Enjoy Season 6 stories, opinion, and features from across the car world - Hagerty Media

Progress continues on our 283 Chevy small-block V-8 rebuild, as Davin heads downstate to our friends at Apex Competition Engines to get the rotating assembly—crankshaft, pistons, rods, bearings, wrist pins, and rings—internally balanced.

Why are we putting so much time and effort into this small-block, you ask? Davin is steadfast. “Because I don’t want it to come apart,” he says, “and the devil, is in the details.”

The starting point is balancing the rods—evening the weight of the large and small ends—by grinding off the weight pads as needed. Then it’s on to weighing to the rings (and you include the bearing because it’s part of the rotating assembly), before moving on to the pistons. Davin explains that each piston receives a “bob weight,” a counterbalance that “represents the weight of the rod and piston assembly, including the rings, and the bearings, and the wrist pins …  When you go to spin the crankshaft, you can’t have the rods and pistons flinging around madly—(so) you control it with this bob weight.”

With everything balanced and assembled, it’s time to spin the crankshaft and recheck the weight. As Davin watches nervously, John from Apex shares some bad news: It’s off … by a lot. That’s what Davin assumed might happen, since these pistons are significantly heavier than the stock pistons. “We’re going to need to add weight to the counterbalances to offset that bob weight—and it’s a fair amount, 140 grams.”

Check out how they accomplish that. It’s a fascinatingly meticulous process.

Before we go, Davin considers the vital role that auto technicians play, and he offers this for his RockAuto.com tip of the day: “Whether you’re looking for your first job, or your next career, or whatever it may be, there are local shops around you looking for someone like you.” So go for it, just like our Redline Rebuild guys do each and every week.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

 

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Enjoy Season 6 stories, opinion, and features from across the car world - Hagerty Media

We have arrived at that step in our Chevrolet small-block rebuild where a good chunk of this video is watching paint dry. Luckily, Davin is well aware of how dull that may appear, and he’s stacked a few tips for you prior to that step. There’s also a big surprise at the end.

The paint process follows a very strict plan—for good reason. Skipping preparation on a paint job is asking for trouble. The first step in the process is taping up all the parts where paint shouldn’t go. Davin is extra careful here, using the gaskets as a template to make sure the paint gets all the way under each piece so no raw metal will be exposed. This helps keep corrosion at bay and also makes the finished product look extra tidy.

All the taped up pieces are then loaded up in the Jeep for a quick drive over to Traverse Body and Paint where the painting process really begins. A thorough wipe down with wax and grease remover gets everything ready for the first coat to be sprayed. An epoxy primer is used on most of the parts to ensure good adhesion, but the valve covers and oil pan get additional attention in the way of sandable primer to fill some pitting and make an extra smooth final product. With primer flashed off, the orange goes on and begins to dry. Next step is final assembly, but first there is a reward to all of you for hanging on through watching paint dry.

Davin builds engines for work, but he also has a few personal projects, too. The latest is a 8-71 blown 400-cubic-inch small-block Chevy that Davin has been dreaming of since he was a kid. It’s destined for his front-engined dragster that he has been running for the last five years. It will be a nice step up from the mechanical-injection small block currently in the chassis. First it needed to fire on the test stand for a break in, which happen this last week. Look close at his face to see the excitement of a proud dad as the engine surges in the way only a big blower motor can.

Seeing that engine fire up is exciting, but the final assembly starting on the Redline Rebuild 283 will also be big and it starts next week. Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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At first glance, an engine is a simple thing to dress up. Just spray a little paint and viola, great looking engine. Sadly, that rarely lasts and especially doesn’t hold up on surfaces that get hot. Davin is a man who loves a good-looking engine just as much as a good-performing engine, so he is always on the hunt for a new process or material to keep his work looking great for a long time. The latest coating he’s found is Cerakote, and for this Chevy build he thought it would be fun to get a deeper look into exactly what the process is.

Cerakote is simply a high-temperature ceramic coating. This means it withstands heat without discoloration or flaking, a big plus for items like headers or exhaust manifolds. The build-up of coating is also very thin but highly abrasion resistant, so it’s perfect for parts that might get some rubbing during normal use.

The application process starts with a deep clean in aircraft-grade Simple Green. Just like paint, you do not want any contaminants between your surface and finish. A quick scrub, rinse and bake dry are all that’s needed to clean parts before the spray application can start.

Before the product is sprayed, it must be mixed. The two parts are the Cerakote and a hardener, which need to come together in the proper amounts to get the correct properties and finish in the final product. Then it’s time to load the mix into a high-volume, low-pressure spray gun and fog it onto the parts. Final step is to either bake the final finish or let it air cure for up to five days. Either way, you have a highly durable and great-looking finished piece that you won’t have to worry about for years.

Davin learned a few things on this tour, and we can see the wheels spinning in his head over what he could do with Cerakote on future projects. If you want to see what those might be, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The old adage, “cut once, measure twice” rings true for Davin in this week’s Redline Update as he measures for oil clearance before the crankshaft on our Chevrolet 283 small-block V-8 is reground.

Davin’s been rebuilding engines too long to simply trust the numbers that come from the factory. So today, he’s putting in some extra effort to verify that everything on the rods and main bearings is as it should be.

“These bearings are 10 thousandths [of an inch] oversized, meaning this diameter is going to be 10 thousandths smaller than it would be from GM, let’s say,” he explains. “What I need to do is verify this number and give [our guy] a number that allows for oil clearance.  Oil clearance is simply this: You have to have room for oil … oil lubricates everything … So if this diameter and the shaft diameter going into it are the exact same size, this isn’t going to turn.”

After Davin pulls out his cylinder gauge and gets into the minutia of the process, he offers his RockAuto.com tip of the day: “Measure every one of them. Don’t assume that because you bought the bearings from the same company they’re all marked correctly, that the measurements are the same, because they might not be. Stuff happens. And write everything down so you have a permanent record.”

With his work done for the day, Davin gives an update on the Buick Straight-8 by showing us its final destination under the hood of a 1951 Buick Super convertible. Of course, he isn’t content with just showing us, he takes the beauty for a drive on a gorgeous spring day in northern Michigan.

Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you never miss an update.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The small-block 283 came apart without much issue in the last Redline Update, so long-time watchers know what comes next: a trip to the machine shop. Well, this particular trip was hit with a little delay, but Davin knows how to capitalize on a little shakeup in the schedule.

The 283 was actually in pretty good shape once it was torn down, but Davin rarely leaves well enough alone. Take the cylinder heads, for example. The valves and seats are serviceable, but why not perform a couple small upgrades? The original plan was to have the pros in Thirlby’s machine shop tear down the heads and then complete the installation of new hardened exhaust seats and slightly larger intake valves. That plan shifted because Thirlby is running at capacity, so Davin elected to get some pre-work done to help the team out and make their lives a little easier.

The block actually got a similar treatment too. While the casting was OK, Davin took a sanding roll on his die grinder and went to town cleaning up all the casting flash and smoothing out anything too rough for a good, smooth coat of paint. That left a lot of rust and debris on the floor of the Redline Garage, but the block was still in need of the bake and blast cleaning at Thirlby, so that’s where the team started once all the parts arrived across town in the back of the Jeep.

The block was cleaned up before having the deck surface ground flat, and then the cylinders were bored to size. The heads got fresh exhaust seats installed and cut. The intake side received a slight trim as well to fit a marginally larger intake valve. To help the intake flow better, the chamber was trimmed back just a bit to help fuel and air enter the cylinder.

Now all the pieces are clean and freshly cut, so it’s time to order a set of pistons and get the bare steel into the paint booth. To stay up to date on the latest Redline Rebuild happenings, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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You know Davin isn’t one to sit around and twiddle his thumbs. The Jeep XJ is running and driving again with its new 4.6-liter inline-six, and that means it’s time for a new project in the Redline Garage. There were a few options to choose from, and Davin was clearly feeling nostalgic when he pulled a grimy Chevrolet 283 off the shelf.

“This whole Redline Rebuild thing started with a small-block Chevy, so it’s kind of fun to circle back around,” he says about the orange V-8 sitting atop one of the rolling workbenches. “It will be fun to see how far we’ve come in the process and production from that 350 to this 283.”

The teardown happens quickly, but the cleaning takes time—even with the massive Gladiator parts washer in the shop. All these parts will be headed to the Thirlby machine shop for final cleaning after they’re machined, but Davin likes to bring parts to the machine shop that are as clean as possible. That’s how you stay in the good graces of the shop guys, after all.

After a couple wash cycles, the block began to look like, well, a block again. It took multiple cycles to expose the last few oil galley and casting plugs. Davin thought that the warm block might be the best time to tackle removing those plugs, but even with everything warm to the touch these plugs were still locked in place. No matter, the oxy-acetylene torch makes quick work of breaking the bonds of corrosion.

This engine is going to progress fast, so be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you never miss an update and, of course, the final product.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Davin and Ben sit down to talk about what really went into this Jeep engine. It wasn’t always a smooth process getting this bad boy back on the road, but we’ve made it through and we might have learned something along the way.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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When Davin heard that the next project rolling throught his door would be a red two-door with a stick shift, he had dreams of Bel Airs and Chevelles. He wasn’t so lucky. No matter. He can put a hot rodder touch on just about any engine, and the Jeep 4.0-liter power plant was no exception.

This ride came from Colorado and was in surprisingly good shape for a 150,000-mile chassis. The tired engine needed some help though, so Davin got right to work.

“Interestingly, this is one of the newer engines we’ve worked on, based on production date,” Davin says about the inline-six, “but the design traces back to the mid ’60s in AMC products. That is a darn long life.” It certainly is, and it’s because the 4.0-liter is designed around durability rather than performance. Even the “high-output” version that came in our Jeep is rated for just 190 horsepower. Davin figured he could do better than that.

As the engine was being torn down, there was little in the way of bad news. Although the engine indeed looked as though it had 150,000 miles, it was not abused. Combined with the extensive Rock Auto parts catalog at Davin’s fingertips and suddenly things got out of hand. Davin started looking at swapping around some parts from a 4.2-liter inline-six, and before we knew what had happened there was a new crankshaft, pistons, and connecting rods sitting on the table that would punch this engine out to 4.6 liters of displacement.

If only it were that easy. As with any engine, this one was being built, not assembled. That means paying careful attention to detail to ensure that all the parts play nicely together and the final result is exactly what was planned. In Davin’s case, everything fit together well, but “good enough” is not good enough for Davin. The compression ration came in under what was intially projected, based on the product specs, so the painted and dressed engine block took a second trip to the machine shop to get an additional 20-thousandths of an inch machined off the deck.

Then came final assembly. With everything together, the yet-to-be-started engine went back into the chassis. Longtime viewers of Davin’s work know he usually likes to break in engines on a test stand, but with the computer-controlled and emissions-connected 4.0-liter, it was easier to reinstall the engine first. Evend the distributor was installed correctly so that it fired right up for the 20-minute break-in.

“It drives really nice. Has a great punch right off idle,” Davin says about the fresh engine. “I really like how it came out and would certainly build another engine like it. Not much to change here, and it went together pretty easy.”

Well, if Davin says it’s good, you know it’s good. Now the Redline Garage has a bright red parts runner with a little more horsepower than stock—in other words, a perfect new addition to the fleet.

The next timelapse rebuild project might be one that viewers recognize, but that’s all we are allowed to say for now. To get the full story, you’ll have to subscribe and stay tuned for the next Redline Rebuild episode to see what Davin is getting his hands dirty on.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The finish line is right there for the Jeep 4.6. Davin and crew have been working long and hard to get the stroked inline-six together and reinstalled, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been time to make some progress on a project many of you have been asking about while the Mini and Jeep have had the spotlight.

The Jeep mill is all back together and even in the chassis. Normally, these engines start first on a test stand, but Davin points out that with the emissions equipment and computer harness it would be more of a pain to pull everything needed to run the engine outside the bright red body. A fresh exhaust with high-flow catalytic converter is fitted, along with the Rock Auto-refreshed five-speed transmission, and the resealed but otherwise original transfer case. It all came together nicely, mainly because Davin doesn’t fight the parts. That’s his tip for assembly: Items like wires and hoses harden into a shape over years so pay attention to where they naturally want to go when assembling. If you are forcing something in a total opposite direction than it wants to go, you might be doing something wrong.

With the Jeep assembled, it’s worth taking a quick detour to the lift just 20 feet away to look at the ’37 Ford race car. Progress has been in fits and starts lately due to the focus on other projects. Regardless, the exhaust and front suspension have each made advancements. The Chrysler 440 now has big headers and wide-open side pipes, while the front suspension is all but finished with fabrication. Of course, there’s still mountains of work left, but seeing some progress on this dirt tracker is nice and keeps the torch lit for motivation.

To see the Jeep’s first startup and work on future projects, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you never miss a new video.

Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The light at the end of the Jeep straight-six tunnel getting brighter every day. With the paint dry and short block assembled, there are only a few final checks to do and bolts to torque before this engine is ready to put back into the Cherokee and fire up. Of course, it’s not exactly that easy.

The crankshaft is installed, along with the rods and pistons, so the oil pan can go back on with a fresh silicone gasket. A tip that Davin has shared at least a dozen times makes its return: Reference the photo you took during teardown to ensure proper assembly. In this case, it’s for the oil pan bolts, as some also serve as studs for mounting other parts and pieces. With those torqued to spec, it’s time to move on to the cylinder head.

Before the final installation of a cylinder head, it is best to check the valve to piston clearance. Typically this is done with a small lump of clay positioned on top of the piston, then the valvetrain and head are temporarily installed, and the crankshaft is spun through two rotations. This opens and closes both valves and leaves the clay in the cylinder pressed to exactly how much clearance there is between the valves and piston at their closest point. Davin’s findings are good, and thus the final stretch of assembly is underway.

One of the final pieces on this engine is the distributor. Before putting this ignition piece in place, Davin takes the opportunity to prime the oil system using a cordless drill. This allows him to make sure there is proper pressure and distribution before the initial startup, which could save thousands of dollars in most engine builds. This engine pumped up 60 psi of pressure handily, and that tells Davin that it’s time to truly button up everything.

With the engine looking pretty on the stand, the next step is to drop it back into the Jeep and turn the key. We’re taking bets if the distributor will be 180 degrees out this time—leave a comment as to your thoughts, and be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to be notified of next week’s update … and, of course, the full final timelapse video.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

 

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