Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time to "Drop" In a New Motor

See that red motorcycle in the first blog post? That motorcycle was built by my buddy Jim and his production crew at Vengeance Motorcycles in Riverside, CA. I convinced Jim a couple of years ago to move to the beach and one night over dinner I was lamenting about my dilemma with the Nova motor. Should I bail? Should I rebuild? Jim solved my problem and offered me a free motor. To sweeten the deal, offered to help my son and I drop it into the Nova.

The motor was a 305ci out of a 92 Camaro. Sure it was no over cammed solid lifter 350 but it ran strong and was free. While my son wasn't thrilled to be loosing the "beast", he was enthusiastic because this would mean the Nova wasn't going to be given away to some CL bottom-feeder. I was happy because it was a chance for the two of us to wrench on the Nova together and I knew with Jim's help and guidance there was a pretty good chance it would actually run again.

The 305 was a short block and it has center-bolt heads so we couldn't reuse a lot of the parts from the old motor so we bought a few items to make it work including an intake manifold, valve covers, water pump, gaskets and such. Not only did Jim give me the motor but he pressure washed it, tapped all the bolt holes, painted Chevrolet Orange and installed all the parts we bought. The day it arrived it looked like a brand-new crate motor.

The "fresh" 305 was removed out of a 92 Camaro in leu of something more powerful. From the way it sounds, we think it might have a cam in it, but who knows?

The first step was to make the engine compartment look decent enough to put the masterpiece in that Jim had prepared. Jim taught us a trick and after we scrapped years of grime off every metal surface we sprayed the entire engine compartment with EZ-Off oven cleaner. As it turns out ovens are usually coated with baked-on enamel so the cleaner is pretty harsh but doesn't hurt the enamel. Put the same stuff on your painted frame, inner fender wells and fire wall and the next morning the old paint washes off.

After cleaning we taped and masked everything off and gave the engine compartment a fresh coat of rattle can "Frame Black" paint.

Next up was the motor install. We decided to leave the trans in place and mate it up to the motor in the car. If I had more overhead room or if I had disassembled the front clip, I would have put them in together. The newer SBCs have a one piece rear main seal so they are less likely to leak, but it just seems this puts a lot of strain on the seal as you are mating them together. The good news is so far we have no oil leaks.

The install happened on a Saturday and Sunday and by the end of the weekend the Nova roared back to life! The original 4-bolt main got bagged and put into storage for possible future re-use. I've always thought it would be fun to "drop-in" a 383... but this motor will do just fine for now.