Controlling the pulse of the airflow through the engine is a COMP Cams camshaft that was designed specifically for the real-world 3,000- to 7,000-rpm range that this engine lives in. In fact, Barry actually ordered the cam for use in his personal street car. With duration not stratospheric, and lift under .700-inch, it is a cam that would not destroy the valvetrain if the engine were put on the streets of Detroit. A Danny Bee beltdrive sits in place of the normal timing chain, and allows Barry to tune the cam timing events to best match the needs of his combination. "They [Danny Bee] are the only ones who do an FE belt drive. It's fortunate that it's a really nice part because it's the only one we have to choose from. They replace the entire front cover with a piece of billet aluminum, and it's pretty slick. It gives us a level of tuning flexibility, which has never been matched before. I can do cam timing changes in minutes that used to take hours." Running a 110-degree lobe separation on the cam, it was quick work to advance it for best power in the competition.
Crash! On the final tuning pull, the dyno operator noticed a bad rattling noise, and with
Perched on the built short-block is a pair of Blue Thunder cylinder heads. The heads are based on the "high-riser" design that Ford built as an over-the-counter race head in 1964. The intake runners towered almost a full inch higher than standard FE heads, and unless you had pockets deep enough for NASCAR-style Tunnel-Port heads, were the ultimate in FE wedge heads. The in-your-face design of the high-risers was made specifically for racers, since with their height and requirement for a special intake manifold, they would not clear a stock flat hood. The theory behind the head was not only to increase runner volume, but to give it more of a straight shot down the throat of the engine and into the chamber. With the scarcity and desire for these heads, it was no surprise that Blue Thunder went to the trouble of casting a newer, more up-to-date version. More than 40 years of technology has allowed the Blue Thunder High-Risers to be significantly improved over the initial design. Barry credits Cary Chouinard and John Marcella with the performance of the heads. "The port development and valve job development was done by John, and then Cary was the one who CNC'd it." Those names might sounds familiar as they were the team who built ET Performance. Cary now runs Performance Induction, and John's Marcella Manifolds is growing rapidly. They gave the heads an efficient heart-shaped wedge combustion chamber with a more centralized spark plug placement that assured a homogenized burn and decreased any chances of detonation-especially critical considering the small chambers gave the engine 11.5:1 compression, and it was fed 91-octane unleaded dinosaur juice. Ferrea 5/16-inch stem valves were lightweight enough to reduce the spring requirements, and cut with a 52-degree valve job to really make the flow numbers pop. Manley's Nextec oval-track springs had modest spring pressure, and were built to last in an endurance application, so they held up just fine in the street-oriented buildup. Barry is a believer that on the pushrod side of the rocker, stiffness is more important than weight, so when he called Trend for his pushrods he ordered them as a double-taper running from to 7/16 inch in a super-thick .165-inch wall thickness.
The heads took advantage of a feature found in the 428 CJ castings as well. Dual bolt patterns on the exhaust side allowed a variety of headers to fit them and give easy access to the header bolts for at-the-track removal. Big valves are a given for a combo like this, and though some bore chamfering would be required on a standard 390 or 428 block, the large bore of this 433 easily swallowed the 2.20/1.71-inch stainless steel poppets.