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Old 03-11-2007, 10:29 PM   #1
KyleDallas
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Default Can Am Big Block-GM Factory Bad Boy

Click the image to open in full size.
This pic was sent to me by a forum member whose client owns this
car...It is a Jim Hall Can Am car from 1971.
He said when time allowed he would try and obtain the casting numbers from this Hall engine... nice valve covers, eh??

I read on another forum that the Can Am engine parts were available in the Chevrolet Heavy Duty parts catalog.. I have no confirmation of this
so I thought I'd post what I do have and see if anyone else has additional information.

I have 3 block casting numbers from Mortec.

0-32674- Aluminum block-4 bolt- 4.44 inch bore
399204- 509cid years 70-71- 4.5 inch bore
495102- 4.5 inch bore

I found the camshaft listing from another source.

It is GM part number 3994094
a Solid lifter cam with 148 deg of overlap- .600int/.600ex lift
duration is .286in/.286ex @ .050...

I would imagiine this engine held the "Most powerful GM engine produced for a few years"... but the DRCE and Current SB2 have it
beat no doubt..not to mention the 18 degree NASCAR truck engines and
the GM Splayed Valve Head IMSA engines.

Anyway.. Im curious to see if anyone has some more detailed info
on the Aluminum BBC Can Am motors....

My understanding is that McLaren Performance (Bruce) in Canada
was formed to insure that McLaren had Big Blocks avialable for his Can AM race cars in 1969... and to sell BBC race parts. McLaren Performance was contracted by GM to engineer and produce the Vortec Bowtie heads in the current GMPP catalog.

http://www.mclarenperformance.com/eportal/

Press Release:
McLaren Performance Technologies to Take GM Racing Cylinder Head From Prototype-to-Production.
From: PR Newswire | Date: November 27, 2001
PR Newswire

LIVONIA, Mich. and OLDCASTLE, Ontario -- McLaren Performance Technologies, Inc. announced that it has been named by GM Racing as the development and manufacturing source for its new VorTech V8 performance cylinder head. McLaren Performance will work in partnership with GM Racing to fulfill its design intent for the cast-iron performance aftermarket and racing component.
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Old 03-11-2007, 11:02 PM   #2
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Default AL Big Block Can-Am

I have all the info and specs here, somewhere. If I remember correctly, the early Can-Am blocks were short stroke 4.44" bore that resulted in a 430" motor. The unique short stroke Can-Am crankshaft was, I believe, 3.5". (impossible to find today) The same 4.44" bore block with a standard 427 crankshaft gave 465 inches and a 454 crankshaft resulted in 495".

The first blocks had dry iron cyl liners but eventually, these blocks were used with no iron liner. The special "tin coated" pistons ran directly on/in aluminum bores. (similar to a Vega)

These engines were released and used in the very late 60's and early 70's. I think most of the aluminum big block projects ended in the early 70's. I'll try to find some of the factory paperwork. Pretty interesting stuff.
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Old 03-11-2007, 11:05 PM   #3
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Old 03-11-2007, 11:21 PM   #4
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Here's a little more information. Sorry, no part numbers -

Service only - 4.440 bore 356 alloy with cast iron dry cylinder liners. Built in 1969 to 1972 as bare cylinder block only. Standard displacements are 430 CID with 3.47" stroke crank, 465 CID with 3.76" stroke crank, and 495 CID with a 4" stroke crankshaft.

Service only - 4.440 bore 390 alloy with no cylinder liners [pistons run directly on cylinder bores and must be iron plated for compatibility] This engine was available as a bare cylinder block only starting in 1972. Due to piston availability, the engine can only be built as 430 or 441 CID [with a .060 overbore], and 495 or 510 CID [with a .060 overbore] using 3.47" or 4" strokes respectively.

The cam you listed is described as being for "Drag & Road Race Fuel Injected or large displacement engines".
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Old 03-12-2007, 01:18 AM   #5
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I would LOVE to have set of those valve covers for the 465 CI, 4.44" bore BB I have gathering dust in a crate in my garage.

the coolant expansion tank looks familiar.

Doug

PS: I will look for and scan and post the pics of the two 429 Boss Nascar motors I had that I sold about 10 years ago.

Interesting motors, the entire lafter valley and crank case were polished to a mirror finish.
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Old 03-12-2007, 01:26 AM   #6
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I was an engine builder for the UOP Shadow Team from 72 through 75 and built these engines almost exclusively. Engines I assembled were driven by Jackie Oliver, George Follmer, Vic Elford, James Hunt and Peter Revson. I was trained on them by Lee Muir who came to Shadow directly from McLaren. I've got loads of photos and, if I dig deep enough I can probably dig up my track/tuning notes.
In the early Can Am years only three teams had the Reynolds "390" Aluminum blocks. McLAren, Shadow, and Chapparral. Later they became more common, but most of the "lesser" teams didn't use the all-aluminum 390 blocks, but iron sleeved castings. All were Lucas injected.
McLAren did their own porting, as did we. The usual well known California head guys did most of the rest.
We rarely built 510's, almost always 495's. Race trim hp was about 735with flat tappets. We bult some roller tappet "Qualifyers" that did about 775 hp. In '73 we built a 1200 hp turbo 495 (I could change those head gaskets in my sleep!) to compete with the 917K. We were faster at Laguna Seca but ran out of brakes. Vic Elford was driving- Donohue came over to Lee and I after the race and told us "he'd NEVER seen anything accelerate up the hill like that beast". THe tires on that car were 24 inches wide and it would leave giant blackies all the way up the hill. I've built lots of engines but those are still my favorite. Nothing in motorsports sounds like 20 of those things at the green. I'll never forget it.
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:02 AM   #7
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IGO2000
Did you ever see the first shadow with the baby tires?
I saw it run at Mont Tremblan before it was it was destroyed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IGO200 View Post
I was an engine builder for the UOP Shadow Team from 72 through 75 and built these engines almost exclusively. Engines I assembled were driven by Jackie Oliver, George Follmer, Vic Elford, James Hunt and Peter Revson. I was trained on them by Lee Muir who came to Shadow directly from McLaren. I've got loads of photos and, if I dig deep enough I can probably dig up my track/tuning notes.
In the early Can Am years only three teams had the Reynolds "390" Aluminum blocks. McLAren, Shadow, and Chapparral. Later they became more common, but most of the "lesser" teams didn't use the all-aluminum 390 blocks, but iron sleeved castings. All were Lucas injected.
McLAren did their own porting, as did we. The usual well known California head guys did most of the rest.
We rarely built 510's, almost always 495's. Race trim hp was about 735with flat tappets. We bult some roller tappet "Qualifyers" that did about 775 hp. In '73 we built a 1200 hp turbo 495 (I could change those head gaskets in my sleep!) to compete with the 917K. We were faster at Laguna Seca but ran out of brakes. Vic Elford was driving- Donohue came over to Lee and I after the race and told us "he'd NEVER seen anything accelerate up the hill like that beast". THe tires on that car were 24 inches wide and it would leave giant blackies all the way up the hill. I've built lots of engines but those are still my favorite. Nothing in motorsports sounds like 20 of those things at the green. I'll never forget it.
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Old 03-12-2007, 10:22 AM   #8
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I hauled it from Long Beach to Chicago when we set up the Elk Grove shop. Played with it some but it never ran again. I sat in it....
What a weird deal. You had to put your feet sideways, toes pointing to the sides because the nose wasn't tall enough to put them upright.
Follmer hated it.
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IGO200 View Post
I've got loads of photos and, if I dig deep enough I can probably dig up my track/tuning notes.
In the early Can Am years only three teams had the Reynolds "390" Aluminum blocks. McLAren, Shadow, and Chapparral. Later they became more common, but most of the "lesser" teams didn't use the all-aluminum 390 blocks, but iron sleeved castings.
Doug... I guess you are refering to Reynolds Aluminum the foil maker??
Most of the aftermarket all aluminum blocks Im familiar with were made
by Alcoa... very interesting..I had no idea Reynolds had the capacity..
I'd love to see the photos you have... what a great stroke of luck to
have one of the original engine builders chime in with first hand info

Do you remember what heads you were using??... ZL1's ??

What about your internals... Mfg by GM or an outside source???

Could you comment on how well the aluminum bores held up...
and maybe some of the issues that the Aluminum blocks posed in
those apllications??... longevity??... cracking?? Turbo heat issues??
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Old 03-12-2007, 12:30 PM   #10
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Looks like the 430ci version (4.44x3.47) used a 6.40 inch rod..
I wonder what RPM these motors turned during a race..
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Old 03-12-2007, 01:36 PM   #11
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VIDEO- here's a clip from a new Chaparral DVD that can be purchased from
The Petroleum Museum in Midland Texas where Jim Hall's cars are housed
A Very sweet clip that shows the Can Am Big Block in action.

http://www.petroleummuseum.org/PetMu...ideos/chap.avi

I made a mistake in my original post... the Can Am Big Block pictured
is a Jim Hall powerplant.... but it is actually sitting in a Lola...
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Old 03-12-2007, 06:56 PM   #12
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Kyle,
We got our parts directly from GM racing. The sleeveless blocks were all Reynolds since Reynolds was the developer of the high Silicon 390 alloy/iron plated piston technology. Could be that the sleeved blocks the "regular people" got were Alcoa castings. It's funny, over the years I've worked on several factory race programs and often I never know what the "retail" customer was getting 'cause all I had seen was the special stuff.
The Reynolds 390 system was the same as used in the Vega and most people blamed the high silicon blocks for the failures there, but it wasn't the sleeveless design but the open deck, unsupported cylinders that were the culprit. The Reynolds 390 technology was used in lots of consumer BMWs, Ferrari's and also the Porshe 928. It was really a bulletproof system. Engines often had zero to 2% leakdown until we took them apart to inspect. Head gaskets were no problem on the N/A but on the turbo it was a one year development process to get the heads to seal. Valves were Diamond I think, Cranks were GM, Rods were Carillo, Rod bolts were SPS, Vertex mags (omigod-mags!), I'm thinking cams were Crane but I really can't remember exactly. Lucas FI of course (incredibly "tunable", I really liked playing with that)
As you can imagine most of my pics are 35mm slides, but maybe this is an excuse to dig 'em out and scan a few up......
Ah memories.....
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IGO200 View Post
I hauled it from Long Beach to Chicago when we set up the Elk Grove shop. Played with it some but it never ran again. I sat in it....
What a weird deal. You had to put your feet sideways, toes pointing to the sides because the nose wasn't tall enough to put them upright.
Follmer hated it.
Doug,

Were you in Elk Grove Village in the early 70's? We also had opportunity to play with several of the 4.44 blocks in the very early 70's. Most of the pieces came in the back door, just as you describe. Usually a hand written part number on the box. Motor Sport Research in Des Plaines was heavily involved for a few years but, if I remember correctly, dropped out in probably 73 or 74?

I still have all of the part number sheets and honing instructions for these engines. (still looking for that folder) Still have a few sets of the Sunnen hone pads that engineering sent for the CK-10 hone that was to be used for the silicone lap.
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Old 03-12-2007, 09:16 PM   #14
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This is some great stuff !!!
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Old 03-12-2007, 09:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grey Ghost View Post
This is some great stuff !!!
Just dug out some of the original GM part numbers. Also found the instruction sheet for replacing a cyl liner. I'd scan and post but my scanner isn't cooperating. Here are a few of the numbers.

3992038..Block, 4.44" bore AL W/Liners

3993803..C/Shaft, 3.47" stroke

3963642..Rod, connecting 6.405" C/C

3992042..Sleeve, cyl liner (for 430" AL)
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Old 03-12-2007, 10:47 PM   #16
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Yes, I was at the Shadow Shop (on Lively ?) from early 72 through 76.
All the big block Can Am engines and the F-5000 Small block Chevs as well as the Dodge factory backed Mopar F-5000 engines were built there.
I also worked on some Cosworth DFV F-1 engines for the Shadow F-1 team (The english couldn't build a decent engine so we had to fix 'em) There were three of us, Lee Muir, me and Stump Davis in the engine shop along with a machinist. I'll see if I can dig up a picture or two....
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:05 PM   #17
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I was wondering how a Chaparral engine was in a red car. The Chaparrals were white.

The opening shots in the video are taken on the Rattlesnake Raceway track behind the Chaparral shops just South of Midland. That was their private test track that was hard to see from the road.

I got to drive people around that track in a 9 passenger van and Phil Hill in my Avalanche during the Chaparral Gallery grand opening. It was pretty cool. Also Jim Hall drove one of the Chaparral cars from his shop to the museum - so we got to hear one of the racing BB Chevys in action.
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Old 03-13-2007, 09:31 AM   #18
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Quote:
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but my scanner isn't cooperating

Just use a digital camera. I have used one with slides too and it works pretty well.

Tyler
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Old 03-13-2007, 11:30 AM   #19
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The current GM Performance Parts Catalog lists the "improved" ZL-1 block, with standard 4.250" bore. They also produce iron blocks with up to 4.600" standard bores. I wonder why they don't reproduce these 4.44" bore aluminum blocks. Maybe they DID have problems with core shift.
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Old 03-13-2007, 03:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
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The current GM Performance Parts Catalog lists the "improved" ZL-1 block, with standard 4.250" bore. They also produce iron blocks with up to 4.600" standard bores. I wonder why they don't reproduce these 4.44" bore aluminum blocks. Maybe they DID have problems with core shift.

One word: demand.
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Old 03-13-2007, 03:41 PM
 
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