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Winter Project - Building an engine?

Winter in New England means the cars get stored. I like to queue up some projects during the off-season.

I want to build an engine. My inclination is to build an air-cooled 911 engine, but I don't have a core to start with.

Do I hunt for a complete engine needing rebuild? Or do I buy an aftermarket engine case and start with "new"? That's an expensive idea, I know...

What would you recommend?

Old 09-15-2020, 05:13 AM
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Building an engine, piece by piece, is the most expensive way to do it but it does get you exactly what you want. What is your ballpark budget and goals.
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:36 AM
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I want to learn about engine building. With COVID, I'm expecting to have more time over the Winter.

That's really the only goal. I purchased a 911 SC last year for DE use. I was planning on a full DE season prior to COVID, but I haven't been on track this year. I'm hopeful for next season. The engine in my car is strong.

I suppose it would be nice to have a "backup engine", but it would likely be more affordable to buy an additional car if that was a proper goal.

Budget would come after I assess if this is even a reasonable idea. For sake of argument, let's say $10K.
Old 09-15-2020, 06:24 AM
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Buying then building for $10k is not going to work. Under budgeting the build costs
Magnesium engines require too much high cost machine work although the initial rebuildable is affordable. The aluminum SCs, the price of entry is high, residual value is high compared to mag engines.
Might think on building type 4 VW for the insight
Bruce
Old 09-15-2020, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flat6pac View Post
Buying then building for $10k is not going to work. Under budgeting the build costs
Magnesium engines require too much high cost machine work although the initial rebuildable is affordable. The aluminum SCs, the price of entry is high, residual value is high compared to mag engines.
Might think on building type 4 VW for the insight
Bruce
Yea, I hear that concern.

I'm considering a non-Porsche engine, given I could build a SBC or LS based engine for much much less.
Old 09-15-2020, 10:53 AM
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VW Beetle? Very affordable and similar in many ways to the 911. It's a good way to get familiar with rear engined air cooled motors. Look at my garage.

As Bruce pointed out the days of $3K SC motors is long gone.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:52 AM
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Even 914 four cylinder engines are $6-7k on a budget, 10-12 modified. But 10k should get you a good running 3.0 or you could spend $6k for a 3.0 core and then $10-15k to rebuild it. The 3.6 engine cases sold new are ~$7k and then $30 +++ to assemble.

You could sign up for Tony’s engine rebuilding class and learn how to rebuild.
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Old 09-15-2020, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mepstein View Post
Even 914 four cylinder engines are $6-7k on a budget, 10-12 modified. But 10k should get you a good running 3.0 or you could spend $6k for a 3.0 core and then $10-15k to rebuild it. The 3.6 engine cases sold new are ~$7k and then $30 +++ to assemble.

You could sign up for Tony’s engine rebuilding class and learn how to rebuild.
Good idea on the class.

You can do an SC motor for a LOT less IF it has Mahle cylinders in good shape AND you do EVERYTHING yourself.

Now if you farm out your heads, that's maybe $500, if you don't go crazy. Then there is the issue of CHECKING all the parts to make sure they are in spec. So a good set of mics and bore gage or knowing someone who has them is on order. So you could do it for like $3k IF.

Now if you have ks cylinders and take the parts to a machine shop, all bets are off.

Another thing to consider is selling your current motor when you are done.
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Old 09-15-2020, 03:25 PM
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All very good thoughts.

The VW engine idea also crossed my mind and then I'd have the excuse to buy one..

I should probably start with an American V8 at a fraction of the cost of an air-cooled Porsche engine. Then in the Spring I'd have a good excuse to buy something to put it in.

Coincidental timing on this article today:

https://www.pca.org/news/2020-09-15/porsche-classic-offering-limited-number-new-air-cooled-911-crankcases
Old 09-16-2020, 04:43 AM
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Introduction to 911 Engine Rebuilding..........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Locker537 View Post
I want to learn about engine building. With COVID, I'm expecting to have more time over the Winter.

That's really the only goal. I purchased a 911 SC last year for DE use. I was planning on a full DE season prior to COVID, but I haven't been on track this year. I'm hopeful for next season. The engine in my car is strong.

I suppose it would be nice to have a "backup engine", but it would likely be more affordable to buy an additional car if that was a proper goal.

Budget would come after I assess if this is even a reasonable idea. For sake of argument, let's say $10K.

Locker,

I was in a very similar situation some years ago when I bought a low mileage ‘79 SC targa that was abandoned or neglected by the previous owner. There is a very interesting story about this car but that would for a different post. This was my very first Porsche and the closest experience I had with air cooled engines was with a ‘73 VW Beetle (still running as of today).

There are many things to consider getting into your desired goal of air cooled engine rebuilding. And these vary from one person to the next. And I will share mine with you. Your interest or goal is to have a spare motor. Mine was curiosity. And what drove me to strive and learn more about this car was the cost of repair bills. I won’t go to the details because it would be a very interesting long story.

I would assume what you meant by “building engine” is analogous to “engine rebuilding”. If you have the interest and desire to learn how to rebuild a 911 engine is achievable even for someone like you or me. You could to do it the hard way or the easy way.

You gain the experience the hard way by trial and error. Or the easy way by having someone share and teach you how to do it. Watching videos and reading posts about engine rebuilding is not as effective as hands on experience with a mentor. Practice makes perfect.

These are some of the things you might want to consider:
  • Do you have sufficient budget.
  • Do you have the time to do it?
  • Do you have the tools and place to do it?
  • What motivates you to do it?
  • How and when do you plan to do it?
  • Etc.

Find one or two person/s to be your mentor. Listen and follow their advises. Be very careful when you seek advise in a public forum because you will be receiving all sort of advises. Even worse is getting advises from people who had not done it. And their source of experience was seeing it in videos or read or heard it from some where.

Tony

Last edited by boyt911sc; 09-16-2020 at 04:15 PM..
Old 09-16-2020, 06:22 AM
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Thanks Tony, I appreciate the sage advice.

I think our goals are the same. I don't need to rebuild an engine at the moment. Instead of want to do it for the experience. If I acquired another engine, the outcome would be a spare. Maybe it goes in my current 911 or maybe a different car, but in either case the end result is not the goal.

You've given me some questions to ponder. I appreciate that. I completely agree on the value of a mentor. COVID isn't making the social aspect easier for me.

Old 09-21-2020, 01:02 PM
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