Redline Rebuild: Watch A Chevy Stovebolt Six Come Back To Life

Built actively for 72 continuous years, the Chevrolet inline-six-cylinder engine is one of the most prolific engines ever produced. From its introduction in 1929 until the last one rolled out of the engine plant in 2001, the “Stovebolt Six” — a reference to the fact that the early versions were held together with bolts resembling those found in wood-burning stoves of the time — has gone through a number of iterations.

This version, pulled out of a 1950 Chevrolet 3600 pick-em up truck, is known as the “Blue Flame.” Displacing 3.5 liters (216.5 ci) with an upgraded compression ratio of 6.5:1, it produced a whopping 92 horsepower at the crankshaft. These engines were never meant to be performance monsters, but rather economically-produced engines that got the job done (hence the eventual “Thriftmaster” nomenclature).

Regardless, the Hagerty team wanted this engine restored to its former glory and the first step was to remove the engine from its home of almost seven decades, without breaking anything. Then the process of cleaning and tearing down the engine began. Taking apart something that old can be tricky, and you can see the liberal application of heat from a torch in the teardown video — a tactic employed to help coax the septuagenarian parts from their spots without breaking.

Check out the unique valvetrain arrangement afforded by the non-cross-flow cylinder head design (left) and the vintage rod design (right).

As the engine is torn down, the unique valvetrain configuration and the reverse-flow cylinder head, and its second-generation oiling system consisting of four pressurized main bearings (up one from the original three) and oil squirters to oil the rod bearings. Once torn down, the engine goes through a traditional disassembly, washing, machining, and reassembly process, with the addition of Moroso Ceramic Engine Seal in the water passages of the engine block.

Once everything was ready for reassembly, the team gave the parts a coat of light gray paint and started the reassembly process with as many new parts as is realistic for an engine of this age. Watching the time-lapse video of the disassembly and reassembly gives you a really unique look inside of one of history’s more interesting engine designs. Not to mention it’s unique sound once they fire it up.

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About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent fifteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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