Well, having been down for over 2 years, we're starting to get back on track to getting it back together.
The bare block & heads were sent to a speed shop that has built some mighty wicked stuff. I told him to get a 4" stroker kit, pick a cam, and build up the heads (no porting, just valves/springs/retainers/keepers/seals/buckets).
The stroker kit is forged crank, forged 6.125" H-beams, forged flat top pistons with valve reliefs, all from Manley. The cylinders only needed a .005" hone, so the end displacement will be 403 CI. Rings are file fit, which I've never done before, but the instructions are pretty clear (and I'll be getting a bench filer from Summit). I won't be spraying it, so I'll go with a tighter gap. Rod & main bearings included in the kit, the shop did a balance on it all before boxing it back up.
Heads got Manley valves, springs, and titanium retainers. They just did a quick touch to the seats to insure a good seal. Springs are polished duals, don't know the specs on them, though. I had them assemble the heads so the spring installed height would be right.
The block was tanked and new cam bearings installed. Main bearing bores checked out fine. All of the covers were also tanked (the oil surfaces were pretty gunked up).
He talked to Erson and Bullet about an appropriate cam. I probably should have gone with the Bullet, but we went with the Erson. I'll be talking softly and carrying a big stick - adv dur 294/302, dur @ .050" 234/242, lift at valve w/1.7 0.621", 114 LSA. That's a good bit more cam than I had in the 396. Powerband is supposed to be 2500-7000, recommended stall 3000-3500. Should be interesting...
Depending on how far down in the hole the piston are, and what the chamber volume really is (the shop said they cc'd at 65, everything I've seen on these heads says 68-70cc's), pistons with 4cc valve reliefs, head gaskets .051" thick, produces somewhere around 11.0 to 11.4:1 CR. Pretty stout for pump gas. Will verify how far down in the hole the pistons really are when I degree the cam. He assumed more like 10.75:1, but also assumed the pistons would be .010" down in the hole (and I think he had some other value wrong, like piston volume).
Other details: L76 intake & fuel rails, GM "Muscle Car" oil pan kit, Melling oil pump, LS7 lifters, ATI damper (both the crank and damper hub are keyed - nice). Still need to get injectors and throttle body. Plus a lot of little things like air inlet hoses, throttle cable, etc. Getting a 9" rear end housing kit made for '55-'57 that has 31 spline axles and drum brakes, I'll have the 3rd member put together locally. Probably go with 4.30 gears.
Hope to have it all together and tuned in time for the start of the 2013 season in April. Seeing various magazine builds with similar combos in the 600 crank HP range, should put the 3900 lb car in the mid- to low-12's at our altitude on hot summer days.