Project Max Effort 438ci Ford Motor Build - Street Cup
Project Max Effort gets a 730hp pump-gas Cup car motor for the street!
From the October, 2011 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Christopher Campbell
Photography by Christopher Campbell
NASCAR technology for the street sounds counterintuitive, but in reality the realm of ultimate pushrod race engines holds the secret to rejuvenating one of the best head designs ever created for the small-block Ford: the Cleveland. That’s because prior to the release of Ford Racing’s magnificent clean-sheet FR9 race engine in 2009, Ford’s NASCAR program had overt muscle car roots. For the three decades preceding the FR9, the engines powering every Blue Oval racer were essentially 351 Windsor blocks topped with 351 Cleveland-derived heads.
Thirty-plus years is an extraordinarily long time to go between racing engine changes for a manufacturer, but you know what that gets ya? A lot of time sorting out and fine-tuning to create fully optimized engines. For example Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford for Roush Fenway, finished the 2008 season with a series-high nine victories. Not too bad for a platform considered archaic by NASCAR standards.
That extended life also brought forth dramatically revised and near perfected versions of the original Cleveland heads, thanks to the efforts of Ford Racing, Roush Racing, and Robert Yates. The A351, B351, C302, C302B, C3, C3H, SC1 (Sprint Car 1), and finally the most radical, the D3. That last head was worked so well that it was used right until the FR9 bowed. Even cooler is the fact that all of them will technically bolt right onto any Ford Windsor or Cleveland small-block.
When NASCAR banned the use of canted valves on cylinder heads (the Cleveland’s signature design) in 1990, Robert Yates stepped in to revise the C302 head. The intake valve cant was removed and the angle was altered, but the traditional stagger arrangement remained. The new heads colloquially became known as “Yates.” Notwithstanding, Ford used recycled part numbers on some of the intake manifolds so there are Yates and C302 intakes that carry the same part number. That did lead to a bit of an issue with identification among those seeking the ultimate heads for their small-block Fords, since the pre- and post-Yates heads were quite similar looking to the untrained eye.
Of course all of those iterations were very specific application race parts designed for ultrahigh rpm use and regular maintenance. What the Ford world really needed was a head that took all of those lessons learned from decades of NASCAR competition, and put them into a street-friendly head—one that makes massive power, of course.
The foundation for Max Effort’s...
The foundation for Max Effort’s engine is Dart’s virgin 355-T61 aluminum block. The block uses scalloped outer water jacket walls to improve coolant flow around the cylinders to ward off detonation and promote consistent cylinder temperatures when run at extended high rpm. On top of that, the upgraded oiling system features a complete stock-type system, plus a low-restriction priority main oiling system with front and rear external oil pump feeds. Both of those benefits are especially important when on track. The block’s light weight will take important pounds off the nose to help make up for Max Effort’s heavy hideaway headlights.
That’s where Troy Bowen at Ford Performance Solutions (FPS) saw a gap. There were updated Cleveland-style heads on the market, and Cleveland-headed Windsors are nothing new, but he felt there was power left on the table. His first iteration, known as the Avenger XTC 351, worked well, but a newer version, dubbed the Avenger XTC-R, blends original Cleveland and the best bits of NASCAR design into a head. That brings everything full circle—street to race, and back to street. That’s perfect for a car like Max Effort that’s a little bit Pro Touring, a little bit road race, and touch of NASCAR thrown in for good measure.
The craziest part of this build isn’t the awesome power production; it’s that this combination we threw together is designed to run on premium 91-octane pump gas. Read on to see how FPS makes it happen.
Rather than stick to a puny...
Rather than stick to a puny 358ci like NASCAR, we opted for 438 torque-building cubes from an RPM-International 4.10-inch stroke 4340-forged crank with internal balance, .125 radius on all journals, and lightening holes in all rod throws. It’s also shot-peened, stress relieved and nitride hardened. Both small 302 2.249-inch and large 351C 2.749-inch main bearings are available, ours is a 351C.
Keeping the crank locked in...
Keeping the crank locked in place are Dart’s four-bolt billet steel main caps. The three center caps have splayed outer bolts for extra strength; the rear cap uses a standard one-piece seal.
Bowen opted for RPM-International’s...
Bowen opted for RPM-International’s Maxx-Pro billet I-beam rods, which are designed for light weight, but strong enough for sustained high-rpm use. Ours are 620 grams and use standard ARP 2000 capscrew bolts.
We filled the Dart block’s...
We filled the Dart block’s 4.125-inch bore with custom forged Cleveland-style pistons from Ross Racing, and Akerly and Childs rings using a .043 first, 1.5 second, and a 3mm oil ring. The pistons sit at zero deck.
There was only one area that...
There was only one area that required very minor clearancing for the 4.10-inch stroke. Bowen just touched the edges of the ARP bolt to gain the needed space.
To take full advantage of...
To take full advantage of the Dart block’s impressive oiling capacity and eliminate starvation fears while cornering, we stepped up to a two-stage dry-sump system and pan from Aviaid. These guys have been building competition and street oil systems since the ’60s and Aviaid pans and equipment were common on competition Shelby GT350s and Cobras, and even the Ford GT40s that won Le Mans.
The camshaft is a custom solid-roller...
The camshaft is a custom solid-roller from COMP Cams spec’d by Bowen with .673/.673 lift, 270/278 degrees of duration at .050, and a 111-degree lobe separation angle.
Since we want max reliability,...
Since we want max reliability, Bowen opted for COMP Cams’ Endure-X solid-roller lifters. These lifters are fully rebuildable and have COMP’s EDM oil injection technology, which makes sure that the bearing assembly receives a constant flow of pressurized oil. That coupled with tool steel axles make these ideal for high-rpm applications.
Fel-Pro PermaTorque MLS head...
Fel-Pro PermaTorque MLS head gaskets seal up the bores when the specific-length ARP studs (available through FPS) lock down the FPS XTC-R heads.
Though standard Cleveland-style...
Though standard Cleveland-style stud-mount rockers will fit the XTC-R heads, Bowen recommended T&D Machine’s shafts rockers for reliable valvetrain stability during regular high-rpm use.
Because these heads are designed...
Because these heads are designed to accept stock Cleveland rockers, adding on the shaft rockers requires cutting the mounts and rewelding them to accommodate the differing valve angles. The ⅜-inch–tapered COMP Cams pushrods are 8.850 and 8.950 inches long.
The 2.25-/1.68-inch valves...
The 2.25-/1.68-inch valves retain the traditional Cleveland cant and stagger, with the intake valve shifted 3 degrees away from the cylinder wall to promote better flow. Intake flow maxes out at 401 cfm at .800-inch lift, and 260 cfm at .800 on the exhaust. The combustion chamber is an extremely efficient 72cc Cleveland/C3 hybrid design that yields 11.6:1 static compression with our Ross pistons.
Like their NASCAR inspiration,...
Like their NASCAR inspiration, the XTC-R heads have raised exhaust and intake ports to smooth out the sharp curves that plague original Cleveland heads; the intake is raised .500 inch, and the exhaust .700 inch. The 2.185x1.68-inch intake port requires a specific gasket from FPR, but the 1.8x1.57-inch exhaust port uses standard 4V Cleveland exhaust gaskets.
This is a close-up look at...
This is a close-up look at the awesome port work inside the Edelbrock intake by FPS. These were actually discontinued and FPS bought up the remaining supply; however, FPS is planning to bring it back into production soon.
Ever seen a NASCAR intake...
Ever seen a NASCAR intake retrofitted to port EFI? Topping off our Clevor is an XFI fuel injection system from FAST with their 4150-style throttle body that flows 1,375 cfm with 65 lb/hr injectors on FAST rails.
You can’t quite see the back...
You can’t quite see the back of the valve, but the C3-style Edelbrock intake does provide a fairly straight shot into the cylinder with only a mild radius. The XTC heads are versatile, though; the CHI intake as well as other older variants through Ford Racing/SVO will fit as well.
For dyno testing we’re using...
For dyno testing we’re using a Meziere electric water pump to ensure we’ve got plenty of cooling while tuning. This is their popular polished 35-gph model.
Macy’s a tuner who’s highly...
Macy’s a tuner who’s highly in demand, and now we know why; our XFI’s air/fuel/timing landscape was mint almost immediately, requiring only very slight changes.
Speaking of tuning, Brian...
Speaking of tuning, Brian Macy of Horsepower Connection is the man who would extract every last bit of power. He’s an expert in FAST XFI systems and when not flying around the country taking care of customers, he even teaches XFI classes at EFI University.
Eric Weinrich of DYNO-Motive...
Eric Weinrich of DYNO-Motive strapped the Clevor to his DTS dyno and handled the plumbing of the Aviaid dry-sump system for testing. We’ll show you how to do it in the car in a later story.
Our MSD Pro-Billet distributor...
Our MSD Pro-Billet distributor needs a little altering to become a cam sync for our XFI; seven of the eight teeth on the reluctor wheel are broken off, by your means of choice. We’ll also remove the advance weights and springs from the top of the distributor and lock it out so that timing responds only to the XFI, not mechanical engine rpm.
To install the new cam sync...
To install the new cam sync distributor, Macy rolled the engine over to 50 degrees BTDC degrees and aligned the crank trigger pickup with the center of a magnet on the crank trigger wheel. The distributor is dropped in pointing toward the No. 1 spark plug, then the engine is rolled over and set at the lowest timing at wide-open throttle under max load—28 degrees for this one. All timing advance will now be handled by Macy and the FAST XFI.
NASCAR forbids water/meth...
NASCAR forbids water/meth injection setups like Snow Performance’s Stage 3 MPG Max Boost Cooler, which is a shame because as we proved in the Aug. ’11 issue that chemical intercooling can build big power. Mileage isn’t a goal this time, but the MPG Max system’s ability to reference injector timing (as well as boost) simultaneously and alter the injection of Snow’s Boost Juice accordingly is what we want for dialing in an optimum power curve.
In the end, the clevor was...
In the end, the clevor was happy with 28 degrees of total timing and 12.5:1 air/fuel ratio on the FAST XFI wideband O2 sensor. The EGT temps ended up close to 1,350 degrees and didn't vary much from start to finish.
By the Numbers
Block: Dart 9.5 deck Race Series aluminum Windsor
Pistons: Ross Racing
Rings: Akerly and Childs
Bearings: Clevite 77 from Summit Racing
Balancer: ATI Super Damper
Timing Set: COMP Cams
Oil pan: Aviaid dry-sump
Oil pump: Aviaid two-stage dry-sump, Petersen pulley
Cylinder heads: Ford Performance Solutions XTC-R 351
Rocker arms: T&D Machine shaft rockers, modified by Ford Performance Solutions
Intake: Edelbrock 2863 C3 NASCAR, ported and EFI’d by Ford Performance Solutions
Gaskets: Fel-Pro throughout, Fel-Pro PermaTorque MLS head gaskets
Bolts/studs: ARP throughout, ARP stainless bolt kit from Summit Racing
Cam: COMP Cams solid roller
Lifters: COMP Cams solid roller
Pushrods: COMP Cams
Distributor: MSD Pro-Billet
Plug wires: MSD Super Conductor
Valve covers: Ford Performance Solutions polished aluminum
|On the Dyno
438ci Ford Small-Block