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Big Block - 332/352/360/361/390/406/410/427/428/429/Boss 429/460
General Information
The Ford big-block story centers itself around two primary engine families—the FE-series and the
385-series engines. There is also the MEL-series big-block (meaning Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln,
displacing 383, 430 and 462ci) which will not be covered because it is not a performance engine.
Little, if anything of a performance nature is available for the MEL-series engines. Similar in design
to the 385-series big-block, the “MEL” was primarily a Lincoln engine, although it did find brief
application in the Thunderbird. The “MEL” was a large passenger car big-block designed for low-
end torque and quiet operation.
FE/FT Series
332/352/361
The “FE” (meaning “Ford Engine”—not “Ford Edsel” or “Ford Engineering”) series big-block was
introduced in 1958 as the 332ci V-8 with a 4.00-inch bore and a 3.30-inch stroke. The 332 debuted
with the larger 352ci big-block. The displacement increase was accomplished by stroking the 332 to
3.50-inches. The FE-series big-block was a hardy Y-block design that lived in many different forms
during its production life which ended in 1976. Use of the FE-series big-block in passenger cars
ended after 1971 with retirement of the 390. The 400M small-block replaced the 390 for 1972 in
passenger cars.

The 332 and 352 used the same 4-inch bore block. Early in production during the 1958 model
year, these engines had mechanical lifters, which means these early blocks were not designed for
hydraulic lifters. Hydraulic blocks were drilled with oil galleries to feed the hydraulic lifters. Ford
upgraded the 332 and 352 to hydraulic lifters to meet large passenger car standards of the era.
Few customers who purchased large passenger cars wanted the frustration of periodic valve
adjustment in an era where competitive vehicles had maintenance-free hydraulic lifters.
A number of revisions occurred in the “FE” engine blocks to further improve quality and reliability. It
is important to pay close attention to casting numbers when searching for a 332/352 block. If date
coding isn’t important to you, then look for the improved 1961 and up block, which has deeper
cylinder head and main bearing cap bolt holes. This gives the head and main bearing cap bolts a
deeper thread grip, which is important in high performance applications. Because this block has the
oiling passages for hydraulic lifters, you have a choice of mechanical or hydraulic lifters.
With the introduction of the 332/352 was the 361, an “FE” big-block available only in the 1958-59
Edsel and 1958 Ford Police Interceptors. The 361 had the 332/352’s 3.30-inch stroke. However, it
had a larger 4.05-inch cylinder bore—the same as the 390 to come later in 1961.
FE Big Block Cross Section
A typical "FE" series big-block
cross-section. The "FE" was born of
the Y-block approach with its long
skirts which cradle the crankshaft and
provide rigidity. Cross-bolted main
caps, not shown here, are unique to
late-1962 406s and all 1963 427s.
This illustration is typical of the
332/352/ 360/361/ 390/early 406/410
and 428.
360/390/410
The 360/390/410 are grouped together because they share the same basic block with the 4.05-
inch bore. Increases in displacement come from increasing the stroke on the 4.05-inch bore. The
390, introduced in 1961, is likely the most common of the FE-series big-blocks because it found
home in so many applications. Where the 390 differs from the earlier 332/352/361 is its longer
stroke—3.78-inches. Two- and four-barrel versions of the 390 were most common, seconded by
the High Performance versions which made Ford a hit in 1961-62. The 390-6V High Performance V-
8 delivered a whopping 401 horsepower, thanks to six-barrel Holley carburetion and improved
heads. This engine has heavier main bearing caps and webs, not to mention oiling system
refinements which make the engine more reliable. Because the 1961-62 390 High Performance
engine has mechanical lifters, it lacks the oil galleries common to hydraulic lifter-equipped 332/352/
361/390 engines.

There were many variations of the 390 besides those just mentioned—Police Interceptor,
Thunderbird Special, and the Special. There were also industrial, stationary and marine versions.
Each is distinctive, and each will be discussed later to help get you dialed into the right combination
of parts.
The 410 was a Mercury-only engine option available in 1966-67 with the 390’s 4.05-inch bore and
the 428’s 3.98-inch stroke. Ford achieved 410 cubic-inches by fitting the 390 block with the 428
crank. Keep this in mind for your 390 hop-up endeavors. Stroking the 390 with a 428 crank is easy.

A soul mate to the 390 is the 360 introduced in 1968, which has the same 4.05-inch bore with the
352’s shorter 3.50-inch stroke. Otherwise, the 360 and 390 are virtually the same engine. The 360
was used exclusively in pickup trucks while the 390 found use in both cars and trucks.
1963 390 Thunderbird Special V-8 1967 390 4V
The 1963 390 Thunderbird Special V-8 with
four-barrel carburetion and a generator.
Alternators didn't arrive on "FE" Fords until
1963 on some models.
The "FE" didn't change much throughout its
service life. This is a 1967 vintage 390-4V
engine equipped with an alternator charging
system. Note the alternator mount cast into the
block for 1965 and later.
390 High Performance V-8
390 High Performance
V-8, circa 1969.
406/427
The 406 came along in 1962 with the 390’s 3.78-inch stroke, but with a larger 4.13-inch bore,
thicker cylinder walls and heavier main bearing webs. Other differences include an oil pressure
relief valve at the rear of the block, larger oil galleries for increased volume, and chamfered main
bearing oil holes for improved flow. Toward the end of the 1962 model year, Ford cross-bolted the
406’s main bearing caps for structural integrity under severe duty conditions.

Engine failure and marginal performance in NASCAR competition are what led Ford to the
legendary 427 of mid-year 1963. The 427, aside from the obvious cubic-inch advantage, has a
stronger, better lubricated block born of racing necessity. It was through Ford’s desire to win that
the 427 was conceived at all. The 427 has the 390 and 406’s 3.78-inch stroke with a huge 4.23-
inch bore. But it is not the same block by any means. What makes the 427 better is the block’s high-
nickel content and stress-relieving during manufacturing. Stress-relieving of the blocks during
manufacturing was nothing more than the slow cooling of the iron casting after the block was cast.
After casting, 427 blocks were machined and assembled on a 427-specific line at the Dearborn,
Michigan engine plant, where additional attention was paid to detail. Each 427 was hand-built with
high performance use in mind. The 427 block has a greater deck thickness to successfully handle
the horrific compression ratios. Like the last of the 406s, the 427 employs cross-bolted main
bearing caps and heavier main bearing webbing. Block construction like this kept the bottom end
together on the track, thrusting Ford into the winner’s circle worldwide during 1963-67 since
reliability vastly improved. The 427 Side-Oiler came along in 1965 as a means for getting more oil
to the main and rod bearings.


What’s nice about the 427 is Ford’s attention to improvements as a result of information learned
from the harsh racing environment. The best 427 blocks, for example, are 1965-66 vintage
because they have all of the improvements—solid refinements to the casting that netted Ford a
better block. Finding good, undamaged examples of the era is the greatest challenge.
Extremely rare and certainly exotic is the 427 SOHC. Known as the “Cammer” in Ford circles, the
427 SOHC is a single overhead cam big-block originally conceived for NASCAR racing. NASCAR
didn’t approve the Cammer for competition. However, the 427 SOHC did find its way into drag
racing. This engine has a unique FE-series block with special oiling holes. This block is
interchangeable with wedge heads. However, Cammer heads are only compatible with the Cammer
block.

Finding an undisturbed 427 block is both rare and typically expensive. Because this block takes the
cylinder bores to the limit at 4.23-inches, it can only be bored out to a total of 4.26-inches—that’s a .
030-inch overbore limit. If the block has already been bored .030-inch, it must be sleeved.
Overboring beyond .030-inch will put you into the water jackets. Unique to the 427 is a steel-forged
crankshaft, although cast cranks were also used. All other FE-series big-blocks (except the FT) had
nodular iron crankshafts.
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This has been a sample page from

High Performance Ford Engine Parts Interchange High Performance Ford Engine
Parts Interchange
by George Reid
First-ever book about Ford parts interchange
Covers
the entire range of Ford engines from
221-CID to 460-CID
This is one of the best books ever written about Ford engines.
Covering both big- and small-block Ford V-8 engines, this
first-ever book on the subject provides indispensable information
to the Ford enthusiast. Included are high performance factory
parts, interchangeability between Ford Windsor and Cleveland
engines, extensive coverage of the 302 and 351 series as well as
the
352, 390, 406, 427, 428, 429, and 460 big block engines,
factory casting numbers, etc. Read the sample pages from each
chapter to learn more!
Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter
"If you are trying to mix and match cranks and rods, this book
will tell you if it can be done. If you are trying to find the correct
casting number for a Boss 429 distributor, this book will have it
listed. What we really find appealing about the book is that, not
only is it a perfect resource for those interested in factory
correct restorations, but it is equally as useful for the
performance oriented engine builder. Each chapter points out
building tips, such as how to improve a Cleveland's oiling
system, or what heads will yield the best horsepower gains. As
with all SA Design books, this one is filled with pages of detailed
photographs and diagrams. This book will prove to be a
priceless resource, as many of the original Ford V-8 parts
become harder and harder to come by."
-- FORDMUSCLE
webmagazine, February, 2000

In Stock and Ready to Ship!

Small Block Fords
Chap. 1 - Small Block Ford
Chap. 2 - Cylinder Block
Chap. 3 - Crankshaft & Rods
Chap. 4 - Oiling System
Chap. 5 - Cylinder  Heads
Chap. 6 - Intake System
Chap. 7 - Ignition System
Chap. 8 - Exhaust Manifolds
Chap. 9 - Cooling System
Big Block Fords
Chap. 10 - Big Blocks
Chap. 11- Cylinder Block
Chap. 12 - Crankshaft & Rods
Chap. 13 - Oiling System
Chap. 14 - Cylinder Head
Chap. 15 - Intake System
Chap. 16 - Ignition System
Chap. 17 - Exhaust Manifolds
Chap. 18 - Cooling System
All Ford Engines
Chap. 19 - Gaskets  
Chap. 20 -
Engine Math  
Softbound
8-3/8 X 10-7/8
160 Pages
417 Color Photos
Item # SA56
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any Ford engine enthusiast or
engine builder is sure to love!


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