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181 Mercruiser engine build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by RFAGrasshopper, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. RFAGrasshopper
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 108


    Hi Guys and Gals,
    It's been a long time. I am doing ok and got my airplane project to build into a Replica WW 2 L-4 Grasshopper sitting in my garage. Once I'm done with this project. It's a fun T-Bucket with a 181 4cylinder 200R4 and my '46-'48 Truck banjo rear-end. While picking out a boat trailer (to haul the airplane home on)I spotted a burnout boat with a 181 Mercruiser engine. Well now that the plane is in the garage,I thought I'd pickup the engine as it's just what I want for this T-Bucket. They now come with a combination intake and exhaust manifold that I can't use on the car(plus it's worth more to the boat guys). So I was looking at doing a 4 barrel intake manifold for it. I know Offy makes one but I was thinking of taking one of the 194/23/250 Four barrel intakes and cut off the center 2 ports(at the plenum) and shorten the runners so it fits the 181 head. The Offy units are are rare used but it's not to hard finding a used 4barrel for the Chevy 6's at swap meets all the time for $50 to $150. can I get some feedback please. Thanks guys and gals.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  2. JohnEvans
    Joined: Apr 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,883

    from Phoenix AZ

    Don't think anything off the 6s will work,181 porting is MUCH different from the 6s or even the 153 ChevyII 4 banger.
  3. Marko
    Joined: Jan 27, 2005
    Posts: 156


    Theres lots of info on these engines if you search. I'm working on gathering parts for similar project. I think the best bet would be to look for intake and exhaust manifolds from industrial engines, forklifts, gen sets, etc. Keep in mind that around 1990 the cylinder head was changed, same time they went to 1 piece rear seal, etc. This is the vortec engine, and the intake ports are different ( raised floor ), so the intake manifolds will be different.
  4. Great little engine a friend has a model A roadster and pickup with 181's in them and they go like hell. Both are backed by T-5!

  5. As a quick fix you can put a stock 153 head on the engine and run the automotive manifolds. I hate to admit it but I did this 30 years ago and am still running the set-up.

    Charlie Stephens
  6. 1932tub
    Joined: May 31, 2005
    Posts: 395


    Does anyone have a cad file for the header plate?
  7. 181's are cheap and plentiful power plants and with the Chevy bell have a lot of trans options as well. Plus if you check out the other threads you can tune in economy as well. I picked up some tube header/intakes from a fellow in Reno years ago and have been trying to find someone to repro them . One is set up for a 4 barrel carb and the other is set up for a dual carb ( like DelOro) The man I bought them from said they were made by a sprint car shop All they really are is flanges, short bends, a collector, and exhaust flange. But if I can find the right shop I would have some made.
  8. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 5,700

    A Boner

    What would be a easy to find carb that would work on a stock 181 engine? The carb on my engine now was from a 300 six, and stumbles when you first take off. I am guessing that a smaller carb would fix this...??? How about a carb off a 216 Chevy six......what should I look for? What year? What model number?
  9. hugh m
    Joined: Jul 18, 2007
    Posts: 2,142

    hugh m
    from ct.

    There was a thread on here with a guy removing all the boat stuff from his manifold, didn't come out too bad. Should make a nice motor for a T, had a later151 in mine, and it's very well balanced, and fun. ended up with a downdraft Weber carb from a mini stock motor,and after trying to remove the stumble from a damn Rochester, I love it. Here's the motor for our new T, 183 cubes,with a Holley, almost assembled.

    Attached Files:

    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  10. mart3406
    Joined: May 31, 2009
    Posts: 3,055

    from Canada

    Besides the marine version with
    the "wet" combined marine intake
    and exhaust manifold, GM also
    make an industrial version of the
    181 that uses conventional, separate
    "dry" intake and manifolds, in both
    carburetated and EFI versions. You
    might try using one of industrial
    intake manifolds and seeing if you
    can use that as as base to build
    either a single-4bbl or multi-carb
    intake from.

  11. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,298


    Given any thought to using a sbc v-8 head? NOT a direct bolt-on, but a fairly easy mod: check with a local old-time midget racer or racing machine shop that does midget engines. Operation consists of using v-8 head gasket, matching to bores, plugging overlapped bolt holes, matching/modifying water holes, drilling/tapping new headbolt/stud holes into block (the shop should have a bolt-on template for the machine work). Then pick the sbc v-8 head of choice, ARP head bolts or studs, one ex manifold or header to match the head(some sbc 'race' heads are 'spread-ports',match header to head). Makes a strong-running little motor that you won't see in every other car at your next 'cruise'!Some intakes are available, but fabrication to suit your needs is not that difficult, & can range from one bbl carb up to fuel injection, your decision.(how 'bout a turbo?)
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  12. young olds
    Joined: Oct 9, 2009
    Posts: 140

    young olds

    I have a 181 with a stock 153 head and intake in my 62 nova. It has a cam and carb adapter with a varajet on it and it goes pretty good for a 4 cylinder, Ive also managed to get 27mpg on the freeway before. I would eventually like to go with an eight port head with 2.02 valves and custom intake and header to better match my cam, I think it would get pretty good then.
  13. Jeremy Shay
    Joined: Jul 11, 2009
    Posts: 359

    Jeremy Shay
    from Las Vegas

    Im interested in you project as well. I recently adopted one. I'm having trouble finding out the interchangable parts. Im searching for the pushrod cover gasket, but the auto parts counter fellas are having a bit of trouble understanding what I'm doing. Can someone here tell me what year car may fit?? Block number is 14097080 ( not sure if the one is really there ). I've been told its a 92 mercruiser 181, but im not sure.

    Attached Files:

    kidcampbell71 likes this.

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