GM Camaro 1967-1981 Repair Guide

Cylinder Block Reconditioning



See Figures 1 and 2

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Fig. Fig. 1: To check the bearing clearance, clean the bearing of all oil and dirt, then position a small strip of Plastigauge® on the bearing half, as shown

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Fig. Fig. 2: After removing the bearing cap, use the gauge included with the Plastigauge® to determine bearing clearance

Invert the engine, and remove the cap from the bearing to be checked. Using a clean, dry rag, thoroughly clean all oil from crankshaft journal and bearing insert.

Plastigage® is soluble in oil; therefore, oil on the journal or bearing could result in erroneous readings.

Place a piece of Plastigage along the full length of journal, reinstall cap, and torque to specifications.

Specifications are given in the engine specifications earlier in this section.

Remove bearing cap, and determine bearing clearance by comparing the width of the Plastigage® to the scale on Plastigage® envelope. Journal taper is determined by comparing width of the Plastigage® strip near its ends. Rotate crankshaft 90º and retest, to determine journal eccentricity.

Do not rotate crankshaft with Plastigage® installed.

If bearing insert and journal appear intact, and are within tolerances, no further main bearing service is required. If bearing or journal appear defective, cause of failure should be determined before replacement.

Remove the crankshaft from the block. Measure the main bearing journals at each end twice (90º apart) using a micrometer, to determine diameter, journal taper and eccentricity. If journals are within tolerances, reinstall bearing caps at their specified torque. Using a telescope gauge and micrometer, measure the bearing I.D. parallel to the piston axis and at 30º on each side of the piston axis. Subtract the journal O.D. for bearing I.D. to determine oil clearance. If the crankshaft journals appear defective, or do not meet tolerances, there is no need to measure bearings; for the crankshaft will require grinding and/or undersize bearings will be required. If the bearing appears defective, cause for failure should be determined prior to replacement.


Connecting rod bearing clearance is checked in the same manner as main bearing clearance, using Plastigage®. Before removing the crankshaft, connecting rod side clearance also should be measured and recorded.

Checking connecting rod bearing clearance, using a micrometer, is identical to checking main bearing clearance. If no other service is required, the piston and rod assemblies need not be removed.


See Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6

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Fig. Fig. 3: Apply a strip of gauging material to the bearing journal, then install and torque the cap

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Fig. Fig. 4: After the cap is removed again, use the scale supplied with the gauge material to check clearances

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Fig. Fig. 5: Before removing the connecting rods from the crankshaft, make certain to stamp each one with identifying numbers (as shown)

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Fig. Fig. 6: Matchmark the individual connecting rods and bearing caps for reinstallation

Using a punch, mark the corresponding main bearing caps and saddles according to position (i.e., one punch on the front main cap and saddle, two on the second, three on the third, etc.). Using number stamps, identify the corresponding connecting rods and caps, according to cylinder (if no numbers are present). Remove the main and connecting rod caps, and place sleeves of plastic tubing or vacuum hose over the connecting rod bolts, to protect the journals as the crankshaft is removed. Lift the crankshaft out of the block.


See Figure 7

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Fig. Fig. 7: Before the piston/connecting rod assemblies can be removed through the top of the engine block, the small ridge must first be ground down with a ridge reamer

In order to facilitate removal of the piston and connecting rod, the ridge at the top of the cylinder (unworn area; see illustration) must be removed. Place the piston at the bottom of the bore, and cover it with a rag. Cut the ridge away using a ridge reamer, exercising extreme care to avoid cutting too deeply. Remove the rag, and remove cuttings that remain on the piston.

If the ridge is not removed, and new rings are installed, damage to the rings will result.


See Figures 8 and 9

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Fig. Fig. 8: Place rubber hose over the connecting rod studs to protect the crank and bores from damage

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Fig. Fig. 9: Carefully tap the piston out of the bore using a wooden dowel

Invert the engine, and push the pistons and connecting rods out of the cylinders. If necessary, tap the connecting rod boss with a wooden hammer handle, to force the piston out.

Do not attempt to force the piston past the cylinder ridge.


Ensure that all oil holes and passages in the crankshaft are open and free of sludge. If necessary, have the crankshaft ground to the largest possible undersize.

Have the crankshaft Magnafluxed, to locate stress cracks. Consult a machinist concerning additional service procedures, such as surface hardening (e.g., nitriding, Tuftriding) to improve wear characteristics, cross drilling and chamfering the oil holes to improve lubrication, and balancing.


See Figures 10 and 11

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Fig. Fig. 10: Using a punch and hammer, the freeze plug can be loosened in the block

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Fig. Fig. 11: Once the freeze plug has been loosened, it can be removed from the block

Drill a small hole in the middle of the freeze plugs. Thread a large sheet metal screw into the hole and remove the plug with a slide hammer.


Threaded plugs should be removed using an appropriate (usually square) wrench. To remove soft, pressed in plugs, drill a hole in the plug, and thread in a sheet metal screw. Pull the plug out by the screw using pliers.


Do not hot-tank aluminum parts.

Have the block hot-tanked to remove grease, corrosion, and scale from the water jackets.

Consult the operator to determine whether the camshaft bearings will be damaged during the hot-tank process.


Visually inspect the block for cracks or chips. The most common locations are as follows:

Adjacent to freeze plugs.

Between the cylinders and water jackets.

Adjacent to the main bearing saddles.

At the extreme bottom of the cylinders.

Check only suspected cracks using spot check dye (see introduction). If a crack is located, consult a machinist concerning possible repairs.

Magnaflux the block to locate hidden cracks. If cracks are located, consult a machinist about feasibility of repair.


Coat freeze plugs with sealer and tap into position using a piece of pipe, slightly smaller than the plug, as a driver. To ensure retention, stake the edges of the plugs. Coat threaded oil gallery plugs with sealer and install. Drive replacement soft plugs into block using a large drift as a driver.

Rather than reinstalling lead plugs, drill and tap the holes, and install threaded plugs.


See Figures 12 and 13

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Fig. Fig. 12: A telescoping gauge may be used to measure the cylinder bore diameter

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Fig. Fig. 13: Measure the piston bores to determine taper, out-of-round and size

Visually inspect the cylinder bores for roughness, scoring, or scuffing. If evident, the cylinder bore must be bored or honed oversize to eliminate imperfections, and the smallest possible oversize piston used. The new pistons should be given to the machinist with the block, so that the cylinders can be bored or honed exactly to the piston size (plus clearance). If no flaws are evident, measure the bore diameter using a telescope gauge and micrometer, or dial gauge, parallel and perpendicular to the engine centerline, at the top (below the ridge) and bottom of the bore. Subtract the bottom measurements from the top to determine taper, and the parallel to the centerline measurements from the perpendicular measurements to determine eccentricity. If the measurements are not within specifications, the cylinder must be bored or honed, and an oversize piston installed. If the measurements are within specifications the cylinder may be used as is, with only finish honing.

Prior to submitting the block for boring, perform the following operation(s).


See Figure 14

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Fig. Fig. 14: Use a straightedge to determine if the engine block will require align-boring

Remove the upper bearing inserts. Place a straightedge in the bearing saddles along the centerline of the crankshaft. If clearance exists between the straightedge and the center saddle, the block must be align bored.


The deck height is the distance from the crankshaft centerline to the block deck. To measure, invert the engine, and install the crankshaft, retaining it with the center main cap. Measure the distance from the crankshaft journal to the block deck, parallel to the cylinder centerline. Measure the diameter of the end (front and rear) main journals, parallel to the centerline of the cylinders, divide the diameter in half, and subtract it from the previous measurement. The results of the front and rear measurements should be identical. If the difference exceeds .005", the deck height should be corrected.

Block deck height and warpage should be corrected at the same time.


Using a straightedge and feeler gauges, check the block deck for warpage in the same manner that the cylinder head is checked (see Cylinder Head Reconditioning). If warpage exceeds specifications, have the deck resurfaced.

In certain cases a specification for total material removal (cylinder head and block deck) is provided. This specification must not be exceeded.


See Figures 15, 16, 17 and 18

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Fig. Fig. 15: Inspect the connecting rods for any damage, and make certain that the rod length is within specifications

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Fig. Fig. 16: Use a ring expander tool to remove the piston rings

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Fig. Fig. 17: Clean the piston grooves using a ring groove cleaner

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Fig. Fig. 18: You can use a piece of an old ring to clean the piston grooves, BUT be careful, the ring is sharp

Using a ring expander, remove the rings from the piston. Remove the retaining rings (if so equipped) and remove piston pin.

If the piston pin must be pressed out, determine the proper method and use the proper tools; otherwise the piston will distort.

Clean the ring grooves using an appropriate tool, exercising care to avoid cutting too deeply. Thoroughly clean all carbon and varnish from the piston with solvent.

Do not use a wire brush or caustic solvent on pistons.

Inspect the pistons for scuffing, scoring, cracks, pitting, or excessive ring groove wear. If wear is evident, the piston must be replaced. Check the connecting rod length by measuring the rod from the inside of the large end to the inside of the small end using calipers (see illustration). All connecting rods should be equal length. Replace any rod that differs from the others in the engine.

Have the connecting rod alignment checked in an alignment fixture by a machinist. Replace any twisted or bent rods.

Magnaflux the connecting rods to locate stress cracks. If cracks are found, replace the connecting rod.


Using a telescope gauge and micrometer, or a dial gauge, measure the cylinder bore diameter perpendicular to the piston pin, 2 1 / 2 " below the deck. Measure the piston perpendicular to its pin on the skirt. The difference between the two measurements is the piston clearance. If the clearance is within specifications or slightly below (after boring or honing), finish honing is all that is required. If the clearance is excessive, try to obtain a slightly larger piston to bring clearance within specifications. Where this is not possible, obtain the first oversize piston, and hone (or if necessary, bore) the cylinder to size.


See Figure 19

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Fig. Fig. 19: Some high performance V8 engines may be equipped with full floating piston pins, which utilize lockrings to contain the pins in the pistons

Inspect piston pin, connecting rod small end bushing, and piston bore for galling, scoring, or excessive wear. If evident, replace defective part(s). Measure the I.D. of the piston boss and connecting rod small end, and the O.D. of the piston pin. If within specifications, assemble piston pin and rod.

If piston pin must be pressed in, determine the proper method and use the proper tools; otherwise the piston will distort.

Install the lockrings; ensure that they seat properly. If the parts are not within specifications, determine the service method for the type of engine. In some cases, piston and pin are serviced as an assembly when either is defective. Others specify reaming the piston and connecting rods for an oversize pin. If the connecting rod bushing is worn, it may in many cases be replaced. Reaming the piston and replacing the rod bushing are machine shop operations.


See Figures 20 and 21

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Fig. Fig. 20: Use dial indicator and a set of V-blocks to measure the camshaft for run-out-replace the camshaft, and lifters, if excessive run-out is discovered

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Fig. Fig. 21: To determine camshaft lobe lift, measure dimensions A and B-subtract dimension B from dimension A

Degrease the camshaft, using solvent, and clean out all oil holes. Visually inspect cam lobes and bearing journals for excessive wear. If a lobe is questionable, check all lobes as indicated below. If a journal or lobe is worn, the camshaft must be regrounded or replaced.

If a journal is worn, there is a good chance that the bushings are worn.

If lobes and journals appear intact, place the front and rear journals in V-blocks, and rest a dial indicator on the center journal. Rotate the camshaft to check straightness. If deviation exceeds .001", replace the camshaft.

Check the camshaft lobes with a micrometer, by measuring the lobes from the nose to base and again at 90º (see illustration). The lift is determined by subtracting the second measurement from the first. If all exhaust lobes and all intake lobes are not identical, the camshaft must be reground or replaced.


See Figure 22

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Fig. Fig. 22: To remove and install the camshaft bearings, a special bearing tool will be necessary

If excessive wear is indicated, or if the engine is being completely rebuilt, camshaft bearings should be replaced as follows: Drive the camshaft rear plug from the block. Assemble the removal puller with its shoulder on the bearing to be removed. Gradually tighten the puller nut until bearing is removed. Remove remaining bearings, leaving the front and rear for last. To remove front and rear bearings, reverse position of the tool, so as to pull the bearings in toward the center of the block. Leave the tool in this position, pilot the new front and rear bearings on the installer, and pull them into position: Return the tool to its original position and pull remaining bearings into position.

Ensure that oil holes align when installing bearings.

Replace camshaft rear plug, and stake it into position to aid retention.


See Figures 23 through 27

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Fig. Fig. 23: When properly honed, the scratches in the piston bore will intersect at a 50-60 degree angle

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Fig. Fig. 24: Removing cylinder glazing using a flexible hone

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Fig. Fig. 25: A solid hone can also be used to cross-hatch the cylinder bore

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Fig. Fig. 26: As with a ball hone, work the hone carefully up and down the bore to achieve the desired results

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Fig. Fig. 27: A properly cross-hatched cylinder bore

Chuck a flexible drive hone into a power drill, and insert it into the cylinder. Start the hone, and remove it up and down in the cylinder at a rate which will produce approximately a 60º cross-hatch pattern.

Do not extend the hone below the cylinder bore.

After developing the pattern, remove the hone and recheck piston fit. Wash the cylinders with a detergent and water solution to remove abrasive dust, dry, and wipe several times with a rag soaked in engine oil.


See Figures 28 and 29

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Fig. Fig. 28: Make sure to check piston ring end-gap before installing the rings onto the pistons-if the end-gap is too small, the rings may be filed until the correct gap is reached

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Fig. Fig. 29: Checking the ring-to-ring groove clearance

Compress the piston rings to be used in a cylinder, one at a time, into that cylinder, and press them approximately 1 in. below the deck with an inverted piston. Using feeler gauges, measure the ring end-gap, and compare to specifications. Pull the ring out of the cylinder and file the ends with a fine file to obtain proper clearance.

If inadequate ring end-gap is utilized, ring breakage will result.


Inspect the ring grooves in the piston for excessive wear or taper. If necessary, recut the groove(s) for use with an overwidth ring or a standard ring and spacer. If the groove is worn uniformly, overwidth rings, or standard rings and spacers may be installed without recutting. Roll the outside of the ring around the groove to check for burrs or deposits. If any are found, remove with a fine file. Hold the ring in the groove, and measure side clearance. If necessary, correct as indicated above.

Always install any additional spacers above the piston ring.

The ring groove must be deep enough to allow the ring to seat below the lands (see illustration). In many cases, a "go-no-go" depth gauge will be provided with the piston rings. Shallow grooves may be corrected by recutting, while deep grooves require some type of filler or expander behind the piston. Consult the piston ring supplier concerning the suggested method. Install the rings on the piston, lowest ring first, using a ring expander.

Position the rings as specified by the manufacturer.

Consult the engine service procedures earlier in this chapter for details concerning specific engines.


Liberally lubricate the camshaft lobes and journals, and install the camshaft.

Exercise extreme care to avoid damaging the bearings when inserting the camshaft.

Install and tighten the camshaft thrust plate retaining bolts.

See the engine service procedures earlier in this chapter for details concerning specific engines.


See Figure 30

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Fig. Fig. 30: During installation, make certain to inspect the camshaft end-play (two methods are shown)

Using feeler gauges, determine whether the clearance between the camshaft boss (or gear) and backing plate is within specifications. Install shims behind the thrust plate, or reposition the camshaft gear and retest end-play. In some cases, adjustment is by replacing the thrust plate. See the engine service procedures earlier in this chapter for details concerning specific engines.

Mount a dial indicator stand so that the stem of the dial indicator rests on the nose of the camshaft, parallel to the camshaft axis. Push the camshaft as far in as possible and zero the gauge. Move the camshaft outward to determine the amount of camshaft end-play. If the end-play is not within tolerance, install shims behind the thrust plate, or reposition the camshaft gear and retest.

See the engine service procedures earlier in this section for details concerning specific engines.


See the engine service procedures earlier in this section for details concerning specific engines.


See Figures 31, 32 and 33

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Fig. Fig. 31: The crankshaft upper bearing halves can be removed by using a roll-out pin ...

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Fig. Fig. 32: ... which can be fabricated from a cotter pin (as shown)

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Fig. Fig. 33: After installing the crankshaft or new bearings, align the thrust bearing in the sequence provided

Thoroughly clean the main bearing saddles and caps. Place the upper halves of the bearing inserts on the saddles and press into position.

Ensure that the oil holes align.

Press the corresponding bearing inserts into the main bearing caps. Lubricate the upper main bearings, and lay the crankshaft in position. Place a strip of Plastigage® on each of the crankshaft journals, install the main caps, and torque to specifications. Remove the main caps, and compare the Plastigage® to the scale on the Plastigage® envelope. If clearances are within tolerances, remove the Plastigage®, turn the crankshaft 90º, wipe off all oil and retest. If all clearances are correct, remove all Plastigage®, thoroughly lubricate the main caps and bearing journals, and install the main caps. If clearances are not within tolerance, the upper bearing inserts may be removed, without removing the crankshaft, using a bearing roll out pin (see illustration). Roll in a bearing that will provide proper clearance, and retest. Tighten all main caps, excluding the thrust bearing cap, to specifications. Tighten the thrust bearing cap finger-tight. To properly align the thrust bearing, pry the crankshaft the extent of its axial travel several times, the last movement held toward the front of the engine, and tighten the thrust bearing cap to specifications. Determine the crankshaft end-play (see below), and bring within tolerance with thrust washers.


See Figures 34 through 38

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Fig. Fig. 34: A dial gauge may be used to check crankshaft end-play

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Fig. Fig. 35: Carefully pry the shaft back and forth while reading the dial gauge for play

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Fig. Fig. 36: A dial gauge may also be used to check crankshaft run-out

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Fig. Fig. 37: Mounting a dial gauge to read crankshaft run-out

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Fig. Fig. 38: Turn the crankshaft slowly by hand while checking the gauge

Mount a dial indicator stand on the front of the block, with the dial indicator stem resting on the nose of the crankshaft, parallel to the crankshaft axis. Pry the crankshaft the extent of its travel rearward, and zero the indicator. Pry the crankshaft forward and record crankshaft end-play.

Crankshaft end-play also may be measured at the thrust bearing, using feeler gauges (see illustration).


See Figures 39, 40 and 41

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Fig. Fig. 39: Most pistons are marked to indicate positioning in the engine (usually a mark means the side facing front)

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Fig. Fig. 40: Installing the piston into the block using a ring compressor and the handle of a hammer

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Fig. Fig. 41: The notch on the the side of the bearing cap matches the groove on the bearing insert

Press the upper connecting rod bearing halves into the connecting rods, and the lower halves into the connecting rod caps. Position the piston ring gaps according to specifications (see car section), and lubricate the pistons. Install a ring compressor on a piston, and press two long (8") pieces of plastic tubing over the rod bolts. Using the tubes as a guide, press the pistons into the bores and onto the crankshaft with a wooden hammer handle. After seating the rod on the crankshaft journal, remove the tubes and install the cap finger-tight. Install the remaining pistons in the same manner. Invert the engine and check the bearing clearance at two points (90º apart) on each journal with Plastigage®.

Do not turn the crankshaft with Plastigage installed.

If clearance is within tolerances, remove [cf2]all Plastigage®, thoroughly lubricate the journals, and torque the rod caps to specifications. If clearance is not within specifications, install different thickness bearing inserts and recheck.

Never shim or file the connecting rods or caps.

Always install plastic tube sleeves over the rod bolts when the caps are not installed, to protect the crankshaft journals.


Determine the clearance between the sides of the connecting rods and the crankshaft using feeler gauges. If clearance is below the minimum tolerance, the rod may be machined to provide adequate clearance. If clearance is excessive, substitute an unworn rod, and recheck. If clearance is still outside specifications, the crankshaft must be welded and reground, or replaced.


Visually inspect the timing chain for broken or loose links, and replace the chain if any are found. If the chain will flex sideways, it must be replaced. Install the timing chain as specified. Be sure the timing belt is not stretched, frayed or broken.

If the original timing chain is to be reused, install it in its original position.


See Figures 42 and 43

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Fig. Fig. 42: On inline 6-cylinder engines, check the camshaft gear backlash with a dial indicator

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Fig. Fig. 43: Also make certain to inspect the camshaft gear run-out

Mount a dial indicator with its stem resting on a tooth of the camshaft gear (as illustrated). Rotate the gear until all slack is removed, and zero the indicator. Rotate the gear in the opposite direction until slack is removed, and record gear backlash. Mount the indicator with its stem resting on the edge of the camshaft gear, parallel to the axis of the camshaft. Zero the indicator, and turn the camshaft gear one full turn, recording the run-out. If either backlash or runout exceed specifications, replace the worn gear(s).