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  • 58 tbird camshaft

    Gday guys, I'm pretty new to the whole Tbird/Ford game. I'm in the process of restoring my 58 and am now looking at rebuilding the engine. Now being from Australia it's probably a little more tricky so I need to be spot on with what parts I purchase. First thing I'm stuck on is the camshaft, after looking through the web I've been unable to figure out what type I would have, ie solid or hydraulic. The car is a March 19 build with original 352 engine.
    Thanks in advance.
    Chris.

  • #2
    Aside from the heads, your camshaft sets the stage for the type of service an engine will deliver. To answer your question, I need to know what you are looking for.
    • How long do you plan on keeping this car?
    • Is this car a daily driver?
    • Are you looking for high performance?
    • Are you looking for longevity?
    • Do you care about how the exhaust 'speaks'?
    • Long trips, cruises or garage/trailer queen?
    • Do you want to keep the car pure stock, upgrade some features or retrofit so your family is safe among modern cars on fast highways?


    Now let's talk about you...
    • Do you wrench, or pay a mechanic?
    • Do you belong to a car club?
    • Stereo or mono?


    Owning a classic car can be a money pit. Squarebirds were designed and built to standards that are fifty years old. Everything has changed including:
    • Fuel
    • tires
    • seat belts
    • disk brakes
    • Motor oil formulation, and a host of optional accessories that didn't exist back then like electric radiator fans, 100-amp alternators, etc.


    Before you start into this, you need to be sure you know what you want. Everyone is different and I cannot tell you what you like or don't like. I would sure hate to see you spend money for things you really didn't want, but sometimes that happens because you didn't 'know' about conditions or products before hand.

    If you set your sights on a certain dream, see it to the end and enjoy your passion. - Dave
    My latest project:
    CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

    "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
    --Lee Iacocca

    Comment


    • #3
      Sorry I probably worded the question wrong. I understand all the above. Basically I'm really just looking for a basic cam which won't require a ton of compression or large stall and maybe a little bit of an aggressive idle. The car will be a keeper, just a cruiser basically. Ill leave my other car as the toy lol.
      I've rebuilt a couple of stock engines over the years but usually leave the more modified stuff to the pro's
      This being the 3rd car I've built I've got a reasonable grasp on the other stuff, but this is the first Ford I've touched so there are certain thing I need to come to grips with.
      I've been looking on line at rebuild kits, cam kits etc but I'm actually really unsure on whether the engine is a hydraulic or solid canned engine.
      The engine is still in car atm but will be out shortly.
      Thanks Chris.

      Comment


      • #4
        Ok Chris, I have somewhat of an idea. If this engine is coming out, I assume you want to overhaul it with new pistons, right?

        If so, I suggest you leave the 352 the way it is and buy a 1963 (or newer) 390. 390s were put in just about every Ford car, truck, marine, construction equipment, etc. They are in very good supply over here. Because we have so many, the parts are actually cheaper than 352 parts. Looking at both from the outside, you really cannot tell the difference.

        1958 was a very early FE engine. Since then, Ford made a lot of changes. Consequently, the early stuff isn't supported by the aftermarket because everyone went to the '62 and newer FEs.

        If you are familiar with most of the speed shops (summitracing.com or jegs.com) look at their cams, for example, and see which ones are reasonably prices and available. Same for pistons. Now, check out true roller timing chains for a '58 and a '62. Remember, these are the same FE engines.

        Being the same FEs, you can swap your water pump, fuel pump, all the 'final dress' parts, rocker shafts and covers, etc. Yes, intake and exhaust manifolds as well as heads, swap.

        I strongly suggest you spend some serious money on aluminum heads and intake manifold, and get a hydraulic roller cam. Why? Because aluminum allows higher compression (if you want), it gets rid of heat faster, and it's worth a lot more if you sell it as used. BTW, it's lighter.

        Edelbrock makes aluminum FE heads for the 390/427, but not for the 352. The performer RPM heads include hardened valve seats, stainless valves, bronze guides, Viton seals and helicoil-ed tapped holes. They are well worth the money, and will prevent your engine from overheating (a problem with cast iron heads). A roller cam will allow you to use regular oil with no ZDDP additive (like modern cars). I suggest you get a 260 grind and advance your distributor 36 degrees total at 2,500 rpm (and above).

        If you like adjusting lifters, you could buy a solid lifter cam, but I don't suggest it. Hydraulic lifters do a great job and you can use your stock rocker arm assemblies.

        Check out my (latest project) 390 build, below. This one is going to Perth. - Dave
        My latest project:
        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
        --Lee Iacocca

        Comment


        • #5
          How readily available are 390s in Australia. What sort of dollars is something like that worth.
          Thanks.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, since this is a used engine and you intend on rebuilding it, look for a tired but good short block. You want the crank, rods and block. Everything else can come off your 352 or you can buy new, like an oil pump, pistons, rings, bearings, timing set, etc.

            We have Craig's List over here for folks who want to sell used but good stuff. In your situation, I would have a local machine shop check the casting before shipping it across the Pacific.

            Old tired engines over here are worth a few hundred dollars. If you can find some guy who pulled it out of his truck and it still has the C6 trans bolted on, that's even a better deal. Remember, you're buying with the intention of rebuilding, not for saving money. When you're done, this should be a brand new engine that will last a very long time. - Dave
            My latest project:
            CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

            "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
            --Lee Iacocca

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by chris58 View Post
              How readily available are 390s in Australia. What sort of dollars is something like that worth.
              Thanks.
              Hi mate this is exactly what I'm going though now, there's a place called easypower has a rebuildable 390 for $1200-$1400 and there's another guy called john who wrecks thunderbirds on eBay he's got a few ranging from $600-$2200 for a running one

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks mate, have you got any contact details for these people. What's a rough price for a good runner over here.
                Thanks Chris.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yep the eBay guy is John 0438 008 390 and easy power are at 19 Capital Link Dr, Campbellfield VIC 3061
                  (03) 9357 7344
                  I'm not sure if John had a runner but easypower had 5-6 engines, one was a runner(didn't say if it was good lol) said he wanted $2200 for the running one and $1200-$1400 for a complete one, that was rebuildable
                  Thats just two out of about 5 or 6 people I rang, apparently these engines are "too old and nobody wants them" so not a lot of guys buy them from the states anymore. which means the ones that are here are big $$$$$

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Chris, I suggest that you buy a book written by Barry Rabotnik called "How to build max performance Ford FE engines" and pay attention to the chapter on oiling. Some of the early FEs had low oil pressure issues that can be easily solved.

                    On my 390 build I purchased a mild hydraulic roller cam for pretty much he same goal as you stated. I get a smooth idle with just a little bit of rump-de-bump. The roller assemblies allows me to run modern oil without worrying about the zinc issue. Since the lifters are taller than stock I also used adjustable roller tipped rocker arms and custom length pushrods.

                    The pushrod length has to be measured after head assembly and then ordered. There are companies that make them up and ship them out to you the same day for about $130 so it's not a huge issue.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks hunty, I'll try get in touch with both companies shortly. Yadkin I will look at getting that book (probably that aswell as many others as I know nothing about Ford's lol).
                      What sort of oil pressure would be a real concern as I'm going to be checking that this weekend. Also what is a reasonable amount of compression to have per cylinder in one of these motors.
                      Thanks Chris.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The 390 is a monster-work horse, and if you bore it for new pistons, you will be knocking up close to 400 cubic inches.
                        Compression will be determined by the components you choose. You can make this a very high compression racing engine or a long-hauling desert mill that runs cool on regular octane gas all day and all night long. Just about any new build should produce ~150 psi in all cylinders. Of course with age, that number goes down.

                        Oil pressure will be determined on the type of oil pump you use (standard or High Volume), temperature, internal engine resistance to flow and the pressure relief valve (internal to the pump). Motors straight from Dearborn produced a very low 5-10 psi at hot idle. A rebuild should produce at least 25 psi at hot idle, and over 40 psi at speed. - Dave
                        My latest project:
                        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                        --Lee Iacocca

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I guess it's all just a matter of how much I want to spend. Fingers crossed that the current engine is still reasonably healthy, it is only 71000 miles old. It's a shame that 390s aren't as readily available here and the ones that I've found are quite expensive for a 'rebuilder', $1200 upwards, then add in all the machining, goodies and transport from the US, could easily see the price get out of hand.
                          May just be easier to throw a half decent 351/C4 in.
                          Thanks Chris.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hunty View Post
                            ...I'm not sure if John had a runner but easypower had 5-6 engines, one was a runner(didn't say if it was good lol) said he wanted $2200 for the running one and $1200-$1400 for a complete one, that was rebuildable
                            Thats just two out of about 5 or 6 people I rang, apparently these engines are "too old and nobody wants them" so not a lot of guys buy them from the states anymore. which means the ones that are here are big $$$$$
                            FE engines are old but I certainly wouldn't say, 'nobody wants them.' That's not true at all.
                            The truth is, Ford produced many millions of them and wherever you go, someone has one for sale. It's simply a case of 'supply and demand'.

                            Notice that the big boy aftermarket speed shops have plenty of performance choices for FE engines, at reasonable prices. Over here, if sales don't move parts they get dropped quickly, for modern cars as well.

                            As a kid, I remember lots of guys who pulled their engines to either make them faster or to swap for a bigger mill. Today's cars are different. If an engine gets pulled, it usually goes right back in, or another just like it. So much for smokin' your front tires... - Dave
                            My latest project:
                            CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                            "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                            --Lee Iacocca

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Definitely not my words that's what we come up against here in Australia. If it's not an ls motor lately no one wants to know about it.
                              I envy Americans you guys have heaps of these motors cheap, but for us even a bare block is $600.
                              I love these engines and the fact they were put in everything over there but here we got 6cyl or windsors and Clevelands so if I wanted one of these it would be easy.

                              Comment

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