Eagle H-beam connecting rods were used to take advantage of their impressive strength-to-weight ratio, and the fact that they use incredibly strong ARP rod bolts. Aside from the high-tensile strength of the ARP bolts, one of the benefits of ARP is their dedication to constantly improving their products. One of the biggest, yet least known changes ARP made in the past few years was moving from a traditional “moly lube” assembly lubricant to a newly formulated assembly lube. Exciting right? Well, it should be. During testing, ARP found that their previous lube as well as oil and another test lube required several torque and release cycles before the fastener would pull a full load. Their new blend (in a blue packet that comes with the Eagle rods) pulls the full load right off the bat. Not only is this critical in rod bolts, but they found that head studs would apply the same clamping load everywhere around the head gasket the first time. Reality says that most guys building engines don’t torque their fasteners 8 to 10 times or use a bolt stretch gauge to be sure they are getting the full benefit of the fastener. Now the rest of us lazy bums can rest assured that the rod bolts and other fasteners are doing their job without worrying about it.
SRP Professional series pistons have been around long enough now that people have realized what an incredible value they are. Randy says: “That’s probably the best bang-for-the-buck piston out there.” They have a forged side relief design, which basically means that the wristpin area has been made narrower but stronger. Strategically placed strengthening ribs support the piston under heavy loads. Though only mild nitrous hits are suggested for the pistons, we’ve personally run up to a 400 shot of juice on the slugs with nary a hint of problems (see PHR July ’08, “The Anti Dyno Queen”). Aside from making the pistons strong, they also make more power than the traditional SRP pistons. This is due to the low friction of a narrow, metric ring package. Even so, Randy says: “We replaced the standard-tension oil ring with an ultralow-tension oil rail. The short-block took about 11 pounds to rotate over. I was very concerned that we might have oiling trouble with that.” He said that everything worked out though, and with the aid of a header crankcase evac kit, they didn’t have any oiling problems.
As was mentioned above, those Ferberts know their way around cylinder heads. They chose to use a pair of cast-iron Bow Tie Vortec heads straight from GMPP. Though a lot of folks refer to all center-bolt valve cover cylinder heads as Vortecs, that isn’t quite accurate. The ’87-92 small-block–powered cars and trucks all used center-bolt valve cover heads. There were different port designs with regular- and high-swirl runner shapes throughout those years. When Chevy designed the Gen II small-block for release in ’92 Vettes and all other V-8 passenger cars in 1993, they kept the basic architecture of the engine the same as earlier models, but switched to dedicated reverse-flow cooling designed into the block and heads. Those LT1, LT4, and L99 (4.3L V-8) engines worked well, and the new cylinder head port design was much more efficient than previous small-blocks. The problem was, the Gen II was already a dead engine. The trucks had been continuing to use traditional “center bolt” heads through 1995, and the Gen III LS engines were waiting in the wings for passenger cars. GM had no plans to put the Gen III engines into trucks quite yet and wanted to continue to use a traditional small-block in their truck line, but somehow improve performance. The solution was simple. For 1996, they stuffed the intake runner design of the LT1 into a traditional casting, and labeled it the Vortec.