KT Engine's Kevin Troutman decks the block. Standard deck height on a Chevrolet small block is 9.025 inches, and with the flat-top pistons required by most racing classes, one of the only ways to increase compression ratio is to cut the deck of the block down so that the piston top is closer to the combustion chamber at top dead center. Troutman cuts the block so that the piston is still 0.005 inch below the top of the deck at TDC. In order for your machinist to deck the block correctly, he must know your crank's stroke, rod length, and piston compression height (the distance from the center of the pin hole to the top of the piston). Being able to take the compressed head gasket thickness doesn't hurt, either (this information is available from your gasket manufacturer).

The connecting rods are also from Scat. They are the stock 5.7-inch length and a stock replacement design that is very economical. This is one area where, if money is available, you might want to step up to one of the lighter-weight Scat rods that JR Motorsports offers, which will make the engine accelerate more quickly.

The pistons JR Motorsports provided are Mahle units that are perfect for this level of racing. They are relatively lightweight at 579 grams (including pin and locks, but not rings), and use Mahle's great skirt coatings for reduced friction and scuffing. Notice the narrowed pin towers which reduce weight by shortening the length of the wristpins while still maintaining good rigidity.

One easy process that can save you some horsepower is to block the oil drain holes in the lifter valley directly over the camshaft. These holes are designed to provide additional lubrication to the camshaft, but they aren't necessary in a race application and only cause a loss of horsepower through windage. Tap and plug these holes, but make sure the plugs can't extend so far that they can contact a spinning camshaft. The best time to do this is before the block receives its final cleaning. If you plan on having your engine machinist do the cleaning, tap these holes-but do not plug them-before sending out the block.

KT Engine's Nathan Allmond handles final cleaning on our finished block. This is a labor-intensive process and one that definitely should never be short-changed. Dirt or grit left anywhere inside a block can be very harmful to bearings or other components. Make sure to scrub out all the oil galleries thoroughly and then blow them out completely. This requires a specialized set of brushes you can pick up from places like Powerhouse Products. Don't try to get by with stuff you have laying around the kitchen. Begin by washing the block with water to cut the soaps in the cleaners used in engine shops. Then follow up immediately with lacquer thinner and a coat of automatic transmission fluid. The ATF is not only a good cleaner, but it will also stop rust from pitting the freshly machined areas such are cylinder bores.

This is a deck bridge tool, and it has a number of uses. This one came from Powerhouse Products, and it can be fitted with either a single dial indicator in the center or two on the edges. We're using two here to check the piston height to the deck at TDC. You want to do this after the block comes back from the machinist to make sure the deck is machined correctly. Using one set of bearings, one rod, one piston, and the crank, mock up the assembly in each of the four corner cylinders. Spin the crank until the piston is at TDC (the closest to the top of the bore). Use the two dial indicators to make sure the piston is level (both readings should be the same), and measure the distance from the deck of the block to the piston top. You should have already zeroed out the gauges on a flat surface, and make sure the dial indicators are on a flat part of the piston, not the pocket. The distance from the deck of the block to the top of the piston should be the same at all four corners. If not, the deck of the block may have mistakenly been milled at an angle.