Before getting started I’d like to quote a simple statement that, in my experience, will make this and any other automotive job an easier, more pleasant, and rewarding undertaking for you: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
When deciding your degree of involvement in your engine rebuild, consider two things: first, the time and expense of having someone else perform all the work and, second, the satisfaction of being directly responsible for a job well done. A word of caution here: While I’m as entertained as the next red-blooded American male by Hollywood’s rendition of engine rebuilding and automotive restoration, there is little resemblance between what you see on the flat screen and what awaits you out in the garage. In the real world, the task of removing, rebuilding, and replacing the engine in your car or truck cannot be accomplished in an hour and will result in you getting a tad dirtier and being a bit more challenged than the guys on your favorite automotive show.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, HOW TO REBUILD BIG-BLOCK FORD ENGINES. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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Engines are rebuilt for various reasons, ranging from noticeable loss of power and efficiency due to high mileage (just plain worn out), to the quest for more power (you want to go faster). In a worst-case scenario, a rebuild may be necessary due to failure of internal engine components (you don’t have much choice). Whatever the reason, you have decided to proceed with removing and rebuilding your engine. But before the first wrench is turned or the first knuckle skinned, there are questions to be answered and logistics to be arranged.
First, to what level do you want to take this rebuild? Keep in mind that there are various types or levels of rebuild from just freshening it up with new piston rings and bearings throughout to the modifications required for all-out competition.
The purpose of this book is to cover all aspects of an engine rebuild, focusing on stock but also featuring high-performance modifications. The term “stock rebuild” refers to restoring the engine to factory specifications using new original or correct replacement components in order to restore power and efficiency.
The next level on the rebuild continuum consists of internal modifications that allow the engine to retain a factory appearance while providing improvements in performance and reliability.
Last but not least is the dedicated performance buildup that not only includes aftermarket internal parts and modifications, but also external changes from oil pan to air cleaner.
The logistics and the support required to successfully complete the project are also important considerations in any engine rebuild project. So let’s get started planning our work in order to work our plan.
Know your subject, read, and ask questions. By reading this book in advance of beginning your rebuild, you will gain insight into the task at hand, know what steps to follow, the tools and services that will be required, and recognize the differences between the Lima series engines and others.
While accomplishing a successful rebuild relying on a handy tree limb for a hoist and the dirt floor of an old chicken coop for an assembly room is probably stretching it, many fine running engines, including some used in all-out competition, have been assembled in the home shop. Experience has taught me that a clean, well-lit workplace is of the utmost importance when assembling an engine. And the degree to which you choose to outfit your home shop will directly affect the ease with which the task at hand will be accomplished. But keep in mind that a garage full of woodworking tools won’t take you too far in automotive applications.
The phrase “may be installed with common hand tools,” is routinely encountered in the directions that accompany parts (and yes, it’s probably a good idea to read them before proceeding). Suffice it to say that a home shop that is well stocked with high-quality hand tools is a great place to start when rebuilding an engine. When I say quality tools, I’m not advocating you flag down the nearest Snap-On truck and hand over your credit card, but by the same token, the tools in the 99- cent bin at your local homeimprovement emporium are definitely not a good choice. Over the years I have had great luck with Craftsman tools and in terms of quality for the price and availability they can’t be beat.
I would recommend buying a good floor jack and jack stands, as they are not only necessary for the task at hand but will ultimately prove useful for a great many home auto repairs. And while a hoist, engine stand, and certain other specialized tools will be required for your rebuild, it isn’t always necessary to purchase them outright. Many auto parts stores will rent you what you need and, of course, being acquainted with someone who has a well-equipped home shop doesn’t hurt either. You should have at your disposal complete sets of ratchets, extensions and sockets, both standard and deep, in 3/8- and 1/2-inch drive, a quality torque wrench, a full assortment of screw drivers, hex tools, punches and drifts, and combination wrenches in sizes from 1/4- to 11⁄4-inch at the very least. Hammers of various types and a pry bar or two will come in very handy as well. Also, the luxury of an air compressor and pneumatic tools it will make the job easier and quicker to accomplish.
There are some special tools that aren’t very expensive and will be very helpful during the rebuild, and therefore should be considered for purchase. Simple tools such as a ring compressor, ring filer, ring expander, vacuum gauge, timing light, remote starter switch (especially handy for vintage Fords like ours), and others will not only make the job easier, but will be handy to have for future rebuilds as well.
Machine Shop Services
When it comes to choosing a machine shop for my Ford engine rebuilds, I have three hard and fast rules that I hope don’t come across as too elitist. Rule Number One: I look around the shop and see no engines with front-mounted distributors, I’m gone. I firmly believe that the idiosyncrasies of certain Ford engines require a machinist with experience in these areas to get things just right. For example, some time back I purchased an FE series cylinder block for a car I’m restoring and while examining work that a previous owner had performed, I noticed that the core plug at the back of the camshaft gallery had been improperly installed. Had the engine been assembled this way it would have allowed the camshaft to “walk” in the block, possibly leading to catastrophic failure.
Which brings me to Rule Number Two: When working on an FE series (332-428) engine, I prefer to see a little gray hair in the shop. This increases the possibility of the individual having been born while this engine series was still in production (1958 to the early 1970s), which means he may have actually seen one of these beasts in person.
Rule Number Three: When considering a performance buildup, I insist on contracting with a shop that has an established reputation for building Ford engines. Many accepted procedures for wringing more power out of, dare I say, a Chevrolet engine are totally different than those applied to Fords and in some cases actually detrimental. On more than one occasion I have seen rare and valuable 427 Ford cylinder blocks that have had their deck surfaces excessively milled (a common procedure used to increase compression on certain General Motors blocks), which resulted in the owner having to purchase custom-made pistons and pay for additional machining processes to restore the engine’s geometry.
It’s always been a little harder to find high-quality parts for Ford engines, with the exception of the modern small-block V-8s. Therefore, a reliable source of quality parts is a must before undertaking your rebuild. In this book I will cover three Ford engine series, none of which has been in production for years. As a result, I can almost guarantee that if you were to inquire about even some of the most common pieces for your Lima, Cleveland, or FE series Ford engine in an average auto parts chain, you’ll be met with a blank stare from the eighteen-year-old behind the computer. Personally, I look for an old-time, established auto parts store, where I am likely to encounter employees with years of experience, a willingness to help, and access to actual parts catalogs—not just a computerized inventory.
Written by Charles R. Morris and Republished with Permission of CarTech Inc