A: Heating the small end of a press-fit connecting rod is a standard practice and has been done for decades. Yes, you can heat the rod with a torch, but the preferred method is to use a rod-heating oven, either gas or electric. These usually heat two rods at a time. You take one rod out to assemble and put a fresh rod into the oven for heating. Then take the second rod from the oven and repeat the process. This two-rod method is perfect for achieving the correct temperature and timing. The good folks at Goodson Shop Supplies offer electric, natural gas, and propane rod heaters. Goodson also has the Temperature Indicating Crayon in 450-, 500-, and 600-degrees ranges. This will give you confidence that you do not overheat the rod and damage it.

If you follow safe practices, like using temp indicating tools, you can use a torch and not damage the rods. Using the heated method to assemble (hang) the pistons is the best to prevent damage to your very nice pistons. It doesn't take much to damage soft aluminum pistons, so the assembler should be very experienced and have the correct tools to support the piston.Source: goodson.com

Can't Get There From Here!
Q: My '84 Chevy 1/2-ton SWB pickup is powered by a tired 305, a TH350 transmission with the lockup converter, and 3.08:1 gears. It's my daily driver and I pull a single-axle lawnmower trailer every now and then. I love the truck, but would like to improve the 13-14 mpg and the performance too. I don't have to worry about the smog police. My goal is 18-19 mpg. I was thinking of investing in a Goodwrench universal 350, a Performer intake, a 1406 Edelbrock carb, an MSD Street Fire distributor, headers, and 2 1/2-inch dual exhaust.

Do I need to change the cam? If so, what do you recommend? Do I need to keep the ECM? The Street Fire distributor has the four-pin plug for it. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks for your time.

Eddie Woodard
via email

A: I wish I had a quick answer to your mileage quest. I've seen many of the engine swap you've described, and the best mileage they get comes in right where you're at now! This isn't the answer you're looking for, but I thought we'd save you a little time. I had a very nice little two-wheel-drive '80 Blazer that originally came with a 305 and the lockup TH350. I installed the Goodwrench 350, a very mild Crane cam, a 3701 Edelbrock Performer (to keep the smog police happy), Doug Thorley Tri-Y headers, and complete 2 1/2-inch dual exhaust. The truck ran great and towed great, but the best mileage was in the 12-13 range. We've also gotten many letters over the years with the same results.

You could freshen up your 305 with a few performance goodies or install a later fuel-injected 350. You can't beat the fuel mileage that the L-98 tune-port engines or the LT1 small-blocks delivered. In your pickup we'd expect to see fuel economy in the range you're looking for. If you really want to bring your truck into the 21st century, go with a 5.3L LS family of engines. While you're at it, drop in a four-speed overdrive trans. Go with the TH700R-4, 4L60, or 4L60E gearbox. This will help dramatically in your quest for mileage by slowing down the engine speed at cruise. There are a multitude of engines and trans lying around in junkyards across the country. Also, Street & Performance can help you with all your wiring and calibration needs for any of the above engine/trans packages. S&P also has all the mounting hardware to swap in the LS-style engine into your '84. Yes, this may be biting off a little bit more than you planned, but you will get the results you're looking for. Good luck.
Source: hotrodlane.cc