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Topics - jayb

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Non-FE Ford Engine Dyno Results / Non-FE Ford Engine Dyno Results
« on: January 22, 2023, 04:40:52 PM »
This board is for posting information on the dyno results you have for your non-FE Ford engine.  I have put a suggested format below, and put a couple of example engines on the board to start with.  You can copy the format from this sticky, and paste it into your post, and then fill in the information.  If you don't have all the info (very few people will), don't sweat it, just fill in what you have.  If you have a photo of the engine, either on or off the dyno, please post that also.  Comments always welcome.  Hopefully this board will turn into a useful repository of non-FE Ford engine data.


Performance Summary:
      Cubic Inches:               Dyno brand:
      Power Adder:               Where dynoed:
      Peak Horsepower:
      Peak Torque:

Horsepower and Torque Curves:

Engine Specifications:
   Block brand, material, finished bore size, other notes:
   Crankshaft brand, cast or forged, stroke, journal size:
   Connecting Rods brand, material, center to center distance, end sizes, bolts:

   Piston brand, material (caster, hypereutectic or forged), dish/dome volume, static CR:

   Main Bearings, Rod Bearings, Cam Bearings brand and size:

   Piston rings brand, size, other notes:

   Oil Pump, pickup, and drive:

   Oil pan, windage tray, oil filter adapter:

   Camshaft brand, type (hyd/solid, flat tappet or roller), lift and duration (adv and @.050")

   Lifters brand, type:

   Timing chain and timing cover:

   Cylinder heads brand, material, port and chamber information:

   Cylinder head flow in cfm at inches of lift (28" H2O pressure drop):
      Intake               Exhaust
      .100               .100
      .200               .200
      .300               .300
      .400               .400
      .500               .500
      .600               .600
      .700               .700
      .800               .800

   Flow bench used, location:

   Intake valve brand, head size, stem size:

   Exhaust valve brand, head size, stem size:
   Valve springs brand, part number, specs:

   Retainers and locks brand, part number, specs:

   Rocker arm brand, type (adjustable or non-adj), material, ratio

   Rocker shafts and stands, brand, material:

   Pushrods brand, type, length:

   Valve covers, brand, type:

   Distributor brand, advance curve information:

   Harmonic balancer brand:

   Water pump brand, type (mechanical or electric):

   Intake manifold brand, material, porting information:

   Carburetor(s) brand, type

   Exhaust manifolds or headers brand, type:

FE Technical Forum / Forum upgrades in process...
« on: January 18, 2023, 04:48:01 PM »
Please excuse some of the odd forum behavior over the next day or so, the forum software is transitioning to a new server, which hopefully will help with the speed issues.  Thanks, Jay

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season, and looking forward to smoking the tires and revving the FE in the coming year - Jay

Vendor Classifieds / New CP Pistons for 4.375" Bore
« on: December 08, 2022, 02:37:03 PM »
Long story short, I had these made for one of my cylinder head customers but then he got a cancer diagnosis and had to bail on the project.  I kept them for another project for a local friend of mine, but after waiting over a year for a BBM block he finally bailed on that and got a Pond aluminum block.  The Pond aluminum blocks won't go this big on the bore, so these pistons are now available.  They will work on any aftermarket iron block, or a Shelby big bore aluminum block.  They are too big for a factory iron or Pond aluminum block.  They will also work with any FE cylinder head, including the FE Power heads.  A picture of the spec sheet is attached, but basically they are for a 4.25" stroke, 6.700" BBC rod with 0.990" pins, are 11:1 compression, and use 0.9mm steel top ring, 0.9mm Napier second, and 3mm standard tension oil ring.  The pistons, pins, and rings are included.

My customer originally paid >$1500 for these parts; selling them for $1050 or best offer.

FE Technical Forum / Need Advice on Fox Body FE Project
« on: September 17, 2022, 11:00:59 AM »
So I'm looking to get back to Drag Week, hopefully next year, and want to race in the Street Race BB/NA class.  This class does not allow body modifications, and suspension mods have to be bolt on replacements that attach to the factory mounting points on the chassis.  The class also has a 3200 pound minimum weight with driver, and an ET limit of 8.50 or slower.

I want to go with a wedge engine that has my cylinder head package on it, and I want to be competitive.  That means I need to hit or be very close to the minimum 3200 pound weight.  Especially in light of my own ~240 pound weight, no way I can get my Mach 1 close to the minimum.  Not sure I'd want to strip out the stock interior and do other lightening tricks on that car anyway.  My Galaxie and my Shelby clone both have modifications that would prevent them from running in the class.  So, if I'm going to do this, I need a new race car  ;D ;D  The wife may not be pleased, but oh well...

A Fox body Mustang is an obvious choice, but I just don't want to be like everybody else.  At the FERR, I was talking to Rory McNeil and he suggested a 78-83 Fairmont or Mercury Zephyr, which is also a Fox body platform.  They are kind of plain Jane and boxy, but they are light, something like 2700-2800 pounds curb weight.  So with some work I think I could get one ready to race right at the 3200 pound limit.  They also have that trunk overhang, that the Mustangs don't, which should make it easier to hook the car with the smaller tires that will fit inside the stock rear wheel opening.  The cars are a little difficult to find, apparently the LS crowd is snapping them up, but they made a lot of them so I think I could probably find one if I looked hard enough.

My problem with these cars is that I don't know anything about them.  So if anyone could help with the following questions I'd appreciate it.  Most of these questions are just about where to source the components that I need:

- Is one year in that 78-83 model run preferable from a racing standpoint?  I know the 2 door sedans are probably lightest, but I'm leaning towards a 2 door Futura.

- I'd be looking at a tubular K member to save some weight, and run aftermarket front suspension components.  I've looked at quite a few K members online, but haven't seen any that are set up for an FE.  Is there such a thing?  If not, can one for a small block Ford be modified to work?

- I would plan to run subframe connectors along with a full cage.  All the subframe connectors I've come across are for Mustangs, which are too short to fit a Fairmont.  Does anyone know of a source for Fairmont subframe connectors, or do I have to fabricate those?

- How about fiberglass hoods and bumpers for those cars (which are legal in the class), are they available?

- Where can I get a 9" rear end housing that has the proper suspension attachment brackets already welded on?  I don't want to try that myself on this rear suspension, and all the rear ends I've seen online are complete units.  I prefer Mark Williams axles and their aluminum case, and I happen to have a case already, so I don't want to buy a complete rear end.

- Is there a preferred source for the front suspension components, given a drag race application?

- The class allows minor welding to the chassis for strengthening purposes.  Are there some points on the chassis that could or should be reinforced for a drag application?  Perhaps around the factory rear suspension arm mounting points?

I'm sure more questions will come up.  Thanks in advance for any info - Jay

FE Technical Forum / FE Power Intake Testing
« on: May 12, 2022, 10:42:30 AM »
I apologize in advance for this extremely long post, but there is a lot of information I wanted to share here.

It has really taken a long time to get all the intake manifold development and testing finished for my cylinder head project, much longer than originally anticipated.  It all started back in 2020, so it has been over a year and half to get everything finished up.  The scope of the work has changed along the way, to include a complete revamp of the rocker arm system (from aluminum to steel), and the original plan for building three intake manifold options for the cylinder head package has morphed into at least five, and probably six, intake manifolds that will be offered. Nevertheless, at this point I'm pretty happy with where everything stands, and will be going to production tooling on the intakes very soon.

A quick word about the dyno mule.  This engine has been a real trooper.  It has been through tremendous abuse, starting with all the broken aluminum rocker arms and related bent pushrods that showed up in the original test program, followed by a refit using the steel rockers, plus an update to the steel rockers to move from 3/8" adjusters to 7/16", and make a couple of other minor tweaks.  It has endured one major and two minor plastic manifold explosions that ruined the plastic manifolds and in one case blew shards of plastic shrapnel all over the dyno room and into the cylinders of engine itself.  It has seen uncounted hours of running, and a total of 254 dyno pulls, many of them to 7500 RPM.  And it is tired; the right bank looks pretty good with all the cylinders showing 170 to 180 psi of compression, but #5 is down to 140, and #6 is down to 80 psi.  Even so, the engine is still making 885-890 horsepower with the original 8V intake manifold.  It has been a kickass engine.

After multiple redesigns and lots of testing, I've tentatively settled on building two 4V intake manifolds, two 8V intake manifolds, a tunnel ram and the IR crossram intake.  I've put pictures and dyno data for each one below, so that they can be compared.  All the data shown is with the dyno mule fitted with the RE version of the cylinder heads, and 2-1/8" dyno headers.  Based on some back to back testing, the SE version of the heads will be down about 15-20 horsepower from the RE version.

4V Intakes:

The picture below shows the original 4V intake, that was cast at a local foundry.  My dyno junky friend Royce nicknamed this one "Rasputin", because it was tall and terrible!  This one ran originally on the engine with the aluminum rocker arms, and after discontinuing testing to update the rocker arm system it was sent down to Joe Craine for a little porting tune up.  After getting it back it was tested again with the new steel rocker system, and made a little more power than it had originally, so the revised design will be incorporating the changes Joe made.  Also, this intake was originally designed to split in half for easy porting, but Joe didn't think that was necessary due to the easy access to the runners, so for production this one will be a single piece design:

After testing the previous intake I had a couple customers contact me, wondering about hood clearance.  This intake of course was not going to fit under anyone's hood, not even with a CJ or Boss 9 scoop.  So I decided to take a stab at another 4V intake design, with an eye towards making it fit a car with a Mustang shaker scoop.  Because of this the carb mounting point and slant of the carb pad was positioned in the same place as a factory 428CJ intake.  Due to the height of the head ports, this intake was going to be 2" higher than the factory intake no matter what.  However, if a low profile EFI throttle body was used, based on the height calculations the shaker scoop would still fit. 

The 3D printed manifold pictured below is the second version that I designed (Note in the second picture that the manifold plastic has been painted; more on this later).  The first one did poorly on the dyno, making only about 770 HP on the dyno engine.  After revising the runner design, the one pictured made 825 HP, and with a 1" spacer it went all the way to 848 HP at 7100 RPM, which was down only a small amount from the tall 4V intake. I think this manifold would be a really good compromise for someone looking to maintain the stock hoodline of their car.

The graph below shows horsepower and torque from tall 4V, the short 4V with no spacer, and the short 4V with a 1" spacer (3000 to 5000 RPM with the spacer is nearly identical to without, and is not shown in the graph).  All the dyno graphs shown in this post have been standardized with a torque and horsepower range of 300 to 900, in order to make comparisons easier.

8V Intakes:

Similar to the original 4V intake, I designed the original 8V intake and had it cast at my local foundry, then had Joe Craine tweak it for me before I ran it with the revised steel rocker arm system. To date, this manifold has performed better in horsepower production than any other manifold I've tried, and that includes two sheet metal style intakes and two tunnel wedge style intakes.  It is not clear to me why this manifold works so well, because from a pure design standpoint it is a compromise.  One thing I've learned over the years of testing though is that the engine wants what it wants, and sometimes it is not predictable.  Like the tall 4V intake, Joe's changes will be incorporated into the production version.  Also like the tall 4V, this manifold was originally designed as a two piece intake, but will be a single piece in production.  Pictures of this intake are shown below:

In order to make peak power I really wanted to try a sheet metal style intake on this engine.  Long ago when I bought my 3D printer, I had envisioned printing plastic intake manifolds and testing them on an engine, and I did this quite a bit during this intake development.  Of course, there was a learning curve.  The manifolds come off the 3D printer looking beautiful, perfectly formed runners, nice radiuses where they were designed in, etc.  They look and feel solid, but actually the outer layers are only about .060" thick, and the interior portions are a honeycomb-like structure.  One thing I learned the hard way is that despite their appearance, they are not airtight.  Below is a picture of the first sheet metal style intake I printed and tested on the dyno.  Royce nicknamed this one the Red Devil:

The name turned out to be oddly clairvoyant.  When the engine was started with this manifold installed, it didn't seem like it was running right.  Little did I know that there was a massive vacuum leak, right through the plastic of the manifold.  When the throttle was advanced, the engine backfired and blew the manifold to smithereens!  Picture of the aftermath is below:

The explosion caused a loud bang and a blinding flash, and blew both the Dominator carbs over the left valve cover, hanging by the fuel lines and on fire.  We got the fire out quickly so no damage.  Within 20 seconds we were all laughing our butts off over this deal; holy crap, the explosion and resulting fireball was SPECTACULAR!  If there had been a camera running in the dyno room when that manifold exploded, the video would have a million hits on youtube by now.

Anyway, this stopped testing for a bit while the engine was pulled apart looking for problems.  We found shards of plastic in all the cylinders, some of them stuck down between the piston and the top ring, but no other damage.  Put the engine back together with the aluminum 8V intake, and it made the same power as before, so no problems there.  From that point forward, after 3D printing a plastic intake, it was painted it with two coats of garage floor epoxy paint, to make sure that it was sealed before installing it and testing it on the dyno.

Two more sheet metal style intakes were designed, and were tested on the engine.  One had fairly short runners and a fairly large taper in the runners (first picture below), and the other had longer runners and less taper (second picture).  Neither one of them made close to the power of the 8V intake that had been originally designed.  The first one was tested several months ago, and the testing went fine with no issues (I am now extremely cautious when starting the engine with a plastic intake).  The second one was the last intake tested, just on Tuesday this week, and after three dyno pulls it was clear it wasn't going to get close to the 890 HP the original 8V was making; it was only getting to 860 HP at 7000 RPM.  That one looked like it might go a little higher than 860 HP if we ran the engine to 7500 RPM, but inexplicably when starting the engine the last time for that pull to 7500 we had a minor backfire and that broke the sides out of the intake.  The plenum portion of the tunnel ram intake also broke due to a minor backfire when it was tested the first time; the conclusion is that the bigger the plenum, the bigger the volume of air/fuel mixture ready to ignite, and the shorter the lifespan of the plastic intake!

One other intake that I really wanted to do was an 8V intake that looked kind of like a factory tunnel wedge manifold.  Three 3D printed versions of this one were completed.  The first one gave disappointing results, only about 825 HP on the dyno engine.  So back to the drawing board where the runner shapes were redesigned, and also raised a little bit.  After 3D printing that one a mistake was found in the design of how the runners blend into the plenum; sometimes it's hard to see all the potential issues with a design by looking at it on the computer.  Back in one more time to fix up the blending issues, and then that manifold was printed, painted and tested.  The extra effort was rewarded with 875 HP from that one, and still climbing at 7000 RPM.  Pictures of the final tunnel wedge version, in raw plastic and painted, are below:

Dyno data for the 8V High Rise and 8V Tunnel Wedge manifolds is given below.  The 8V high rise makes more top end power than any of the other intakes, and holds in the 885 to 890 HP range from 6800 all the way to 7500, which to me is quite impressive.  There were a couple of pulls with the 8V high rise that netted 894 HP, but the data was a little questionable because the peaks were at one engine speed only, so those pulls weren't included in this data.  We thought with a little tweaking we could get this manifold to 900 HP, but nothing we did seemed to help.  I went so far as to wrap the headers, but got no change in power.  Then I built a whole new set of headers, with 2-1/4" primaries, and actually lost 5 HP on the top end.  I tried different jetting, different valve lash settings, etc., with no change.  I stopped short of actually running the engine at a really cold temperature, and icing down the intake, because I figured that would be cheating  ;D  So despite my best efforts I didn't get this engine to 900 HP.  I did not try a higher ratio rocker, which may have gotten it there.  There is also have another cam to try, specified by Chris Padgitt at Bullet Cams, but that one hasn't been installed yet.  This engine needs to be freshened up, before we get back to flogging it with a new cam and springs, higher ratio rockers, and ported versions of the heads; as mentioned before, the heads on this engine are unported.

The 8V tunnel wedge manifold makes better power than the 8V high rise at the lower engine speeds, and appears to still be climbing at 7000 RPM and 875 HP.  Hindsight being 20/20 this one should have probably been run to 7500 RPM too, but the results were satisfactory up to 7000 so it was left at that.  I was putting my bets on the tunnel ram...

Tunnel Ram and IR Crossram Intakes:

These two manifolds are torque monsters, beating the best of the 4V and 8V manifolds by a good 30 foot pounds of torque, which is an amazing 1.5 lb-ft per cubic inch.  I have never had a naturally aspirated engine that makes that kind of torque per cube on my dyno before.  The Individual Runner Crossram manifold had been planned since the very early days of starting the cylinder head project, but for some reason it never dawned on me to build a traditional tunnel ram.  I don't know why; a very large percentage of the people who purchase my intake adapters for their FEs use a Weiand tunnel ram on them.  Seems like FEs and tunnel rams go together. 

Anyway, I finally wised up and designed a tunnel ram intake for the cylinder heads.  Pictures of the intake are below.  I took a lot of the design cues from the Weiand 351C tunnel ram, which works extremely well.  It was 3D printed, then displayed at the FE Power booth at PRI this year.  In March Royce the Dyno Junky drove up, and we tried to test it, along with a couple of other intakes.  As mentioned previously though, a minor backfire cracked the plenum part of the intake, so no testing was possible.  A couple weeks later I had reprinted the plenum area and bolted it back on to the base.  This time the testing went perfectly, and I was blown away by the 763 foot pounds of torque that the tunnel ram made.  But like a lot of tunnel rams, it didn't pull all the way to 7000 RPM.  It peaked in the 6300-6500 RPM range, at about 865 HP, and then fell off.

The IR crossram intake was the most complex intake to get up and running on the dyno.  This one was cast originally as eight individual runner castings, to bolt onto the intake adapter.  However, this arrangement made it nearly impossible to get the fuel injectors, fuel rails, and vacuum taps (which are all under the intake) installed with it assembled on the intake adapter.  After fighting with that for several days I finally concluded that I needed to redesign the intake as a single piece, which would be flipped over for installation of the fuel and vacuum system, and then installed on the intake adapter. 

After redesigning the casting and getting it cast, of course I had to completely rewrite the CNC code to machine the intake.  I also needed a new machining fixture.  After getting all that done, the fuel system and vaccuum system was test assembled under the intake.  The new casting had some bosses on the bottom side of the intake to mount the fuel rails, but one of them turned out to not be in the ideal spot, so that will have to be changed before production tooling is made.  But overall the new setup worked.  The photos below shows how the underside of the intake looks with the fuel and vacuum systems installed:

Next the throttle linkage had to be redesigned to work with the new casting.  The first version did not look robust when it was completed, and it was too high off the top of the intake, so a second version was started from scratch.  This one still has some issues, and it will be tweaked a little before finalizing it for production, but it works well enough to run on the dyno.  The production casting will be changed to add some bosses for attaching a return spring on each bank of the intake, plus an idle screw and an opening stop screw for each bank.  Finally, when it came time to mount the fuel pressure regulator I wanted it up front for easy access, and had neglected to add a boss at the front of the casting for mounting it, so it was just screwed into the front runner.  The production casting will put a boss in that position with a couple of mounting holes, to make it easier and cleaner to mount.

All this took a lot of time to accomplish; the intake probably came apart and went back together six or eight times before it was ready for the dyno.  But finally this week the time arrived.  Here are some pictures of this intake mounted on the engine:

The dyno mule has been using the MS3-Pro EFI system to control the engine's timing, with the crank and cam sensors and no distributor, so it was easy to just add the fuel system from the MS3-Pro to run the injectors.  This setup is low compared to all the other intakes, and uses long runners, so it was expected to make a lot of low and midrange torque, but not as much top end horsepower as some of the other intakes.  Also, as an individual runner intake, it was going to be peaky (In fact the power and torque curves from this intake look very similar to the Hilborn setup I ran on my SOHC years ago).  But it started right up on the dyno, with only real issues being getting the throttle linkage adjusted correctly.  This intake idles with the butterflies almost completely closed; if they are cracked open even a little, like maybe .040", the engine is right up at 2500 RPM.  Hilborn used to recommend setting the idle so that a strip of newspaper would barely slide out of the gap between the throttle bore and the throttle plate, and that is probably just about right for this setup.

The dyno curves for the tunnel ram and the IR intake are shown below.  The peaky nature of the IR intake is evident, especially below 4500 RPM.  But it is making huge torque down there, almost 600 foot pounds at 3000 RPM and nearly 700 foot pounds at 3800.  During the dyno pull, as the peak at 3800 approached, the sound from the engine was unbelievable!  You could really tell the power was increasing.  The IR intake actually made the most torque of any of the intakes, edging the tunnel ram at 767 foot pounds.  As expected it flattened out after about 5500 RPM, but to my surprise it started gaining again at the higher engine speeds, and actually surpassed the tunnel ram's power at 7000 RPM.  It looks like it's headed for another peak at a higher engine speed.

In contrast the tunnel ram made smooth power up to peak in the 6300-6500 RPM range.  It made a remarkable 763 foot pounds of torque, and 865 HP, before it started falling off.  The manifold behaved nicely on the dyno, no special tuning or adjustments necessary.  It would be a great bracket race manifold, for someone who wants to lauch at 5000 RPM and shift at 6500-7000, to go through the lights at 7000+.

So, FINALLY after a year and a half of concerted effort, I'm ready to go to production tooling with these intakes.  I will be sending out a summary to my customers and asking for their input on which intake manifolds they may be interested in.  If there is little or no interest in one of them, I will probably just produce five instead of all six.  We'll see what everybody says.  I'm currently building a 390 stroker engine that will use a set of my SE heads, and I will be putting the IR intake on that engine.  I may go to the low 4V intake for my Mach 1, so that I can put the original hood and shaker scoop back on it.  And I want to use that tunnel ram on something, just not sure what yet...

Vendor Classifieds / FE Power #13001 Intake Adapters
« on: March 01, 2022, 10:42:08 AM »
I currently have three  two one of these intake adapters available.  This is a blem intake with quality thread inserts (not Helicoils) in six of the 351C bolt holes, for $539.

The next production batch of these that I get will have a big price increase, because of a price increase on the raw casting from the foundry.  Right now I'm guessing they will go up to around $650.  If you want one, now is the time.  Leave me a message here, email me at, or call at 952-428-9035.  Thanks!

FE Technical Forum / FE Power at the FE Race and Reunion
« on: September 05, 2021, 10:58:27 AM »
We will be at the event, showcasing the first production cylinder heads and related items, plus of our standard products.  If you will be attending the show and want to purchase any FE Power items, please leave a response here, or message me, or email me (, or give me a call (952-428-9035), and I will bring the product you want to the show, to save you some shipping expense.  FYI, we are still out of intake adapters, but have limited numbers of timing covers and timing sets available.  We will also be running a show special on books.  Looking forward to seeing all my FE friends at the Reunion!

Private Classifieds / Wanted - Passenger Side 428CJ Exhaust Manifold
« on: September 01, 2021, 10:25:16 AM »
A friend of mine is looking for one of these.  If you have one, or have a set you want to sell for a reasonable price, please let me know.  Thanks, Jay

Vendor Classifieds / The Great FE Intake Comparo is back in stock!
« on: August 11, 2021, 04:27:29 PM »
After nearly a 6 month delay, I finally received my next printing of books yesterday.  They are available now for immediate shipment.  If you are one of those folks who paid for a book and is now waiting for it, it shipped out earlier today (8/11/21), and thanks so much for your patience - Jay

FE Technical Forum / What the heck is going on in the oil pan?
« on: August 05, 2021, 04:22:59 PM »
I've been doing a little more testing on the dyno mule with my cylinder heads on it this week (up to 894 HP now).  After the last go around a few weeks ago I had some conversations with a couple of my head customers, and John S (oldiron.fe on the forum) mentioned putting a window in the oil pan to see what was happening.  Ever since I started with this engine on the dyno last September, I've noticed that at the higher RPM pulls I have a significant decrease in oil pressure, typically starting around 65 psi at 5000 RPM and dropping to about 50 psi at 7000 RPM, with the oil temperature around 180 degrees, using 10W-30 VR1 Valvoline oil.  Higher oil temps of around 200 degrees make it a few psi lower, and I really wasn't too comfortable with those levels.  I've seen this oil pressure issue before with vacuum pumps, so I figured that was a contributing factor, but I thought it would be interesting to see exactly what the oil in the pan was doing.

Since I was planning on pulling the pan to check the bearings, I decided to go ahead with the window, potentially wrecking the oil pan but hopefully learning a few things in the process.  After checking all the bearings (which looked almost new), I cut a big rectangular window out of the Milodon 7 quart oil pan and bolted a piece of 3/8" thick clear polycarbonate to the side, using a bunch of The Right Stuff to seal it.  The engine is using a Moroso windage tray between the block and the pan, and a Precision Oil Pumps high volume pump using the small spacer between the spring and the cup plug.  I've also installed a new vacuum pump from Star Machine to replace the GZ Motorsports pump that I had been running previously.  This pump gave me a few more inches of vacuum, and probably contributed to the latest HP numbers.

I set up a camera to take videos of the window in the oil pan while the engine was running, and during a dyno pull.  I also rigged up a tach so that you could see the engine speed in the video, but unfortunately the tach I used didn't work, or else it didn't like the tach signal from the MS3-Pro.  Regardless, I started testing the engine and then watching the videos.  I was really surprised at what I saw.  The first video link is below; this is with a total of 8 quarts of oil in the engine.  It takes a while in the video to get to the actual dyno pull, which happens starting around 1 minute and 45 seconds in.  The oil levels are marked on the pan in the video:

Wow, the amount of air entrained in the oil during the actual dyno pull is shocking!  Lots of big bubbles circulating in the oil, certainly contributing to aeration of the oil coming out of the pump.  As my dyno junkie friend Royce said, it looks like you are spraying a garden hose into a bucket of water.  There appears to be about 6 quarts of oil in the pan during idle, and it drops to about 4 quarts during the pull.  A while back on the Engine Masters show on Motor Trend on Demand, they did an experiment where they saw oil pressure drop as engine speed increased, attributed it to foaming of the oil, and solved the problem by taking some oil out of the pan.  I thought I would try the same thing, so we pulled 2 quarts out of the pan, and ran the test again.  Here is the video:

Well, that didn't work, we still had the same drop in oil pressure as before up at 7000 RPM, we seemed to have the same amount, or even a bit more, of foaming and bubbles in the oil, and we didn't make any extra power.  The oil level in the pan looked like 4-1/2 quarts during idle, and about 3 quarts at peak RPM. 

The obvious next test was to remove the vacuum pump and see how it looked without the pump on the engine.  We went back to 8 quarts of oil in the engine, and ran without the vacuum pump.  Here is the video:

Unfortunately for this video I had decided to remove the tach (which wasn't working), and apparently after repositioning, the camera position was off a little compared to the last two videos, and we got some glare from the window that kind of obscured the oil.  However, if you look closely you can see that the oil level in the pan drops quite a bit farther in this video than in the first one, and there still seems to be a whole bunch of foaming and air bubbles in the oil.  BUT, the oil pressure stayed stable throughout the dyno pull.  Unfortunately the oil pressure win was offset by a large HP loss.

Based on the fact that the engine has been behaving like this (oil pressure wise) for several dyno sessions, and that the bearings looked very good when I inspected them, I'm not overly concerned about the oil pressure issue when the vacuum pump is running.  However, it seems like there ought to be some oiling system modifications that could mitigate this problem.  One thing I tried with this new vacuum pump setup was a second vacuum port lower in the engine; this was recommended by Star Machine, and also Andy Miller at Olds Performance.  I actually put a hole through the side of the block right across from the #3 main cap, and then milled a slot in the main cap to allow air from the crankcase into the slot, through the hole, and out to the vacuum pump.  The hope was that since the hole in the block was shielded by the cap, it wouldn't draw in too much oil, but that didn't work, so I went back to a single line from the valve cover to the vacuum pump.  I might try that again next time around with a baffle over the slot in the cap; Lykins also suggested going through the fuel pump opening in the timing cover, so I could try that too.

Another thing is the windage tray.  The Moroso tray has louvers that strip oil off the crank, and several of those louvers point straight down at the oil level in the pan.  You can see this in the videos when the engine is idling, one of those louvers is right above the window and oil is coming straight down.  It seems like using the Ford windage tray, which has louvers only on the right side of the engine and shoots the oil horizontally through the louvers, rather than vertically, would be a better design.  Also it seems like a kickout on the right side of the oil pan, designed to catch that oil and give it a chance to slow down before it hits the rest of the oil in the pan, would be good.  It's also possible that a screen on the windage tray, like the Canton pan has, would lead to less foaming in the oil.  Maybe no windage tray at all would work best? 

Maybe the standard volume pump would yield an improvement.  And of course if you ran a really, really deep pan, that also might help.  The list goes on...

I'm sure there will be a million theories on the best approach to this issue, but the problem is there is very little data to back up the theories, and getting data requires changing up oil pans, windage trays, oil pumps, etc., which of course is a huge pain.    But if I go forward with any modifications I will certainly post them here for general interest.  I'm not sure if there is really HP to be had with a better oil pan setup, but an improvement in the stability of the oil pressure would be a worthwhile goal.

FE Technical Forum / Installing an FE main stud girdle
« on: July 23, 2021, 02:29:35 PM »
On my 390 stroker project in the Member Projects section I had been looking to use a main stud girdle, but couldn't find one available at the time I wanted to do it, so I went with crossbolted main caps instead.  They were expensive, and a real pain to install.  I wanted to try installing a girdle as a comparison, and it turned out that one of my cylinder head customers was going to use a 390 block and put a girdle on it.  I offered to install it for him at no cost because I wanted to see how difficult it would be.  He was able to find a girdle like the one I wanted to use, so last week he drove up to my place and dropped off the block and the girdle and hardware.  This week during a break in the action I got his block on the CNC machine and started the installation.

My plan was to precisely indicate the height location of the five main cap registers in the block, then shim up the block to make them as level as possible.  From there I wanted to cut a few thousandths off the pan rail, in order to make sure that it was square with the main cap registers before machining the caps and bolting on the girdle.  I had been told that the oil pan rail would not necessarily be square with the main cap registers, and in order to make the girdle a nice fit I wanted to make sure that it was.

By the way, the directions that came with the girdle didn't suggest anything like this, basically saying to use the oil pan rail as it was.  This didn't sound right to me, since if the pan rail turned out not to be square with the main cap registers the girdle would have to deform to fit. 

Anyway, I set the block up on the CNC table, resting with the main cap registers facing up and roughly aligned square with the table, clamped it in place, and started measuring the height of the main cap registers.  This was done with an arbitrary Z axis setting; all I was interested in was how the main register heights compared with each other.  I figured that they would all be very close, and I was surprised at how close they actually were.  On the right side of the block, they were all within 0.002" of each other, and the left side was only a little worse:

On average the left side of the block looked just a couple thousandths higher than the right side of the block, which I thought was pretty good given that the block was sitting upside down, and relying on the squareness of the end rails relative to the main cap registers.  In order to make the main cap registers as level as possible, I used some .004" shim stock under the right side of the block's end rails on each end.  I remeasured and got the following results:

This brought the height of the #2 and #3 main cap registers just about the same, and #4 was only off by a thousandth.  #5 was off by almost 0.005", but that wasn't a concern because the girdle doesn't tie into the  #5 main cap.  The left side of #1 was about 0.004" higher than the right side, and I figured I could compensate for that with the spacers.

Now that the main registers were as squared up as I could make them, I measured the height of the oil pan rail in the four corners of the block:

These results were not nearly as bad as I had been led to believe; worst case variation was only about 0.010", and since the distances across the block were much greater than the distances across the main cap registers, it really wasn't that bad.  Nevertheless, I set up my 3" facing mill and took about 0.012" off the oil pan rail, to square it up with the main cap registers:

This whole process, from getting the block fixtured on the CNC machine, to cutting the pain rail, took about an hour and half.  No big deal.

Next I took caps 1 through 4 and put them into the vise on my smaller CNC machine.  I indicated off the ways of the vise in the Z axis, and then indicated on each main cap bolt hole to find it's center.  Then I wrote a short CNC program to spot face the bolt holes in the top of the caps, to make them all exactly the same height.  I tried to go to a 2.5" height from the bottom of the caps up to the spot face, but it turned out that one of the caps was a little lower than that, so I went down to a height of 2.475" to get all the spot faces on the caps exactly the same height from the bottom of the caps.  It took about an hour to machine the caps.

Another quick aside is that the manufacturer provides a spacer between the cap and the girdle that is a single piece strap for each cap, with two holes in it.  They tell you to bolt the girdle on the block, then measure the distance from the main cap registers up to the girdle, subtract the thickness of the strap, and machine the whole top of the cap to get the height to that dimension.  I also did not like this idea, it seemed to me that getting a precise measurement of this distance would be problematic, and also machining any more off the cap than necessary would limit the strength of the cap.  So I elected not to use the straps, and decided to make up some donut spacers instead.

With the block still fixtured on the CNC machine, I measured the distance between the main cap registers and the oil pan rail, subtracted the 2.475" distance from the cap base to the spot face, and found that I needed spacers about 0.182" thick.  Due to slight variations in the height of the registers, I ended up machining spacers of slightly different thicknesses, ranging from 0.180" to 0.184".  This was the most time consuming part of the project, and hindsight being 20/20, I can think of a much easier way to do this; more on that shortly.  It took me about 3 hours to get these 8 donut spacers machined:

From there I assembled the main studs in the block.  The stud kit included two studs that were shorter than the other eight, for use in the #5 cap, but actually they were still too long to be used, and even with the presence of the girdle they would stick up above the oil pan rail.  The instructions said they "may" need to be cut to fit  ::)  Anyway, I had known about this issue and had the block owner buy some special, shorter studs for the #5 cap.  To make the stud washers and nuts fit, I also counterbored the #5 cap 0.275".  I installed the studs, the caps, and the spacers in the correct location to make them all the same height, then finally I installed the oil pan studs that came with the kit; here's a picture of how the block looked at this point:

The girdle fit nicely down on the block, and in fact it could be wiggled around a little; probably the holes for the studs are slightly oversize.  The main stud washers and nuts were installed next.  The kit comes with some thin nuts that fit into the counterbored areas of the girdle.  I found that the counterbored holes were too small for my 3/8 drive 1/2" socket to fit, so I couldn't use that to tighten the nuts; I ended up going to a 1/4 drive ratchet and socket to get them tight. 

The last thing I did was to machine a couple of precision holes for some 3/8" diameter steel pins, in order to positively fixture the girdle on the pain rail.  I was uncomfortable with the fact that the girdle could slide around some when it was placed over the studs, and despite being clamped down, I wanted a more positive location for it.  So I machined two holes through the girdle and into the block, and will install some steel pins to lock it into a fixed position.  Here's a photo of one of the holes:

Having installed one of these now, I can say by comparison it is a much easier installation than the cross bolted caps.  With the crossbolted caps, the block has to be perfectly aligned in the X axis of the mill, and also perfectly machined to make the caps fit properly.  Then, the block has to be set up on the machine rotated 90 degrees along the X axis to drill the holes for the cross bolts on one side, then it has to be set up at -90 degrees to drill the crossbolt holes on the other side.  This is a ton of setup work, and horsing the block around to these different positions, and then fixturing it in those positions, is very time consuming.  Not to mention tapping the cross bolt holes in the caps.

Despite being more expensive by around $200, and requiring much more expensive machine work, the cross bolted caps are probably more rigid than the standard caps using a girdle.  My take on this though is that given the cylinder wall and main web thickness of a 390, the cross bolted caps may be overkill.  I'm pretty sure that the girdle will make the block able to withstand 650-700 HP, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to go beyond that with a 390 block anyway.

One issue with the girdle that I don't like is that the spacers have to be kept in the same position, in order to maintain minimum stress on the girdle.  Since they are slightly different thicknesses, if you mix them up you may impart a twist into the girdle when it is assembled.  I thought I was going to be able to address this by just stamping or scribing each spacer with it's position, but that didn't turn out to be practical; the steel was not easy to scribe, and when I tested stamping an extra spacer, it raised the material around the stamp mark and changed the thickness.  So the spacers need to be carefully marked when removed, and then replaced in the same spot.

Another concern with the girdle is that if you want to run a windage tray, it is going to be spaced 3/8" farther from the crank, making it a little less effective.

Speaking of the spacers, if I was going to do this project again, I'd take advantage of the precise ring shims available from McMaster Carr.  For example, they have a 0.188" thick spacer with a thickness tolerance of +/- 0.007", and they have .001" and .002" thick ring spacers, with thickness tolerances of much less than .001".  Having a selection of those on hand, and cutting the main cap spot faces just a little deeper than I did, would allow these off the shelf shims to be used as the spacers, taking the majority of time out of this project.  If I ever do another one of these, that's what I'll do.

One last comment is that after this work is done, the block should be align honed, if it hasn't been already.  Sometimes the machine shop will take a few thousandths off the bottom of the caps to align hone the main saddle.  If that happens, then some of those really small shims mentioned previously will have to be added to the shims that are already in place between the girdle and the caps.  For example, if the shop takes .002" off the bottom of each cap, then a 0.002" shim should be installed with each spacer.  But again, since those shims are readily available, no big deal.

I hope this quick tutorial will help if you are considering a girdle for your engine.  Anybody with a vertical mill can do this work, although it is a little easier with CNC, and it seems like a good upgrade for a 390 or 428 block that is headed for serious horsepower.

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