The displacement train has left the station, and it passed ridiculous two blocks ago. Like the nation's staggering $10 trillion debt, the cubic inch explosion is nowhere near slowing down. Deck heights keep growing, cylinder walls keep thickening, and crank throws keep orbiting farther and farther away from their mains. To make it all fit, cam bores are creeping closer to the deck, and oil pan rails continue spreading outward. While this isn't breaking news by any means, have you checked out the possibilities lately?
The stalwart small-block Chevy, whose architecture yielded just 265 ci when it was introduced to the public, can now be built as large as 468 ci using readily available off-the-shelf components. In response to mice encroaching on its turf, big-blocks can easily displace 665 ci these days without breaking a water jacket. Perhaps most astonishing of all is how far the displacement ceiling has been raised. Once the exclusive territory of full-race mountain motors, big-blocks boasting a capacious 5.000-inch bore spacing are now available in a user-friendly package with shelf cranks and cylinder heads to match. That means a 780ci big-block can be built using plain-Jane mail order parts, and the thought of seeing one stuffed inside a Chevelle has us giggling like a bunch of AIG executives.
In an ideal world of unlimited budgets and nonexistent deadlines, we'd be able to assemble dozens of different motors for the sake of hands-on research. Unfortunately this isn't the case, so what we can't assemble in steel and aluminum we've instead assembled in words and pictures. While it's impossible to outline all of the different bore and stroke dimensions that can be combined to achieve a near-infinite number of displacement figures, we have compiled a list of the most popular setups. By divulging some basic tips on how to assemble a massive stroker short-block and explaining the pros and cons of various combinations, we can point you in the right direction.
Every stroker short-block requires a certain degree of clearancing. Exactly how much and where depends on many factors, such as deck height, rod length, the shape of the rod itself, cam location, oil pan design, the length of the stroke, and block design. Nonetheless, there are several universal steps that can be taken to minimize the clearancing required by opening up as much space inside the motor as possible. Two of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with a small base-circle cam and aftermarket rods that feature profiled beams and bolt shoulders. Furthermore, large-capacity aftermarket oil pans free up additional space as well. These measures will significantly decrease the likelihood of the rods smacking into the camshaft or oil pan. Perhaps the most effective method of simplifying a stroker buildup, if your budget permits, is with an aftermarket block. With wider distances between the pan rails and raised cam locations, they minimize the grinding at the bottom of the cylinder and give the cam much-needed breathing room.
What We Did
Got the scoop on stroker kits
Going bigger is easier than you may have thought.
If a basic sub-600hp small-block...
If a basic sub-600hp small-block is your goal, it's tough to beat the value of Dart's new SHP block. Available in both 4.000- and 4.125-inch bore configurations, it is good for 434 ci, and all you need to do is hone it before it's ready for assembly. It's built from a rugged iron alloy and comes with four-bolt mains. For $1,500, it sure beats trying to scrounge up a junkyard 400 block.
RPM International offers a...
RPM International offers a full line of 5140, 4130, and 4340 cranks for small- and big-block Chevys. Each of its cranks is nitrided and goes through two separate heat treatments. The company also stocks I- and H-beam forged and billet rods.
As the pistons approach TDC,...
As the pistons approach TDC, the bottom of the rod bolt shoulders are prone to hitting the camshaft. Like many aftermarket units, these Lunati I- and H-beams have profiled shoulders to provide extra clearance.