Archive for August, 2004

Machine shop time!

During this entire process of trying to customize and “rejuvinate” my Mustang I’ve kept a third eye open for local machine shops that could do the machine work on my block. There are quite a few places in my area, but since Im picky I was only really interested in places which work exclusively (or at least mostly) on Ford engines and performed the work in-house. My thinking is, if I took my business to a place like that, the shop being extremely familiar with my small black Ford, might know of some small performance advantages that other less experienced shops might not know, plus they could easily recognize a problem and how to handle it efficiently. But also having the work performed in-house would place all responsibility for the quality of thier work on them and them alone. Not to mention if you go with a shop that outsources machine work you’ve just added a few more hands to the pot which potentially raises the overall cost of the work and the potential for problems.

So with the above criteria in hand I went to the first shop closest to my house, Lamotta Performance. They have performed a bunch of work on Mustangs over the years, even being featured in a few magazines tuning cars as they have a dyno. Anyway, I went in and got a quote to do the block work (details on what needs to be done is below) for about $750. Unfortunately, I found out they outsource any machine work to a local machine shop, and since all my work would be machine work I decided to go somewhere else.

A friend of mine had some work done at Powered By Ford in downtown Orlando a few months ago, and I’d heard they had a reputation for quality work, at a high price. I also heard if you didnt know what you were doing when you walked in you could walk out with more than you intended. Sounded to me like they have good shop techs and really good salesman. So I drove down and spoke with Brian about a quote. It came out to about $650 for: boring the block 0.030 over with torque plates, dynamically balance the rotating assembly, checking the block for irregularities and mill if needed, chase threads, install freeze plugs, file fit the piston rings, and assemble the pistons, rods, and crankshaft. On top of that he said they could degree in the cam and install the timing chain for free since its so easy and fast. Plus it would be no problem for me to give them a list of specs to maintain while assembling the engine.

Now I know what your thinking – I said I was going to “…do everything myself without paying a shop to do it for me…”. However, when I stated that I knew there would be a few things I knew I would physically and financially not be able to do on my own. The first thing – I cannot do things like bore an engine block properly since I dont have the extra $20-40K sitting around to buy the machines I would need. Secondly – I dont have a climate controlled shop to do a clean assembly. Heck, I dont even have a freakin garage, so that ones a no brainer. Lastly (as if the first two
weren’t enough) I dont have the tools or the money to buy them. Plus it doesnt make much sense for me to buy a tool I’m only going to use once or twice. So, perhaps I should revise my initial statement to something like “…do everything myself without borrowing money to invest in the capital required to facilitate machine work on my engine block, unless thats cheaper than having to pay a shop to do it for me…” :)

So long story short, on Monday I dropped off the engine block, rotating assembly (including flywheel) to get the above machining performed. In case your interested, below is the list of clearances and notes the engine assembly followed. I highly recommend using them as they came from a very credible source (Bennett Racing Engines, as they apply to their Turbo 331 engine assembly:

  • Piston Deck Height: 0.010 (below deck)
  • Main and Rod-Bearing Clearance: 0.0027-0.0030
  • Rod Side Clearance: 0.020-0.025
  • Crankshaft Thrust: 0.005-0.0055
  • Piston-to-Bore: 0.0055
  • Piston-Ring Endgap: 0.025-0.028, top and second
  • Piston-to-Head (Minimum): 0.040, steel rods; 0.060, aluminum rods
  • Piston-to-Valve (Minimum): 0.100
  • Spark Plugs: NGK V-Power (R5671A), 0.030 gap
  • Rod-Bolt Torque (ARP 3/8 bolts): 55 lb-ft
  • Head-Bolt Torque (ARP 1/2 bolts): 115 lb-ft, top row; 105 lb-ft, bottom row
  • Body parts!

    I recently ordered a new hood and hatch from Cervini’s out of NJ The stock hood from the factory is pretty heavy plus it had its fair share of dents from when Barry installed the GT-40 intake and spacer. I decided I wanted a little more clearance and went with Cervini’s 1.5 inch cowl hood (the stock hood is 0.5 inch) which is made of fiberglass and weighs much less than the stock piece. I also ordered one of Cervini’s fiberglass hatch lids to replace the rusted out stock original. The old piece had, in my opinion, a bad design in that the rubber boot which gives clearance to remove the GT wing from the hatch comes loose easily allowing water to get inside. Plus the original was so heavy how could you not want to get rid of it. Here is a pic of both parts after I unpacked them:

    Not shown is a generic rear bumper I purchased on ebay for $110 shipped! The OEM Ford parts costs approx. $230. The reason for the price difference is the Ford part has the word “Mustang” embossed into the plastic while the generic one I bought does not. I actually prefer the blank setup because I think it gives the car a cleaner line from the back. Had they also sold the side skirts I would have also purchased a set of these without the “Mustang” again because I prefer the cleaner lines.

    Along with these major body parts I have also been stockpiling a large number of support pieces, i.e., weatherstripping, light bulbs, new fasteners to replace the corroded ones, etc. Here is a pic showing just a few things:

    You’ll note the Steeda quatermolding (the triangular shaped parts) against the wall. I actually decided not to use them because they actually cover the molding and protrude too far from the body to look good. You’ll also see the new LX tail light lenses to replace the ugly GT style.

    I’m calling it: TOD 9:45 A.M.

    This morning at approximately 9:45 while trying to start the car after letting it sit for a few weeks (it was giving me problems the week before) to drive to work I heard an odd poofing noise from the front. It sounded much like a muffled backfire except instead of coming from the exhaust it seemed to come from the engine bay. I wasnt quite sure what it was but continued on only to realize my repeated attempts to start it were in vain. I popped the hood and immediately noticed blue smoke coming from the breather. This happens when I havent run the car for a while so I thought no big deal. I checked the plugs, ignition wires, cap/rotor, I was getting fuel, nothing leaking (at least more than usual). I couldnt figure out the problem, plus I was now 2 hours late for work.

    So, with my stroker motor components sitting inside as “backup” and my Irish temper getting the better of me, I made the depressing decision to annouce the death of my engine. There were no crazy explosions, no broken parts flying out of the engine bay, just a funny poof noise, and me using explicitive wording, angry that my engine was on its last legs. I knew this would happen, I just wasnt ready for it to happen now. So after all the drag races, legal and illegal, high speed “tests”, countless starts and stops, and general abuse of the motor both by myself and Barry, the odometer read 191,084 miles. Not bad for a factory engine that had the crap beat out of it.

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