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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, now that I have all the parts necessary to put my 3.4 together I am thinking about slowly taking this on. I have NO experience putting an engine together but I think it would be fun to learn.

Does anyone have any step by step directions? haha :roll:

The block and crank have been sitting for about a year, I assume I need to clean these before I put them together...will brake cleaner suffice? I have the book by Tom Venuto about how to rebuild a GM 60* engine but it is just a little overwhelming. Any tips and or tricks? Any and all help is greatly appreciated! I think this might be a good thread to compliment Bart's thread on his 3.4 swap because I will be putting one together from scratch.

I have 3 extra beds for people to sleep on too if anyone wants to come over!
 

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I don't think brake cleaner will hurt the crankshaft, but I'd wipe it down (or spray) with light oil afterwards so it doesn't rust, as it will strip off all the oil. Probably best to keep it under wraps until just before you're gonna slap it in the block, that way the next thing you're doing with it is slapping on some engine assembly lube. Be sure to get some of that!!! :)

Scrub the cylinder walls with hot, soapy water. I use a round toilet brush, but whatever works for you. Scrub, scrub, scrub until a paper towel with a light spray of WD-40 or equivalent comes out spotless when you wipe the cylinder down. You'll be very surprised on how much stuff comes out of that 'clean' bore! Spray down the bores with WD afterwards, to flush any water away and prevent rust until assembly.

When you install the crankshaft be sure to check bearing clearances with green Plasti-Gage before you do final torquing of the main bearing cap bolts. Even though everything is supposed to be ground to specs, mistakes do happen. I've gotten crankshafts back from the machine shop that, when assembled, wouldn't even turn in the block!

Do check the crankshaft thrust bearing clearance front-to-rear, you can do this with a feeler gage or dial indicator. Your engine book should be very clear on how this is done. Be sure to have a good torque wrench and follow the recommended torquing pattern for the mains. Note that the torque specs are for a lightly-oiled thread, have some motor oil on hand for this.

Follow any instructions in the book about sealing the rear main bearing cap. Be aware there's an O-ring that seals an oil passage going thru the cap, if you leave this out it's gonna leak! I used some Loctite 518 anaerobic sealer on the metal-to-metal surfaces between the block and bearing cap. Can't recall if this is required, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. 518 sealer won't cure anywhere it isn't squashed flat, so any excess that squeezes out is flushed harmlessly away. Unlike RTV; Never Ever Ever use silicone sealer in anything that has oil passages!

Excess RTV can squeeze out, cure, then block critical oil passages. I got a great deal on an Opel Kadette years ago because someone assembled the oil pump with blue RTV and it lost oil pressure/spun bearings. I had to dig tons of the congealed stuff out of oil passages!!

A lot of gaskets nowadays have their own sealer sprayed on the surface and require nothing. A plain paper gasket can be installed dry, or dressed with a thin coating of Permatex Aviation-type #3 gasket dressing or an anaerobic sealer such as the Loctite 518. Don't use any sealer on head gaskets unless the instructions that came with the gasket specifically require it.

Hand-fit every piston ring to the cylinder it's gonna go in and be sure to keep track of where they all go. Check every gap, don't assume the shop or ring mfr did it right. Fit every piston to the hole you're gonna stick it in, make sure it goes smoothly thru the entire bore and doesn't appear any sloppier or tighter than any of the other ones. Your manual should have a clearance spec and you oughta be able to check this with a feeler gage between piston and cylinder wall.

Make sure you get the right 'stagger' on the piston rings, as per the book. Otherwise the gaps may all line up and she'll burn a lot of oil. If you haven't picked up a ring compressor, Auto Zone rents them (with a full-price deposit) and will refund said deposit upon return of the tool. Essentially a free rental so that's a good deal.

Be real careful installing pistons, so as not to damage piston, rings, or crankshaft. Cut a few lengths of rubber hose to slip over the rod bolts, this'll keep the bolts from banging into anything on their way down to the crankshaft. Plasti-gage the rod bearings as well.

The short block is the most critical part of the build, once you've gotten the rotating assembly together the rest is pretty easy. Cam installation isn't too bad, be sure to have plenty of pre-lube on the cam and be extremely careful on installation. Best to find a long bolt to screw into the end of the cam, this'll give you a nice handle to hang onto while you're stabbing the cam into the block.

The book should have good instructions for installing the oil pump, timing set, etc. One other place you absolutely have to do correctly is sealing of the intake manifold to the block. You should use the approved GM sealer. I wouldn't use a generic RTV on this joint since, if it leaks water into the oil your engine is toasted! Your local GM dlr should have some in stock. Here's some info on this:

http://www.enginebuildermag.com/Article ... gines.aspx

A few other thoughts:

1. Head bolts are Torque-to-Yield and special tightening procedure is required. Check your manual for T-T-Y bolts tightening procedure and sequence. Use sealer such as Permatex #3 on head bolt threads as required by your engine assy manual.

2. Use a break-in additive with Zinc Phosphorus (ZDDT) to keep the lifters and cam happy. And note the break-in procedure for flat-tappet engines, you Must run the engine up to 1800-2000 rpm as soon as possible and keep it there for at least 20 minutes. Otherwise there's a very good chance the lifters won't wear-in properly to the cam lobes and will cause the cam to go flat.

Anyway, I'm sure I've left plenty of stuff out, but it should do for an opening shot. I expect other V6 Dudes will add their great tips as well to this thread.

HTH & G'luck with the engine build...........ed
 

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Although it is fun to build a motor if you don't have clean space or any precision measuring tools or the know how on how to use them then leave it to the pros.

There is no shame is having a shop put the bottom rotating assembly together and then installing everything else your self since it only requires and torque wrench and some gaskets.

My first 3.4L I built myself after a machine shop machined everything. But I was 17 and living with my parents and my dad use to build engines many years ago and was able to help and had the tools along with the space to work in. Fast forward 11 years and I am living with my wife in my new townhouse which has a garage but not one big enough to hold a vehicle gutted of all its working bits and an engine assembly area so I farmed out the bottom end and installed all the bolt on parts myself. It saved a ton of time and in the end was very much worth the $120 to assemble it.
 

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TrooperChris said:
Ok, now that I have all the parts necessary to put my 3.4 together I am thinking about slowly taking this on. I have NO experience putting an engine together but I think it would be fun to learn.

Does anyone have any step by step directions? haha :roll:

The block and crank have been sitting for about a year, I assume I need to clean these before I put them together...will brake cleaner suffice? I have the book by Tom Venuto about how to rebuild a GM 60* engine but it is just a little overwhelming. Any tips and or tricks? Any and all help is greatly appreciated! I think this might be a good thread to compliment Bart's thread on his 3.4 swap because I will be putting one together from scratch.

I have 3 extra beds for people to sleep on too if anyone wants to come over!
I've never rebuilt a 3.4 specifically, but I've rebuilt dozens....maybe over a hundred.... of other motors, over the last 35 years. The best advice I can offer is to PAY ATTENTION, and think your way though every step. It's easy, really, to re-assemble an engine, but doing it properly (and perfectly) is a simple matter of attention to detail and patience. Also, I'm sure someone's already told you this, but when you torque, do it in at least 2 sets. Half, then full. I actually torque to about 40%, then 75%, then 100%, but that may carry it too far. Also, you do NOT have to use white lithium grease when you assemble your rotating parts. See if you can find a tube of moly assembly lube...don't know if they still make it or not, but it's great to protect your bearing surfaces from the stresses of that first startup. You can also use plain old 90 weight gear lube...anything to make sure there is as little friction as possible. There are other ways to do this, too.

As for whether brake cleaner will harm anything metal, no, not at all. I used to use warm soapy water and a heavy bristle brush to clean blocks. Diesel works great, too. Are you assembling your heads, too or is your machinist handling that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow...I found a place locally that will rebuild it "intake to the oil pan" for 200 bucks. I think I will go that route and then put all of the accessories on myself. I'll be documenting here.
 

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$200 isn't really bad for assembly and unless you're having machine work done, etc. that's all it is, really, just assembly. If they're doing any machine work at all, then it really is a good deal. And if it'll help you sleep better having it done by someone with experience, then it's a good deal, period. If you were within a reasonable distance, I'd be happy to do it for you and not charge a dime, provided you were willing to pay attention and learn how to do it yourself....I like to "teach people to fish", so to speak, so they are better able to handle things for themselves in the future. There's a Heinlein quote I reference sometimes. I won't repeat it all here, but it boils down to this: A human should learn to do a little bit of nearly everything. Specialization is for insects. Also, I just like getting shiny new motors ready to run for the first time:)

P.S.
Of course there would have to be a bottle of Bushmills involved.
 

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I say 200 is well worth it. I did mine myself because I am just that way. I like to tinker with things. I did make a few mistakes but luckly I caught them before it was to late. One wrong mistake and it could had been a lot of money wasted. Lucky so far it all worked out for me I know how have 3K miles on it. Good luck with your rebuild. I found it very well worth it.
 

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I doubt that $200 includes machining and assembly. If they say it does then run! They are either going to just slap it together without actually checking anything or they will do such a poor machining job it would be just the same if they assembled it without checking.

Good machining takes time and you need to pay for it. No shop works for free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It was machined about a yr ago and I did pay for it. This 200 is for assembly.
 

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200 sounds pretty fair for assembly. Shouldn't take a good shop very long to get it done. Is it the same shop that did the machine work?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I thought it did as well. No, unfortunately it isn't. I have moved since I had it machined and bored. This should be done in about 2 months or so. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Oh yeah. I decided to make the swap ages ago. I just keep putting it off for stupid reasons. I just decided I need to do this.
 

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Its just nuts and bolts! I've got assembly lube and the permatex. I also have ring compressors and a torque wrench and feeler gauge. A big plus is that I saw a local high school team tear down and rebuild a motor in 23 minutes. I know they didn't have to machine it in the middle, but it went from running motor(minus fluids) to running motor (minus fluids) in <24 minutes (high schools aren't allowed to start the motors after assembly for safety reasons). We could talk to a group like that about assembling it "for experience"... :)

Its about time this engine going together. Maybe we can look at it this weekend?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That sounds like a great idea. Trust me, I would much rather save the 200. ESP right now
 

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you gonna be busy this weekend? :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's a possibility! :D
 
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