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Which is more cost effective: Buy a crate motor or rebuild a 283

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Tugmaster, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Tugmaster
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    Tugmaster Member

    I'm not trying to sound like a cheap ass cause I'm really not. I'm just trying to figure out which would be more cost effective.
    Here is the deal. For my new project I am considering either getting a 283 and rebuilding it or buying a GM350 290HP crate motor. I have never rebuilt a motor so I have know idea what it costs. I would do all the assembly myself and have a local machine shop do all the machininging amd measuring. I wuold also have them rebuild the heads. 283's are fairly plentiful and can be had for not alot of $$ A friend of a friend has one complete top to bottom front to back for $100.
    Now the GM Crate motor is about $1500. But it is just a long block and I'm worried about getting nickeled and dimed to death with all the other stuff I will need for it and it will cost me more in the end than rebuilding the 283.
    This car is going to be just a cruiser so I want a simple and reliable set up.

    Thanks as always, Todd
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  2. maniac
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    maniac
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I don't think you can rebuild one for $1500, I'd say crate motor
  3. bobwop
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    bobwop
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    you should be able to buy a complete crate motor for less than $2500. That would be the most cost effective, in the long run
  4. James 5:16
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    James 5:16 Member

    Crate engine! I bought one a few years ago for my o/t truck, I have built my share of engines over the years and enjoy doing them, but at the time I didn't have the urge to do it so i bought a crate engine and dropped it in, hooked everything up and hit the key. I figured up the costs of machine work and labor, parts, etc. I came out ahead by buying the crate by around 500.00!:cool:
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  5. rodncustom
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    rodncustom Member

    The high end of having a good machine shop completely go through your enigne should be around $2,000 including parts, labor, etc., plus your $100 283 and you've got a much cooler engine than the crate for the same or less money.
  6. Squablow
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    Squablow Member

    When it comes to SBC's, maybe we just have it easy up here in Wisconsin, but good runners that don't need a rebuild can still be had for 3 or 4 hundred bucks. I bought a sweet running '70 Impala wagon with a 300hp 350 in it for $600, it's too nice to part out but stuff like that is all over.

    Over all the cars I've built, I've only spent the money to have one engine rebuilt, and that was only because it was a 348, not many of those around in running shape for sale.

    If those are your only two choices, I'd buy a motor and have it rebuilt, your $100 core has all the important pieces there and by the time you're done you'll have about the same amount of money in them, that being the case I'd rather have the 283.
  7. 35desoto
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    35desoto Member

    If you have no knowledge or experience in reassembling an engine get the crate engine. Putting an engine togaether is not just a simple task of bolting parts together - you have to know what clearances are - measure them and ensure it goes together correctly. Have you a decent torque wrench to get the right preload for the big ends, mains and head bolt settings?
    I used to have a machine shop and we would see one failure through wrong assembly for every two engines that came in - not a good way to start esp if you are on a budget
  8. Tugmaster
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    Tugmaster Member

    Some good points. I just don't want to buy a "it ran when pulled" and then end up with a pile-o-shit. Todd
  9. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    I've run a shop for a long time and quit doing "stock" rebuilds on SBCs at least 10 years ago. There is no way of doing a top notch rebuild (not "rings and bearings") for the price of a crate motor. And the last crate engine I put in for a customer came with a 3 year/50,000 mile warranty. I can't (or won't) match that.
    Larry T
  10. chevyshack
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    chevyshack Member

    You'll get more torque out of the 350. What car is this going in? 283's are kinda wimpy unless you rev the crap out of them.
  11. walls
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    walls Member

    I'm pretty sure there's a rebuilt 283 in the classifieds. Around $1300 or so if I remember right. Might be worth checking out.
  12. magsnubby
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    magsnubby Member

    A GM crate motor is the way to go. All the bolt ons from the 283 will fit the 350.
  13. pdq67
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    pdq67 Member

    I love the "Little 283 engine that can!"

    I should be able to dingle-berry/Krylon overhaul a 283 El-Cheapo and it will be FINE.

    In fact I have one out in my garage that I'm going to turn into my next junk301 so flat know!

    I have everything except a cheap set of 301 pistons. Gonna shift her at 8,000 rpm just for the fun of it.

    Install no more than the old -097 Duntov solid lifter cam in her and go up to like 7,500 with new points, but only 7,000 rpm a week later once the point spring set goes away.

    pdq67
  14. plywude
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    plywude Member

    I've done it both ways and the crate 290 SBC you're talking about is a good choice I've used them with NO PROBLEMS and thats what it's all about put them in and drive the tires off of them..............
  15. hotrod40coupe
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    hotrod40coupe
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    Buy the crate, I have 3 grand in my 283 that I rebuilt right!!
  16. Vandy
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    Vandy Member


    Every thing must be bigger in Texas even the cost of rebuilding a 283.
    I build crate motors for the Hot Rod market and my selling price on a Master kited 283 is $950 this includes the core. A no lead upgrade to the heads is $150 & includes Bronze wall liners, 8 new SS 1 piece exhaust valves & 8 Hard seats. I have 3 in stock. I ship all over the world, I don't sell to many here as most "buy a crate GM motor" from Mexico. BTW a new GM crate motor is OFF TOPIC here.

    Forgot to add = all my motors are assembled with a Hipo cam, brass plugs, Hi vol oil Pump, roller chain set. All 283's have Power Pac heads
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  17. hemi
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    hemi Member


    X2... if you want it done "right" it will cost. The crate motor may be the way to go.

    I've "assembled" my own engines, and then worked for an engine builder who did a lot of roundy round and drag engines. After I saw the light, unless you are really dialed in on stuff, you are better off not doing it. He was fanatical about cleaning everything, measuring tolerances, and had all the right tools... and a bitchin' run-in stand. He also had a ton of tricks and solutions to problems that I didn't even think about during my "rebuild."

    Those of you that do nothing but engines, I tip my hat to you. Anyone can assemble one, but not everyone can build one and have it be "right."
  18. patina steve
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    patina steve Member

    Just went through this exercise, 350 long block from Chevrolet $ 1,600.00.

    Rebuilt 283 block done right; bored, decked,new pistons and rings, bearings,new cam, lifters, reconditioned rods, crank ground, short block assembled $ 1,900.00 327 double hump heads, new valves,spring and hardened seats $ 600.00. This work was done by one of the best engine shops in Blane MN.

    So total old school engine $ 2,500.00

    New chevy 350 engine $ 1,600.00

    So I payed the extra for the old style hot rod engine, does it make a differance, do many people know the difference ...............?
  19. Lobucrod
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    Lobucrod
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    Crate motor....$2000. Rebuilding your first motor yourself and bring new life into some old iron.......Priceless!
  20. MATACONCEPTS
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    MATACONCEPTS BANNED

    $1500!!!!!! go 302 - 3.00"stroke + 4.00"bore = 302 Z28 (high rev)

    $100 - used 283 crank/rods/balancer/pulleys/starter/flywheel
    $150 - balancing
    $100 - bearings
    $150 - used small jurnal 327
    $100 - block clean/surface
    $750 - Edelbrock aluminum heads @ Pepboys
    $ 60 - used aluminum intake
    $ 80 - new HEI

    how much is that? And all you need is a 9/16", 5/8", & a torque wrench
  21. AssGasket
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    AssGasket Member

    ^^^ Do that....!!!
  22. BBYBMR
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    BBYBMR
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I build crate motors for the Hot Rod market and my selling price on a Master kited 283 is $950 this includes the core. A no lead upgrade to the heads is $150 & includes Bronze wall liners, 8 new SS 1 piece exhaust valves & 8 Hard seats. I have 3 in stock. I ship all over the world.

    Am I seeing this right? You sell a fully assembled 283, plus heads for $1100.00?
  23. sammamishsam
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    Sammamish WA

    sammamishsam Member

    Crate motor with a 2 or 3 year warrantee is very cost effective and quick. The satisfaction of saying I built it myself was worth the difference in price and I know exactly what parts went into the build.
  24. lostforawhile
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    lostforawhile Member

    this sounds like a solution right here, and if you have an issue it's someone on the hamb, not an anonymous person who you will never speak to. If I have to buy something I try to support the little guy first.
  25. chevyshack
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    chevyshack Member

    He has to find a small journal 327 first. I defintly build that over the 283. Almost did before i built my 383. I had the block and crank complete with rods and pistons. Just decided i wanted more power.
  26. Larry T
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    north central Texas

    Larry T Member

    Let's see. Just off the top of my head, what about pistons, rings, gaskets, timing set, oil pump, cam/lifters, rocker arms, pushrods, boring block, vatting parts (not just the block), turning crank, rebuilding rods, installing pistons on rods....................................
    You can buy a set of Edelbrock heads at Pepboys for $750.00? Good price on the rest of your parts too.
    Larry T
  27. Deuce Roadster
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    Deuce Roadster Member Emeritus

    [​IMG]

    About 7 years ago ... I spent almost 3 grand rebuilding this 283 !!
    I have built lots of engines over the years.

    My engine was

    1 ) bored .060 ( new pistons )
    2 ) turned the crankshaft, resized the rods ...
    3 ) rebult the heads ( new valves, valve seats, springs, keepers ect )
    4 ) new 097 camshaft and lifters ... new push rods and rocker arms too.
    5 ) All new bearings
    6 ) new oil pump. oil pump shaft
    7 ) resurface the flywheel.
    8 ) deck the block, bore with head plates.
    9 ) surface the 283 heads
    10 ) BALANCE the rotating assembly
    11 ) Fe-Pro gasket set
    12 ) New ARP rod bolts and head bolts

    >>>>>>>>>

    It runs GOOD ... and has that lopey 283 sound but I would have at least a grand less money in a 350 crate engine with a warranty :)
  28. Chaz
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    Chaz Member

    I'd go crate as well.
  29. Vandy
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    L.A. Ca

    Vandy Member

    Nothing wrong with your eye sight. Yes fully assembled on a Pallet & banded. 99 percent go to Berlin the rest New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, 1 percent here in the US. All motors ship with new chrome Valve covers and timing cover.
  30. Vandy
    Joined:
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    L.A. Ca

    Vandy Member


    I buy a ton of GM crate motors from the Chevy Dealer that are returns and haven't found one with ARP anything. They do not have Fel Pro gaskets or a resurfaced flywheel. GM crate motors are not professionally hand balanced - not even close. No hot cam ether. Can you post a price list of what you paid for parts and machine work ? A complete master kit costs me $275 with a Hi Po cam, high vol oil pump, roller timing set, brass plugs. These are just the up grades from stock, everything else is included in the kit. Custom balance charge is $120

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