How to Install Chevy Pistons on Rods

by Bobby R. Goldsmith

Most self-proclaimed engine builders begin the assembly process with the short block -- pistons, rods and crankshaft -- already in place and balanced. Often, the assembly of the bottom-end components can be overwhelming for the novice enthusiast, as the margin for error is incredibly wide even with a Chevy. However, assembling the bottom end of an engine is pretty straightforward. It all begins with properly assembling the pistons to the connecting rods. This assembly can be accomplished with just a few tools in an afternoon.

Place the piston ring on the piston with the clamp tool. Be careful not to damage the ring.

Apply a coat of assembly lube to one of the wrist pins. Slide the wrist pin about halfway into the pre-molded hole on the underside of the piston.

Place the connecting rod into its fitting on the underside of the piston, aligning it with the wrist pin. Slide the wrist pin the rest of the way through, securing the connecting rod to the piston. Insert a C-clip to each side of the wrist pin with the needle-nose pliers.

Pivot the piston in both directions to ensure that it has its full range of travel.

Repeat for each piston and connecting rod assembly.


  • check Ensure that each piston is installed in the proper direction. Connecting rods are only capable of attaching to the crankshaft in a particular direction, and the hemisphere pattern on the face of the piston needs to face a particular direction. This direction varies by engine type, so consult the piston manufacturer's guidelines.


  • close Make sure that all pistons, rods and components are completely free of dust and debris, and that they are assembled in a clean space.

Items you will need

About the Author

Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.

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