Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
February 1, 2009
After a brief cleaning, the block was hosed down, dried, and tucked in a shipping bag to keep it nice and clean for reassembly.

When it came to machining the deck surfaces of the block, that was really only half of the equation. In measuring the deck height between the two cylinder banks, we found a couple thousandths-inch difference from one side to the other. The driver side measured in at 8.208 inches, and we shaved .003-inch to clean it up. The passenger side measured 8.204, so to square up the block, both sides were cut until we reached 8.202-inch.

With the block surfaces taken care of, it was off to the hot tank for a quick bath to clean out all of the metal shavings. Guadagno removed the rearward oil galley plugs to make sure no particles were left hiding in the shadows, and commented that a lot of engines are ruined because people don't remove them and clean that area out. Next up were the cylinder heads.

Prior to deciding on our block machining, we researched the various head gasket options available to us, mostly because we thought-as did some others-that the sealing problems could be remedied by using this gasket or that. Word was that a multi-layer steel gasket should fix it, but that the deck surface needed to be ultra flat, which was something we didn't have at the time. Graphite gaskets had worked for us in the past, and that's what we were running, but the coolant was circumventing the gaskets. Copper gaskets aren't really an option for street cars, so another option was lock-wire-style gaskets. When it came time to decide, we opted to go with what Guadagno recommended, which was the Fel Pro Lock-Wire gasket combined with a machined receiver groove in the cylinder heads.

Turning to the cylinder heads, Guadagno mounted them in a fixture and took a file to the surface to clean off any leftover gasket material.

Fel Pro actually makes two different lock wire gaskets, with each one having a different thickness of wire. The thicker of the two (PN 1006) is designed for use with the machined groove in the heads. After mounting the cylinder head in a fixture and cleaning up the surface with a file, Guadagno mounted the tooling plate and then began cutting the grooves around each chamber. The groove is only .010-inch deep, but when compressed between the head and block, it sandwiches the gasket and lock wire nicely.

As we mentioned before, professional help with anything can be expensive, but by doing your research and setting goals, you may be able to keep costs down while getting the job done. Machining the deck surfaces of our block totaled $175, while the cylinder head modifications came in at $250. Another $50 for the hot tank, which was more than worth it, and we left without our wallet smoking. Keep in mind that most of the machines in an engine shop cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it's easy to see why the work costs as much as it does. If the $475 keeps us from pulling the engine out again, though, we consider it money well spent.

Since our editor was bombarded with emails regarding the Recession Special, we thought we might query our readers to find out what they would like us to do with it. We have plenty of ideas and plans, but we'd like to hear what you have to say. You can send your suggestions to We've noticed that the car is running a little warmer than it used to, and we're thinking that the thick intercooler is restricting the airflow to the radiator, not to mention the air will be a little hotter having extracted the heat from the intercooler and the A/C condenser. So we may be looking for a low-buck cooling upgrade. We're also going to play with our Turbosmart eBoost 2 controller and get the car to the track to see what our 2.73-geared daily driver can do with 420 rwhp and 468 lb-ft of torque.