Jim Smart
June 1, 2000

Step By Step

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The 557ci Dominator from Coast High Performance is a bulletproof big-block. Because CHP pays close attention to tolerances and material life, it infuses only the best stuff into the Dominator kit, which includes 6.800-inch Probe H-beam rods and custom-forged pistons, a nodular iron, a specially treated crankshaft, Childs & Albert Dura-Moly rings, and a Clevite “H” rod and main bearings. You can order the Dominator as a kit, or you can order an assembled short- or long-block. A billet crank and Probe high-performance balancer are also available.
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The Dominator is available with a broad range of cam choices depending on your mission. We’re installing a Crower roller tappet camshaft in this one.
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The 385-series big-block utilizes long bores that can carry a lot of displacement. When this engine is finished, it will pack 557 ci of displacement. To top that, CHP is introducing a 572ci stroker shortly.
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Clevite high-performance bearings are designed for severe-duty service in the Dominator.
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CHP utilized Fel-Pro gaskets, from Federal-Mogul, in our 557 stroker buildup.
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Because this will be a street engine, CHP is fitting the block with a specially treated cast-iron crankshaft. This is a new 460 block that has been checked and machined as necessary.
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Probe forged pistons are fitted to the H-beam rods. These are floating-pin types.
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What sets CHP apart from the rest is attention to detail. Short- and long-blocks are carefully assembled, including measuring piston ring end gaps on every bore.
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These are Childs & Albert Dura-Moly rings.
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Because this is a custom bore size (4.440 inches), an old-fashioned ring compressor had to be used. Compression will be 14.0:1 with domed pistons.
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The Probe 6.660-inch H-beam rods use cap screw bolts. Be sure to the check the rod side clearances.
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This Crower roller camshaft allows for more aggressive lobe profiles without adversely affecting street performance. It yields a calm idle, but when the throttle is opened, watch out. A double-roller timing chain will keep everything in good time.
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Like the small-block, the 385-series big-block has a cast-aluminum front timing cover. For a water pump, we recommend performance aluminum versions, like those offered by Edelbrock.
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Any time you’re building a stroker or adding a girdle, all clearances must be checked. Here, the oil pump is too close to the main girdle. The girdle should be ground to clear the pump. You can also shave the pump slightly.
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Manley screw-in studs and pushrod guideplates are used with the Blue Thunder heads.
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The 385-series big-block does not need the “spider” for roller tappets like the small-block does. A word of advice: Install the roller tappets before the heads go on. Take our word for it; it’s easier that way.
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This is the Blue Thunder head from CHP.
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With Stage 3 porting, 2.25/1.88-inch intake and exhaust valves, 74cc chambers, and featherweight aluminum, these guys flow a lot of air. And because they’re aluminum, they carry heat away much better than iron.
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Fel-Pro gaskets contain the thermal expansion beneath the Blue Thunder heads. Those huge ports will help the 557 Dominator make the most of its displacement. At .800-inch lift, the intake ports flow 405 cfm and the exhaust 295 cfm.
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Optional Probe 1.6-ratio billet rocker arms do a nice job of reducing power-robbing friction.
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There are two choices for intake manifolds from CHP for the 557. The Blue Thunder dual-plane intake manifold is ideal for street use.
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The Edelbrock Victor 460 is designed more for high-rpm use.
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The 557ci Dominator is a tall performer and a good looker for the serious performance enthusiast. CHP can custom-build and ship a 557 Dominator right to your door.

Stroking an engine is not a modern procedure. Squeezing displacement into an iron or aluminum cylinder block has been routine for more than a century, and has become increasingly popular over the past several years. It's to a point these days where if you don't have a stroker underhood, you're the odd man out--not always a good thing on the street.

Displacement is pumped into an engine by increasing the bore, lengthening the stroke, or both. Increasing displacement is a matter of how much cylinder volume you can place above the piston and keep it all inside the block.

The 385-series Ford big-block was designed for displacement increases. When it debuted in 1968 as a large passenger-car engine in the Lincoln to replace the outmoded "MEL" big-block, it was a stodgy, sleepy 429/460. In those days, it was in vogue to build and race an FE-series 390, 427, or 428ci big-block. No one thought of the 429/460 as a serious player.

When you study the 429/460 big-block, it looks like a small-block Ford that has reached adulthood. Everything is in the same location and with a similar oiling system. The 385-series engine employs a bolt-on, cast-aluminum timing cover with a cast-iron water pump, just like the small-block. Where the 385 differs from the small-block is in its cylinder heads. This is where the 385 becomes more "351 Cleveland" in nature, with huge ports and macho wedge chambers.

Only in recent years have Ford performance enthusiasts begun to discover the potential of the 429/460 big-block. Coast High Performance discovered this engine, too, and has taken the broad-shouldered Ford to new heights with its new 557ci Dominator, which is not a budget big-block by any means. It is a stroked (4.500-inches) and bored (4.440-inches) big-block for the psychotic enthusiast bent on spanking the masses.

We're going to show you what goes into a Coast High Performance Dominator big-block, and provide a few building tips along the way.