Newbie here in NC with a '63 model 409

#1
I am just now getting around to messing with a motor that I have had since the early 1970's. It's the low perf version, and I have managed to keep all the big parts except the exhaust manifolds, which must have been lost somewhere in the life journey. My question revolves around machine shops. I have done a ton of reading over the years, and talked with a small number of engine shop guys over the last few months, and since developed an apprehension about taking the big parts to just any shop. I have rebuilt engines in the past and want to do the assembly myself if I can get the stars to line up. My recent shop guy conversations can be reduced down to one that gave me a warm fuzzy, but this guy only does the work if he is doing the total job, machining and assembly. Can anyone suggest a reputable shop with 348/409 machining experience in the Carolina's or neighboring states???
 

303Radar

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 2
#2
How far from North Carolina are you willing to drive? Lamar Walden's shop is in GA and other than Jack Gibb's shop in CA, you'd be hard pressed to find a more knowledgeable builder.
Here is the web site:
http://lwaengines.com/

They work on a variety of engines and they have a good reputation for the W blocks. If I'm wrong, others will be quick to say so.

Good luck and post some pics!
 
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Dick MacKenzie

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 9
#3
I do not intend to disparage any shop and Rod Walden is probably the closest to you. That being said Carl McQuillen in Rochester has done some great work. He has Brian Labombard's 61 running right on the door step of 8 seconds. Also, built all of Don Fezell's Z-11 engines. And is doing some ground breaking development on these old "W" engines!

http://www.mcquilleneng.com
 

303Radar

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 2
#5
CA is a bit far but I have checked out Walden's site and am aware of their rep. I have not yet talked with them, only the local gurus. If no one else chimes in with suggestions, I'll give them a call.

What is the significance, if any, of "Radar" in your name?

Thanks, I appreciate the info.
When I was younger and I was active duty Army, I looked a bit like Radar O'Reilly. I did motor pool supply rather than unit supply.
 
#8
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OK, not sure how to size down the picture size, but here goes with more questions for you guys. I used to have some precision measuring tools, but now only can locate a nice (accurate?) swiss made caliper that belonged to my dad. The main journals are supposed to be 2.500, and when I check them with the caliper, they are all 2.500 or 2.501. I'm doing it as carefully as I can and in a number of places on each journal. Assuming that it came from the factory with 2.500 mains, and had some miles put on it over the years between '63 and about '73 when I came into possession of it, is it possible to have basically zero wear, or is my caliper off by several thous-ants, or is a caliper not an accurate enough tool to mic a journal??? I've also read comments in other threads where some are saying that their crank snout is not threaded and some are. The crank I have is threaded. Does that mean anything or am I just lucky???
 

Don Jacks

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 2
#9
I've got 5 cranks,3-348's going back to 59,two 409 's,date unknown,and all are threaded.I tend to think that it's more uncommon to find one that isn't threaded.All of my 348 cranks are from the base 250 horse engines.If your engine was from a well maintained and even babied engine,it's possible that the crankshafts mains would show little or no wear.With the main bearings in place,and the caps torqued down,measure the diameter of the bearing bores and see what your clearance is.My cousin ,whose a retired machinest will not use calipers for measuring things like this.He says that they're not accurate enough.
 

427John

Well Known Member
#11
Has anyone actually seen an unthreaded w-motor crank?I've seen in old hot rod magazines descriptions of the then new engines that implied that was a standard feature.
 

Don Jacks

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 2
#14
On a "mild" street 409,the Eddie is 23 and better Hp.,that's been proven.Even the torque in the rpm range where you'll be running it is markedly better.That having been said,there's nothing wrong with using that factory iron intake.I would run a modern version of that afb,such as the 625 or 750 Street Demon,or the new Edelbrock 650 AVS-2.
 
#16
OK, I need expert advice before I start spending...This is an original 340 horse, small port, '63 model year 409. I am shooting for a decent running street engine, with a slightly rumpity-rump hydraulic cam, with only minimal cutting as necessary on the original parts. I'll probably go single 4bbl on an edelbrock vs. original iron intake, and since I lost the original exhaust pieces, I will have to go with some kind of header. I would like to reuse as many of the original big parts as I can unless they're not good or there is an unreasonable loss of power or reliability due to keeping them.

When I call/visit machine shops, what are the machine jobs that I must absolutely have done? What are the areas that should be checked to keep me from effing up the whole thing? Here is my pondering list, enlarged due to additional confusion/apprehension added from reading on this site.

1. BLOCK-Boring & decking a must? Crack-checking a must? Keep the counterbores a must? Main journal/cap work? This site has informed me that some blocks have the lifter bores out of correct/square alignment with the cam. Is that likely on a '63 block?

2.CRANK-I'm open to suggestions. Turning/polishing?

3.RODS-Reconditioned, resized, straight? I'm all ears.

4.HEADS- (817s) Crack-checking, surfacing, new guides, stainless valves (any certain brands?), studs, springs, rockers and pushrods (open to suggestions here too), and I know that all the valve gear is dependent of the cam selection but tell me what I should look out for? Can I live with the press-in studs? What about hardened valve seats, are they necessary? Will a little polishing help out?

5.FLYWHEEL-original piece, can I keep it with surfacing?

6.DISTRIBUTOR-original piece here also, can I keep it with an ignition hero working magic on it?

7.PISTONS/RINGS-Suggest away!

8.HARDWARE-I'm planning on using all new bolts, everywhere. Suggestions?

9.ANYTHING ELSE THAT WILL ALLOW ME TO SPEAK INTELLIGENTLY AT THE SHOP???

I am putting together a book for this motor, and value the advice that is presented here, so thanks ahead in advance for your time and wisdom. Also, I would like to get rid of some of the previous posts in this column to reduce the length of it, but don't want to piss off anyone, plus i don't know how to do it anyway. I'm open to suggestions there too! Thanks again guys.
 

Don Jacks

Well Known Member
Supporting Member 2
#20
Number 1.The block is the foundation of this build,so boring is likely necessary,as is at the least having the block squared up.I've been told that it takes,on average about .015 to accomplish this.It would be best to do the bore,mock it up,and then measure how much needs to come up to get the piston/deck height to a max.of .010 down.You need to find a machine shop that's familure with the 73 degree decks,and the rear cam bearing placement on these engines.Number 2.If the crank will polish out and get you in the .002-.0025 range on the mains,and .0175-.002 on the rods,do not turn it,just have it polished.Number 3.Rods,I''m going to recommend three options here,all using the K-B Icon pistons.The first piston that they recommend has the pin height set for the stock length rod,and they're much lighter than the factory piston,making life much easier on the rod.The second is a piston made for the big block [and 348] 6.135 rod,but you'd have to buy rods.The third,and my favorite is the piston made for the 4 inch stroke,use your 3.50 inch stroke stock crank,and a 6.385 rod.The reasons for that is that the piston is lighter still,and the longer rod gives you a much better rod to stroke ratio which has several benefits,the chief one being that longer rods tend to broaden out the torque curve considerably .This makes a very noticeable positive difference on a street engines manners.4.There's NOTHING wrong with the 817 head for your intended use.If the seats are sunk,or you just want the extra breathing,then enlarge the size of the intake valve from the stock 2.06 to the 2.19 from the high performance 409 engines.Show cars has stainless valves that would be fine here.On the exhaust side,stainless valve are fine as long as the seats aren't recessed too much.Putting seats in these heads is tricky,and best avoided if at all possible.I would have the area just under the valves opened up and blended into the bowl.Use 85 percent of the seat size as your standard here,it's worth at least 25-30 hp on a mild build such as this.5.Surface the original flywheel,no need to spend extra money here.You can even replace the starter ring on it if needed.6.Have the dist rebuilt,and a "performance curve"done,use an adjustable vacuum advance cannister from Show Cars,and a Pertronix conversion kit and matching coil.7.Forging only,see number 1 for recommendations.8.If you have all the original bolts,reuse them,if not go ARP,EXCEPT for the main cap bolts,get ARP's from Summit or Jegs for the old 392 Chrysler hemi.9.Camshaft,A near perfect camshaft for this package would be the 0950 grind from Show Cars for the intended description of intended operation that you've laid out.A better long term cam,albeit more expensive,would be a hyd.roller cam and lifters.Lunati makes a grind for a big block that they can transfer to a W cam blank that I think would be near impossible to beat on engine designed as you've laid out in a heavy car with headers ,on a rear gear ratio of 3.36.For a carb,go with the Holley Speed Demon 625 or 750.It's design and features make it a better overall choice for todays fuels plus it's cheaper.An engine as outlined,with either cam discussed,would put you in the 410-420 hp range ,by 5500,and most importantly the torque would be around 475 ft.lbs.,peaking at between 3500 and 4000 rpm.If your stock rockers are good,reuse them with the factory studs,and get a decent 5/16 hardened push rod that's at least .080 thick.
 
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