View Full Version : Trouble w/430 overhaul

08-04-2013, 03:00 AM
A member has been building his 430 using parts he bought from Kanter and his local machine shop's services. He is somewhat experienced as he built a Pontiac engine. FEs and MELs are different and so are today's parts.

He originally called me to help him get the new overhaul started. After a short series of questions, I learned he was far from ready to start. His lifters were collapsed, he hadn't run the oil pump and his timing was way off. He also learned, those little welch plugs all around his block should be tapped for pipe plugs. He did most of them.

After about six phone calls and many youtube videos, he emailed to say it's finally running. I wanted to see a video but he never posted one.

Today, I got an email with terrible news:

"Well, we had a few issues with the bottom of the heads leaking so in the process we had to remove the cylinder heads to expose the pistons and look what we found. Not sure why or what is causing this much gouging to occur but we are thinking loose wrist pins... going to take the block to the machine shop on tuesday to do some further investigation."

Here are four pics he attached. I want him to hear what you guys think...

08-04-2013, 04:08 AM
More than just loose gudgeons (wrist-pins) Dave!

(Well that's my educated guess)

08-04-2013, 11:15 AM
Because of the design of the upper cylinder walls on the 430 it is difficult to install the pistons. The standard ring compressor will not reach the bore, and sometimes it is used upside down with limited success. I say limited, because I have broken rings during installations. I suspect that broken rings are what is happening here. Ford had a special ring compressor for this purpose but I've never seen one. This bore design is similar to that used on the Chev 409, and there is the same problem installing those pistons.
If you google 'install 409 pistons' you will get a better idea of the problem and see other methods to install these pistons. My plan with my current 430 build is to fit the rings in the bore using my fingers.

08-04-2013, 11:16 AM
I doubt also that it's a wrist pin problem. I would suspect maybe a clearance issue between the pistons and cylinder wall causing the rings to extend too far.


08-04-2013, 11:27 AM
What Carl says makes a lot of sense. It sounds like he never hand spun the crank after he put the pistons in.


08-04-2013, 01:42 PM
Tom, Carl and John, I couldn't agree more. I want to talk about a few things:

Look at the color of this block...
Does it look burned to you? It does to me, which makes me question cooling and oil. Oil breakdown can be caused by excessive heat.

He says the heads started leaking... Probably because they were warped from being so hot.

Look at the color and texture of the cylinders...
I can see defined regions where the three rings ride. Overall, the rings scuffed the crosshatch completely off and left the bores shiny.

How about the other cylinders...
Most of them tell the same story. In fact I'm with John, I don't see a problem with wrist pins at all. Omitting snap rings in a full-floating piston causes two deep grooves on each sidewall.

Carl, you mentioned the taper of OEM pistons & block deck, and how tricky it is to stuff pistons. Amen, brother. This engine is not an easy one to buy parts for OR to assemble. If my only choice in new pistons were flat ones from Kanter, I would have to pass on rebuilding it. 390s are far more available and parts are cheaper. 390s can be built to produce more HP than the stock 430, as well.

So, given this very limited info what else do you guys 'see'??? Carl says, 'broken rings'. That could certainly be true. John says, 'pistion clearance'. Plausible, too. (I have an opinion on this part that ties in with Carl and John.)

The engine is not disassembled yet. It will be, at the machine shop on Tues. I did speak with the owner/assembler and I have a tiny bit more info.

I asked him what he gapped the rings at. He said, ".022".
I asked him what alloy of pistons he used. He said, "I don't know, whatever Kanter supplied." Then he said, 'Kanter uses hypereutectic alloy pistons.' He must have read this info somewhere, after the fact. It is beyond me, how rings can be gapped to any size without knowing the proper clearance.

- Dave

08-04-2013, 04:23 PM
...My plan with my current 430 build is to fit the rings in the bore using my fingers...
Carl, I had no idea you are overhauling a 430. That's great but SAVE YOUR FINGERS!

The 430 block is tapered ten degrees (as you mentioned earlier), and the stock bore is 4.300". What an odd setup for compressing rings.

For $30 I would buy a NON-adjustable aluminum ring compressor for your new bore size. CLICK HERE (http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sme-904350/overview/) to see an example at Summit (the first place I looked). Simply cut the business end at 10* in a band saw, or carefully use an angle grinder/cutoff wheel if you don't have a band saw, and chamfer the edges with a scraper, just to knock off any burrs.

As the piston enters the bore, the piston skirt will 'guide' the compressor so it's square with the bore. Tap the piston down with a wooden dowel (hammer handle).

I use thin rubber sleeves (taken from electrical cord) slid onto the rod bolts, so the threads cannot mar each crank pin. - Dave

08-04-2013, 06:47 PM
As I look closely at the photos again, I'm curious about photos 1,3,and 4. They show scratching in the virgin part of the bore where then rings don't go. What caused these? Trouble with installation? The discoloration doesn't seem that abnormal to me, and you'd have to check the heads to verify warpage. Some of the exhaust manifold studs go into the water passage, and that may be a reason seepage was noticed.
The pistons from Kanter used to be made by Egge and I think they still are. End gap at .022 is within the .015-.030 specs for the 430.
I've seen these ring compressors from Summit some time ago, and had half a plan to make one on the lathe, but never got around to it. My 430 block is still at the machine shop and has been for quite some time. One sleeve was installed, heads done, and waiting for the cam bearing install. I've been working with this shop for over 40 years, the owner is 79 and his worker is 92. Lots of experience and work ethic there. Of course they only work 4-6 hr days now and that is interrupted by medical visits. The 430 is for a future project.
I'm curious what the rings look like!

08-05-2013, 01:01 AM
Carl, today's pistons are not the same as our old familiar OEM pistons. Yes, they are still cast but the alloy is nearly 16% silicone. Heat transfer is insulated by that silicone.

Hypereutectic Alloy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypereutectic_piston) pistons, used in all of today's engines, are harder and they expand less than old cast pistons. Less expansion means they can be tighter in the bore. They are not quite as hard as forged pistons but because they are cast, they are cheaper.

Rings in a hypereutectic alloy piston conduct more heat than in the old days, so the end gap must be much wider. How wide, depends on the piston alloy.

Looking at the pictures, I say his end gap was too tight, heat made them expand, and once the gap butted the metal had nowhere to go but out. I gapped Penelope's 390 at a minimum of .026":

Kanter should be the 'authority' on this end gap since they sold the pistons. I'm dying to hear what they have to say and I'm curious as to the condition of the rings. Oh, the owner said at least one set of valves looked blue. - Dave

09-09-2013, 08:29 PM
Is there more information on this problem?

09-10-2013, 04:01 AM
Yes, Carl. Nick called me last Saturday with a quote he got from Wiseco pistons. They want $1,100 to cast new domed pistons for the 430. I advised him not to spend that much money on pistons. The ones he got in the pictures were from a Kanter engine overhaul set.

Now, he's looking for components at Falcon in Florida.

I asked Nick what the machine shop found when they tore the engine down. They told Nick, the oil galleries were full of metal chips, and some got into the bearings. I thought I'd drop the phone and die right there. Nobody washed the chips out.

I think he had more issues than that because those cylinder walls look nasty. The upper block is charred from excessive heat and no lubrication. I've never seen a block turn so black. Bottom line is, he has to start over and pay close attention to details this time.

I think the machine shop assumed Nick knew a lot more about building engines than he really did. Nick made the assumption that the machine shop would 'treat him right' and do everything necessary for a proper overhaul.

Nick had done a Pontiac engine in the past, but to what extent I don't know. He may have simply replaced a few OEM parts. I explained to Nick, a complete overhaul is vastly different and the 430 is probably the hardest engine to do, based on parts availability and prices.

I spent $300 just for crankshaft balancing on Penelope's 390 because the new .040" over pistons are larger and heavier than the originals. That forced me to add Mallory metal in the counterweights so I could use bobweights to represent the pistons. I cannot guess what affect flat pistons will have on a 430 crankshaft. I know the compression will be very low. - Dave

09-10-2013, 09:08 AM
For more information on the 430 combustion chamber and piston design check: http://ford-mel-engine.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=67 This will give you some insight as to the compression ratios and piston availability. I suspect Falcon and Mad Dog are related companies.