Mmfp Yo Ken Readers Letters Lead
Ken Miele
May 1, 2010

Distribution Roadblock

I am at an impasse. I purchased a new 347 short-block and I'm building it myself. With the exception of some hard-to-find nuts and bolts, everything is new and purchased entirely off of eBay.

I have everything assembled on the block except for one thing: the distributor. I can't get it set in the block. The distributor in question is an MSD PN 8456. I can get it set down around the gears of the camshaft somewhat, but getting it down around the oil pump driveshaft is another matter.

I have tried manipulating the oil pump shaft with another oil pump primer in hopes of getting the driveshaft in the correct position, but have thus far been unsuccessful. I have had thoughts of draining the oil, dropping the oil pan, and manipulating the driveshaft by hand, while simultaneously setting the distributor. Is it possible that I have the driveshaft installed upside down, or am I just flat out doing it wrong?

Also, the cam I'm using is an FRPP X-303. And one more thing-should I change the gear on the distributor for the optional brass gear?

Shawn Kimble
Birmingham, AL

Shawn, there are a couple of reasons I can see for your distributor not seating properly. First, you may have the wrong oil pump shaft. The MSD PN 8456 is a direct replacement for the '86-'93 5.0, and you should be using an oil pump shaft for this application.

Another reason may be that the oil pump shaft is not seated properly in the oil pump. In either case I would remove the oil pump shaft to see if it is correct for your application. The brass gear is not necessary.

Lastly, there is a small ring that centers the shaft so the distributor can slide in. If the shaft is falling off to the side, the distributor will not mesh with the shaft.

Check This

I installed a cold-air kit on my '08 Mustang GT and the car runs great. Problem is, the Check Engine light came on. I took the car to the dealer, and was told that the car was running on the lean side and the plenum had to be replaced. The tech guy told me this unit has no valves. He also wanted to know what fuel I was using. Does this sound right?

I am trying to find out which unit is better than the one that came with car. I'm going to ask for the old plenum back.

Marcellus Butler
Via email

Marcellus, the cold-air kit most likely caused the Check Engine light. Most cold-air kits need a flash tuner to correct the different air readings going into the intake caused by the cold-air kit. The mass air meter is sensitive and any change in the airflow may cause the Check Engine light to come on.

I would get your inlet back and/or have your car tuned for the cold-air kit using a handheld tuner or by going to a custom tuner.

Bird Of Prey

I have a '89 Ford Thunderbird with the 3.8L engine in it. I want to perform an engine swap to a 5.0L and I have a few questions about this.

I have been told that I should get an engine from a '91-'93 model T-bird for the best results. So I have that solved. I just need to know which 3.8L parts, if any, will work on the 5.0 (water pump, alternator, and so on). What will I need for this swap to work, and how much horsepower can the IRS take?

I am hoping to get a 300hp daily driver. Will the transmission hold up? I don't know how different the AOD models were. A lot of people have said it would be better to get a newer T-bird with the V-8 already in it, and I realize the advantages, but I am set because I love the '89s style and I have a lot of work into this car.

I'm really a beginner in all of this-this is my first car so any help you can offer would be great.

Cochranton, PA

Justin, nothing from the 3.8L will work with the 5.0L. The IRS will handle 300 hp, though. You will need the complete wiring harness from a 5.0L Thunderbird, along with motor mounts and accessory brackets. The swap is not a difficult one, since your Thunderbird's chassis was available with a 5.0L. Getting a donor car will provide you with all of the parts you need, along with knowing what has to be replaced.

A good resource for Thunderbird is the Thunderbird and Cougar Club of America ( and Cool Cats ( These websites have loads of info and how-to articles.

My First Mustang

I'm fairly new to Mustangs and domestics in general. I'm getting ready to make the transition by picking up my first Mustang project, which should be a Fox-body LX (not sure between the hatch or notchback).

I understand through talking to more experienced builders and such that FRPP alphabet cams are tried and true, but in doing my research, I can't really find the difference between them. B-303, E-303, F-303: What's the difference?

I know what would help a lot would be some kind of rear-wheel-horsepower goal, so my long-term plans include bolt-ons, heads, cam, gears, and still be street legal. I'd like to build a small-block Ford that could keep pace with most bolt-on/cammed LSX F-bodies.

I'm sure you've answered this question before, but I've searched and can't find a straight, no B.S. answer. I hope you can shed a little light on the subject.

Jerry Torres
Via email

Jerry, the E-303 cam is designed to be an emission-legal upgrade from the stock 5.0L GT cam, and you can expect about 20-25 hp over stock. The B-303 cam, although it has slightly less lift, has more duration and is designed with a more aggressive profile for better performance, which requires a lower (higher numerically) rearend gear.

The F-303 cam is larger yet but is designed for forced-induction combinations. There's also the X-303 and Z-303, which are the largest and most potent camshaft options. You can get all of the cam specs by going to

The Fox-body is lighter than later-model Mustangs and F-bodies, therefore a 350-rwhp goal will be able to hold its own and then some. Those numbers are easily within reach with the wealth of aftermarket parts for the 5.0L.

The Fox-body is a lightweight package with a power-to-weight ratio that's one of the best in the business. You will not be disappointed.