2 3 4 5 6

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. While 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.

Rod 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 rod preparation.

Balancing 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. The 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 Application?
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.

(Critical Parts Selection and Rationale)

2 3 4 5 6

In This Article...
FordMuscle takes you step-by-step through the mockup stage of a 9.5:1 Ford 400 build. This first installment in the series "400 Cleveland Build" stresses the importance of pre-assembly to
verify critical clearances and the value of personal accountability when working with a machine shop to create your own combo.

Page 2: Critical Parts Selection and Rationale
Most of the satisfaction of building your own motor comes from the uniqueness of the combination. Here we'll discuss the rationale behind the selection of the critical power producing engine parts for our 400 motor.

Page 3: Back From the Machine Shop and Initial Procedures.

The freshly machined and prepped 400 block, crank, and rod assemblies are back in the garage, so where do we start?

Page 4: Pre-Installing Crankshaft and Checking Main Bearing Clearance

In order to check piston-to-head clearance and piston-to-valve clearance,
the crank will need to be pre-installed. Might as well verify main bearing clearance while we're at it.

Page 5: Pre-Installing Piston and Rod Assemblies - Checking Rod Bearing and Piston-to-Head Clearance
Here we'll be showing how piston-to-head clearance is verified. This important step will ensure the desired 9.5:1 compression ratio and the "squareness" of the 400 block.

Page 6: Cam Degreeing and Checking Piston-to-Valve Clearance
Using a dial indicator and tester springs, we confirm the precise intake
and exhaust valve piston-to-valve clearance achieved after decking the block and using a custom piston.

400 Cleveland Build
Quick Facts

Block Factory Ford 400
.030" Over
10.235" Deck
Crank Factory Ford 400
.010"/.010" Grind
Rods Factory Ford 400
Prepped and Reconditioned
Pistons Probe Forged (FPS) 351C with custom 28cc dish and .975" pin bore
Camshaft Comp Cams
Retro-Fit Hydraulic Roller
.578" Lift
230 Duration
PN 32-541-8
Heads Edelbrock Performer RPM for 351C
Intake TBD
Carburetor TBD
Ignition Mallory Max-Fire


Tech Archives Project Cars Readers Cars Feature Cars