Suspect a vaccum leak? Run engine at idle and using a can of carb cleaner or starting fluid, spray it around intake bolts, carb base, vaccum lines, etc. A change in idle will pin point any leaks. NOTE: keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case. Starting fliud ignites quickly if engine is hot...I recommend using the carb/choke cleaner. Rick-"63BelAir"
Instead of using spray type fluids to find a vaccum leak, try using a propane torch. (NOT LIT) With engine running, point the gas at the suspected area such as carb base, vaccuum lines, etc. If a leak is found, the idle will increase. Rick-"dq409"
Suspect a bad valve? Remove rocker arms, put shop air into the suspected cylinder and listen for air. (45 lbs will do) if you hear air coming out of the carb it's the intake valves, if air is heard out of the tail pipe, exhaust valves. No air hissing means you have good valves and seats. Rick-"63BelAir"
To add to the above tip, when you fill the chamber with air, see if you can hear air at the oil fill tube. If you do, this indicates bad rings. Rick-"dq409"
Suspect a bad cap or plug wire that you think isn't firing? Put a timing light on each plug wire with engine running. If one isn't getting spark, the light won't flash on that wire. Bob-"mr409"
Suspect a plug not firing and you have headers? Allow engine to cool then start up. With engine running a few moments, drip or spray water on each header tube near head. If one doesn't sizzle, that plug isn't firing. Bob-"mr409"
If your car backfires through the carb and flames are present, crank engine again to suck the flames back into the engine. Bob-"mr409"
Out on the road with an engine fire and no extinquisher? In a pinch, slice the top radiator hose and use the spraying antifreeze to put out the fire. You'll need a new hose but it may save your car! Bob-"mr409"
If you have the harmonic balancer off your older engine for any reason, be sure and drill the end of the crank for a bolt. Get a dampener bolt for a small block engine. Tap the hole with same threads and secure the balancer like the newer engines. This can save you a lot of grief if the dampener has been off a few times and decides to come off on it's own. Roy-"tripowerguy"
If your engine starts to idle rough all of a sudden or won't idle at all or you smell gas under the hood, try this old trick. While holding the throttle wide open with the engine running, either slam the choke closed or quickly place your hand over the carb opening. The high vaccuum this causes will somtimes pull any dirt out of the carbs tiny openings. Do this a couple of times and see if this helps. Do not over rev the engine and watch out for the fan blade! Ray-"PDR348"
Suspect a plug wire or distributor cap is arcing? Water in an old windex bottle works good. With engine running, spray the water on cap and wires. You will get a fireworks display if you hit an arc. Rick-"63BelAir"
Suspect a plug wire or distributor cap is arcing? Here is a trick my father taught me for finding an arcing plug wire or distributor cap. Wait until it is very dark outside. Turn off every nearby light. Fire up the engine. Have one person gun the engine while another person looks under the hood. Any arcing problems will stand out like fireworks in the sky. Under these conditions, if your distributor cap is arcing on the inside, it will glow. Peter-"65ImpalaSS409"
Using HEI? Be sure to carry a spare module and the tools to install it in the car. Modules don't care where they leave you stranded! Bob-"mr409"
Have to replace a set of points out on the road? You may not have feeler gauges handy but if you have a pack of matches, you can use them to set the point gap roughly to spec. The thickness of the match stick is approximately the same as the suggested point gap on a typical Chevy. Bob-"mr409"
Keep on blowing out your header or collector gaskets? I found that by using some RTV silicone on both sides of the gasket during assembly will keep them from blowing out. Bob-"mr409"
Not happy with the "cardboard" type header gaskets? Try using the metal foil type exhaust manifold gaskets. They do not blow out and are even cheaper than standard header gaskets. Bob-"mr409"
An easy way to install your harmonic balancer is by putting it in the oven at 350 F. for 30 min. just like your favorite casserole. Put on some oven mits take it out to the motor and slide it right on. you may have to tap a few times but most of the time you dont even have to do that. And no the rubber does not melt. PS you may want to get your wifes permision first, or just wait till shes not home. "blue 63"
I always use anti-sieze when installing a harmonic balancer. I've seen the balancer become almost "welded" to the crank and the anti-sieze will prevent that. Dale-"Va348"
When firing up your engine after fuel system work such as a carb rebuild or after running out of gas, if possible, prime the carb through the fuel bowl vent instead of dumping fuel down the the throttle bores. If you prime the bowl the engine will usually run long enough to pull fuel from the tank, and it is safer. Shane-"fourspeed409"
An easy way to find a shorted cylinder is to just use an ordinary test light. Ground it to the body and probe each wire on top of the cap. If there is a difference in idle, that shows it's a good cylinder. If there is no change, you just found the bad cylinder. This method is better than pulling wires and getting a good shock. Rick-"63BelAir"
To easily remove a pilot bushing in the back of a crankshaft, fill the cavity in back of the crank with chassis grease. Then take an input shaft and slowly place in the cavity just at the opening. Hold it with one hand and give it a sharp hit with a rubber mallet or a block of wood and the bushing will pop out. You have just used the hydraulic principle to remove the bushing. "BJ"
Instead of using starting fluid which can WASH the cylinder I use WD-40 or equivalent. It will fire the same but also has lubricating qualities. Jim-"dq409"
You can tell if a crank is forged steel by tapping it with a wrench. It'll say "ding!" A cast crank has quite a different sound. It will go "dong!" Tom-"Wrench"
Removing or opening your carburetor often? Spray down the gasket with WD-40 or similar before installing. It's wet so it will soften and seal better but oily so it wont stick so bad to the parts. This way, if you need to pop the top of that carb off for a small repair, you won't rip the gasket. "unknown source"
If your not happy about the change AC Delco made to their oil filters when they discontinued the PF25 and put the PF454 in it's place, you might consider using the PF1218 instead. The replacement PF454 is much shorter than the old PF25 as shown in this pic. Now lets see what the PF454 looks like compared to the PF1218...click here. As you can see, much more filter for the same amount of money.
A quick way to identify a 1980-85 small block engine over an older one is by the dipstick location. These years had the dipstick on the passenger side where as the older ones were all on the driver side.
To get more airflow from a stock air cleaner, you can drill holes in the air cleaner or pop the spot welds loose however if you don't want to mess up a good air cleaner, try these: Tripower and Dual Quads -- Take a 1/2 rubber hose and make a loop the same size as the diameter of the filter. Glue the ends together and put it under the filter. Put the lid back on with a longer carb stud if needed. (use a bigger hose for more expossure) This can be done with single carb breathers too but for singles I like to buy an after market beather that is close to the size of the FACTORY filter. Use the after market base with the factory filter. Gives about a 1 inch gap around the bottom. You could even use a taller filter.
To check for an internal vac leak plug all ports on engine, breather, road tube, oil cap, pcv etc... remove dipstick and install vac gauge in dipstick tube. Start engine and idle. if you see a vac reading on gauge you have a leak if you see pressure you have no leak. This test is 100 percent correct.
When storing an engine, make sure there is no plain water left in the block. If you live in a cold climate and the water freezes, the block can crack. Either drain completely or dump an antifreeze/water mix into the block.
Have a large or powerful engine? Consider adding the "locking type" engine mounts or a safety cable set up in case a mount breaks. (some cars came from the factory with these cables and some were recalled when new and had dealers install them) If you ever "gunned" an engine with a broken mount, you know why I mention this. lol
If your engine uses the double type valve springs, it's best to remove the inner springs before breaking in a newly rebuilt engine. This will help avoid wiping out the cam lobes.
When repainting or powder coating your valve covers, use some black tool handle dip to recoat the plug wire holder ends. (those that use this style) Cut the excess off with a sharp knife.
If you have to take your engine out for repairs and have an automatic, it's a good idea to replace the transmission converter seal at this time if it's age is unknown or it's showing any signs of leaking. Very easy to do now and inexpensive.
To find #1 TDC, I usually remove the spark plug then wad a piece of paper larger than the spark plug hole and press it over the hole to get a good seal. I then use a remote starter button (or have someone) to "bump" the starter until the wad of paper pop out. That would be #1 TDC
To test the float in your carburetor for leaks, bring a pot of water almost to boil then hit the side to dislodge the bubbles that are getting ready to rise from the bottom of the pot, now take needle nose pliers and submerge the float in the hot water and carefully watch the surface. If the float has a leak, ever so slight, you should see very tiny bubbles rising to the top of the water. the heat of the water heats the air inside the float and causes it to expand thus escaping the float.Terry "4d9r"