As a foundation for their engine, Schurbon Engine and Machine started with a factory 400 block, performing all the necessary machine work in-house to accommodate the forged 440 crankshaft and Keith Black hypereutectic pistons. Mo-par City supplied a deep oil pan from an industrial crane, keeping oil away from the crank and eliminating the need for a windage tray, and assisted in the assembly of the bottom end. Factory connecting rods were deemed strong enough for this application, and far cheaper than aftermarket rods, so Schurbon fitted a set of standard 440 rods with ARP bolts and Clevite bearings. A stock, standard volume Melling oil pump was utilized to keep the engine lubricated, and the .600 plus lift Comp flat-tappet camshaft optimized power while costing much less than a roller cam and the associated hardware.

This year's rules required all the competitors to use Edelbrock's popular Performer RPM cylinder heads, and the engine builders were allowed to perform all the port work they liked. We also allowed epoxy modification to the ports, but no welding was allowed. Schurbon ported their heads in-house, raising the port to max wedge size and then filling the bottom of the intake port with epoxy to control port volume. The heads were then fitted with inexpensive stainless steel valves, Comp springs, and used retainers and locks. To actuate the valves, Schurbon used an ancient set of ductile iron 1.5 ratio adjustable rocker arms to save even more money on this inexpensive big-block. Though this engine showed up at the Mopar Nationals wearing an expensive new single-plane aluminum intake and Dominator, the induction was quickly changed to a used Weiand tunnel-ram and dual second-hand Quadrajets during the qualifying dyno session. This change both added power and saved money, resulting in a first place finish for Schurbon Engine and Machine.

Chenoweth Speed And Machine
Morton, Illinois

Chenoweth Speed and Machine from Morton, Illinois, also calculated that it would take an inexpensively built low-deck to contend for the top positions in this year's Engine Challenge. The Chenoweth's are no strangers to Mopar engines, as their shop specializes in building Chrysler products of all types, from stock rebuilds to all-out race Hemis. Utilizing an array of second-hand parts combined with inexpensive new parts where necessary, engine builders Dale and Mike Chenoweth made this year's competition very close, coming within decimals of first place.

During their session on Comp's dyno, the Chenoweth's tuned their engine through a series of jet and timing changes, and then pulled the same trick as Schurbon, changing induction to a Weiand tunnel-ram and a pair of Carter AFB carburetors. Hoping for a gain in power, the induction swap was actually a disappointment, dropping power across the board. After a couple of quick tuning changes to the Carters, Mike and Dale determined they wouldn't be able to tune the tunnel-ram to the power of their single Dominator in the allotted time, so they switched back to the more expensive setup.

Starting with a factory 400 Chrysler block, the Chenoweth's treated the engine block to their "block in a bag" process, machining the block to precise specifications. Additionally, the mains were line-bored to the larger 440 size to fit a stock forged 440 crankshaft. Various second-hand parts were utilized including the forged I-beam connecting rods, oil pump, oil pan, windage tray, and even the Engle flat-tappet camshaft and Howard Cams oil-thru lifters. New Diamond forged pistons were utilized which added to the cost of the engine, and the rotating assembly was balanced in-house.

Choosing heads for this year's contest was easy as all of the engine builders were required by the rules to utilize the same Edelbrock Performer RPM castings. Chenoweth Speed and Machine ported their Edelbrock heads, performed a multi-angle valve job, then installed stainless-steel valves and new Chet Herbert valve springs. Although the Chenoweth's changed intakes during their dyno session, they changed back to their Edelbrock Victor 383 single-plane intake and Quick Fuel Technology prepped Holley Dominator when their dual-quads didn't make the expected power. Had the tunnel-ram worked, it would have saved enough cost to make this a much closer contest, though it would have been difficult to beat Schurbon's stout power score and low cost. We congratulate Chenoweth Speed and Machine on their very solid second place finish in the 2009 Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge.

2009 participants
Chenoweth Speed and MachineJD Engine and Machine
Mike ChenowethJeff Dickey
Morton, IL, 61550Columbia, MO, 65203
LaRoy EnginesMid America Racing Engines
Jim LaRoyDavid Bruns
Challis, ID 83226Washington, IA 52353
208/ 879-2969319/653-6282
Promax PerformanceR.M. Competition
Ben GormanRandy Malik
Indianapolis, INRoseville, MI, 48066
Schurbon Engine and Machine
Scott Schurbon
Maquoketa, IA, 52060