You may remember our Oct. '07 budget build, "Budget Stomper," in which this 454ci big-block made 550 hp on the motor and 700 hp on the giggle gas. Well, this is the mill we're fixin' to drop into our El Camino, only we have a few more things planned for it before that happens. Don't get us wrong; it's not because we were unhappy with its output. In all reality, we were quite pleased with its performance.
The second time around, we wanted to swap out the flat-tappet cam and lifters for a roller design with new valvesprings in an effort to allow the big-block to breathe a bit more and to wing the rpm a little higher. With the help of a new solid cam, roller lifters, and a heavier set of springs from Crower Cams, we should be able to grab this big-block's true upper-rpm potential.
QMP Racing's Mike Consolo (Chatsworth, California), suggested a solid cam with lift close to 0.600 inch on the intake and exhaust side. Digging through Crower's Web site, our search came close to Consolo's suggestion with one featuring 0.580 inch lift on the intake and 0.573 on the exhaust. It's got 242/250 degrees duration at 0.050 inch and a 112-degree LSA. We also grabbed a set of Crower's solid roller, high-pressure oil lifters and valvesprings to complement the build.
Even though the motor has a few dyno pulls on it, it's more or less fresh. It almost felt like a sin to crack open the motor and begin swapping out its innards. "But," says Consolo, "that's part of engine building. It's a never-ending process where you start with a base, evaluate, and continually reevaluate."
While most cam swaps can be done in the engine bay, this 454 hasn't been placed in the car yet, so the engine stand is where our swap began. Tear-down is a cinch and follows the same guidelines as always. But we will hit on the key elements again just to be clear
We pulled off the balancer,...
We pulled off the balancer, drained the oil, removed the pan, and trashed the filter. Next, the intake bolts were removed and the manifold peeled back to reveal the solid flat-tappet lifters and pushrods. To make it easier to turn over the motor, we removed every spark plug. Once the pan was gone, we could get in to pull off the timing cover-but don't pull off the timing gear and chain just yet.
With the engine free of obstructions,...
With the engine free of obstructions, it was time to start removing the valvetrain components so we could add the goodies from Crower. To remove the rockers, we found which rockers had lash (another term for loose) and weren't under compression. We removed those first on both cylinder banks, then we removed the pushrods and eventually spun the motor until the remainder of the rockers had lash and proceeded to remove them; there's no need to keep them in any particular order.