Back in 2012, the Summit Racing SuperSeries Top Class Champion won a brand new American Racing Cars dragster with a 565 cubic inch big block Chevy built by Trick Flow Specialties.

While Trick Flow is best known for developing cylinder heads for high performance street and race use, Trick Flow also knows a thing or two about building engines. Over the years, they’ve put together hundreds of engines ranging from docile small block Chevys to blown LS motors, torque monster big block Fords and Chevys, and everything in between. Simply put, a Trick Flow-built engine makes solid, reliable horsepower.

To prove the point, Trick Flow manager Mike Downs invited us to document the assembly and dyno testing of the 565 Chevy for the giveaway dragster. In this installment, we’ll take a look at the short block assembly.

Why a 565?
With a large 4.600-inch bore, 4.250-inch stroke, and a 6.535-inch rod, the 565 can make large amounts of horsepower and torque, yet uses readily available parts and requires minimal machine work. Better, yet, the 565 is adaptable to many IHRA sportsman and bracket classes.

The Parts
Here are the building blocks for the engine:

Dart Big M Engine Block: The Big M is one of the strongest blocks available for big Chevys. The cast iron engine block has race-ready features like scalloped outer water jacket walls to improve coolant flow around the cylinder barrels, four-bolt billet steel main caps with splayed outer bolts, a true priority main oil system, a stepped main oil gallery to increase oil flow to the crank at high rpm, and lifter valley head stud bosses to prevent blown head gaskets.

Callies Magnum Crankshaft: Manufactured from 4340 steel, the forged crankshaft is given multiple heat treatments for unsurpassed wear and strength characteristics. The 4.250-inch stroke crank has gundrilled mains and fully profiled counterweights.

JE Pistons Forged Pistons and Rings: These forged pistons have a 46cc dome with two valve reliefs, vertical gas ports, and an oil rail support. The ring pack consists of .043-inch plasma-moly coated ductile iron top rings, .043-inch phosphate-coated iron secondary rings, and a low-tension 3mm oil ring.

Manley Connecting Rods: These 6.535-inch H-beam connecting rods are made from forged 4340 steel alloy and are fully machined, stress relieved, and magnafluxed. Each rod set is weight-matched to within 2 grams and come with ARP cap screw rod bolts.

Clevite H-Series Main and Rod Bearings: The main bearings have Clevite’s exclusive TriArmor coating that offers extraordinary protection and lubricity. The bearings have enlarged chamfers at the sides for greater crank-fillet clearance and are made without flash plating for better seating.

Dart Roller Cam Bearings: These bearings can handle large amounts of spring pressure, decrease power-robbing friction, and hold closer oil tolerances. The bearings are steel jacketed and encapsulated for ease of installation.

COMP Cams Roller Camshaft: Ground specifically for this engine, the cam has 283-degree/296-degree duration @ .050 and .824/.785 inches of lift with a 1.7 ratio rocker arm.

Jesel Belt Drive: The two-piece camshaft belt drive reduces the amount of harmonics being transferred to the camshaft. That means rock-solid cam timing compared to a timing chain or gear drive. It also has an external cam timing adjustment feature that allows you to accurately set cam timing.

There are no special tricks or double-secret procedures to building a reliable race engine. It’s all about taking your time, keeping things clean and well lubricated, and most importantly, measuring everything–twice if you have to. Follow along as Trick Flow’s engine builder and tuner Todd Hodges puts together our short block.

565 Dart Big M engine block on stand
Roller cam bearings in an engine
checking main bearing clearance on an engine
JE Piston head
installing rod cap on a connecting rod
checking bearing clearances on an engine
installing wristpin locks into a piston
installing JE piston rings
JE piston ring set installed
lubing main journals on a Dart Big M block engine
installing a crankshaft into an engine
installing main caps on an engine
checking crank thrust endplay on an engine
installing pistons into an engine
installing rod caps on an engine
installing a COMP Cams mechanical roller cam
checking engine camshaft endplay
installing a Jesel belt drive timing system
565 cubic inch short block

The foundation for the 565 is a Dart Big M block. It features 4.600-inch cylinder bores, 9.800-inch (standard) deck height, priority main oiling (the main bearings get oil first), scalloped water jackets for improved water flow around the cylinder jackets, and nodular iron four-bolt main bearing caps. Dart also enlarged the cam tunnels for roller bearings and bushed the lifter bores for .904-inch lifters. The wet sump block was finished machined (honed cylinder bores, decked for MLS head gaskets) at R&R Engine (Akron, OH). Special thanks to Al Roth for getting the block done so quickly.

Roller cam bearings, like these from Dart, are a plus in a race engine for a couple of reasons. They can handle very high valve spring pressures better than plain bearings, and they help reduce power-robbing friction--every little bit counts in high horsepower, high rpm engines. They do require a specialized installation tool.

Main bearing clearance is checked by bolting the caps to 100 foot-pounds with the bearings installed, then measuring with a dial bore gauge. Recommended clearance with coated bearings like these Clevite H-Series bearings is .0025-.0032 inches.

The pistons are from JE. Designed for open combustion chamber cylinder heads, the forged pistons have a 46cc popup with two valve reliefs. Vertical gas port holes drilled from the deck of the piston into the top ring groove and behind the ring. The holes direct cylinder pressure behind the compression ring and seal it against the cylinder wall. This helps prevent ring flutter and extends the power curve upward in the rpm range.

Todd torques a cap on one of the Manley H-beam connecting rods to 95 foot-pounds. He will then use a bore gauge to measure bearing clearance. The Manley rods are forged from 4340 steel alloy that has a compact, uniform grain structure for ultimate strength. The wrist pin and big end bores are honed to a +/-.0002-inch tolerance, and the wrist pins have bronze alloy bushings.

The bearing tolerances for a big block Chevy are .002-.0032 inches. Todd checked clearances on all eight rods; each speced out to .003 inches. The Clevite H-Series bearings are .001-inch oversized to insure proper clearances.

The JE pistons come with wristpins and double Spiro locks. Todd gently uncoils the locks before installing them so they go in easier.

The JE piston rings are a file-fit type. The top ring gap is .018 inches; the secondary ring gap is .020 inches.

The JE piston ring set features a .043-inch ductile iron top ring with a plasma-moly coating. The ring is barrel-faced to maintain just enough contact with the cylinder wall to seal properly with the least amount of drag. The cast iron secondary ring has a reverse torsional taper face allows the ring to twist in the land, forcing the edge into the cylinder to better catch oil that gets by the oil ring. The oil ring itself is a low-tension 3mm ring with a chrome-plated face.

The Dart Big M block takes a standard two-piece rear main seal. Todd likes to use a light coating of silicone on the seal surfaces of the block and the rear main cap to help prevent oil leaks.

With clearances checked, bearings lubricated, and piston/rod sets assembled, it’s time for assembly. First up is the Callies Magnum crankshaft; forged from 4340 steel, the 4.250-inch stroke crank has gundrilled mains and fully profiled counterweights. Those counterweights are strategically placed to reduce imbalance forces over the entire length of the crank to improve bearing life and reduce wear.

The main caps are torqued to 100 foot-pounds in three steps: 50 foot-pounds, 70 foot-pounds, and a 100 foot-pounds.

Todd checks crank thrust (endplay) with a dial indicator. Acceptable endplay for a big block Chevy is .003 to .010 inches; ours came in at .006 inches.

With the cylinder bores lubed with ATF fluid, Todd pushes the piston/rod assemblies into their new homes. Notice he doesn’t use a mallet or other tool to get the piston in. That’s because he’s using an ARP tapered piston ring compressor, which gradually compresses the rings as the pistons is pushed into the bore. That allows the piston to enter the bore smoothly--no mallet required.

The rod caps are torqued to 95 foot-pounds in increments of 50, 70, and 95 foot-pounds.

The COMP Cams mechanical roller cam is slid into place. Duration is 283 degrees/296 degrees @ .050; lift is .824/.785 inches. Lobe separation is 144 degrees, and the intake centerline is 110 degrees. The cam is ground for a 1-8-7-3-6-5-4-2 firing order (swaps cylinders four and seven) for extra high-rpm horsepower and reduced crankshaft harmonics.

Accurate cam timing is critical on any race engine, but doubly so on a large cubic inch, high-rpm big block. Unlike timing chains and gear drives, a Jesel belt drive does not transfer the crankshaft (torsional) harmonics to the cam that can cause cam timing to jump around. Here, Todd checks camshaft endplay with a dial indicator.

The Jesel belt drive is a “dry” system that requires no oil lubrication. It also allows up to eight degrees of cam adjustability (either advance or retard). Jesel recommends replacing the belt annually.

One 565 cubic inch short block, awaiting the super-secret Trick Flow cylinder heads, valvetrain, and an oiling system. We’ll show you all that and more in the next installment.

Parts List
DRT-31273644: Dart Big M Bare Block

CPI-BBP42B-MG: Callies Magnum Crankshaft

JEP-243331-8: JE Pistons Forged Pistons, set of 8

JEP-J7700846005: JE Pistons Piston Ring Set

MAN-14066R-8: Manley H-Beam Steel Connecting Rods, set of 8

CLE-MS829-HK; Clevite H-Series Main Bearing Set

CLE-CB743HXN: Clevite H-Series Rod Bearing, each

DRT-32220042-5: Roller Cam Bearing Set

CCA-11-000-14: COMP Cams Mechanical Roller Camshaft

JES-KBD-38200: Jesel Belt Drive System

Next Installment
In the next episode, we’ll be looking at the cylinder heads, valvetrain, and final assembly of the 565. And just wait ‘til you see those heads–you’re gonna be impressed! In Part 3, you’ll see the finished product and dyno results.

Author: Alan Rebescher

Editor, author, PR man—Alan Rebescher has done it all in a 25 year career in the high performance industry. He has written and photographed many feature stories and tech articles for Summit Racing and various magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Hot Rodding, and edited Summit Racing’s Street & Strip magazine in the 1990s. His garage is currently occupied by a a 1996 Mustang GT ragtop.