In this day and age when everyone seems to be going “green” I realized that I’ve actually been recycling for years without even knowing it – heck, I always thought I was just cheap. What I’m referring to is my penchant for never passing up on the chance to save a perfectly good, running engine from the trash heap.
For example, not too long ago my pal mentioned he had an old greasy (but running) small-block Chevy that he’d love to get out from behind the garage. Well, never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I instantly agreed to swap that resting place behind his garage for a perfectly good resting place behind mine, so I agreed to swing by and scoop up the less-than-lovely hunk of iron. And, true to my word, I grabbed it and unceremoniously plopped it in its new resting place among the rest of my cast-iron castoffs.
Recently while diggin’ around that stash of car goodies (also referred to by Candy as that big pile of s*** on the side of the house) looking for an old Saginaw four-speed Rob Fortier (my best friend and Rod & Custom Editor) needed for one of his many projects, I spied the aforementioned small-block (which of course was blocking easy access to said transmission). Well, after successfully retrieving the trans, and surprisingly an old Hurst shifter assembly for it, I decided that instead of moving the engine back to its original resting place I’d drag it around to the garage and maybe actually do something with it. I knew it had been a good runner and figured a few hours of inspection and elbow grease may very well yield a decent powerplant for either a yet undetermined project or possibly a source of some swap-meet cash.
A quick perusal of related parts from the same stash revealed an early Chevy cast-iron intake, a good Rochester four-barrel, a ’57 Chevy oil-bath air cleaner, an old points-style distributor and a pair of matching early style valve covers. Heck, if I just added a gasket set and a few cans of engine enamel I might be able to, as the old saying goes, make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – creating a neat, stock-looking, early small-block clone while simultaneously doing my part as a hot rod recycler. So, let’s take a look at what an afternoon’s worth of time and a couple a rattle cans can accomplish.