No announcement yet.

Am I the only member who rebuilt my Y-Block?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Am I the only member who rebuilt my Y-Block?

    When I started this forum for the Little Birders, I figured there would be lots of discussion regarding the Ford Y-Block. It's a classic engine that refuses to die.

    I did a major overhaul on my 292. Now that the cylinders are bored .060" over, it uses 312 pistons. High-lift rocker arms and a true roller timing chain (advanced 4*) really woke this engine up.

    Click here to see my rebuild.

    I'd like to hear about yours. - 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

  • #2
    Let's see... I think it was 1988 that I rebuilt my stock 292 in the '59 Country Sedan. My first, and only a couple pieces left over !
    Mike Lemmon
    '59 Raven Black Hardtop


    • #3
      I had mine rebuilt and returned to nearly stock a couple of years ago. I miss the rough sound of the old build, but not the 1200 rpm idle!


      • #4
        Joe, did they fit yours with a racing cam? Stock Y's idle very smooth with low rpm's. (They are little engines at just 300 cubes.)

        Stock cams fit 272, 292, and 312's, so they idle about the same.

        If you have a stock setup, we need to find out why your idle is so high. Is your vacuum advance pancake working?

        Next time your driver's side rocker cover is off (like for lash adjust) rotate the crank by hand until #6 rocker arms are level (just as the exhaust closes and the intake opens). Then look at your damper pulley crankshaft marks. It should read, ZERO (top dead center). That will verify if your timing chain is set correctly. If it's off a tooth, you won't be anywhere near TDC. - 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


        • #5
          I had it built in the mid 80's with what the builder called a full race cam, compression (as I recall) was around 10:1, heads & intake matched & polished, rebalanced, headers and Smitty's. Ran quite well (dual quads for a year) to say the least, but was not "parade friendly". My interests changed and I parked the car for many years. Couple of years ago had the engine rebuilt to be more drive-able and was able to retain the .030 overbore. Its put together correctly and runs fine, just doesn't have the sound it used to!! I kept the headers but now have a full SS exhaust. The car is ready for paint as soon as the weather warms up as my furnace can't keep up with the exhaust fan.


          • #6
            Great pics and some good tips in there!

            It looks like a small piece of brass to protect your pistons while sliding on the rings. Is that right? Good idea.

            Good section on the starter usable by anyone.

            Using the 292 block punched out seems to be the way to go for rebuilds. It can even go up to 3.860 to bring it up to a 308.9 CI from info on John Mummert's site.

            Consensus appears to be that the bottom end of the 292 may be a little stronger and there are more crank options less expensively.

            I would like to build a mild street Y and put an AOD behind it to make it as good and economical as most modern cars, especially for travel.

            Of course, the T Bird oil pan is a rear sump instead of front sump as the passenger cars and there is a spacer behind the water pump so I wouldn't want to misplace those.

            Are those "old school" Cragar SS wheels on the 59? NICE - Always have been my favorite. I gotta quit adding stuff to my list or I won't get this done until I hit 100.

            You really need to spend more time with your dog. What a pitiful look.
            Jimz Greenie with a White Hat and Brown Guts (ZE-XG)

            CLICK HERE for Jimz web site


            • #7
              I rebuilt my 292 twice. First time was an expensive learning experience. Gave the engine to a dude, and his rebuild was TERRIBLE. Ended up throwing most all of it away. The second time was full hands on, giving the machinist specific instructions, so to achieve 9.5 CR with flat tops. Assembly other than cam bearings did myself. Worked out well, though it took lots of machine work. Heavy decking and head surfacing, intake flanges of 113 heads milled to close to max for intake. It was about 5 years ago now.

              Also have a 312 completely machined, all parts on hand, but dont seem to find the time to assemble. Bored to 322 with domed pistons, 113 heads, balanced, dot dot dot.


              • #8
                Mike, we speak 'Y-Block' here. And no, you're not the only one to rebuild your Y. Many who came before us have rebuilt theirs as well.

                I rebuilt mine and it lives in our '59 Galaxie, because that is where it came from. Not only did I rebuild the engine, but I rebuilt the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic as well. They both run beautifully, and they will for a very long time because of my modifications.

                Here are some pictures of my rebuild - CLICK HERE.
                If you have pictures of your rebuilds, we would like to see them. This forum is here to help others to learn from and avoid mistakes we have made in the past.

                The Y-Block was Ford's first attempt at building an overhead valve engine. It was small (~300 cubes) and it had major oiling issues with the rocker shafts, timing set, and a design flaw that the engine could not recover from; having two exhaust ports next to each other smack in the middle of each cast iron head. Rear seals were hard to plug as well. Aftermarket oiling systems that looked like octopuses were available to circumvent poor rocker oiling. They required extra holes in the valve covers for oiling tubes, but they worked.

                Back in the day, engine oil was non-detergent. Folks with FEs know about oil pickup screens that clog from dirt. I have seen Y-blocks that had their valve covers completely filled with dirt. The rocker shaft oil was non-pressurized (open to atmosphere) with an end tube that directed oil straight down the end of each head as a 'bypass'. As each rocker arm oil hole clogged, the oil simply went out the end tube and down to the oil pan. Ford sold a lot of replacement rocker shafts and rocker arms.

                T-birds came with 292 Y-Blocks when the car was first introduced in '55. The '57 T-bird sported a 312 with an optional centrifugal supercharger. Even so, T-bird quickly got away from Y-blocks as soon as the FE was introduced in 1958. The FE was more versatile and larger than the Y, because it needed to be. No more neighboring exhaust ports and vast improvements in oiling made the FE much more attractive. All the things you can do to improve a Y-block can also be done on the larger FE engines. Y-Blocks were a product of Cleveland while Dearborn produced the FE. - 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


                • #9
                  Dave, if you rebuild a Y block in stock form, no mods, and then run it with modern oils and modern filters, will the top end stay reasonably clean?

                  1958 Hardtop
                  #8452 TBird Registry



                  • #10
                    Yes and no. It's important to remember that Ford's Y-Block was their very first attempt at building an overhead valve engine. There were many design mistakes and Ford quickly introduced version two (the FE).

                    The stock design of Y-Block rocker shafts actually encourages dirt to settle in all the little crannies because Ford put an 'overflow' tube on the end of each rocker arm shaft. That makes each shaft center at atmospheric pressure. So, rocker arm oiling is a 'drip system' even when all the holes are clear. After hundreds of heat/cool-down cycles, each of the two little rocker arm oil holes close up with dirt and oil simply bypasses the resistance to flow, returning down the end of the head to the oil pan. Dirt and lack of oil flow causes the entire valve train to self destruct from being oil starved. Valves, lifters, rocker arms and push rods don't need much oil flow, but they need some. Y-Block rocker arms commonly caused valves to stay open usually from scored rocker shafts.

                    By contrast, FE rocker shafts operate at full oil pressure with NO overflow tube. Any small dirt particle pushes through the oil holes so the holes tend to unplug themselves and stay open.

                    Another problem is that both Y-Block heads were oiled by one skinny groove around the cam's center journal. As the cam bearing wore, the bearing surface surrounding the groove would actually close the groove space. What a disaster that definitely requires modification.

                    By contrast, FE heads are oiled by two cam journals; #2 cam bearing oils the LH rocker shaft and #4 cam bearing oils the RH rocker shaft. Another very important change in FE's is that Ford put the oil groove UNDER each cam bearing so that bearing wear cannot interfere with oil flow.

                    Using detergent oil helps a lot because it keeps dirt in suspension. That makes it possible to tell when it's time for an oil change. Non-detergent oil shed dirt all over the inside of a block, especially in places where the oil just 'sits' in low-flow areas. That type of oil also made it more difficult to judge the age of motor oil. - 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


                    • #11
                      Well here's a story that will make Dave cringe!

                      Back a while I had a '47 coupe with Y-block running gear through-out.

                      I let a kid use it for a rod-run and it blew a head-gasket between two cylinders, he drove it like that for near on 400 miles.

                      When I got it back and took the head off I found a deep groove on top of the block between the two cylinders.

                      So, being 'financially challenged' at the time I fixed it thus:

                      Towed the '47 to a mate who is an engineer and after we blocked off all the holes on the engine my mate used the proper rods to build up the groove to just proud of the block.

                      Then we ground back the weld with an angle grinder until it was almost flush - and dressed it off with a long fine-toothed file.

                      And before replacing the head-gasket I placed a 4" length of copper wire between the two cylinders before gluing verythign together.

                      That old 272 fired right up and never missed a beat, I eventually replaced the 272 with a 289 but that's another story...
                      A Thunderbirder from the Land of the Long White Cloud.


                      • #12
                        I know they produced Y-Blocks in Australia for a lot longer than we did. I also know that South America produced them as well.

                        The two center exhaust ports were always a major heat problem. The gasket set I got from FelPro had 'steam holes' in it. They suggested I use the new head gasket as a template to drill holes in the heads and both block decks for better cooling.

                        In S. America (Argentina, I think), they came up with a new head, similar to a 289 head, with the center exhaust ports re-configured.

                        My '55 came with a 272. I still have it on a stand. It's old and tired but original.

                        I admire all you guys down under, for making things work from zero resources. I love stories like your Y-Block story. That copper wire was the best heat conduit your 272 ever saw! - 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


                        • #13
                          I’ve rebuilt several Y Blocks through the years with good results.
                          My first was a bone stock 272 in my 55 Club Sedan It worked well, better than a 272 had any right to.
                          Then the stock 272 in my 55 Glasstop. It worked well enough, still does, but developed a funky fuel pump knock that only went away after I replaced everything in the timing chest.
                          Builder error? After a few thousand miles, the old eccentric showed some crazy wild wear patterns. I’ll chalk it up to a bad pump arm, but something tells me I somehow messed up.
                          Then the stock 312 in my old 56 Monarch. A real runner, that was.
                          I did a refresh on the mile 272 in my wife’s 55 Town Sedan. Rings, bearings, polish, degrease, pressure wash, etc, and it runs strong.
                          The last on I’ll mention was interesting. I was getting sick of the 272 in the 2 door. 292 block lifted from a 59, turned down the mains on a 57 Merc crank to fit, 57 Ford 4 barrel heads, heavier rods we found at the machine shop, and used a 57 4 barrel cam.
                          This was in 1986. Nobody had any performance goodies out for these yet, and I just wanted a stronger engine for the Club Sedan.
                          Balanced the whole mess, bolted it behind a factory overdrive, welded on a reversed pair of long glasspacks as far forward as possible, used a 57 4 barrel intake and an AFB, and it was by far the most awesome 55 I’ve ever owned. I chased Crowns for years, but to me, nothing oozes cool like a slightly warmed over 2 door.
                          That thing ran like the bloody wind and sounded like a million bucks. Best of all, to the uninitiated, it looked completely stock.

                          To me, nothing beats a Y-Block for pure tradition, look, and oooh that sound.

                          The pic is of me behind the wheel and three rider friends in my Club Sedan in about 85 or so. Dig those tombstone seats. We were D.I.’s and our platoons had a weekend pass so we were headed to town to get T Totally Trashed.



                          • #14
                            Excellent Y-Block history, Ernie. I love and have a '55 Town Sedan. Yeah, they're a Fordor but at this time of my life, a Fordor suits me even more than a tudor.

                            I have a couple 'spare' Y-blocks in my garage, both unmolested but tired and old. One is a 272 with a Fordomatic. The other is a '59 292 with a 3-speed stick . I never separated the transmissions on either.

                            I'm running an overhauled 292 in our '59 Galaxie because that's the stock engine. It's strong with the 3-speed C-O-M but still under 300 cubes and underpowered for such a huge car. The '55 wears a 390/C6. I do like it better than the Y's because parts are more available and as such they are less expensive. It also has a roller cam, etc. The old saying holds true: There's no replacement for displacement. - 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


                            • #15
                              One thingís for sure, Dave: we bleed Ford blue.

                              I have a slightly beefed up 272 sitting on a stand, done and ready to run.
                              Itís a bagged up long block at this time, but is slated for my 53 Vicky.
                              That carís a bit of a long term Ďvisionaryí Project for me. I dropped it onto a rebuilt stock 54 frame and that puffed up Y will make her run. I have a 56 Vicky roof that Iím transplanting on it and I hope to make it a stock looking mild custom. Something thatíll get purists scratching their heads and thinking ďHenry should have built thatĒ.
                              But I expect itíll flatout fly if i donít run out of time on earth first.