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Old 03-01-2009, 09:42 AM
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Aluminum SBC Heads

I have a 400 sbc 1970's with matching cast iron heads, I am looking to purchase a pair of aluminum heads just to stay cool, and to be quite honest I just have a feeling they're better. I don't have a real idea of which heads I need so my research starts here. I've got long tube headers and an edelbrock aluminum intake, 785 cfm edelbrock q-jet carb. Planning to change the cam, but currently just have an edelbrock torquer cam ( i want to get roller lifters with a mild lope cam for this motor as well, i would look for "retro-fit" roller lifters, right?). I've found some bowtie aluminum heads, dart aluminum heads, procomp aluminum heads, and then edelbrock aluminum heads. I was told when comparing the bowtie's to the edelbrocks it is like comparing apples to oranges, is that true? I'm just a young buck that blames most of his knowedge on the old timers i run with, DIY guy to the core, that's why im here, any information or two cents you care to spit will be appreciated, even if you think i should keep the old heads, thanks and May God bless.

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Old 03-01-2009, 10:11 AM
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Straight comparison (for instance, the same casting done in aluminum vs. iron) have shown little or no benefits to the engine operation. In fact, iron sometimes makes a 1/2 hp more because it reflects more heat back into the combustion. Aluminum's benefit is that you can often get by with a tiny bit more compression before stepping up the octane... rather, it should be said that aluminum heads sometimes require more compression to recover lost cylinder pressure because they absorb heat from combustion faster.

But, the main benefit of aluminum is weight. Period. Don't get them because they're higher performance. But any iron head (provided it gives you the right compression and flow for your goals) will do just as well as the same head cast in aluminum... but the aluminum will cost a lot more.

Let's start with your goals. We can't pick good heads for you unless you know how much power you want to make? HP goals? RPM goals? Budget?
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:08 PM
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Aluminum Sbc heads reply

thanks for the input... my goals are for a street and strip pickup, a Friday night Stoplight kicker, someday I'd like to take it to the track(who wouldn't)it won't live there though, but definately not a long distance, 2 hr drive at the Most. 700r4 will have an overdrive and all the bells and whistles on it to handle the motor. rearend is stock(for now). I'm on a budget yes sir, recession is talking to everyone. I also just want it to run on regular fuel. hey, I thought about vortec heads on this old motor but was told those heads only work their magic with the computer setup attached, what do ya think?...thanks again for your input, makes dang good sense.

I want to hit 400hp, keep rpms low
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:31 PM
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400 hp says Vortec to me... and whoever told you they work best with a computer is full of hooey Airflow is airflow, doesn't matter if its carbed or EFI.

But if you want aluminums, look to some of the Summit heads. Trick Flow makes some nice street aluminum heads, but pay close attention to what you get for your money. Vortecs flow about 237 cfm intake flow from nice streetable 170cc ports. To get that much flow from most aftermarket heads it will take 190cc or more, meaning you'll be giving up very valuable torque, throttle response, and streetability.
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:53 PM
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I didnt see mention of the de-facto goto heads - AFR so I thought I might throw that out there.. (for all the talk about AFR heads I've seen maybe 3 cars that actually run them outside of car craft magazine). Anyway my zz502 came out of the crate with edelbrock performer RPM's which are a pretty good bang for the buck in the summit catalog..
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:12 PM
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The Edelbrock Performer RPM is what you want.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:34 PM
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Are these good heads. I picked up a set new for $350. They were never installed. One of the heads had a scratch so I paid $60 additional to have a tenth taken off both heads. They recommended I mill both and not only one. It was so small the performance shop I took them to said the gasket may actually seat it. You could get a fingernail (small piece) of it in the groove. They guy doesn't know how it happened other than they were set down on something. I had them checked and they said I scored. Just wanting to know if they were any good. The guy I bought them from wanted $500, but I was a little hesitant with the scratch on the head. Just as I was walking away to get in my car.. he said.. ok I'll let you have em for $350. I bought them and went straight to the speed shop to have them checked. I was a gamble.. but it paid off. He was going to use them on a 327. I plan on using them on a mild 350.

I am still tickled pink over getting them so cheap. It was either them or Vortecs for $50 bucks more from another seller. Those were new still in GM boxes as well.
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Old 03-12-2009, 07:10 PM
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I'd say that's a definite score.
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Old 03-12-2009, 08:43 PM
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Yeah, got em so cheap, I was thinking about not using them.. and saving them for something I can build a little more on the wilder side with. I am building a motor for a truck right now, so not sure how good they'll be for a daily driver heavier type car. Although, they are only 170cc runners so not that big of a head runner wise. Much better than stock though for sure.
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Old 03-12-2009, 09:07 PM
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We use the Edelbrock Performer RPM heads for bracket racing. They work
great with mild porting on a 350 - 355 CI engine to 6500 -7000 RPM.
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:34 PM
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If you are going to put new heads on it, then put a good, new head on it.
If you buy the cheapest head (Pro Comp/Patriot) you will get a cheap head.
The Edelbrock Performer RPM heads are a very good choice.
You need to choose the right part number based on the pistons in your 400SBC.

Dished pistons.... use the 64cc versions pn 60899

Flat top pistons..... use the 70cc version pn 60739
I've never seen a combo yet that didn't run very well with the Edelbrock RPM heads.

If you already have the Edelbrock Torker II Cam in it, keep the cam.
Edelbrock cam#5002
Its fine for your purposes. A retrofit hyd roller setup will blow the budget and is not overall cost effective if you already have the Torker II cam installed. Are you sure this is the specific Edelbrock camshaft you have now?
If so, you can enhance the perfomance by degreeing it in and moving it (advancing it) to a 102 to 103 intake C/L.
Add some Summit 1.6 roller rockers to finish it all off.
There ya go, Hyd roller cam performance in your 400, at a fraction of the cost.
Your distributor will need to be recurved to maximize performance.

Then you need to get the torque converter stall and rear gear ratio matched to your motor and purpose.
If this is a truck and you'll be using a 28" tall or taller rear tire, you want a 4.10 to 4.56 gear. The th700r4 overdrive will allow your to cruise comfortably with a stiff rear gear.
For the th700r4 get a real deal high perf "high stall functional lock up" torque converter as sold by
Precision Industries
or
Yank
You want a 3000-3200 stall with the functional lock up.
If you want to run the th700r4 trans this is one area where you don't want to cheap out on both in terms of performance and cruise ability.

Get some 8.5"x 28" tall drag radials or ET streets for the track.

This combo will not run on 87 octane fuel. (unless you compromise the spark timing to avoid detonation under load) If you want hi performance, you need to use a high performing fuel. (92 octane)
A method of adjusting the spark timing while driving could allow you some flexability there. (allow you to cruise or commute using cheap regular gas, then step up the program for max performance on Premium gas.)
Just as long as you realize if you want to put the petal to the metal, you're going to need something better than 87 octane gas in the tank.

Which Edelbrock intake manifold do you have on it now?
This is the manifold you want with a QJET carb.

Last edited by F-BIRD'88; 03-12-2009 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:40 PM
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What would the CR be with a dished piston with 64cc edelbrock heads. You have any you can recommend. I thought the dish piston would lower compression in this case.
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:04 AM
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A street 400SBC that runs everyday on pump gas (92 octane) needs a dished piston (18 to 22cc) when using a 64cc cylinder head.

A flat top piston 400SBC uses a 70-76cc cylinder head for pump gas.

Both KB and Federal Mogul/SpeedPro have lots of good Forged and high perf Hyper piston choices for this.

For a 406 SBC street motor using a 5.7" connecting rod and a 64cc head I recomend the UEM/Keith Black KB-168 with a "0 decked" block. 9.8:1 compression.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:39 AM
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retrofit hydraulic roller set up

crane powermax hydraulic roller cam and lifters/pushrods have less than 500 miles on this set retrofit lifters cam specs intake 539 exhaust 558 106 lobe separtion real choppy hard hitting cam rpm range 2800-6800 296/304 adv. duration jegs part number 270-119841$349.99 also crane hyd. roller lifters cost $400and also crane push rods cost $107 and double springs 270-99893-16 and retainers 270-99969-16 value of over $160 plus keepers .....................dont need any more going bigblock looking to get 400 plus shipping............

had this cam in my 355 sbc 040 sportsman2 heads car ran very well 3000 stall real choppy real nice cam very streetable paid over 1000 bucks for whole set but no ive stepped up to big block 496 so dont need no more
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F-BIRD'88
A street 400SBC that runs everyday on pump gas (92 octane) needs a dished piston (18 to 22cc) when using a 64cc cylinder head.

A flat top piston 400SBC uses a 70-76cc cylinder head for pump gas.

Both KB and Federal Mogul/SpeedPro have lots of good Forged and high perf Hyper piston choices for this.

For a 406 SBC street motor using a 5.7" connecting rod and a 64cc head I recomend the UEM/Keith Black KB-168 with a "0 decked" block. 9.8:1 compression.

What about for a 350 based block.
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