Chevy Vs. Chevy
Ron Shaver Crafts a Big-Block for the Engine Masters Challenge
From the February, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Scott Parkhurst
Last year, we introduced readers to Ron Shaver and shared a look inside his spacious facility. We also followed Ron's efforts toward winning the Challenge with his well-crafted 366-inch entry. When we announced the parameters for the big-block version of the Challenge, it coincided perfectly with the launch of Pro-Topline's new aluminum big-block Chevy cylinder head.
Shaver Specialties, Ron's company, is a distributor for Pro-Topline, and he was as anxious as we were to see how these heads would perform on a 470-inch mill. The head design is new, and having a formidable engine designer like Shaver to work over a set may set the standard for streetable sets of Pro-Topline products. Could these very heads become the blueprint for stock replacement-type products to be offered from Pro-Topline? We're not sure, but we are certainly hopeful!
Last year, a broken spark plug porcelain kept Shaver from the Finals. This year, we intend to see how well one of his engines can perform on all eight cylinders. We were quick to note how his engine was still able to produce better performance numbers on seven cylinders than some other competitors made with eight, so we're certainly anxious to see the results of Ron's research.
Check out the photos, and see how Ron Shaver is planning to make a strong impression on the street engine market. He's armed with heavily-researched heads, a tremendous facility, and plenty of experience. We know he'll be digging for every Engine Masters Challenge point (as both horsepower and torque numbers contribute to the final score), so pay close attention to his words. They come from much experience, and from the determined mind of a man with something to prove.
Shaver's engine will be based...
Shaver's engine will be based on a new Dart Big M low-deck (9.8-inch) block. These engine blocks are designed for high performance from the ground up, with extra webbing and bulletproof four-bolt main caps.
The extra-thick deck surface...
The extra-thick deck surface and siamesed cylinder walls resist cracking, and its scalloped outer water jacket walls improve the all-important coolant flow around the cylinders. Its also engineered with a priority main oiling system, meaning the bottom end sees oil pressure before the valvetrain for extra reliability.
The block also comes with...
The block also comes with extra head stud bosses on both sides of the lifter valley, so additional head bolts may be used. This contributes greatly to a better head seal, resulting in fewer blown head gaskets.
Final bore size will be 4.315-inches....
Final bore size will be 4.315-inches. A basic deburring and minor cleanup of the bottom edges of the bores was all that was required.
The crankshaft will stroke...
The crankshaft will stroke out to 4.0-inches, meaning the engine is almost a "square bore" design. Traditionally, this arrangement has produced balanced torque and horsepower numbers. The crank is from Sonny Bryant, with standard rod journal dimensions and aerodynamic counterweight leading edges, as delivered.
The heads are from Pro Action,...
The heads are from Pro Action, and carry P/N 124-19000-320. These heads are available through Shaver Head Service. The intake runner volume is 320cc, and they feed Ferrea valves, with 2.25-inch on the intake side. A typical 11/32-inch stem diameter fills the guides.
The intake valves are .250-inch...
The intake valves are .250-inch longer than stock. Flow numbers were found at 28 inches of water and at .700-inch lift, and checked in at 369 cfm with clay surrounding the port.
The exhaust valve is 1.88-inch,...
The exhaust valve is 1.88-inch, is also a Ferrea part, and measures .100-inch longer than stock. The exhaust port flowed 294 cfm (also at 28 inches of water and .700-inch of valve lift) without a pipe in place.
Shaver told us "These heads...
Shaver told us "These heads have a nice short side transition. It's very gentle, and works very well with minimal work." The 3/4-inch thick deck is a very solid foundation, and can support massive cylinder pressures.
Edelbrock's Victor Jr. intake...
Edelbrock's Victor Jr. intake manifold (PN 2902) was chosen to feed the heads. The intake was worked over by Al Dickson of HRD in Dalton Gardens, Idaho (208-762-9600), who also mastered the head porting work. Nothing out of the ordinary was done, but the corners of the ports were filled at the corners where the intake meets the heads. This lessened the oval shape of the port, and was designed to increase velocity.
The intake will be topped...
The intake will be topped with a 1-inch open spacer. Many were tried (including this Wilson 1-inch "four hole to open" spacer), and a few average points were found.
A Holley HP 1000 carb will...
A Holley HP 1000 carb will feed the mill. Built by the Carb Shop, this Holley won out over all the other carbs Shaver tested. According to project coordinator Tom Masek, different engines simply like different carbs, and this particular engine liked this particular carb. The carb has a 1.6-inch venturi diameter.
"Our horsepower goal is 1.5...
"Our horsepower goal is 1.5 hp/ci, and that means way over 700 horses. We expect this engine to make great torque, and with only 11:1 compression, this is a great example of a great street engine." A Jesel belt drive was chosen to tie the crank to the cam, eliminating harmonics and making both cam changes and camshaft timing alterations easy and quick.
Cometic gaskets were used...
Cometic gaskets were used throughout, but the head gaskets checked in at .030-inch thickness. With a 41cc dome on the piston, compression will check in between 11-12:1. Honestly, Shaver and Masek expect it to be much closer to 11:1.
The camshaft is from Crane,...
The camshaft is from Crane, P/N CHB 8450001, and carries 250 @ .050 (intake), 254 @ .050 on the exhaust. Lift is 612-inch with a 1.7:1 rocker, and the exhaust is .624. Lobe centers are 108 degrees. Engine Masters rules limit the lifters to stock diameter, so know these cam specs would be fine for anyone beefing up an overbored 454 big-block Chevy for serious street use. The cam is only one part of the equation, of course, but if you've got heads flowing near where Shaver's do, this cam is a killer.
Lifters are by Crower, and...
Lifters are by Crower, and were chosen because of their oil feed hole on the lifter face, which is unique to the Crower design. They carry P/N 66900X980-16, and are called "cool face oiling" lifters.
Pistons are from JE, and carry...
Pistons are from JE, and carry P/N 216221. They were custom-crafted to Shaver's specs, including the 30cc dome and 11 equally-spaced gas ports to push the ring securely against the cylinder wall. They were designed to wear radial-cut piston rings. Ring thicknesses are .043-inch top ring, a 1/16-inch thick second ring, and a typical 3/16-inch thick oil control ring.
This is a balanced choice...
This is a balanced choice between the thin rings many prefer in racing (due to their minimal friction), and the stability and durability of the thicker second ring to ensure compression. Masek says "This engine will spin over easily by hand when completed, as the rings and bearings were all planned to offer minimal frictional resistance and drag." Masek wouldn't recommend the radial cut rings for the street without a 12-15-inch vacuum pump attached. They are cut back too far for daily use, and without a vacuum pump too much oil would sneak past them.
The rods are from Carillo,...
The rods are from Carillo, and measure in at 6.535-inch in length (.400-inch long over stock). They were run "out of the box", and were not even balanced. After being checked for weight and balance, the rods were all so close to each other no work was needed. No coatings were used on the rods, or anywhere else in this engine. We know Carillo rods are pricey, but the durability and excellence of their designs justify the cost to racers who need this level of connecting rod. Weight of these parts is 826g.
Headers are from Doug's, and...
Headers are from Doug's, and feature 1-3/4-inch primary pipe diameters. The headers carry P/N D-325, and were designed for popular '68-'72 Chevelles. The Engine Masters Challenge rules limit builders to headers designed for stock, unmodified chassis, so these same pipes will bolt into your Chevelle too. The long primary pipes (35 inches in length) will promote big torque numbers in the low rpm ranges, which will contribute to a higher overall score in the Challenge. The collector diameter is a street-sensible 3.250-inch.
The ignition system will be...
The ignition system will be all MSD gear, form their P/N 85551 distributor, to the 8.5mm wires, to the P/N 8621 coil, and also the P/N 7520 ignition box.
Ron is a believer in MSD equipment,...
Ron is a believer in MSD equipment, and the Challenge proves it.
Shaver's entry will be finished...
Shaver's entry will be finished off with K&N or ACCEL filters, MagnaFlow or DynoMax mufflers, and filled with Mobil 1 oils. "That's what works the best for us" says Shaver. A TCI flexplate will live aft of the crank, while an ATI balancer will reside on the snout. The oil pan, pump, pickup, and pump driveshaft will be Moroso's designs, and it will all be held together with ARP hardware.
Ron Shaver and Tom Masek have...
Ron Shaver and Tom Masek have put much effort and research into developing this 470-inch Chevy, and their philosophy is grounded in common sense and experience. "We're taking a different approach this year. We're using a bit more stroke, and a cylinder head with a smaller intake port cross-section to improve velocity. We'll build a fatter torque curve, and it should be very competitive. Since the acceleration rate is a constant (300 rpm per second, as described in the rules), we're not looking at absolutely minimizing the internal mass. Rather, we think there may be some torque advantage in a heavier rotating assembly." We appreciate builders sharing their ideas with us, and we look forward to seeing the results of Ron and Tom's research. We'll have numbers on this engine and all the others involved in the Engine Masters Challenge soon, and we're hoping you'll check in with us to see how Shaver and the other competitors fare in this unique engine building competition. Stay tuned!
Shaver Racing Heads
25950 Belle Porte Ave., Ste. 1
SHAVER SPECIALTY COMPANY
20608 Earl St., Dept. PHR
353 Oliver St.
TOM MASEK ENGINEERING
4227 Chase Ave., Dept. PHR