Big-inch small-blocks are all the rage these days. With the mass proliferation of tall-deck aftermarket blocks and dirt cheap stroker cranks, the grunt and cubes that were once the exclusive territory of big-blocks can be had in a tidy, compact package. Play your cards wrong, however, and a big-inch small-block can burn a big-block-size hole in your pocket. The intensive labor and dollars required to balance long-stroke rotating assemblies and clearance blocks and rods means that they're often more about pimp factor than practicality. Nonetheless, these massive small-blocks still have undeniable sex appeal, and there's a very simple way to avoid the aforementioned pitfalls: pass up on a small-block Chevy and build a 351 Ford Windsor instead.
Granted, the small-block Chevy is the king of all performance motors in terms of popularity and parts availability, nevertheless, it's outgunned by the 351 Windsor in several key areas when maximum displacement is the agenda. Most of the Windsor's advantages are attributable to its deck height of 9.500 inches (9.000 inches for the SBC). Thanks to the extra space provided by its longer cylinder bores, a Windsor can easily swallow up a 4.250-inch stroke. The tall deck also positions the camshaft much higher in the block, virtually eliminating interference issues between the cam and the rods. Likewise, the distance between the Windsor's pan rails is significantly wider than a SBC. As a result, the crankcase is much larger, which-in conjunction with the tall deck-can accommodate bigger crank counterweights for easier balancing.
Custom Wiseco pistons feature a 15cc reverse dome and weigh just 425 grams.
Don't be alarmed, but 351 Windsor production blocks can be built as large as 434 ci and still run reliably. The subject at hand here is a 418ci street/strip mill that produces 670 hp on pump gas, built by HK Enterprises of Houston, Texas. The truly impressive part of this motor is that it's built almost entirely from off-the-shelf parts. Anyone with a Summit catalog can replicate this combination. No top secret head porters or machinists are required. "Even a lot of the Ford guys don't think a Windsor can be built this large, but I'm not sure where that misconception comes from," says Erik Koening of HK Enterprises. "Maybe they think the issues that come up when building a big-inch small-block are universal to all types of small-blocks, but the truth of the matter is there's just much more space inside a 351 Windsor than in a Chevy."
The basis for this 418 is a production 351 Windsor block that's been bored to 4.030 inches and paired with a 4340 forged-steel Eagle 4.100-inch crank. While factory Windsor cranks came externally balanced, the Eagle piece is set up for internal balancing to promote component longevity at high rpm. Combined with a set of 6.200-inch Eagle steel H-beam rods, it results in a reasonable rod-to-stroke ratio of 1.51. Like most aftermarket 351 Windsor rods, they feature a smaller 2.100-inch rod journal diameter as opposed to the factory 2.311-inch journals, which keeps bearing speed in check and allows for the use of SBC rods. Wiseco pistons with a 15cc reverse-dome maintain a 93 octane-friendly 11.5:1 compression ratio.
Despite the long 4.100-in stroke, there's still 1.235-in of compression height. With a mor
When it came time to button up the short-block, the capacious internal dimensions provided by the 351 Windsor architecture kept prep work to a minimum. Thanks to the favorable cam positioning within the block, the slim-profile Eagle rods clear the cam with room to spare. Although the bottom of the cylinders require a wee bit of grinding to clear the rod bolts, it isn't close to the major surgery required in a Chevy. "You can't even think about plopping in a 4-inch stroke in a Chevy without serious clearancing of the block, and running a small base circle cam is a must," says Erik. "There are no clearance issues whatsoever with the Windsor. In fact, we didn't even have to use a small base circle cam with this motor."
Space issues aside, long-stroke small-blocks are usually a big pain to balance. Pulling the pistons that far down the cylinder bores leaves very little space between the piston skirts and the crank counterweights at bottom dead center. Consequently, many long-stroke cranks have counterweights that are much smaller than ideal. Compensating for this requires adding lots of heavy metal to the counterweights, which makes for a time- and money-consuming balancing process. However, the extra real estate afforded by the Windsor's tall deck and wide pan rails eliminates such headaches. "With the extra room inside these motors, the counterweights are much taller than in a small-block Chevy which makes them much easier to balance," says Erik. "Even with a 4.100- or a 4.250-inch stroke, a Windsor is easier to balance than a Chevy with a 3.750-inch stroke and aluminum rods."
Standard tension Wiseco 1/16-, 1/16-, and 3/16-inch rings provide cylinder seal.
Feeding the bottom end is a set of out-of-the-box AFR 225cc heads with 2.08/1.60-inch valves. They're advertised as flowing 317/255 cfm at .700-inch lift, and from our experience, AFR's numbers are spot-on if not a bit conservative. The heads are mated to an untouched Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold which sits beneath a 1,000-cfm Holley 4150-series carburetor. Managing the airflow is a mild 260/266-at-0.050 COMP Xtreme Energy solid-roller cam with .666/.677-inch lift and a 110 degree lobe separation angle. COMP lifters, 3/8-inch pushrods, and Probe 1.7:1 shaft-mount rockers comprise the rest of the valvetrain. Although Probe suffers from a mixed reputation amongst the masses, these rockers fit perfectly and didn't require any additional machining.
As promising as the 418 looks on paper, it performed even better in the dyno room. On the School of Automotive Machinists' SuperFlow 902 dyno, it kicked out an impressive 670 hp at 7,300 rpm and 540 lb-ft of torque at 5,600 rpm. Had this motor been fitted with a longer 4.250-inch crank-bumping up displacement to 434 ci-Erik estimates a 3 percent increase in torque across the board. That's not too shabby for a pump gas street/strip motor built with off-the-shelf parts-that doesn't rely on subtle tricks like Hard Blok fill or a vacuum pump. This ain't no dyno queen either. Not long after our dyno session, the 418 powered a 3,000-lb Fox-body Mustang down the quarter-mile in 10.40 seconds at 136 mph. Not bad considering the 95 heat.
Small-block, Chevy-sized piston pins open up the door for using a slew of off-the-shelf SB
While the power numbers speak for themselves, the real question is how long can a factory block take this kind of abuse before splitting in half? According to Erik, it will last for quite some time. "In a street/strip application, these Windsors can safely handle 650-675 hp and 7,500 rpm," he says. "People routinely push them to 1,000 hp, but you never know how long they'll last at that power level. I like to use really long strokes in these motors to keep the rpm down." Contributing to the strength of the bottom end are the Windsor's beefy 3-inch mains. Although the main caps are anchored with just two bolts, they're much larger than the caps on a small-block Chevy and have 1/2-inch bolts (7/16 inch for SBC).
There is a downside, however, to those large mains. "Compared to the Chevy, Windsors are heavier and create more friction," says Erik. "Bearing speed can become an issue at high rpm. Smaller 2.75-inch Cleveland mains can free up 10 hp on a 1,000hp motor, but friction really isn't that big of an issue on a low-rpm motor like this." Making the deal even sweeter is that 351 Windsor long-blocks can be picked up at junkyards for $50 to $100 all day long. During its production run of nearly three decades, it powered everything from full-size trucks to Crown Vics, so junkyards are well-stocked with Windsors.
Although we didn't intend to do so by any means, we can see how some Bowtie diehards might interpret this story as Chevy-bashing propaganda. However, that simply isn't the case. Most of the time, it's always easier to build a Chevy-and probably make more power in the process-but in the world of big-inch small-blocks, the 351 Windsor has irrefutable advantages over the venerable SBC. HK Enterprises isn't some Ford specialty shop trying to covertly push an agenda, either. It builds five times as many Chevys as Fords, and actually specializes in GM Gen III and LT1 small-blocks. The bottom line is that this 418 was built for $8,200, complete from carb to oil pan. Dollar per hp for a true street/strip motor, that's tough to match, even with a Chevy.
Small-blocks of this size usually employ aftermarket caps or girdles, but not here.
The only clearancing required by the 4.100-inch stroke rotating assembly is at the very bo
AFR's 225cc heads feature 58cc combustion chambers that allow healthy compression without
Right out of the box, the AFR heads flow plenty of air to support a large-inch small-block
Small-block Fords are characterized by strong exhaust ports. The AFR flows 250 cfm at .600
The Probe shaft-mount 1.7:1 rockers fit like a glove and provide plenty of stability at hi
The generic dyno headers are a stepped 1.75- to 2.00-inch design that dumps into 3-inch co
The 1,000-cfm Holley 4150-series carburetor was nearly spot-on right out of the box and re
After toying with several carb spacer configurations, the 418 made the most power with a 1
Before firing up the beast, Erik Koenig of HK Enterprises primed the oil pump with a speed
Moroso's electric water pump for small-block Fords looks trick, and was worth a few extra
Lighting the fire is an MSD billet distributor with a mechanical advance.
|DYNO RESULTS 418CI WINDSOR |
|RPM ||TQ ||HP ||RPM ||TQ ||HP |
|4,800 ||515.1 ||470.7 ||6,200 ||515.4 ||608.4 |
|4,900 ||523.4 ||488.3 ||6,300 ||521.4 ||625.4 |
|5,000 ||528.2 ||502.9 ||6,400 ||513.4 ||627.7 |
|5,100 ||538.0 ||522.5 ||6,500 ||514.4 ||636.7 |
|5,200 ||536.4 ||531.1 ||6,600 ||509.8 ||640.6 |
|5,300 ||538.2 ||543.1 ||6,700 ||503.5 ||642.3 |
|5,400 ||538.6 ||553.8 ||6,800 ||497.7 ||644.4 |
|5,500 ||537.0 ||562.3 ||6,900 ||491.7 ||646.0 |
|5,600 ||540.8 ||576.6 ||7,000 ||488.9 ||651.5 |
|5,700 ||537.9 ||583.7 ||7,100 ||489.2 ||661.3 |
|5,800 ||531.0 ||586.4 ||7,200 ||481.6 ||660.2 |
|5,900 ||532.3 ||597.9 ||7,300 ||482.2 ||670.2 |
|6,000 ||525.8 ||600.7 ||7,400 ||469.1 ||660.9 |
|6,100 ||525.8 ||610.7 ||7,500 ||453.9 ||648.2 |
|PARTS LIST - 418 CI WINDSOR |
|Item: ||Source: ||Part No: ||Cost: |
|351 block: ||junkyard ||none ||$100 |
|Crankshaft: ||Eagle ||435141006200 ||$495 |
|Rods: ||Eagle ||CRS6200B3D ||$375 |
|Pistons: ||Wiseco ||custom ||$695 |
|Rings: ||Wiseco ||Custom ||$85 |
|Main bearings: ||Federal Mogul ||130M ||$55 |
|Rod Bearings: ||Clevite ||CB633H ||$55 |
|Cam Bearings: ||Clevite ||SH510S ||$15 |
|Camshaft: ||COMP ||custom ||$225 |
|Timing chain: ||Ford Motorsport ||M-6268-A302 ||$65 |
|Lifters: ||COMP ||838-16 ||$330 |
|Pushrods: ||COMP ||7956-16 ||$125 |
|Rockers: ||Probe ||11313 ||$500 |
|Heads: ||AFR ||1451 ||$1899 |
|Head gaskets: ||Fel-Pro ||1133 ||$150 |
|Head bolts: ||ARP ||154-3603 ||$54.50 |
|Oil pump drive: ||ARP ||154-7901 ||$16.75 |
|Damper bolt: ||ARP ||150-2501 ||$18.75 |
|Oil pump bolt: ||ARP ||150-6901 ||$6.50 |
|Cam bolts: ||ARP ||254-1001 ||$5.00 |
|Intake manifold: ||Edelbrock ||2924 ||$280 |
|Intake gasket: ||Fel-Pro ||1262 ||$19.25 |
|Oil pan: ||Canton ||15-694 ||$275 |
|Oil pump pickup: ||Canton ||15-695 ||$47.50 |
|Dipstick: ||Canton ||20-850 ||$22.50 |
|Oil pump: ||Melling ||10833 ||$47.75 |
|Timing cover: ||HKE ||custom ||$92.50 |
|Damper: ||Professional Products ||90007 ||$190 |
|Carburetor: ||Holley ||80514 ||$750 |
|Distributor: ||MSD ||8584 ||$225 |
|Plug wires: ||MSD ||31389 ||$75 |
|Water pump: ||Moroso ||63585 ||$260 |
|Machine Shop Labor |
|Operation: ||Source: ||Cost: |
|Bore/hone: ||HKE ||$225 |
|Line hone: ||HKE ||$125 |
|Clearancing: ||HKE ||$100 |
|Balancing: ||HKE ||$150 |
|Grand Total: || ||$8,155 |