How to Tune-Up a Small-Block Chevy, Part One
Revamping the ignition with the help of Duralast, Autozone & Pertronix
Installing a Custom Glory Grille in Our 1964 "GMC"
Installing Cragars and Skinny Whitewalls on our 1964 "GMC"
If you've been following along, you've seen that during our recent "downtime" we've taken the opportunity to get our 1964 "GMC" back on the road. To be fair, it has quite literally always run. When we bartered for it almost 20 years ago and found it in the back of a subpar body shop covered in Bondo, all it took was a battery and it fired right up. When we were first building it way back in the day at Totally Polished, it was torn down to a cab on a frame with an engine and the radiator only being held up by the radiator hoses, but it never failed to move under its own power. After several stints of sitting for a year or more, we've always been able to throw a battery in it and head to a show. The truck has been to Paso Robles, Phoenix, San Diego, and everywhere in between. It has never sat on the side of the road, and it hasn't been on a trailer for 18 years.
Somehow, through all of this, we have never given the stock(ish) 327-c.i. small block a proper tune up. In fact, we've never touched the actual engine at all—ever. Sure, we shaved the firewall, added an aluminum radiator, brake system, airbag suspension, even swapped the front-end sheet metal, and basically built up every single component around it, but nonetheless, the engine remained untouched. Recently, this began to come to light when we cleaned up the brakes, added new Cragars and Diamondback Classic skinny whitewalls, then installed our custom tube Glory Grille, all right before hitting a couple of the recent Quarantine cruises our buddy Jason and friends puts on in Huntington Beach. Once again, we hit the road without giving a thought to the old 327, but this time it started to let us know it was tired of the poor working conditions. The occasional chug or pop and general lack of power was apparent.
We decided to do a simple tune-up and wanted to cover most of the basics before the next cruise, starting with the ignition system, as some of the basics of engine maintenance seem to be becoming a lost art. This was not about bolting on shiny or high horsepower parts on and hoping for the best. We could have done that years ago. This is about getting the correct replacement parts on the engine and tuning it to stock specs. Check out our process below, and check back soon because we also address our cooling system and even take a look at the transmission before we call our tune-up complete!