The van made it through the summer towing local just fine. I pulled the van apart yesterday and it is a full roller block, tapped holes and all. So I will try the 196/204 109Lc 3 deg adv ramjet cam I have. I want to keep the factory exhaust manifolds for heat and noise, they are inches from the driver and passengers feet, besides a "good" header is not available. The exhaust is getting replaced with 409 mandrel bends, dual 2" to single 3" and a good muffler. I did look at the ramhorn style manifolds, but the center dump looks to run right into the knock sensor on the factory block. With the cruddy fuel we get at times, I really want to keep the knock sensor functioning as intended.
So a few more questions...
Steel shim gaskets were recommended to bump the compression slightly from the 9.5 factory spec. The block is not coming out for resurfacing. I saw here where some here say only use the thinner gaskets with fresh surfaces? I can go either way with this to be safe.
The engine has the 193 swirl port heads that I am considering cleaning up the valve bowls on. The engine has 109k on it and the intake valves look fairly clean, but I can't see pulling the heads not having a mag /valve job done along with new stock vortec roller valve springs. I have not priced machine work lately but I am thinking that will be around $300+ especially if I have them surfaced . Are the heads worth putting that amount into, when new vortecs from Summit are 800? One step up from that is summits aluminum 170cc angle plug heads for TBI, but with my low rpm goals, and stock manifolds for exhaust, I am not sure if I would be using any of the benefit the heads provide. I lucked out and was able to pick up an edelbrock tbi manifold and vortec tbi manifold for almost nothing local just because most people don't want to mess with tbi at all anymore. So I have the intake manifolds for either head style.
I have tried to do some research on the swirl port heads and some say they lost torque up to about 3500 and some mileage when swapping to the newer vortec heads. I really only care about improving the engine in the 2000 to 4400 range. I am not sure the engine would be up to pulling grades reliably for long time periods at 5500 rpms so I have the fuel cut at 4900 and WOT shift points at 4500. I know this is speedtalk not towtalk, but really the knowledge here seems to be a step above the lottery of answers you get other places, so I keep coming back to read and research. Thank you for all the help so far!