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Ford FE Engine Rebuild - New Life
Performer FE Cylinder Heads Put Stalking Power Into Ford's Prehistoric Predator
Over a production life lasting from 1958 until the mid '70s, Ford's FEengine family experienced many changes and improvements. Changes tocylinder head and manifold offerings were even more varied than thebore-and-stroke combinations (which ran the gamut from 332 to 428 cubicinches). Low-risers, Medium-risers, High-risers, Tunnel Ports, and CobraJets just begin to cover the more popular performance castings.
The uninitiated mind boggles when it comes to FE heads and manifolds.One aspect shared by all high-performance FE cylinder heads isincreasing rarity and value. When discussing 21st-century FE engineperformance, one must be aware that, no matter how efficient theoriginal factory castings might have been, you're still working withtechnology that's over 30 years old. Combine rarity, price, oldtechnology, and throw in an inherent exhaust-port deficiency, and itbecomes abundantly clear that some assistance is needed to remaincompetitive in today's performance arena.
Help is available. The folks at Edelbrock have introduced theirPerformer-series aluminum cylinder heads for FE-series Ford engines. TheEdelbrock castings are part numbers 6005 (bare) and 6006 (complete), andare based on the famous 428 Cobra Jet head. These heads feature2.09-inch intake and 1.66-inch exhaust valves with a 72cc combustionchamber. There are also PNs 6007 (bare) and 6008 (complete), which areheads patterned after the race-proven 427 Medium-riser design withoptions for 2.19-inch intake and 1.73-inch exhaust valves.
Out of the box, Edelbrock's Performer aluminum cylinder heads are"designed for street high-performance use." In keeping with the truespirit of hot rodding, we set out to see how the Edelbrock head could beimproved for racing.
Starting with a pair of PN 6007 bare castings, let's compare thePerformer with OEM Ford castings. First and most obvious is the weightand heat dissipation advantage offered by Edelbrock's CNC-machined aluminum castings. Closer examination reveals that the oil-return holeshave been relocated and the oil-feed boss for the rocker arms no longerextends into the intake port. The oil-feed hole from the head to therocker assemblies is also smaller than OEM diameter, eliminating theneed to restrict oil flow to the top of the engine in an effort to keepit down in the main bearings where it is needed most. A nice, thick decksurface and plenty of room to work around the ports indicated to us thatthe Performer heads are crying out to be "worked."
To do the work, we enlisted the services of Rich Maitre at Ram Racing inOxford, Pennsylvania. A traditionally schooled head porter, Rich studiedunder none other than Mr. Bow Tie himself, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins.
Before anyone gets upset and before we go any further, just remember theimmortal words of Obe Wan Kenobi: "The dark side of the force is verypowerful as well, Luke." Perhaps we can gain the secrets of the otherside.
RICH'S 10 STEPS OF HEAD PREPARATION
1. USAGE--Factors such as cubic inches, compression, camshaft,and vehicle application were taken into consideration. In our case, theheads will top a 427 center oiler which will power a Nostalgia SuperStock Galaxie. From this, Rich is able to determine critical dimensionswithin the port such as pushrod cross section, cross section at turn,bowl width, valve-seat angle, and inside diameter.
2. MACHINING--Taking the valve seats to the desired size. Helpsform a smooth transition from port into bowl as well as across the valveinto the chamber.
4. FINISH PORTING--Exact measurements are determined. Finaladjustments are made prior to polishing.
5. POLISHING--100-grit cartridge rolls are used to blend under the seats and polish the chambers. 40-grit flapper rolls are used to polish the intake and exhaust ports. Finally, the exhaust ports get alittle more attention with 100-grit.
6. FINISH VALVE JOB--The stock 30-degree seat angles are changedto 45 degrees. This allows a change in the bottom angles of thecompetition five-angle valve job to allow for the smoothest transitionof airflow.
7. "CC" PROCESS--Combustion chambers and runners are "cc'd" toensure proper sizing and balancing.
8. FLOW TEST--Super-Flow bench is used for this step.
9. "DRESSING" VALVES--It is essential to obtain the proper facewidth and back angle on the valves.
10. PORT MATCHING--Done between the intake manifold and intakeports of the heads. This step is particularly critical when working with FE Ford engines due to a very short intake runner. For our application,we'll be using a Tunnel Wedge-style intake.
WHAT'S A TUNNEL WEDGE?
Many are not familiar with the term "Tunnel Wedge," which is used todescribe our manifold. The Tunnel Wedge was used in the Super Stockprogram in the late '60s and was not offered on any production Ford. Itis not to be confused with a Tunnel Port intake/heads that had roundintake ports with the pushrods running through tubes and dissecting therunner. The Tunnel Wedge intake looks like the Tunnel Port except itutilizes rectangular Medium-riser ports. It is a single-plane unit, thusit's better at high rpm than on the street. This is a reproduction unit,but OEM pieces can sell for around $900.
PROJECT SPECIAL NOTES
1. The Ford FE head has a very short intake runner, which makesit crucial that there are no tight curves or quick direction changeswithin the port.
2. Exhaust-port openings were opened on one side only in aneffort to straighten the runners, thus achieving a better line of sight.
3. Valve job was changed from 30-degree seat to 45 degrees. Therest of the angles, top and bottom, are top secret.
4. Intake-port roof was raised .125, opened inside wall up .100to straighten port.