Trick Flow Heads, Cam, Intake Upgrade - Top End Evolution
From the May, 2012 issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords
By Mark Houlahan
Photography by Mark Houlahan
1 Digging right in, we removed...
1 Digging right in, we removed the old carb and intake as one unit. We've already drained the engine's coolant and oil, disconnected the battery, and pulled the rusty valve covers and front dress as well. The distributor and wires are new, so they were carefully removed and set aside for reinstallation when we're done. We recouped some money by selling the old intake/carb setup for $150, and later netted a whopping $14.23 by scrapping the stock heads, cam, timing chain, and lifters.
Shortly after the earth cooled, modern man started modifying Flathead V-8 engines with upgraded cylinder heads, intakes, and camshafts. Famous names we know of today, such as Edelbrock, Offenhauser, Isky, Manley, Crane, and dozens of others can trace their beginnings back to offering speed parts for the Flathead. It was known in all the speed circles that you could easily double your Flathead's power output with a good set of heads, a new intake with a couple of Strombergs, and of course, a camshaft from one of the greats like Harvey Crane, Ed Iskendarian, Clay Smith, or Ed Winfield. So it went, throughout the history of the muscle car era; upgrading your heads, cam, and intake/induction was an easy recipe for power.
2 Our headers aren't that...
2 Our headers aren't that old either, which helped when it came time to remove them. No rusty bolts and we were even able to reuse the gaskets.
3 As noted in our intro text,...
3 As noted in our intro text, the only tool you might have to rent or borrow is the puller to remove the crankshaft damper. Our full set of Snap-on tools includes multiple pullers so we were covered.
4 With the damper out of...
4 With the damper out of the way, the timing cover and water pump are removed next to expose the engine's timing chain and gears.
Today, a lot has changed with the internal combustion engine. Direct injection, multiple runner EFI, factory turbo or supercharging, and so forth often make the traditional heads/cam/intake swap difficult, if not impossible for the home wrench spinner to accomplish. Sure, Ford's modular engines have cylinder head, cam, and induction offerings (we hope to upgrade our 4.6L Three-Valve in Generation Gap some day with such parts), but the overhead cam design means special tools, manuals, and more to get the job done. So it's nice when you open the hood of your classic Ford and still see a traditional small-block between the shock towers sometimes. With our '70 Mustang High School Hauler project, of which we desperately wanted to increase the 302's output, we had giddy thoughts of the proven and timeless heads/cam/intake swap for months now.
5 Since we're upgrading our...
5 Since we're upgrading our valvetrain, there's no need to waste time removing the rocker arms from the heads. Our 1/2-inch impact gun made quick work of the stock head bolts and the original heads with rocker arms were pulled free of the block.
6 The last of the old parts...
6 The last of the old parts to hit the recycling pile are the timing chain set, pushrods, lifters, and the camshaft. We were surprised how worn the cam was with one lobe
7 At first, we weren't going...
7 At first, we weren't going to remove the oil pan, but we noticed it leaking and with being this far into the engine, it only took loosening the Mustang's number two crossmember bolts to allow the pan to come out from under the block.
The great thing about performing this revered hardware upgrade is that as long as you stay within the parameters of the parts you're bolting on, it's just that, a bolt-on upgrade. Many of the manufacturers out there have built and tested these parts in similar combinations, so you know going in that purchasing head A, with camshaft B, and pushrod length C that everything will work in concert. In today's sales speak, this is often referred to as a "top end" kit or "power pack," or something of that nature. Besides a crankshaft damper puller tool, the rest of the swap can be accomplished with a standard mechanic's set of tools you already have in your garage, making the swap that much more palatable for you weekend wrench benders.
8 Now here comes the real...
8 Now here comes the real dirty work—cleaning the block. From the deck surface to the front cover and oil pan gasket surfaces (on the block and the components) to tapping all bolt holes, it's long and tedious work. We spent a solid day cleaning everything and prepping the parts we planned to reuse such as the oil pan, timing cover, pulleys, brackets, and more.
9 With our block cleaned...
9 With our block cleaned and prepped for our new top end hardware, it was time to unpack the Summit Racing boxes. Our valvetrain includes Trick Flow's Stage 1 hydraulic roller cam, retrofit roller lifters, billet steel timing chain set, 1.6:1 roller rockers, and 5/16-inch diameter hardened pushrods.
10 Roller camshafts aren't...
10 Roller camshafts aren't dependent on break-in procedures typical of a flat tappet cam, nor do they require any additives or special oils to run. They're a bit more expensive, but not having to worry about
Knowing that to upgrade our heads/cam/intake, we'd also be shopping for gaskets, and a few valvetrain parts (the famous "while we're in there" upgrades like roller rockers, and so on), we picked up the speed parts bible, aka the Summit Racing catalog, and started flipping pages. Yes, we still like a printed catalog to thumb through, but even after checking out Summit's detailed website, we couldn't find a complete combo package for small-block carbureted Fords. Sure, it had Summit Top End Pro Packs for Brand X and great packages for EFI small-blocks, but not for those of us still using a four-hole fueler. Fear not, though, as a quick call to Summit's tech line allowed us to put together all the right parts in a custom package. Essentially, we used Summit's TFS-K514-350370B Trick Flow 350 HP Twisted Wedge Top-End Engine Kit, and substituted one of Summit's carb and intake combo kits for the EFI manifold (see Shopping List sidebar for all the parts details). Needless to say, Summit made it easy and we had everything ordered and delivered in two days. It's time to get to work and make some horsepower!
11 It's easy to get the small-block...
11 It's easy to get the small-block Ford camshaft thrust plate installed wrong if you're not paying attention. Thankfully Ford reminds us with the words
12 The Trick Flow billet...
12 The Trick Flow billet timing chain set features a multi-keyway crank sprocket to allow up to 4 degrees of advance or retard. However, to keep this build in the realm of a DIYer's basic upgrade, we're installing the timing set
13 Our timing cover is bolted...
13 Our timing cover is bolted up with new Fel-Pro gaskets, including a new crankshaft seal. Snug the bolts and then use a straight edge to ensure the timing cover is flat with the block's oil pan gasket rail to prevent leaks when the oil pan is reinstalled.
14 If you've never installed...
14 If you've never installed or replaced an oil pan gasket in the car, it can be an episode in frustration as you try to secure the gasket and get the pan in place before the gasket starts to droop. We've had the best luck with Permatex non-hardening gasket maker or Hylomar Universal Blue to secure the pan rail gaskets to the block.
Finally, a bead of silicone...
Finally, a bead of silicone is applied where the rail gaskets meet the rubber end gaskets and the pan is installed.
15 Because we're converting...
15 Because we're converting to a hydraulic roller cam, naturally, hydraulic roller lifters are required. For early blocks that didn't use a factory roller cam, you have two options; use the stock tie-bar and lifter retainer setup in the lifter valley with stock-type roller lifters, or aftermarket roller lifters linked together with a tie bar to prevent rotation. We opted for the aftermarket tie-bar-style retrofit lifter. Either way, the taller roller lifters usually need to be installed before the cylinder heads, otherwise you will not get them into the lifter bores.
16 The Trick Flow Twisted...
16 The Trick Flow Twisted Wedge cylinder heads require pre-'72 block castings to be modified to prevent overheating due to steam pockets. Using the included instructions, the head gaskets are used as a template to locate the additional coolant passages required in the block's deck surface. You'll be marking one hole for each cylinder, eight in all.
17 With the hole locations...
17 With the hole locations marked, the block is taped off with masking tape and clean shop towels. A small cordless drill helps for access in this situation, and the holes are made using a 3/16-inch bit. Carefully vacuum the filings up and remove the tape and shop towels when complete.
18 The Twisted Wedge head,...
18 The Twisted Wedge head, as are all aluminum cylinder heads designed today, is capable of being used on late-model, emissions-controlled 5.0L engines. As such, they have passages for upstream Thermactor air injection. Trick Flow includes two threaded inserts to block off these passages, but you'll need four total to block off the front and the rear (late-model 5.0L only needs the front blocked off). So, order two additional inserts from Trick Flow and save yourself the trouble of finding them locally.
19 We're now ready for final...
19 We're now ready for final cylinder head installation. We have a clean deck surface, modified coolant passages, and the head gaskets in place (note the word
20 Trick Flow's 1.6:1 roller...
20 Trick Flow's 1.6:1 roller rocker arms are the recommended ratio for the hydraulic roller cam installed. If you've never installed roller rockers before or messed with an adjustable valvetrain, it's important to note the flat face of the rocker's trunion, shown here, must face up to accept the adjuster nut when installed on the rocker stud.
21 We've already installed...
21 We've already installed the Trick Flow-supplied ARP rocker arm studs and pushrod guideplates on our heads, and with our 302 at top dead center on cylinder number one, the rocker arms for that cylinder are installed. For a hydraulic camshaft, the general rule of adjustment is to tighten to zero lash and then an additional 1/2- to 3/4-turn. To find zero lash, rotate the pushrod in your fingers as shown while turning the adjuster until you feel drag on the pushrod being rotated.
22 Once you feel the drag...
22 Once you feel the drag on the rotating pushrod, you've found zero lash. Now, turn the adjustment nut another 1/2- to 3/4-turn and tighten the Allen set screw in the center of the adjuster to lock the adjustment down. Rotate the engine's crankshaft 90 degrees and repeat the installation and adjustment procedure for the next cylinder in the firing order.
23 Nearly complete, our 302's...
23 Nearly complete, our 302's headers are bolted back into place. The Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads, while modifying the valve angles and tweaking other aspects for more power and strength, don’t utilize a raised exhaust port. This means our headers bolted right back on with zero issues.
24 Summit and Trick Flow...
24 Summit and Trick Flow offer dozens of valve covers for small-block Fords, but we stuck with the black painted aluminum covers normally supplied in the Trick Flow Top-End kit because they just look great. While we're bolting them on here to verify rocker clearance (there was plenty), note that these covers don't include an oil fill/breather/PCV opening. You'll have to purchase separately what you want to add and break out the hole saw. For now, we've installed one breather/oil fill on the driver side.
25 As noted in the opening...
25 As noted in the opening paragraphs, we "swapped" the EFI manifold you'd normally get in the Trick Flow Top-End kit for one of Summit's carb and intake combo kits. These kits are a stellar value, as you get a dual-plane intake, Summit carburetor, gaskets, bolts, and even an air cleaner assembly.
26 The included Summit gasket...
26 The included Summit gasket kit includes gaskets with cork end rails for the 289/302 and 351W engines. We could argue all day on cork versus silicone end rail gaskets, so just do what works for you.
27 The new Summit dual-plane...
27 The new Summit dual-plane intake is a quality casting with great machining. We had no issues with bolt holes, accessory locations, or fitment. Frankly, it just bolted right on with the included stainless intake bolt kit.
28 Summit's new line of carburetors...
28 Summit's new line of carburetors has been making news and we can see why. These carbs just flat work out of the box. While a little less traditional looking, when you watch the included detail/tuning DVD, you'll find out why the carb was made the way it was. We're using a 600-cfm model with vacuum secondary and electric choke.
29 Summit includes a nice...
29 Summit includes a nice dual-feed fuel line assembly for its carb kits as well. While we're simply posing for photos here, be sure to use a second wrench on the carb's brass inlet fitting to prevent stripping the threads when tightening the fuel line fittings. If you're replacing a stock carb with screw-in filter, be sure to add an inline filter to your fuel line as well.
30 Some of the last steps...
30 Some of the last steps before we fire up our fresh build is to reconnect our throttle cable and AOD throttle valve cable, wire our electric choke, and drop our distributor back in. Note that the Trick Flow Stage 1 camshaft uses the late-model 5.0L HO firing order (same as a 351W) so be sure to reposition the plug wires as required. Finally, while we only had so much room to cover this build in print, be sure to look for the online version of this story with expanded captions/photos, 1/4-mile testing, full dyno charts, and more at www.modifiedmustangsandfords.com
After discussing what we wanted to do to our Mustang, Summit Racing suggested the following for our build. Feel free to use these suggested parts in your small-block build, or adjust as your budget and power level requires.
|Trick Flow Twisted Wedge Cylinder Heads||TFS-51400004||$1,299.95|
|Trick Flow Stage 1 Roller Cam||TFS-51402000||$179.95|
|Trick Flow 1.6:1 Stud Mount Roller Rockers||TFS-51400510||$269.95|
|Trick Flow Billet Steel Timing Chain Set||TFS-51478520||$70.99|
|Trick Flow Head Bolt Kit||TFS-92005||$39.95|
|Trick Flow Hardened Chromemoly Push Rods||TFS-21406700||$99.95|
|Trick Flow Hydraulic Roller Retrofit Lifters||TFS-21400006||$429.95|
|Trick Flow Black Valve Covers||TFS-51411801||$109.95|
|Trick Flow Head Gasket Kit||TFS-51400904||$94.95|
|Fel-Pro Timing Cover Gasket Set||FEL-TCS45008||$14.95|
|Fel-Pro Oil Pan Gasket FEL-1809||FEL-1809||$14.25|
|Summit Racing Carb and Intake Combo||CMB-03-0211||$464.69|
|Trick Flow Cylinder Head Inserts||TFS-51400265||$9.49 (x2)|
On the Dyno
After verifying our Pertronix billet distributor's gear was compatible with the Trick Flow roller cam, it was simply a matter of dropping the distributor back in with the rotor pointing at plug wire number one, wiring the plug wires to match the firing order, adding fresh coolant and priming the fuel system to start the '70. With the first twist of the key, the 302 shouted to life and maintained a nice high idle. A quick stab of the pedal pulled the choke off and we let the 302 warm up while timing was set to 10 degrees (initially) and we chased a small leak. With just enough miles on the new combo to make it to the gas station and back for some fresh 93 octane, we strapped our fresh ride to our in-house Dynojet chassis dyno to make a few pulls.
Right off the bat, we were impressed with the Summit carb and how dialed in it was from the factory. With air/fuel ratios in the 12.8 range during dyno pulls, we had nothing to worry about. The plugs looked great on inspection and all we ended up doing was pushing four more degrees of base timing in (for a total of 14) and raising the rev limiter on the Pertronix Ignitor III under the cap because we were actually tickling it during dyno pulls now that the engine could really breathe. When you check out the numbers, don't just fixate on the peak numbers, but look at how much was picked up under the curve as well as how flat the new torque curve looks. Where torque peaked around 3,000 rpm before, the new combination is just starting to pull. From 3,500 to just over 5,000 rpm, the torque curve is nice and flat and just keeps on going. On the horsepower front, we gained plenty with the upgrade. Horsepower is comparable down low, but where the old combination was over with around 4,300 rpm, the upgrades netted us more horsepower that just keeps climbing well past 5,000 rpm now. We've been able to maintain our low-rpm power and torque, while increasing the engine's power from 3,500 rpm and up nicely.
Baseline: 182.37 hp at 4,000 rpm, 259.55 lb/ft of torque at 3,000 rpm
Upgrade: 272.18 hp at 5,400 rpm, 278.70 lb/ft of torque at 4,200 rpm
Peak Gains: 89.81 hp, 19.15 lb/ft of torque