Chuck, coincidentally, is the proprietor of Best Machine Racing near Todd's home in Macomb, Michigan. The rebuild started with Todd withdrawing the stock 452 heads and swapping them for newly ported 516 performance heads that he had at Chuck's shop. Examining the returned 452 cores, Chuck asked Todd to bring in the short-block so that he could re-ring it and do a "poor man's" rebuild. Todd returned an hour later with the short-block in the back of his truck. As he began to take the engine apart, the number four main cap fell into two pieces in his hand. A shattered main cap spelled a diagnosis that a simple freshening up couldn't fix. Chuck then made Todd yet another unbelievable offer. Under the strict supervision of the Best Machine Racing crew, Todd would be instructed and granted full access to the facility's materials and resources to rebuild his engine.
The deeper Todd ventured into his engine, the more he discovered was in dire need of replacing. Todd dissected the block and its components, weighing and measuring everything that would be reused, repaired, or replaced. One piston weighed 27 grams heavier than the other 7, revealing itself as the cause of the severe imbalance in the reciprocating assembly. A new set of flat-top Diamond Pistons were purchased from a friend, while the block was stripped, oven-baked, and steel-shot blasted to ensure the quality of the material. The harsh process is much like media blasting for body panels, but the process actually stress relieves the block. Then the block was Magnafluxed to verify the block was free of fractures or cracks. Under the watchful eye of Chuck, Todd operated the Rottler boring machine, boring the block .040-inch over, and boosting the 440's cubes considerably.
The final step of the engine block preparation required a series of drilling and plugging to compose a foolproof oiling system that would reduce metal friction substantially. Chuck taught Todd how to apply nearly every trick he could to Todd's block, ensuring that his oiling system would be borderline overkill for his application.
Undoubtedly damaged from the splintered main cap, Todd replaced the cast crankshaft with a steel unit purchased from yet another friend, as well as a new set of roller rockers, Comp Cams springs, and titanium retainers. In addition, a Straightline Performance solid camshaft and lifters were accrued in the parts-gathering frenzy.
Countless hours began to rack up on a secret timecard that Chuck had been keeping for his friend, offering him a deal that in exchange for some shop clean up, he would set up a work-for-parts program with Todd. Spending his days as a data administrator for the GM High Performance Group (yeah, yeah, we know. He works for Brand X, it's OK), Todd devoted his evenings to the shop. Eventually, Todd's time and labor came to fruition when Chuck provided Todd's Mirada with a set of Eagle H-Beam rods, thus completing his engine's checklist.
with all the parts needed and the block prepped, Todd began file fitting the rings. The short-block was assembled with the new crankshaft, new main bearings and machined caps, and new rods and slugs in position.
Todd's attention was then realigned to the top end. The iron 516 heads received massive Ferrera stainless valves, and the heads were cut .090 inch to achieve a 65cc chamber, raising the final compression ratio to a less-than-street-friendly 12.5:1. A Holley Street Dominator single plane intake rests atop the engine block with an 850 Holley HP Race Carb completing the handbuilt hauler.
But locating a set of big-block headers for an '80 J-Body proved to be the most arduous search of the entire project. Left with no other option, a custom set of pipes were made with 2 1/4-inch primaries into a set of 4-inch collectors. Massive 3-inch tubes run into a Dr. Gas X-Pipe crossover and a set of Straightline Performance mufflers.