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Modifying Small Block Ford Cylinder Heads
Modifying Small
Block Ford Cylinder

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Machine Shop
When you arrive at the machine shop with your engine, there are going to be all kinds of questions
from the machinist that you’ll have to answer. The machinists will want to know what you want done
to the engine. This chapter should help you figure that out ahead of time. First, you need to have
all castings and components thoroughly cleaned, which is normally performed by the machine shop.
Once these parts are completely cleaned, it’s time for machine work.

So what is all this machine work about? Why is it necessary, and what can we do without when we’
re on a budget? First, we have to understand the difference between an engine “overhaul” and a
“rebuild.” An engine overhaul is little more than a ring and bearing job, which costs less and buys
the owner some time. Think of an engine overhaul as a band-aid fix. The band-aid keeps you from
bleeding excessively, but it doesn’t heal the cut. It only buys you time.

When we do an engine overhaul, we knock the engine down to the bare block, cut the ridges at the
tops of the cylinders (in order to get the pistons and rods out), run a ball hone up and down the
cylinders to cut the glaze, inspect the bearings, and replace what needs to be replaced. An
overhaul just tightens things back up for a while, but it isn’t really a permanent fix.

An engine rebuild molds new life into an old, worn-out engine. If performed properly, and with great
attention to detail, an engine rebuild can mean 100,000 to 300,000 miles of new life with proper
maintenance and use. All this new life, just from complete machining and installing quality parts.
Machine Shop Check List

Block Work
A: Bore cylinders to next oversize if tapered more than .011 inch.
B: Hone cylinders to true piston size.
C: Check line bore – hone or bore as necessary.
D: Hone lifter bores.
E: Check block deck for trueness. Mill as necessary.
F: Check all oil galleys. Clean thoroughly with solvent and wire brush.
G: Inspect and clean all water jackets.
H: Chase and repair all threads.

Rotating Assembly Work
A: Inspect crankshaft for trueness (is it straight?) and cracking.
B: Measure crank, machine journals to next undersize.
C: If journals look good and measure well, polish only.
D: Inspect and recondition connecting rods.
E: Install new connecting rod bolts.
F: Inspect and reface flywheel (if equipped).
G: Inspect flexplate for cracking (if equipped).
H: Clean and chase threads.
I: Clean and chase all oil passages.

Cylinder Heads
A: Check mating surfaces, mill only as necessary.
B: Replace valves and valveguides.
C: Install hardened exhaust valve seats.
D: Three-angle valve job.
E: Clean and chase all threads.
The Block
We need to begin the block machining process with a thorough cleaning. In the good old days, we
used to dunk those nasty castings in a lye tank to get them clean. In the interest of a cleaner
environment, machine shops have had to become familiar with new, more responsible cleaning
processes. Jim Grubbs Motorsports, which is building this engine, has the latest cleaning
technology available. Grubbs begins by cooking dirty, grimy castings at high temperature. Once
that process is complete, castings are placed in a rotisserie where they are blasted with steel shot.
When castings emerge from the cleaning equipment, they look like brand new iron castings. This is
something that old lye tank could never do even on its best day. Not only do we
have cleaner
castings, but we also have a cleaner environment.

With a clean block, we need to check all water jackets and oil passages for cleanliness. Even
though our block may look hospital clean, there are areas we are bound to miss if we don’t pay
close attention. Oil passages and water jackets need a thorough pass with solvent and a wire rat-
tail brush. All freeze plugs and oil galley plugs must be removed for this process.
Before we even consider boring the block, we need to check each cylinder bore for taper and other
irregularities. We suggest this because some blocks are bored that don’t need to be bored. This is
wasteful. If cylinder bore taper is less than .011-inch from top to bottom, you can get away with
honing, and a fresh set of standard pistons and rings.

Most blocks need to be bored at least .020-inch oversize. If you can get .020-inch oversize pistons,
opt for this size rather than the more traditional .030-inch overbore. This buys the block at least
one more rebuild.
Another dynamic we need to check at the same time we check bore taper is the line-bore. The
line-bore is the main bearing saddles and caps. We need to check the line-bore for proper
alignment and dimension. Most of the time, you can get away with honing the line-bore. We hone
the line-bore just like we hone cylinders or recondition connecting rods. When we hone the
line-bore, we are scoring the main bearing contact surfaces to improve bearing adhesion with the
main caps.
How To Remove A Broken Bolt
You’re bound to run into this sooner or later – the stubborn bolt that has broken off into a block or
cylinder head. Sometimes corrosion gets the best of a bolt shank. Other times, the bolt’s integrity
wasn’t much to begin with. And sometimes, people just get stupid and cross-thread bolts into holes
that won’t come out without a lot of sweat. Our 289 block has several oil pan bolts that have broken
off into the block. We’re going after them now.
Broken bolt in small block Ford oil pan rail
First, we work the
damaged bolt with a dye
grinder, creating a
countersink for the drill
bit. This gives the drill bit
a place to start.
Drilling a broken bolt
A 1/8-inch drill bit is
used to carefully drill
the hole we need for
the bolt extractor
(sometimes called an
Using a bolt extractor to remove a broken bolt
The bolt extractor is gently
tapped into the hole. We
twist the extractor
counterclockwise, and out
comes the bolt.
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How to Rebuild the Small Block Ford How to Rebuild the Small Block Ford
by George Reid
One of the best reference books available for rebuilding the
Ford 221, 260, 289, 302, Boss 302, 351W, 351C, 351M and 400
Over the years, the small-block Ford has remained one of the most
popular and widely used engines on the planet. From the earliest
Fairlanes and Mustangs to the latest Mustangs and light trucks, the
Ford small-block has powered them all. With the amount of aftermarket
support and rebuildable cores out there, you don’t have to worry about
spending an arm and a leg for a quality rebuild – especially if you do
the teardown and assembly yourself. This all-new color edition of How
to Rebuild the Small-Block Ford guides you step by step through a
rebuild, including: planning your rebuild, disassembly and inspection,
choosing the right parts, machine work, assembling your engine, and
first firing and break-in. The Workbench format also gives you helpful
hints and tips on performance upgrades, including cams, heads,
ignition, induction, and more. It also points out problem areas to watch
for, professional builder tips, jobs that need special care or special
tools, and more. Whether you're a first-time engine builder or a
seasoned professional, this is the essential guide to rebuilding your
small-block Ford.
Chap. 1 - Before You Begin
Chap. 2 - Engine Disassembly
Chap. 3 - Selecting Parts
Chap. 4 - Machine Shop
Chap. 5 - Engine Assembly
Chap. 6 - Break-In Tuning
Chap. 7 - Buyer's Guide
Chap. 8 - Engine Math
This is one of the best reference books available for rebuilding the small
block Ford and something that any enthusiast will love!
How to Rebuild
the Small Block Ford
by George Reid
Condition: NEW
8-1/2 x 11"
144 pages
495 Color Photos

Item: SA102
Price: $
Click here to buy now!

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How to Build Big-Inch Ford Small Blocks
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