FFT: Pulling the 455 Top End

Amidst all of the 2012 SEMA hubbub, I bring you the latest installment on my 455 Oldsmobile-powered 1965 C-10, better known as: The Futuramic Farm Truck.

As you know this time of year is not a productive in terms of free hours to work or money to spend. I’ve been putting off breaking out the impact gun and yanking the top end on the 455 because I spun it over and checked the oil when I traded it for my boat anchor smog-era 350. I had some free time between trees, turkeys and all that other stuff to get a little bit done, so this is what I chose to do. Like my piece on the rear suspension for my daily driver: Valkyrie, I’m going to be doing this article in a captioned picture style to illustrate what was going on as I did it. I hope you enjoy the change of pace, any comments or criticisms welcome, as usual. Much like after we’ve cooked the Christmas ham, all that’s left to do now is dig in:


Ok, so I’m going to cut straight to the chase. Here is the left hand bank of cylinders. As you can see, the bores look great, as do the pistons. No crosshatching remains in the bore, but this thing has been flogged in a car and then a boat with no “proper” metering from a fuel injection system. Plus it’s like 40 years old, so what do you expect? Haven’t cc’d the dish yet, so I can’t tell you where we’re at there, but by eyeballing it I want to make a guess that this is not a high compression motor. Obviously the remaining deck height, compression height, gasket and chamber size all play a part in the final static compression ratio, so we can’t be sure at this point.

A close-up of one of the cylinder bores and piston crown. Left bank.

For those curious, this shows the lifter valley of the end with the left banks head off and the right banks head still attached. The seasonally-appropriately named “Turkey Tray” goes on above this and wedged between the head and intake ports mating surface.

Said “Turkey Tray”. As you can see it’s not only an oil shield between the intake manifold and lifter valley, but also has an integrated gasket.

So after feeling pretty good about the left bank of cylinders, I decided to tear into the right bank. I began by taking off the valve covers. As you can see it’s a tight fit in my garage and that the motor is currently on the floor in my garage. Thankfully the large square oil pain allows it to rest evenly. I would not recommend this under any other circumstance and this is still pretty dangerous. It should be on a stand.

It’s apparent out of all 8 cylinders which valve has been actuated open all this time. The white powder is oxidized aluminum.

The iron chamber of the corresponding cylinder shows oxidization as well. Better known as rust. The chambers are approximately 80cc from the factory. We’ll see if the heads have been milled when I measure these chambers.

Close up of the valve spring and rocker assembly on one of the heads. Nothing fancy, but it has a certain mechanical beauty to it.

These are the backside of my Mickey Thompson valve covers that came with the engine. I love the stamping on them because it tells me that the valve covers are actually older than the engine itself. At the time these were made, the 425 must have been Oldsmobile’s largest engine. As late as model year 1967, as the 455 was introduced in 1968.

Back to business. Ports look stock and untouched. This particular head casting is reputed to be the best flowing of all the big block heads, so no biggie. Plus I don’t trust what some maniac with a die-grinder might do to a decent set of heads.

After I finished, I bolted it back together with a couple bolts (to ease removal next time I get into it) and decided to call it a night.

And when I got inside, I discovered my daughter didn’t wait up for me. Haha.