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Modifying Small Block Ford Cylinder Heads
Modifying Small
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351C Stroker Kits & Projects
Ford’s 351ci Cleveland middle block entered production more than three decades ago in the fall of
1969. Its production and service life was all too brief, unfortunately, lasting through the 1974 model
year. Ford’s decision to terminate 351C production was rooted in scaling down production costs.
After the 351C was introduced in 1970, Ford was already at work on an FE Series big-block
replacement called the 400M – the tall-deck Cleveland block displacing 400ci that was introduced
for 1972. The 400M looks a lot like its smaller 351C counterpart except for the taller deck and wider
profile that come from the 4.00-inch stroke inside. Instead of the 351C’s small-block bellhousing
bolt pattern, the 400M has the 429/460’s big-block pattern, which makes it compatible only with 385-
series big-block transmissions, such as the C6 automatic.
The 400M replaced the FE Series 390ci big block, which was common in full-sized Fords and
Mercurys. Later on in 1977, the 400M design would find its way into F-Series trucks as well. In
1975, Ford took the 400M and destroked it to 3.50-inches to achieve the 351M, an underpowered,
overweight version of the 351C it replaced. This means the 351M isn’t just a 351C with a new
designation. It means the 351M is 351ci inside a 400M block, which is considerably heavier than the
351C block. The 351M and 400M have the 351C-2V head, with open chambers and smaller ports.

If you’re going to build an M block, bore and stroke this block to more than 400ci for a wealth of
good torque. Top the block with 351C Aussie heads, with wedge chambers and the 351C-2V ports
for optimum torque. A stroked 400M isn’t for performance use, but more for good power in a tow
vehicle. It is not an engine you would want to spin to 7,500 rpm in a road-race vehicle or drag car.
Cylinder Head Installation on a 351C
The 351 Cleveland has huge ports.
Yet, the factory displacement never
takes advantage of the size. When we
huff displacement through these
extra-large ports, we get raw power.
This is exactly what the 351C is
famous for when we spin it to 7,000
rpm. A stroker kit enables us to get the
same amount of power at lower revs.
Our focus here isn’t the 351/400M, but the 351C and what can be done with this short-lived Ford
powerhouse. Most of us will never know what Ford engineers were thinking when the 351C was
developed. Its huge ports mirror the 429/460ci big-block’s. Yet, there isn’t the displacement in the
351C witnessed with the high-displacement fat-blocks. The 351C-4V head is long on potential if you’
re planning a 7,500-rpm engine. Those huge intake ports allow an abundance of air and fuel to
pass. But these ports are useful only at high revs, where enough velocity can be developed to feed
the bores and provide cylinder pressure.

The 351C-4V is virtually the same head casting used on top of the BOSS 302 small block produced
in 1969 and 1970. Ford engineers borrowed this head for the BOSS 302 to make the most of the
high-revving 302ci small-block’s potential. This approach worked with great success in SCCA Trans
Am competition. The 351C-4V head has huge 2.50 x 1.75-inch intake ports. On the exhaust side,
2.00 x 1.74-inch. Valve sizing runs 2.19-inch intake and 1.71-inch exhaust. These dimensions are
overwhelming in a street engine. What they mean for you is poor low-end torque, short on the grunt
factor. Large ports like these don’t give you the hole-shot advantage on the street. On the drag
strip, they come on strong at high revs. Ditto for the race course.
Poor low-end torque has an unpleasant feel. Lean on the throttle coming out of the hole and the
large-port Cleveland or BOSS 302 falls right on its face. It doesn’t make torque down there. Carry
the revs skyward and these ports begin to go to work. But even in the most powerful of 351C
engines, the potential of these ports is never realized. They need 7,000 rpm and higher to be
working at all with a displacement of 351ci.

The best way to make the most of the 351C-4V head is to stroke your 351C to utilize this engine’s
displacement potential. Both Coast High Performance and Speed-O-Motive offer stroker kits for the
351C middle block. These stroker kits are available in price ranges to meet all budgets. If you want
a high-revving screamer, there are high-end kits available for the 351C that will allow you to make
the most of this legendary performer. If you are limited by budget, you don’t have to be limited on
power. You can pump as much as 408ci into the 351C for under $2,000. Because the 351C makes
a lot of power in stock displacement form, it only gets better with more displacement. With 377ci
inside, the 351C makes even more power. But with 408ci, the displacement of a big block, the 351C
comes on very strong. You may also bore the 351C to 4.040-inches for a pinch more power. We
discourage taking the Cleveland block to 4.060-inches.
The key to making real stroker power with the 351C is to stroke as much displacement as possible
into its bores in order to make the most of its large-port heads. This means you need a stroker kit
that will allow you to spin it to at least 6,000 rpm for best results. If you want to spin the Cleveland
even higher, we suggest a 377ci stroker kit with H-beam rods and a steel crankshaft in the interest
of staying well within the limits of the Cleveland’s design. Based on what we’ve been told by
seasoned engine builders, the 408ci Cleveland stroker approach pushes this engine to the limits of
its intended design, which puts the package more at risk if we try spin it to 7,500 rpm. Closely
examine each engine kit to determine limits and approach your build-up from there.

While you are planning your 351C stroker build, close attention to camshaft selection must be
practiced, which is where the folks at Comp Cams come in. Comp Cams is customer friendly, and
eager to help you with your camshaft and valvetrain selection. Comp Cams will sit down with you on
the telephone and get you pointed in the right direction on your camshaft and valvetrain. Always
order your cam and valvetrain as a cohesive package from the same manufacturer.
Comp Cams, for example, tests the daylights out of its products with real dyno and road testing.
The great talent within these companies discovers what works on the street, just like the rest of us.
Comp Cams, for example, refines its product this way. When you stuff a Comp Cams bumpstick
inside your block, you’re getting the result of extensive testing and refinement, making it an
excellent value for your hard-earned dollars.

Camshaft selection for a 351C stroker depends on how you plan on using the engine. For one
thing, we suggest a good roller hydraulic camshaft just for starters. Then, you need to look at valve
timing events closely. Cam-timing events need to make the most of the displacement, bore, and
stroke that you have selected. These elements also have to capitalize on the cylinder head design
as well. Because we’re dealing with two cylinder head designs with the 351C, this becomes easier.
We’ve addressed the 351C-4V head at length. Because the 4V head has such huge ports, we have
to spin the 351C high to make the most of these woefully over-engineered castings. The thing is,
not all 351C projects need to spin to 6,500 rpm. You may be building a 351C for a pick-up or a van
where you need pulling power. This means you need only rev to 5,500 rpm to get the job done.

So what do you do when cylinder heads yield way more potential than your 351C will ever realize?
There are two answers for this one. One is the 351C-2V head with smaller sized ports and open
chambers. The other is Australian 302C and 351C heads, which have the smaller wedge chambers
we find with the U.S. 351C-4V head, coupled with the smaller 351C-2V ports. The 351C-2V head
has 2.02 x 1.65-inch intake ports, followed by 1.84 x 1.38-inch exhaust ports. Stop-cocks are sized
at 2.04-inch intake and 1.67-inch exhaust.
The Aussie 351C head is your best choice because it employs the Cleveland’s best features –
adequately sized ports and valves, coupled with the wedge chambers. We like the Aussie head
because its wedge chamber gives us the best result. The open, lower compression chamber we
find with U.S. 351C-2V heads tends to cause detonation, regardless of how you tune the engine.
One theory is that the 351C-2V head sets up two flame fronts that collide, causing the detonation
we hear as pinging under acceleration. We don’t experience this with 351C-4V heads or the 351C
Aussie head. This tells us something positive about this cozy wedge chamber. Regardless of what
type of 351C/351M/400M cylinder head type you’re going to use, you need to fit yours with pushrod
guide plates and screw-in, adjustable studs. This enables you to adjust your valvetrain accordingly.
The aftermarket offers us very few types of intake manifolds for the 351C. Edelbrock brings us the
Perfomer series manifolds for the 2V and 4V engines. The Performer manifolds are two-plane
pieces designed to deliver good low-end torque. These manifolds also work quite well at high RPM.
There is also the Edelbrock Torker single-plane manifold, which is more appropriate for drag and
road racing applications where the engine does its best work at high revs only.

Swap meets offer us a wealth of older 351C aftermarket manifold designs from Offenhauser,
Edelbrock, Weiand, Holman/Moody, Ford, and others. Good rule of thumb is to opt for the
dual-plane types for street use and single-plane for racing.
393ci
StrokerKits.com
700 First Capitol Dr
St. Charles, MO 63301
636/946-4747 • 636/946-5757 FAX
www.StrokerKits.com

Bore:                    4.030”        
Stroke:                 3.850”
Crankshaft:         Forged Steel
Rod Type:           Forged I-Beam (optional H-beam)
Rod Length:        6.000”
Rod Ratio:           1.54:1
Pistons:                Custom Forged
Rings:                   Unknown
Bearings:             Unknown
Max. RPM:          7,000 rpm
Max. HP:             550
Approx. Price:    $1,750.00 ($1,900.00 with H-beam rods)
Comments:        If you’d like a displacement increase in your 351C that will rev to seven grand and
make all kinds of power, this is the affordable stroker kit for you. You can spin this one to 7,000
because it has a forged steel crank with optional H-beam rods. The truth is, you don’t have to spin
this one to seven grand because it will make its greatest torque around 6,000 rpm with the right
cam, heads, and induction system. But, it’s nice to know it will go higher if needed.
393ci
Coast High Performance
2555 W. 237th Street
Torrance, CA 90505
310/784-2977
310/784-2970 FAX
www.coasthigh.com

Bore:                        4.030”        
Stroke:                     3.850”     
Crankshaft:             Nodular Iron
Rod Type:               Forged I-Beam
Rod Length:            5.956”
Rod Ratio:               1.54:1
Pistons:                    Probe SRS Forged
Rings:                       Unknown
Bearings:                 Unknown
Max. RPM:               6,500 rpm
Max. HP:                  450
Approx. Price:         $2,000.00
Comments:             This is a good, affordable budget powerhouse. Your objective with this kit
should be low-end torque and an engine that will rev to a maximum of 6,000 rpm.
426ci
Speed-O-Motive
131 North Lang Ave.
West Covina, CA 91790
626/869-0270 • 626/869-0278 FAX
www.speed-o-motive.com

Bore:                        4.030”        
Stroke:                     4.170”
Crankshaft:             4340 Forged Steel
Rod Type:               4340 H-Beam
Rod Length:           6.000”
Rod Ratio:              1.44:1
Pistons:                   Ross Custom Forged Flat Tops
Rings:                      Total Seal
Bearings:                Clevite H-Series
Max. RPM:              7,000 rpm
Max. HP:                 600    
Approx. Price:        $2,225.00 (Base Kit)
Comments:            This is a severe-duty racing kit designed for motorsports activities. A good
value, this is a stroker kit you can whirl to 7,000 rpm. Because it delivers a 4.170-inch stroke, you
can count on a lot of torque without having to spin it very high. This is a whole lot of stroker kit for
under $2,500.00. Price does not include the block.
408ci
Speed-O-Motive
131 North Lang Ave.
West Covina, CA 91790
626/869-0270 • 626/869-0278 FAX
www.speed-o-motive.com

Bore:                        4.030”        
Stroke:                     4.000”
Crankshaft:             High Nodular Iron
Rod Type:               5140 I-Beam
Rod Length:           6.000”
Rod Ratio:              1.50:1
Pistons:                    Ross Custom Forged
Rings:                       Speed Pro Cast Rings
Bearings:                Clevite Tri-Metal
Max. RPM:              6,500 rpm
Max. HP:                  500
Approx. Price:        $1,495.00 (Base Kit)
Comments:            This is a great budget kit long on torque. A lot of bang for the buck. You can
take this one to 6,500 rpm, but it will make torque all day at 5,000 rpm depending on cam, heads,
and induction selection.
434ci
StrokerKits.com
700 First Capitol Dr
St. Charles, MO 63301
636/946-4747 • 636/946-5757 FAX
www.StrokerKits.com

Bore:                        4.060”        
Stroke:                     4.200”
Crankshaft:             Nodular Iron 400M
Rod Type:               Scat H-Beam
Rod Length:            6.250”
Rod Ratio:               1.48:1
Pistons:                    Cast Pistons
Rings:                       Unknown
Bearings:                 Unknown
Max. RPM:               6,000 rpm
Maxi. HP:                 500
Approx. Price:          $1,495.00 ($1,970.00 with forged pistons)
Comments:             This is a sure-fire way to pump a lot of cubes into your 351C engine. Be
advised this is not a high-revving kit, but designed more with brute torque in mind between 5,000
and 6,000 rpm. We suggest the forged pistons for best results. The .060-inch overbore pushes the
limits of the Cleveland.
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This has been a sample page from

How to Build Big Inch Ford Small Blocks How To Build Big-Inch Ford Small Blocks
by George Reid
Have you been dreaming about a little extra displacement for
your Ford? By increasing the bore and stroke of your current
engine, you can add those cubic inches without the hassle of
switching to a big block. George Reid thoroughly explains the
concept of building a stroker, paying special attention to the
effect that increasing the bore and stroke have on the engine
as a whole. With this information, you’ll be better able to tailor
your heads, cam, intake manifold, carburetor, and exhaust
system to get the most out of the extra cubes. Also included
is a complete guide to factory head and block castings, as
well as aftermarket block and head guides, so you can
choose exactly the right parts for your project. This book is
the definitive guide for building a big-inch Ford small block,
complete with four engine buildups ranging from 331 to 408
cubic inches. Read the sample pages to learn more!

Temporarily Out of Stock - More On their way!

Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter
Chap. 1 - Ford Small Block
Chap. 2 - Stroked Engines
Chap. 3 - 289 and 302 Stroker
Chap. 4 - 351W Stroker Kits
Chap. 5 - 351C Stroker Kits
Chap. 6 - Stroker Vehicles
Chap. 7 - Engine Math
Sftbd.
8-1/2 x 11
128 pages
300 black & white photos
Item #SA85P
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