Jim Smart
April 30, 2014

Heads Up…

Although a wide variety of factory iron head castings exist for FE engines, in truth there isn't much difference between them. Most FE heads have 2.04/1.55-inch intake/exhaust valve sizes with slight variations in port and chamber size. The 428 Cobra Jet cylinder head, as one example, is virtually identical to the 427 Low Riser casting—and this is what Bob Tasca plucked off the shelf when he was developing the KR-8 (Cobra Jet) for his own Mustang in 1967. The 428 Cobra Jet was born from off-the-shelf 427 parts mostly coupled with the torque advantage that comes from the 428's increased stroke. Tasca saw the advantage in the 428's stroke topped with 427 Low Riser heads (2.09/1.66-inch intake/exhaust), a hot hydraulic flat tappet cam, and the 428 Police Interceptor intake manifold. The Cobra Jet was born to make lots of torque, which made it perfect for drag racing.

Scouting for the right FE cylinder head calls for a good in depth knowledge of Ford casting and part numbers. George Reid’s High Performance Ford Engine Parts Interchange book (SA56) from CarTech Books is a good place to start. It enables you to paw through dozens of FE head castings with a good chance of finding the right casting for your FE project.

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Before you are the three basic FE cylinder head types explained by author George Reid. From the bottom up are the 427 High Riser, Medium Riser, and Low Riser. The 428 Cobra Jet cylinder head is on par with the 427 Low Riser. A better head is the 427 Medium Riser; which is a great compromise between Low Riser and High Riser. The High Riser is a racing cylinder head not suitable for street use.

An important consideration in your search for FE cylinder heads in a Mustang is 14-bolt (right) versus 8-bolt (left) exhaust flange. Because shock tower clearances are tight in Ford compacts and intermediates like the Mustang and Fairlane, this calls for the 14-bolt 390GT or 16-bolt CJ/aftermarket flange cylinder head.
It is strongly suggested you opt for friction reducing modifications like a roller tappet cam and roller rockers, which frees up power via friction reduction. Although cost is significant, what you gain in power can be measured in double digits.
This is the 427 M/R 4V manifold from Blue Thunder, which offers the benefits of a good dual-plane manifold, yet comes on strong at high rpm. The Blue Thunder 427 M/R is a nice reproduction of Ford’s 427 Medium Riser with a lot of nice refinements. Blue Thunder’s dual-plane manifold is actually based off of the Ford Police Interceptor intake, comes with either the 428 Cobra Jet (IM-428CJ-4V) or 427 Medium Riser (IM-427M/R-4V ports and are good all-around great performers.
Our man Stan Johnson at Ford Powertrain Applications (FPA) has always made header fit and quality his highest priority, which is why we like these headers for FE big-blocks. This is the Tri-Y long-tube header for a FE in a Mustang from FPA. These guys wind tight and close in to the side of the FE big-block making fit a non-issue. What’s more, restriction is minimal with excellent scavenging qualities.


New FE Blocks

When we received the call from Bear Block Motors (BBM) announcing the arrival of its new reproduction 427 cross-bolt side-oiler blocks, it was like an answer from heaven. We anticipated another high dollar all-aluminum FE block few could afford, but that's not what we saw. Imagine an all-new 427 cross-bolted, side-oiler iron or aluminum block with casting and machining quality way beyond anything Ford did in the 1960s. This is not marketing hype, but cold hard iron or aluminum virtually identical to what Ford was producing back in the day.

What makes the new 427 block better is vastly improved technology and a high-standard casting technique for starters. The BBM FE 427 block is cast with high tensile diesel grade iron with a super thick .750-inch deck. Siamese cylinder walls allow you to bore to 4.440-inches. Out of the box, bores are 4.245-inches, to be finish honed to 4.250-inches. An optional 4.150-inch bore will be available for the 428 crowd. Cross-bolted main caps are a perfect interference fit amid the block skirts without spacers. Locating dowels in the main saddles “lock” the forged and heat-treated 8620 steel main caps in place.

Down under are heavier, thicker main webs and pan rails for superior strength. What's more, these redesigned FE blocks accept both FE and Cleveland main bearings, which gives you a wider choice of performance bearings. Water jackets are cast solid, right up to the bottom of lower core plugs, to maximize cylinder strength and support. You may use standard ARP FE head bolts or studs. Main oil gallery passages are larger than the factory originals for increased oil volume. These BBM FE iron blocks tip the scales at 250 pounds. Prices have not yet been announced.

The FE block from BBM is a near spot-on reproduction of Ford’s legendary 427 cross-bolted, side-oiler introduced in 1965 that won Le Mans. The difference between then and now is outstanding casting technique and high quality with all the right casting numbers and the “352” where you expect to see it. Study these cast surfaces and you will see the difference between Ford and today’s closer attention to detail. What makes the BBM FE 427 block better are these cross-valley ribs providing extraordinary strength where it is needed the most. Find us a factory 427 with this kind of support. Lifter bores are oil galley fed for hydraulic lifters.
What makes the BBM FE 427 block better are these cross-valley ribs providing extraordinary strength where it is needed the most. Find us a factory 427 with this kind of support. Lifter bores are oil galley fed for hydraulic lifters.


New FE Aluminum Block

BBM is producing an FE aluminum block for just $1,200 more than the iron that weighs just 125 pounds. Made from virgin high-density aluminum using the best casting technique in the world, the BBM aluminum 427 is a dry sleeve block, and sports centrifugally spun, high tensile strength, nodular iron flanged sleeves. Maximum bore is 4.320-inches, with decks finished to 10.155-inches. All this block needs is finish honing and you are good to go.

The 428 Cobra Jet cylinder head, as one example, is virtually identical to the 427 Low Riser casting—and this is what Bob Tasca plucked off the shelf when he was developing the KR-8 (Cobra Jet) for his own Mustang in 1967.

Meet the new FE aluminum block from BBM weighing in at 125 pounds. Maximum bore size is 4.320-inches. Because this casting looks a lot like the iron original, it can be painted, which maintains a factory demeanor while weighing as little as a small-block.
Like the BBM iron FE block, the aluminum is plenty beefy with ribs designed into the valley for incredible strength.
Oil galleries are drilled through the lifter bores for hydraulic lifters and look at the size. You get larger oil galleys for healthy volume.
Interference fit forged steel main caps with ARP studs and locating dowels give the BBM block extraordinary strength down under.


Cylinder Head Duo From BBM

Bear Block Motors introduces its new FE aluminum cylinder head for 390, 427, and 428 big-blocks with 2.150/1.680-inch intake/exhaust valves with lightweight 11⁄32-inch stems. Combustion chambers are engineered for optimum swirl and quench right out of the box. Intake ports offer 295-plus cfm. Exhaust ports yield 225-plus cfm of flow. High-swirl/high-quench chambers allow for more aggressive ignition timing on today's more unforgiving pump gas. Also available are CNC-ported FE aluminum heads with 2.25/1.71-inch valves, which calls for 4.230-inch minimum bore size. Expect to see 355-plus cfm intake and 250-plus cfm from these CNC-ported pieces.

Check out these high-swirl/high-quench 72cc chambers sporting 2.25/1.71-inch valves and 11/32-inch stems/guides. The BBM heads provide the FE with sophisticated chamber technology not seen before in this engine’s history enabling extraordinary power gains on pump gas. These valve seats have not yet been machined.
Intake ports are right-sized at 355-plus cfm (CNC-ported heads) for both high-end horsepower and low to mid-range torque, especially if you’re running more stroke and huffing 430-500ci. The CNC heads are really designed for the 427 block-based 482-530ci guys while the 295-plus cfm ports are for the smaller bore 390-462ci builds.
On the exhaust side, the BBM CNC-ported aluminum head flows a whopping 250-plus cfm with exhaust flanges compatible for Ford compacts and intermediates and full-size. Restriction is absolutely minimal, offering flow freedom like never before.


Additional Sources
Blue Oval Performance Engineering
(303) 762-8298
blueovalperf@gmail.com