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:04 AM   #6
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

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now, you don't want to pull the engine...fair enough....you might not have the space, tools and overall set up to do this....and it isn't an 'afternoon/overnight operation' for 95% of the population and once the engine is out....you are looking at a boatload of time before you probably will want to put it back in...because you will suffer from 'mission creep' once you see the engine is out of the truck.
I think he was saying he's planning to pull the engine, but he doesn't feel right about doing that and just cleaning it up. As far as the mission creep goes, Coley's right, you'll have to have some self-discipline to avoid that. My Blazer threw a rod (3 holes through the block) on January 31, 2013. I was just going to pull the engine and put in a used Vortec engine. Here's how my truck sits today:
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:19 AM   #7
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

My opinion, just my opinion, but a very experienced opinion.........

With your engine, budget and lack of time this is what I would do: (and have done many times...)

Skip the the heads. Why?.... Doing the the Vegas math you have about a 4 in 5 chance of everything going well and a great upgrade. With the compression and power upgrade there's chance this will stress an already marginal piston ring seal and the engine will start using oil and ultimately lose compression. A big fail.

Skip the cam. The risk of putting in a new flat tappet cam these days is too high. Junk cam cores, lifters and bad oil = flat lobes. More of that 4 out of 5 math. Don't be tempted. Yes you can take the risk but if you lose a new cam to flat lobes the engine is full of metal and now junk.

To do the reseal: highly recommended to pull the engine to do this. Much easier on an engine stand especially if this is your first rodeo digging into a full reseal with a pan gasket and rear main..........

If you must do this with the engine in the truck: Pull the bolt to drain the oil into a pan and let it sit for a couple days for as much oil as possible to continue draining down and into the drain pan. Makes a big difference when you're working with pan off the engine keeping dripping oil out of your face and surfaces you need to keep clean and dry. On my '65 the oil pan will slide out without raising the engine, not sure about a '67-'72. The new 1 piece pan gaskets are wonderful doing this on your back, get one.

The rear main is critical to do correctly and sometimes a total ***** to get the block side seal out. Hit a good utube video for procedure.

While you have the timing cover off to replace the front main and timing cover gasket: Replace the timing chain and gears. The original cam gear is a junk nylon plastic face that cracks apart over time.

Pull the intake and use RTV to seal the ends instead of the junk rubber seals that come with the gasket set.

Summary: To pull it out and leave it stock is going save you ALOT of time and $$. For every upgrade you make you can triple the amount of time you have in other issues from changed components. (things that don't fit, need modification to function correctly, additional trips to the parts store, $$....) Your risk of other problems from skipping those those upgrades is GREATLY minimized.

Good luck with the job.......

Steve weim55 Colorado

Last edited by weim55; 10-27-2017 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:29 AM   #8
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

I don't understand this talk about pulling the motor. You said it runs good, no smoke, no noises but it leaks like a sieve. I would just get in there and confront these leaks and fix them one at a time. Clean it up real good and then run it while parked and pinpoint the leaks and fix them. Buy a good gasket set. -BA
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:29 AM   #9
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Smile Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

Something to add here....

Let me 'set the table'
...my '72 has its original 350 in it, that....I think..was rebuilt years ago before I bought the truck...but I'm just guessing. The ODO shows 130k and the original/previous owner took amazingly nice care of the truck and used it for easy, local use (not a work truck)....so who knows?...maybe it has never been apart, but I always think these engines don't have the longevity so I guess that it has at some point....but again, who knows.

Regardless...the engine runs great, smooth, quiet, reliable, no ticks or bangs, etc...BUT...it does burn a little oil on start up and it does leak oil....so I know its a little 'long in the tooth'.
I did a compression test on it a couple of years ago and I think all cylinders were somewhere around 125-135 psi...not too high, but quite even....and its no beast on power.

So...flash forward:
I have a really nice, fully rebuilt set of '041' heads that I got a couple of years ago and have been dying to put on the truck as well as a performer dual plane manifold, so I went after some advice from a mechanic friend of mine and this is how our conversation went:

He asked: "How is the truck running"
I said: "Great...really nice...smooth, quiet, but uses a little bit of oil"
He said: "...leave it alone. If it ain't broke, don't attempt to 'half' fix it"
then he said: "Wait a year or two...enjoy it, keep it clean and full of oil...then come up with a 'bigger plan' for your engine when you have the time, space and money to do it correctly"
...in the meantime...."leave it alone....its not a problem for you, so don't make it one"

....interesting advice, which by the way...I've followed....lol.
(but damn, I want to put those 041 heads & manifold on it!!)

All good
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Last edited by Coley; 10-27-2017 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:45 PM   #10
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

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I think he was saying he's planning to pull the engine, but he doesn't feel right about doing that and just cleaning it up. As far as the mission creep goes, Coley's right, you'll have to have some self-discipline to avoid that. My Blazer threw a rod (3 holes through the block) on January 31, 2013. I was just going to pull the engine and put in a used Vortec engine. Here's how my truck sits today:
Been there. Dash pad change turned a dash swap and complete repaint

On my 73.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:51 PM   #11
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

lol.....mankinds greatest fear within the classic car/truck hobby.....'mission creep'.

I know its mine, ....lol.

All Good
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Old 10-27-2017, 01:59 PM   #12
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

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Skip the cam. The risk of putting in a new flat tappet cam these days is too high. Junk cam cores, lifters and bad oil = flat lobes. More of that 4 out of 5 math. Don't be tempted. Yes you can take the risk but if you lose a new cam to flat lobes the engine is full of metal and now junk.
I disagree completely. Yes there is a tiny chance of a new cam failure. If you use high quality cam and lifters and the right oil, it will be fine - just like it has been working for the past 100 years.

Here is what I would do:

Pull the engine and completely tear it down. Thoroughly clean it up.

Reused the stock crank, rods, and pistons. Glaze break the cylinder bores (a little lip at the top is fine - if it's not using oil now, it won't with new rings either). Install new cast rings on old pistons and new rod and main bearings.

Reuse old cam bearings, install new cam and lifters and timing set along with a new oil pump.

Now that you have the short block complete, add the Vortec top end "package".

Do a good job sealing everything up as you put it back together and now you have an engine with an extra ~100 HP and will be good for another 50K miles before it starts to use oil.
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I once pulled an intake manifold for a cam swap... ended up with a full on drag car that ran in the 11's.
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Old 10-27-2017, 02:00 PM   #13
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

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lol.....mankinds greatest fear within the classic car/truck hobby.....'mission creep'.

I know its mine, ....lol.

All Good
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I once pulled an intake manifold for a cam swap... ended up with a full on drag car that ran in the 11's.
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:56 PM   #14
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

A little clarification, I do not mind pulling the engine out. Actually only way I see to do it because I want to paint it also.

I appreciate all the opinions and advice. I understand the concerns of possibly ruining a working engine due to essentially slapping new parts and not checking anything else.

I should state this; my goal for the engine is this. I want a very reliable engine that I can pull trailers with ease and have some fun burning off the tires if I feel like it. With that in mind , that is why I thought the vortec head swap would be a good way to go because it's easy enough to hit around 325hp/350trq. And fairly budget friendly.

Another question I have then, is what would be other ways to accomplish my goal? Im not opposed to waiting a little longer and getting a crate engine. But i dont want to (1. Have to wait forever just to save enough, (2. Be disappointed in the power outcome of the crate engine i waited to get, because it would be the better choice. Where would be the best deal on a crate engine? What engines would guarantee satisfaction of my goal?

I know ls is probably a good choice if I went the route of an engine swap, but that basically throws the down time aspect out the window
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:33 PM   #15
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

In a case like what are you mentioning...its best to start at square one, so here we go:

-What is your budget (max/min range)......be super honest about this because certain choices can really escalate the cost
-What is your time frame to accomplish the wanted/needed result.

Coley
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:40 PM   #16
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

I'd probably be looking for the spots that leak. The SBC is/was famous for leaks. Clean it and start looking. No fun.

Leaks from the top look the same as ones from the bottom due to gravity so start w/ the valve covers..

Valve covers and gaskets. The sheetmetal covers get deformed and don''t seal so check w/ a straight-edge and beat them into submission. There are supposed to be load spreading things on each bolt.
The in the timing cover seal digs a groove in the damper, ruins the seal, and leaks. You can get a sleeve for cheap.
The oil seals leak at the front and rear of the crank.
Intake swaps often create leaks at the front and rear.

Pulling the engine and doing anything is going to be a multi-day job.
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:57 PM   #17
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

Take the easy way out. If your oil leaks are that big, just start at the top and work your way down. How big a puddle do you see, overnight? Might be your oil pressure sender (oil light) or the gauge line. Clean it up well, and look for the source before you go dropping a ton of money on it. It shouldn't take a ton of money to seal it up. Rear main is a bigger deal, but you can check that at the flywheel cover.

Pull the PCV valve out of the valve cover and see how much blow-by you have. If it's blowing a lot of smoke, any sealing up you do is going to leak because of positive crankcase pressure, eventually. Blow-by means rings and/or cylinders are excessively worn, and I personally won't just hone, put in rings and roll in a set of rod and main bearings if there is blow-by. It's a waste of money.
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Old 10-27-2017, 09:01 PM   #18
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

I don't mind being out one weekend, then going back In the next.

I just don't want month plus down time. I need my truck to be a truck.

It it's leaking from valve covers, intake manifold and from the rear main. I have diagnosed them, just need to fix them.

Square one, budget is realistically around 1500. Understand this. I have a family budget. Which is, when I can, I will buy a part at a time. But for this, I'll have to save as long as I can til I have what's needed. I say 1500 because I don't want to be saving pennies for 4 years before I get anywhere
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Old 10-27-2017, 09:18 PM   #19
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

How bad is the rear main leak? It is not fun to fix in the truck. I've used a sneaky pete before, will never do that again. All that work and it still leaked... Personally, I'd save it for a total rebuild unless it's just pouring out. Or, pull the engine Sorry, this is a bit of a pickle - it's hard to do things the right way like you'd really like to when pressed for time and budget is an issue. Have been in the same position before, and it sucks.
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Old 10-27-2017, 09:51 PM   #20
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

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How bad is the rear main leak? It is not fun to fix in the truck. I've used a sneaky pete before, will never do that again. All that work and it still leaked... Personally, I'd save it for a total rebuild unless it's just pouring out. Or, pull the engine Sorry, this is a bit of a pickle - it's hard to do things the right way like you'd really like to when pressed for time and budget is an issue. Have been in the same position before, and it sucks.

That's exactly the situation. I want to get this a reliable daily driver. To do that it needs fixed. I don't want to be checking fluids every day to make sure I don't ruin the engine. When I drove it every day, I'd put in 1-2 quarts about every two weeks.

Im not one to do an okay job, I want it done right. Budget and time are big restraints. I don't mind it being torn apart for a week. But I want it simple so it's not a month long project that never gets done. Atleast I can drive it now even though it leaks. Can't drive it if the engine is in fifty pieces across the garage.

If I have to wait 8 months and save for a crate engine because that's the best choice to do it right, I guess I will. Not what I want because I've put this off for 7years now, but that's life. If its a bad idea to swap out the cam, heads and nothing else,im not going to waste my time and money doing what I had originally planned, just to do it wrong and ruin the engine and have nothing in the long run.

What would be my best choice for a swap in engine? Where is the best deal, and what is the best engine?
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:47 PM   #21
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

You'll get enough opinions on what is best that I would suggest stepping back and asking yourself what your long term goals are for this truck. Options are all over the map, and depend on what you want out of it. Tow & Go? Long distance driver? Race (just putting it out there- I've seen it)? Just transportation?
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:30 PM   #22
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

72KOOL, as a past dealer mechanic living up north in the cold and did a lot of drivability work and you live in nebraska with a daily driver i believe vortec heads do not have a exhaust heat crossover so you end up with a cold intake manifold. Your mileage and drivability will be poor, more unburned fuel in the oil, etc, etc.

If the existing engine does work well in warmer months and is a little "off" in the colder months address this along with fixing oil leaks starting at the top and work down.

For the best 70's cold weather drivability and mileage these parts are a must;

Heat stove on i believe the pass. side exhaust manifold.

Heat stove pipe connecting the tin stove to the proper stock air cleaner.

Double check the intake manifold getting real warm to the touch right where the intake connects to the heads in the center area where the exhaust crosses over from side to side during a cold startup. If not remove intake and proceed to chisel out the hard carbon in the heads/intake. This heat cross over is called E.F.E. which stands for" early fuel evaporative" It is designed to warm up the base (or floor) of the intake where the incoming fuel/air mixture goes through the carb and turns 90 degrees at the floor to branch out to the cylinders.

The last piece (it's usually the hardest part to convince is needed) is the heat riser on the rh manifold where the "Y" pipe hooks up. It gets a bad rap for rattles and sticking but it was the 70's. Without the heat riser it just takes longer for the intake floor to warm up, especially if the truck has true duals.

Your oil smoke on start up is probably valve stem seals. When all of the above systems are working correctly, that oily first start up coats the crossover and will cause hard carbon in a matter of 2-3 years of driving. In the 80's fixed many mopar 318 v8's for carboned plugged crossovers. Oil dilution, this gassy oil eat up plastic covered cam sprockets, shed the plastic into the pan and plugged the oil pickup screen and lifters would complain. If i haven't bored you by now i at least got you to think of what happens and you are better informed than before. My mission is done and enough of my rant. I'm here if you need me and good luck.
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Old 10-28-2017, 12:18 AM   #23
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

I may have this coming up for my truck: it has sat without running for 12 years, the seals may be dried out.
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Old 10-28-2017, 01:50 PM   #24
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Re: Opinions wanted! seriously, they are

Quote:
Originally Posted by 72kool View Post
That's exactly the situation. I want to get this a reliable daily driver. To do that it needs fixed. I don't want to be checking fluids every day to make sure I don't ruin the engine. When I drove it every day, I'd put in 1-2 quarts about every two weeks.

Im not one to do an okay job, I want it done right. Budget and time are big restraints. I don't mind it being torn apart for a week. But I want it simple so it's not a month long project that never gets done. Atleast I can drive it now even though it leaks. Can't drive it if the engine is in fifty pieces across the garage.

If I have to wait 8 months and save for a crate engine because that's the best choice to do it right, I guess I will. Not what I want because I've put this off for 7years now, but that's life. If its a bad idea to swap out the cam, heads and nothing else,im not going to waste my time and money doing what I had originally planned, just to do it wrong and ruin the engine and have nothing in the long run.

What would be my best choice for a swap in engine? Where is the best deal, and what is the best engine?
Go back and read my first response and think it over. It would accomplish exactly what you want.
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1966 F250 4X4 416
1972 K20 350 4 OTF
Quote:
Originally Posted by GASoline71 View Post
I once pulled an intake manifold for a cam swap... ended up with a full on drag car that ran in the 11's.
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