Rebuild a small-block Chevrolet, they said. It’ll be easy.
Davin hasn’t had the walk through the roses that most expected with this ex-Chevelle 283. Or maybe that analogy is appropriate: At each turn, some thorn waited to create a snag.
Everything started off so smoothly with this latest Redline Rebuild candidate, though. Teardown was a breeze. (Especially if you only watch the time-lapse footage, in which the engine “disassembles” itself.) In the real world, Davin was turning the wrenches; but the bolts extracted easily and each piece that came off was in good shape, considering this engine sat uncovered for the last 25 years.
Once inside, the good news continues. This engine might have been sitting in that Chevelle for 25 years, but it ran well when it was pulled. In the right situation, the 283 probably could have been plopped back in a chassis and continued to run for quite some time. Even the flat-tappet cam and nylon timing gear were still in serviceable shape.
No matter—first, everything had to be thoroughly cleaned. Then, a trip through the machine shop to re-flatten all the critical surfaces, resize the cylinder bores, and freshen all the wear items in the cylinder heads. With all those parts ready to function flawlessly, it was time to make them look flawless. Off to the paint booth. (The self-peeling tape is sourced from a top-secret warehouse, so don’t ask where you can get some for your project.)
The block was treated to a full day of grinding and cleanup work before it saw the inside of the paint booth, and it shows. The absence of visible casting flash either inside the lifter valley or on the outer edges of the block makes for a subtle but really nice finishing touch. Who cares what an engine looks like if it doesn’t run, though?
That’s where things got sticky. The rotating assembly bolted right in and … didn’t rotate. Back to the machine shop for a line bore of the main bearings to get everything back in proper alignment so the crankshaft would not bind. Davin installed the camshaft with a bowstring-tight timing chain—only to discover that it wouldn’t time properly. After three camshafts and four timing sets, Davin finally got a short block that would accept the cylinder heads and was ready for final assembly.
Once it is all together and purring along, the 283’s sound is perfect for a good-looking street car. Just a little bump at idle, as you’d expect with a non-stock camshaft, but nothing that indicates a need for special care and feeding. A perfect cruiser. There are a few projects in the Redline Rebuild shop in need of an engine, but nothing quite fits the cruiser bill … which means there must be something fun hiding in the shadows.
If you want to see what that might be and what may become of the 283, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update.
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