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Modifying Small Block Ford Cylinder Heads
Modifying Small
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4.6L Crankshafts
The SOHC 4.6 is delivered from the factory with a cast-iron crankshaft, which has proven to be
entirely adequate for all applications up to 500 horsepower. In fact, we have never seen a broken
cast-iron 4.6 crankshaft, nor to my recollection have I even heard of one coming apart. This glowing
recommendation should be tempered with the adage that for applications of over 500 horsepower,
we always install a forged crank. So if you are building an SOHC engine within the 500-hp limit, you
do not need to break the piggy bank for anything stronger. There are two different cast cranks that
I am aware of, a 6-bolt flywheel style, and an 8-bolt version. The 8 bolt showed up on the 2000
Mustang with the Windsor engine, while the Romeo continued to use the 6-bolt unit. Some F-150
trucks in 1997 and 1998 also may have used the eight-bolt pattern. The 8-bolt unit would of course
be the preferred choice for a drag race application, but most flywheel manufacturers offer their
flywheels in both patterns.
A Forged 4.6 Crankshaft Compared to a Cast Iron 4.6 Crankshaft
Here we see a forged 4.6
crankshaft on the left,
compared with a cast
crankshaft on the right.
Notice the absence of the
center counterweights on
the cast crankshaft.
The DOHC 4.6-liter engine has been produced with a cast-iron crankshaft in the Lincoln Mark 8
and the new Mercury Marauder, but Cobras come with a forged unit. Both cranks use the eight-bolt
flywheel pattern. The cast crank again should be adequate for applications up to 500 hp, and the
forged unit is adequate for power levels up to 1500 hp with proper preparation.
Aftermarket billet cranks are just becoming available at this time, but we expect them to be offered
by several companies in the next couple of years.
Billet Steel 4.6L Ford Crankshaft
The billet-steel 4.6 crankshaft is
manufactured from 4340 steel.
The crankshafts can be ordered
with various strokes and options
such as knife edging and reduced
journal diameters.
The 5.4-liter engine used a forged crank in the 1997 and 1998 model years, and is still used in the
Navigator application. The regular SOHC 5.4-liter engine went to a cast crank in 1999, likely as a
cost-saving device. The same power limit should apply with the cast 5.4 crankshaft as with the 4.6.
Crankshaft Preparation
The cast 4.6/5.4 crankshaft should be checked for straightness within a .0015-inch limit. If the crank
is off by more than that, it needs to be straightened. The oil holes should be chamfered using a
rotary file. The best shape of bit for this job is a round ball, preferably attached to a 3-inch long
shank, which will allow the tool to reach comfortably into the rod journal. This job is a bit tricky, as
even the slightest slip will leave a trail of bounce marks across the surface of the journal. Once the
oil holes are chamfered, the crank is balanced using our Hines electronic balancer, and then the
journals are micro polished using 3M polishing belts. The crank is then washed and placed in the
clean room, ready for assembly.
Close Up View of the Connecting Rod Journal on a 4.6 Liter Ford Billet Crankshaft
Close-up view of the large
radius found on an aftermarket
billet crankshaft. the bearing will
require modification on a lathe in
order to clear the fillet. This will
reduce the bearing area in
contact with the rod journal.
The forged crank, in addition to the preparation used on the cast unit, receives several additional
treatments, according to the intended application. For all the drag race engines making above
1000 hp, we reduce the OD of the crankshaft counterweights, which reduces the weight by 2 lbs.
Turning 1 inch off the finished OD of the counterweights is best accomplished in a large engine
lathe. In order to rebalance the crank after that much material has been removed, we add Mallory
metal inserts into the counterweights.

The crank should be double keyed if a cog drive belt is going to be used with a supercharged
application. We have witnessed a few cranks that ripped the key out due to excessive load, and the
result was not pretty. The second keyway can be cut in a conventional milling machine with basic
tooling. At the same time, it would be prudent to drill and tap the crank for a 1/2-20 thread, allowing
the use of a quality fastener like an ARP crank bolt to be used in retaining the cog drive hub. Do
not forget that you will need to broach a second keyway in both the trigger wheel and the
crankshaft gear for them to be able to slide on to the crankshaft.
Mill cutting a second keyway slot in a 4.6 Liter Ford crankshaft
Double keying the
crankshaft for a
cog-drive supercharger
pulley is easily
performed on a mill. The
slot needs to be cut
.187-inch wide by
.105-inch deep.
Polishing the crank to remove stress raisers is always a good idea, but it is imperative on
endurance applications. The only crank failures we have seen are a result of fatigue, not overload.
The factory-drilled lightening holes in the crank pin have provided a starting point for a crank
failure, so pay particular attention to this area while polishing the crank. We tape the journals with
several layers of duct tape to prevent damage to the journal surface during the grinding process.
Using a small diameter (4.5-inch) angle grinder with a 60-grit flap-type grinding disc, we radius the
edges of the counterweights, as well as the area between the crank pins and the counterweights.
Then, we change tools to a small die grinder with 60 or 80-grit cartridge rolls, and we deburr and
radius the crankpin lightening holes and the sharp edges at the top of the journal area. Total
grinding preparation normally takes 8 hours of shop time.
Shot-peening improves the fatigue life of the crankshaft by forming a tough skin on the surface of
the steel. The size of the shot and the velocity of the shot hitting the surface are critical elements in
doing a quality job. This is not the time to economize and let a standard machine shop shot-peen
your crank. The Metal Improvement Company performs proper shot-peening to military specs. They
have outlets all over North America, and they are eminently qualified to shot-peen your crankshaft
properly. The main application for very high-quality shot-peening is the aircraft industry, where
virtually all high-stress parts such as landing gear and wing surfaces are peened to provide fatigue
resistance and a long service life under high impacts. Metal Improvement has a very informative
free booklet on the subject, if you are as interested in this subject as I am. Expect to pay $250-$350
to have the shot-peening process done.
Heat treating is another process that improves a characteristic of the steel crankshaft. We have
been nitriding the cranks for endurance applications, partially to increase the hardness from the
standard 36 Rockwell C to 50 RC. This provides some durability when we use our billet oil pump,
which rides on the flats of the crankshaft. In drag-race applications, we have no issues with the oil
pump, but the acceleration and deceleration of road-race engines wears the edges of the flats on
the crankshaft. Increasing the hardness is helpful in reducing this wear, and has the added benefit
of providing a tougher surface on the journals as well. The appearance of the crank after heat
treating is a brownish tinge, although the journals come up shiny again after final polishing.

Stroking the stock crankshaft is accomplished by offset grinding the rod journal to increase the
stroke of the crankshaft. This requires the use of a different rod and piston assembly to maintain
the correct deck clearance and a reasonable rod ratio. We have ground the crankshaft rod journals
undersize to 2 inches, which allows the use of a 6.00 inch rod with the Brand X (Chevy) small-block
bearings. The piston must be designed to accommodate the longer rod, so the compression
distance is reduced from 1.22 inch to 1.08 inch. The pin ends up so high on the piston that the
lower surface of the oil ring land is partially removed in order to assemble the pin onto the piston. A
support rail is installed on the piston, supporting the oil ring rail in this area. When the crank is
offset ground, care must be exercised in the fillet area. The stock crankshaft has a rolled fillet,
which is recessed below the surface of the journal. The crank grinder needs to produce a radius
that does not contact the edge of the rod bearing while the crank rotates, yet is as generous a
radius as is practical in order to maintain as much strength and structural integrity as possible. To
date, we have not had any durability issues with cranks that were offset ground. Using offset
grinding, we are able to increase the stroke by .120 inch to arrive at a 3.66-inch stroke.
Billet crankshafts are just now becoming available from a few sources. These offer the advantage
that many of these time consuming and expensive preparation procedures are already
incorporated in the new crankshaft. They can also be ordered in various strokes, with other special
features like knife edged counterweights available. The special features will add some cost, and the
lead time for a custom billet crank is typically 16-20 weeks. As more demand is created, parts
specialists will stock the more popular crank variants.

Balancing the crank is performed on a computerized balancer that determines the amount of weight
required and the location the weight that needs to be removed or added. The crank should be
balanced to +/- 1/2 gram for performance applications. Heavy metal will need to be added for
stroker cranks and those with reduced diameters. The heavy metal is installed in the
counterweights by first drilling and then reaming the hole to size. The Mallory metal is then pressed
into the hole and retained by tig welding around the edge of the heavy metal. It is recommended
that the area around the Mallory slug be preheated with a rosebud torch tip and that the TIG
welding should use a low carbon rod to avoid any potential for cracking. All 4.6 and 5.4 cranks are
neutral balance, which is to say, the flywheel or balancer does not have a counterweight to match
an imbalance in the crank like some Windsor pushrod engines.
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This has been a sample page from

How to Build Max Performance 4.6 Liter Ford Engines How To Build Max Performance 4.6 Liter
Ford Engines
by Sean Hyland
This revised edition features new and current
information throughout the text, an additional 16 pages,
and all black and white photography.
When the ’96 Mustang came out with the 4.6-liter V-8, some
performance enthusiasts were scared away by its technology. But
those days are long gone. Ford added horsepower and torque to
its 2- and 4-valve V-8s over the years, and the number and
quality of available aftermarket performance parts has exploded.
Ford took things to the next level with the new 3-valve Mustang
GT engine and the 5.4-liter GT and Shelby GT500, adding even
more high-performance options.

In this updated edition of How To Build Max-Performance 4.6-Liter
Ford Engines, Sean Hyland gives you a comprehensive guide to
building and modifying Ford’s 2-, 3-, and 4-valve 4.6- and 5.4-liter
engines. You will learn everything from block selection and
crankshaft prep, to cylinder head and intake manifold
modifications. He also outlines eight recommended power
packages and provides you with a step-by-step buildup of a
naturally aspirated 405-horsepower Cobra engine. This is the
definitive guide to getting the most from your 4.6- and 5.4-liter

Temporarily Out of Stock - More On their way!

Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter.
Chap. 1 - Engine Block
Chap. 2 - Crankshafts
Chap. 3 - Rods
Chap. 4 - 4.6 Pistons
Chap. 5 - Cylinder Heads
Chap. 6 - Int. Manifolds
Chap. 7 - Fuel Injection
Chap. 8 - 4.6 Camshafts
Chap. 9 - 4.6 Exhaust
Chap. 10 - Ignition
Chap. 11 - Lubrication
Chap. 12 - Cooling
Chap. 13 - Power Adders
Chap. 14 - Packages
Chap. 15 - 405HP Engine
8-1/2 x 11
44 pages
445 B/W Photos
Item #SA82P
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any modular engine owner or enthusiast will enjoy!

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