Tom...great post as always.
I think I have a 76 and up block.
Im having a local shop that does all the local drag racers machine work check it out. He has a complete machine shop at his home.
I may use studs versus bolts for my build...I like insurance.
Sounds like the 5.7 rod is the way to go....I will not be reusing the iron heads...will be using something like a 200 to 210 Brodix, AFR. or Profiler head...aluminum of course.
You probably know to do this, BUUUUUUUUT, just in case you don't know, when using stock type 5.7 (350) rods in a SB400, the bolt head that FACES THE CAM has to be slightly clearanced to clear the cam lobes. TOOOOOOOOOOO EASY to do at home on the work bench. I use a die grinder and a fine sanding disc to do this. If aftermarket rods with cap screws are used, then this is not necessary because they already have the needed clearance.
I also chamfer the oil holes on the crankshaft BEFORE sending it to the machine shop.
Another thing I do is remove the rod caps and bolts. Then I use a die grinder with a small sanding drum to smooth out the rough casting surface of the rod beams, then put them in the blast cabinet and blast the beams where I sanded them. I DO NOT sand the beams all the way down, I just smooth out the roughness. All the experts recommend to have parts such as rods shot peened. But I don't have shot for peening, so I just use the media in my blast cabinet. SUPPOSEDLY, this process helps to relieve stress risers in the rods. Again, these are things you can pay your machinist to do, but since I am a cheapskate, plus, I just like to do my own work as much as possible, I do it myself before taking everything to the machine shop-----------------AND, AND, AND, I know it was done if I do it!