CRATE EXPECTATIONS

> CAN CRATE MOTORS BE A PLUG-AND-PLAY OPTION FOR YOUR PROJECT? DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST

STORY & PHOTOS PAUL TUZSON

IT TAKES a lot of time and effort to build or restore a car. Specifying and preparing an engine for a project can be particularly challenging, but a crate engine can make things considerably easier. There are different types of crate engine though: you can get a complete turn-key engine, a long motor or a short motor.

READY TO GO

AS THE name suggests, a turn-key engine is one thatís ready to drop into an engine bay and run. Latemodel replacement engines from car companies, such as Chevroletís LS series, often fall into this category. However, many classic motors are also available complete and ready to go.

Some late-model turn-key engines have headers, others donít. Most donít come with electronics, but separate ECU kits and wiring harnesses with sensors and actuators are available for fitting many late-model GM and Ford engines into earlier cars.

True turn-key engines come complete with alternators, air conditioning compressors, and all pulleys, filters, belts and other ancillaries.

They are supposed to run as soon as the fuel, electrical, exhaust and cooling systems are connected. Still, even if an engine is described as turn-key, itís best to check that absolutely everything needed is included, particularly if itís a new installation in a project car rather than a straight swap. The bill for extras can add up to thousands of dollars. Ask detailed questions and make sure you know where you stand so there are no surprises.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

A LONG motor is less ready for immediate use.

The exact configuration of a long motor varies, but in general it will have heads, a full valvetrain, rocker covers and a sump. Some long engines are fitted with balancers and coolant pumps, some arenít. The advantage of a long engine is that a manifold and fuel system from a previous engine can be retained, which can mean considerable savings. Or, a new manifold and fuel system of the ownerís choice can be fitted.

A short motor is the most basic version of a crate motor. A short will contain a crank, rods, pistons, camshaft, timing set, lifters and a sump. This offers the greatest opportunity for customisation and tailoring performance to a particular application.

A short can provide the savings of a crate engine and provide a solid base to build what you need.

As with longs, some shorts come with harmonic balancers, but others donít.

Generally, crate engines are built using brand-new components. This is particularly

important in an enhanced performance engine.

Ford, GM and Chrysler (Mopar) have access to their own ranges of performance parts, but other reputable manufacturers like Shafiroff use quality aftermarket suppliers for components.

The same is true for other engine builders; however, not all applications require brand-new high-performance parts.

RECONDITIONED VS REMANUFACTURED

IF AN ENGINE is designed to be a direct replacement for a standard unit in standard service, the use of properly reconditioned original components can be quite acceptable.

In some cases though, reconditioning can often mean repairing only the most worn components and reusing as many parts as possible.

A re-manufactured engine is different.

Re-manufacturing means that everything that should be thrown away is thrown away. Only the base components are retained, and these are machined and fitted with new bearings to restore factory operating clearances. Obviously, higher performance levels call for stronger parts, but for standard applications this approach is perfectly adequate and reasonably priced.

GIVE ME MORE

OF COURSE, many people donít want standard engines; they want more power and a bigger push in the back instead. Chev Performance, Ford Performance and Mopar Performance all offer uprated performance crate engines, from shorts to turn-key versions. Uprated blocks, heads and other components are also available individually. The important thing about crate engines from car companies is that the power figures are quite modest compared with some of the claims floating about the industry. Similarly, aftermarket crate engine builders like Shafiroff and others also claim realistic power figures.

WHOíS GOT WHAT

BOTH Eagle Auto Parts and Rocket Industries carry selections from a company called BluePrint. Having started off with one man building individual engines a couple of decades ago, BluePrint now manufactures brand new blocks and heads and offers a good range of packages based on them. Specifications and power potential obviously rise with price, but again, advertised power figures are realistic.

Eagle Auto Parts also has a large engine replacement program, with many options for re-powering your Chev, Holden, Ford or Mopar. Eagle would be the largest stockist of replacement V8 engines in Australia, with bricks

and-mortar branches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Eagle is also proud to point out that itís the only authorised Australian distributor of GM/ Chevrolet Performance engines, including SBCs, BBCs, LS motors and related products. From the Ford Racing Performance catalogue, Eagle holds stock of 302 Windsors, 351 Windsors, Windsor stroker engines and the 5.0L Coyote engine. And as mentioned thereís also the BluePrint range of small-block and big-block Chevs, small-block Fords and Chryslers.

Herrod Motorsport is well known for building Ford engines, as well as tuning local and imported Fords and developing performance kits. More recently, Herrod has started supplying and fitting Ford crate engines. The Coyote is certainly a favourite, but classic pushrod Fords are also on the menu.

Shafiroff Racing is owned and run by well

known race engine builder Scott Shafiroff, who has a decades-old reputation in the US and abroad. The company supplies a wide range of GM and Ford engines for race, street and blown applications. Although the combinations are off-the-rack, itís quite likely that something in the range will suit your requirements. If not, Shafiroff can build custom combos. Shafiroff Racing doesnít have local agents; instead it ships directly to customers all over the world via air freight. The engines are all custom-built to order; it takes about four weeks for them to build what you want. Engines can also be sent by sea freight if youíre keen to save a bit of money and are prepared to wait four-to-six weeks. The exact cost for air freight and door-to-door Australian delivery of a complete engine is US$2250 (around AU$3000).

One very familiar name thatís also into crate engines is Edelbrock. The company uses its vast array of ancillary engine components to create fully assembled crate engines. There are a couple of long assemblies in the range, but almost all have manifolds and carburettors, as youíd expect. Some have coolant pumps, but you should check to make sure. Rocket brings these into Australia.

Of course, the Australian distributors donít always have all the engines from overseas in stock at any one time, but they can always order something for you. Usually, it will come in the next shipment, but you may have to wait a couple of months. Of course you can also get whatever you want sourced and shipped immediately, but doing so will cost you plenty. Best to plan ahead.

IF IT AINíT BROKE

SOME US-sourced crate engines are covered by a warranty Ė if youíre in America or Canada.

Ford and GM guarantees specifically exclude all other regions. Fortunately, local importers realise the benefit of customer satisfaction and word-ofmouth, so if there is a fault with the basic product, theyíre often willing to help sort it out. Herrod Motorsport works that way, but itís even more of a sure thing because of its extremely close relationship with Ford both in Australia and the US. Eagle deserves a special mention because it backs its products with a solid 12/20 warranty on non-race street motors. Actually, the company doesnít see it as that much of a risk, due to the reliability of current crate engines. s

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT:

www.eagleautoparts.com.au www.herrodmotorsport.com.au www.rocketindustries.com.au www.shafiroff.com www.precisionintl.com