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Welcome To Geeb's
Assembly & Installation Page

This is the story of how Rob Freeman and I, along with Tony Defoster on Friday night, assembled a 455, removed a stock 400, and installed/ran the 455 in a 3 day weekend, despite a slew of setbacks.

Late Fall 1998 - Begin Searching for a 455 to build for a car I don't even own yet, nor do I know what it will be.

Early 1999 - Locate 1976 T/A with 455 in Deleware for $800. Drive whole day down and back to buy car and part out to get the 455.

  • This is Me and my Son with the 76 T/A donor car

  • Pulling the 455 out of the T/A

  • The beginning of dissasembly

    Summer 1999 - Find a complete 455 (minus carb) sitting in the back yard of a guy 1/4 mile from my house for $25 including the TH400 trans! Isn't irony great. I only happened to find this because the guy was selling his 1969 Grand Prix which I just had to go look at. I tried to convince anyone I knew to buy the car, but alas they didn't.

    Fall 1999 - 1969 Grand Prix still for sale, so I pick up the '69 Grand Prix, the '71 Parts car with 455 and TH400, all for $1000.

  • My '69 Grand Prix

    Late Fall 1999 - Take first 455 to machine shop to check it out, it looks good so machine work begins.

    Spring 2000 - Get block back from machine shop. Trade '71 Grand Prix parts for set of #96 heads. Put '69 Grand Prix on the road and fall in love with it. Start planning a combo of parts for my 455 that will power this big beast.

    Summer 2000 - Decide to buy a project car for my kids, who are 8, 5, 3, and 6 months. Kids pick '77 T/A with T-Tops and Snowflakes from a bunch of Pontiac fate would have it, one shows up in the local paper and I buy comes with lots of unneeded spare parts (trust me, this plays into the story)

  • The Kids' '77 T/A

    Still Summer 2000 - Rob Freeman (Robb from Classical Pontiac) unfortunately is hit while driving his beautiful orig '78 T/A. Needs parts to repair, so I offer him anyting he needs from my spares. So Rob schedules a trip out East to visit with Poncho friends and pick up parts. As part of the visit we decide to assemble my 455 while he's out here. Once that was decided Tony Defoster also decided to pop in and help with the assembly. Rob then encourages me to try to also plan to INSTALL it the same weekend.......he only plans to be at my place from a Friday noon until Sunday afternoon.

    Thursday Afternoon - November 16th, 2000 While finding the exact specs on my Valve Springs and doing final calculations, I discover that I may be within .030 of coil bind on my valve springs.... not the .060 min safety margin most recommend. I haven't actually coil bind tested my springs with retainers and don't have a spring compressor to remove them from the already assembled heads, so as a precaution, I ordered a set of Crane springs and a shim kit from Summit with overnight shipping.

    Friday Noon - November 17th, 2000 Rob arrives and we begin assembly. Things start out slowly as we spend time talking and planning etc. Tony arrives around 3:00 or so. At this point we have 1 piston installed. Tony is astounded at the amount of used, dirty bolts and washers and brackets I intend to use....and worse yet that I don't have a wire wheel or sandblasting cabinet to clean them with. Hey, look at the rest of my car and see if I care :)

  • Tapping the Oil Dipstick into the block

  • My kids were helping....

  • The rod caps were being stubborn...Tony had a solution

    Friday 4:30 PM - November 17th, 2000 While attempting to install piston #3, the 2nd Ring breaks. CRAP! How many local shops would YOU expect to have a .040 over 455 Pontiac second ring, which oh by the way is the only pontiac ring which is 1/16 and not 5/64? (Answer NONE) That's what I thought, so I called Summit Racing and ordered a FULL Set of rings, with overnight delivery, Saturday Delivery, and held for me at the local UPS.

  • This broken ring was the biggest setback of all

    Friday Midnight - November 17th, 2000 Completed assembly of 7 pistons, one head, rocker arms, pushrods, and set lifter pre-load. Also mock installed the second head and intake so it could be painted. Get on Internet to update "the world" on progress and track Summit Shipment. UPS tracking number doesn't show up.

  • Bottom end with 7 Pistons installed

  • One head, pushrods, and a Rocker

    Saturday 8:30 AM - November 18th, 2000 Get on Internet again to track UPS shipment...uh oh. Summit shipped it std ground and attached all the special shipping notes to my PREVIOUS shipment of Valve Springs which I already got on Friday.

    Saturday 9:30 AM - November 18th, 2000 Take a trip to pick up the sandblasted pullies, and a '77 T/A hood for Rob. Call Tony Defoster to see if he can find any place in Syracuse with the Ring we need. Painted the engine parts so we'll be ready to assemble later IF we can find a ring!

  • Lookin' Pretty, but not NEARLY done.....

    Saturday 12:00 Noon - November 18th, 2000 Tony called, can't find the ring. But did find out that the .040 over 1/16 ring we need would be a .065 overbore of a 4.125 bore Chevy 400. Decide to try one more call to a Speed Shop. They are open until 3:00 and said..."who knows, we might have one, you're welcome to come down and search through our pile of rings." Rob and I make the call to give it a shot. Afterall, if they DON'T have the ring, we don't have much to do anyway, so it's not like we wasted crucial time.

    Saturday 1:30 PM - November 18th, 2000 While searching for a 1/16 4.19 bore the last box of rings at the Speed shop, we find a 1/16 ring which measures about 4.275 when compressed. The speed shop lets us have the ring, and we figure we'll file it down and see how well it fits the bore. Of course, we don't have a ring filer!

    Saturday 3:00 PM - November 18th, 2000 We find that trying to take A LOT of material from the end of a ring isn't going to work with a finishing stone on a Black & Decker "Wizard". For lack of anything better to do, we put a grinding wheel on my 4 1/2 inch angle grinder and go at it. After getting the gap down close to spec, with use the "Wizard" to finish the ends to a fine finsh. Put the ring in a bore and it actually fits pretty good. With a light behind the ring, no light passes around it for 3/4 of the bore, and on the last 1/4 I can get no more than a .001 feeler gauge to go behind it. We make the call to go for it!

    Just before putting the rings back on, I decide to double check the TOP ring end gap, which need to be .027 min for my KB Pistons. The machine shop knew this and I paid them to file them and install on the pistons. So I check one and the end gap is only .021 ! Now at this point we have the other 7 pistons installed and one head on including rockers, pushrods, and lash set.

    So we popped one more piston up enough to pull the top ring and that one was .021 too! Crap, time to pull the head, and go through the pistons one by one, popping the top of the piston out and re-gapping the top ring.

    Holy Cow, it's almost Dinner time on Saturday and all we've gotten done is install the pistons, cam, and timing chain! But at this point we're just about as happy as can be just to have found a ring that works!

  • Back to square one...All Pistons in

    Saturday 6:00 PM - November 18, 2000 Begin putting in oil pump pickup, windage tray, oil pan, valley pan, intake, fuel pump etc etc. Finished basically everything by 11:30 PM.

  • Adjusting Lifter Pre-Load

  • A look at the Old Engine

  • The completed engine

    Sunday 12:30 PM - November 19, 2000 Before we get going again, we have to load all the T/A parts onto Rob's truck to go back home. And eat lunch too......

    Sunday 2:00 PM - November 19, 2000 Start disconnecting old engine.

    Sunday 5:00 PM - November 19, 2000 Old Engine Pulled and Dropped. Now begin transferring all the parts that need to go on the new engine so we can install it. Amoung other things, I broke off the stud on the starter for the small wires, so Rob had to use one of my spare starters for parts and swap a stud into my working starter.

  • Empty Engine Bay

  • Old Engine Removed

  • Pontiac Blue Torque Converter

    Sunday 9:00 PM - November 19, 2000 After dinner and an exteded break, we now have the engine all ready to install.

    Sunday Midnight - November 19, 2000 Engine installed and mounted, including torque converter bolts etc.

  • Installed but not ready

    Monday 4:00 AM - November 20, 2000 After fighting with exhaust manifold bolts that wouldn't start threading, a trans dipstick tube that didn't want to bolt to the head, and a misalignment of the alt/pwr steering pullies, it's finally ready to go. When we first try to start it, it turned over REAL hard, and then backfired a few times...... hmmm.....must be the timing is 180 out...maybe.

  • Me doing some final connections

  • Ready to Rumble

    Monday 4:25 AM - November 20, 2000 Yes, it's 4:25 AM, and we're still working. We were bound and determined to get this thing running before Rob left for home. With the wires swapped out 180 degrees, it fired pretty much right away, 60 PSI oil pressure, WHOOHOOOO!

    Monday 5:00 AM - November 20, 2000 After break-in and an oil change we took it for a drive. The timing is not set right, the carb isn't tuned for this new engine (just bolted on the old 400 carb), and we kept the RPM under 3000, so it was no rocket........YET! But heck, it drove 10 miles, and kept good oil pressure, and isn't making any funny noises.....aside from the exhaust leak from having the gasket upside down on the center ports.

    I just want to thank everyone that had anything to do with this for their support. It was a great time. And especially thanks to Rob, for sticking out this gruelling weekend and being there for the finish!

    Here are the engine specs:

    Block      1973 455 - .040 over
    Crank      Cut .010/.020
    Pistons    Keith Black KB222
    Rods       Stock Resized with ARP Bolts
    Rings      Sealed Power E300K
    Cam        Wolverine 1096, 224/234 at .050, .465/.488 lift, 112 LSA.
    Bearings   Federal Mogul
    Timing Set Double Roller - Unknown Brand
    Gaskets    Fel-Pro
    Fuel Pump  Carter Street Series Mechanical
    Pushrods   Melling Stock Length
    Heads      1971 #96 Heads - Stainless S.I. Valves - Mild port cleanup
               and pushrod buldge griding.  cc'd at 100cc. 
               ARP 7/16 Rocker Studs.
               Crane Race Gold Full Roller Rockers
               O-Ring & PC Seals on Intake, O-Ring Only on Exhaust
    Intake     1971 Cast Iron with secondary divider cut 1/2 Inch
    Carb       1969 7029268 Quadrajet - Stock Metering
    Ignition   Stock Points Distributor with Crane Hi-6 Box
               10 degrees initial, 34 total, all in by 2800 RPM
    Exhaust    Long Branch Manifolds
               2 1/2 Mandrel Bent Pipes
               Dr. Gas X-Crossover
               Dynomax Hemi Super-Turbo Mufflers

    This site maintained by Geeb and was last updated on 11/21/2000.