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Modifying Small Block Ford Cylinder Heads
Modifying Small
Block Ford Cylinder

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Cylinder Block - Big Block FE Series
Although the FE-series big-blocks have an identical external appearance in many respects, there
are distinct differences in these engine blocks which are important to understand in any engine
building project. The first “FE” engine blocks used for the 332 and 352 in 1958 were designed only
for the use of mechanical lifters and did not have the oil galleries necessary to feed hydraulic lifters.
Mid-year 1958, Ford upgraded the new “FE” big-block engines to hydraulic lifters, which meant the
addition of two oil galleries down the middle of the valley which pressurized and lubricated the
hydraulic lifters. The one exception was the 352 High Performance engine of 1960 which was
equipped with mechanical lifters and not drilled for hydraulics.
Ford FE engine block and casting numbers Ford FE engine block with oil passages drilled to accept hydraulic lifter
Nearly all "FE" blocks have this "352" in
the casting at the front of the block,
including the 427s. This casting
identification began with the 352ci
engines in 1958 and remained with the
"FE" throughout its service life.
Hydraulic lifter blocks have drilled passages
(arrows) to feed the lifters. Mechanical lifter
blocks, such as early 332/352, 352 and 390
High Performance, 427 and some 428 Police
Interceptors, are not drilled at these bosses.
Another change to watch out for is the engine mount bolt holes on pre-1965 “FE” blocks. Blocks
before 1965 had two-bolt engine mounts while those from 1965 and later had three-bolt engine
mounts. This isn’t a problem if you plan on using a 1965 and later block in a pre-1965 vehicle.
Problems abound when using a pre-1965 block in a post-1965 vehicle because some machining
and drilling are required. If you find a block with four engine mount attachment holes on each side,
you’ve found an “FT” block for trucks.
Casting date code on an FE cylinder block
Once you have found
the casting number,
and even if you
haven't, the block
casting date code can
help. This date code is
"3A12" which tells us
January 12, 1963.
Another important change addresses cylinder head bolts beginning in 1961. From 1958-60, all “FE”
blocks were fitted with 4 7/32-inch long cylinder head bolts all around. Beginning in 1961, however,
all “FE” blocks were fitted with 2 7/8-inch long head bolts along the outside of the block and 4 19/32-
inch long bolts inboard. One other change to watch for is on late-1963 and later blocks where an
additional bolt hole for the alternator was incorporated into the front of the block.
When searching for a block, bore size is your first clue regarding what you have found, in addition
to the presence of oil passages, casting numbers and date codes. The 332 and 352 had 4.00-inch
bores. The larger displacement Edsel 361 had the same 4.05-inch bore as the 390. Though it is
highly unlikely that you will stumble upon an Edsel 361 block, be mindful of its 4.05-inch bores
coupled with 332/352 characteristics when you’re looking for a 390 block.
Mold number and foundry plant codes are cast into the side of engine blocks
These casting identification marks
have meaning, though few enthusiasts
ever pay attention to them. The "28"
(A) is the mold number - Mold #28.
See how often you can find any two
"FE" blocks with the same mold
number in your travels. This is a 428
Cobra Jet block. "DIF" (B) means
Dearborn Iron Foundry, which is where
all "FE" parts were cast. All "FE"
engines were assembled at the
Dearborn Engine Plant.
The 390 block doesn’t differ much from the 332/352/361 blocks of 1958-60. The 390 uses the
same block as the 360 and 410. All share the same 4.05-inch bore, with displacement varying
according to stroke. The only real difference here is the crankshaft. The 410 Mercury is a 428
crankshaft in a 390 block. The 360 for trucks is a 352 crank in a 390 block. Where this block varies
at all is in the area of high performance applications. The 1961-65 390 Police Interceptor and High
Performance blocks (C1AE-V, C2AE-BC, C2AE-BE, C2AE-BR, C2AE-BS, C3AE-KY, C3ME-B, C4AE-
F and C5AE-B) have heavier main bearing caps and drilled oil passages for hydraulic lifters. The
trick here is, Ford never drilled the oil passages from the main galleries to the twin lifter oil galleries,
which means no oil pressure to these galleries. Hydraulic lifters cannot be used in this block.
Another difference in the 390 Hi-Po block from 1961-62 is additional ribbing between the main
bearing webs. Ford also added an oil pressure relief valve to the block for added protection on the
390 Hi-Po.
The 406 block was a brute from the start because it reflected Ford’s desire to race and to win. As
you might expect from a race block, the 406 was a heavier casting than the 332/ 352/361/390—
thicker cylinder walls, a larger 4.13-inch bore, thicker webs and main caps. Look for C2AE-J, C2AE-
K or C2AE-V. These upgrades are all products of the 390 High Performance engine and what was
learned from racing with the 390. The 406 didn’t make it through 1962 without significant changes
to the block, however.
Casting markings on a early 406 engine block
Early 406 blocks are
identified by the casting
number on the right-hand
side of the block. This is a
C2AE-J block. Notice the
"HP" cast near the casting
number along with the "DIF"
which means "Dearborn Iron
Although we associate the cross-bolted block design with the 427 to come later in 1963,
cross-bolted mains started with the 406. During severe duty conditions experienced at high rpms in
NASCAR racing, Ford quickly learned that the main bearing cap bolts had a tendency to work
loose, causing catastrophic engine failure. Cross-bolting #2, 3 and 4 main bearing caps solved this
problem and won Ford a few races. Identifying a 406 cross-bolt block is easy. Aside from the
obvious,  the date code, look for the 4.13-inch bores and cross-bolted main caps/ bosses. The
bottom line here is the bottom line. Because 406 cross-bolt blocks are extremely rare, expect to pay
a very high price. Look for the C2AE-BD casting number.
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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
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
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."
webmagazine, February, 2000

Currently Unavailable

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  
8-3/8 X 10-7/8
160 Pages
417 Color Photos
Item # SA56
Price: $
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any Ford engine enthusiast or
engine builder is sure to love!

Other items you might be interested in

Ford Big Block Engines
Hot Rod reports on Ford's big block during the musclecar
years. Covers the 429 intro., 390 & 428 Cobra Jet, FE & 385
Family, 429 Boss, 427 Wedge, 352, 428, 429 & 460
development, 405hp, aluminum heads. This is a great book
full of articles with hard to find information about the big block
Ford Big Block Engines
$ 21.95

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