408w Swap Part 2

So, what’s going on with the swap? I’ve built up probably half a dozen shortblocks and the worst I’ve had were a mis-adjusted TV cable, failed to tighten an upper radiator hose, and a distributor that was 180 out. This one broke my streak, and my pride. The first thing that went wrong was a bolt that broke off in the lower intake manifold. Trying to tap out the broken bolt, a buddy broke the tap off in the intake. I ordered a set of tap extractors online. They arrived, tried those, and had no luck. Back to eBay to buy another used lower, port it, paint it, and install it.

After getting everything installed, the next problem I had was with the fuel lines. Those damned Ford connectors were giving me fits. I went round and round with the repair kits and finally got everything connecting and with no leaks. Once the fuel rail was getting fuel pressure, I then discovered it was leaking as well. The fuel rail had gotten tweaked at some point and wasn’t allowing one of the injectors to seat properly. I removed the upper intake, fuel rail, and “untweaked” it. Note: You may want to check for leaks after installing your fuel rails before moving on. With no more fuel leaks, I was finally able to turn the motor over. Then after a bit of cranking, the starter gave up the ghost.

A new high-torque starter was purchased and installed, and I went at it again. The motor fired to life, but sounded like crap and had a nasty miss. I thought maybe it was some timing issues, so I pulled the distributor, reset the timing, and tried cranking it again. And cranking, and cranking, and cranking. I must have reset the timing a half-dozen times, and flipped it 180 a half-dozen more. The motor finally cranked again, but sounded only marginally better, and still had a miss. I pulled the plugs to make sure none were fouled, moved the timing a hair, and tried to start it again. After much more cranking and finagling with the timing I couldn’t get the thing to run again. I pushed the truck into the shop and here it sat for a long while.

I finally manged to get back on the project and decided to start doing some trouble shooting. A leak-down check of the motor showed no sealing in a few of the cylinders and numbers all over the place. First thoughts were that the timing was off, and that I’d mis-aligned the cam sprocket. I tore down the front of the motor and pulled the timing cover off only to find the timing chain was setup correctly. Having the motor down this far, I decided to pull the lower intake and valve covers off to have a look at what the lifters and rockers were doing.

A few of the lifters had collapsed, so I decided to tear apart an old spare distributor to use the shaft in the end of a drill as a priming tool. I inserted my homemade pre-luber, and went at it. I’d run the drill for a few seconds beyond seeing oil come out the top of pushrods, rotate the motor (by hand) a partial revolution, and prime the motor some more. I did this for quite a while, but a few of the lifters wouldn’t pump up. The next thing was to fully loosen the rockers to alleviate the valve spring’s tension on the lifter. Pulling the pushrods, I discovered one of them was bent. I now feared piston-to-valve contact. After removing the lifters that wouldn’t pump up, I found the caps jambed down. Hoping they were just stuck after sitting for a while and not damaged from any valves and pistons smacking each other, I put them back in their bores and ran the drill to prime the motor and put some more fresh oil in the lifters, hoping they’d pump up with no pressure from the valve springs. After doing this for a bit, the lifters slowly began to pump. Now on to the bent pushrod.

The heads were then pulled to inspect for any piston-to-valve interference, but none was found. I turned the heads upside down and filled them with rubbing alcohol to make sure the valves were still seating properly. I left the heads for quite a while and came back to find no hint of a leak. To date, the best theory on what happened is that I carelessly mis-adjusted the rockers. When setting the rockers, and turning the motor over by hand, some lifters will collapse a bit, making it seem that the lifters are too lose. I’m thinking I wasn’t paying attention to which rockers I’d set and reset a few too tight. Once the motor was started and the lifters pumped up, the valve hit the piston bending the pushrod. This then caused a loss of compression in that cylinder, which further caused the miss-fire and the noted poor running condition. Then while turning the motor over, the oil pressure was too low to keep the lifters pumped, so they collapsed. After sitting for a year, a few of them must have stuck closed, only to loosen after being bathed in oil for a few days. The other poor leak-down numbers are due to a new shortblock with unseated rings. A later leak-down test done with oil in the cylinders yielded better results.

I never liked the idea of using those E7 castings, but being on a budget and having them already lying around made it too tempting. I knew the motor was going to be choked a bit on the upper RPMs with those heads, but a bigger issue was that the compression ratio was probably going to be way too high with their small combustion chambers. Through all this mess, I was convinced to swap heads. I looked around and decided on the iron World Products Windsor Sr. heads. Killer flow, good price, and I liked the idea of having iron heads since the motor was intended more for towing duty than the drag strip. Spare parts were sold, and new heads and hardened pushrods were purchased. From the time I decided to get the World Products heads, to selling the parts to raise money, to actually buying the heads and pushrods was several more months.

Jumping back into it, the next problem I had was that I was careless in installing the heads. Reusing the dowels that align the head and the block was causing issues. The head kept sliding off the side of the block and pulling the dowels out of their bores. I finally though I had it all taken care of, got the heads torqued down, went to put the lower intake on and found this:

Finagling the heads, I’d pinched the head gaskets and not caught it. This meant purchasing two more head gaskets and more time wasted. Along with new gaskets, I bought a set of new dowels, which apparently did the trick. They tightly slid into their bores, and when I went to place the heads on them, it was snug, but they settled down just fine. This time around, I was sure to be patient and pay attention to setting the rockers.

Hooking up the vacuum lines and electrical connectors, I discovered I’d busted the knock sensor when removing it. Another stopping point as I went to track a new one down. When I finally got to the upper intake, I couldn’t find any gaskets locally, so one had to be ordered. Once I had gaskets in hand, I got back to work. Then there was a problem with the PCV valve; it was squished between the valve covers and bottom of the upper intake. This meant sourcing a shorter valve. And then I got back to needing more parts.

The holes the accessories use are larger than the bolts that go into them. This is common on emissions legal Ford Windsor heads. There are reducer bushings that are used. My AFR heads came with these bushings, but the World Products did not.

So, again, more parts are ordered, and here I am, awaiting their arrival. The only things left to do before cranking the motor again are the installation of the accessories and the throttle body and associated connections and plumbing. Keep your fingers crossed.