ERE-396 (395) #16 Long Block with Ai 215cc Trick Flow heads.

This 395ci motor will utilize the industry leader Advanced Induction 215cc fully CNC ported Trick Flow heads, 6" Compstar rods, 3.875" Compstar crankshaft, Golen fully machined LT1 block, Callies billet splayed main caps at 2,3,4 mains, SRP 1.062" compression height pistons, Jesel shaft rockers, M99HVS oil pump and stock LT1 oil pan.

The original plan was to use a Ross custom piston.  The D-dish was needed because the original heads planned for this project were the small chamber Ai CNC ported GM castings.

This 1.070" compression height piston is built for natural street and some nitrous. The 1st ring land is .250".  The ring package is 1/16", 1/16", 1/8".  It's a beauty.

The reason we couldn't use the Ross pistons was because ROSS forgot to clearance the underside for the rod small end.

I attempted to do a little clearancing but it was not enough.  Ended up sending the pistons back to ROSS and they performed the clearancing with a CNC machine.

While waiting for Ross to fix the pistons we decide to go with a totally new combo.  New Ai TFS heads and new Compstar rotating assembly.  This time a flat top SRP was selected due to the larger TFS combustion chambers.

The SRP piston is 1.062" compression height built for a 6" rod and 3.875" crank, (395ci). You can see the bore-gauge marks on the rod bearings.  All of the rods came to .0027" bearing clearance using standard ACL "race" bearings.

Flashback to the original rotating assembly. I mocked up the rotating assembly and found that more grinding is required for rod clearance.  You can see that the side of the rod bumps into the block.

Attack the block with a grinder.  Don't go too far and into the coolant jacket..

Initial test shows that additional grinding was in the correct area...

Washed, dried and oiled.

New the moment of truth.  Will the extra grinding pay off?

Yes indeed.  Every rod clears the block.

4 hours to clearance and clean block, clean and assembly rod/pistons.  Measure rod bearing clearance.  Measure main bearing clearance.  Mock up rotating assembly and check for stroker clearance.  I'm calling it a night.

Cam bearings and cam installed.

Crankshaft and main caps.


Setting the thrust bearing.

Installed #1 piston/rod set with no rings.  This makes it easy to degree the cam.  Here is top dead center.

Ready to find intake lobe centerline.

It's dead-on 106 ICL.

Total seal conventional rings are supplied by Callies.

I always gap conservative, (err on the wide side).  These are standard 1/16", 1/16", 3/16" rings.

Occasional nitrous gap here is .024" first, .028" 2nd ring.

#1 and #2 piston/rod combo IN.

Last piston going in.

This is the only photo I have of the rod bolt torquing.  I learned to insert a feeler gauge, (.014 to .016" here), in order to stabilize the rod during the torque procedure.  (70ft-lb).

Now it's time for the Ai TFS heads.  The pistons are .008" out of the hole and that calls for a GM LT4 head gasket, (.043").

Ai 215cc TFS CNC head.

Next will be ARP 12 point head bolts.

Jesel bolts go in the top 4 positions.

All torqued to 70ft-lb.

Time for geometry and pushrod length measuring.  1st check was with no shim under the Jesel shaft stand which had the rocker tip too far inboard.  2nd check was with the supplied 0.100" shim under the shaft stands which had the rocker tip too far outboard.  Recently I started to keep other size shims on hand and thankfully the 0.050" shims worked out nicely.

The pushrod length check is important and varies due to block deck and head gasket and cam base circle and lifter type.  7.06 is measured so I'll order a set of 7.050" from Ai.  Ai supplies 5/16" chromoly pushrods in their valvetrain kits which are sent promptly after the customer, (me), measures.

These are my .050" shims.

I cannot remember if this photo was taken before or after the correct valve tip/rocker tip geometry was found but it's a good photo.

Oil pump mounting stud.

Big block Chevy oil pump test fit for trim of windage tray.

Windage tray gets tin-snipped just a little bit to fit around the pump body.

Pump pickup pressed on.  I don't weld it on because I feel that welding will do more harm than good.  The factory pickups are all pressed and they hold up well enough.

New GM F-body oil pan, (test fit).

Now a test fit of the Corvette composite, (fiberglass), valve covers.  These are expensive but they fit over Jesel rockers and also give room for the alternator.

Intake manifold is ported by Ai, (Advanced Induction).  I set it on for now to act as a dust cover.  Right now my punch list is:  Block paint, order pushrods, order rear main seal housing, order oil pump drive gear.  Prime oil system, button up motor and deliver.

Now with new timing cover seals and the Kennedy 1/2 Dollar.

New 7.050" pushrods from Advanced Induction via CV Products.  These fit perfectly.  3/4 turn on adjuster nut until zero pre-load then 1/2 turn more.

The rocker tip rides the valve tip right in the center.

POR-15 engine semi-gloss black.

I brush it on.  This stuff is thick and tough.

ATI hub installed with a combination of tools.

Photo of the new stock GM rear main seal housing with premium seal.

Final photo of bottom end.

ARP crank hub bolt

Torqued to 80ft-lb

Oil pan on without RTV in order to check rod clearance/interference and to fill with oil for system pre-lube and integrity check

2500rpm drill gives me 60psig and all the lifters/pushrods/rockers have oil.

Time for the intake manifold.  This shows the FelPro printo seal intake manifold gaskets and RTV ready for manifold install.

Manifold on.

Stock dipstick is messaged past the splayed main cap.  It takes a little twisting.

Oil pan needs to be hammered out for rods #1 and #2.

Motor fully assembled and taped up and ready for transport.

Owner supplied EGR block-off plates.

One final pose. 2008, Ellwein Engines 2008, , email Karl Ellwein