The shade tree build is complete on the short block. Finished up the pistons earlier. Not bad for on the cheap. I’ve almost got as much in new calipers, torque wrench and valve spring tool than in the engine at this point. I’ve been measuring as we go. Most of the parts are still within tolerance but nearing the end of useful life. So I decided rather than try to get more performance, I’d put this back together as a stocker and complete the car. Later I can be concerned with max engine HP.
First things first, rings and rod bearings. I clean the ring lands with Seafoam and an old, broken ring. Make sure you don’t gouge too much out. Ring pliers are really inexpensive and keep you from breaking expensive rings.
Next step. using a ring compressor and installing them to check bearing clearance. Again with the Plastigauge. A ring compressor is a must have. You can borrow one from most chain parts stores if you don’t have one or buy a cheap one (like what they loan) for about ten bucks. Watch for scaring the bore with the rod or rod bolts. The FSM calls for using some sort of tubing on the bolts but if you are nimble you can feed it though the cylinder without scraping the walls. Snug the ring compressor against the bore and use the butt of a hammer to gently tap the piston into the bore while supporting the rod with your hand on the other side.
More with the Plastiguage. Measure it, wipe it down and apply buttloads of assembly lube.
I use a 3/8″ drive speeder to snug the nuts, then finish to torque in three or so passes. Once you are torqued, you need to check side clearance to see that the big end doesn’t bind on the crank.
Repeat three more times and you’ll have a populated short block, ready for trim, accessories and head. Now that everything is clean and lubed make sure you cover the engine with a plastic bag to keep it nice and clean.