I have a '79 with a 302, and it seems like its lifeless. I was thinking about putting on a Edelbrock intake and a Holley 650 carb, some newer plugs and wires. Now, would these parts make this truck come back to life, or would I just be better off too do a bottom to top rebuild ?
I wouldn't spend any money on parts until you do a compression test. Why throw it at parts that may not do you any good? How many miles and how has it been maintained? Is it in tune(timing,etc.)? Does it burn oil? Really hard to tell if it needs a rebuild until you figure out what comp. test says.
Not to mention, a 302 is really not that great an engine for our heavy old trucks. If you WERE considering a rebuild, I'd step up to the 351 for the torque if nothing else. Plus, you can build a really stout 351 for just about the same money as the 302, and you could leave your 302 in there until you're done with your build. That's sort of what I'm doing, but I'm building a 347 stroker out of a 302 that came out of my '70, then I'll do the build on my '79 motor (ditch the smog heads) and stick it in my '70. All it takes is time and money . I'd really like to do a 351 stroker for the '70, but I've just got this thing about 302's .
He are some things to check on your 302 that might be keeping the power down:
-First off do a compression test. If you have a burnt valve or dead cylinder then all the tuning in the world won't help.
-Check your throttle linkage...make sure that when you have the pedal floored the butterfly in the carb is open all the way.
-Make sure your carb is not running too rich. The plugs should be a very light gray colour not dark brown. More gas does not mean more power.
-Check your ignition timing. Keep advancing the ignition until you get pinging and then back is off just a little. My timing is set at 14º BTDC and it runs great.
That 302 will give you plenty of power and good gas mileage if tuned right.