Magazine Articles

Here are a collection of articles from the Golen Engine archives, some of these are from magazines such as GM High Tech Performance, Chevy High Performance various other publications.

Displacement On Demand: Part 3

Late nights at the shop sometimes cause delusions, as Golen’s crew actually thought they could create a real dog with a welding torch and some spare parts. They soon got bored with it, though, when it failed to respond to any of their commands. The dog is, of course, anatomically correct (And wicked haaad! Ed).

Displacement On Demand
Part III: Tuning Golen’s 383 LT1 For 435 Horses (Continued)

C.A.T.S. allows the user to observe virtually everything that is going on inside the engine as it is happening. You can see on the top screen that four degrees of timing was being pulled, which was attributed to the engine stand creating vibrations that falsely set off the knock sensors. To remedy this Matt deactivated them and also pulled several other sensors like those that interact with the air- conditioner and speedometer while he was at it.

Even with those changes, however, something was not right. Not only was the engine not making the power it should, but also it didn’t have that WOT scream. Instead it sounded lackadaisical, lethargic and just plain lazy.

Not knowing what could be causing the aforementioned laziness, attention was turned to the air/fuel ratio, which was at a rich 10 to 1. Injector pulse width was trimmed 3 percent, then 10 percent, to try and lean out the mixture. However, only a slight improvement resulted, generating 409 hp and 421 lb-ft (corrected).

At last it seems we had found the culprit of our misadventures. The dyno session was abruptly interrupted when the rotor blew apart, as you can see in the picture; the metal tip in Dan’s hand was originally connected to the white plastic base. This is a common problem with the Optispark and can even happen on practically brand new units such as this one. While Dan was rebuilding the distributor, owner Chad Golen put in a call to Bryan Herter with the current data. Bryan then sent over a new program, which, when combined with a fresh distributor, seemed to do the trick.

It’s alive! The (uncorrected) horsepower got up to 448.5; and environmental corrections pegged customer Val Becker’s 383 at 435 hp and 447lb-ft of torque. It seems the extra port work may have robbed a little torque, as the base 383 package usually makes around 464. However, it seems well worth it for the 35 extra horsepower, which now peaks at 5800 rpm as opposed to 5000 rpm.

The first step in tuning with C.A.T.S. is erasing the PCM’s original program and uploading a new program, which is called flashing (insert indecent exposure joke here). The new program was written by tuner Bryan Herter based on the new cam and engine specs, then sent to Golen via email. Once Golen’s in-house tuner Matt Abdou flashes the PCM, he has a complete readout of the new map and can make adjustments to anything from the injector flow rate to enabling or disabling any of the sensors. They decide to leave the program alone for now, and to first make some soft pulls to break in the engine before baselining it.

This article was originally published in the April 2005 issue of GM High Tech Performance and is copyrighted by Primedia Inc., All Rights Reserved.
Visit GM High Tech Performance at

Displacement On Demand: Part 2

Displacement On Demand
Part II: Building the LT1s Top End For 400-Plus Ponies (Continued)

Next the high performance Teflon valve seals are slid onto the valve stems using plastic boots to protect the seal from being damaged by the keeper grooves.

Then a pneumatic spring compressor does its job squeezing the valve springs while the keepers and rubber O-ring are slid into place, preventing oil from passing down the valve spring and keepers.

Now that the paint is dry, the Fel-Pro head gaskets are placed on the block. The cylinder heads are placed on top of the gaskets and then tapped with a rubber mallet to get them to settle into position.

ARP head bolts are dipped in silicone gasket maker to prevent leakage, since they will be going into the water jacket. Once installed, the head bolts are tightened in a circular pattern starting from the inside. Since these are aluminum heads the bolts must be step-torqued, rst at 45lb.-ft. then 70, again in a circular pattern.

A dab of grease is put on the tips of the pushrods and the valve springs, then the pushrods and rockers are put into place. Before the rockers are tightened, Dan checks the pushrod length to make sure everything is jiving. Lastly the poly locks are screwed into the rocker studs using a 5/8ths wrench to make a half turn on the heads, then a 3/16ths Allen wrench is used to turn the set screw for it to lock. Once the freeze plugs, knock sensor, and oil pump drive gear are all installed it is on to the intake manifold.

The intake gasket is placed atop each of the heads along with a 1/4 inch bead of silicone. Next comes the intake manifold and its 3/8ths bolts, which are tightened by hand initially, then with 35 lb.-ft. of torque. A TPIS adjustable fuel pressure regulator is screwed into the fuel rail, then the O-rings of the Accel 30-pound injectors are lubed with motor oil before being pushed into the fuel rails. The assembled fuel rails are pushed into the top of the intake manifold and the 5/16ths bolts are turned until tight, then and additional 1/8 of a turn.

The customer provided a TPIS 52mm throttle body with the patented Airfoil, which is said to flow up to 900cfm. Dan connects it to the intake and wrenches the 10mm bolts until tight as the project nears its conclusion.

The MAP sensor is connected to the intake manifold with two 5/16s bolts, and the knock sensor is installed by first placing silicone on the thread to seal the water jacket, then tightened with a 7/8ths wrench. Once the valve covers and accompanying gaskets are placed on the top of the heads with the 3/8ths bolts tightened, Val Becker’s 383 LT1 is all ready to ship out. Of course we couldn’t let it slip through our hands without seeing what it could do first.

Tune in to Part III to see what this baby does when we strap it to the dyno and put it on the wood.

This article was originally published in the April 2005 issue of GM High Tech Performance and is copyrighted by Primedia Inc., All Rights Reserved.
Visit GM High Tech Performance at

Displacement On Demand: Part 1

Displacement On Demand
Part I: Golen Engine Service Creates a Bigger and Better LT1
by Scott Parker – Photography by the Author

LT1 Short BlockThe LT1 engine, despite its Optispark woes, has been known in its short life to be a solid and durable engine. Even though it is merely GM’s second-generation small block V-8 with only a few improvements over its decades-old ancestors, its only known flaw is the occasional spun rod bearing. This minor imperfection is easily forgivable when you consider the years of tireless service and the abuse it suffered in the hands of greedy racers such as the readers and editors of GM High Tech Performance magazine.

Despite its loyal resiliency, these soldiers never enter retirement, as they are the last of their kind. GM ceased production of LT1s when the LS1 was introduced to F-bodies, so they must instead be reborn into the cycle of automotive samsara. For those lucky LT1s that have done well in their previous life, they are treated to a full rebuild from Golen Engine Service in Hudson, New Hampshire. At Golen, special attention is paid to minor details such as rod clearances, which helps ensure the longevity of the engine. These are one of the many lessons learned in owner Chad Golen’s 14 years of experience building engines, and 11 years with LT1s and other late model GM motors.

Shot blasted LT1 block

Golen has a supplier in Detroit who provides used LT1s that arrive as the block on the left, oily and greasy. Then the oil is baked out of the pores of the block at 800 degrees until it looks like the block in the middle. Finally, the block is blasted with stainless steel shot and it looks as good as new. However, before one minute of man-power is wasted on any of these blocks they are pressure tested under water, and using a Magnaux to magnetize the block exaggerating any cracks so that they can be seen with a special powder that is dumped onto the block.

In addition to discovering which methods work best, Chad’s experience has also helped him to determine which materials to use. While still keeping the engine packages affordable, Golen manages to use the most durable of materials and the utmost precision to ensure their proper operation.

Ranging from $2,300 to $3,500 for short blocks and $3,400 on up for long blocks Golen Engine Service provides a wide range of LT1 and LT4 packages. The biggest difference between the packages is the displacement and the rotating assembly. The mildest of Golen’s LT1 packages, which maintains the stock displacement of 350 cubic inches, uses a performance ground stock crankshaft, shotpeened GM forged steel rods, Speed Pro Hypereutectic pistons and Plasma-Moly rings. At the other end of the spectrum are the competition packages, which use Eagle or Callies forged cranks increasing displacement to either 383 or 396ci, as well as SRP forged pistons and Eagle forged connecting rods depending on the application. These packages are designed for the extreme stresses of racing and high boost from blowers, turbos or nitrous.

The specimen for our discussion is a 383 LT1 package with optional SRP forged pistons, an Eagle 4340 forged steel crank, and Eagle forged connecting rods. Normally when mated to a set of ported LT1 heads and a .510-inch lift cam, the package is good for over 400 horsepower. However, with an optional .522/.543-inch lift cam these gures should be slightly more robust. In any case, with the upgraded components its new owner should see a lifetime of miles on street and the strip. Follow along with part I of our LT1 buildup, which will create a short-block from all of these hard parts.

BoringThe boring is done automatically on Rottler Boring Bar to .026 over, allowing 3 thousandths for honing. This will increase the factory 4-inch bore to 4.030 when it is finished. This is one of the few pieces in Golen’s new stateof-the-art, 1,500-square-foot facility that is not made by either Sunnen or Serdi.

A machinist level and gauge are used to get the block within .002 A machinist level and gauge are used to get the block within .002 before decking and resurfacing commences. Golen’s decking machine uses a Windeld tray and a CBN cutter, which makes the job go by rather quickly and creates an excellent finish. For our LT1 there will be zero decking, meaning that 13 thousandths will be taken off to match the SRP pistons. Passes are made progressively slower to make the surface as smooth as possible. Machinist George Connoly says, Since LT1s have not been around too long, they are less likely to have been worked on before, allowing a great deal of consistency with the block.

Golen converts all LT1s from a two bolt to a four bolt main motor.

To add strength to the bottom end Golen converts all LT1s from a two bolt to a four bolt main motor. This requires that holes must be drilled into the block to accept the ARP studs. Once the surface of the main is cleaned off and the block is set into place, so are the new caps. The two 7/16s studs are tightened down on either side to keep them from moving while acting as a guide for punching and drilling to start the new holes. As drilling begins the location of each of the holes is written on the surface of the block using a Sharpie starting from the right, near corner as point zero. This ensures consistency when the caps are removed and the holes are redrilled using a larger U bit to near 7/16s. Next, the tops of the holes are counterbored using an even larger drill bit to relieve stress risers on the tops of the main bolts. Lastly, the holes are tapped using a 7/16s tap with a size 13-thread pitch.

Honing machine Honed LT1 block

A fitting element is used to determine the top guide shoes for the honing machine. Once the width is set and the shaft centered, the stroke is set for the LT1 block. Honing begins with a 180-grit, which will remove two to three thousandths of material that is swept away by the honing oil. The stones must be frequently taken off and rubbed together to ensure an even hone. This process is done entirely by feel, and must be periodically checked using a dial bore gauge to ensure that the cylinders are even. Once enough material has been removed, a 280-grit fine hone is used to give the cylinders a smooth crosshatch, and then brushes are used for the finishing touch.

Honing the lifter bore can be a very important and often overlooked step.Honing the lifter bore can be a very important and often overlooked step. It becomes increasingly important with flat tappet cams, which will otherwise wipe out the lifter since it spins (as opposed to just moving up and down).

Displacement on Demand

A three part series of articles which appeared in GM High Tech Performance magazine. Follow along as Golen Engine Service builds a potent LT1 engine.

Part 1: Golen Engine Creates a Bigger and Better LT1

Part 2: Building the LT1′s Top End for 400hp+

Part 3: Tuning Golens 383 LT1 for 435hp