Building A Big Arm Wedge-500 Inch Stroker - Long Arm Wedge
Building A 500-Inch Stroker With Ray Barton Racing Engines
From the June, 2003 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Dan Foley
Photography by Dan Foley
Sooner or later, your Mopar's...
Sooner or later, your Mopar's engine will need a rebuild. Our '67 R/T's 440 has given 17 years of service and was driven to and from many events, strip tests, and bracket races.
If you've been driving, and quite possibly racing your Mopar, you'll eventually need to refresh your motor or even replace it with a more powerful propulsion device. Most Moparites tend to run their motors on the aggressive side. This adventurous behavior will, at some point, leave your motor tired with its tongue hanging out.
The faithful 440 in our '67 R/T has seen its share of beatings since a rebuild and balance job sometime in 1986. It has accumulated over 40,000 street miles and logged somewhere on the far side of 600 quarter-mile blasts. This well-abused wedge was competing back in the '80s at the Supercar Showdown and the Muscle Car Review Nationals. From 1996 to 2001, this same motor did some bracket racing and was strip-testing performance parts. Keep in mind this motor's longevity can be attributed to frequent servicing and the fact it never exceeded 6,400 rpm. Yes, this engine still performed well, but it had excessive blow-by and oil consumption. It was time to replace the old warrior-a time bomb that could explode at any given moment.
We loaded up the truck and...
We loaded up the truck and relocated the 440 to RBRE. Next, it was torn down to the bare block for cleanup in the hot tank. At RBRE, Magnafluxing is performed on all blocks, new and old. This ensures the block is free of cracks and damage before the work begins. Our RB block passed the Magnaflux test and was ready for its buildup.
We wanted a dependable motor with more power and decided to give Ray Barton Racing Engines in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, a call. RBRE has been building record-setting Super Stock Hemi engines for years, giving the same attention to detail on their street engines.
Our original game plan was to order a new RBRE balanced and blueprinted 440 with Edelbrock heads. RBRE's 440 and 500-inch wedge street/strip motors come complete, from intake to oil pan. Ray suggested we step up to the big arm wedge-500 cubic inches-because of the R/T's portly 4,000 pounds. RBRE normally utilizes the Mopar Performance 4.15-inch crank with its own rods but gave us the nod to try an Eagle crank along with Eagle's H-beam steel rods. RBRE fully inspects all cranks and rods for straightness, cracks, hardness, stroke, and balance. Instead of using the R/T's engine block or one of Barton's cores, we happened to have a good standard bore '70 block-a 9-8-69 casting. Before the fun began, the block was brought to RBRE, stripped bare, and cleaned and Magnafluxed to ensure it was free of cracks and damage.
In our next installment, this long-armed, E-headed, wild street wedge will see test duty on Barton's new DTS engine dyno. Following dyno testing, we'll drop it in the R/T-can't wait to feel the power!
Check out next month, when we put the Long Arm Wedge on the Dyno. We don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet, but would you believe we got over . . . ouch, OK, Randy, I'll shut up.
The deck heights and angles...
The deck heights and angles were corrected for precise block geometry before lifter-bore machining. Here, the lifter bores were indexed with the block on a special jig. Each lifter bore will be centered and the angle corrected for accurate lifter geometry. After the new lifter-bore bushings were installed, they were checked and honed for size.
Stroker motors need clearance...
Stroker motors need clearance notches ground into the bottom end of the cylinder bores to be certain the connecting rods have ample clearance during their travel. Pro-Gram Billet steel main caps were installed with ARP studs, and then the block was align-honed to ensure a free-spinning crankshaft. Ray recommends Pro-Gram caps for motors making over 575 hp.
Before balancing begins, the...
Before balancing begins, the crankshaft must pass a series of inspections in these areas: Magnaflux, hardness, straightness, and stroke consistency. Our six-bolt Eagle crank passed all inspections. The crank was then balanced by drilling lightening holes at strategic locations in the counterweights. Fortunately, expensive Mallory metal was not needed to balance the Eagle crank.
The JE pistons and pins are...
The JE pistons and pins are weight-matched to within 1/2 gram of each other box stock. The same can be said for the Eagle H-beam rods. The .030-over JE piston, pin, and Eagle rod combination was 446 grams lighter than the stock piston, pin, and rod. The balanced and lighter reciprocating assembly was stronger, would rev-up faster, and make more power than the stock parts.
Here is the boring bar with...
Here is the boring bar with its boring plate-jig setup. This is something you don't see at most engine shops. After the deck heights were corrected, the block was set up for boring with the deck plate. This indexed and centered all the bores exactly where they should be.
The boring machine's fingers...
The boring machine's fingers aligned themselves with the deck plate so the machine could cut the cylinder straight and centered. The first 0.025-inch cut was made in steps. Cylinder bore indexing is a proven horsepower helper and a standard feature on a Barton motor.
The Sunnen CK-10 is one of...
The Sunnen CK-10 is one of the best honing machines in the business. Though we went .030 over in each hole, finish honing only removed the final 0.005 inch that was not removed on the boring machine. (A) Before honing the cylinders, a torque plate was installed on the block to simulate an installed cylinder head. The main caps were also installed and torqued to specification; this simulated the stress applied when the heads and crankshaft were installed. The cylinder bores were measured many times while honing to ensure each cylinder was the same size with no taper.
The piston pins were measured...
The piston pins were measured for a precise fit with the piston and the small end of the connecting rod. All the pins fit the pistons with a 0.0007-inch clearance. A fit too tight or too loose can cause catastrophic engine problems.
During mock-up assembly, we...
During mock-up assembly, we found the piston-to-rod side clearances to be too tight. Here, you can see the top right side of the rod rubbing against the inside of the piston. (Arrow)
Edelbrock Heads Flow Chart
Note: When box-stock, the intake flow stalled at 0.600 inch lift. Ported, the intake flow increased at 0.700 inch lift. Back-cutting the intake valve improved the low lift flow. This modification promotes better throttle response and drivability.
To correct the overly-tight...
To correct the overly-tight piston-to-rod side clearance, the inside of each piston was machined 0.025 inch to provide the necessary side clearance. It's a good thing your knuckleheaded author didn't try to build this shortblock himself.
We began the final engine...
We began the final engine assembly by checking the ring endgaps. The special tool in Joe's left hand sets the rings dead square in the bore. In his right hand is a feeler gauge measuring the ring endgap. We used file-fit rings that were filed until the desired gap was obtained for each ring set (top, middle, and oil) per each cylinder.
After the rings were filed,...
After the rings were filed, their edges were deburred. A fine sanding stone was used. This was a tedious job, but it must be done. A burr on the rings' edge might cause the rings to hang up and ruin the ring land on the piston.
Crankshaft endplay measured...
Crankshaft endplay measured 0.006 inch. It should not exceed 0.012 inch or measure under 0.002 inch, so we were in good shape. The Pro-Gram main caps were sequentially torqued, and the crank was spin-tested to be sure it would spin freely without any tight spots.
Each ring was cleaned with...
Each ring was cleaned with lacquer thinner after file-fitting and deburring. Look at the dirt accumulation on the rag from only one swipe. You don't want dirt or metal filings to scratch your freshly-honed cylinder walls. On the sidelines were the pistons awaiting their rings.
The piston, rings, and rod...
The piston, rings, and rod slid down the tapered ring compressor right into the appropriate cylinder. A thin coat of oil was applied to the piston, pin, rod, rings, and cylinder bore before installation.
Assembly lube was used on...
Assembly lube was used on the rod bearings and ARP rod fasteners because dry threads on the fasteners can create inaccurate torque readings. We continued to spin-test the rotating assembly after torquing each rod to assure there was no binding.
Here's our balanced and blueprinted...
Here's our balanced and blueprinted short-block. The piston-to-deck height measured 0.020 inch. A motor with proper clearances, geometry, and balance eliminates destructive vibration while producing more power.
The Edelbrock heads feature...
The Edelbrock heads feature larger-than-stock 2.14/1.81 stainless steel valves. The dirty 2.08/1.74 valves came out of an old 906 head. We opted to use closed-chamber 84cc Edelbrock heads. Also available are 88cc open-chamber heads that lower the compression nearly half a point. Aluminum heads allow for a compression-ratio increase of one point over iron heads due to aluminum's heat-dissipating abilities.
The E-Brock head (left) shows...
The E-Brock head (left) shows off its larger 210cc intake and better flowing ports compared to the old 906 head with a 200cc intake. Stock 906 heads only flow 210 to 220 cfm at 0.500 to 0.600 inches of cam lift. Edelbrock heads typically flow about 270 at 0.500 lift and 280 at 0.600 inches of lift. The 30-year-old 906 castings would take too many hours of porting and larger valves, and they still wouldn't flow as well as Edelbrock heads. Also, aluminum heads lighten your car's nose by nearly 50 pounds, which means quicker weight transfer and launches.
Mike Barton flow-tested our...
Mike Barton flow-tested our heads before and after he did some mild porting work. We only blended the ports where the Edelbrock CNC bowl porting and gasket matching ended. The valveguide bosses were thinned, and the ports were cleaned with 100-grit sanding rolls to remove any casting flash. Mike back-cut the intake valves 28 degrees, which increased the low lift-flow numbers significantly.
The Edelbrock valvesprings...
The Edelbrock valvesprings are rated for up to 0.600 inches of cam lift. With the 0.638-lift solid cam that Ray chose for our combo, we had to change them. Here, Joe switched to the Comp Cams 929 double springs, leaving out the inner spring (for cam break-in). Holding the springs in place were Comp's 10-degree titanium retainers and superlocks.
After the installation of...
After the installation of the cam and pushrods, the piston-to-valve clearance was checked (.095 int. and .145 exh.) and the cam was degreed to the cam card. Initial valve lash was set at .022. After the initial cam break-in, the inner valvesprings will be installed and the lash set to specs. With proper planning, this should easily be a pump-gas (94 octane), street-driven engine.
Milodon's new windage tray...
Milodon's new windage tray for stroker big-blocks was used for our buildup. We had to trim it for pickup-tube clearance. Also from Milodon were their popular 7-quart low-profile oil pan, pickup, high-volume oil pump, and oil-pump shaft.
Before we did any machining...
Before we did any machining to the Mopar Performance M1 intake, we wanted to see how it would line up with the new Edelbrock heads. The black circle below the carb base is where a vacuum port will be drilled and tapped for power brakes. When building a big-block stroker motor, a single-plane intake has been proven the best choice.
The Mopar M1 intake is 1/4...
The Mopar M1 intake is 1/4 inch higher than the Edelbrock RPM intake we used on our old 440. Here, Rob was in the middle of milling 0.200 inch off the carb base. We wanted the M1 to fit under the R/T's low hood with the Wilson 1-inch spacer. The Barton 440- or 500-inch engines-usually 446 or 493-come standard with your choice of Edelbrock's dual-plane RPM or the single-plane Victor. RBRE can hook you up with your intake of choice.