Connecting Rod Bolts – Stretch vs. Torque

Today I’d like to discuss the proper method for performance connecting rod bolt installation. There are a few ways to tighten connecting rod bolts, including the basic torque method, the stretch method, and the torque to yield method. Without a doubt, bolt stretch is the only truly accurate way to establish proper bolt preload.  To better understand why, we need to look at how a bolt works.

Understanding Stretch

A bolt functions similar to a spring, in that it needs to be stretched beyond it’s static length in order to apply a clamping force. In the case of a connecting rod bolt, the clamping force must exceed the tensile load imparted by the attached components during high rpm operation. This is accomplished through a combination of bolt material selection and stretch dimension.

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Supercharged 396 LT1 Build

This article will describe the components and details of a 396 cubic inch LT1/LT4  for a supercharged application. It’s based on a combination I’ve built many times, intended for use with a centrifugal blower such as a Vortech S-trim or T-trim, or a Procharger P-600 or D-1. It has very good drivability, and will make 600 RWHP on premium pump gas at 12 psi while using a good intercooler. With race gas, an aftermarket computer, and 18 psi, this same combo has run 9.50’s at 145 mph in a very well prepared  street/strip Camaro.

Lets get to it….

 Rotating Assembly

At the heart of the rotating assembly will be a forged 3.875″ stroke crankshaft with standard size 2.100″ rod journals, 350 main journals, and a 1 piece seal rear flange. This configuration isn’t widely available, and given the power level that’s attainable, I’d certainly recommend sourcing a reputable American made company. If you plan to step up to a cog style belt, you should consider having your crank custom made with a Big Block Chevy post. Just be aware that this option requires a special timing set, timing cover, and damper.

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Where to Focus Your Engine Building Budget

One of the most common questions asked here is: “How do I get the most value for my performance dollar?” Let’s face it; most of you have a budget that will dictate careful planning for your engine project. If budget were of no concern, then the focus would become component selection most suited to the application. Although it is relevant to some degree here, I’ll address that specific method of planning in an upcoming article.

Make a Plan

As I always try to emphasize, the best place to start planning for your engine build is to set a performance goal that is realistic based on your budget. The power you hope to make is based on compression ratio, cylinder head flow, valve timing events, and RPMs. As power numbers and RPMs go up, you should plan to increase your budget in order to step up the quality of components required to add durability to the rotating assembly and valve train.

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Specialty Tools for Performance Engine Building

Your ability to do an exceptional job, can sometimes be hampered by the quality of the tools you have available. This is true in most endeavors you undertake, including the assembly of a performance street or racing engine. I’m a real fan of high quality tools. I have a lot of them, and today I’d like to share with you some of the ones I use for every build.

These won’t be listed in any specific order, although I will comment on the ones that I consider to be absolutely necessary. Whenever possible, I’ll also list a lower cost alternative, as well as an explanation of why one is better than another.

  The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive list of the tools necessary to inspect and assemble a quality high performance engine. Detailed instructions on the methods for proper use will be the subject of several future articles. Let’s get started …..

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How to Make 500 Horsepower

The title of this article may be a bit misleading. It indicates that I will be giving you the magic formula to build a 500 horsepower engine. The fact of the matter is that there are an infinite variety of ways to reach a predetermined level of power, be it 500, 750, or 1000 hp.

The real lesson to be learned here is that reaching your performance goal is only one part of the formula for engine building success. In order to claim the status of “awesome“, the engine must also exhibit the driveability characteristics that you desire. Let’s have a look at what’s required to make sure your upcoming performance project turns out to be everything you hoped for.

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