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  #1  
Old 10-03-2013, 08:41 PM
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Default 390 Build from Scratch

I have been absent for a while. I finally have my 65 landau tore to the bone, even the block. i was wondering if any of you gear heads have some insight or even some suggestions on what i am looking for. I want to build this 390 to be efficient on fuel for the sunday cruise, perhaps the route 66 someday, as well as kick some butt when i stomp that pedal down. Currently have the original c-6 tranny rebuilt with a 2500 torque converter. Can anyone give me some ideas on what type of cam, lifters, rear gears, heads, exaust system to go with? Since you all know it is a heavy car, what would be the right set up to make sure we can enjoy a sunday drive as well as a warp speed if needed? Thanks everyone!!
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:41 PM
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What's your budget?
Look what modern engines use:
EFI, oxygen sensors, EGR, MAF sensor and throttle position sensor.
Roller Cam
Roller Timing Chain set
Aluminum heads and intake.

This is an effort to produce as much HP at the least weight because we go by horsepower:weight ratio.

Aluminum offers another advantage, much better heat transfer than cast iron. Better heat transfer allows for higher compression ratio without ping or knock.

A carb cannot offer 14.7:1 air to fuel ratio very consistently. Consequently, we burn on the rich side to help lower heat and to prevent preignition.

I recommend you do the aluminum and roller cam, but they're not cheap. Edelbrock makes Performer RPM heads and intake manifold and Comp Cams offers a nice roller with Morel hydraulic roller lifters. Right out the box we're over $2,000 without machining costs. That will allow for the use of modern engine oil and great heat resistance, but the carb will not unleash the true HP hidden inside. You need EFI for that.

We can talk about supercharging or nitrous, but in a more practical sense, wouldn't it be much cheaper to use a Mustang engine? It already has all the goodies and it comes cheap. Another great choice is the Ford Lightening 351W engine with Edelbrock heads will get you 400 HP.

If I wanted to keep an FE in my Tbird, the 390 would be my choice. If engine type doesn't matter I would employ a modern choice. - Dave
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  #3  
Old 10-04-2013, 04:07 PM
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Im not to worried about budget as i am going to take my sweet time building it. I want to keep the FE in the OL Buzzard and i would like to stay away from any extra computing and wiring that i have too. I want to keep as much stock wiring as i can but use the carb and provide as much horse power as i can with what i have. let me know what you think.
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:27 PM
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Ok, FE it is! The 390 is a perfect choice to build because parts are everywhere and they are less expensive than 352 parts (because of demand).

I think you should pick a very good engine machine shop. Now that your block is bare, have the machine shop 'dip' it and magnaflux it for cracks. If they find any, there isn't any point in going farther. If it checks out have them measure for proper size pistons, order the pistons, then bore and hone to the new piston size. Modern engines use moly rings and hypereutectic alloy pistons (and so do I).

The block decks need to be skinned, oil modifications need to be hand-done, small welch plugs need to be tapped and plugged, and I suggest you use brass core plugs.

Have your engine machine shop check the wrist pin bushings in the connecting rods. If they need to be replaced, now's the time. The large end usually needs to be honed so it's round again.

The crankshaft will need to be carefully scrutinized for bearing wear, taper, egg-shape, score marks, etc. The machine shop should do this, then order main and rod bearings to match the new crank diameters.

Each piston needs to be weight-matched. Each connecting rod end needs to be weight-matched. Then when they are together, they need to be weight-matched, again.

Now that you know the weights of the piston (with wrist pin and keepers), rings and rods, it's time to get the crankshaft dynamically balanced. Again, talk with your engine machine shop.

If the new pistons are heavier than stock (because they are bigger), Mallory metal must be inserted into your crankshaft counterweights. Then, the proper bob-weights can be used to simulate piston weight during the crankshaft balance procedure.

When you get your parts back, the block should be thoroughly washed of all chips, the new cam bearings should be properly installed and all the oil gallery and brass core plugs should be installed.

I didn't talk about head machining because I think you should buy a set of Edelbrock FE heads. They already come with proper stainless valves, hardened seats, bronze guides, Viton seals and new springs. They're also perfectly flat. Buy the matching Edelbrock manifold. Together, they save about 100-lbs in weight over your front tires.

As a side note, any time you do a major overhaul it's up to you to check clearances. This isn't like throwing oem replacement parts at an existing setup. Everything here is different including your cam and piston/valve timing/clearances. I don't foresee problems but you still need to check your clearances. If you don't, bad things can happen causing expensive mistakes.

You need to pick a roller cam grind to match your requirements. Then pick a set of hydraulic roller lifters, true roller timing chain set, HV oil pump w/ driveshaft, and start putting it together. Your pushrods will be about 1/2" shorter so they need to be measured and ordered. Depending on the cam's composition, you may need a different distributor gear.

This should be enough to keep you busy for now. - Dave
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  #5  
Old 10-05-2013, 12:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 420xrated View Post
I have been absent for a while. I finally have my 65 landau tore to the bone, even the block. i was wondering if any of you gear heads have some insight or even some suggestions on what i am looking for. I want to build this 390 to be efficient on fuel for the sunday cruise, perhaps the route 66 someday, as well as kick some butt when i stomp that pedal down. Currently have the original c-6 tranny rebuilt with a 2500 torque converter. Can anyone give me some ideas on what type of cam, lifters, rear gears, heads, exaust system to go with? Since you all know it is a heavy car, what would be the right set up to make sure we can enjoy a sunday drive as well as a warp speed if needed? Thanks everyone!!
There is only 1 way this will ever happen for you!!!

Either Gear vendor or a AOD conversion!

Stepping on the loud pedal in a Thunderbird of this era and having it actually move out will require a 445 stroker kit, A set of Aluminum heads " Unless you invest 1.5 x the amount in a set of iron heads like I did " a comp roller cam and a good 850 quick Fuel carb and a set of headers. Now you are as fast as a stock 2013 V6 mustang! LOL

To get some fuel mileage out of this set-up with a set of 350 gears you now need a overdrive to drop the RPM's down at cruising speeds.

Remember its a 4000 Barge with a FE in it, it isnt a 3200 lb mustang with a 385 series 514 in it.

I have about as good a set-up as one is going to get in a 60' Thunderbird and Fuel Mileage isnt even a consideration! So you get 1 or the other and not both without a AOD!
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:32 AM
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Great advice guys. I was think cam wise 290 .510 lift both intake and ex, 112 lobe sep, perhaps Rhodes variable lifters. What do you guys think of a good sounding but mild cam? What do u guys know of these rhoads lifters?
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:05 AM
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Great advice guys. I was think cam wise 290 .510 lift both intake and ex, 112 lobe sep, perhaps Rhodes variable lifters. What do you guys think of a good sounding but mild cam? What do u guys know of these rhoads lifters?
I have not heard any of the performance guys running them so I have nothing to report there, I personally would run a 270H and a set of Hydraulic flat taps and be done with it! The lobe sep is 110 and will have a bit lumpier sound if memory serves me right they are a 519 lift and a 224 duration @ .050.
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Old 10-05-2013, 04:20 AM
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You can do flat tappets but modern oil isn't suited for it without adding ZDDP.

FE engines were engineered to run on fuel that we no longer have and oil that we no longer have. Take a page from today's engines and try to incorporate all the modern technology you can. We learned a few new things in the past fifty years.

FEs only lasted 80-100,000 miles if they were maintained well. Today's engines last 250,000 miles, or something is terribly wrong. Today's materials are far superior even though some things remained the same. For instance, new cars from at least the 1940s to present, are delivered with DOT-3 brake fluid. We now have Silicone, Viton, radial tires and a host of plastics I never heard of. Nothing on a Squarebird was made of aluminum except a few ornaments. It was either steel, iron or pot metal.

"Performance" can mean many things. Are we going for the long run or are we going out in a mushroom cloud of glory? Mind you, these are classic cars, able to get looks and smiles just driving by on cruise nite, not race cars.

I like stump-pulling low end with good city performance. For that kind of performance, I recommend a Comp Cams XR270HR. This is a hydraulic roller cam with lobe separation of 110 and duration of 218/224 @ .050". - Dave
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Old 10-05-2013, 04:36 PM
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I am looking for a nice cruiser with a little muscle behind the stop. I guess i want a nice mid range performance. Im not looking to race this at all. Good deep sound with out having to keep an idle in a parking lot. i want to to calm down low and high but be mean in the middle. does this make sense?
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 420xrated View Post
I am looking for a nice cruiser with a little muscle behind the stop. I guess i want a nice mid range performance. Im not looking to race this at all. Good deep sound with out having to keep an idle in a parking lot. i want to to calm down low and high but be mean in the middle. does this make sense?
I'm not quite sure what you mean.

When a car comes off the assembly line, Ford has no idea what kind of service the engine will endure. So, the cam grind offers the best overall and all around performance. In other words, the engine works well going to the neighborhood store or cross-country interstate vacations. It also performs well in Florida or Minnesota. Depending on your location and your type of driving, you can tune for more specific altitude and type of driving.

For instance, the cheapest way to get huge torque at low end, is to change the ring and pinion gears for about $300. A host of ratios are available for personal preference. I like high ratio gears like 3.90:1, 4.10:1, and 4.30:1. With a 4.30, you'll be in second gear within fifteen feet at the light but the tires break free immediately and they keep spinning through the gear change. Top speed for a three speed trans is around 70 mph.

A more reasonable choice is 3.55:1 or 3.73:1. Both greatly improves OEM torque at the light but the car will still go 100 mph.

Now let's talk about engine torque curve... This is determined by cam grind. Racers run their engines at high rpm most all the time. Cruisers (and city drivers) run at low rpms most all the time. Mid range is good with either.

If you are building a 'cruiser', good for mostly city driving but still good for the occasional interstate trip, use the cam I suggested earlier and a 3.73 rear end gear. I would also advance the cam by four degrees for even better low-mid range torque. The sound is right, launch is super, and if you pare 100 lbs off by using aluminum heads and intake, your Tbird will be really fun to drive. Also, replace those useless OEM anti-sway bars with good 1-1/8" sway bars in front AND rear. - Dave
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