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  #1  
Old 04-04-2018, 09:05 PM
Ficinator Ficinator is offline
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Default Trustworthy 430 Rebuilder?

Hello all, I have a 59 Bird that takes a 430. I have the engine & I was going to rebuild it myself originally, but I have decided against it after learning of the amount of machining that goes into it. My main question is, are there any reputable/trustworthy 430 rebuilders? Through googling, I have found Barnett High Performance in Michigan, however I have seen a few less than "decent" reviews. I understand everyone ends up with a bad customer every now & then but, I don't want to risk anything with this engine. Is there a base price range I should be at for this?


Part 2: when I finally get this rebuilt, what do I need to make sure is done to the engine so that I can run unleaded fuel in it? Are hardened valve seats the only necessary part, or is there more?

Thank you in advance,

Giacinto
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  #2  
Old 04-04-2018, 11:01 PM
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Giacinto, the 430 MEL is a very expensive engine to rebuild properly. I say, 'properly' because it has domed pistons that are not on shelves. Consequently, the block MUST be taken down to 'bare' and all castings Magnaflux-ed. Machining begins only if the castings are good.

So, what size pistons do we need? The machine shop will make that call after measuring the bores, then the pistons will be ordered. We hone cylinders to the true piston size. That's why the pistons need to be there at the machine shop before final honing and brushing.

Here is the expensive part: 430 pistons, being domed, come in right hand (set of 4) and left hand (set of 4). They must be special ordered and can take months to make. Wisco and other piston companies manufacture special order pistons but they won't be cheap. The ballpark figure I get is somewhere around $1,400 per set. The heads must be machined for hardened exhaust seats and I would machine the valve stem towers to accept Viton seals. Then, a proper valve job and all mating surfaces need to be 'skinned' flat to eliminate pits and warping. Hardened exhaust seats with stainless valves allow unleaded gas to be burned.

The block needs to be tanked and baked, then machined (decked). Connecting rods need honing to make them round again and they need new bolts. I haven't talked about cam and lifter choices, roller timing chain set, brass freeze plugs, etc.

The oil pump hasn't been made in a very long time because it includes a vacuum pump on the bottom.

Honestly, I would rebuild an old tired 390 first. The FE engines are supported by aftermarket, making parts widely available and at attractive prices. You can build a 390 with aluminum heads and intake with more HP than the Bulldozer put out for a lot less money. - Dave
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:23 PM
Derbird Derbird is offline
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The first step is to find a machine shop that has heard of the engine and has worked on them. Aside from the extra piston cost, the rest of the rebuild should not cost any more than rebuilding a 390. Hardened valve seats should not be needed due to the high nickel content in the old blocks.
I have a 430 that I should be picking up in a week or so that has been completely rebuilt with the correct pistons, custom ground cam and new oil pump. Yes I spent more than I would have on a more common engine, but I have something that is much cooler and unique in my book.
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Old 04-05-2018, 02:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derbird View Post
The first step is to find a machine shop that has heard of the engine and has worked on them. Aside from the extra piston cost, the rest of the rebuild should not cost any more than rebuilding a 390. Hardened valve seats should not be needed due to the high nickel content in the old blocks.
I have a 430 that I should be picking up in a week or so that has been completely rebuilt with the correct pistons, custom ground cam and new oil pump. Yes I spent more than I would have on a more common engine, but I have something that is much cooler and unique in my book.
I respectfully disagree. The 430 MEL and the Chevrolet 409 both had blocks decked at an angle, making them low-production dinosaurs that parts are very hard to find. If you don't mind my asking, how much did you spend on your overhaul and, that price did NOT include hardened exhaust seats?

Unleaded gas arrived 20 years after 1960. These engines were designed and built for leaded gas. Here is a mild example of the affects from running unleaded gas in stock heads:



Receded valves cause hydraulic lifters to collapse and eventually will simply hold the valve open on the cam's base circle.

Ford's cast iron does not have a high nickel content and the valves are not in the block, they are in the heads.
Does your new oil pump include the vacuum pump or did they simply install an FE pump (which is commonly done since the OEM pump is not available). Block thermostats are long gone, too.

Finding a professional engine machine shop here (in Detroit) is not a problem. I use one that machines Duesenberg engines:

Click on the picture for their site.

I would estimate, a 390 rebuild will cost about half that of a 430. Yes, it's very cool to have a working 430 but parts are far too expensive IF you can find them at all. Most rebuilders use 'parts that work' but they end up not working very well.

By contrast, Edelbrock still makes 390 aluminum intake manifolds and heads that include all the goodies (stainless valves, hardened seats, bronze guides, Viton seals and helicoiled holes) at reasonable prices. After spending a lot of money machining cast iron heads, they still end up being cast iron. (Been there.) Aluminum allows compression ratios like those from the day because it transfers heat four times faster than cast iron. Unleaded gasohol doesn't do well in cast iron so most folks dial back on the ignition timing to avoid detonation. Using aluminum heads and intake manifold knocks off about 100 pounds. None of these aftermarket goodies are available for the 430. - Dave
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Old 04-05-2018, 02:28 PM
pbf777 pbf777 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyconnected View Post
I would estimate, a 390 rebuild will cost about half that of a 430. - Dave
I would respectfully have to disagree with this statement, but there are different perspectives and execution sums involved within the less than simple understanding of the rebuilding of the an engine definition.

This topic has been discussed within this forum previously, and the different perspectives are always appreciated, and yes, the MEL engine will incur greater component & labor costs and effort on the part of the owner to find a competent shop for such services, but please, not twice the price!

The only machining operation required in the case of the MEL in excess of the FE, which is not significant, is the cylinder boring "set-up" which is a little more complicated and may stump some individuals perhaps not familiar, and the additional step/relief bore at the top of the cylinders, and this is not a concern other than on the greater over-bores. All other machining operations are similar in their respective execution (specific dimensional values may vary of course).

As far as pistons, I'd be happy if I could collect $1400.00 for a set! But, although there are some unacceptable products being marketed relatively inexpensively, and perhaps one can invest in somewhat "over-the-top" pistons which can get expensive, one should actually anticipate spending significantly less than the $1400.00 mentioned.

As for the hardened exhaust seat topic, this is somewhat open to debate depending on application and environmental scenarios.

If the current seating surfaces are eroded to the point of their requirement then so be it. If the engine will see high use time and or particularly high load applications & elevated heat instances, probably a good idea to install the hardened seats.

But, for many an infrequently or non daily driven, low load cruiser, and particularly if the application is one of rarity as no one promises that the casting will survive the process (thou most do with reasonable due diligence), perhaps if the castings (seats) are in good shape, in my opinion it may prove rational to avoid the process in these instances.

Unfortunately, I am in Florida, and am unable to be of any assistance to you (Ficinator) on any reliable information on a rebuilder in another area. But the advise presented previously is good advise: find someone familiar with the subject at hand; and yes, Duesenbergs are great, whether from August & Fred or from Cord, but..........

Do not become intimidated by the MEL engine, it is somewhat unique to the T-Bird ("J"-code), and does provide a increased level of performance in relatively stock/production state comparisons. And, it's just !

Scott.
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Old 04-05-2018, 04:26 PM
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I would respectfully have to disagree with this statement, but there are different perspectives and execution sums involved within the less than simple understanding of the rebuilding of the an engine definition...
Thanks for the helpful information, Scott. What is your cheapest price for 430 pistons, where can we get them and what is the turnaround time? I gave a ballpark cost and a source. I didn't see that in your suggestion, so I am asking for more than generalities.

Part of the cost in a 430 build is the added time it takes to find this stuff because many of the parts are simply not around or they must be custom-made. Scott, where do you find the 430 OEM oil pump? Where can you buy in-block thermostats? Custom camshaft grinds cost more as well.

I gave a specific source for an excellent engine machine shop that is 'full service', meaning, you can drive your car in, have the engine rebuilt and drive it home when done and the price includes a full two-year warranty with an option to buy extended time on that warranty. I cited, they do Duesenberg engines because those are straight-eight cylinder blocks and not many machine shops have machines that will accommodate such a long engine. (BTW, Mike the owner, grew up with my wife's cousins.) Mike's machine shop has the tools to do 430 and 409 engines. This capability is SO significant, everyone is saying they can't find a good engine machine shop. Scott, what shop do you recommend and what is their phone number? Certainly, with the many thousands of Bulldozer engines installed in Lincolns, T-Birds and marine applications, you should have plenty of sources.

The purpose of an engine overhaul is to bring it back to its full glory. That means, full horsepower and full torque. A major part of the Bulldozer's performance is a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Now, we're feeding it unleaded gasohol that it was not engineered to run on.

I would expect ANY major overhaul would produce an engine that can be driven hard, with NO worries about receding valves. This problem isn't hearsay, I showed an example of a Ford head with a receded (but not burned) valves. Both heads were so bad I gave them to the sheeny-man for scrap metal. He was glad to have them and I was glad to chuck those useless dinosaurs.

All modern engines have hardened valve seats and alloy valves right from the factory, not because they are 'a good idea' but because they eliminate the possibility of valves welding themselves to the seats.

Engine overhauls should last as long as modern engines, about 250,000 miles, if done right and using proper parts. That's no problem for an FE with a roller cam, hypereutectic alloy pistons, moly rings, true roller timing set, new pump, aluminum heads and quality bearings and seals. All these FE parts are 'across the counter' and on the shelves, delivered in two days. BTW, they work well with regular 10W-30 oil, 10.5:1 compression ratio pistons and premium unleaded gasohol.

What is your solution to attain this goal for the 430 Mel? - Dave
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyconnected View Post
What is your cheapest price for 430 pistons, where can we get them and what is the turnaround time? I gave a ballpark cost and a source. I didn't see that in your suggestion, so I am asking for more than generalities.

Scott, where do you find the 430 OEM oil pump? Where can you buy in-block thermostats? Custom camshaft grinds cost more as well.

Scott, what shop do you recommend and what is their phone number?

The purpose of an engine overhaul is to bring it back to its full glory. That means, full horsepower and full torque.

I would expect ANY major overhaul would produce an engine that can be driven hard, with NO worries about receding valves.

Engine overhauls should last as long as modern engines, about 250,000 miles, if done right and using proper parts.- Dave

The cheapest price piston (or any other part) may not be the best choice or even applicable in all instances, but I'll respond that I can supply a quality custom forged (not cast) aluminum piston set (8) with crome-moly pins & spiro-locks, of the "correct" (mimic of F.L.M., within the confines of standard machining practice) dome configuration, for approx. $875.00 + frt.. Understand that these are custom made-to-order (not the cheapest), so a delivery time of 4 weeks +/- is required. And since they are "custom-made", no extra cost choices are available such as: bore size, machining for non O.E. ring stacks for special bore diameters & for perhaps more modern ring configurations, compression height, modified dome configuration (even greater than 10.5:1 mechanical/measured compression ratio?; note that excessive creativity will run the price up some), valve reliefs for non production camshaft profiles, etc. There are some options which will increase the price, but these don't fall under the enquiry. This is a quality component (unlike some "stuff") that I believe most any true engine builder would find more than acceptable, perhaps even "over-kill" in most instances.

Oil pumps are readily available as one alluded to previously, as the FE & MEL may use the same unit, however it is the vacuume pump mounted piggyback to the oil pump that is no longer in production, but do still show up at sites such as ebay etc. along with rebuild kits also. But in many instances, customers have already (or should) converted their wipers from vacuume to electric and the in the crankcase vac-pump is no longer needed anyway. But, they still seem to be available for the purist if need be, and yes, one of the extra costs of the MEL vs FE.

The in block thermostats were deleted by F.L.M. in later production, as excessive engineering, and are often if not already missing, deleted in the rebuild process.

O.E. spec. camshafts for the MEL are readily available, as are lifters, rocker arms, rocker shafts, and not excessively more money than an FE grind from a reputable supplier, but yes perhaps more money.

As far as one's expectations of what the purpose of, or what ones' perception of what they might receive, in an overhaul, may have many different perspectives depending on who one asks. And this is why each customer and the related contracted job is unique and should be addressed as such.

As far as I'm concerned, an engine component leaving our shop should be BETTER than when it left Ford, but we are, burdened with the fact that it is not new, and even though perhaps only the basic castings were retained (although remachined), they still do suffer from engineering and metallurgy of the period, and age and fatigue which we cannot reverse.

As far as what shop do I, or would I recommend? Well, I have attempted to not inject myself or shop into this, or any other forum (as many do) so as not to temper anyones' point of view that I'm here solely for the profit rather than the solely for the interest of the marque. But for further inquires, I can be reached at Powered By Ford, Inc @ 407-843-3673 between 10:00 AM est..

Questions?

Scott.
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbf777 View Post
...I can supply a quality custom forged (not cast) aluminum piston set (8) with crome-moly pins & spiro-locks, of the "correct" (mimic of F.L.M., within the confines of standard machining practice) dome configuration, for approx. $875.00 + frt.. Understand that these are custom made-to-order (not the cheapest), so a delivery time of 4 weeks +/- is required. And since they are "custom-made", no extra cost choices are available such as: bore size, machining for non O.E. ring stacks for special bore diameters & for perhaps more modern ring configurations, compression height, modified dome configuration (even greater than 10.5:1 mechanical/measured compression ratio?; note that excessive creativity will run the price up some), valve reliefs for non production camshaft profiles, etc. There are some options which will increase the price, but these don't fall under the enquiry. This is a quality component (unlike some "stuff") that I believe most any true engine builder would find more than acceptable, perhaps even "over-kill" in most instances...
I got excited with the first part. Then, with all your stipulations and restrictions, I cannot tell whether you can supply four-left hand and four-right hand pistons for $875.

I don't know what the rest of your paragraph means at all. Aftermarket pistons are normally over-sized, like +.030" because the block is bored as part of the overhaul. Aftermarket piston tops are normally lowered by about .020" to compensate for block decking and head machining. If you do Mustangs, you already know this is pretty much standard fare.

Nobody is looking for race components and they certainly don't need to be forged. A compression ratio of about 9.3:1 is probably more attractive than 10.5:1 for use with iron heads because the octane requirement is lower.

So, can you supply overhaul pistons? Is $875 the price? Do you have a picture of your product? Are these the same forged pistons that Barnett sells for the 430 MEL?

Let us know what you can do. - Dave
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:39 PM
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Did you ever notice, that some individuals, perhaps even as children, just don't get along in the sandbox!

But I do appreciate your responses (DAVE) as they are a perfect example of why I constantly advise individuals with a vested interest to have a face to face, one on one communication with whom they choose to contract services for, particularly if uninitiated on the subject, vs. third party intervention attempting to satisfy their whims.

And, in the spirit of attempting to aid ones' understanding, I stated:

"PISTON SET (8)", yes left & right

"CHOICES OF BORE SIZES, COMPRESSION HEIGHT & COMPRESSION RATIOS", meaning that if you wish +.030" overbore & -.020" compression height, and lower that std. compression, O.K.!

"FORGED ALUMINUM NOT CAST" (or HYPER-EXPLOSIVE....I MEAN HYPEREUTECTIC), well, somebody wants forged process material, or they wouldn't be selling them, and as for the needs...... well that's the part where one should communicate with their piston supplier or engine builder and come to an understanding within their application. And besides, maybe some just want a good steak vs. a Mickey-Ds' hamburger for dinner. Sometimes perhaps cheaper will do, but........!

"$875.00 + FREIGHT", Yep that's what I stated in the posting. I'm not sure if these fall under ones' terminology of an "overhaul" piston, but I did state that: "I BELIEVE MOST ANY TRUE ENGINE BUILDER WOULD FIND MORE THAN ACCEPTABLE, PERHAPS EVEN OVER-KILL IN MOST INSTANCES", something I don't believe would be the case for all of what I experienced as an "overhaul" or "rebuilder" product.

And, I'm not privy nor should be commenting on what others may be marketing, but I'll say, not.

It is impossible, for any one company, product or person to satisfy the needs of all, or even sometimes any, but for those with any true interest, we do offer, and have offered our machine shop & parts services for 35+ years in the engine rebuilding arena and are happy to assist if possible.

Questions?

Scott.
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:29 PM
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In any purchase, I am ever reminded of a very important phrase, caveat emptor: a principle in commerce: without a warranty the buyer takes the risk.

Product details are important in any transaction and if the deal isn't good I walk away. A $900 purchase makes 'caveat emptor' more important if more costs are required or if the product is useless to the buyer.

The purpose of piston height reduction is not to lower compression at all. It is to make sure the piston doesn't extend over the top of a freshly machined block deck, as stated. Lowering compression ratio can be accomplished a few ways. The easiest is by deepening valve clearance cuts.

There are more considerations, one is piston weight. If the replacement piston is too heavy, the crankshaft counterweights must also be heavier to compensate. How? Holes are drilled in the throws and mallory metal is welded-in before the crank can be dynamically balanced. Adding Mallory metal just added another hundred bucks. So, aftermarket pistons need to weigh about the same as the OEM pistons they replace. Yes, the new piston's diameter is larger but the height is also reduced. I've also bought 'reduced weight wrist pins' to keep the numbers down.

Every set of pistons must be 'weight-matched' as well. This is also commonly offered in piston sets because crankshaft balancing cannot be accomplished if the pistons are all different weights.

So, to 'get along in the sandbox', I'm naturally interested in the details of your offer so we're all on the same page. Nobody needs to plop down a grand only to realize that the product doesn't match the buyer's and seller's different ideas. As you said, these are custom made parts. Refunds are not an option and although a one-on-one personal appearance is the best approach, it isn't possible for most folks. Come on, we're talking about pistons. Most Bulldozer owners will only buy one set so the deal must satisfy everyone.

So far we have established, you can supply forged and domed 430 MEL pistons similar to OEM, in a set of both LH and RH, sized for a bored block, with a reduced height to compensate for block milling, and in OEM compression ratio or lower, including wrist pins and circlips. We still don't know if they weigh close to OEM or if you weight-match the set. I asked for pictures because it's important for customers who cannot be there to see the product before buying it. The price is $875+shipping. Is this accurate?

BTW, modern engines come with hypereutectic alloy pistons (including Mustangs) because forged isn't necessary in a naturally-aspirated engine. The forte of this alloy/composition is in heat transfer. Ford has used them for decades and I've never had one fail. Supercharged, turbocharged and NOS engines need forged pistons. - Dave
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