Small budget--big power, theis...
Small budget--big power, theis version of our double take 360 slugged 390.3 horsepower and 404.8 lb/ft of torque with so much factory stuff it's scary.
When we embarked on our 360 project, the goals were simple-build a relatively low cost, but stout, street small block. Getting big power for little dinero means taking a hands-on, home-built approach. It requires retaining the factory hardware where we knew it'd get the job done. Exotic stuff was out. Fortunately, unlike the offerings from some of the other manufacturers, much of the OE Mopar equipment is more than up to the task in a high-performance street effort.
In the first installment in the December '99 issue, we pieced together a solid bottom end based on our '79 E-58 360 core, machined by PAW. After spending $1,128, we had a fresh short block, packing all of the hi-po goodies we'd need. The key players here were Federal Mogul's 116CP pistons to give us the 10:1 compression ratio we wanted; Speed Pro moly rings to seal 'em to the bores; Milodon rod bolts to hold it all together; and a Comp Cams 280H cam and components to turn the numbers. The rest of the bottom end consisted of basic rebuilding components and reconditioned factory parts.
The front end of the short...
The front end of the short block goes on before the bottom is wrapped up. Unlike the big Mopar engines, small blocks don't use alignment dowels to locate the timing case. Install the damper partially before locking down the timing case to centralize the front crank seal. The water pump goes on after the case to allow access to the bolt adjacent to the fuel pump boss.
We milled our heads to achieve...
We milled our heads to achieve a chamber volume of 69.5ccs, and the intake manifold face of the heads were milled for manifold alignment with the shaved heads. Take .00095-inch off the manifold face for every .010-inch off the heads and decks, allowing for any changes in head gasket thickness.
Final assembly of the heads...
Final assembly of the heads requires attention to the spring installed height. We set ours at 1.710-inches. Valve seals were Fel-Pro from our gasket set, locks were stamped PAW SSI brand, and the retainers were the stock 360 pieces. The spring compressor can be had for $20 from Harbor Freight Tools.
To keep the budget theme, we decided to retain our stock heads-yep, those "cast in the depth of the smog era" cast-iron jobs. Knowing the heads would play a major role in delivering the output we were seeking, we took the challenge of modifying the lowliest of Mopar smog heads to perform better than the best production heads-the 340 "X" head. In our January and February 2000 installments, we showed every detail on how it was done-not with mega radical mods, but with a few basic street porting techniques that really work. This month we'll bolt it all together, dress it out with the valvetrain, induction, ignition, and exhaust systems, and let the dyno do the talking.
We figured with a cold intake manifold we could reliably run a true 10:1 compression on pump premium fuel. Our final checks after the short block was assembled indicated the pistons had a positive deck height of .005-inches. We did the math to determine the true compression ratio of our engine after cc-ing the much modified chambers of our heads. Then we calculated the amount of milling that would be required to get to the 10:1 compression ratio we were after. A trip to Specialized Motor Service in Riverside, California, to use their Rottler mill had the chambers down to the 69.5cc we needed.
To allow the intake manifold to fit after milling the heads, .0095-inches needs to be milled from the manifold face for every .010-inch off the deck or head surface. The intake face can be milled from either the manifold itself or from the manifold surface of the heads. Our preference is to take the material off the head surface, which keeps the intake manifold standard, providing interchangeability for future head or manifold swaps without milling, and allowing the parts to be swapped from engine to engine. Don't forget to take into account any change from the production head gasket thickness in calculating how much to mill from the intake face. It's the net change that's important.
The heads met the block with...
The heads met the block with the Fel-Pro .039-inch thick composition gaskets from our gasket set, and torqued to specs with the original 360 head bolts.
Underneath, we bolted the...
Underneath, we bolted the 360's factory windage tray using the stock hardware. A very effective piece, it came standard on our E-58 engine. Mopar Performance carries the windage tray new as part number P4529790.
Our stock pan was smashed,...
Our stock pan was smashed, so we went to a PAW chrome replacement pan-same open sump piece as the original, only shinier.
The oil filter adapter is...
The oil filter adapter is the original 360's stamped steel unit, modified by doubling the number of oil holes with some short work at the drill press. Ninety degree adapters with a banjo fitting were used in many applications (and useful with many headers), which can also benefit from flow improving mods.
Back up top, we installed...
Back up top, we installed Competition Cams' lifters, with cam lube on the face, and oil on the lifter sides and block bores. Don't "pre-pump" the lifter with oil.
The stock distributor drive...
The stock distributor drive went back in after a glass bead blasting and solvent rinse. Index the drive so the distributor drive slot points slightly towards the left bank from the crank centerline with #1 piston at TDC.
Bottom End Button Up
Capping off the bottom end, we simply cleaned up the factory windage tray that came with our E-58 360 and bolted it in using the original hardware. Up front, the timing case was installed, along with the production damper. To make timing adjustments easier, we splurged and shelled out the $6.95 for a roll of timing tape to degree our damper. We stuck it on after determining true TDC with a dial indicator (the factory marks were 1 degree out). For dyno use, we have a set of pulleys which fits both big and small blocks, and we bolted them in place. For street duty, we'll run the reliable stock pulley setup.
The water pump that came with our salvage yard motor was a relatively new, rebuilt unit, which would have worked fine, saving some dough from the bottom line. Wanting to keep our build realistic-and repeatable-we shelved the near-new junkyard pump for a new TRW unit from PAW. The price of a new pump should figure in practically any rebuild, barring random luck. On the flip side, our engine's oil pan was smashed, forcing us to replace it, even though in the vast majority of rebuilds the stock pan can be reused. We found the PAW chrome replacement pan to be about the biggest bargain going. We used the chrome pan, which is nothing more than a production replacement open sump design-not an enhancement in terms of power, but it does look good. For street use, we always add a baffle to open floor stock pans, but for the dyno, it wouldn't matter.
The oil filter mount, which screws on to the side of the block, is not at all glamorous. There are two types used in production: a flat plate adapter (which we used), and a cast (aluminum or iron) 90-degree adapter, which is often required with headers. Both types are restrictive in high rpm applications, with the 90-degree variety being the worst offender. Either type can be modified to improve flow, and in the case of the flat plate type, simply drilling four extra holes will ease any restriction here.
This is the view hot engine...
This is the view hot engine oil gets of the underside of our Torker II intake. To keep the runners cool, we traced out an appropriate shape to fabricate a sheetmetal baffle.
After some fabrication with...
After some fabrication with a sheet of 20-gauge cold rolled steel, we had the bottom of the manifold well shielded from oil splash. The baffle was secured with sheet metal screws, with silicone all around to keep oil out. Be sure the baffle doesn't interfere with the manifold seating flush on the heads.
The intake's runners required...
The intake's runners required substantial opening at the manifold face to match our ported heads. We purposely left the finished size some .020-inch smaller all the way around than the port openings at the gasket to prevent a stepped mismatch if our alignment on the heads was slightly off. The heads were opened to full gasket size.
Mounting the ThermoQuad on...
Mounting the ThermoQuad on this square bore manifold required an adapter. Just bolting the adapter on won't do, as there is a considerable mismatch at the primaries (scribed line). Getting a nice blended transition from the adapter into the plenum can only help, as the join here is fairly rough.
Fully blended, our modified...
Fully blended, our modified carb entry looked to be at least as good as any purpose-built spreadbore manifold.
The production exhaust crossover...
The production exhaust crossover sends an enormous amount of heat into the manifold, costing power. With the high heat conductivity of an aluminum manifold, it's just way too much for a performance effort, and debatable in regular street duty. The manifold will pick up plenty of heat just from the front coolant crossover and heads for all but the coldest climates. We used Fel-Pro #1213 gaskets to block the exhaust crossover.
The induction system was an area where we chose to mate the best of the cheap and readily available factory hardware with some of the best aftermarket stuff. We are talking, of course, about the carb and intake. For the carb, we went with a production big bore (111/42-inch primary; 211/44-inch secondary) ThermoQuad. With a flow of well over 900cfm, it would take a very expensive aftermarket carb to match the capacity. Unlocking the power potential of one of these beasts is not expensive, in fact it's free with a little know-how (see "ThermoQuad Science," Mopar Muscle, May 1998). In dyno testing, we've found a properly set up ThermoQuad rivals the best race carbs on the top end, while producing an abundance of low- to mid-range torque. The drawbacks are the lack of tuning parts available, and the fact that most serious performance manifolds (other than the pricier Mopar offerings) are not flanged to take the spread bore pattern. For jets, we drill our own, and to solve the mounting flange pattern problem, an adapter is the usual out.
We went with an Edelbrock Torker II single-plane intake manifold, a vast improvement over the older Torker series with beautifully swept runners leading to the ports. The Torker II is one of the only single plane performance manifolds with an offset thermostat location, allowing the use of the late-model C-171 axial A/C compressor. The downside for us was that the manifold comes with a square bolt carb flange, requiring the use of an adapter to run the mighty ThermoQuad. We tapped PAW for an adapter, and rather than just bolt it on and go, we extensively reworked the plenum and adapter to get the most from the combo.
For maximum power and compression tolerance, we were running the manifold cold by blocking the exhaust crossover. This is most easily accomplished by purchasing new intake manifold gaskets which block the exhaust crossover (Fel-Pro #1213). Not content to stop there, we decided to take things one step further. Unlike the Edelbrock Victor race manifolds, which are cast with a separate plate sealing the lifter valley, isolating the runners, the Torker II is not an air gap design-exposing the runner floors to the hot oil splash from the lifter valley. We fabricated a sheet metal baffle for the underside of the manifold, which reduces the heat transfer up to the manifold runners, increasing the charge density and adding up to more power. Finally, the runners were opened up at the port exits to slightly smaller than the gasket size used at the intake port entrance.
Keeping with our budget approach, for our 360's valvetrain we simply cleaned the 100,000 miles worth of crud from the stock valvetrain and bolted it back on-you can't get much cheaper than that! The reality is that with an appropriately matched camshaft, the stock valvetrain is very adequate in applications up to 6,000 rpm, and will offer reasonable reliability to upwards of 6,500. With moderate valve lifts of below .500-inch, and spring pressures below 320 psi over the nose, the stock valvetrain causes very few problems. The worst failures I've experienced have been the pushrods piercing the rocker socket, with no collateral damage resulting. The factory addressed this problem with beefier rockers in the pushrod socket area, available through Mopar Performance, and already standard equipment on our late model E-58 police core engine.
The manifold is installed...
The manifold is installed using silicone at the front and rear rails instead of the production cork end gaskets. Note the sweeping straight approach of the runners on this Edelbrock manifold, a vast improvement over previous
Not really mandatory in this...
Not really mandatory in this type of an application, we broke out some files and hand cut banana grooves at the rocker shaft oiling holes, and tapped the shaft ends for 3/8-inch NPT gallery plugs to replace the stock pressed plugs. These original shafts were then polished with fine emery and reused.
The rockers were cleaned by...
The rockers were cleaned by glass beading, assembled (remember, these are left and right specific), and installed with the original pushrods. Lifter preload was deep with our milled heads, but well within the range of plunger travel. The valvetrain worked fine.
A chrome oil pan, and now...
A chrome oil pan, and now this? Finned PAW valve covers add nothing to our engine's output, but we dig the vintage look and the bargain price. We prefer rigid cast aluminum covers in place of leak-prone stamped steel units. Breathers are Stant twist-ons from Pep Boys.
Before bolting up the valve...
Before bolting up the valve covers, we ground the raised casting flash off the gasket rails and fabricated some simple oil baffles to keep excess oil from being blown out. The covers come with the mounting provisions for baffles (drilling required), but oddly, no baffles.
The Powermaker: Our big production...
The Powermaker: Our big production ThermoQuad offers massive airflow, but retains tremendous torque down low. This one is a premium pre-'75 version, which we snagged for next to nothing and rebuilt with a $20 carb kit. Check your back issues to find what it takes to make one work (
In terms of performance, the factory rockers typically check in at slightly less than their rated 1.5:1 ratio, which can detract from performance. However, despite popular belief, the plain bearing surface at the fulcrum is a very low friction design, working well with the moderate spring loads we are dealing with here. The rocker tip at the valve is where the greatest drawback to the stock rockers can be found, with the tip generating ever increasing side loads as the valve lift is increased, accelerating guide wear. While this may give the nod toward a roller tip rocker in an engine running a .550-inch lift cam, we weren't worried with our street-oriented .480-inch lift Comp Cams grind.
Our valvetrain prep consisted of glass beading the rockers, hold-down hardware, and shafts. The shafts were further modified by hand cutting banana grooves across the oiling holes with files, polishing the surface with fine emery, and tapping the shaft ends to 31/48 NPT to accept standard threaded gallery plugs instead of the stock pressed expansion plugs. The pushrods were wire wheeled clean, and the valvetrain assembly bolted in.
The critical issue with the stock valvetrain is the lack of adjustability as it relates to lifter preload with hydraulic cams. Common practice is to shoot for lifter preload up towards the top extreme of lifter travel, usually aiming to achieve a preload of about .020-inch. The reasoning is that at high rpm, the lifters may tend to "pump-up," preventing the valves from seating. Aftermarket "anti-pump-up" lifters take this reasoning to the limit, effectively defeating the hydraulic lifter's function by running the lifter plunger all the way up to zero preload, requiring an adjustable valvetrain. Virtually unheard is a contrary point of view, held by some of the most respected and knowledgeable names in the industry. That theory states that with the proper control of valve motion (correct spring selection to minimize harmonics, precise and smooth cam profiles, and so on), lifter pump-up is not what we should be worrying about, but rather "pump-down," or lost lift as the inner plunger collapses or bleeds down under the loads of high rpm. Proponents of this theory have been quietly setting their preload to just a few thou off the bottom of travel and going racing.
Where does all of this theory leave us with our milled and decked 360 and non-adjustable valvetrain? Locked down with the stock parts, our lifters were preloaded about 125 psi-leaving about .100-inch plunger travel. Conventional wisdom would have had us crying for adjustable pushrods, or rocker shaft shims, to decrease the amount of preload. The fact is that with a quality cam and spring combo in our moderate rpm (under 6,500) application, it really doesn't matter where the preload stacked up as long as it was within the lifter plunger's free travel. The proof was in the pudding, with full load dyno runs at over 6,500 rpm giving no indication of false valve motion.
It does nothing to add to...
It does nothing to add to the appearance of our Mopar mill, but the combination of dirt cheap outlay, flexible street/strip performance, and a cool running Phenolic bowl gives the ThermoQuad a beauty all its own.
More stock stuff! The Mopar...
More stock stuff! The Mopar electronic distributor is a very hard item to top in a street/strip performance application. We cleaned ours up, recurved it, and put it back together with all the old parts. It delivered flawless performance.
Rounding out the ignition...
Rounding out the ignition system are an ACCEL Super Stock street coil, a Borg-Warner replacement ECU, and a Mopar Performance ballast resistor. Simple, cheap, cobbled together, but as effective as a sledgehammer.
Bargain Bin Ignition
Mopar fans are lucky in the ignition department, since the factory magnetic pickup electronic ignition was the closest thing to a race ignition system ever offered as standard equipment on a production vehicle. In fact, the triggering system used in the factory Chrysler electronic distributors is the basis of many aftermarket race systems on the market today. Our factory distributor was all we figured we'd need for this budget bomber, so we stripped it clean, checked for excessive bushing wear, and reassembled it with the original parts.
The drawback of the stock distributor in a performance application is the relatively large amount of mechanical advance built into the unit. Our distributor had a typical production #15 advance plate, giving 30 degrees of mechanical advance. Knowing that a small block Mopar typically likes 34-36 degrees total advance for maximum power, this would have meant an initial (idle) timing setting of 4 to 6 degrees. We figured the engine would like about 15 degrees initial for best idle quality, so we needed to take some mechanical advance out of the distributor. This was accomplished by shortening the advance slot in the timing plate by about .050-inches-from the stock .480-inch to .430-inch-by welding and filing the slot. To speed the advance curve, the stock heavy advance spring was tossed, leaving only the stock light springs, which brings full advance in by about 2000 rpm. Best of all, once cleaned, lubed, and modified, our stock distributor cost us nothing.
Next was the control unit. We went with a cheap but effective Borg-Warner replacement unit-#CBE5 from Pep Boys. We have used the Borg Warner replacement part in a number of hot street applications and found it to function flawlessly. It provides ample spark to twist the engine to 6,500+ rpm. Rounding out the ignition system, we bought a genuine Mopar Performance ballast resistor #P5206436, screwed in some ACCEL #494 plugs, wired them up with a set of ACCEL Super Stock 8mm spiral core wires, and shelled out for an ACCEL Super Stock conventional coil to provide the juice. Our cobbled low-buck ignition fired perfectly on the dyno and maintained accurate timing throughout our testing.
We loaded our 360 and hauled it over to Specialized Motor Service in Riverside, California, where the big Clayton dyno is famous for cutting dreamers and bench racers down to size. How would our 360 and all of our street engine building experience stack up when our home-built mill twists the massive absorber of the Clayton? Wearing the stock block, crank, rods, valvetrain, ignition, factory "smog" carb, mildly ported smog heads, and a very streetable 280 degree juice cam, on the surface our 360 didn't seem like much. On the flip side, those following our build realize that what we lacked in exotic hardware, we made up for in effort, massaging, and tweaking all of those not-so-glamorous pieces into one sweet street powerplant.
Time to deliver the goods....
Time to deliver the goods. The Clayton dyno at Specialized Motor Service is set up so the engine is loaded into a docking cart, which mates to the dyno. Mopar Muscle's Steve Dulcich added the Hooker 151/48-inch street headers, cut a new set of ignition wires, and loaded the 360 onto the dyno.
After a brief run-in, the...
After a brief run-in, the 360 topped 380hp on its first pull! The engine handled wide open throttle from below 2,000 rpm under full load without falling over, thanks in no small part to the ThermoQuad secondary air door system.
Jerry Goodale of Specialized...
Jerry Goodale of Specialized Motor Service cracked the ThermoQuad open for a jet change. Leaning the secondaries to .147-inch had us punch out a tire-smoking 390 horsepower and 404 lb/ft on the next pull. Hey baby, this thing rocks.
In factory tune, a '79 E-58 pumped out 195 net horsepower. The 340ci engine turned in a conservative factory gross rating of 275, but actually was reputed to put out much more, earning an NHRA factor of 300 with the AVS, and 325 with a Six Pack or the '71 version with the ThermoQuad. A new crate mill will give 300hp in street trim, or a thumping 380hp with a radical 74 degrees of overlap from its big 292 duration cam. Our 360 falls smack in the middle of these two offerings in terms of radicalness and driveability, with its 280 degree duration Comp Cams grind providing a streetable 60 degrees of overlap. We bolted a set of Hooker #5901 151/48-inch headers, and loaded it up to the dyno to find out where we stood.
We spun the motor with the plugs out until the oil pressure was up for a pre-lube, wrenched the plugs back in, dialed 10 degrees of timing at the damper, and hit the ignition. The 360 fired instantly. We ran it at 1,800-2,200 rpm for the next 20 minutes to break in the cam, set the timing to 34 degrees total (mechanical) advance, and ran it in under light load for another 20 minutes to let the rings seat.
Pulling the levers on the Clayton without ever changing the oil, I loaded it up, and our budget 360 belted out a solid 380 horsepower, running right up to our self-imposed limit of 6,500 rpm on the first pull. Very stout! Our carb and ignition were very close at their bench setting. Increasing the timing up to 38 degrees showed no improvement, but the carb was calibrated slightly rich. Our initial jetting was #100 on the primary, with a #1966 metering rod and a fat .150-inch on the secondary. Next, we opened the ThermoQuad and re-jetted the secondary side to .147-inch. Interestingly, this is almost identical to the factory ThermoQuad jetting for an early '70s 400 or 440.
Turning the dyno over to Specialized Motor Service's proprietor Jerry Goodale, we had time for one more pull. With the jetting now close to optimal, low end to mid-range torque picked up 10 lb/ft, and our peak numbers came in at 404.3 lb/ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. Peak horsepower pegged the gauge with 390.3 horsepower at 5,400 rpm. Jerry looked over and said, "You've only got a 230 degree at .050-inch cam in there? That's one good running small block."
"Yeah," I came back. "And did I tell you it's running a factory-stock stamped steel valvetrain?" He didn't make me pull the valve covers to prove it.
|Double Take 360 Dyno|
Torque and horsepower tested on Specialized Motor Service's Clayton Dynamometer. All figures represent a corrected to 29.92-inch dry air @ 60-degrees F.
What It Cost
When we tallied it all up, we built our 390 horse small block for under $2,500-turn key. Is that cheap? We don't know of anywhere that an engine of this power level can be purchased within $1,000 of what we spent-and that's for long blocks, not a complete running assembly. Our engine cost is for the whole package-turnkey and running. We have built engines for less, but in this case we held firm to our rule of listing new prices for all of the items that went into the build, where available. Some of the items were purely for looks (*), and can be left off, shaving a few more dollars from the bottom line.
So why can we build this engine for less? It comes down to effort and labor. We suggest that anyone who is planning on duplicating our 360 put the time in on assembly and modifications that trade time for money spent. Porting our own heads, building the killer ThermoQuad, and modifying the stock distributor all took big chunks off the bottom line. It comes down to how much work you want to put in versus how much you can afford to spend.
|Item Description||Part No.||Source||Cost|
|Short block||Mopar Muscle, Dec. '00 ||$1,128|
|Heads||Mopar Muscle, Jan.-Feb. '00||561|
|Carb kit||Local WD||20|
|Used ThermoQuad ||Wreckers||15|
|Various plugs/fittings/bolts ||Local hardware store||20|
|20-gauge Cold Rolled Sheet ||Industrial Pipe & Steel||4|
|Borg-Warner ECU ||CBE5 ||Pep Boys||27|
|(2) Stant breathers||11064||Pep Boys||9|
|Intake bypass hose||70637||Pep Boys||4|
|Edelbrock Torker II ||EDE 5076||PAW||164|
|Carb adapter TDP ||2066||PAW||14|
|Fel-Pro Manifold Gaskets||1213||PAW||17|
|Hooker Headers ||5901||PAW||140|
|ACCEL Spark Plugs||494 ||PAW||16|
|ACCEL Plug Wires||5040||PAW||38|
|Fuel pump cover plate||CHR 7604||PAW||2|
|Comp Cams Valvesprings||COM 901-16||PAW||59|
|SSI Valve Locks||SSI 10201||PAW||6|
|TRW Water Pump||TRW-FP1539||PAW||37|
|ACCEL Ignition Coil||ACC 8140||PAW||28|
|Mopar Ballast||MPP P5206436||PAW||4|
|ACCEL Distributor Cap||ACC 8321||PAW||12|
|Mopar Timing Tape ||MPP P4529070||PAW ||7|
|*Chrome Dipstick & Tube||WYS WA 9224||PAW||8|
|*Chrome Oil Pan||CHR 7447||PAW||50|
|*Polished Alum. Valve Covers||CPA 70789||PAW||57|