View Full Version : ?'s about early 352's

05-29-2014, 09:44 PM
The more I work on this '60 352 the more it looks like a rebuild will be needed.

What is the difference in thickness between original steel shim gaskets and compositions, and are there different thickness composition gaskets available?

What is the original piston to deck clearance at TDC?

Were '60 cams grooved, requiring different cam bearings than later?

Do aftermarket pistons like Badger, Silvolite, etc. have their pin locations higher than stock, thus dropping compression?

Were the original pistons flat top without valve cutouts or other reliefs?

Is there a resource I can go to and find out these things and others, without bothering you guys?

Apologies for all the questions :o .


05-30-2014, 04:10 AM
Mike, you are asking all the right questions.
At the expense of deviating from stock, I strongly urge you to pick up a 390, somewhere from the early '70's, and build it. Light Ford truck engines work well. It seems there is always one or two on our Our Craig's List. You can keep your stock 352 on a stand for the next guy if you want.

Ford put 390's in everything. The early FE engines went through changes and consequently some of the parts for your original engine are either sky-high in price or not available. Check out a true roller timing set from Summit and notice which years it fits. CLICK HERE (http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-g6608-9). Why not Squarebird years? Because Ford changed the cam setup. '64 is the earliest it fits and $40 is cheap for a double roller, all steel set.

All FE engines are backward compatible as far as mounts are concerned. The crankshafts are internally balanced. We always match starters with flex plates.

Price example: examine Edelbrock FE heads; they will not fit 352's but they will fit 390 & 427's because of valve-to-cylinder clearance. I like aluminum heads and I believe every engine should wear them for a host of reasons.

If you're talking about intake manifold gaskets, make sure they have steel in the middle. Otherwise they squirm and you will have a coolant leak.

All aftermarket pistons have raised wrist pins. They always assume the block is decked and the head is shaved, and so do I.
Piston-to-deck clearance will be part of the compression ratio you choose. Pay attention to piston weight. If too heavy, you may need Mallory metal in your crankshaft to balance it.

I always advance my cam by at least four degrees, then measure valve clearance through the range as the exhaust valve closes. I want to see at least .030". Any more is icing on the cake. I do this by removing the valve spring after the head is bolted on, and I move the crank very slowly while 'feeling by hand' as the valve taps the piston at the highest point. The last roller cam I installed gave me .060" clearance on Edelbrock heads. The cam was new, hyd. lifters were tall rollers, pushrods were new, heads were new. The ONLY way to determine clearance is to physically measure. My flat tappet days are over.

Here is a typical 390 after removing the heads:
I don't think it makes much difference about the pistons having valve cutouts because new pistons will be different, depending on what you want. These old pistons were pretty much flat.

Later #2 & #4 FE cam bearings were undercut below the insert to ensure proper head oiling:

If you have more questions, we're here to help. - Dave

05-31-2014, 10:22 AM
Dave, the picture of the cam journal is remindful of mods some people make on Y's at their center journal.

I should try to explain my objectives. I prefer smaller displacement engines compared to larger. Examples: the engine transplant in my '46 truck is a 292, not 351. My Meteor has a 221 SBF which I like. My Falcon has a 200 I-6, also liked. So, original engine performance characteristics fit me well.

Which engine components for the early 352 are hard to find or prohibitively expensive? If it is cam, I had planned on having the original reground to stock specs at Oregon Cam.

A retired friend can setup the 352 heads at very little cost. I would have them surfaced before taking them to him, but not put in hardened exhaust seats. I have put hardened seats in 4 sets of Y heads. These vehicles get driven very lightly, and I figure head work on the 352, without seats, will last my lifetime. I do need to get the heads to him fairly soon. He, unfortunately, is getting on in age.



05-31-2014, 01:56 PM
Mike, I applaud your desire to stick with basics. I'm there, too. But I have to look at the cost. For instance, I had my 113 heads totally machined; my valve towers are cut for viton seals instead of those stupid umbrellas that don't work,
it has stainess valves and hardened seats,
and these are only a few improvements to update for modern fuels and oils.

After all is said and done, what did I actually end up with? Two very expensive cast iron heads that would bring next to nothing if sold as used. My money would be much farther ahead if I popped for Mummert's aluminum Edelbrock heads. They have all the modern goodies, they transfer heat MUCH better, and they are worth at least a grand if sold as used.

I installed hyper-eutectic alloy pistons with moly rings (standard on most modern Ford engines). In fact, a SBF (Mustang engine, if you will), is the same size as the 292, has all the modern goodies including EFI, and they are MUCH cheaper in every respect than a Y, because bone yards are teeming with them.

If I let the money talk (which I should have), I would have used a SBF w/AOD trans. All the issues have long since been ironed out and they are fabulous engines on every day, at any altitude and at any temperature/humidity range. And, did I mention that they are cheap?

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that every classic car isn't a '57 Bel Air, and that folks have different likes. Do you know that the state of California has more '32 Fords registered, than Ford ever produced? It's refreshing for me to see an old Squarebird or '59 Cadillac or even a Studebaker Lark. But to drive them with today's fuel and oil means they will self-destruct. I'm from Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, and I have a big problem with that.

Visit Summit or Jegs, etc. Compare availability/price for early 352 parts compared with 390 parts. I'll let the catalogs speak for me.

BTW, that picture of the undercut cam journal was a factory stock FE block, not a modification. Slotting rocker shaft holes were done stock on FEs as well:
The Y-Block guys borrowed most of their modifications from the FE innovations. Even so, if you want to unleash huge HP gains and great fuel economy from an old engine, fuel inject it. - Dave

06-11-2014, 09:40 PM
Finally did a compression check. Keep in mind engine hasnt run in who knows how long. Oil was squirted into chambers about 2 weeks before the test (30cc). 3 or 4 cylinders were 140, two or three were 80-90, and one was a woeful 30. Seems like one valve isnt closing or there is a big problem with the pistons or rings on that cylinder (#1).

Before the test tried to get spark but couldnt. So pulled the distributor and tore it down for rehab. Starting reasembly now, with a ground wire going from it's body to the block for assurances.

Will add a newer coil, check for spark, put on the new carb, put a good prime on the oil system, and see if this thing will fire, maybe within the next 1-2 weeks.

This time of year is hard to get things done. We have pasture that requires manual setting of water line each day, added to everything else that comes along.

Still havent gotten the trunk open, but that is for later.

Oh, also bought a new set of pistons. The price was unbelievable. It was a gamble because I believe this 352 hasnt ever been rebuilt. If it has, then a great deal can be made on a new set of .030 over 352's.

06-12-2014, 12:47 AM
What are your intentions? Are you going to fix this engine or rebuild it?

If you simply want to diagnose what is going on, use compressed air in each cylinder. Take an old spark plug, gut it, and weld a air hose nipple on the metal side. (Quick connect fittings fit nicely in spark plugs.) So, weld around the fitting and plug it into an air hose. You don't need tons of pressure.

Rotate the crank by hand until both valves close, then listen. Air noise coming from the carb indicates an intake valve leak, noise coming from the exhaust indicates an exhaust valve leak, and noise coming out the valve covers indicates piston rings are leaking.

So, what if???

If you're going to bore the block cylinders, the machine shop must have the pistons, first. They bore, then hone to the piston size leaving half-a thousandth (0.0005") clearance between the piston and cylinder bore.

They want to see the crankshaft, for measuring and ordering new bearings IF all the surfaces are good. With new pistons, rings and bearings, this is the time to balance the crankshaft. Back in 1960, Ford's production balancing methods left a lot to be desired. Now, you are buying larger, heavier pistons.

We'll talk about heads later. - Dave

06-12-2014, 08:17 AM
Like I indicated somewhere, the engine will likely need rebuilt. If so I have been down that road before, but would like to hear it run prior to removal.

Since the rebuild process is expensive, I like to pick up components along the way, and have a build plan before going to the machine shop. Then instructions can be given as to how much to deck the block and surface the heads, and whether or not to surface the intake.

In 1960 how accurate were the main journal line bores on the FE's? The Y's were often imperfect.

I plan to use steel OEM type head gaskets instead of the compression robbing and thicker composites. Did that with a Y following head rebuilding and they worked well. Before always had used the composites and was a little nervous bout the steel shims leaking, but quelled the concern.

I can cc the combustion chambers once the heads are off. Until then, what is the head's stock nonmilled chamber size?

Also, regarding aftermarket aluminum 4bbl intakes: is there one available with close to or same as intake runner volume compared to stock, to retain low end torque characteristics?

Were 1960 T-bird cams grooved?

06-12-2014, 05:39 PM
The Y was Ford's feeble attempt at building an overhead valve engine. It looks curiously close to the Chevy 283 and is nearly identical in size, dancing from 272 to 292, etc. The design engineers from Ford and Chevy clearly went to the same school. The same holds true with the 430 and Chevy's 409; they both have a 9-degree deck taper, they were introduced at the same time and neither company did that again.

Vast improvements were made from the Y to the FE but the FE design was changed many times before 'settling down'. Look in major engine parts catalogs (like Summit or Jegs) to see availability and pricing.

Even so, the FE is a low-performance production engine. Low performance engines can be vastly improved, but now we're getting away from a diverse machine that works well in all altitudes, humidities, temps., and locations.

The real purpose for using a small piece of acrylic Plexiglas, Vaseline and a graduated cylinder to CC the heads, is to find how accurate the mill job is. If the head was milled on an angle, one end will show progressively larger chambers than the other end. In a high compression engine, this makes a big difference in overall engine performance. In a low compression engine, you will never detect any difference, especially with a slight taper. Production parts allow for tolerances that are rather loose. You may open the chambers or buy lower compression ratio pistons if you want to lower the ratio. BTW, aftermarket pistons normally have the wrist pin raised .020" because most block decks will be skinned and so will the heads.

You gotta know that the engine plant puts out 1,000 complete engines per shift. Think of it... 8,000 pistons, 16,000 valves and seals, 20,000 head bolts, etc. Can things go wrong? Quickly! Each engine is afforded minimal time in manufacture. If one or 100 are slightly out of tolerance, that line did not stop. Essential repairs were done in a 'repair loop', but the line never stopped. That's why some production engines work beautifully while others are just ok.

Chamber size depends on what compression ratio you want (or what octane you want to burn). Edelbrock aluminum heads boast a 5/8" deck that can be milled down to the valve seats, if you're building a race engine.

Deeper concerns should include: hardened exhaust valve seats, stainless valves, valve guide condition, valve grind, decent seals that actually work, rocker arms and shafts condition and restricted oiling.

No, FE cams do not depend on one center cam groove for oil. The #2 & #4 bearing journals are undercut below the bearings. #2 feeds the LH rocker shaft and #4 feeds the RH rocker shaft in a constant oil flow. No oil starving if the cam wears, unlike the Y.

Saving money is always a top priority. Get quality parts as cheap as you can, but don't compromise quality for price. Sometimes parts houses run sales or specials. Consider this, your engine machine shop buys far more parts through his distributor at much cheaper prices, than you. Bump heads with him and compare your prices with his. Even if prices are identical, buy through him because he can get much quicker service if 'adjustments' are necessary (like if you break a ring or a bearing shell is too tight).

Rockauto.com is a good source for Fel-Pro gasket sets, etc. They also give us a discount, so check them out. - Dave

06-12-2014, 09:19 PM
So, what are the combustion chamber volumes on this engine originally, assuming they have not been milled?

06-12-2014, 10:55 PM
I found out they are 59-62 cc.

06-12-2014, 11:06 PM
Ford is vague about their numbers. The best way to know is to measure them.

Having said that, I've seen these heads go from 68CC to 72CC. Higher compression ratios use smaller chambers. All the early 352s and 332s I have seen, had machined chambers (with taper).
Regardless, as said before, figure what compression ratio you want, first. Then configure your chambers with the correct pistons, head gasket and gasoline. - Dave

06-12-2014, 11:36 PM
To know what to do and where you are going with CR on a rebuild, you have to know where the starting point is. That is why I consider cc'ing the chambers a must do point, for the overall plan, but wanted to know what the original numbers of an unmilled head were. It is hard to imagine a high compression head that is supposed to be 59-62 cc, coming in at 72 cc, unless someone relieved them or the valves were extremely sunken.

06-13-2014, 02:00 AM
Ford advertised, early 352 engines had a whopping 9.6:1 compression ratio. It's plausible to know all your dimensions before the rebuild, but they will change dramatically before you are done.

If 9.6 is high compression, what is 10.5 or 11:1? Common for the day, but not this day.

I assume you will drive this car instead of keeping it a garage or trailer queen. I also assume you aren't building it to race because of its weight. Now we come to, what kind of gas do you want to burn? I will assume you would like to run on regular pump gas, since it cruises and does well on long trips.

To calculate CR, we need to know the bore, stroke, gasket bore diameter, gasket thickness, deck clearance of the piston, head volume and piston dome/relief. If we don't know what the exact piston dome/relief is but we do know the CR, it's easy to figure out.

9.6:1 using cast iron heads and today's reformulated gasoline is a disaster unless you buy premium gas or add octane boosters. If you want to use regular pump gas, either buy aluminum heads or lower the CR. Aluminum heads are not available for the 352 unless you want to pay through the nose which defeats the purpose of saving any money.

To lower the CR, either buy (20CC) dished pistons or open the chambers. New pistons will be larger which further exacerbates the high CR but aftermarket pistons usually come .020" shorter at the deck. Whatever you skin from the deck or head must be figured.

If you use flat top pistons, or nearly flat top, 60CC chambers aren't going to get it. 78CC chambers with flat pistons will give you 9.5:1 CR. I suggest you come down to 9:1 (like many modern cars and SUVs). I also suggest you use hypereutectic alloy pistons and moly rings (like modern cars and SUVs). Ever wonder why modern cars go 250k miles between rebuilds? They use modern-material components and low compression ratios.

CR is easy to figure, there are sites on the web where you simply plug in your numbers and it will come back with CR, chamber volume, total displacement vol., etc. Here is one:

Hope this helps. - Dave

06-13-2014, 09:13 AM
I am familiar with the CR calculations, issues of octane, and means of reaching the objective. For the last engine I did the goal was to achieve as high a dynamic compression as possible, given the cam used, using 92 octane non alcohol gas, that wouldnt cause detonation. The prefiguring showed 175 to be the limit, and when it was all done cranking compression came in at 170. It has been working well since.