It can’t be done. You just can’t make a lot of power with cheap cast-iron heads. Certainly you can’t make 600 hp out of a 383 with them. And for sure you can’t do it without a bunch of compression. That’s just common knowledge. Well, apparently nobody told brothers Rick and Randy Ferbert, because they did all of the above.

The Ferberts have been building engines and porting heads for years, though like most of us, they don’t do it for a living. It’s just a really involved hobby that they happen to be very good at. When application time rolled around for the 2011 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge, the boys threw their name into the hat for a shot at knocking down some big-name, full-time engine builders.

Their plan was deceptively simple. Build a basic 383 combo using off-the-shelf components to prove that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the latest trick unobtainium parts and CNC-ported aluminum heads. A well-planned combination, attention to detail, a lot of hard work, and dedicating some time for testing allowed the Ferberts to reveal a finished engine that significantly outperforms the vast majority of cookie-cutter crate engines on the market.

The bottom end of this project is an easily replicable combination of parts that could be picked up on the cheap. Rick and Randy could have used a stock SBC block to really drop the price on this build, but since they were looking for every advantage in the EMC, they went the extra mile and picked up a World Products block. Aside from having an oiling system advantage over traditional small-blocks, the World block is capable of being bored anywhere from 4.000 to 4.200 inches. As part of their planning phase, in the back of their collective noggins they knew they were going to use a relatively small-runner cylinder head so they appropriately decided on a finished bore size of 4.030 inches. Coupled with a 3.75-inch stroke, it would result in a classic 383ci combination. They had their buddy Joe Creason perform the machine work on the block, as they’ve used his services for years and swear by the quality of his work. Randy said they fine-tuned the quench on the engine with slightly different thickness head gaskets. Adding the thickness of the head gasket to the .002 to .004 inch the pistons were in the hole, they ended up with a final quench thickness of .031 inch on one side and .032 inch on the other. “That’s just about as tight as you can go, because we had the milling marks from the head deck into the carbon on the pistons,” Randy says.

The brothers chose an Eagle Specialty Products 4340 forged steel crankshaft for their stroker. Cast or nodular-iron crankshafts are cheaper and lighter than their forged steel counterparts, but when balancing a long-stroke crankshaft, typically they require the addition of weights on the harmonic damper and flywheel. Externally balancing a crankshaft like that is fine for most low-rpm engines, but on higher-revving mills, that weight slinging around at the very ends of the crank forces it to flex around like a spaghetti string. The forged steel crank has the benefit of denser counterweights, which allow it to be balanced internally without adding weights on the flywheel and damper. In addition to a good balance job, Randy mentioned: “I knife-edged all the counterweights and profiled them. The majority of the profile is throwing the oil toward the main caps instead of toward the rods.”