: How much to rebuild a northstar?



botboy
09-13-03, 01:53 AM
I'm curious as to whether or not anyone else on this forum has had a northstar engine rebuild by a shop, and how much they paid to have it done. Today I talked with a reputable local engine shop and the machinist I was talking with said that he had personally rebuilt several northstars, and that he felt that it would be around $3000 USD to do a complete rebuild from top to bottom, and more to have it done with a few things I would like to have done to the engine to up the ponies a little bit from factory form (like port & polish, port match intake and exhaust ports). This seems like a ludicrius amount of money, and maybe its just me (and my previous work with regular 350's), but I'm curious. The $3000 approx figure was with no performance or aftermarket parts btw, only GM goodwrench replacement parts as necessary.

A few other things:
1. The machinist I spoke with said that he didn't do time-serts unless he actually pulled the threads out while torquing down the heads. As I understand it (and chrfab even says this on their website) its a good idea to replace all the head bolt threads with time serts if you expect to pull the heads more than just the one time when it is rebuilt.
2. Does the N* share piston size with anything at all? Just out of curiousity.
3. Short of paying $800+ for a set of performance rods from chrfab, do I have any other rod choices? Once again out of curiousity

elwesso
09-13-03, 11:37 AM
1. Do the time serts...... Dont question, just do...... IF the machine shop doesnt want to do it, then take it somewhere that will......... I bet if you got a hold of the kit, they'd do it........ I could be wrong

I dont have a clue on the other things, though......

RLLOVETT
09-13-03, 09:41 PM
That doesn't sound bad to me for someone who's actually done a few but I think the time-sert thing might be a warning flag. I've read on other boards of dealers wanting $6-8k! The devil's in the details of how everything's put back together after (i.e., sensors, hoses, clamps, etc.)--check the horror stories!

botboy
09-15-03, 12:49 PM
That doesn't sound bad to me for someone who's actually done a few but I think the time-sert thing might be a warning flag. I've read on other boards of dealers wanting $6-8k! The devil's in the details of how everything's put back together after (i.e., sensors, hoses, clamps, etc.)--check the horror stories!

I made sure to explicitly explain that this was not going back in the original car, that the block had already been torn down, and that the heads have already been pulled. The more labor on this project I do myself the better for my own learning experience not to mention machinist labor is awfully expensive. Thats part of the reason I think that 3k is a ridiculous amount of money - I could understand if I was car incompetent and the knocking engine was still in the STS it came from... but I mean for 3k I could get a crate northstar off ebay or a supercharger or quite a few pieces from Chrfab...today I'm off to ask a few other shops what they think would be a reasonable price to do a northstar.

anothercaddiowner
09-16-03, 02:04 PM
3 grand doesn't seem like alot of money for rebuilding this motor..From what i understand this motor believe it or not was made as a throw away.Meaning once it dies then replace..The research that was done and the technology that went into this motor is astonishing and even the most competant GM Certified mechanic doesn't know how to do a proper rebuild on one of these motors. I know what your all saying" this guy is full of crap" but it's true..a new N* is about 5 grand..so 3 thousand isn't too bad, as far as i am concerned..TIME SERTS all the way man..Never skimp on the heads or any related part.The last thing you want to do is spend a few thousand on the rebuild only to find out a month or so later that your heads have warped and your gasket is looking like shredded beef..Ebay is a good place to get things but used motors in my opinion is not one of them..Too much of a risk unless you plan on rebuilding it when you get it..And i too was astonished at the prices for the N* as i too am a 350 fanatic..Every thing i have owned has had a 350 in it. from a 83 Z-28 to my 71 Chevelle. Anyway...good luck with your hunting and please let us know what you have found. oh you could go to a junk yard and pull a low mileage motor from a wrecked car..which could be alot cheaper then the rebuild.

botboy
09-17-03, 01:23 AM
3 grand doesn't seem like alot of money for rebuilding this motor..From what i understand this motor believe it or not was made as a throw away.Meaning once it dies then replace..The research that was done and the technology that went into this motor is astonishing and even the most competant GM Certified mechanic doesn't know how to do a proper rebuild on one of these motors. I know what your all saying" this guy is full of crap" but it's true..a new N* is about 5 grand..so 3 thousand isn't too bad, as far as i am concerned..TIME SERTS all the way man..Never skimp on the heads or any related part.The last thing you want to do is spend a few thousand on the rebuild only to find out a month or so later that your heads have warped and your gasket is looking like shredded beef..Ebay is a good place to get things but used motors in my opinion is not one of them..Too much of a risk unless you plan on rebuilding it when you get it..And i too was astonished at the prices for the N* as i too am a 350 fanatic..Every thing i have owned has had a 350 in it. from a 83 Z-28 to my 71 Chevelle. Anyway...good luck with your hunting and please let us know what you have found. oh you could go to a junk yard and pull a low mileage motor from a wrecked car..which could be alot cheaper then the rebuild.

I'm seriously considering parting this motor out on ebay and then using that cash to buy a low mile N* from a local junkyard, or at least get the bottom end of a N* from a junkyard and have it serted, then the heads I already have done out to my specs (I would like to open up the ports a little, portmatch the intake, three-angle valve job, SS valves and polish as I have money). I don't understand exactly what it is that makes the northstar so damn special - I mean I've worked with several other (import) aluminum engined cars and it just doesn't seem like doing something so awfully goddamn simple (like replacing main/rod bearings, pistons and rings) should be close to 3g to do....I know its considered a disposable piece of technology but I know that GM doesn't feel that way with all of its aluminum engines (and if they felt that way about the LT-5...There would be corvette owners rioting in the streets at the price of that damn thing).

I searched the forums and turned up this thread: http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=271&highlight=northstar+rebuild

and I do understand that nothing oversize is available for it - but none of that needs to be replaced! The knocking was almost certainly a rod bearing and it wasn't severe. Three are no scratches in the bores. There weren't any pieces in the oil pan and there is close to no play in any of the rod ends I was pushing around, so at maximum this thing needs: (on the bottom end anyway)

New pistons (was going to replace anyways - car had about 110k on it)
New rod bearings (not oversize)
New main bearings (not oversize)
Crank polish/regrind (doubtful)
New rings (do these anywaytime an engine is rebuilt)
New gaskets (duh)

I also looked into the two northstar books I could get from cadillac - both run about $200 and thats dealer cost (my friends dad owns a GM Goodwrench shop and i asked him to check it out for me)

I'm also curious about your chevelle - I myself have the Uber-Grandma car that I'm driving at the moment, a 1970 Gold-On-Gold Chevelle Malibu 4-Dr, 350/TH350 that is going to be looking for a new home soon (don't want to kill it with that awful MN salt)

anothercaddiowner
09-17-03, 02:12 PM
My 71 chevelle has a 350/410 horse 383..I went and purchased a 4 bolt main short block from a friend of mine that he was going to put into his race car but decided to go with a big block and we added a Edelbrock fuel injection system ( which is sweet in the cold months).Edelbrock carb, cam,lifters gear drive for those cruise nights..it has 275/50/16 rear 235/50/16's up front...Fuel cell and battery located in the trunk.I wanted it to be a daily driver so i never put in stout gears they are 3.42's..The rear end is a posi unit..the front end was rebuilt with all poly bushings...new upper and lower control arms..rear end was rebuilt with boxed four link with sub frame connectors..This car was not built from ground up..i only replaced parts..With what i have into it now i should of just done a frame off.The car does mid 12's at about 130..with stouter gears i could probably hit high 11's.Just another toy..GOd i love toys..unfortunatly i sold the car for a future project car..a 1960 chevy pickup that i am in the works of getting the body work done on and the frame powder coated..this is going to be the beast of all beasts..I already ordered a 502 crate motor which should be arriving sometime in the next two weeks..new front clip..i have all the interior which will be tan..the paint will be a bright metallic blue.i will send in pics when it is all coming close to being done..