Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
April 4, 2007
Photos By: Dale Amy

After installing the drain plugs labeling the block, lubing the main bearings with Motorcraft 5W50, and installing the bearings, it's time to torque the main caps in place and secure the crankshaft. Most of the power torque wrenches on the Niche Line are electric, and they're tied into a computer program that ensures the fasteners receive the proper torque. If something isn't up to spec, the tool's power is turned off and the procedure must restart. The crank bolts are torqued from inside out in a preset pattern.

With the crank fasteners torqued, it was time to check crank endplay. Everything was up to spec. The dowels for the cross-bolts are installed in the block next, then the cross-bolts are screwed into place and torqued two at a time. In the two-man teams, one person often operates as runner, who gets the parts, and the other is a gunner, who does most of the wrenching. During our visit, Jeff was doing most of the torquing, and Greg was gathering parts.

If you've followed the modular engine family, you know that many of them have featured powdered-metal, cracked-cap rods. The rods and pistons in the '07 Shelby GT 500 are from Mahle and come preassembled and precracked. The rods are still one piece, and this apparatus separates the rod from its cap. Gary inspected each piston and rod for obvious flaws and installed the bearings. Each rod is numbered and marked with paint to ensure the rod and cap stay matched.

The machine automatically prelubes the rods, bearings, and ARP fasteners with 5W50.

After sliding in the pistons and installing the rod bolts, Jeff torqued each pair of rod bolts with the electric torque wrench. These wrenches are tied into the assembly line and sense if the proper torque has been applied. If everything goes as planned, a yellow light indicates that it's safe to move to the next station. If the red light comes on, the wrench immediately halts, and it's time to stop and check things out, possibly leading to the engine coming off the line for inspection. This is rare, but it's nice to know those quality controls are in place.

Next up is pressing in the water-pump cup plug. The design of this cavity and the pump used on the GT 500 are said to improve pump flow by 50 percent compared to the Terminator arrangement.

After installing the oil pump, windage tray, and oil-pump pickup, the cooling system is checked for leaks with pressurized air. Checking for leaks at this stage eliminates problems down the line when the oil is filled.