Our block was deburred and the cylinders were bored to .030 inches over with a torque plate using a 625 Sunnen stone to a 320-grit finish. The cylinder walls were then finished via a plateau honing procedure using a fine brush to give the rings an easy start on life and reduce piston/piston ring friction. Close attention should be paid to the base of the main caps; this area is known for casting flashes. Slag is also inherent in the heads. Be sure the pickup tube and block feed holes are cleared out. The head-mounting surface on the block must be machined to a high standard, quality fasteners should be used and a high-performance gasket incorporated into the process. The engine builder should also closely adhere to the gasket manufacturer's recommendations regarding the torquing of the heads. For high-boost applications (20 psi and up) Czarnota recommends Fel Pro Wire-Loc head gaskets but warns that the receiver groove must be precise and should be performed on a Bridgeport mill by a competent machinist to exact specs. If you are unable to get the receiver grooves executed correctly, you are better off running stock gaskets.

Reliability is often where budget impacts the project. You can go overkill with engine internals and wind up with a thin wallet. Crower offers a package that includes a crank, rods and pistons-which is an excellent one-stop shopping opportunity for higher dollar, more extreme build-ups. Billet cranks, forged pistons and upgraded rods can also be purchased separately. TRW pistons deliver forged aluminum performance at a more cost-effective price. For applications where boost will be cranked past 20 psi, Czarnota prefers JE pistons. It seems that 20 psi is the magic number, as block reinforcement and the use of other upgraded engine internals are needed at this point.

Since our goals are much more modest than the typical Buick racer, we have tailored a plan of action that will result in a stout short block at an affordable price. We have refurbished the stock crank, which will swing a stock rod and TRW piston combination. Czarnota employed JE wrist pins because they are light, strong and any reduction in rotating mass is always a good thing. It should be noted that TRW pistons are only offered in .030-inch overbore sizes, while JE's can be ordered for any size overbore. When it comes to ring gaps, Czarnota likes to run .018-inch on the top ring and .016-inch on the bottom ring. This is a closer tolerance than the manufacturer's spec of .020-inch, but Czarnota cited superior sealing and no leakdown problems, even at higher boost levels, as major benefits.

The crankshaft is a point of contention, as it can hinder performance in high-output build-ups. The Buick crank is an even-fire design where the crank journals are situated in a split-pin configuration, which by virtue of its design is weaker than a common-journal crank found in other engines, including the venerable small-block Chevy.

Picture a common journal set-up, as two circles of the same size are transposed over one another. Each circle represents a rod location. A split-pin configuration is attained by moving the same two circles so that they intersect each other. The common ground shared by each circle represents its attachment to the shaft. The split-pin has much less material in the shaft attachment area, which accounts for its weakness. Czarnota does not recommend regrinding a stock crank past .010-inch. If a crank needs more machining work than this, a cherry, new stock cast crankshaft should be used.