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2,651 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, life is getting busier and going in an unanticipated, but positive, direction. My interest for vehicle builds has taken a back seat to life and getting older, in general, and I'm trying to get all my sh*t boxes buttoned up before I get to the point where they're neglected entirely. That concrete ain't gettin' any softer on the back and transmissions ain't gettin' any lighter. I've got, perpetually, more and more going on and it seems to be the natural progression of things. I had a fairly organized plan of how I was going to present all this material and the format I was going to use. Also, I had a vision of what the BKO was going to be. That's all become relatively impractical and gone out the window now. Lol. So, I'll just take anyone who's interested along on the sporadic play of how things have materialized and some tech/fab/industry tidbits along the way.

Because of my background in motorsports, throughout the years, I've gotten many questions, from many people, about how things are done. There is no single proper way to do something. PERIOD. Many different methods are utilized by different professionals to achieve a desired result. So, the information I'm presenting has been the result of working hand-in-hand with some of these professionals and taking their application techniques down to the "home garage" level. If you can take something away from this build thread to apply to your own work: make it yours, make it work for you, your budget, and your situation. That being said, this is how this particular build progressed. Let's hit it...



This is how my BKO started its life with me. I saw it sitting on a used car lot that I passed by every day to work. It hadn't moved in over a year. I decided to stop by one day and check it out. It was an '88 XLT, 5.0L, AOD, 3.55 open diff, top-hat hubs, quad shock option, swing-away tire carrier and 187,000 miles. It had a sticker price of $2,995. This was in August of 2014. When I popped the hood and crawled underneath the chassis everything was completely original with factory parts. Nothing had been modified. Hell, the shocks were still factory. Even the dash was in good shape, under the cover. I had to have this unicorn. It was a little mom-and-pop car lot and the owners agreed to a "layaway" payment plan with no interest. They kept the vehicle until I paid it off. Win.

Now, during this time, I was building an engine for a customer I had done some work for in the past. The motor was as roller block 5.0L out of a '92 T-bird. It was going to go in a '66 Bronco he had recently acquired. He wanted a mild build, initially, just to have something to take the BKO out and about. Something in the 250-300 HP range and erring towards a practical TQ curve. He wanted to show the truck off more than wheel it, so aesthetics were a priority on the build. This is what we came up with based on the budget constraint he specified:

  • 5.0L roller block with stock rotating assembly/bottom-end, bored .020" over, maintaining serpentine belt accessory drive.
  • Explorer 5.0L camshaft.
  • GT40P (4-bar) cylinder heads, re-man'd with Viton valve seals.
  • Weiand Street Fighter dual-plane intake manifold.
  • Holley Truck Avenger 670 cfm carburetor.
  • Holley 110 GPH fuel pump.
  • HEI-style distributor.
  • 8mm MSD plug wires (customized cut-to-length).
  • Flow Kooler water pump.
  • Full-length headers (brand to be determined based on engine bay fitment).
  • ARP fasteners/studs used throughout.
  • Color scheme: New Ford Gray/black accents.

I had a different thought about what to run for carburetor sizing, but he opted for the 670 "in case" he wanted to build the motor into a stroker at a later date. This outline was a pretty straightforward build, relatively inexpensive, and would get him in the power-band he wanted. This guy usually goes pretty big with his builds, but this one seemed kinda "low-buck" given his prior requests. No custom cam grinds, no CNC'd heads, no port work, no gasket-matching, no lightening/balancing of the rotating assembly, no forged bottom end componentry, etc. Hell, not even roller rockers or one-piece pushrods. This led me to believe it was just a temporary motor and he had bigger plans in the works for down-the-road. That's fine. Easy build. Here's how it went down, starting at a local machine shop I've been going to for almost 20 years (which is where some of my industry "education" comes from):





The above 4 pics are of the bare block after it comes out of the hot-tank cleaning and bead blasting. It's been inspected, via magnafluxing, for cracks/damage and all threaded holes are chased.


This is the block being fixtured in the boring machine. The block's cylinder walls will develop a wear pattern from the piston traveling up-and-down, over millions of cycles, during the engine's service life. If you were to cut the cylinder in half, longitudinally, and view it straight on, it would look like this: ( ). We need to "true-up" the cylinder walls to "re-set" the wear pattern to zero. I didn't want to overbore the the cylinders too much, as I wanted the customer to get as many rebuilds as possible out of this block. Therefore, we only went with a .020" overbore because that's the minimum it took to "clean up" the cylinder walls to this: I I. So, we had this: ( ) and we want this: I I.


Here are the heads being fixtured for a rebuild. They've gone through the same hot-tank, blast, and mag process as the block. They've also been "decked/milled" to true up their mating surface to the block. You can do further machining processes to modify the heads, but we'll get into that later on in this build where we get our hands on some GT40 (3-bar) heads.


Here's everything complete and ready-to-go. The rods have been sized, and everything has been cleaned/inspected. Master overhaul kit came in, too. Let's get this stuff back to the garage and get started.


Ta-da! It's on the stand, it's got a neighbor to keep it company, and all the parts made it back safe. I opted to have to machine shop use their rod heater to install the piston wrist pins. I have the ability to do this work myself, but I wanted the shop's warranty for the customer.

Stay tuned... lot's more ready-to-go and coming, but I'm out of posting time for the moment. Just got called into work.

2,651 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Okay, since I seem to be able to only attach 10 pictures per post, I guess I'll have to start a new post to continue. Let's get back to it...




Here is where I start to coat the block with engine enamel. The color is "New Ford Gray" and I'm using a special application technique that I'll cover, in detail, later on when we get to those GT40 heads I mentioned earlier. The customer wanted to show off the cast aluminum components in their natural color, so I taped off all the gasket mating surfaces and am painting everything separately, as opposed to assembling the entire block and coating the whole thing at once.



Now, I've verified the piston ring gaps and have knocked the pistons into their bores. Wiping the cylinder walls with WD-40 on a paper towel helps prevent pre-mature galling of the cross-hatch hone by the rings and makes install a bit easier. I always use plain paper towels when dealing with engine internals because any small fibers left behind will either disintegrate in oil or burn up during the combustion process if it's left in the cylinder.

As a note, prior to assembling the engine it's wise to blow every orifice out with compressed air as leftover particulates from the machining process could have been missed by the shop and get trapped in oil/water passages. These small particulates can later make their way into bearings and do damage.


This is a shot of the rotating assembly after turning the engine upside-down. All factory rod and cap bolts were replaced with ARP fasteners. They have a much higher tensile strength than factory hardware and will help prevent bolt stretch so we can maintain our bearing clearances longer. We want to do what we can to ensure a long service life. All bearings get coated with Lucas assembly lube prior to install as well. It has a long tack duration, so we don't have to worry about a dry startup. Finally, the rear main cap should get a thin coat of anaerobic sealant on the sides (not underneath) of the cap-to-block mating surfaces. This will help prevent rear main leaks in the future.


Next up is the double-roller timing chain and fuel pump eccentric. I asked the customer if he wanted to replace the cam sprocket bolt with an ARP as well, but he declined.



Now it's time for the oil pump. It has a unique 4WD pickup for the rear sump oil pan, so one of the ARP cap bolts will have to be replaced with an ARP stud to accommodate the pickup's support arm. The cap needed to be completely removed and bearing clearance re-verified for this change. One cannot simply replace the bolt.
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2,651 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some of these pictures are a bit out-of-sequence because I failed to document the process while I was actually doing the work and the customer went back-and-forth on a couple things he wanted. The timing cover/water pump fasteners, for example need to be torqued in a specific sequence and I wanted to get it done before the sealant had a chance to start flashing, so I didn't get pictures of that. That being said...




The timing cover bolts are a special-made set, by ARP, for Late Model Restoration, which is a Mustang parts company. The studs that come in the kit are the proper length for serpentine belt front dress/bracketry. The oil pan and balancer also got ARP hardware. The timing cover install uses a special process I was taught years ago by the machine shop where I had all the work done. Permatex's "The Right Stuff" black is what was used for all RTV on this build. The machine shop buys the stuff, in bulk, in caulking gun tubes for their use, but you can pick up small applicator cans at any parts store. A thin film of RTV is smeared, with a nitrile-gloved finger, around the front crank seal's metal body and it's tapped into the bore in the timing cover with a soft-face dead-blow hammer, using a wood block as a backer, so you don't crack/chip the cover. The "leak-proof" timing cover and water pump install is as follows:

1.) Using a nitrile-gloved finger, smear RTV on the block's timing cover mating face in a thin film.
2.) Using bolts to help with the hole alignment, stick the timing cover gasket to the block.
3.) Smear a thin film of RTV on the front of gasket you just stuck to the block leaving the bolts in place to keep the gasket from shifting while you do this. This film of RTV will be used to seal the BACK of the timing cover on in a minute.
4.) Smear a thin film of RTV on the FRONT of the timing cover and stick the water pump gasket in place using bolts to help with the alignment. The back of the cover is clean, so you can set it on a clean surface to help with this.
5.) Smear a thin film of RTV on the front of the water pump gasket you just stuck to the timing cover, making sure to avoid getting any RTV too close to the pump passageway openings.
6.) Using the bolts that go all the way through the pump and timing cover to screw into the block, as guides, set the water pump into place on top of the gasket that's stuck to the timing cover. This is all done on a table surface so you can stack one thing on top of the other.
7.) Remove the gasket alignment bolts from the block that were used in step #2 and take the entire pump/cover/block bolt assembly off the table and use those block bolts to affix the assembly to the gasket that's already stuck to the block. Verify which bolts go into water passages and coat those threads with thread sealant. Install all fasteners and torque to spec in proper sequence.

Now every component has a film of RTV in between. The RTV sets up (flashes) fairly quickly, so you should plan to move though this process quickly. Plan it out ahead of time and make sure you know what you're going to do and the steps you're taking.

Moving forward, there are several areas of engine builds in which I refuse to compromise on quality. One of those areas is preventative measures. Solving a problem before it becomes a problem. The most common leaks on an engine occur from the oil pan, the valve covers, and the rear main seal. The gaskets for these need to be quality. Therefore, I use Fel-Pro's Perma Dry gasket for the oil pans I install. It is re-useable, single-piece silicone rubber construction, and has integrated crush limiters. The crush limiters not only help with install of the pan for even torquing, but in the future when motor mounts need to be replaced in the vehicle, where do guys usually place the jack to lift the motor up? That's right... the oil pan. This action hyper-compresses the gasket and then allows for the potential for leaks when the pressure of the jack is released. Crush limiters help avoid that situation. These gaskets get installed DRY. NO RTV except for smearing a little on the joint of the timing chain cover-to-block interface before putting the gasket on.



Some straight 30W (or even better is a very thin film of axle grease) is smeared on the inner lip of the front cover seal lips just before the balancer is installed. The rotational friction of the engine start-up can smoke a front seal very quickly, if it's not lubricated, and you'll have leaks or a noisy squeal.
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