RHS bare engine block on a stand
boring crank journals on a v8 engine in a machine shop
camshaft resting on a metal table
installing a camshaft into an engine
clevite engine bearings on a work table
crankshaft for a v8 engine on a metal surface
connecting rods and piston heads sitting on a table
valve reliefs on head of wiseco pistons
wiseco piston head on a metal table
total seal piston rings on a metal table
LS Engine bare block with cylinder head removed

It all began with with a bare RHS LS block. Late Model Engines (LME) out of Houston, TX did all the machining, assembly, dyno, and tuning needs. There, LME and front man Bryan Neelan, completely prepped the bare, tall-deck (9.760-inch) RHS block, filling it with components from ARP Fasteners, COMP Cams, Clevite, Lunati, Total Seal and Wiseco to end up as a big-swinging, big-inch 502.

Machine work included cutting 0.010 inches off the deck. However, you’d be hard-pressed to take the same mill, wring it out for all it’s got during an open-track event or test and tune night at the local dragstrip and then rely on the same engine to get you home time after time. These requirements weren’t what the normal crowd was after.

The custom-grind COMP Cams camshaft allows the big-inch LS engine to breath in all areas of the rpm. This means lots of low-end grunt to pull the vehicle out of corners and plenty of high-horsepower up top in the rpm range.

With the help of the LME staff, the Chevy Hardcore guys applied some camshaft lube liberally and carefully installed the ‘stick, being especially careful not to gall the camshaft bearings. Chevy Hardcore opted for short travel hydraulic race lifters (Ti-bar required for LS blocks). What’s so special about these lifters? Well, they have been engineered from a patent-pending design that specifically performs at higher engine speeds. They are designed to limit the lifter’s internal piston as it is pumped up. By limiting that movement, the COMP Cams short travel race hydraulic roller lifters cut down on the loss of power and limit valvetrain failure at higher rpm.

The Clevite H-Series bearing set came complete with main and rod bearings. Rod journals are large, too, with 2.100 inches of diameter, able to support a minimum rod length of 6.125 inches. Before the crank was planted, the H-Series Clevite main bearings were installed. H-Series bearings for this application are important considering the potentially mid- to high-rpm this engine will live at.

The 502-inch LS motor relies on a super-fortified forged crankshaft from Lunati. The Pro Series cranks feature aircraft-quality standards and drilled rod journals with lightening holes to reduce the inertia weight of the crankshaft.

Lunati Pro Series rods were used to handle the high-rpm activity. The rods feature aerospace 4340 alloy steel and come complete with ARP 2000 rod bolts. LME fitted the big end of each rod with a narrowed, Clevite (PN CB66HN) rod bearing.

The custom-built, 4.165-inch bore Wiseco pistons feature -19cc, reverse dome LS7 pockets and lateral gas ports were custom cut by Wiseco to handle the 11.5:1 squeeze in the bores. Each slug was also treated to an anti-friction coating on the skirts for extra strength and to wick away power-sapping heat. Of course, Bryan Neelen shared his method behind the madness. “As cubic inches increase, the total volume of the piston and combustion changer increases to maintain a certain cubic inch. For example, a 427ci engine with 68cc chambers will need a -6cc piston to make 11.5:1. For this 502 inches, we’d need a -19cc dished piston to maintain the same, 11.5:1 compression with 68cc chambers.” With plans to hit this engine hard with high-rpm blasts, the ring package was just as important to the remainder of the build.

Each forged piston was outfitted with Wiseco’s ArmorGlide skirt coating. The allows for superior lubrication to minimize friction, maximize horsepower, and provide improved wear resistance. It also allows for a better ring seal and reduced noise from piston knock in tighter clearance bores.

The Total Seal piston ring package consists of a Top AP Stainless Chrome, second cast Napier, and standard tension 3 mm oil rings (PN 001874). Why is the ring package selection so important? In a nut-shell, rings provide the vital seal between the combustion cycles and the oil. Rings also prevent blow-by and, more importantly, prevent the rings from butting up against one another and scoring the cylinder walls. A healthy set of rings is essential to generating and maintaining power.

As the guys at Chevy Hardcore point out, 500-horsepower ain’t what it used to be.

A 500 horsepower daily-driven street mill simply won’t garner attention at local meets or gas station pumps like it used to. To be honest, it’s almost too easy to make power these days with late-model mills such as the GM LS engine.

But is it cost-effective and practical?

Chevy Hardcore recently started a mission to build an LS engine that is all of the above: potent at the track, practical for the street, and reasonably cost-effective. They teamed up with the team at Late Model Engines (LME) in Houston, TX to assemble a 700-horsepower LS motor that could grind the asphalt at test-and-tune night at the local track and still get you home time after time.

Can it be done? Yes—and the slideshow above will show you how. It covers the short block assembly of the Chevy Hardcore/LME LS build, which includes an RHS aluminum LSX engine block, Lunati crankshaft and connecting rods, Wiseco pistons, Total Seal piston rings, Clevite bearings, COMP Cams camshaft and lifters, and ARP hardware.

We’ll keep you updated on the project as it progresses.



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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.