Chevy 4.3 liter build Pt. 2: teardown and parts search

well, the first thing i did armed with a bit of knowledge and the core i had is to commence teardown and assessment of what i really had. i was actually pleasantly surprised at how well the engine really looked. it was a high mileage engine out of an early 90’s S-10, and i had narrowed it down to a 91-92 vintage plant. this was a TBI engine with a remote oil filter set up, factory hydraulic roller cam, and non vortec heads. the timing cover was identical to the common older style i was looking for. the goal here was a 4.3 that appeared to look like an old school 70’s v-8 350 chevy. i have to admit, it took a bit of imagination to see it under all the electronic injection, emmissions, and serpentine belt stuff. all the accessories unbolt right off.

with any high mileage engine like this, the timing chain is shot and it was loaded full of varnish. it looked like it had ran hot for a long period of time so it probably had a bad oxygen sensor and/or a terrible state of tune on the ignition causing major carbon deposits on the cylinder head runners. after removing the heads i saw i had a slight dish piston with valve reliefs. the rods and mains were for the most part unmarked, so for ease of re-assembly i marked em like i would with an olds v-8. anyways the crank had seen better days, but was undamaged. it is quite possible i have the heavy duty romulus mfg crankshaft but i don’t know for sure….and don’t really care.

the real killer for me was the cylinder wear….about .010-.012″ of wear in the top of the cylinders leaving a ridge…..which i reamed off. after weighing out parts kits, and machining costs, i came in at around 2500$ to do a relatively standard build with a descent cam. i priced a GM goodwrench longblock identical to it for less than 1800$, so it didn’t take me very long to figure out that unless i wanted to overbore and build something really hot nutz, there is no point in a standard build. BUT, there was enough left of it i decided to buy a rering kit and have some fun with it.

the re-ring kit with gaskets,main, and rod bearings came in at around 210$. i went with an edelbrock intake at just over 200$. i had a set of taylor wires already(55$), and built the distributor for about 40$(as detailed in another post). the oil filter needed a mount, and i found a threaded arbor out of a junkyard for buttkiss. it simply threads into the oil filter location at the rear of the block and is removed/installed with an allen wrench to the center. i got an edelbrock performer carb off ebay for 75$, and i spent 30$ on carburetor cleaner and brake clean to clean all the parts.

now in listing pricing and parts, i must also mention that to simplify the approach to ordering parts, i consider there to be two major groups of these 4.3L engines, and the major design break is in the 1992 area. 92 and older engines similar to the one i have are more like an old SBC with the oil pump, cylinder heads, and timing chain cover interchangeable with a v-8……and no balance shaft. in addition the intake pattern is also the old style with an angle.

92 and newer engines they added a balance shaft, went with vortec heads(which also changes the intake pattern), changed the timing cover style, changed the oil pump parameters, and in the early 00’s even the bell housing and oil pans were unique. basically…..the newer you get:the more expensive it is.

even with these two major groups when it comes to ordering parts, i also discovered that they offer both shallow groove and deep groove oil rings for the same year same mfg engine. there is no way of telling what you have unless you physically micrometer the oil control groove ring for depth on your pistons. i attempted to use the rings that came in the kit and after arguing with the summitracing tech for an hour….and getting a piston stuck during re-assembly…..i ultimately ended up using the old oil control rings with the new compression rings in the kit. also you can only get moly top ring kits for the 4.3 and can run from 65-85$ a set. if i was doing this over again i would have bought a cheap v-8 set of rings for 25$ and simply robbed out what i needed. so the moral to the story is micrometer your pistons before you make an order.

in my case to finish this part up, i got a factory roller timing set for 37$, and in my case could use a good old common sbc oil pump for 20$. the grand total for this little learning experience was around 850 bucks including the core fee i paid at the yard. i have yet to buy some pipes, but i figure i can use the manifolds up until i figure out what vehicle it is going in. although i have yet to fire it to know for sure what i will end up with, hard money i am out if it doesn’t work and go with a reman engine is actually closer to 350 bucks, and that isn’t bad at all for the learning experience i got.


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