Car Craft Magazine Completes Recent Restoration of 454 Engine

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Flexible hone used to recondition cylinder walls of big block Chevy engine prior to reassembly.

For Car Craft, a magazine and website dedicated to cars and motorsports, recently restored a 1970s-era 454 big block Chevy engine, which turned out to be a labor of love – and sludge. In addition to a major clean-up, the mechanics for the project also reconditioned the cylinder walls using a unique cylinder hone from Los Angeles-based Brush Research Manufacturing (BRM) called the Flex-Hone.

Big block Chevy engines are large-displacement V8 powerplants built by Chevrolet, a division of General Motors (GM) known for automotive nameplates such as the Corvette and the Camaro. From the “W” series engine of 1958 to the mighty Vortec 8100, Chevy big blocks carry eye-popping specs for torque, horsepower, compression ratio, and displacement.

Designed originally for cars and trucks, big block V8s are also used in sports utility vehicles (SUVs) like the Chevy Suburban. For the mechanics at Car Craft, the first task was dealing with tremendous sludge buildup.

“The sludge buildup was truly gross,” wrote Editor-in-Chief David Frieburger, “and is proof positive of the negative effects of a poor oil change schedule.”

With so much “fossilized carbon” lining the heads, the automotive restoration specialist joked that “we expected to find diamonds in the crankcase.”

After bringing the Chevy big block to JMS Racing Engines for a strong soak in a hot tank, the Car Craft crew inspected the 454 for damage. Despite the previous owner’s lack of engine maintenance, the 454 had only minimal wear on the cylinder walls. The block would not need to be re-bored, and even the pistons were still in good shape.

Before reassembling their big block Chevy engine, the Car Craft mechanics reconditioned the cylinder walls using the Flex-Hone from Los Angeles-based Brush Research Manufacturing (BRM).

Made with a metal stem, this versatile honing tool mounts in a handheld electric drill for ease-of-use. Designed for any type and size of cylinder, the flexible hone uses abrasive globules on flexible nylon filaments to produce a long-wearing surface.

The cross-hatch pattern that Brush Researches cylinder hone imparts provides a multiplicity of grooves and valleys for optimum oil retention. Flexible hones should be used with proper lubrication, preferably Flex-Hone oil instead of the 30-weight oil that Car Craft chose for this project.

For best results, Brush Research also recommends selecting the right abrasive and grit, and cleaning the engine block thoroughly after using the flexible hone.

According to Car Craft, making 5 to 7 passes with a 320-grit cylinder hone through each of the cylinders was all that was needed to produce “a good-looking crosshatch pattern on the cylinder walls.” To finish the job, the engine rebuilders then cleaned the big block with a degreaser and soap, removing any dust and debris that could interfere with the 454’s power and performance.

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Heather Jones
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