Boring 215 Build

Discussion in 'Small Block Tech' started by M@, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. M@

    M@ Member

    Thanks for the great forum. I’ve been lurking for the past 2 years and I’ve learned a lot.

    I have a 63 skylark and I’m rebuilding the original 215. I’m making this thread to keep my notes straight and more importantly get bad ideas shot down.

    Since there’s a lot of info out there on the 215/300/340 and all the fun combinations including rovers and v6s it’s a bit confusing for me to build a “boring” 215 mostly because a build like this doesn’t really rate any attention from the community.


    *I want to rebuild this w/o cutting any corners, but I’m not interested in going all out ($$$) or sacrificing reliability to a large degree (20,000mi or less).

    *I’m going to give the original dynaflow a shot, but might end up with a T-5 or 4-speed.

    *Mostly stock car otherwise, but it will be moving toward more of a cruiser hot-rod over time.

    Current Status:

    *Engine fire, hood off, air-cleaner rots, water sits in one cylinder for unknown period (years).

    *It pulled apart w/o any drama (that cylinder didn’t give up it’s piston w/o a fight). The shop thinks it will clean up with 0.030” and we’ll figure that out as we go.

    *I prefer to do things myself as much as I can and know that means more money, time, and mistakes, but learning and challenges are why I’m in it. I’ve never built a Buick. My machine shop doesn’t do a lot of 215s (I like these guys though).


    *I have the factory service manual. Should I be looking at any of the Rover build books? Other books?

    *I plan to touch the 215 heads and intake at least to port match and possibly more, but nothing too crazy. Can someone please give me some guidance on valve guides and porting around them? Hands off?

    *I read a lot about cams for other combinations (215 w/ 300 crank and heads) Crower 50232 comes up a lot. Advice? I don’t mind changing springs and valves if I’m not opening a can or worms.

    *Are there head parts that absolutely need changed?

    *I’ll be needing some bearings. Advice?

    Thanks for making it this far. I’ll leave you with a bad photo.

    Attached Files:

  2. M@

    M@ Member

    10.25:1 compression, carb
  3. alec296

    alec296 i need another buick

    I would not expect any power gain from the head/intake port match, especially at this level of build. Power is in the bowl blending and contour. If the crank is to be cut, have them cut it tight. As I have been hearing a lot of complaints of clevite/Michigan bearings not being correct size. So you will need to get bearings, measure them installed. Then crank shop can do a final polish to specifications you need for clearance. Compression is overrated on most Buick engines. I would measure and calculate your compression ratio yourself. Incase you need it to be higher or lower. But I would go 9.6-9.8 or if you have aluminum heads push 10.25 . More lower end torque. I believe the 215 block could use a larger oil passage from pickup to oil pump. . Not hard to drill out. . 1/2 inch is decent. A later 3.8 v6 pickup screen should work. But I would find out from someone with more experience.
  4. Jim Blackwood

    Jim Blackwood Well-Known Member

    Oil control is critical. Do NOT let your crank grinder get by with the "standard" .002" clearances. You want about .001". Control your losses, control your pressure. Fair amount of work to be done there, search "oiling mods".

    Dano and alec296 like this.
  5. M@

    M@ Member

    Thanks for that reminder. I've not yet found any pictures of a 215 with exactly what is being done with the oiling mods, but I'm on the right trail. (edit: this thread is very informative for a 455 and i believe it will mostly translate to the 215. )

    The machine shop still has the block so I can't look at it, but I found an excellent diagrammatic cartoon of the oiling system here:,45321,45967,page=2 So, paraphrasing from multiple sources.

    Oiling/Bearing Plan:
    *I need a bigger diameter oil pickup tube. I'm still trying to figure out what model I will source this from, but Andy mentioned a v6.

    *I need to drill out the suction side in the block 1/2" ?? it seems the BBB needs a larger diameter, but I've not yet found a good source that's explicitly for the 215.

    *Oil booster plate. TA_1510

    *Adj Oil Pressure Regulator. TA_1502

    *I'm going to look at replacing the rope crank seal. Still looking for a good source for info on this, but I might just get the TA cover w/ seal if I can't find any traction. TA_1530

    *Bearings will be chosen, installed with main caps and torqued, measured and used to determine crank diameter such that the bearing clearance is 0.001"

    *I still need to inspect the oil pump. It seems the hi-volume can cause problems so if I need a replacement it would be the stock type. TA_1507

    The crank will need some love. I didn't cover it in the back room of my shop and walked in this spring to a bunch of condensation and rust on a few of the journals. I think it should just be very shallow, but something will need to happen. I've not talked to the machine shop about that yet.

    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  6. Jim Nichols

    Jim Nichols Well-Known Member

  7. M@

    M@ Member

    8607ECF0-1B3C-4C46-9049-51D8A885592E.jpeg Thanks for the seal info. That’s easier than I thought.

    I’m attaching picks of the timing cover and oil pump.

    I’ve not looked into it much yet but it sounds like I’ll need to modify the plate.

    Does this pitting under the water pump cause any alarm?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  8. telriv

    telriv Well-Known Member

    NEEDS NEW!!!!!!
  9. Jim Blackwood

    Jim Blackwood Well-Known Member

    In my opinion the best way to build a 215 is to use a 300 block. Maybe paint it silver (or ceramic coat it silver). But I realize that's not what you want to hear.

    There is a wide margin between what you should do and what you can do. For instance, that front cover. I've seen worse put back into service. While a brand new one would be nice it does run up the cost rather significantly. If that is not a problem then there are a whole lot of other things you might want to consider doing. If it is, there might be better places to put your money.

  10. BuickV8Mike

    BuickV8Mike SD Buick Fan

    I just finished filling that type of porosity with JB weld on my timing cover I'm getting ready to install. My real question is what causes that type of erosion?
  11. M@

    M@ Member

    I appreciate candid responses. If I keep the motor it saves a ton of money and even more time downstream. It took me a year to decide I didn’t want to LS because I didn’t want extensive tunnel and rear suspension mods.

    In the same light I’d like to keep this transmission to see if I even like the car, but I do like motor builds and so my philosophy, for now, is to build this motor to meet or exceed factory condition. It’s my first Buick and I don’t want to chase my tail because I cut too many corners.

    I’ve considered 4.6 rover or 300 heads and that’s still an option.

    I’ll prolly think about it some before I decide to swap it.

    I’ve got a one year old and he’s too much fun playing with to spend too much time spending money on other stuff. So this build might end up with more budget than time to build it.

    In terms of why the pitting, I would guess it’s the high velocity attacking the weaker slightly corroded sections revealing fresher aluminum which will preferentially corrode. Rinse and repeat until there are deep pits.
  12. Jim Blackwood

    Jim Blackwood Well-Known Member

    Probably the result of electrolytic corrosion. Having different metals in the cooling system can do that. You can measure the voltage between your anti-freeze and the battery ground or chassis ground and sometimes see a potential of 1/2Volt or more. This will cause erosion of the aluminum parts.

  13. woody1640

    woody1640 Well-Known Member

    A lot of 215 motors were run with water instead of antifreeze back in the day and that caused a lot of deterioration to the cooling passages and such. Also there was no overflow tanks installed on any cars back then, so you always had "fresh" oxygen entering the cooling system everytime it cooled down. Now we all know water+air=rustncrust!

  14. M@

    M@ Member

    Oiling Pickup: I called TA and I think it was at a bad time... they didn't have any reference to this: working on a 215. Is this the one?

    Crank Scraper: I'm thinking about putting one on because it's cheap and I'll be using a two speed and I don't think I'll be getting new rear gears. So this motor will need to spin pretty high going down the highway (not going on long trips, but I'll need to cruse at 70mph for 10 min or so). I was thinking that a scraper can't hurt.

    Windage tray: For the same reasons as above. Rover came with one, but I'm thinking I might not be able to run this w/o drilling and tapping the bock. Maybe not if I run this

    Suction enlargement: I'm seeing some comments about using a 1/2" , but I've seen some other references to 5/8". I have a lathe a work and I'll be modifying any drill bit to act as a pilot to keep it on the right track. Is 5/8" considered risky? It seems like 1/16" on either side shouldn't be a big difference. I guess I can always get it welded back.

    Thanks again.
  15. Alssb

    Alssb Well-Known Member

  16. gsjohnny1

    gsjohnny1 Well-Known Member

    don't give up on the 215. plenty of info out there. just have to look.
    did you know that there was a 215 twin engine dragster back in the 60's? i'll have to find the picture.
    M@ likes this.
  17. gsjohnny1

    gsjohnny1 Well-Known Member

  18. Jim Blackwood

    Jim Blackwood Well-Known Member

    The V6 pickup is 5/8" and I suggest drilling the pickup suction galley to the same size. With a piloted drill there should be no danger of breaking out.

  19. M@

    M@ Member

    The plot and boredom (pun) thickens. Somehow, stupidity, I missed the engine is already 0.030” oversized. I’ve seen reference to 0.060” as max oversized without new sleeves.

    Assuming the block is sonic tested is that reasonable? What thickness should we look for on sonic testing?

    I figured this out when I noticed the head gasket was composite.

    After that I also noticed the crank was 0.010” undersized. I haven’t measured the heads to see if they have been skimmed, but I also somehow, stupidity, soaked the heads in purple cleaner for 30 min and then realized those bubbles seem to be a reaction with the aluminum and pulled them out. There’s a nice coating of aluminum on them now, though no damage that I see to threads.

    So my disappointment mounts and suggested alternate builds creep in.
  20. M@

    M@ Member

    CE528C97-5941-4464-B576-391D7E8B1848.jpeg Got the block back from the shop. It cleaned up at 60 over.

    I’m interested in opinions on this deck. It has a bit of pitting right inside the sealing line of the head gasket.

    Thanks, Matt

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