Pacific Performance 427ci Engine Build - 427 Fantasies
Pacific Performance/FPS Builds An Engine Many Of Us Can Only Dream Of
March 01, 2009
By Wayne Cook
Photography by Wayne Cook
Before there was a Fairlane V-8 or tall-deck Windsor, the Ford world was ruled by the FE V-8 engine. Introduced in 1958 as a 332, it was quickly opened up to displace 390 ci. The FE was destined to replace the MEL (Mercury/Edsel/Lincoln) V-8 engine, which had been a mainstay powerplant for the larger Ford offerings. The 390 became standard issue for the luxury Thunderbird, and the FE was later opened up to a maximum displacement of 428 ci.
The 390 and 428 were similar in that they both utilized a two-bolt main cap cylinder block. Even the Cobra Jet version of the 428 utilized two bolt mains on the crank saddle. However, the 427 Ford is different from either the 390 or 428 in that it used an unusual four-bolt main cap arrangement. The FE 427 featured four-bolt mains on journals two, three and four. The engine had a unique cross-bolted configuration where horizontal main-cap bolts entered from the outside through the block skirt and secured the central caps from both sides. The cross-bolting proved to be very effective in preventing main cap walk or wobble at higher rpm.
The extra durability this block offered made it the racer’s choice because the additional support at the crankshaft meant that the engine held together when the two-bolt design might fail. When the time came for Shelby to power the big-block version of his Cobra sports car, he chose the 427 because of the enhanced durability factor. However, some of the big-block Cobras came equipped with the 428.
Ford Performance Solutions had a customer who had been working on a big-block Cobra replica and wanted an authentic FE engine to go with his project. He had no interest in a stroked Windsor, so a brand-new Carroll Shelby FE 427 aluminum cylinder block was procured. This way there would be no guessing about the history or condition of a used block, and the aluminum material would put the finished engine in the same weight category as a garden-variety Windsor. Join us as we have a look at the collection of hardware that will be used to construct what amounts to a brand-new all-aluminum Ford FE engine. We will then observe some of the more important aspects of the exacting assembly. Finally, follow us to Dyno Motive in Placentia, California, where we join owner Eric Weinrich for a dyno session that tells us what the combination is worth torque and horsepower-wise.
At the heart of the reciprocating...
At the heart of the reciprocating assembly is this cast steel stroker crankshaft from Pacific Performance. It has a stroke length of 4.250 inches. The original 427 FE had a stroke of 3.73 inches, so it’s easy to see that this is a substantial 0.52 stroke increase. When combined with the large 4.31 bore size used on our Carroll Shelby block, a 496ci displacement is the result. The crankshaft is available at Pacific Performance for $399.
This assembly of reciprocating...
This assembly of reciprocating hardware is some of the best available. The Ross forged-aluminum pistons are mounted on Pacific Performance chromoly H-beam Pro connecting rods with Clevite 77 bearings. The bronze-colored bolts at the bottom are the cross-bolts for the crankshaft main caps. The H-beam rods cost $626, while the pistons were $712 for the set of eight. The Pacific Performance moly piston rings that were used on the engine cost $68.
The basis for the build is...
The basis for the build is this Carroll Shelby aluminum 427 FE cylinder block. Made of A356 T-6 aluminum, it is 45 percent lighter than a factory iron casting and yet is also far stronger. It has substantial lifter valley reinforcement webs as well as thickened oil pan rails for extra reinforcement. The bore size is 4.25 inches standard with a 4.40-inch size also available. With a 10.15-inch deck height, a 4.500-inch stroke crankshaft can be accommodated, making a 525ci displacement achievable. For enhanced crankshaft longevity, the redesigned oiling system feeds the main bearings first, and the oiling system can be either wet or dry sump. The billet steel main caps are positively located using dowel pins and actually have four cross-bolted attachment points on journals two, three, and four, making them technically six-bolt mains. Ductile iron cylinder sleeves are installed with an interference step fit for a precise and solid fit. The block has redesigned cooling passages to aid cooling at high rpm. With a
These cylinder heads are the...
These cylinder heads are the Edelbrock Performer RPM FE (PN 60087). They will work in place of low and medium riser heads and are NHRA legal. They were bought as bare castings and were assembled with 2.09-inch-diameter intake valves and 1.66-inch exhaust valves. The valves are equipped with titanium retainers and 10-degree locks. They have 170cc intake ports and 76cc combustion chambers. The bare heads cost $1,297 per pair while the CNC-porting, valves, and assembly hardware were priced at $1,157.
This cam is a Pacific Performance...
This cam is a Pacific Performance hydraulic roller. It’s a custom grind with a 0.632/0.655 lift and 238/246 duration. Lobe separation is 110 degrees. With a displacement of 496 ci, this engine should be able to absorb 0.632 inch of lift easily for a very powerful, street-friendly engine. The cam was invoiced at $288.
These FE shaft rocker arm...
These FE shaft rocker arm assemblies are from Pacific Performance. With the mounting pedestals made from billet aluminum, they make for a very stable valvetrain and have a ratio of 1.76:1. They’re priced at $903 for the set.
These hydraulic roller lifters...
These hydraulic roller lifters use a tie-bar to retain the roller orientation to the cam lobe. A roller cam arrangement reduces internal operating friction, freeing up power to the rear wheels. This set of lifters priced out at $540.
This interesting aluminum...
This interesting aluminum intake is an original Ford 406/427 dual-quad casting. It’s a rare manifold the owner wants to run to keep the vintage FE look underhood. Many machine shop onlookers speculated that the early design intake could cost as much as 100 hp. Although some power might be lost at the top end when compared to a modern single-plane intake, it probably won’t be missed in a 2,000-pound street-driven sports car.
This photo shows the aluminum...
This photo shows the aluminum timing cover that goes with the Shelby block. If you want to run the Shelby aluminum 427, you’re going to need this part. The Shelby logo as-cast cover costs $104.95.
Before installing the engine, the owner trucked it to Dyno Motive for testing. Here are the results using the dyno’s Hooker Super Comp headers and the Ford dual-quad intake with a pair of 600-cfm Demon carburetors.
The 482hp level is almost one per cubic inch—this is a good start. Once the engine is broken in and the carburetion fine-tuned, we’re confident that 500 hp is easily within reach. How must it feel to have over 500 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 rpm in such a light car? (Absolutely incredible! —Ed.)
This Canton winged-sump oil...
This Canton winged-sump oil pan is a good choice once the fit in the chassis has been ensured. The increased capacity and cooling wings will both contribute to a lower oil temperature. The pan was a good deal at $279.
We did a lot of looking over...
We did a lot of looking over the shoulder while the Ford Performance Solutions technician checked and doubled-checked everything. Here, the rod journals are being measured for correct diameter (2.200 inches). The main journals checked out OK as well at 2.749 inches.
With the crank at rest in...
With the crank at rest in the saddle, the main caps were set in position. To retain the caps, an ARP Main Stud Kit was installed. The nuts for the heavier vertical studs are tightened down to a final value of 95 lb-ft while the smaller cross-bolts go to 42 lb-ft.
The bore diameter of the iron...
The bore diameter of the iron sleeves also checked out in spec at 4.310 inches, while the piston diameter checked out at 4.305 inches for a piston-to-wall clearance of 0.005 inch. Next, a piston or special tool designed for the purpose is used to ensure that the ring is perfectly horizontal in the bore. The ring can then be checked for the proper endgap as seen here.
This piston ring checked out...
This piston ring checked out a little tight, so this special ring grinding tool is used to widen the ring gap precisely without chipping the ends. While the top and middle piston rings should be checked for endgap, the lower oil ring isn’t measured or adjusted in the same way as the compression rings.
When the piston is loaded...
When the piston is loaded with rings, it goes into a ring compressor. This compressor uses a bore tapered from top to bottom to drive the rings toward their seat. The soft rubber end of a mallet is used to persuade the piston into the bore. Care is taken on the other side of the block to make sure the connecting rod doesn’t damage either the bore surface or the crank journal on its way into the crankcase.
On the bottom end, the rod...
On the bottom end, the rod caps are installed one by one. The capscrews are a beefy 3?8-inch diameter and have 12-point heads. They are tightened to the prescribed 65 lb-ft torque value.
To prevent wipeouts at start-up,...
To prevent wipeouts at start-up, careful preparation of the camshaft pays off, even with a roller cam. Here, every journal and lobe gets a coating of engine assembly lube. Next, the camshaft is carefully installed into the block and the cam retainer is installed.
As you can see, the crank...
As you can see, the crank gear in this timing set is slotted to accept the crank key in many different positions. For this engine, the cam was installed neither advanced nor retarded, but straight up.
It’s a lot easier to degree...
It’s a lot easier to degree the camshaft now rather than wait until the engine is in the car. The procedure was run through twice and the camshaft checked out fine.
Here, the timing cover goes...
Here, the timing cover goes into place after careful positioning of the gasket. The black sleeve shown has a keyway and slips over the crank snout. Since the engine is internally balanced, there is no outside balance weight here. Factory engines were externally balanced and called for a sleeve with the correct balance weight cast in.
The oil pump drive rod is...
The oil pump drive rod is held in exactly the right position while the new oil pump is lowered over the drive rod and into place. The pump gasket is already in place on the block, and the oil pump fasteners have been treated with thread locker.
|What Did It Cost?|
|CS 427 aluminum block||$5,622|
|4.250-inch stroker crank ||$399|
|Moly rings ||$68|
|Edelbrock bare heads||$1,279|
|CNC porting and components||$1,157|
|Canton oil pan||$279|
All of the prices seen earlier are totaled here.
This cost does not include taxes or labor for assembly or installation. The intake manifold is an item you would have to hunt for and could cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000.
The one-piece oil pan gasket...
The one-piece oil pan gasket is plainly visible as the Canton pan is lowered into position. In this photo the main cap cross-bolts are prominent. Notice the two cross-bolts per side on each of the middle three journals, making these technically six-bolt mains.
The harmonic balancer has...
The harmonic balancer has been installed as well as the timing pointer made for the Shelby aluminum cover. With the number-one piston at the absolute top of its bore, a tape with timing gradations is applied to the balancer with zero at top dead center.
FelPro gaskets are installed...
FelPro gaskets are installed over the ARP cylinder head stud set, and the fully dressed Edelbrock aluminum castings slide into place. Notice the three reinforcement webs running across the lifter valley. These ridges aren’t found on a factory 427 block casting.
It’s kind of impossible to...
It’s kind of impossible to overlube an engine in preparation for start-up. Here, each lifter gets a generous coating of assembly lube on the roller before being dropped into its previously oiled bore.
For obvious reasons, steel...
For obvious reasons, steel washers are installed over the studs before the retaining nuts go on. Here, the torque wrench is used to snug down the heads in three stages to a final value of 90 lb-ft.
A modern single-plane intake...
A modern single-plane intake might not have this problem, but the vintage manifold has a hot air chamber designed into the manifold that was used as an aid to engine warm up. It protrudes into the lifter valley, and if we want to use the Ford intake, it will have to have three channels machined into the floor of the heat chamber to clear the Shelby block’s reinforcement webbing found in the valley. This will have no effect on the intake’s induction function.
The cuts were easily made...
The cuts were easily made with the in-house machinery available to FPS, and the intake drops into place perfectly. The intake manifold bolts go down in sequence to a final value of 20 lb-ft.
We’ve dropped the pushrods...
We’ve dropped the pushrods into place, and in this photo, the studs that locate the shaft rockers are installed into the cylinder head. The shaft rockers are easy to install and very stable.
The entire shaft rocker assembly...
The entire shaft rocker assembly was dropped into place over the studs. Here, the supplied washers and nuts are installed onto the mounting studs. Tightening the stud bolts to 45 lb-ft creates a very sturdy valvetrain installation.
Freshly built, this Shelby...
Freshly built, this Shelby all-aluminum animal is ready for the customer. After some pent roof valve covers and the dual-quad air cleaner are added, this exotic engine will do the Cobra proud.
Since the lifters are hydraulic,...
Since the lifters are hydraulic, the valve adjustment is the standard drill for each valve. Rotate the cam so the valve you are adjusting has the cam lobe on the base circle of its lobe. Tighten the rocker to zero lash and then go down three quarters of a turn and lock the adjustment into place.