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Blown FE

February 17 2008 at 8:36 AM
Lithium  (Login Lithium1952)

I'm looking to build a blown 390 and am still undecided.
A little explaination may be required... I'm building an early 60s style Gasser from a '53 Chevy, everyone else is going with early Hemis, 350s, 454s, Olds, etc and I figure what is wrong with the FE? It is one of the better looking motors and more nostalgic than a generic 350.
On another forum one of the Texas Outsiders recomended going with Hilborn fuel injection and methanol, which I think would be really great. But the only drawback I see is although it is a nostalgia race car, and will be raced, if I ever for some reason want to drive it on the street in a cruise or show and shine, MFI will be a headache and then there is meth on top of that.

With that being said, I'm wondering what are the Do's and Don'ts of building a blown FE? I currently have a 450hp 390 that I would like to convert and stroke, so obviously it would recieve a new crank and rods, dished pistons, new cam, etc. There just isn't any real info out there on blown FE's. I don't want to push more than 6500rpm, seeing as a blower motor in my mind is for low end grunt, launch like a rocket but only hit low 100s on the top end.
How much power is too much for a factory FE block? I'm looking to make 700 to 800hp at the crank. Will factory rods and crank handle this much?
A 460 or 454 would probably be the smarter choice but they are not nostalgic.


This message has been edited by Lithium1952 on Feb 17, 2008 8:45 AM

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(Login JMO_)

Get a 4-port blower injector and mount efi injectors in it. Hide the wiring.

February 17 2008, 8:58 AM 

In theory, you should be able to create numerous fuel maps for the ecm that would let you load, and run on, the appropriate set of injection tables for whatever fuel is loaded at the time.

In theory anyway. I think you might run into trouble with quantities of fuel needed between alcohol and gas programs. I don't know if a simple adjustable fuel pressure would deal with that or if you'd need to add an extra set of injectors that would only be used by certain programs.

Good Luck

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(Login westcoastgalaxie)

there is a member of the forum...

February 17 2008, 12:44 PM 

that runs a blown fe and has for sometime with good results. he isnt on or at least doesnt post much these days. name's Faron Rhoads. the consensous here though if you want to run a 390 in those hp ranges your gonna need to crossbolt it or atleast give it a girdle. but crossbolting would be optimal. downside is to do it to a std 390 requires alot of machine work and money unless you know someone willing to do it cheap. maybe better off looking at an aftermarket block. which bumps the build price tag up by about 3k but would be money well spent. cant speak on the strength of a 390 crank, rods would be wise and cheap insurance to go aftermarket. again you could always bump down the hp range say to 500-600 and reduce your costs alot. consensous for a 390 block seems to be around 500hp, 428 maybe 600hp, 427 ??? really depends on alot with those, used ones have been put through the ringers. there are several people here on the forum and elsewheres that are in the 1500hp range with new aftermarket 427 blocks.

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(Login ScotiaFE)

I have disagree with you on some

February 17 2008, 2:52 PM 

of your numbers.
There is no difference between a 390 block and a 428 block except the dia of the bore. They both will go over 600 HP and of course they will fall apart evently.
The 390 crank is a 427 crank. They came in cast and forged and are both super tough.
A well prep'd FE block will handle a pretty good size blower.
Way more than all them little shit box chivy's you see with blowers.
You want to make power with a 390. Stroke it. A N/A 390 +.030 with a 4.250" stroke with a good set of heads and intake will make close to 600 HP with out even really working that hard. Put a blower on it and you will get your 700 no problem. Cross bolts are a good plan, but they are not that costly.
Pro Gram Caps and a well equiped machine shop should not cost more than 800 to 1000$.
There is more than one guy on the Forum who run a blower. I am not one of them, I'm poor.

I think you under estimate the strengh of the FE. JMHO

67 Fairlane XL
68 Mustang Fastback

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(Login westcoastgalaxie)

well i did generalize a bit, didnt...

February 17 2008, 4:18 PM 

want to get into specifics like a earlier 390 block wont hold as well a heavier duty service block from the 70's, there is a difference in 390 blocks stength wise. not alot but enough that 50hp could be the difference between years of hard abuse and a year or two of service. i may have underestimated some of those numbers due to the fact that i havent run anything close to that level and have no experience to speak from, im poor too and cant afford to cross my fingers and hope it will stay together with questionable parts. im getting this info from what ive read on here. also there is a difference between a 428 block and a 390 block strength wise. 428's cj stuff for example have thicker mains, caps, and extra webbing. a regular 428 would be like you said a 390 block with a bigger bore. yes of course there are other guys who have and are running blowers, Faron stands out in my mind because he is and has been running em on his mustang for some time and if memory serves me correctly with no fancy parts. but bottom line i do still disagree with you on the statement

"There is no difference between a 390 block and a 428 block except the dia of the bore. They both will go over 600 HP and of course they will fall apart evently."

I dont think either will live long above 600hp, not without crossbolting or a girdle. he is aiming for 700-800hp, no way can you get away with those levels in a stock 390 428 block.

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Faron Rhoads
(Login Faron)

20yrs with a Blower and I sure aint rich !!

February 17 2008, 7:27 PM 

Will a 390 block ( or 428 ) hold together at 600+ hp levels ? , ah maybe for a few passes , from my research and experience its the side loading thats the killer ( over 3.78 stroke ) My 390 is of the garden variety not a 105 , I plan on building a Stroker someday but it will at least be cross bolted , otherwise it will split at the #2 or #4 Main to cam area , I use my stuff hard ( otherwise leave it stock and tell everyone its a 4287,427, stroker etc . My 390 has over 1000 1/4 mile passes on it and still is running strong , plus the Hampton Blower is over 20 years old and works as good as the first year I bought it ( 1987 )do the math 2650. for the Blower 2000 in the long block , add in the extras and I still built it for under 6000. ( 1987 dollars ) even today it could be done for 6500-7000, approx 500-600 hp at 6500rpm on pump 92. and oh yeah the sound is priceless,

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(Login westcoastgalaxie)

lol richer than me...

February 17 2008, 9:37 PM 

im just a po college boy. if i put half the money i put in school in my galaxie it would be finished, but i guess that has to wait. Faron 600 seems to be the magic number for a stock type non 427 FE. most everybody seems to say the same, took Rory 10yrs to split his 428 running 10's. belive he is in the 500hp range. i definetly agree with ya Faron 500hp is doable in that price range, takes a bit of know how, or just slap some expensive parts together and hope for the best like the cookie cutter crowd

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Rory McNeil
(Login RM428)

FE block strength

February 18 2008, 12:18 AM 

When I used to run a 390 in my Fairmont (1988-1990), the first year I ran it naturally aspirated, with a C6, and the car ran pretty effortless 11.4`s in the 1/4 mile. From 1989 thru July 1990, I ran the same engine, but about 1/2 the time I ran a NOS plate system under the carb, and it ran a best of 10.28@131 mph, until it totally tore all the main webbing out of the block. I mean ALL the material of the #2 thru #5 bulkheads, between the cam and crank ripped out, causing the crank to break into 5 pieces. That 390 used a "105" block, with ARP main studs and the LeMans rods (with ARP bolts) were new when I built the engine. Although none of the rods broke, several were badly bent. Since then, I have been running 428 blocks and cranks, and since then; I have; broke a rod (C7AE-B), which ruined the 428 block and crank in 1994. Prior to that incident, I split a cylinder wall in that block(sleeved and re-used the block for a few years afterwards) The next 428 block was it the Fairmont from late 1994, until the main webbing split at #2&4 main webbing a few years ago. I caught that damage before it blew up, and all the internal parts, except 1 rod, which showed a small crack during Magnafluxing was re-used in the next 428 block, which is what I ran in the car last year. That block suffered 2 split cylinder walls, 1 in April, which was repaired with a sleeve, and the 2nd cylinder split in late August, at Bremerton Raceway, in the final round. The short block is still together, a close inspection (once the weather warms up a bit!)will determine if we install another sleeve, or switch to a different block for this years racing. The engine I ran this year was the only one that was ever on a dyno, where it made 518 HP. Several people consider this HP figure too low for what the car runs (10.0`s@132 MPH in the 1/4 mile at 3100 lbs), but thats what the dyno sheet said. Acccording to my Moroso Power Speed Calculator, it should be more like 550HP, other say it should be around 600HP for those numbers, but regardless, those were the numbers the Super Flow 901 showed. Based on my experiances, a standard 390 or 428 block IS likely to experiance block failure around the 500HP mark, it may run well for several years (or less!) of drag racing, or considerably longer in street or street/strip use, but I believe the non cross bolted blocks are a weak link. If I decide to use one of my other 428 blocks for this year, I will be looking at cross bolting the mains.

428 powered Fairmont drag car, Best ET:10.03@132.11MPH, best 60 ft: 1.29
59 Meteor 2 dr. sedan 332, Ford O Matic
74 F350 ramp truck 390 4speed

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(Login machoneman)

Interesting to read....

February 18 2008, 6:34 AM 

your issue with FE block cracking, web tearing, etc.

IRRC, that was the main cause of engine destruction in far more powerful nitro supercharged 427 SOHC FE's use in days of yore (Ford factory backed funnies, AA/FD's like Kalitta, Prudhomme, Pete Robinson). Amazing since they probably produced on the order of 2,500 hp (single mag, 6-71's, much less boost and fuel volume than used today). Do remember when one broke, the engine came out and a new "bullet" went in w/o any attempted work to the removed engine. Many had then thought (like me) that this was due to the complexity of the chain drive....only to later learn that broken bulkheads and web cracking appeared in only a handful of runs.

Too bad no solid or heavily reinforced blocks were cast then...maybe Ford's cammer would have forever ruled the nitro/supercharged ranks!

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Rick Lake
(Login ERA428)

Talk to Jack Miller

February 18 2008, 11:54 AM 

Lithium You might want to talk to Jack Miller, 1,400-1,500 HP and see what info he will give to you for your blower motor. 8.0's in the 1/4 mile, 30 psi of boost. I think he has something to offer you before you start on this adventure. A great high pressure oiling system a gridle for the mains. Would be a place to start. Fill the block to the bottom of the waterpump ports would also be needed for stability on the block. The cooling of the heads is most important and the top 1" of the cylinders. In the long run you would be better with a shelby block for the head studs go to the main webbing in the bottom of the block and not pulling on the cylinder walls. The bottom end is alot stronger with 6 bolts and studs holding the cap inplace instead of 4. I was told there are 2 shelby blocks maken over 2,000hp. Just a thought. Rick L.

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