Should I Install Aluminum Rods In My 454 Chevy For My 1969 Chevelle?

5/1/2019
Greg Zyla
Q: Greg, I am rebuilding a 454 Chevy to put in my 1969 Chevelle and came upon a set of used aluminum rods I picked for only $200. I’ve had them checked out at the machine shop and put new ARP rod bolts in them, too. What is your
opinion of running these rods on the street with an occasional pass down the quarter-mile? Ron L., email from Georgia.
 
A: Ron, DO NOT run these aluminum rods in your 454 engine, or any engine for that matter. The only good thing I read in your letter is your use of ARP rod bolts, as this company makes the very best bolts and engine fasteners in the industry. Using any type of aluminum rod on the street is a big no-no. Aluminum rods are special connecting rods used for drag racing only and cannot be used for any long duration of time, as opposed to steel rods.
 
Eagle H-Beam Big Block Chevy Rods 
These top quality forged steel big block Chevy connecting rods by Eagle come with cap screws and ARP rod bolts and sell for about $400 for a set of eight. Reader Ron L. should contemplate using a steel rod in his 1969 Chevelle 454 instead of used aluminum rods, which are sure to fail. (Eagle photo)
 
I highly recommend using a stock Chevy 7/16 bolt (buy ARP bolts of course) “dimple” rod, either pressed pin or floating, or look to the aftermarket for a good set of steel rods that will last forever if you don’t abuse your  engine. Companies like Manley, Crower, Eagle, Scat and higher dollar Oliver or Carillo rods will be cheap considering the pile of junk you’ll be left with when one of the used aluminum rods breaks in half and ruins everything in your engine. (Please believe me--- that used aluminum rod is just waiting to fail.) As for price, a set of Eagle “ESP” 6.135 stock length big block rods, H-beam style,
with ARP bolts already in them are only $400 or so for a set of eight. This is way cheaper than the new motor bill you’ll be staring at when “Mr. Used Aluminum Rod” says bye-bye.
 
Secondly, I wouldn’t even recommend running new aluminum rods on the street, although there are billet and forged aluminum rods available brand new that offer a longer life.
 
Finally, I’d like to know if you told your machine shop person your intentions with these aluminum rods? If not, ask him for his advice and it should parallel my answer. If he told you to run the used aluminum rods on the street, turn and walk out the door and seek a reputable machine shop as he sees dollar signs in dealing with you.
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