Break in procedure, after initial start up?? - Chevelle Tech
2002 General Tech questions from 2002

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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 6:42 PM Thread Starter
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Does anybody have a fool proof break in procedure for a BB 454? The mechanic just fired it up yesterday. We will be getting the car today. I am planning on running Mobil 1 in the car. Right now it has regular oil, (whatever the mechanic put in it). How long should I run the car with regular oil in it before I change to Mobil 1? Are there any special flushing methods I should use before replacing with Mobil 1, or do I just change the oil and filter? Are the wieghts the same? for example if I use 10-30 reg oil will the 10-30 synthetic be the same?

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 6:44 PM
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Congrats on the new motor just out of curiousity, why did the mechanic have it to begin with?

I have heard that when the motor is started that it should run for 15-20 minutes at 1500 rpm to break the cam in. Then driven (carefully) for another 500 miles to break evrything else in.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 6:51 PM
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Yep - same here, broke mine in for 20 min @ 1800-2400 rpm and then took it easy on it for the first 500 miles.

I believe the mechanic had it because the only way he would warranty the work was if he started it.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 6:56 PM
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I think and if you ask BillK, one of the MOST important things you can do after it is installed and properly run in, is to take it out for a drive. I used Mobil 1 10w30 in my 350 that I installed in my 86 Monte Carlo SS from the beginning and all is fine after over a year..

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 6:59 PM Thread Starter
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The Mechanic I used is Mike Hayden here in So. Cal. He is a big time muscle car builder down here. Anyway, when he builds engines his policy is, he has to start them or he won't warrantee them. When we picked up the engine several months ago, he said; There are several ways to hurt an engine during the start up procedure, so he starts them personally and does all the adjustments. He gives people one hour of free labor for the start up.........bk

I'm glad he started it anyway, my son and I are new at this. It took him less than an hour to dial the engine in. He said we did a good job, (thanks to all you guys!!!!). There was one thing we did that cracked him up though. The vacuum line for the TH350 was connected to a water tap instead of a vacuum. .......bk

[This message has been edited by driverk (edited 02-22-2002).]
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 7:11 PM
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Assuming that you have no leaks and everything looks good, I would take it out for a nice long drive in light traffic. Country roads and expressway would be best. Try to vary the speeds and loads. I wouldn't do any 5500 rpm WOT runs for the first 500 miles or so, but don't worry about hurting it.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 02, 7:57 PM
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I broke a cam in on my 350, my tach was broke at the time, and i was in the 1500-3500 area. do you think the 3500 revs could have hurt the new hydrolic cam?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 02, 2:52 AM
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I have to agree with the other guys, I run them with straight 30w oil for the first 500 miles. Initial startup according to cam mfgr requirements about 10 -15 mins, and usually a trip down the road with light to moderate loads accel, and de-accelerate to give the rings a good wear pattern started. If I make it to the first oil change, I'm good to go.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 02, 6:32 AM
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Agree. The mechanic broke in the cam so just drive it the same way you would normally and accelerate and decelerate a bunch of times. Don't wind it up but change the pace a lot for the first few miles. That will draw the oil up into the rings and assure a good seating of the rings.


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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 02, 5:12 PM
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I found this in Chevy Talk

Starting up your new or rebuilt engine for the first time

by Bob (mr409)

Whether you've rebuilt your engine yourself, had it rebuilt or have a brand new engine, you have alot of money invested
at this point. Now your ready for that last big task...Starting it! I can remember the day I started my engine for the first
time. I know that I will never forget it. It's a very tense feeling especially if it's your first time. It's about as nerve racking as
waiting in the fathers waiting room for your first born!

This article will focus on the proper method of starting up a new or rebuilt engine for the first time and to help alleviate
some of those nervous feelings. Following the information found here, you can correctly break in your new engine. This
information comes from various books but mostly from my own personal experiences.

Starting an engine for the first time is a make or break deal for the camshaft. (unless your using a roller cam-these do
not require the usual break the way the flat tappet type do) If done correctly, your engine will provide years of service. If
done incorrectly, you can do major damage within minutes! It's the first 5 minutes of running time that can wipe out a new
cam. The other 15 minutes is just insurance. If I haven't scared you away yet, continue on as I list all the do's and dont's
to help you avoid such a disaster.

A very important step is preperation. This isn't something to rush into. Taking a day or two before fire-up to look over
the engine and double check (even triple check) your work is a good idea. Sometimes it's easy to over look the most
common of things. You want to find any loose bolts, loose fittings, etc now rather than on the "big day." You did remember
to remove that shop rag from the intake before bolting on the carb didn't you???

Here is a list of items to adjust and check a day or two prior to fire-up:

Valve adjustment-This is very important to do now. Spend as much time as needed until your sure all the valves
are adjusted to specs.

Ignition timing-Another important step. If the timing isn't set correctly, your engine may run poorly or not start at all.
You want the engine to start right away and avoid any unnecasary cranking which can damage the cam lobes.

Check over the torque of the headbolts, intake bolts, exhaust manifold or headers as well as all external engine
parts such as fuel pump, water pump, etc.

Pre-fill the carb with fuel and make sure the accelerator pump is working. It should spray gas out in steady streams.
Doing this will insure that your engine gets fuel immediately. No start.

Fill oil filter with oil-If you haven't already, it's very important to do this with your new engine to insure that the
engine has a continuous supply of oil and doesn't hit a dry spot. (it's a good idea to do this everytime you do an oil
change too)

Be sure to use a thermostat. You want the engine to reach normal operating temperature. Not using a 'stat can
cause the engine to run too cold and not heat up properly. It's also a good idea to test the 'stat ahead of time even
if it's new. Place 'stat in a pot of boiling water on the stove to be sure it will open. To avoid any air pockets which
would cause overheating, with thermostat removed, fill the block with distilled water then re-install the stat. Then
simply fill the rest of the cooling system at the radiator as normal. It's important to use water at this point and not
antifreeze. If your new engine should have an internal leak, antifreeze getting to the bearings could wipe them out.

Check over spark plug wire routing. Be sure all wires are installed to the correct cylinders and that they are not
touching any part of the engine that will burn them.

Install an oil pressure gauge and temperature gauge to the engine even if you don't plan on keeping them in the
car. It's best to monitor the engines vital signs with gauges than to rely on idiot lights.

Install a tachometer. You'll need one to monitor the rpms during break in.

Now go get some sleep. Tomorrow is a big day!

Heres the list of things to do on fire up day:

Having a helper is a plus. An extra set of eyes never hurts! If no helper is available, don't fear. This job can be
done by one person. Im living proof of that.

Check all fluids, belts, and visually go over all bolts fittings and connections one last time. I know, you just did this
yesterday but do it again anyway! Remove radiator cap and leave it off until the thermostat opens. This will ensure
that any trapped air in the system will be able to escape. (once the thermostat opens you can install the cap and
continue on with the break in) Install battery and check power wire at the coil. (without power here, engine will not

Pre-prime the oiling system. This is very important! Remove distributor and all spark plugs. Attach an old distributor
shaft with the housing (cam gear must be removed) or a store bought primer to an electric drill and spin in a
clockwise direction for a few minutes. Check oil pressure gauge to be sure all is working good. Turn engine over a
1/4 of a turn, and spin oil pump again for a minute or two. Continue this until the engine has gone 2 full revolutions
then, reinstall the distributor being sure to a align the rotor so it points to #1. (the number 1 cylinder of the engine
must be on the compression stroke-if it's not, the engine won't be in time and will not start) It's also a good idea to
remove the valve covers during priming to be sure that oil is reaching the top of the engine. *note-if using only a
store bought primer rod with no distributor body the oil will not make it this high up into the engine as it's the
distributor body that directs the oil up into this area.

Place a house fan directly in front of the radiator to blow cool air into it. An engine running at a high rpm standing
still will benefit from the extra air.

Have a garden hose nearby in the event of a fire. A fire extinquisher is also a good idea but use that as a last
resort as it will really make a mess! (saving your car is the most important thing however)

Have a watch or clock available.

Dump about a 1/4 cup of gas down the carburetor and operate the throttle to allow the fuel to pass through the
throttle plates. Look down carb while moving the throttle to check one more time that the accelerator pump is
working. (the engine is bone dry at this point so it will need a bit more fuel than usual but don't go overboard)
Check to make sure choke is working properly and that it's set where it will start your cold engine. Install the air
cleaner. (be sure to use the air cleaner in the event of a backfire-if any flames do backfire through while trying to
start, crank the engine again to suck them back into the engine-this is a good tip to remember anytime this

You'll need a way of keeping the engine at 2,000 rpm's for the break-in. If you have a helper, one of you can sit in
the car and do this via the gas pedal. If your going solo on this one, do what I did. Tie a piece of heavy string to the
throttle linkage at the carb. Make it long enough so you can reach it while standing at the driver door. After engine
starts and you have the rpm's at 2,000, just tie the string off near the cowl or hood hinge. Then you will be free to
walk around and keep an eye on everything.

Do the break-in outdoors! There will be alot of smoke coming off of the exhaust manifolds or headers especially if
you have coated them. There will be plenty of blue smoke coming out of the tail pipes as well until the rings seat
themselves. Do not be alarmed when you see this, it's normal. Be sure to have adequate ventilation. * Note-Moly
faced rings will be broken in by the time you get the cam broken in. If using any chrome face type rings, take the
car out on an open stretch of road and starting at 30 mph, accelerate to the legal speed limit. When you get to the
limit, let off on the gas and let the engine pull the speed down to 30 mph. Repeat this about 10 times and your
rings should be seated properly. This procedure can also be done if using Moly rings as an added insurance.

With all that done, your ready to bring that beast to life! Are you nervous??? If you said no, your a liar! Now take a deep
breath. When you are sure that your ready and you feel confident that nothing has been over looked, pump the pedal a
few times and hit the key. If everything has been done properly, the engine should roar to life almost immediately. If it
doesn't start within a reasonable amount of time (say 10-15 seconds), stop and find out why. Do not continue cranking.

Once the engine starts, hold the throttle at 2,000 rpm's. Hydraulic lifters will be noisy for the first minute or two until they
pump up. Check oil pressure gauge to be sure there is sufficient pressure. Listen to the engine for any odd sounds.
Check engine at this point for any fuel leaks and if all is well, you can tie off the string to hold the throttle at 2,000 rpm's.
Note the time. Keep the engine running at this speed for 20 minutes. (if there are any problems, you'll have to shut down
immediately. Allow rpm's to drop down quickly and turn key off right away. Do not allow engine to idle. Find or fix the
problem before resuming break-in)

During this time, keep an eye out for any leaks and watch those gauges! Also, be sure the choke has opened up
properly. Once the 'stat opens, install the radiator cap. Do not allow engine to overheat! If temperatures go too high, you
will have to shut down. (note-a fresh engine will usually run a bit hotter than normal due to increased friction of the new

If all goes well, you'll make it to the 20 minute mark without any problems. Un-tie the string and allow the rpm's to come
down. Set the idle speed at this point. Now is a good time to check/adjust the timing, and points if you have them, as well
as the idle mixture screws. Shut down and give your engine it's first oil and filter change. (don't forget to write down the
mileage) After engine has cooled, re-torque the intake manifold bolts. Drain the cooling system and replenish with a
50/50 mix of anti-freeze and distilled water providing there is no sign of water in the oil when you change it.

If your car is licensed and all looks good, you can take her out for a spin if you like. Be sure to go easy on the "loud"
pedal especially for the first 500 miles. Do not drive at any one speed for any extended amount of time and don't push
the engine too hard. If your car is not ready for the road yet, avoid starting up and shutting off to show your friends or to
get in and out of the garage. Get that car out on the highway as soon as you can to complete the break-in. (note-some
people believe in driving the engine hard right from the start-I could never get myself to do that but it's your engine, and
your choice)

After 500 miles, change oil and filter again. (write down the mileage) At this point, some say it's ok to drive the car just as
it will be driven later on in life but I feel it's a good idea to continue to go easy on it. The choice is yours, it's your money
and your engine. Change oil again at 2,000 miles and now your can consider your engine fully broken in. Oil can be
changed on a normal time schedule from this point on. I like to change about every 3,000 miles.

I would like to leave with one last tip. Take plenty of pictures during the break in. This is one of those Polaroid moments
if there ever was one! A video camera would be even better. I regretably didn't even think of doing this when I started my
engine but then again, I didnt' have this list then either.

Have fun with your new engine!

Bob (mr409)

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 02, 6:42 PM Thread Starter
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You are the man!! Taking the time to do this for us is incredible. THIS IS A GREAT SITE! .............bk
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 02, 7:16 PM
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Ok guys heres what we used to do with a double AA drag engine that's a 50,000 dollar engine here in CANADA.Put it together with lots of STP does not run off stays where it's put,CAM, RODS, MAINS,any where it was needed.Load it in the car,at the strip it was broke in, in 5 sec at the strip that engine ran a full season, only had one failure a dropped valve on another one.I ran my own engine for 20 minutes for the cam then drive it and did not baby it,if you want a fast engine, let it know what's in store.Use lots of cam lube if you have to buy more do it.If you are not going to run the engine for a long time after building use lots of STP.And light oil on startup 5w30 change it and filter after 500 miles.Stop and think about it would GM go though all this,I think not...FRED

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 02, 9:08 PM
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I've had a few small blocks and big blocks. I've done the 20 minute cam breakin @ 2000 rpms, and then drove the car like I stole it. I'm not saying this is right, but it's what has worked for me. I heard that Jim Pace has a good break in procedure on his website.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 02, 4:34 PM
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I just fired up and broke in my motor last week. It was nerve racking to say the least.Everything went fine though and it runs great.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 02, 7:12 PM
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I am kinda of the same school as fred ont canada and shannont. The last time I built an engine for myself I did the cam break in procedure for twenty minutes and then I backed out of the garage and went to the corner about 100' from my garage and did a u turn and when I passed my driveway I was at about 7500 RPM in lo gear. If you put it together right the first time it should run. I ran that engine for a couple of years on and off the strip and never once had a problem with it.

I agree that the really big time racers never get to break their cars in on the street. They just assemble their cars and go race.

Most of the problems that people have with newly assembled cars/engines can usually be traced to something being done wrong during assembly.
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