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Posted By: Rizzo 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 02:43 PM
Just pulled the head on a 216 from my ‘53 1/2 ton.. Found blown head gasket but worse is a very worn head. Luckily have a top notch guy who is rebuilding.. I bought the truck from a broker in 2014. Receipts showed 80k restoration. Beautiful truck, very well done (except for the engine) for a fraction of the cost of the restoration.. Anyhow, while it’s cool to have the original 216, I’ve always wished it came with a 235.. It seems the original customer may have gotten the wool pulled over his eyes. This motor has a lot of miles on it. Which brings me to my dilemma. I can get her running again, the lower end is suspect. Had the thought to find a 235 and start a s!ow rebuild but seems they are scarce.. She’s been a Sunday driver but I’ve decided to use it more than that. How hard is it to find a 235 ??? Am I better off pulling the 216 and doing a first rate rebuild??? Any thoughts would be appreciated
One more bit of info. Wasn’t burning any appreciable oil, compression around 90 average. Thanks
Posted By: Phak1 Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 03:08 PM
Not that scarce. do searches on your local Craigs List and eBay. There is also a 55 235 for sale in the Truck Parts For Sale forum right now. Here is a [LINK]. Not sure if it has sold.
I would also place an ad in the Truck Parts Wanted forum.
Posted By: buoymaker Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 05:05 PM
I'm not trying to torpedo your post, but I just now looked at your "216 Head Removal" posting.
I hope Jerry (Hot Rod Lincoln) or one of the other more experienced guys reads this.
First thought I have, has this engine been running too lean?

Your description said, "No smoke, no overheating, no coolant loss, no milky oil".
It looks to me that the head gasket burned (material vaporized, see previous posting picture) from overheat.
You also mention, "duel zenith carbs". Interesting. I wonder if they are sized/adjusted correctly.

Maybe this is something to look at before you swap parts over to a 235.
Posted By: Rizzo Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 06:16 PM
No worries…. Trying to figure out if it was a poor engine “rebuild” or something I contributed to. A little of both I think. Didn’t realize a lean issue can take out a head gasket like that. I am going to recruit someone more knowledgeable on setting carbs,
ect. and run this engine out while I find and build a 235. She’s a keeper for sure. The body shop did a superb job, but when you farm out the engine…….not so good. Appreciate you weighing in. Just trying to head the right direction from here. Thanks
Posted By: Green_98 Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 06:27 PM
I replaced my original 216 with a late-50's 261 and it made a wonderful difference. Still runs/drives like an "old truck", but much more UMPH under the gas pedal and much smoother running. I would likely be just as happy with a 235 though.
Posted By: tclederman Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 06:38 PM
I have run 216s, 235s, and 261s.

Each "step up" resulted (as expected) in a noticeable difference in power.

Another "swap" that results in a noticeable different in gas mileage and "smoother" running is to install the 3.55 rear-end conversion gear-set (R&P Ring&Pinion set sold my MotherTrucker). Buy and use an installation-parts kit that is available from a few old-chevy-parts vendors.
Posted By: Rizzo Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 09:20 PM
Thanks for the input… Will a 261 bolt right up?
Posted By: tclederman Re: 216 dilemma - Fri Oct 08 2021 10:38 PM
Depends on what year engine is bolting up to what year/type drive train.

Most likely you will need to install this water pump relocation plate. [chev235guy.blogspot.com]

What transmission & drive-shaft & rear-end will you be using?
Posted By: Rizzo Re: 216 dilemma - Sat Oct 09 2021 01:22 PM
I’d like to use the 3 speed I currently have. Have already located a 235. Will have some time to sort it out as I’ll have the 216 running shortly. This is a a blessing in disguise. The truck will be much more useable as I won’t go on the freeway for fear of being run over. The suggestion to change the rear end gears is a good one too. A lot more fun to drive I think. Appreciate the input.
Posted By: JiMerit Boltr#43 Re: 216 dilemma - Sat Oct 09 2021 04:03 PM
When I picked up my '53 3600 the original 216 engine was knocking badly and since I had a rebuilt 235 on my engine stand, I went with that. This 235 has been a rock solid motor now for many years. Most use the adapter solving the low water pump issue, it's an easy swap for your 53. The perfect motor for my next build is a '55 first series 261, the very last high water pump motor and a bolt in, now just need more time and motivation.

Best of luck
Posted By: John Milliman Re: 216 dilemma - Sun Oct 10 2021 03:52 PM
I agree with Jim and the others advocating for an early ('54 -'55 1st series -- or a crate motor built later but out of the '54 mold) 261. Bolt-in, easy swap, easier rebuild, more power, etc.etc. If you really want a driver, I say skip the 235 and go for the 261. Coupled with Tim's recommendation for the rear ring and pinion swap, you'll have a vastly more driveable truck without losing the "old truck" feel and drive.

If you do all this, be sure to go through the truck's brakes and front end, too. Don't trust any of the previous owners/sellers/brokers -- it's *your* life to lose in an accident, not theirs.
Posted By: tclederman Re: 216 dilemma - Sun Oct 10 2021 03:57 PM
Originally Posted by John Milliman
. . .
If you do all this, be sure to go through the truck's brakes and front end, too. Don't trust any of the previous owners/sellers/brokers -- it's *your* life to lose in an accident, not theirs.

Heed John's advice: Check and set all front-end and brake-system parts to "factory specs".
Posted By: Leo Re: 216 dilemma - Sun Oct 10 2021 09:13 PM
I had that exact setup too, 261 with 3.55 rear gears. Top speed was over 85. Amazing torque for hills.
Posted By: tclederman Re: 216 dilemma - Sun Oct 10 2021 10:47 PM
thumbs_up yes
Posted By: Rizzo Re: 216 dilemma - Mon Oct 11 2021 03:32 AM
Great advice from all. New to the forum and really glad I joined. 261 it is. I’m stoked to get started. Will help “make the truck a little more mine”. Thanks again. Look forward to more conversation.
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