Ford Mustang Short-Block Engine Rebuild - Recession Special Part 3
Our Bare-Bones 302 Buildup Wraps Up With Its Installation And Dyno Test.
From the November, 2008 issue of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
By Steve Baur
Photography by Dave Young, Steve Baur
Over the course of the last two months, we've been rebuilding a mild-mannered 302ci short-block for our daily commuter. It generally gets a full tank of 87-octane fout every third day due to our 80-plus-mile commute. That, and a desire for perfect driveability, were paramount in its redesign. Obviously, with these compromises, ultimate power can't be had, but we expect the fun factor to go up considerably, not to mention we won't have to listen to the engine knocking anymore.
In the Oct. '08 issue of MM&FF, we ended our "Recession Special" buildup missing some important parts of the engine that were keeping us from completely assembling the long-block. If you're performing this build with your one and only engine, it probably won't be a problem. However, we were using another core while we continued to drive our daily beater. Eventually we had to tear it down to retrieve things like the camshaft dowel pin, roller lifter dog bones, timing cover, and cylinder-head dowels. We had sourced a bunch of items from a Mustang shop or two, but they didn't have everything, so it was time to get dirty.
Your author spent two eight-hour days pulling the engine and transmission assembly by himself. Since he wasn't working on a flat rate, taking the occasional break to hydrate himself and clean the immense amount of grease from his hands occurred often. If your Mustang resembles the Exxon Valdez under the hood like ours did, you might want to head to the parts store and pick up a box of latex gloves. It's cheaper than buying bags of red rags and is much easier on the hands.
Dirty deeds done dirt cheap....
Dirty deeds done dirt cheap. Your author pulled the engine and pretty much rebuilt its replacement at home. You can do it, too.
Our drivetrain-and its home-were...
Our drivetrain-and its home-were loaded with a thick layer of grease and grime. Luckily, we have a parts washer at work, but don't be afraid to bust out the purple power and get to it. We did just that with the transmission.
There's Not only a lot of...
There's Not only a lot of heat damage on the stock flywheel, but there's also grease and grime inside the bellhousing and on the clutch fork.
Since we were on the verge of installing the new engine, we moved the long-block from our buddy Dave Young's shop to our home garage. Dave, along with Jason Combs, offered key information on this buildup, but now it was time to do the hard work. After pilfering one of our company engine hoists-we actually disassembled it and brought it home in the subject notchback Mustang-we pulled the oily 5.0 powerplant along with the transmission and disassembled everything. We removed the needed parts from the tired engine and completed our new bullet.
We planned to install the new engine the same way we removed the old one; that is, the engine and transmission as one unit. Before we did that, we cleaned the engine bay with some degreaser, pulled the wiring, scuffed the engine bay with an abrasive pad, wiped it down with brake-parts cleaner, and sprayed it with dark-blue enamel from the parts store. The transmission needed a full detail as well, as just about every gasket on the old engine was leaking. The rear main and rear intake manifold gaskets leaked so much that the inside of the bellhousing was completely slimed. Clutches like the ones used in 5.0 Mustangs don't really like lubrication, and it may have been the reason ours would occasionally slip. Given that we had some future power mods in store for the coupe, we opted to upgrade the clutch using Fidanza's new 2.1 clutch kit. Our stock flywheel was in really bad shape, so we replaced it with Fidanza's nodular iron flywheel.
After installing the engine and turning the key for the first time, we realized there was a humongous exhaust leak at the header collector where it met up with the midpipe. After investigating the issue, we found that the cone flange on the midpipe was coming in contact with the header bolt flanges on both headers. To solve this, we broke out our angle grinder and knocked off about a quarter inch of metal from the midpipe, and that seemed to do the trick. After that modification, the car started and ran pretty good. We then needed to set the fuel pressure, timing and TPS voltage. Base initial timing was set at 12 degrees, but we had to wait until we got the car to the dyno at HP Performance in Orange Park, Florida, before we could set the TPS and fuel pressure, as we didn't have the tools.
At this point, we headed to...
At this point, we headed to the parts store and purchased some supplies. Latex gloves are a whole lot easier than using abrasive soaps and a bagful of rags. Don't forget the Oil Dri for all of the spills and leaks that are looking to tarnish your fresh garage floor. Sealable sandwich bags will help you keep track of all the nuts and bolts.
We Couldn't stick our nice...
We Couldn't stick our nice and clean engine in a nasty engine bay, so we pulled the harnesses and such away from the fender aprons and repainted the bay with rattle-can enamel. It may be a shade or two off of the stock color, but with the engine back in the car, you don't even notice.
Getting back to finishing...
Getting back to finishing the engine, we installed the camshaft dowel pin and then the timing chain. The cam was installed straight up, which is fairly easy to do. Just line up the dots.
With fuel pressure set at 38 psi and TPS voltage set at 0.96 volt, we made our first dyno pull. Peak horsepower came in at 244 and torque twisted up to 290 lb-ft. We noticed there was a slight misfire; a replacement coil cleared up the issue and provided 247 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Keep in mind, we were running the car on its 87-octane diet. For the next pull, we switched to premium 93-octane fuel and added two more degrees of timing for 14 total at base. Power rose to 249 hp and torque stayed the same at 293.
About this time, we realized that the coolant system was being pressurized, and surmised that we had a damaged head gasket. While the air/fuel ratio looked great on the dyno, and no detonation was detected, we did have some problems with what we thought was air in the cooling system. The usual procedure when refilling a cooling system is to fill it and let it come up to operating temperature so the thermostat opens. Then you can fill the remainder of the system.
The ARP head studs are next,...
The ARP head studs are next, followed by the Ford Racing Performance Parts graphite gaskets and Thumper Performance cylinder heads. The top studs go into the water jackets, so use some sealer on the end.
The heads are torqued to 55...
The heads are torqued to 55 ft-lb, 65 ft-lb, and then 75 ft-lb. You'll need to take the longer studs up to 85 ft-lb. Be sure you follow the pattern, starting from the inner bolts and working your way outward.
To assemble the FRPP 1.6:1...
To assemble the FRPP 1.6:1 roller rocker arms, insert the pedestal in the tray and then add the rocker and bolt. Then you can bolt them down on the heads following the directions provided in the kit.
Modular cars are far more susceptible to air bubbles in the system, and we thought we had ours taken care of, but the first long drive had us mildly concerned about the temp reading. A subsequent refill and about 20 minutes of idling said everything was OK, but the load that the road and dyno puts on the engine is what made the gasket vent to the cooling system. After contemplating the issue, we came to the conclusion that your author had not properly torqued down the ARP head studs. He had followed the factory torque specs at 72 ft-lb on all bolts. ARP expects you to torque the short studs to 75 ft-lb and the long studs to 85 ft-lb. The long studs run along the top, and that's exactly where the gasket failed.
In the end, we spent over $3,700 on this rebuild, but we did use some items and replaced a few others that you might not need. Without those pieces, the build price tumbles to a hair over $2,400-very doable in this day and age. Horsepower and torque are respectable and should make this Pony gallop a little faster. Whether or not the 2 hp is worth 20 cents extra per gallon is up to you. Given the long commute our project car has each day, the horsepower isn't worth the extra money. That may change, however, as we're looking to install a budget-conscious, intercooled turbo system.
With the heads now installed,...
With the heads now installed, we gave everything a couple of coats of cast-iron engine enamel.
We wanted to install as much...
We wanted to install as much as we could on the engine before installing it, as you might as well let the engine hoist do the work for you. We just couldn't see reinstalling the cheesy stock headers, so we called Brothers Performance Warehouse for a set of frugally priced 15/8-inch shorty headers. They come in a variety of finishes, but with this being a budget build, we opted for the high-temp black coating.
If we were going to leave...
If we were going to leave the car as is, Fidanza's new 1.0 Mustang clutch kit would have been fine and saved us a bit of money. However, we have some higher-horsepower plans in the works and opted for the 2.1 version, along with the nodular iron flywheel.
|Perfect Circle Piston Rings||$78.42|
|Mahle/Clevite Rod Bearings||$33.44|
|Mahle/Clevite Main Bearings||$34.72|
|Mahle/Clevite Oil Pump||$22.99|
|Crane Cam kit||$275.00|
|Crane Timing Chain||$101.97|
|Thumper Cylinder Heads||$695.00|
|Freeze Plugs ||$6.95|
|Summit Racing Roller Lifters||$100.00|
|FRPP Cobra Intake||$404.95|
|Professional Products TB||$119.99|
|BPW Exhaust Headers||$109.99|
|ARP 7/16 Head Studs||$87.95|
|FRPP Gasket Kit||$82.95|
|FRPP One-Piece Oil-Pan Gasket||$18.88|
|FRPP Harmonic damper||$64.95|
|Misc. Shop Supplies||$39.81|
|Oils, Filters, Plugs, and so on||$123.52|
|Milodon Oil Pan||$399.95|
|Milodon Windage Tray||$49.95|
|Windage Installation Kit||$32.95|
|Milodon Oil Pickup||$69.95|
|FRPP Roller Rockers||$329.95|
|Fidanza Clutch Pack||$253.00|
Don't go through the trouble...
Don't go through the trouble of a new engine build and reuse the stock water pump and/or thermostat. At $31, it's well worth it to install a new one now than to spend the down time hanging over the fenders replacing it later. We set the FRPP Cobra lower intake manifold into place using the Fel-Pro 1250 gaskets included in the FRPP gasket kit. Leave the upper manifold off until you get the engine in the car. It's easier to hook the hoist up to it that way.
With the drivetrain back in...
With the drivetrain back in the car and connected to its chassis, we only had to fill the fluids and set the timing, fuel pressure, and TPS. The Professional Products 65mm throttle body (pictured) we chose has a swivel base for the TPS sensor, which allows easy adjustment of the voltage.
Installing the transmission...
Installing the transmission can be a pain in the rear, especially when it stops a quarter inch from the bellhousing. Once the assembly is in the car, connect the clutch cable and have someone depress it. This usually allows the transmission to slide the rest of the way in. Since that wasn't an option for us, we used a C-clamp to release the clutch and the transmission popped in.
On 93 octane and 14 degrees...
On 93 octane and 14 degrees of initial timing, our little notchback pounded out 249 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. We didn't want to risk running the stock motor for a baseline as it was knocking, but most stock 5.0, five-speed cars make about 190 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. That's a pretty healthy improvement, especially considering that you could run this combo on 87-octane fuel and only lose two or three ponies in the process.
Though our project ended up...
Though our project ended up lunching a head gasket in a short amount of time, we'd still call our first engine build a success. It runs a lot smoother, and provides plenty of oil pressure and good power. That's just what we were looking for from our daily commuter, and we did it without breaking the bank.
As you can see from the datalogger,...
As you can see from the datalogger, our 19-lb/hr fuel injectors are at max duty cycle, and the stock mass air meter is about to call it quits as it nears 4.5 volts. We'll be upgrading these next month in a budget article that's sure to build some boost.