This is my build so far, just to give you an Idea, or at least a starting place.
I bought a 389.
stripped it down, sold the closed chambered 72 CC heads
bored it to 4.120 (stock 400 bore)
used forged trw pistons for 400 cost $ 300 USD
5140 rpm rods cost $ 249 USD
had the pistons and rods assembled
had the crank polished(cleaned up nicely at stock)
balance reciprocating mass
Had the block decked to zero ,using measurment from all 4 corners (pistons installed)
I am going to run the comp cams XE 262 grind
I have my heads back.They were milled to achieve 83 CCs (about .035 milled off) I used a set of 7H1 heads from a 72 firebird
They allready had the larger 1.77 valves installed.
Triple angle valve job was performed
7/16 studs were installed also to accomodate adjustable valve train.
port work in the bowl area of the heads and the short turn radius as well
I have about 1000 USD in these stock heads as of right now.
1 : zero decking the block gives you the ability to control quench with the head gasket thickness
2: you will need to have the pistons you are going to use to be able to get the block decked accurately because compression heights differ as well as tolerances
3: forged pistons and rods are required , as cast parts have more flexing and such, wich can cause problems in the higher RPMs.Use forged rods and pistons
4:when you deck the block and mill the heads you will need to measure for pushrod length.That is why I had the 7/16 studs put in the heads, i can use poly locks to adjust the valve train
5: Blocking the deck and milling the heads creates a need for shorter pushrods. It changes the valve train geometry also , making it necessary to be able to adjust the valve train.correcting valve train geometry can be discussed later.
6: a fel pro Q 1016 head gasket has a compressed thickness of .039, which is what I am going to run.
My build gives a static compression ratio of 9.39 to 1 and with the XE 262 the dynamic comes in at 7.91 to one.
I could get a little more low end power by putting in the next size smaller cam like the XE 256. That would raise my dynamic compression to 8.06
Headers will be tricky on your F bird but they are available.I think a lot of guys like dougs headers because of the fit. That would be a could question to ask here. I am running factory manifolds untill I can get a set of ram air reproducyion manifolds.
Also a quadrajet is a very good carb for your build. You can get a performer air gap street dominator intake and it will be lighter and perform as well as the stock intake( wich is actually pretty good for the street), that way you dont have to fool with a heavy stock cast Iron manifold.
Given your situation i would defenitly get aftermarket heads, they wont cost as much to ship, they will be lighter on the car, and the performance gain will be well worth it. Not to mention they shouldnt need an any machine work, unless you want to mill them to shrink the combustion chamber size (you probably will want to) so you can get it size right for the compression ratio
PS here is a pic of my 64 pontiac
ThX latech! This brings me closer to my goal.
Nice car by the way
I understand, with the gasket you`ll adjust the quench. As you wrote, i don`t have to mill aftermarket alu heads in every case? Or it is better to get sure by measuring them exactly and in case i have to mill them?
u can`t see much, but it is without any rust
Yes , I will use hydraulic lifters.The poly locks make it possible to adjust the valvetrain after all the modifications have been done to the block and heads, head gasket thickness etc.Because the Original design was for torque to lash
, in other words it was designed to put the right amount of preload on the lifters when the non adjustable bottleneck studs were used and were torqued to the proper spec. After all the modificati ons it is required to make the valve train adjustable to accomodate the changes.
To accurately measure the deck height (not relying on manufactureres specifications by themselves) you will have to assemble the bottom end of the engine. At least one cylinder at each end of the cylinder bank , such as cylinders 1 and 7 and cylinders 2 and 8 (odd cylinders on one bank and evens on the other) that way when you run each one to top dead center you can measure each ones depth and you can detect by your measurement if one end of the block is off by a few thousanths.
You can do the same thing by using a shop with a block squaring fixture and by measuring from the main bore after the align bore has been checked/corrected (In my opinion absolutley necessary) . And then checking rod length and compression height of the pistons, then doing the appropriate math to arrive at the amount you need to mill.
When you have a block decked they dont mill it while it is assembled.
Having it partially assembled gives you the ability to take the actual reading from the piston tops ,rather than doing a bunch of mathmatical calculations and measuring that requires a bunch of tools that a machine shop would have, to arrive to the same conclusion.
I would recommend that the machine shop do the math for you after you have the parts you are going to use in the motor.Primarily the pistons and rods and crank. Like I said specifications are allways good to have but the actual machining shouldnt take place untill after you have checked all the specifications by having parts in hand.That way any deviation from the specs can be compensated for before the machining begins on the deck.If you rely on the specs and something is wrong , like the piston compresion height is off by .003 thousanths that would be a problem. You dont want them above deck .003. so parts in hand is the rule,so you might want to clear up any issue like this with the machine shop before you get started ordering anything.They should be fine with you supplying the parts, but just in case ask first.
It would be Nice if you knew someone at the AMG plant who would sneek your motor through there and work their majik. I could almost imagine how that might turn out.
Oh and about milling the aftermarket heads...I would only mill them if you need to ajust the combustion chamber size, wich you probably will.
Here is a website I use for my calculations as I am lazy to do the math myself.It will help you with calculating your build.
I keep a shortcut to this website on my desktop so I can access it frequently as my build was evolving to be sure I would end up where I wanted to be.
What you want is to have the static compression end up at around 9.3 to one and the dynamic come in at 8.3 or a little less.This will be a good range to try to achieve for a street engine(pontiac) running on pump gas.You need to be sure the cooling system is in good shape when you are done , we will cover that later.
Just a note on pistons, buy a quality forged set of pistons, stay away from "builder grade" pistons that have 2 sets of valve reliefs in them as it will have a negative effect on quench( somewhat)
Shoot me a PM when you think you have got your parts chosen and I will help you in advice to make the right choices. Have a nice day
Look at these three pistons. notice the valve reliefs.
The first is a cast "builder grade" piston. see the 2 sets of valve reliefs. They wont help with quench area. These are not what you want, either.
The second piston is better and is the style I used ( due to budget). Mine dont have the black coating and that coating is being widely questioned.I would opt to not use it, seems to be questionable if it is good or bad.
The third piston is Ideal. It is forged, and has one half set of valve reliefs.
This is best as it does not impose on the area of combustion chamber where you are developing the quench as there is no set of valve reliefs in that area.
These are pontiac pistons , I used them to show important differences in the design. They are available for a 400, some of these are for a 455, but as I said they are all available for a 400, I just used the pictures to explain what you should look for.
Last edited by latech; 09-22-2011 at 11:04 AM.
Thx latech! I´m pondering if I use 2nd or 3rd. In case of changing pistons. I read in Jim Hands book that using stock pistons and rods would be ok around 5500rpm.
Following the first answers from engine builders.
From Kaufman racing;
"You would be fine with the aluminum 85cc heads on your combo, usually we will run the 74cc heads on a 400 for pump gas setups but it's up to you. Either will be fine for pump gas.
I recommend you run something like a Crower 60916 camshaft and lifters with this combo. Either intake manifold and carb will work for you combo. The poly locks are a good idea to use on the valve train.
Mellling M54DS is a good oil pump for your setup. Carter or Holley high pressure fuel pump will work just fine.
Hooker headers connected to 2.5" pipes will be a very good exhaust system for this engine. "
I asked for pistons too. Im waiting for answer.
From Peromance Years, answers in fat:
"87cc d-port heads (i dont want to run in detonate problems)
WITH ZERO DECK ON A .030 YOU SHOULD HAVE A 9.3:1 COMPRESSION RATIO
a cam kit for 1300-5500rpm Comp Cams f.e.
YOU COULD USE COMP CAMS XE268 OR OUR PART HC55A WHICH IS A BLUEPRINTED 068 FACTORY GRIND
An adjustable valve train with polylockers and 7/16 studs with roller rockers (do I need hydraulic lifters?)
DEPENDING ON THE HEADS YOU GET, WE CAN SET YOU UP WITH WHAT YOU NEED . YES, HYDRAULIC LIFTERS.
the stock manifold or edelbrock rpm
EDELBROCK RPM WOULD BE NICE BUT I DON'T THINK IT WILL FIT UNDER THE STOCK HOOD. A PORT MATCHED STOCK 1968 THRU 1972 PONTIAC INTAKE WILL WORK , ADD AS MUCH SPACER AS ROOM PERMITS.
the Q-jet or Edelbrock 750cfm
FOR ANY STREET CAR GO WITH THE Q-JET, WE CAN REBUILD YOURS
high volume oil pump
OUR PART # GME183A & GME182S
high volume fuel pump
A LARGE CANISTER 455 MECHANICAL PUMP WILL WORK FINE.
hooker headers with dual 2,5“ exhaust H-pipe
HOOKER OR DOUGS HEADERS ARE GOOD, JUST DON'T GO TOO BIG ON PRIMARY TUBES. WE CAN GET DOUGS HEADERS FOR YOU. ALSO WE SELL A NICE 2 1/2 MANDREL BENT CROSSFLOW EXHAUST X-PIPE SYSTEM WHICH WOULD BE A PERFECT MATCH TO YOUR COMBO
Under the heads i just want to fine balance the crank. The connecting rods and pistons stock.
OVER HERE I WOULD RECOMMEND NEW RODS, BY THE TIME YOU HAVE THE STOCK ONE REMACHINED YOU ARE 3/4 THE PRICE OF A NEW ROD. IF THEY ARE HARD TO GET OVER THERE , AT MINIMUM GET GOOD ARP ROD BOLTS."
Sounds very reliable for me.
I´m still waiting for couple of mails. I post it here.
Are you re using the pistons in the engine?
The compression ratios differ widely from a 72 cc chamber as opposed to an 84 cc chamber.Use the website I posted for you and it will help you see the difference.
Also stock pistons and rods are OK for a mild build,for a decked motor I would recommend forged pistons and rods.
Hi pressure Hi volume pumps can cause problems on pontiac motors.Stock pumps are actually more reliable.The ram air IV pump is the one performance years recommended.That would be my choice.
The h pipe dual exhaust system is good(flowmaster) I put one on my car, it sounds awesome and I got it from summit for 360 USD to my door.Also they mentioned dougs headers for a reason, there good and fit great.
Factory cast Iron intake is a good performer, most of the good aftermarkt intakes are modeled after the factory intake.Just wasnt sure if you had one ,hence the mention of an air gap street performer.
Performance years is steering you in the right direction.Kaufman racing is good but I think you were not talking to someone who had his facts straight.or he was not stating completely what he was talking about when he said that 74 cc heads vs. 85 CC heads will be fine for pump gas. The 74 cc would work but not well and you have no ability to use quench as part of the equation so not enough info given by that guy.
Stick with what performance years is saying. they are on the mark.
Kaufman does make some awesome heads for pontiac,the tech support guy is not informative enough though.
the 74 cc heads would put the static at 9.69 to one and with a XE 262 would put the dynamic at 8.15, but all that without any quench yields a possible detonation problem, as the calculations I have made involve the stock deck (.023) and .043 head gasket, making piston to head clearance .065, rendering a build with no quench in the design, leading to detonation issues.remeber a good quench is about .040,... and .065 renders the effect of quench non existant
The older pontiac heads were small chambers and did not flow as good as the larger chamber designs.
i decided to use the stock pistons and rods after checking them intensively. My recommended rpm range goes not over 5500rpm and i do not kick cold engines . Yeah i incline in the same direction as you with the statemant. I got answer from Jeff Kauffman and this sounds reliable for me.
Well, i`m supposed to get get the 85cc Kauffman heads . In combo with the Crower 60916 cam and roller rockers. This also seems to be the most economically decision.
Yeah, those would have been my choice also. Good luck and keep us posted. Best to you and yours.
Thanks bro. I keep u update. Tomorrow after i installed the tank, i`ll clean up my garage and then the party starts.
Here is an update of my partlist.
1. 85cc kre d-port heads and covers)
2. crower cam 60916 (278H)
3. crower hyd. lifters 66056
4. Melling oil pump 54ds
5. Carter fuel pump M6907
6. ARP 190-6001 rod bolt kit
7. fel pro 8518 head gasket
8. comp cams 1.65 roller tip rockers
9. pushrods, lenght fitting to roller rockers
10. Stock manifold (maybe I'll change it to Performer rpm when its not statisfying)
11. Hooker headers (I got theese already)
12. The Q-Jet modified
13. dual 2,5" exhaust
14. Th 350 remanufactered in the us, beared up to 800hp
15. 3.23 rear gear posi with traction bars
The rest is Stock, except Crank and rods fine balanced and block decked to zero.
What do you think how much hp it will develop on tires, or make one 1/4 mile?
Last edited by Chev8y; 10-05-2011 at 01:22 PM.
my engine is still at the machine shop. I think its ready in 6weeks.
It becomes new forged flat top pistons with 2 valve reliefs too.
Now 2 questions comes to my mind.
I got the 500557 block. What comes to my mind again are the main caps.
The Milodon 11506 - Milodon Main Cap Kit use 4 Bolts. Would you recommend usage of theese for piece of mind, or no big difference?
I have the stock distrubuor. Would you recommend a brand new like This?
Or a tune up kit for the stock one like this ?
THX for help
Adding 4-bolt caps won't make an appreciable difference. The bulkheads of the 557 block are thinner than the earlier castings. If you keep power around 550 HP or less and RPM under 6,000, you should be fine.
The "stock" distributor for te 557 block would be an HEI unit. They're also just fine to 6,000. Add a "curve kit", 22 machanical "all in" by 2,800 (initial set at 12, for a "total" of 34).
Some Pontiac info.
Some info on the HEI.
If you want to keep the shaker hood scoop, the Performer RPM intake wont work without a drop base. They are quite tall, so you are limited for the intake.
I bought one of my Formula Firebirds in Germany when I was stationed there 20 years ago. Its the blue one I use as an avatar on here. It was near impossible finding parts for it, but with the internet things are probably better. If you are planning on driving it hard at all, you will want better rods and new pistons because getting a new block there isnt easy. The old pistons might let it smoke, and a smoking engine isnt going to pass inspection there. Even if it doesnt smoke, you are using tired pistons and rods with new Kaufman heads, just my opinion but I would get forged parts for it.
Other than that, the info provided has been good as usual, except with aluminum heads a 400 can use 72cc heads very easily on pump gas. Iron 72cc heads can cause problems, but aluminum works fine with 10.5:1 or less. Lots of variables contribute to if an engine will ping or knock holes in things, and some people get away with more compression than others. For a driver its usually a safe bet to run a bit lower compression rather than on the ragged edge, because you never know when you might have to run some low octane stuff. 87cc or 72cc aluminum heads will work for you. The 72cc will just require better gas all the time, the 87cc heads will run on any octane. Your choice really, there isnt much of a power difference.
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