by Jon Mikelonis
What fits between three-hundred-fifty-one and four-hundred-twenty-nine
cubic inches, accommodates the infamous Ford canted valve
cylinder head, offers a half inch more stroke than a 351 Cleveland
motor, and is sometimes referred to as an iron sanctuary for
crustaceans? Congratulations, you got it... the boat anchor
Ford 400. There's been quite a lot of talk about this
mill lately both in the cellulose media and here digitally
on FordMuscle. Well finally, the FordMuscle staff has taken
the time to document and detail their own 400 build in order
to encourage you to consider what has long been referred to
as the oddball of the vintage Ford engine family.
While you'd be correct in saying that this isn't going to
be the first article you've read on a street-oriented Ford
400, FordMuscle can promise you that this will be the most
detailed and comprehensive. In the following pages, we'll
be highlighting one real-world course-of-action taken for
building a performance 400, taking you through component selection,
machine shop interaction, and mockup. Before we get started,
let's cover some previously published background material
on the Ford 351M/400 engine family and preliminary articles
specifically related to this 400 "Cleveland" build.
351M/400 - Find Performance Within the Other Aftermarket
Shortly after Hot Rod magazine published their story on a
"400M" build in their February 2007 issue, we quickly
put together a 351M/400 "desk reference" for the
Ford enthusiast. The article's intent was primarily to showcase
the hidden performance aftermarket for these castaway motors.
very valuable, the article was still hypothetical in nature
in that FordMuscle didn't actually perform their own 351M/400
engine build. Our 400 Cleveland Build series can be considered
a companion set to "351M/400 - Find Performance Within
the Other Aftermarket". Better put, this article and
the ones to follow will attempt to validate the positions
and points made in our 351M/400 reference article. That is,
you CAN build a stout 351M/400 using readily available Ford-specific
performance parts, and there is no need to assume that "bastard
truck motor" has to be replaced with a 460.
N' Real - OEM Connecting Rod Preparation, Reconditioning,
and Balancing The first measure taken for this build immediately
addressed one of the 400's major shortcomings in the aftermarket
relative to most any other Ford V8. That's
right, no manufacturer (domestic or offshore) is producing
an aftermarket connecting rod for the 351M/400. Since balancing
the rotating assembly is one of the first steps in engine
building, FordMuscle covered DIY rod preparation in the article
Rod N' Real. Admittedly, the task can be arduous and even
old-fashioned for some. For those unwilling to die grind 16
connecting rod parting lines, companies like tmeyerinc.com
do offer reconditioned 400 rods complete with ARP hardware.
This article will highlight some of the first interactions
with our machinist and provide you a thorough reference for
Revealed - A Balanced Rotating Assembly is a Good Thing but
What Does it Really Mean? "Balancing Revealed"
covers the parts required to accomplish the sometimes mysterious
engine machine shop procedure of rotating assembly balancing.
subject engine used for this article published in April 2008
was indeed the same Ford 400 we'll be covering here. Before
a cutting tool even touched our 400's block, our machinist
would need to balance the rotating assembly. With regard to
our 400 Build or any engine build for that matter, "Balancing
Revealed" provides you with the parts required and selected
in order to perform proper engine balancing.
So What's the
Our 400 will eventually end up in front of a T5 inside a 1972
Torino with no absolute racing duty, and we can guarantee
the motor will not see a drag strip. For all intents and purposes,
this buildup is considered a street performance motor best
suited for a "resto-mod". The goal is to have a
pump gas 9.5:1 400 perfect for warm summer night cruising,
occasional blasts on open roads, and some eventual autocross
American Iron Series fun.
Parts Selection and Rationale)