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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I’m hoping for some general advice, and specifically a recommendation on how to go with 390 top end.

I’m grateful in advance for your input. I’ve learned a lot here. This discussion was super helpful, but I didn’t want to hijack: "ford-390-head-and-intake-questions"

1966 Galaxie: She’s really pretty clean and unmolested. The previous owner installed a 390 Performer intake, Edelbrock carb and Erson Cam (unknown specs). I love driving this car! She’s a cruiser. I’m not looking to win races, but I’d like to update and give her a bit more street torque.

My local builder (who I trust) will do a rebuild with hardened seats for $1900. For $450 more, his head guy will do some “porting”.

I’m thinking this seems reasonable and that I should add an Edelbrock FE RPM intake to put me ~$3000. But, the existing heads look to be C6TE, with 8 bolt flange I think. I’m budgeting for headers, either Hooker or FPA I guess, a rebuild on the C6 and a rear- end rebuild…maybe different gears .

For another grand-ish I could add Edelbrock heads (60069).

I don’t want to spend money for no good reason, but I’m willing to save up. I’d prefer the best bang for my buck.

Thank you for your help!
 

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Honestly, with motor building generally you pay for what you get ... and cutting corners can lead to more problems later that cost you more in the end. Do you want to take that risk?

Either way, my advice would be to compare whatever you're thinking of building locally and your budget with what you can get from proven reputable FE builders like Lykins, Survival, etc.

In general, good (precise) machine work costs money and having your stuff in the hands of reputable builders who know how to match components and build something that truly fits your needs pays in the end.

As for the build itself, Edelbrock RPM heads and intake matched with a good cam profile that fits both your intended use and the setup of your car (gearing/SLR, dual exhaust type/size, etc) should give you a nice motor. Trick Flow heads are also quite good as are CJ, BT and other intakes.

Main thing is for the motor to match the car and your intended use. But I'd add that you should seriously consider going to a proven FE builder and preferably one more on the leading edge like Brent Lykins who is highly cost effective and very precise.
 

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There are several cylinder head upgrades that can be made here. A set of Edels out of the box would be the most "budget-oriented" setup that would still provide a noticeable power/torque bump. One of my custom camshafts, a recurved distributor, and some headers would also make very noticeable bumps.

Above the Edelbrock heads, I would be reaching for a set of Trick Flow heads, but the larger valves and funky valvetrain geometry may prove to be a pain on a budget build.

I wish I could provide a full rebuild for $1900, but my assembly labor alone hits that mark. All of my builds feature fully machined blocks (align honed with ARP fasteners, torque plate honed, decks squared with BHJ fixture), custom forged pistons, aftermarket connecting rods from Scat/K1/Molnar, race bearings, "correct" gaskets for the application, degreed camshafts, etc., along with assembly/blueprinting techniques for street engines that are the same for my race engines.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
There are several cylinder head upgrades that can be made here. A set of Edels out of the box would be the most "budget-oriented" setup that would still provide a noticeable power/torque bump. One of my custom camshafts, a recurved distributor, and some headers would also make very noticeable bumps.

Above the Edelbrock heads, I would be reaching for a set of Trick Flow heads, but the larger valves and funky valvetrain geometry may prove to be a pain on a budget build.

I wish I could provide a full rebuild for $1900, but my assembly labor alone hits that mark. All of my builds feature fully machined blocks (align honed with ARP fasteners, torque plate honed, decks squared with BHJ fixture), custom forged pistons, aftermarket connecting rods from Scat/K1/Molnar, race bearings, "correct" gaskets for the application, degreed camshafts, etc., along with assembly/blueprinting techniques for street engines that are the same for my race engines.
My bad Brent. I suspect that quote was labor only.

I'll start by getting the 390 out and to the machine shop for tear down and inspection. I'm thinking once I know condition of block, crank and heads I'll have a better idea of how to go? I think for now I'll lean toward a stock rebuild and spend some money on headers, C6 and rear diff rebuild.

Regardless, once I know condition of components and necessary bore etc, I imagine I would still benefit from your cam and lifters?

Lots to learn on my part, Thank you.
 

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For an upgrade, instead of a new engine consider a EFI and HEI. No more wondering what will happen when (if) you step on the gas! If I could afford it I would make the switch in a heartbeat.
For more punch in the city, maybe a 3.5 rear end would get that for you.
 

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Let's step back a bit - what shape is the engine in, and what engine-related upgrades have been done so far?

If the motor is stock, upgrade your ignition system and recurve the distributor. that may get you what you're looking for.
I'd try to not tear down a good-running engine.

you specifically mention street torque.

as the saying goes..."torque is king on the street".
when people start talking cams and aftermarket heads, they're usually looking for horsepower, and higher-rpm operation.
those things don't matter so much when you're going stoplight-to-stoplight in town.
but - low-rpm torque for coming "off the line" does.
 

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This post got a bit quiet, but adding headers, a proper distributor recurve and an RPM intake will add significant power on the street with a stock rebuild.

Going up from there, I would look close at quench distance when you choose pistons, a L2291 Speedpro and a light cut of the deck really works well to close up quench at a low cost.

As far as porting your current heads, I think you will lose money on the iron. What you save in building them, you will pay more for headers. If the car is worth a set of heads and tightening up the quench, I'd do it, if not, I'd likely just recurve, headers and intake

One last option, cheapest option, rebuild, recurve, headers, then cut the plenum divider out of your Performer 390, then massage the plenum roof and anything you see to roll sharp edges over (not sharpen, just make sure no sharp edges are there to take fuel out of suspension and cause turbulence) It's nowhere near the effect of an RPM, but that combo, when added to the headers and recurve will be noticeable
 

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Discussion Starter #10
For an upgrade, instead of a new engine consider a EFI and HEI. No more wondering what will happen when (if) you step on the gas! If I could afford it I would make the switch in a heartbeat.
For more punch in the city, maybe a 3.5 rear end would get that for you.
Puttster, I appreciate the input. I'm actually trying a Sniper on a Pontiac 400 build currently as well as an updated HEI. Some might think I have a "problem" as I have two Fords and one Pontiac project in various stages of build.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Let's step back a bit - what shape is the engine in, and what engine-related upgrades have been done so far?

If the motor is stock, upgrade your ignition system and recurve the distributor. that may get you what you're looking for.
I'd try to not tear down a good-running engine.

you specifically mention street torque.

as the saying goes..."torque is king on the street".
when people start talking cams and aftermarket heads, they're usually looking for horsepower, and higher-rpm operation.
those things don't matter so much when you're going stoplight-to-stoplight in town.
but - low-rpm torque for coming "off the line" does.
Cuthrell, Thanks for the input. The engine is stock except the previous owner added a Performer 390 intake and an Erson cam (unknown specs). I did a compression test a couple years back. I can't remember the numbers, but I think they were pretty even just low overall. I believe the existing C6TE heads have never been touched. I did pick up a Summit FE distributor that I could recurve and use.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
dual plane intake with a sniper system and edl aluminum heads with a 373 gear ...golden on the street light to light
Taylorteam, thanks. I will have to figure out rear end gears. I'm learning a lot as I go. I think the existing are closer to 3.00. She's a 3700 lb cruiser. I'm trying to learn torque converter selection as well...fun stuff!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
This post got a bit quiet, but adding headers, a proper distributor recurve and an RPM intake will add significant power on the street with a stock rebuild.

Going up from there, I would look close at quench distance when you choose pistons, a L2291 Speedpro and a light cut of the deck really works well to close up quench at a low cost.

As far as porting your current heads, I think you will lose money on the iron. What you save in building them, you will pay more for headers. If the car is worth a set of heads and tightening up the quench, I'd do it, if not, I'd likely just recurve, headers and intake

One last option, cheapest option, rebuild, recurve, headers, then cut the plenum divider out of your Performer 390, then massage the plenum roof and anything you see to roll sharp edges over (not sharpen, just make sure no sharp edges are there to take fuel out of suspension and cause turbulence) It's nowhere near the effect of an RPM, but that combo, when added to the headers and recurve will be noticeable
My427stang, thank you for the insight. You've mentioned "recurve" more than once. I understand it now, thank you! I was thinking for now to step up to an RPM intake, have hardened seats put in the existing C6TE heads and spend the money on these?


It looks to me like they would work both on these iron heads and maybe later on Edelbrock heads. Does that seem reasonable? Thanks again.
 

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My427stang, thank you for the insight. You've mentioned "recurve" more than once. I understand it now, thank you! I was thinking for now to step up to an RPM intake, have hardened seats put in the existing C6TE heads and spend the money on these?


It looks to me like they would work both on these iron heads and maybe later on Edelbrock heads. Does that seem reasonable? Thanks again.
I do not think those headers will work with your heads, in fact I am almost certain, but if you measured your port roof to top bolt and port floor to bottom bolt centerlines, I could make sure.

163 - Will only fit 16-bolt F.E. cylinder heads with the top four exhaust bolt holes in line. Will not seal properly on heads with the end upper bolts lower than the centerbolts


16 bolt heads are CJ heads....that means the headers have the early/CJ exhaust port. The bolts will line up with your heads, but if you have the truck/GT/unibody exhaust port, the header won't seal well on the bottom of the port. That is what I was talking about earlier. I am 99% sure you have the low port, although I have never had a C6TE head, I am pretty sure

Now truth be told, guys HAVE used the wrong headers and they sealed, just barely, but it's a crap shoot. Given how tough to install, I won't mix and match if someone comes to me

Also, if you came to me, I wouldn't put hardened seats in those heads unless you were correcting damage. The FE chamber thickness is inconsistent and even in the thicker parts, is thin and not the same aorund the circumference of the seat. Many, including me, have used thin seats, but with the spring pressures of a flat tappet, I would just add a set of inexpensive 2.09/1.67 valves, which allow a fresh valve job on new iron. They last much longer than you would expect and it's likely cheaper if you are buying valves anyway

However, to me, given that you are looking for performance, unless there is some sort of hurry, I would go with an alum head and the headers you listed. Even if it requires a delay to get all the parts together.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My427stang, I appreciate that. Aluminum seems the way to go. But, what about these C8AE-H heads I have? They look to be ~3/4" port to bolt centerline.

 

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C8AE-H, C7AE-A, C6AE-U, D2TE-AA, all low exhaust port, that head is likely identical to what you have and those also, without porting, are a cork.

Look for a C4AE or C6AE-R, both will flow much better on the intake side and ,match the headers
 
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