Replacing Two-Barrel Carb with Four-Barrel on a 305ci Small-Block Chevy 1969 Nova – Hot Rod03/25/2020
Time plus used parts equals a seriously cheap power upgrade for my 1969 Nova.
To say life has been shaken up a bit in the past weeks would be a severe understatement. A lot has changed, and we’re all having to make some sacrifices in our day-to-day life because of it thanks to the coronavirus. But we’re not about to let hotrod.com become another stress-inducing news outlet because we know you’re getting enough of that already. Instead, we’d like to take a moment to focus on one positive to come out of this whole Covid-19 mess: having more time at home.
You may have heard that if you want something quality, it’s either going to cost you a lot of time or a lot of money, meaning you’ll never end up getting something good that’s both quick and cheap. Some of you out there may have found a loophole in that philosophy, but I still seem to be stuck in that framework. So, with a little more time on my hands now, I decided I’d use it to finally start upgrading the measly 305ci small-block Chevy under the hood of my 1969 Nova by replacing the two-barrel carb for a four-barrel.
My standards of performance were pretty low for the stock 305-cubic-inch engine, but I figured the easiest way to pick up some power would be upgrading to a decent intake manifold and a four-barrel carburetor. With that in mind, I kept my eye out and ended up finding a used 600 cfm 4160-style Holley carb for $40 and an Edelbrock Performer dual-plane intake manifold for $60 (think eBay or Facebook Marketplace). Then another 32 bucks for a Holley rebuild kit on Amazon and maybe another 50 dollars for miscellaneous things like gaskets, carb cleaner, new coolant, and a new thermostat when it was all said and done. Oh, and the newish valve covers and air cleaner were leftover parts some coworkers had lying around.
It’s not been a fast process, but I do have plenty of time, so I’ve just been spending a few hours a night working away in my garage. Admittedly, simply cleaning everything took way longer than I would have preferred, but in the end, it is gratifying to see the before and after of the once grimy parts.
As for the whole “cheap plus time equals good” equation, apparently I haven’t put in enough time to offset the lack of money I invested in the upgrade. While it’s all put back together and the engine bay is looking a whole lot cleaner, now my poor third-gen Nova can’t do much more than start up and idle down the street. Carburetion problem maybe? Nah, how could that possibly be?
Whatever the issue is, I’ve still got good ol’ time on my side because, for now, I’ve got no place to go and nobody to see. I’ll get it sorted out eventually. Thanks, coronavirus?
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