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November 22 2000 at 5:44 PM
Red  (no login)

I am rebuilding my 390, this is my first rebuild. I want to have performance and for daily driving, do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

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November 22 2000, 7:36 PM 


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390 rebuild

November 22 2000, 9:56 PM 

Just my two cents, but here we go...
Since you want this for a street performance package, keep one work in mind... torque. You will want to ensure whatever parts you use compliment each other and will make a hassle free package that is easy to maintain. Sure, a long duration solid lifter cam sounds cool, but do you want to be adjusting valve lash on a regular basis? Avoid the "Bigger must better" syndrome. I have heard several people on this and the other FE forum comment on the Comp Cams 270H cam being a good choice for the FE. They also make milder and hotter grinds depending on the RPM range and application. You can get the complete Comp Cams hydraulic kit for a reasonable price, add a set of aftermarket adjustable rockers(I'm thinking of going with the Crane ductile iron roller tip's), and you will have a valvetrain more than sufficient for the Saturday night cruise scene. Add a hot spark from an electronic distributor with an amplifier box, free flowing exhaust, and a Blue Thunder or Edelbrock intake with the right size (and style) carb, you'll have a Ford showing its back bumper to all those Chevies on Saturday night.

The most important thing on any FE rebuild is the oiling system. Several companies make high volume pumps for the FE(like Mellings). If you have the old style oil filter adapter, buy the hi-flow version made for the 427. Other things to think about is having the passages from the pump to the filter adapter bored out to 7/16" and a radius added to the holes where they exit the block to the filter adapter. Some people reccommend putting .090" restrictors in the oil passages located in the heads that feed the rocker arm shafts. This helps to redirect oil to the bearings and cuts back on excessive amounts of oil polling up around the valvesprings.

Is this in a light car like a Mustang or something big and heavy like a truck? Four speed or automatic? 3.00 or 4.30 gears in the rear end? Are you doing just the engine or going through the entire car? These factors all play a part in fuel system selection. A light four speed car with deep gears will respond better to a single plane intake with a large double pumper Holley, where a Galaxie or a truck will be better with a vaccuum secondary carb.

Hope I haven't confused you too much.

Robert D.

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thanks for the info

November 22 2000, 10:11 PM 

Thanks Robert for your information it was very insightfull. I have been comparing notes and many have given me similar advice. Thanks again.

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more info

November 22 2000, 10:35 PM 

Also to give you some more info, I have a 64 t-bird landau, automatic. I am going thru the entire car. I have a removable top so I do need to rework the chassie for better handling. As well I am going to replace the transmission. The more info the better I appreciate your time.

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Bottom end basics

November 23 2000, 7:44 AM 

Just a few thoughts from the irradiated brain of a guy that used to fix nuclear reactors for a living.

The FE's are strong engines so most people really don't mess with the bottom end to much other than to do drill out the oil pickup hole.

The follwing are things that I personally do on my engines. It may be that I'm just nitpicky.

I have my blocks sonic tested. I had a 390 C6ME-A block that had such bad core shift that going .030 over would have been risky.

While that's being done, I have the rods magnafluxed, fitted with ARP bolts, then resized, rehoned and rebushed.

Unless I positively know that I'm the first person to tear an engine down, and it's going to be a stock rebuild, I do not reuse main cap bolts. Get new bolts from Ford or better yet from ARP. They are about the same price. Save the studs for a really beefed engine.

A guy here in the Phoenix area rebuilt a 428 SCJ in his Mustang. He took it to the track and lost a main cap bolt. He reused the stock bolts. I sold him another block for his car.

I personally was rebuilding a bone stock 289 2BBL, for a friend, and was torquing the main caps in steps. I clean and chase every thread hole in the block before I rebuild. At 60 foot pounds, on my way to 75, one of the main cap bolts snapped.

The ARP hardware is cheap insurance in my book. Especially given the torque potential of the FE.

When the new main bolts are in, I have the block align honed and the crank checked to ensure that it's straight. I have it checked for cracks too.

Once the crank centerline has been established, I have my blocks decked and equalized. Not only does this ensure a good sealing surface for the head gasket, but it corrects any factory casting inaccuracies. This helps equalize compression and makes for a smoother running engine.

Torque plate honing is a must. Bolting a head on induces torrsional force that distort cylinder bores. By doing this with a torque plate bolted on, in ensures that the cylinder will be as close to a perfect circle as possible when the head is bolted on during reassembly.

I also take a file or a dremal tool and remove any excess casting slag that I find, inside the block or on the crank. I don't want anything beaking off inside the engine.

Buy a new harmonic balancer. After 20-30 years, it's a good bet that the rubber has dried, hardened and cracked. This effectively nullifies the ability to dampen the harmonic frequencies that can destroy an engine. Plus the bad rubber may let the outer ring slip giving an inaccurate timing reference.

Have the entire rotating assmebly balanced. If you don't do anything else that I've suggested, at least do this.

A windage tray is a good cheap investment for a few extra horsepower. Still available from most Ford dealers.

Anyway, I guess I'd better stop rambling. Just my opinion on how to make a great running engine no matter what cam, carb or intake you slap on.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tim Johnson

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Tim is giving you good advice......

November 23 2000, 7:21 PM 

First off Tim is giving good advice. Of course to do all the work TIm has stated is expensive. I do insist on new connecting rod bolts. I dont know your budget. If you dont have $5000 to spend then you will unfortunately have to cut some steps out. Thats up to you. My advice I want to give is stay away from big cams for a heavy street car like the T bird with an automatic. I feel the COmp 270H is too big. I used to run the 268H and I took it out. Not enough low end for my Galaxie with a stock torque convertor. I also dont like high volume oil pumps for engines that never see past 6000rpm. Especially when u will hardly ever see past 4000rpm. At least Im assuming. Cams for the most part just raise the power curve. SOME have a slightly quicker ramp then the stock cam did and u can get more torque and HP with little low end consequence. The only consequence being is shorter valve train life. Also the increased risk of breaking parts in the valve train. Like the rocker shafts for example. A common problem on the FE. If you run a high rate cam you MUST use a thicker shaft and possibly special rocker shaft supports if your going for a BIG cam and running high RPM alot (over 5500rpm). I could go on for days. Just be careful with cams. Use a daul plane intake. If u have any questions u can e-mail me.


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