Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 1, 2009
Old technology meets new. The basic design of the Holley carburetor has been around a very, very long time. The Trick Flow heads represent the latest in small-block Ford cylinder-head technology. The best part is that they bolt together without any drama.

A few issues ago (May '09) we brought you Part 1 of our home-built stroker small-block Ford engine, which chronicled the new Fast As Cast 190cc Trick Flow cylinder heads that we bolted down on top of our Competition Products 331-inch, stroked 5.0L.

To bring you up to date, we used a stock 5.0L block and stuffed it with a forged rotating assembly from Competition Products that allowed us to drop in a bored and stroked combination without the need for block modifications, something most stroker assemblies require. Trick Flow Specialties sent us brand-new Fast As Cast 190cc aluminum cylinder heads, along with a Trick Flow R-Series intake manifold and a Trick Flow Stage II hydraulic-roller camshaft to finish things off.

We followed the engine assembly up with Part 2, where we strapped the engine to the Horsepower By Hedrick engine dynamometer and turned out some very good numbers. Unfortunately we ran into some misfire issues on the dyno that took some time to figure out.

Since we found an issue with the camshaft moving back and forth in the block, we took the opportunity to degree the camshaft after fixing the problem. Here Mark Hedrick pulls a cylinder head so we can install a piston stop.

This month, we work to solve the misfire issue, and throw on a carburetor and appropriate intake manifold to get a carb-to-EFI comparison, as well as rule out an issue with the EFI system that we are using.

Our first dyno session at Mark Hedrick's Horsepower By Hedrick engine facility in Jacksonville, Florida, resulted in some stout numbers from the electronic fuel-injection setup. After about five dyno pulls, though, engine performance dropped off at 5,600 rpm, and subsequent pulls after that turned into a solid misfire at a much lower 4,000-4,500 rpm. This isn't the sort of thing you want to happen with a brand-new engine, but occasionally it does. We've decided to bring you all of the drama in an effort to educate our readers should they encounter a similar issue. That along with the fact that we intend to use this engine in other performance testing down the road meant we had to get this thing fixed.

We began diagnosing the issue by inspecting the spark plugs, eventually changing them out for a new set. This was followed by a new coil, distributor, module, and computer. None of these parts showed any reason to cause the misfire, so we performed compression and leakdown tests next. Both checked out just fine. Our SnEEC datalogger would have shown an ill-performing mass air meter or throttle position sensor, so those were ruled out as well.

After the camshaft was degreed, the timing cover was reinstalled, followed by the intake manifold.

As we mentioned last month, Mark Hedrick proposed the possibility of the cam walking in the block, and as we found out, it indeed was doing just that. The cam movement back and forth in the block affects how the distributor gear and the cam gear mesh, which can alter the timing. Hedrick made some modifications to the brass bushing behind the cam gear, as well as the camshaft retaining plate, and was able to achieve the needed camshaft endplay. With that, we decided to proceed with the carburetor test, just to bring you some more data on the combination and see how it works with a carb and with EFI.

Horsepower By Hedrick's Jimmy Hartley provided the induction setup for this test. The carburetor is a Holley 650-cfm four-barrel with vacuum secondaries, and the intake manifold is a Professional Products Typhoon dual-plane, air-gap-style intake. We also needed to swap out the distributor for a vacuum advance unit from an '85 Mustang GT. It features the steel cam gear needed to work with our hydraulic roller camshaft.

The 331 came to life as Mark Hedrick fired the engine up in the dyno cell. So far, so good. After getting it up to temperature, Hedrick let the dyno lever fly, and the motor ran up to 6,000 rpm without a hitch--no misfiring, just a smooth pull to redline. The numbers turned out pretty good as well. Peak horsepower on pull 1 came in at 397.2 with peak torque checking in at 388.5. With no changes other than extending redline to 6,100, the 331 turned out 401.2 hp and 391.1 lb-ft of torque.