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Old 12-26-2011, 10:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

So I have a 1978 4x4 f150 with a 400 ci mill. 3.50 gears and everything else stock. (but everything works good, so no issues there).

I know my shortblock is in pretty good shape as it has 150-155 psi of cranking compression, and when I put new valve cover gaskets and intake gaskets on everything looked very very clean (hardly any carbon buildup, and what little there was wiped off fairly easily).

My question is: What would you think a set of 4bbl cleavland heads, a 4bbl, and a healthy cam would do this?
I don't want to put a bigger stall converter in it, or throw more cash into the stock 2bbl stuff, and I think it would be fun and interesting to wake this up with a little bit of an unusual buildup.

I figure with a set of 4bbl heads, or a set of worked over 2bbl (something with closed chambers) would bump up the CR and allow for a healthy-er cam. that with a good 4bbl would make pretty decent power.

Suggestions? ideas? any ideas on HP?

BTW I live in an area where I can buy a set of all done 4bbl cleveland heads for about $4-500 (I have seen them at swap meets for that much)
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

The only problem with using the 400 heads is that you will need to buy a set of intake spacer plates and a corresponding 4v Cleveland intake which can get rather cost prohibitive (sad but true). With that said, a 400 with a set of CC 4v heads, matching cam, and intake would be a very powerful engine! If you then choose to open up the bottom end you can either get some TMeyer 400 pistons or have the small end of the connecting rods bushed in order to accept regular Cleveland pistons (the wrist pin of a 400 piston is larger than that of a Cleveland but the compression height is the same, give or take a couple thousandths of an inch). You can then use any rocker components for a 460 as well as ignition parts such as a distributor.

Keep in mind that it really doesn't take much to make power with a 400, just remember it's a Cleveland with 50 extra cubes to work with and a couple of it's own quirks to deal with.

Edit: Some of the things that are 400 specific are the connecting rods, the intake (when not using spacer plates), and ALL of the accessory brackets! The one about the accessory brackets is the big one because none of the other factory small block stuff will bolt up because of the extreme difference in deck height.
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Last edited by torkair; 12-27-2011 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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Originally Posted by torkair View Post
The only problem with using the 400 heads is that you will need to buy a set of intake spacer plates and a corresponding 4v Cleveland intake which can get rather cost prohibitive (sad but true). With that said, a 400 with a set of CC 4v heads, matching cam, and intake would be a very powerful engine! If you then choose to open up the bottom end you can either get some TMeyer 400 pistons or have the small end of the connecting rods bushed in order to accept regular Cleveland pistons (the wrist pin of a 400 piston is larger than that of a Cleveland but the compression height is the same, give or take a couple thousandths of an inch). You can then use any rocker components for a 460 as well as ignition parts such as a distributor.

Keep in mind that it really doesn't take much to make power with a 400, just remember it's a Cleveland with 50 extra cubes to work with and a couple of it's own quirks to deal with.

Edit: Some of the things that are 400 specific are the connecting rods, the intake (when not using spacer plates), and ALL of the accessory brackets! The one about the accessory brackets is the big one because none of the other factory small block stuff will bolt up because of the extreme difference in deck height.
rocker components from a oem 72 up 460 are the same as 351C , early 429/460 should NOT be used on a C head .

Cost prohibitive !? What that means to one person might have a different dollar amount to another .

Bang for the dollars spent (w/adapters) .. Good deal
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

So I spoke to an engine shop today and they suggested that I have the stock heads ported for my application. Since my heads don't smoke, and have good compression, they said that they could do a full port on the exh side, as well as clean up the intake, and check for any warpage on the heads for $300. (that is keeping my stock size valves).

They also said they could get me a custom grind cam and lifters for $180. Does all this sound reasonable?
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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Originally Posted by redtail View Post
So I spoke to an engine shop today and they suggested that I have the stock heads ported for my application. Since my heads don't smoke, and have good compression, they said that they could do a full port on the exh side, as well as clean up the intake, and check for any warpage on the heads for $300. (that is keeping my stock size valves).

They also said they could get me a custom grind cam and lifters for $180. Does all this sound reasonable?
reasonable for the labor and parts , Yes . For the power gain per dollar vs the 4V CC heads and supporting parts .. No . Don't forget the 2V heads w/mods still need the supporting parts .. intake, carb , headers
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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reasonable for the labor and parts , Yes . For the power gain per dollar vs the 4V CC heads and supporting parts .. No . Don't forget the 2V heads w/mods still need the supporting parts .. intake, carb , headers
Well, the shop advised me against the 4v heads becasue I am planning on leaving the rest of the engine bone stock. stock stall, stock 3.50's (perhaps a locker center for the rear later on). The shop said that with the rest of all that being stock, the 4v heads would lack tq down low due to the runner size.

A mill on my heads (or just a thin gasket) would bring things up a little.

the shop actually suggested that I leave the stock mani's on, they are great for tq, and the truck already has a true duel with 2 1/4 and glasspacks, so it is not too restrictive.

and yes, I didn't forget about the new intake/carb, I have several carbs to use.

not looking to make this into a racecar, but I have a budget of about $900 and hope to make the old girl a little traction challanged when I jump on it.

all that aside, what would YOU do Dan? if you had 900-1000 ish to spend on this engine?

edit: If I got a pair of 351C heads, they need an adapter? or is that only when you use a 351c intake with 400 heads> or is it to do with the deck hight on the 400 blocks.
where do I get these spacers?

Last edited by redtail; 12-27-2011 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

The spacers are really only nevessary if you want to use one of the better Cleveland intakes and you will find them here: AP-29 & AP-30 Intake Adapter Kits

A set of closed chamber 4v heads will bring your compression up quite significantly and the 400 has the cubes to for them to not be lazy heads in the bottom end. The problem you'll run into at this point is that doing the 4v head swap will be like buying 2 intake manifolds (and thus why I say cost prohibitive). The best bang for your buck will to get a fresh set of early 2v heads with stud mount roller rockers and larger valves, new cam and lifters, a performer (or if you can find one a Street master) intake, and a better ignition system.

I've got a decently built 400 in my ranchero (previously in my 72 Torino) and the thing just turns the tires to smoke when I goose it a little, when I was building the engine I never even imagined that it would have as much power as it does .

Here is my build:
400 stock spec bottom end (yes, awful dished pistons)

'71 casting Cleveland 2v heads machined for 2.19"in/1.71"ex valves, 5 angle valve job, machined for 7/16" studs and guide plates, 1.73 ratio harland sharpe roller rockers.

Intake: Edlebrock Streetmaster (low rise single plane)

Generic RV cam: Camshaft - RV - Duration (I) 204 .050" (E) 214
Adv Dur (I) 270 (E) 280
Valve Lift (I) .484 (E) .510
Lobe Sep (I) 107 (E) 117
Pwr Range 1,500 - 4,000

Speed Demon 650 DP modified with annular boosters and 3 circuit metering blocks sitting on top of a 2" 4 hole tapered (knife edged actually) spacer.

Ignition: Mallory unilite dizzy (all mechanical) and holley promaster resin filled coil 55,000 volt output

Exhaust: 351c 2v headers to 3" H pipe
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

Don't waste your time on those D5 heads... they suck big time find some 71 to 74 2v-351c heads, all port work in the world to the D5 exhaust port wont compare to the 71 to 74 exhaust port

replace the 3 groove valves they like to brake

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Old 12-28-2011, 07:29 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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Originally Posted by redtail View Post
Well, the shop advised me against the 4v heads becasue I am planning on leaving the rest of the engine bone stock. stock stall, stock 3.50's (perhaps a locker center for the rear later on). The shop said that with the rest of all that being stock, the 4v heads would lack tq down low due to the runner size.

A mill on my heads (or just a thin gasket) would bring things up a little.

the shop actually suggested that I leave the stock mani's on, they are great for tq, and the truck already has a true duel with 2 1/4 and glasspacks, so it is not too restrictive.

and yes, I didn't forget about the new intake/carb, I have several carbs to use.

not looking to make this into a racecar, but I have a budget of about $900 and hope to make the old girl a little traction challanged when I jump on it.

all that aside, what would YOU do Dan? if you had 900-1000 ish to spend on this engine?

edit: If I got a pair of 351C heads, they need an adapter? or is that only when you use a 351c intake with 400 heads> or is it to do with the deck hight on the 400 blocks.
where do I get these spacers?
What would I do? I'd get a good set of Aussie C heads and Edebrock intake on that budget . what I would really do is ....nothing (leave it as is) or build it with 4V cc heads and all that goes with it for a good street truck

torkair put a link for Price Mototorsports adapters . 351M/400 with 4v heads. . I got a new set of adapters I'll sell plus 4 barrel single plane intake(used) for $300 plus the ride

Those local 4V's complete for $500 ?

Last edited by DanH; 12-28-2011 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

there are a few intake you can use with the 351C heads (same basic head as the D5 400 head) , performer 400 and a few more with no adapters,.. loose those D5 heads for sure... if you go with the 4V heads your running with stock cast old worn out pistons.. not good in my book, freshen up the bottom end and you will have a good solid motor..

check it out if you haven't.. this is where I bought my pistons

TMeyer, Inc. Precision Automotive Machining
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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Originally Posted by 393Clevor View Post
there are a few intake you can use with the 351C heads (same basic head as the D5 400 head) , performer 400 and a few more with no adapters,.. loose those D5 heads for sure... if you go with the 4V heads your running with stock cast old worn out pistons.. not good in my book, freshen up the bottom end and you will have a good solid motor..

check it out if you haven't.. this is where I bought my pistons

TMeyer, Inc. Precision Automotive Machining
don't know about worn out pistons in the OP's block , he got 155 cranking psi
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:56 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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don't know about worn out pistons in the OP's block , he got 155 cranking psi
Yes, thank you Dan. I cannot afford to go into the bottom end right now, haha, if I go into that I might as well throw in a shift kit and a posi, and 4.11s and and and and and.

I know where there is a set of assie heads, but they want $650 for the damn things (that would be rebuilt) then I am cutting it close for everything else.

using 4bbl heads can I just port match a 400 intake to get it to mate up better? or are the ports just far too big?

I can get a set of 2bbl heads (all the stuff on, need going thru, for about 50 bucks). do that with 8.5-1 comp, a custom grind cam, duel plane and a 700 carb... what do you think I am going to be running for hp?

The whole reason this idea came about is that I am getting a little oil (or something) into the water and I am not positive if it is some sort of water pump lube that isn't washing out or what... But I figured if I had the heads off to do gaskets I might as well have at it. Becasue I am still stuggling to get it to run properly with the crappy 2bbl I have on it (won't idle worth a damn, vac leaks from a warped intake or something).
Would you guys just say replace the intake with a 4bbl and carb and call it good? I mean cam and head work is all well and good, but I would expect about 100hp increase from the heads, cam and intake... is that reasonable? if I can't bump it up about like that I may just invest in gaskets and an intake (I already have a carb to use).
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

with 2V heads , 100 HP is not in the picture . Aussie 2V's with work .. Yes , you'll have your budget all in the heads

forgot to ask. oil in the coolant before the timing set replaced ?

Last edited by DanH; 12-28-2011 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 12-28-2011, 12:56 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

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with 2V heads , 100 HP is not in the picture . Aussie 2V's with work .. Yes , you'll have your budget all in the heads

forgot to ask. oil in the coolant before the timing set replaced ?

It did have oil (or something that turned the water white, no foaming, just white. No other symptoms of headgasket issues however).

So all that work and I wouldn't bump the stock HP of 170 to 270? or at least 250? that is a very poor return...

and those 2bbl aussie heads got sold, so I don't have that option anymore. It was only the american 4bbl heads that had closed chambers then?

I am going to try and wash the system out again, and if I can get it clean (meaning my headgasket is not blown) I think I will just get a different intake and check the heads for warpage to see if I can't track down this vac leak. I don't think the gains from the cash (and the week of work) would be very sad indeed.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: 400 'cleveland' build. Thoughts?

The Aussie C head is closed chamber along with the U.S. 70/71 4V head. The U.S. 4V is large intake port and the Aussie head is small 2V port size
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