Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 6, 2012
Photos By: The Manufacturers

Last month, we were at Auto Performance Engines (APE) in Auburndale, Florida, assembling the short-deck 363ci stroker for our small-block shootout dubbed “363 vs. 363.” It features a Ford Racing Performance Parts 363 short-block, a custom Comp Cams camshaft, FRPP Z304 heads, an Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold, and a barrage of assorted necessities from Summit Racing Equipment.

To combat the short-deck engine, we’ll be assembling a tall-deck (9.5-inch) 362ci engine based on FRPP’s Boss 351 engine block. Using as many like components as possible, we’ll be running both engines on APE’s engine dyno to compare the two. We even called Comp Cams to custom-grind two camshafts—one for each engine—to maximize the potential of both iterations.

Walking Tall

Tall-deck swaps in Fox-bodies are common, and the aftermarket has capitalized on this by manufacturing both entry-level and high-end kits and components to accommodate the demand. Accessory drives, intake manifolds, oil pans, and headers are all plentiful, but 347 and 363 strokers have encroached on the 351’s ci advantage. Still, at this time, 363 ci is the most you can squeeze out of an 8.2-inch deck small-block, and that is only with an aftermarket block. Stock blocks are limited to about 347ci.

Switching to a 9.5-inch deck, you’re starting out at 351 ci—not maxing out there. Reaching 400 ci is common with 351W setups, even with a stock block. And with an aftermarket block, like the Boss 351 block, you can achieve as much as 454 ci—124 cubes more than is possible with a short-deck block. So your block can grow with you, as opposed to being maxed out from the get-go.

Block Party

The Boss 351 block (PN M-6010-BOSS35195; $2,199) is the base of our tall-deck engine. Though similar to the original 351 Windsor blocks, it is much stronger and durable than its production relative. Though the production version ended its run in 1995, Ford Racing continued production of the 351 Sportsman block through 2009.

“The Boss 302 was announced in 2006 and came out for sale in January 2007,” says Jesse Kershaw of Ford Racing. “It was originally designed as an update for the R302 block but as we added features like the threaded freeze plugs and four-bolt caps. One of our tech guys, Marty Kot, mentioned that it was beginning to sound an awful lot like a Boss 302 block. Hence the name was reborn.

“Shortly after we launched the 302, it became clear that our 351 Sportsman block was becoming outdated. Customers were demanding four-bolt main caps and we needed more bore capacity, but at an entry-level price. It was a logical choice to incorporate what we learned on the Boss 302 program and roll it into a new Boss 351 block. That was announced in 2008 and went on sale in 2009,” remarked Kershaw.

“The premise for both blocks is to deliver a production-quality engine block that is designed for big power and durability. We use real production-style tooling and have it cast in one of the finest high-volume iron foundries in the country. The mix of the iron is proprietary and monitored constantly for correct temperature and mixture. Our track record speaks for itself, with our crate engine, engine block sales, and our sealed crate engines all performing exceptionally well. The transition to the Boss blocks along with other quality controls we’ve implemented have nearly eliminated any warranty repairs on our crate engines. In fact, we just upped our warranty coverage to 2-year/24,000-miles because there was no reason not to. We simply do not see failures.”

Furthermore, the Boss blocks require crankshafts with 2.75-inch mains. This reduces surface area of the main bearings, reduces rotating weight of the crankshaft, and allows for thicker, stronger four-bolt main caps.

Block in hand, we have started to accumulate the rest of the parts that will make up our tall-deck version. Check out some of the parts that we’ve chosen for this comparison, and come back next month when we assemble our 9.5-deck engine.

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