🔧 BUILD 1971 Nova - Work in Progress

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1971 Nova - Insanity in Progress

I bought this Nova last year when I sold my mustang, I was a active member here when this was CSVT so all the info of my old car is still on this site. Some of you know me from other sites as well as some of the old CSVT members who are still around. I apologize in advance for being a little long winded.

I was looking to get back into a classic muscle car that I could restore and modify to my liking. I choose a Nova since they are cheap and my wife wanted it to be a chevy. I enjoy all makes/models domestic or import which is why I enjoy TCG.

Specs:
1971 2 Door Nova factory v8 auto

Engine
350 block 383 stroker
Cam - unknown (I have several cam cards from the previous owners not sure which one is installed)
Rods/pistons - unknown
Heads - stock
Edelbrock intake - unknown which model
Holley 750 double pumper

Trans
700R4
3200 Stall
Shift Kit - Jegs brand

Rearend
10 bolt 8.5
3:56 gears

I knew the car needed some work before I bought it....I just underestimated how bad some of it was going to be. When I got the car the owner I purchased it from had just primer bombed the car and splatter painted the trunk (was still fresh when I went to look at the car). I would have still bought the car but would have negotiated a better price, but hey live and learn. The guy I bought the car from purchased the car from an elderly couple in Ohio who had a binder of documentation which was a huge selling point to me. Unfortunately I didn't look closely to see that the receipts didn't have much specific information. So the documentation only shows dates and what parts were replaced not what they were replaced with (for the most part anyways.) Again no biggie.

The car had 3 paint jobs in it's life plus the primer the guy I bought the car from put on it. Under the primer was a Suzuki gold that was applied in 2002. (what a FUGLY ass color) under the gold was a red. Whenever the red was put on the car it also had extensive body filler applied but no rust or sheet metal repair, more on that later. Under the red was a factory correct blue. The cowl tag says the car should be Sandalwood, while I did find it on a few parts of the car this leads me to believe someone painted the car early on in it's life or worse someone swapped the vin and cowl tag to another car :dunno: . Also there were a few spots where Green was found, I'm assuming a donor car or junk yard parts replacement. To be honest with all the documentation I have it just confuses things even further. The car was also in a few fender benders, the worst being the passenger front fender.

In 2001 the whole suspension was replaced with stock equipment minus air shocks, this was also when the whole drive line was overhauled and the engine was turned into a 383 stroker. I'm just guessing and based on some info I've accumulated from Steves Nova Site SNS, everyone seems to agree this theoretical combo should be around 350-400hp 400+tq.

I drove the car for a few weeks and fixed some legal and safety equipment such as putting on the rear bumper, side mirrors and attaching the seat belts. The car actually drives pretty good, has some good low end torque and the trans shifts firm. These were all the reasons I purchased the car as I didn't want to blow the budget replacing the mechanical's right away while I concentrated on restoring the body and getting it in paint. I was originally hoping to have it in paint in early spring of this year. Currently it may see paint by spring summer of 2015. (crosses fingers)

Goals:
For now I want a nice cruiser that's got some decent hp/tq. I'd like to drive it around town and take it to a few cruises/car shows. During winter I always like to tinker and do upgrades.

My unrealistic dream goal would be to turn it into a pro-touring car. Sitting low on 18x10 or larger wheels. I would also drop in a LS series engine maybe a LQ4 on a tight budget or go wild with a LS3/6 variation. The car will stay an auto, I know some people won't understand that but I love a good auto as much as banging gears in a stick car.

Short term goals that are more realistic is to just restore the vehicle to good quality, I will keep the drivetrain as it is for now as it's in good shape and if anything blows up take it to the next level at that time (budget pending of course). The body will be fully repaired and painted by myself. It will be painted a blue (unsure of which specific color code at this time) but it will be a medium to dark hue.

Bottom line is all work will be done by me, in my garage with whatever tools I currently have or acquire. Hence the whole reason for purchasing this car.

Now to what's happened since I started work along with pics.

As I purchased it, as you can see the body doesn't look bad at all. Looking at it very throughly I could tell there was bondo/mud applied and I did notice some rust in the rear quarters and in the trunk area (which is common for these cars) I also noticed the body bushings were bad again another common problem with age.



IMG_1489 by Chris Watkins, on Flickr

IMG_1490 by Chris Watkins, on Flickr


Engine Bay, looks can be decieving, the whole front accessory system is a redneck engineer mess along with the fan and rad shroud.
IMG_1487 by Chris Watkins, on Flickr

IMG_1503 by Chris Watkins, on Flickr


IMG_1504 by Chris Watkins, on Flickr

Pics of the interior, the seats are trashed and the carpet doesn't fit right as it's either a universal or not the correct for this make/model/year.
IMG_1499 by Chris Watkins, on Flickr





I'll break this up into a few posts.
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cap42

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Mar 22, 2005
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Just subscribed! What kind of camera and editing software are you using? The quality looks great!
About time boostie! J/k

Camera is a hero 9 with a UV lens. I was previously using hit film express but it’s buggy as hell and has problems with the media from GoPro at times. This latest video I started using VideoPad. The quality was noticeable with the new editor and was very easy to work with compared to hitfilm.
 
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Boostie

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About time boostie! J/k

Camera is a hero 9 with a UV lens. I was previously using hit film express but it’s buggy as hell and has problems with the media from GoPro at times. This latest video I started using VideoPad. The quality was noticeable with the new editor and was very easy to work with compared to hitfilm.

Maybe I’ll have to upgrade! I have a hero 7 but do most of my filming with my phone lol Also edit using iMovie on my phone which also blows
 

cap42

Restoration Hell
Mar 22, 2005
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Bolingbrook IL
Last weekend I finally fixed a fuckup on my part. I installed the spindles backwards, so I had to take everything apart just to swap the spindles to the correct sides.

This weekend I started tearing into the motor, pulled the heads, pan, cam, lifters etc. The cam had some scoring on one of the journals and the lifters had some irregular wear. I know I lost the junkyard magic tearing into the motor and now I am debating on if I should continue to disassemble and have the block checked along with putting in new bearings.

Need some advice here please.

IMG_1410.JPGIMG_1409.JPGIMG_1408.JPGIMG_1407.JPG
 

LikeABauce302

TCG Elite Member
Aug 27, 2013
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Last weekend I finally fixed a fuckup on my part. I installed the spindles backwards, so I had to take everything apart just to swap the spindles to the correct sides.

This weekend I started tearing into the motor, pulled the heads, pan, cam, lifters etc. The cam had some scoring on one of the journals and the lifters had some irregular wear. I know I lost the junkyard magic tearing into the motor and now I am debating on if I should continue to disassemble and have the block checked along with putting in new bearings.

Need some advice here please.

View attachment 148533View attachment 148534View attachment 148535View attachment 148536
You're already into the engine. Now's the time to freshen it up. Just keep your end goal in mind and try not to let it snowball. It shouldn't slow your build down too much and the cost for a little peace of mind will be small in the big picture of things.
 

Mr_Roboto

Doing the jobs nobody wants to
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If you just slid out the cam I'd say shove a SS2 or some other mildish cam in it with new lifter trays but you went too far.

When you've got the heads off there's no reason not to pop a few main caps and check bearings for wear, buy some new rings, and buy a gasket set and go from there. I'd certainly be tossing some extra ring gap in that bitch even if you plan on keeping it NA.

Overall though I'm of the opinion I'd have checked it for cranking compression on the stand, hooked an oil pressure gauge up and if it had good oil pressure/compression just put fresh gaskets on it and slide it in.
 

cap42

Restoration Hell
Mar 22, 2005
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Tore it all down, it's now a bareblock.

PJ is going to swing by with some tools to help check things out.

Here's a pic of a cam bearing you can see the discoloration from lack of oil changes. This is the motor upside down. One of the bearings has some groves in it, didn't grab a pic of that. Already ordered the cam bearings should be here tuesday.
XTZY1803.JPG

Here's a rod bearing. This one you can see some scoring.

WPZA4032.JPG

Here's another with what looks like thrust wear, most of the rod bearings look like this vs the above with the scoring.

SWQW3970.JPG

Here are the main bearings which didn't look too bad, most of the journals are still smooth. PJ is going to give me his advice when he sees' it in person and judge if we should send it out for polish.

IPPP7601.JPG
 

cap42

Restoration Hell
Mar 22, 2005
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This weekend was the first time in a while I've been able to work on the nova.

A month or two ago I tried to install the cam bearings and chewed the first one up. Took it out and measured it and it came to 2.43 OD, measured the journal bore and it's 2.32 OD. I triple checked what I ordered so it should have been right. I ended up buying a new set from summit which was the H series as it was the only one online that showed the correct 2.32 OD for the 1 and 5 journals. Total overkill for a mild n/a build but I didn't want to dick around with finding the right set. Trying to install cam bearings solo on a engine stand is no fun but I finally got it done. The crank was all polished up thanks to willyt willyt ... then cleaned the carbon up on the pistons and made sure the rings were in good shape and slapped those in. I still need to install the cam, timing chain and oil pump along with the pickup tube and windage tray. Another 2-3 hours it will be an assembled shortblock.

I still need to find a set of heads to use, still going back and forth on a couple of options. 243/799/706 heads are all good options but the prices have jumped on these the last year or so. Buying used heads of Clist or marketplace is always a crapshoot so I've been looking at these AFR Enforcer budget heads. They are more than what I need but only a few hundred more than a set of used heads right now and won't have to risk the gambit of machining a set of heads if I bought a bad set.

No pics today, took some timelapse for the youtube video but going to hold off till it's a complete shortblock before editing and uploading. Soon as this is done the motor is going back in a bag for a bit while I start bodyworking the firewall. I've decided I don't want to pull the motor/trans at a later date to bodywork/paint that so getting it all done beforehand.
 

Mr_Roboto

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You'll hardly ever go wrong sinking bucks into a set of better heads. I realize the LS stuff is good from the start but you may as well get all the HPs for a few bucks more.

Wild on the cam bearings I've never done an engine build (oddly done a few transmissions) but it's one of those parts I'd be vaguely squeamish about doing honestly.
 
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cap42

Restoration Hell
Mar 22, 2005
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Putting cam bearings into LS blocks is easier when it's off the stand. I forget which ones face which way, but the camshaft housing bores have little chamfers on them to make installing the bearings much easier. Some go in the front, some go in the back.
uuugghhh I saw no such chamfers... please tell me I didn't ruin another set of bearings. I installed 3, 4, 5, from the front and 1,2 from the rear. I just guessed based on everything I saw and read that you do it that way so the installation tool is centered in the bore to press them in right.
 
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PJx5x

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Sep 29, 2005
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no bore gauge, but I just looked over my research nothing about chamfers for these cam bearings, the only things made mention to note is the oil slot lines up with the galley and to press the bearings in centered of the journal.
Just slide your cam in. If any are fucked up, it won’t fit/turn


And I sorry. Please remind text me next week if you want help. I forgot
 
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