Tom Wilson
January 1, 2001

Step By Step

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138_57z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Right_rear_view138_58z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Block
Key to Steve’s new 360 combination is the tall, 8.700-inch-deck, S302 block from Ford Racing Performance Parts. This is a siamese-bored, extreme-duty block designed for Winston Cup. Thus it easily supports 1,200 hp for short periods or 800-plus hp for 500 miles. As a race block, the stock boss for the oil-pressure sender is oversized and tapped to accept dry-sump oil plumbing. Furthermore, each S302 comes with a sonic-check sheet from Ford, so the machinist knows where the bores are. FPS says there is some core shift in these blocks, usually a little bit down around cylinder number five, but nothing too bad. Not from Ford is the shiny valley seen here—it’s from a coat of Insu- lating Epoxy Coating, a buzz-can job done by FPS for a bit of pizzazz and better oil return.
138_59z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Block
Nothing is free, and for all its durability, the S302 block is 40 pounds heavier than a stock 302 block. Even a quick eyeballing shows all sorts of extra thickness in the bulkheads and pan rail, which FPS says means a bit of extra time needed when clearancing for a stroker crank.
138_60z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Bearing_cap
In typical Ford practice, the S302 block uses two-bolt main bearing caps on the front and rear bearings, while the center three are four-bolt units. The difference is in the block, where the S302 offers considerably more meat to anchor the splayed outer bolts into than previous FRPP and SVO blocks.
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Buy an FRPP performance block and you’ll get a plug and dowel kit with it. In the S302 block’s case, the accompanying kit is the M-6026-A302 seen here. Interestingly, this S302 block FPS took delivery on already had most of the plug and dowel parts installed, but was still missing the rear cam-core plug. So, no matter what, the plug and dowel kit is necessary. Windsor-based blocks use an R351 kit.
138_61z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Oil_pan
Originally, FPS and Steve planned on dry-sumping the 360, but to save around $1,300 in the near term they ultimately went wet sump. That allowed using this new Canton Pro Pan, which rolls its pan-rail lip inside to form a scraper on the driver’s side, and it also means quite a while spent attaching it to the engine. “It takes a couple of hours to install this thing,” was FPS’ installation summation. Steel plugs on the bottom of the pan allow access to the pan-rail bolts. FPS carries both the steel version of this pan at $350 and the faster-cooling aluminum version, such as Steve’s, at $450.
138_63z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Windage_tray
Part of the Canton Pro Pan is this wire-mesh windage tray. It helps keep the oil in the side-mounted–pouch oil reservoir built into the pan instead of being sucked up around the crank by windage, and the crankcase evacuation (vacuum) system used to provide a better ring seal. In a candid moment, FPS admitted it was running a standard-volume, standard-pressure stock oil pump to reduce the horsepower lost to driving a high-volume pump. With the relatively close tolerances in this engine, the high-volume pump isn’t needed anyway, FPS says.
138_64z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Crank_shaft
Winston Cup engines use great crankshafts—and change them like socks. Steve made use of this by purchasing a used Sonny Bryant 3.400-inch stroke unit with all the aero tricks, heavy-metal balancing, and small 2.00-inch rod journals. Aside from turning down the fence on the rear crankseal surface to work with the S302 block, the crank arrived ready to rumble.
138_65z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Piston_rods
Light aluminum rods by Groden were used in deference to the need to accel-erate the engine. The 5.870-inch rods with ARP bolts follow traditional aluminum construction, with no bushing at the small end and a single oil hole for the piston pin.
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Taking one of the Groden rods apart, we see the double pins locating the cap, along with double-bearing tang recesses. Note, also, how the lower bearing in the cap is pinned; the upper bearing is not. All journals and bearings use small Chevy diameters, and the bearings have a particularly generous chamfer to avoid edge riding the gently sloping crank journal fillets. The bearings are dark because they have been coated with FPS’ dry-film coating. In reality, the coating gives the bearings a rather bright blue color.
138_67z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Pistons
In this age of blower motors, we’re not used to seeing high-domed pistons, but in no-power-adder classes such as Street Bandit, a domed piston is necessary. FPS used these Ross XL400s with skirts coated from the oil-ring groove down. Other than the tall domes, these are basically 347 stroker pistons with their short skirts and pin bore through the oil-ring groove. The ring package is standard stuff too. The Childs & Albert Dura-Moly rings are 4.105 inches in diameter, 0.043-inch thick ductile Dura-Moly on the upper, 1/16-inch cast-iron seconds, and 3mm on the oil-control rings. Once everything was bolted together, the compression ratio worked out to a healthy 14.2:1.
138_68z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Timing_chain
At first glance the timing chain set with its multi-keyed crank sprocket follows standard race practice, but a closer look shows it has been drilled for dual cam-dowel-pin holes—a common FPS modification. Also, the Danny Bee cam retainer plate replacement kit (PN DBR-1510) is an upscale touch. The idea is to reduce thrust friction by fitting a roller bearing between the cam sprocket and block. The Danny Bee unit replaces the stock cast-iron cam retainer plate on 289/302/351W stocker and FRPP blocks, and it contains a bronze retainer plate, a roller thrust bearing, two bearing race washers, and two 5/8-inch long, 1/4-20 bolts as shown here. The bronze backing plate goes against the block, then the roller bearing into the retainer, and then the cam drive is assembled in the normal manner. Endplay should be checked with a dial indicator to arrive at 0.004 to 0.014 inch of movement.
138_69z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Cylinder_head
Once upon a time Steve’s heads were Trick Flow Street Heats, but that was before they were ported at least twice. When we visited, FPS was having quite a go at the ports, although it doesn’t show much here on the intake side. However, with the emphasis on naturally aspirated power, you can bet every meaningful fraction of an inch of these heads has been massaged to improve airflow.
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Because of the deep milling they received, Steve’s heads also required a bit of angle milling on the intake face to retain a workable angle between the intake manifold and heads. This can be seen in the intake-bolt holes.
138_71z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Exhaust_port
One glance at the exhaust port says FPS was on the airflow warpath. The now-round D-shaped ports were up to 260 cfm with a pipe and about 10 cfm less without the stub. The intakes were reported at 315 cfm. These numbers should be good for 675 naturally aspirated horsepower (according to the formulas) says Troy at FPS. Steve will take all of that—at least to prevail in Street Bandit these days.
138_72z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Rocker_shaft
One thing not changing in Steve’s engine is his T&D shaft rocker setup. The 1.50:1 ratio rockers still have the beef and stability to handle any sort of lift and duration Steve is apt to throw at them, so they’re coming off his old engine and going on his new 360.
138_73z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Intake_manifold
Now here’s a piece of work. Not only did Steve need an exceptionally deep-breathing intake, but he also needed to span the unusual valley width yielded by the 8.700-inch-deck-height block. Because there were no off-the-shelf intakes to handle this when FPS was putting the engine together, this was done by starting with a Track Boss VR Spyder intake with its large runners and 8.200-inch deck spacing. The airflow is attended to with the carb spacer and porting the runners and plenum; the fit is handled with spacers.
138_74z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Intake_manifold
Most of the airflow tricks in this manifold are around the carb spacer and plenum. The outer welding is there because the porting to relieve the roof entry into the end ports breaks through at that point. This is also why the plunge cuts have not been run all the way through on the inside. Those areas will be finished off by hand to preserve the edge of the end runners where they enter the plenum. The idea is not so much to gain airflow as to gain even mixture distribution to the end cylinders, which normally lean out with single four-barrel intakes. Carburetion is by an HP 1050 Holley Dominator.
138_75z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Intake_port_plate
Made by Leper Machine, these intake port plates filled the gap left when running an 8.200-inch deck height manifold on the 8.700-inch high S302 block. Several outfits make such pieces, such as Price Motorsports and Yates, but they are easy enough to whittle out locally.
138_76z 1988_ford_mustang_lx_coupe Exhaust_port_plate
Shades of old Cleveland Pro Stock practice, Steve’s engine also requires exhaust port plates to handle the radically recontoured exhaust ports. These steel, 5/16-inch– thick plates help with header spacing and bolt patterns. To date, Steve has run 1-3/4-inch headers. He may try larger tubes soon.

It's not every day you get a chance to wander around inside a national drag racer's engine, so today won't count as just any old day. That's because Ford Performance Solutions has had us over to see Steve Barton's new 360-cube Street Bandit engine bolting together.

Steve has been a fixture in Fun Ford Weekend Street Stock (now called Street Bandit) since 1996--his '88 LX coupe doing the 10-second thing on motor alone, and with only 306 inches at that.

"I was runner-up for two years in a row in the '96-'97 Street Stock class at the Fun Ford Weekend," Steve tells us. At the '98 World Ford Challenge, he also pedaled the car to a semifinal round appearance in Street Stock and went on to take the Street Stock Fun Ford Weekend championship title that year as well. In 1999 Steve runner-upped in Fun Ford, but this year at our press deadline he was 220 points ahead in his quest for a second series championship.

These are all fairly good results for a basic, rules-conforming car built mainly from standard-stuff parts such as a '68 302 block, Crower Sportsman rods, and ported Trick Flow Street Heat heads. The combination even wore a Weiand dual-plane intake for years, but all that has changed with the ever-faster racing pace. Having enlisted Ford Performance Solutions for his new engine, Steve has definitely stepped up the hardware in search of winning power. That power, Troy Bowen at FPS tells us, is not horsepower at this point, but midrange torque. He says others in the class are making considerably more horsepower but are not really going any faster.

His plan is to pump up the midrange cylinder pressure, which will accelerate the heavy, 3,200-pound FFW Street Bandit car better than screaming high-rpm action. To keep costs in line--and make use of available technology--Steve and FPS went with a combination of Steve's existing valvetrain, atop a used set of Winston Cup titanium valves and a Winston Cup crankshaft, all in a brand-new, 8.700-inch-deck, S302 small-block from FRPP. Using a slightly wider 4.100-inch bore and an rpm-friendly 3.400-inch stroke, the combination displaces 360 cubes. It seems to have done its job of providing more displacement with a small increase in external bulk and just moderate weight gain.

Of course, without a power adder, building middle-of-the-tach muscle means working out in the traditional hot-rod gymnasium. Towering intake manifolding, deep-breathing cylinder heads, plenty of compression, and camming are necessary, and FPS has put them in Steve's engine.

We've put it all on film for you, and Steve has since put it on the track. To date, the new combination has gone 10.20 in three passes in front of an ailing C4 automatic. Steve is looking to eventually land in the 9.90s with the right weather and a healthy automatic.

Steve's other concern has been mph. He needs to pick up from the current 134-mph posting, and FPS was grinding up a new camshaft as we went to press. In addition, Steve was moving to a 4-inch exhaust to help the top end. Whether this will be enough against the now Edelbrock Victor-headed competition remains to be seen, but nevertheless, the 360 combo remains an interesting step up from the usual 347 fare. Steve is hoping it will put him into the 9.90s, making him the first automatic car to get there in Street Bandit. We'll be watching!

Horse Sense:
Who says racing is expensive? Steve Barton has spent $26,000 this year racing in Street Bandit but has won $27,000 so far. Should he win the championship, which looks likely, he'll take in another $10,000 at year's end.