Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Ford Racing Performance Parts Aluminator Crate Engine
We Team Up With Ford Racing And Blow-By Racing To Replace The Finished Four-Valve In Our Mach 1 Project Car.
It's been a few months since project Shake 'N' Bake has graced the pages of MM&FF. With over 90,000 miles on the clock, mechanical failures will happen. In our case, a failure in the oiling system led to our engine locking up.
The good news is there aren't any holes in the block, and even though we haven't disassembled it yet, we think the seized engine is repairable. (As soon as we know the extent of the damage, some sort of Four-Valve engine build will be in the works). As for our Mach 1, which until this point served as daily transportation, it's time to upgrade with Ford Racing's Aluminator crate engine, and we'll top it off with a ported intake test.
Our new powerplant has to stand up to drag racing, high-rpm road-course days, and our daily back-and-forth commute. Given our performance needs, the Aluminator crate engine from Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) is a perfect fit.
The 4.6 Aluminator is offered in a few different versions, and the first choice is between the short-block and long-block. Either way, the rotating assembly is comprised of a slew of forged goodies designed to support higher horsepower levels. The forged-steel Cobra crankshaft uses forged H-beam rods to move the coated, forged pistons in the stock-sized (3.552-inches) bores. The long-block and short-block both check in at the stock displacement of 4.6 liters (281 ci).
The next option is compression ratio. You have two choices in this department: 10:1 or a boost-friendly 8.5:1. Being that we have no intention of putting boost into the new engine, we opted for the higher 10:1, which is close to the stock Mach 1 mill that was 10.1:1 from the factory.
We could have used the heads off the old engine and possibly had some port work done, but to save time, we opted for the long-block configuration, which uses stock '03-04 Cobra heads and camshafts. When the crate arrived, we unboxed a near-complete engine with an oil pan and valve covers on it-it even had oil in it! All that was left to do was bolt on the old intake manifold and front accessories-but that just wouldn't be our style. Instead, we headed to Blow-By Racing (BBR) in Boca Raton, Florida to tackle the task of bringing Shake 'N' Bake back to life.
With the Four-Valve crammed in the SN-95's already-tight engine bay, most performance work requires pulling the engine. Being that our new engine was sitting on an engine stand, we figured why not make it better before dropping it in? A call to Comp Cams netted us four bumpsticks to help make the new Aluminator breathe easier.
The stock sticks check in at 0.394-inch lift (10mm) with 186/194-degrees of duration at 0.050-inch lift respectively. Our new cams from Comp open the intake valves to a taller 0.475 inches, while the exhaust valves open to 0.450 inches off the seats. The duration is 234 degrees at 0.050 on the intake side and 232 degrees at 0.050 for the exhaust cams. Given the higher lift numbers, Comp recommends changing valvesprings when you do this cam swap.
After removing the timing cover, the timing chains and guides were removed before unbolting the cam caps. NMRA Hot Street racer Tim Eichhorn of Mustang Performance Racing in Boynton Beach, Florida, came by to give us a hand. Eichhorn's expertise with Four-Valve engines was apparent as he made quick work of the timing chains and showed us some tricks to swapping the valvesprings.
With the Ford tool for compressing the valvespring in hand, Matt Frith of BBR dove into our new engine, pressurizing each cylinder before compressing the valvespring and removing the locks and retainers. The process is then done in reverse to install the new springs.
The new Comp Cams valvesprings (PN 26123) are a 324-lb/in beehive spring, which gave us 90 pounds of pressure on the seat. Comp also sent new retainers (PN 799-32) to run with the springs. Once the springs were changed, Eichhorn used Royal Purple's Max Tuff synthetic assembly lube on the bearing surfaces and the cams before bolting everything back together. After Eichhorn and Frith buttoned up the cams, the timing chains, guides, and slack adjusters were reinstalled.
Once the timing cover and valve covers were back on our Aluminator, Frith dropped the oil pan. Moroso had sent one of its road-race oil pans (PN 20548) for 4.6/5.4L engines. This 8-quart pan offers greater capacity than the stock pan, with the added benefit of four trap-door baffles to keep the oil-pump pickup submerged in oil during hard cornering, braking, and acceleration. The new pan also features an anti-slosh baffle and works with all Two-, Three-, and Four-Valve 4.6 and 5.4L oil-pump pickups.
Next on the agenda was switching the FEAD (front engine accessory drive) and motor mounts from the old engine to the Aluminator. Once this was complete, the engine was ready to drop in. Over the life of project Shake 'N' Bake, few things have gone as smoothly as pulling the old engine and installing the new one. Now that our Aluminator was resting comfortably between the fenders, it was time to button things up.
With the stock intake reinstalled, Chris Jones popped in the injectors and fuel rails. Fore Precision Works sent its black-anodized billet fuel rails to top off our new intake. And Downs Ford Motorsport sent us 30-lb/hr fuel injectors, 90mm Lightning mass air meter, and 255-lph fuel pump to complete our fuel system.
As the engine bay started to take shape, Jones installed the new cold-air intake system from JLT Performance. The carbon-fiber intake tube worked perfectly with our Lightning MAF and looks killer under the hood. This cold-air kit keeps the air filter in the engine bay and made our shaker functional once again. We also wanted to make sure our new engine ran cool so we installed a Summit Racing aluminum radiator from Fluidyne.
Next Jones switched his attention to the underside of our Mach 1. Being that Shake 'N' Bake had a tired T-45 five-speed in it, we thought we would take advantage of everything being apart and install a six-speed gearbox. The kit came from D&D Performance in Wixom, Michigan, and included a T-56 Magnum transmission as the heart and soul of the kit. It also included an aluminum driveshaft, bellhousing, and crossmember to make the installation simple. To get the power to the new trans, Centerforce sent us one of its LM-series dual-friction clutches, which will have no problem supporting our power levels. (Editor's note: Look for more on this transmission and the complete install next month.)
After bolting the transmission into place, the BBR crew reinstalled the SLP long-tube headers and X-style mid-pipe. With the Magnaflow after-cat exhaust reconnected, it was time to fire it up and strap it to the dyno. Jones went to work writing a start-up tune and quickly loaded it into the ECM with our SCT Livewire handheld tuner. Jones ran the car at various rpm levels to make sure the rings were seated.
With the ignition timing and fuel pressure set, Jones started with a short pull on the Dynojet. The car was running well and it looked like it was going to make good power, so Jones made a few tweaks in the tune and headed towards redline. The first full pull netted 351 rwhp and 324 lb-ft of torque. Not bad considering the old mill only made 309 rwhp with 321 lb-ft of torque. After about a dozen pulls and a healthy amount of tuning, the combination laid down a stout 367 rwhp and 329 lb-ft of torque, with peak power at 6,400 rpm and peak torque at 5,200 rpm.
With the Comp camshafts helping to increase airflow, we wanted to try an intake manifold that also offered increased airflow. Roy Cole, owner of Wire-Tech in Kimball, Michigan, sent us one of his custom-ported Mach 1 intakes. "The first thing I do is cut the bottom of the plenum off," explains Cole. "At this point, almost everything is accessible and gets smoothed and blended. I do some reshaping in certain areas by TIG-welding and hand-grinding. When it's done, it's glass-beaded and washed; then the bottom is TIG-welded back together before everything gets washed again. It's then sprayed with a clear ceramic-based epoxy paint to finish it off."
To top off the ported intake, Cole sent us a 1/2-inch spacer for the intake from his sister company, Roy's Custom Intake Spacers. The aluminum spacer is machined on a water-jet and uses a second factory gasket when installed beneath the upper intake lid. This was added to increase the plenum size for extra power. Once the new intake was installed, Shake 'N' Bake spun the roller to 378 rwhp and 341 lb-ft of torque, for a gain of 10 rwhp and 12 lb-ft of torque at the peaks, which is impressive for a ported intake and spacer. Look for more info on the intake at musclemustangfastfords.com.
In just a few days at BBR, we swapped powerplants, upgraded the new engine, added an extra gear to the transmission, and added 69 rwhp and 20 lb-ft of torque. With almost 400 rwhp, we're excited to see what we can do on track so our next stop is Gainesville Raceway and we can't wait to get there.