The release of the Edelbrock aluminum cylinder head was key to the mainstream resurgence of the FE engine. While not a watershed design, it is a well-engineered and good-quality part that addressed the market need for a replacement, as the number of economically repairable original parts dwindled. The various Edelbrock heads share a common casting with differences in machining and installed components. The basic head has remained essentially unchanged over its entire production run, with only minor alterations in machining.
The intake port design and gasket face are essentially medium-riser inspired. Most of the factory intakemanifolds can be made to work, as can most aftermarket intakes that are designed for 427 medium-riser or 390/428 CJ applications. The exhaust side is offered with either the 428 CJ 16-bolt pattern or the traditional 8-bolt vertical pattern, but the castings are identical. Exhaust port and bolt patterns are at the higher FE factory position.
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Combustion-chamber choices are either a nominal “as cast” 72 cc or a machined 76 cc simple wedge. Valve sizing on the complete assemblies are 428 CJ-derived 2.09 inches for the intake and 1.65 inches for the exhaust. The valves and valve job delivered on the assembled version of the Edelbrock head are functional replacements for a 428 CJ with 3/8-inch stems, a 30-degree singleangle intake seat, and a 45-degree exhaust seat.
Valve positions were altered slightly to allow clearance and “bolton” use on the base 4.050-inch-bore 390 engines. Rocker mounting is with the standard FE four 3/8-inch- 16 fasteners. The factory parts will work—although minor shimming of the rocker arms may be required to accommodate the aforementioned valve-position change. Spark plugs are the smaller 5/8-inch hex, 14-mm 3/4-inch reach design.
In “as delivered” condition, the assembled Edelbrock head represents a good value for the street-oriented enthusiast. Performance is slightly better than a 428 Cobra Jet cylinder head, coupled with better availability and a cost that is reasonably close to the price of repairing and upgrading aged factory castings. Equally important, these heads can be significantly upgraded and extensively modified for high-performance street use and track duty.
As delivered, Edelbrock heads support a street-driven 390 or 428 up to around 450 hp before becoming a constraint. With larger valves, a modest amount of work to the valve bowls, and a professional multi-angle valve job they will suffice to beyond 500 hp. The 390-based engines do not accommodate a larger exhaust valve, but a 2.200-inch-diameter intake does clear. Extensive port work delivers a head capable of supporting a 482-ci engine with more than 600 hp.
Written by Barry Robotnik and Republished with Permission of CarTech Inc