Crate motors may not be for everyone, but for some racers there is no doubt that the ability to drop a crate motor into their race car has made competition fun and affordable once again. General Motors has certainly been the leader when it comes to crate motor racing, and its Chevrolet 602 and 604 circle track racing engine packages are appearing at tracks all across America.
Now, Richard Childress Racing has also joined the scene to make going racing just a little bit easier. While the 602 and 604 are complete long-blocks, there are still several components that must be added before you are ready to go racing. These include the water pump, fuel pump, distributor, ignition and wires, starter, air filter, and power steering pump, if you choose to run one. Although none of these components are difficult to install on the engine, too often we've heard stories of racers scrambling at the last minute trying to find that last little thing they need. Finding the correct drive pulleys, brackets and belts to run the water pump, alternator, and power steering pump can sometimes be a maddening experience. If the brackets aren't designed to work in unison, the pulleys won't line up and the engine will throw belts faster then you can say "did not finish." And we all know a good night of racing ruined over something as silly as a power steering belt can make a nun cuss.
Richard Childress Racing's...
Richard Childress Racing's new Chevy dress kit includes just about everything you need to get a crate motor up and running, and all the components are designed to work together effectively.
That's why we think this new offering from Richard Childress Racing is such a good idea. In conjunction with GM Performance Parts, RCR is now offering a complete accessories package design to work with Chevy stock car racing engines-and especially Chevy's circle track crate motor lineup. The package includes just about everything you need to get a crate motor up and running, minus the carburetor, headers, and spark plugs. Possibly best of all, the extras you will need-every gasket, nut, bolt, and spacer-is already included. This means no more rummaging around in your spare-bolts bucket at midnight because you need one more 31/48-inch bolt to finish the job. All the correct spacers are included to ensure proper belt alignment so that the water and power steering pumps, as well as the alternator, not only work dependably, but also with minimal drag on the engine.
"This kit was born out of a relationship we built with GM Performance Parts over several years, which obviously came through our GM Goodwrench connections," explains RCR's Chuck Spicer. "We are trying to get the RCR Performance name out on the market, and this is the first step in that process. We felt that we could bring something to the circle track racers by delivering an engine dress kit that is readily available, uses really good components, and meets our validation that comes from our own racing experience. These are parts racers will want to use."
To test the quality of this...
To test the quality of this new kit, we stripped our Circle Track dyno mule 350. It has been heavily modified since arriving in crate-motor trim, but RCR says that this kit will work with most aftermarket block and heads as long as they are based on traditional 350 designs.
Spicer says that when putting together this accessories package, RCR went with component manufacturers that it had a relationship with and knew produced quality racing components, such as CV Products, MSD, and Stewart Water Pumps. RCR then chose every component to ensure that they would work together optimally. By the time you read this, it will be available through all participating Chevrolet dealerships as the RCR Performance Package. Spicer says that RCR also understands not all racers will require the complete package. For example, some may already have an ignition but wish to scrap their current pulley system, which may be worn or giving them trouble, and start over. Others may not run power steering and do not wish to use the power steering pump. Because of this, the package has been split into 13 different part numbers, which Spicer says will allow racers to purchase only the components they need.
To see how well this system worked together, we installed it on Circle Track's own dyno mule. The mule began life as a Chevrolet crate 350 but has been modified extensively since. That's OK because this accessories package is designed to work with any traditional Chevy small-block 350, not just the crate motors. For more information, Spicer says you can contact your local Chevy dealer.
The cast-aluminum valve covers certainly make a statement. The center-bolt design is less common in racing than older-style perimeter bolt valve covers. However, they already have breather tubes welded in place on the left-side valve cover. Gaskets were handled by a pair of Fel-Pro Perma-Drys (PN VS50088R).
Here's everything that comes with the water pump kit. All the necessary fasteners are provided, and everything is Grade 8. The water pump is a high-quality, lightweight aluminum unit. It comes with two spacers, which are necessary to align all of the pulleys.
Although the bolts on the left side of the pump will have to be removed later for the alternator bracket, it takes about six hands to put it all on at once. Save yourself some hassles by bolting up the water pump and then removing bolts one at a time as you add the brackets. Also, make sure to add thread sealant to the lower bolt on the right-hand side because it extends into the block's water jacket.
Stock cars don't use heaters, so a plug for the heater hose is included. It threads into place with a 31/48 hex driver.
Here is a good angle showing how the spacers push the water pump pulley out about a quarter of an inch. Gaskets are provided for both sides of the spacers.
The fuel pump is a rebuildable aluminum unit manufactured by CV Products that many engine builders swear by. What isn't included is a fuel pump pushrod, so we used an ultra-light piece from Moroso (PN 65750) that reduces fuel pump flutter at high rpm. Always lubricate both ends of the pushrod with either moly-lube (shown) or extreme-pressure lube. The lube holds the pushrod in position when you slide it into the engine, which makes bolting up the fuel pump a little easier.
To bolt on the fuel pump, you will also need a fuel pump mounting plate. We used Mr. Gasket's PN 1514. Here, a little gasket prep compound is added to the mounting plate gasket to improve the seal against the block, which has a few nicks and dings.
You will need two 11/44-20 bolts for the bottom of the fuel pump mounting plate, but the hardware to mount the pump is included.
The crank pulley uses this locator tab, which centers off the harmonic damper hole. A new crankshaft bolt is also included.
Next, the drive hub fits over the locator tab to ensure that it is centered and then bolts directly to the damper.
Before continuing with the crank pulley, take a moment to bolt the water pump pulley in place with the hardware included.
The crank pulley uses two 0.020-inch shims to place it in line with the water pump pulley. If you aren't running the power steering pump portion of the kit, there is no adjuster for the water pump belt, which must be put on at the same time that the crank pulley is installed.
Here is the setup if you are not running a power steering pump. The Goodyear Gatorback belt replaces traditional V-belts because it offers lower rotating inertia, thanks to less overall weight. It is also self-cleaning and reduces slippage. The pulleys are hard-coded aluminum for extended service life, and the water pump pulley is sized for 6.5 percent rpm reduction.
The alternator bracket replaces the bolts on the left-hand side of the water pump with longer bolts. The machined-aluminum bracket also uses spacers to properly position the alternator pulley. The easiest way to get everything in place is to remove the upper-left bolt on the water pump, position the bracket and spacer, and install the new longer bolt, making sure to leave it loose.
Now you can remove the lower bolt, position the second spacer, install the new lower bolt included with the kit, and tighten everything down.
The distributor mounts to the bracket in two locations. The bottom tab uses a nut and bolt, but the upper tab is threaded and includes a metric bolt that threads into place from behind the bracket.
Many race teams use only SAE sizing on their fasteners, and having a single metric bolt on the engine can potentially cause confusion at the racetrack when everything must be done quickly. You may decide to drill out the threads on the upper tab and replace the metric bolt with a 51/416 nut and bolt. The tab has plenty of material, so opening up the hole slightly shouldn't be a problem.
Install the alternator pulley and secure it with the 21mm nut. The nut must be torqued to 50 ft-lb, but the process is slightly unusual in this case. Begin by placing a drop or two of red Loctite on the threads. Then, place a 21mm box-end wrench over the nut. Next, place a torque wrench with a 10mm, six-point socket over the threaded axle. Set the torque wrench to 50 ft-lb and make sure it is set to loosen. Now, tighten the nut with the box-end wrench until the torque wrench clicks.
Attach the ground strap to the cylinder head with a 31/48-inch bolt.
The power steering pump bracket attaches to the front of the block with its own hardware. No water pump bolts must be removed on this side.
Like the alternator, the power steering pump attaches to the bracket with two included bolts. The lower bolt is difficult to reach with a wrench, but the pulley is open, making it easy to tighten the bolt with a speed handle.
Now you can install the belt that drives both the water pump and the power steering pump. Notice that we have already removed the belt that was to be used when racing without a power steering pump. Since it can swivel in its bracket, the power steering pump is used as the tensioner.
The alternator belt rides in front of the water pump belt on the water pump pulley, so it goes on second.
RCR includes an HEI distributor from MSD that features an internal rev limiter and includes all the necessary hardware to run with or without vacuum advance. Before installing the distributor, pull the cap and use a heavy grease on the distributor gear. Turn the crank until the timing pointer is at the firing position for the No. 1 cylinder (usually 30-33 degrees BTDC) and install the distributor, with the rotor pointing in the general direction of the No. 1 cylinder.
Mark the position of the rotor on the aluminum distributor body so you can tell where it's pointed once the cap is in place. Next, install the cap and begin plugging the included spark plug wires into position. The standard firing order for the small-block Chevrolet is 1, 8, 4, 3, 6, 5, 7, 2. Also, squirting a little dielectric grease into the plug boots on each side of the wires will provide maximum conductivity to the spark plugs.
The air filter includes both the upper and lower bowls as well as a threaded rod and adapter for the carburetor.
The finished product in less than a couple of hours. Also included in the package but not shown here-because we have no flywheel-is a high-torque starter.