Let's face it, as motorheads, we play little head games with each other. Of course, if that head being gamed is Hemi-derived, a simple look under the bonnet will shut up the naysayers. We get a somewhat perverse thrill out of psyching each other out a bit. Take this gem here-looks pretty serious, right? Well, it began life as a two-barrel 318, the most common V-8 in the world of Mopars. So you could tell that inquisitive mind giving it the eyeball that it's a 318, and ya wouldn't be lyin'. Of course, just like Charles Atlas' old ads in the comic books, this former 98-pound weakling is done getting kicked in the face.
As Ken showed us, this is...
As Ken showed us, this is a literal armory of potential Mopar engines, all of which had been given basic approval before being stacked against the wall. Like the Marines, however, not all will make the final cut, as they will be pressure- and sonic-tested for cylinder-wall thickness and core strength before ever being selected for stroker use (or any buildup at Hensley's for that matter).
For starters, it now sports a crank and reciprocating parts that have boosted the internal displacement by over 80 cubes, for a total of 402 inches that will stomp those 5.0 girlie men into the dirt in a heads-up battle. It's topped off with a bunch of tasty goodies, so you might want to think twice before swapping a heavier big-block into your ride.
We first saw this engine in its finished state at Hensley Racing Enterprises, based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ken and Alice Hensley have run this particular Chrysler-oriented operation since 1996, when they bought out retiring Chrysler maven Herb McCandless. their background in Mopar parts dates back to the '60s with a speed equipment business in their family-owned Dodge dealership. Ken has been a Chrysler loyalist throughout the last 35-plus years, either as a businessman or a racer. Today, the firm's large building, located off the Clinton Highway, features a retail store out front, while son Matt and a crew of talented merry men are in the machine shop massaging parts and building engines for customers. What makes Hensley unique in this particular project is they are building stroker small-block engines as 'crate designs,' which the Hensleys sell under the HRE Blueprint Series.
After the block is pre-tested...
After the block is pre-tested and bored to spec, it is put on the Sunnen CK-10 mill and honed. The torque plate bolted to the deck will make all the difference in the world when the engine is finally assembled, as the bores will have been honed with the exact stress the head fasteners place on the structure of the block when the head is installed.
"These are not crate motors in the conventional sense," states Ken. "We know each engine application is different, and we really want to find out what the customer wants before we start putting one of these motors together. Basically, what we do is use a select number of parts that have proven to work, and combine them into a specific package that meets the customer's needs. Where we are different from some other engine builders is that we have the hardware here to build the basic package pretty quick. The bottom end is similar across the board, and we change things here and there as the customer's needs dictate."
Hensley Performance offers the engine in a variety of power levels, ranging from a torquey stump-puller for towing, to a roller-cammed bracket engine. So we came to the Volunteer State to get the lowdown on brewing up the 318 stroker 'crate motor.' Since you will probably want to know the pocket wallop before getting started, the price of the basic 402 intake-to-pan stroker is just under $6,500 from Hensley, which is very economical when you realize the pre-use teardown some other crate engines may require is not needed. This package has been built by Mopar-racing guys who take a lot of pride in doing it right-period. It uses name-brand parts and high-quality machine work for a butt-kicking final combination. The version shown here will cost a little more, since we utilized the Edelbrock head option.
Of course, you could certainly do this buildup at home. you can also call the Hensley's shop at 865/947-0426 and talk to someone about your specific application, and they'll either put one together for you or sell you all the parts you need. Regardless of the method that works best for you, here's how it's done
Fresh main caps from Mopar...
Fresh main caps from Mopar are used when the engine is planned for bracket duty or higher rpm usage. These will be bolted onto the block before final machining, and will be align-bored to the main saddles.
Tools make all the difference,...
Tools make all the difference, especially when preparing an engine for performance assembly. One final step before putting any parts into our stroker 318 is to use a bore indicator to be absolutely certain that every machined surface is ready.
Bottom End Basics Here is...
Bottom End Basics
Here is our 4-inch-long cast arm from Mopar Performance, PN P5007253, which is good for power blasts to 6,500 rpm. A forged version (P5007252) is also available, though HRE uses the cast version even on bracket motors as long as they are not subject to forced induction or nitrous oxide.