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2012 sport 1500 w/ 5.7 Hemi. 160K miles. Religiously maintained since I got it at 50K miles. I got the dreaded hemi tick halfway through a 1300 mile drive. I had livestock pulling behind me and I had a tight schedule to meet since the buyer only had 20 hours to get back across the Canandian border. Long story short I couldn't just stop at the nearest repair shop.....not that it would do any good. I know an exhaust leak, and this wasn't it. So I turned up the radio and let Tyler Childers pining voice cover up the metallic ring a dingin. Surprisingly I made it home the next 700 miles.

Took a stethoscope and could hear chirping over the valve cover by piston # 7, singing like a canary in a coal mine. Tore off the intake and heads and you guessed it boys and girls, had a roller lifter bent and warbled. Also had some pitting over the piston where I guess some of it flew off and did some damage...not too sure about the HOW but there's some damage. Haven't yanked the cam out yet but it's guaranteed a goner.

I've priced out a factory engine. It's just shy of 9K delivered to my doorstep. Doesn't make much sense to me to put in an engine with known lifter issues so heres where I need help.

If I do a rebuild I'm doing a full rebuild, top and bottom. If I wanted to really upgrade this engine, what can I do to it that'll be near or less than the 9k for the new engine. I'm setting aside 3K for machine shop, so a budget of 6K for parts. I do a lot of intermittent towing with it, and since it's getting older it'll soon be a work truck. Ideally I want power and a choppy cam sound. Already planning on JBA short headers, upgraded cam, upgraded lifters. But I don't know what to order, because I'm illiterate in terms of anything than stock.

Full disclosure, I'm a stereotypical parts changer. Brakes, axles, struts, sensors, carbs, engine swaps, etc I've done it. I've rebuild two older chevy 350's when I was a teenager, did the entire assembly myself and put 60K on each of them before they got sold. But when it comes to upgrades and performance it's a language I struggle to understand. I've always done everything stock due to bone crushing poverty :D.
Now it's time to have fun since I have a few dollars in my pocket. I'm real big on feedback so I'll post pictures as the project advances.
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