New 385 Build - Head Selection

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New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 21st 2017, 9:29 pm

I'm building a 429 (stock bore and stroke) street/strip 385 engine and looking for advice on choosing appropriate aluminum heads.  I'll have port injection EFI, E85 fuel, Bugcatcher 'throttle body', Blue Thunder tunnel ram manifold, a light car (2500 lbs.), 5-speed (no OD, 5th =1:1), 3.50 rear.  Aluminum flywheel, McLeod street twin clutch.  Looking for quick and high revs (7000, plus?), want to hear it scream, hence the wish to keep the short stroke 429 crank.  This will be more for fun than serious competition. Been looking at cylinder head posts on this site and manufacturers ads and specs till my head hurts!

Ford Racing SCJ, Kasse P-51, AFR Bullitt, TFS Power port, Edelbrock CJ, all in the running and they all seem to be in the $2K to $3K range per pair (which is stretching my budget).   Leaning towards AFR Bullitt, more for the reference to my '08 Mustang Bullitt (which I'll probably have to sell to finish this build  Crying or Very sad  ), but then which intake runner size do I need?
Needing different pistons (Kasse, AFR) is okay since I haven't done the short block yet and will be going with custom forged to get the compression I want.

I know and respect that most of you guys are serious racers, but please help out a retired Ford-Guy mechanic who's finally building the hot rod of his dreams!

    Steve B
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Bosskk1786 on October 21st 2017, 11:26 pm

I'm no expert by any means but my vote goes for the tfs power port and a matching manifold.... I think if you go with a standard valve angle head you have a better choice of off the shelf pistons. Throw in a healthy sft cam and rev away.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 21st 2017, 11:36 pm

I was leaning towards a solid roller for higher rpms, but that’s a good point about piston availability to get the compression I want. Thanks!
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Bosskk1786 on October 22nd 2017, 12:01 am

stevesgarage wrote:I was leaning towards a solid roller for higher rpms, but that’s a good point about piston availability to get the compression I want.  Thanks!
you're welcome.... By all means go with a solid roller. A sft can still give you the same high rpm and be easier on the valve train. Lunati and Howard's cams have some decent looking cam specs that would get the job done.... I did have a solid roller in my boss 9 10 years ago and it was amazing but boy was it expensive

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  rmcomprandy on October 22nd 2017, 12:13 am

A shorter stroke engine does not necessarily grab the revs any quicker ... rotating assembly weight is a much larger factor along with actual torque being produced.

If that is your priority then use a cylinder head with good intake port velocity during throttle transients and forget about any peak airflow; within reason.
Especially with a manual 5 speed trans and 3.50/1 rear gearing .

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 22nd 2017, 12:22 am

“A head with good velocity during throttle transients . . . “ and that might be . . . what head?
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Bosskk1786 on October 22nd 2017, 12:43 am

I'm gonna make and educated guess and say the tfs power port 290 would fit what Randy is talking about

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  dfree383 on October 22nd 2017, 9:51 am

The small TFS head is a good candidate. The real small AFR head would be too, just need to do a bunch of work getting the intake ports matched.

Also pay attention to what randy said a 429 rotating assy isn't light. Might consider turning down the journals to BBC size and getting some longer rods to lighten up the Pistons considerably if you haven't already built it
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Lem Evans on October 22nd 2017, 10:08 am

You mentioned "fun". Anything with a stroke longer than 3.59" would be more fun.

Torque is fun and displacement makes tq.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  rmcomprandy on October 22nd 2017, 11:48 am

Now I have time to go further into it ...
If it was mine and I was trying to accomplish what you are attempting, I would have a 460 crank offset ground to 3.970" stroke, use rods meant for a 440 Mopar with custom .030" over pistons for that application. That is 480 cubic inches and it would have no trouble going past 7,000 RPM when using the Trick Flow "street" Power Port 290 heads.

That combination is very "snappy" and the peak RPM would depend upon the camshaft and valve train being used. I have built that combination with an Edelbrock fuel injection manifold and Big Stuff 3 software a few years ago for a Cobra Kit Car and the owner still has a smile from ear to ear, about it.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 22nd 2017, 10:27 pm

dfree383 wrote:The small TFS head is a good candidate. The real small AFR head would be too, just need to do a bunch of work getting the intake ports matched.

Also pay attention to what randy said a 429 rotating assy isn't light. Might consider turning down the journals to BBC size and getting some longer rods to lighten up the Pistons considerably if you haven't already built it




Yes, I'm taking a good look at what Randy said about lightening up the rotating assy and seriously considering a 3.95 stroke with Mopar 440 rods (making it a 480).  As for the heads, I'm thinking either the AFR 285's or the TFS 290's.   Not too worried about port matching since I'm going to be doing quite a bit of machine work on the manifold anyway.
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 22nd 2017, 10:36 pm

rmcomprandy wrote:Now I have time to go further into it ...
If it was mine and I was trying to accomplish what you are attempting, I would have a 460 crank offset ground to 3.970" stroke, use rods meant for a 440 Mopar with custom .030" over pistons for that application. That is 480 cubic inches and it would have no trouble going past 7,000 RPM when using the Trick Flow "street" Power Port 290 heads.

That combination is very "snappy" and the peak RPM would depend upon the camshaft and valve train being used. I have built that combination with an Edelbrock fuel injection manifold and Big Stuff 3 software a few years ago for a Cobra Kit Car and the owner still has a smile from ear to ear, about it.


WOW!  Okay, now we're going in a whole different direction!  I spent the whole day today getting my head around a 480, doing a bunch of research, and it makes a lot of sense.   The Cobra you mentioned is allot like the car I'm building, but Randy, you totally had me at, "snappy"!
Now, to just decide between the AFR 285's or the TFS 290's.  (?)
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 22nd 2017, 10:43 pm

Lem Evans wrote:You mentioned "fun". Anything with a stroke longer than 3.59" would be more fun.

Torque is fun and displacement makes tq.


Yep, I get it.  I'm still not looking for a 'torque monster', but if I can lengthen the stroke to 3.95 to lighten up the rotating assy for RPM, that seems like the best of both worlds!
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  BBFTorino on October 23rd 2017, 1:30 am

For a Cobra kit car, I'd seriously consider a screaming small block....351 Cleveland based!!
Or do a Windsor block with a set of CHI or Ford C3 or D3 canted valve heads. Do a big bore/short stroke combo and rev the hell out of it!!

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Lem Evans on October 23rd 2017, 10:08 am

stevesgarage wrote:
Lem Evans wrote:You mentioned "fun". Anything with a stroke longer than 3.59" would be more fun.

Torque is fun and displacement makes tq.


Yep, I get it.  I'm still not looking for a 'torque monster', but if I can lengthen the stroke to 3.95 to lighten up the rotating assy for RPM, that seems like the best of both worlds!

The 3.85" 460 crankshaft would be a cheap and easy deal.

The tall/heavy piston that the very short stroke yields runs counter to your 'quick reving' goal.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Paul Kane on October 23rd 2017, 12:46 pm

What specifically are you using for an engine block?  One piston option is the the KB855 (flat top) or KB856 (15cc dish), as these might work for you as follows:

  • can work w/rmcomprandy's suggestion (460 crankshaft stroked to 3.95" + 6.76 rod + KB 855 = 10.312"
  • can work w/Lem Evans' suggestion (429 crankshaft stroked to 3.85" + 6.8 rod + KB 855 = 10.302"
  • (KB does make a similar piston for a stock rod 460 if you prefer that for budget reasons)

You haven't specified a desired compression ratio, so no-one can get more specific with piston suggestions just yet.

As far as BBFTorino's suggestion: I'd be happy to sell you an SBF sitting over here, a freshly built Yates C3 headed deal with Ti valves, Jesel rockers, Ford racing block, Wiseco pistons, Scat crank & rods, dry sump, 393 CI, about 800 hp, but it's far from streetable for most people. Smile
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Scott Foxwell on October 23rd 2017, 3:28 pm

Good Lord, talk about complicating something simple. Shocked
Either the 429 or 460, in stock configuration, will deliver everything you could ever want in something that will make tons of power and turn a bunch of rpm.
One thing I will say...RPM = ruins people's motors. Forget about high rpm unless that's what you want just for the sake of rpm. You can spin either a 429 or a 460 to 7 grand. No problem. Question is, why?
Buy good components, don't get carried away with the induction, focus on build details like valve train geometry, make sure you have the best machine work possible, and talk to Chris Straub about the cam. That's going to be the biggest contributing factor to the power you want to make and where you want to make it. Lets face it, 460 cubic inches with it's short stroke and large bore (comparatively speaking) is a big small block by today's standards. Can you make improvements? You can make improvements to ANY engine, ANY configuration. If you want to do something different, go with one of the 4.3 stroke, 6.8 rod combinations. Simple. Done. Still a reasonable stroke/rod length/compression height. RPM shouldn't be a problem.
Also, not sure if it matters, but there is no way I'd put a 385 series engine in a Cobra.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 23rd 2017, 3:49 pm

Paul Kane wrote:What specifically are you using for an engine block?  One piston option is the the KB855 (flat top) or KB856 (15cc dish), as these might work for you as follows:

  • can work w/rmcomprandy's suggestion (460 crankshaft stroked to 3.95" + 6.76 rod + KB 855 = 10.312"
  • can work w/Lem Evans' suggestion (429 crankshaft stroked to 3.85" + 6.8 rod + KB 855 = 10.302"
  • (KB does make a similar piston for a stock rod 460 if you prefer that for budget reasons)

You haven't specified a desired compression ratio, so no-one can get more specific with piston suggestions just yet.

As far as BBFTorino's suggestion: I'd be happy to sell you an SBF sitting over here, a freshly built Yates C3 headed deal with Ti valves, Jesel rockers, Ford racing block, Wiseco pistons, Scat crank & rods, dry sump, 393 CI, about 800 hp, but it's far from streetable for most people. Smile


Paul, thanks sooo much for jumping in on this!  I have a couple of complete junkyard 429's.  D1VE blocks, ID tag code shows 9/70 & 10/70 builds with 10.5:1 and 11:1 compression, so I'm assuming 10.310 and 10.300 decks.  Stroking one of my cranks to 3.85 would be what journal size?  Will 10.312 nd 10.302 work with my blocks, assuming minimal deck resurfacing?

I would like to go with at least 12:1 comp for locally available E85 (Murrieta, CA).  

Thanks, BBFTorino/Paul for the SBF idea/offer, but my car & drivetrain is all set-up for a 385 block.

Steve
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 23rd 2017, 4:32 pm

Scott Foxwell wrote:Good Lord, talk about complicating something simple.  Shocked
Either the 429 or 460, in stock configuration, will deliver everything you could ever want in something that will make tons of power and turn a bunch of rpm.
One thing I will say...RPM = ruins people's motors. Forget about high rpm unless that's what you want just for the sake of rpm. You can spin either a 429 or a 460 to 7 grand. No problem. Question is, why?
Buy good components, don't get carried away with the induction, focus on build details like valve train geometry, make sure you have the best machine work possible, and talk to Chris Straub about the cam. That's going to be the biggest contributing factor to the power you want to make and where you want to make it. Lets face it, 460 cubic inches with it's short stroke and large bore (comparatively speaking) is a big small block by today's standards. Can you make improvements? You can make improvements to ANY engine, ANY configuration. If you want to do something different, go with one of the 4.3 stroke, 6.8 rod combinations. Simple. Done. Still a reasonable stroke/rod length/compression height. RPM shouldn't be a problem.
Also, not sure if it matters, but there is no way I'd put a 385 series engine in a Cobra.

Not that I wouldn't LOVE a Cobra kit car, and I would certainly use a built SBF if I did.  I'm building a Deuce Hi-Boy Roadster, BBF, 5-speed.  Scott, thanks for the honest, straight-talk feedback, that's why I love this forum!  This is a light, short wheelbase car (LIKE a Cobra Kit car), hence the 'moderate' BBF build.  A 4.3 stroke is way over the top for this, I'm thinking, but thanks for ALL the advice.  After 50 years of wrenching, I thought I 'knew it all'.  3 days on this forum has been quite an education!
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Scott Foxwell on October 23rd 2017, 6:07 pm

stevesgarage wrote:
Scott Foxwell wrote:Good Lord, talk about complicating something simple.  Shocked
Either the 429 or 460, in stock configuration, will deliver everything you could ever want in something that will make tons of power and turn a bunch of rpm.
One thing I will say...RPM = ruins people's motors. Forget about high rpm unless that's what you want just for the sake of rpm. You can spin either a 429 or a 460 to 7 grand. No problem. Question is, why?
Buy good components, don't get carried away with the induction, focus on build details like valve train geometry, make sure you have the best machine work possible, and talk to Chris Straub about the cam. That's going to be the biggest contributing factor to the power you want to make and where you want to make it. Lets face it, 460 cubic inches with it's short stroke and large bore (comparatively speaking) is a big small block by today's standards. Can you make improvements? You can make improvements to ANY engine, ANY configuration. If you want to do something different, go with one of the 4.3 stroke, 6.8 rod combinations. Simple. Done. Still a reasonable stroke/rod length/compression height. RPM shouldn't be a problem.
Also, not sure if it matters, but there is no way I'd put a 385 series engine in a Cobra.

Not that I wouldn't LOVE a Cobra kit car, and I would certainly use a built SBF if I did.  I'm building a Deuce Hi-Boy Roadster, BBF, 5-speed.  Scott, thanks for the honest, straight-talk feedback, that's why I love this forum!  This is a light, short wheelbase car (LIKE a Cobra Kit car), hence the 'moderate' BBF build.  A 4.3 stroke is way over the top for this, I'm thinking, but thanks for ALL the advice.  After 50 years of wrenching, I thought I 'knew it all'.  3 days on this forum has been quite an education!
That's cool!! Duce Roadster with a BBF. Love it.
Just showing that even with a 4.3 stroke, you would still have a relatively "rpm friendly" combination. Don't worry about piston weight with a shorter stroke. It's not THAT much. Heck, I ran my stock bottom end 429 to 7000 almost every day I drove it. Never missed a beat. There are some really nice pistons and rods on the market these days. I would be tempted to build a 429 with as long a rod as possible and big a bore as possible. Even 3.85 stroke is considered short by big block standards. I like where you're going with this, I just don't think it needs to get complicated. JMO.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Lem Evans on October 23rd 2017, 6:19 pm

If a guy didn't want a real big engine the decades old 4.150" crank and 6.8" rod package would be hard to beat. RPM friendly and affordable componets.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 23rd 2017, 7:13 pm

Scott Foxwell wrote:
stevesgarage wrote:
Scott Foxwell wrote:Good Lord, talk about complicating something simple.  Shocked
Either the 429 or 460, in stock configuration, will deliver everything you could ever want in something that will make tons of power and turn a bunch of rpm.
One thing I will say...RPM = ruins people's motors. Forget about high rpm unless that's what you want just for the sake of rpm. You can spin either a 429 or a 460 to 7 grand. No problem. Question is, why?
Buy good components, don't get carried away with the induction, focus on build details like valve train geometry, make sure you have the best machine work possible, and talk to Chris Straub about the cam. That's going to be the biggest contributing factor to the power you want to make and where you want to make it. Lets face it, 460 cubic inches with it's short stroke and large bore (comparatively speaking) is a big small block by today's standards. Can you make improvements? You can make improvements to ANY engine, ANY configuration. If you want to do something different, go with one of the 4.3 stroke, 6.8 rod combinations. Simple. Done. Still a reasonable stroke/rod length/compression height. RPM shouldn't be a problem.
Also, not sure if it matters, but there is no way I'd put a 385 series engine in a Cobra.

Not that I wouldn't LOVE a Cobra kit car, and I would certainly use a built SBF if I did.  I'm building a Deuce Hi-Boy Roadster, BBF, 5-speed.  Scott, thanks for the honest, straight-talk feedback, that's why I love this forum!  This is a light, short wheelbase car (LIKE a Cobra Kit car), hence the 'moderate' BBF build.  A 4.3 stroke is way over the top for this, I'm thinking, but thanks for ALL the advice.  After 50 years of wrenching, I thought I 'knew it all'.  3 days on this forum has been quite an education!
That's cool!! Duce Roadster with a BBF. Love it.
Just showing that even with a 4.3 stroke, you would still have a relatively "rpm friendly" combination. Don't worry about piston weight with a shorter stroke. It's not THAT much. Heck, I ran my stock bottom end 429 to 7000 almost every day I drove it. Never missed a beat. There are some really nice pistons and rods on the market these days. I would be tempted to build a 429 with as long a rod as possible and big a bore as possible. Even 3.85 stroke is considered short by big block standards. I like where you're going with this, I just don't think it needs to get complicated. JMO.

Scott, I just read your last post to my wife and she reminded me that overthinking things is kinda how I roll!!  Very Happy
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  stevesgarage on October 23rd 2017, 7:31 pm

Lem Evans wrote:If a guy didn't want a real big engine the decades old 4.150" crank and 6.8" rod package would be hard to beat. RPM friendly and affordable components.

And that would give me about a 502? Lem, I think I could get behind that, and considering back when I first got into cars the Chevy 409 was a HUGE engine, that's a pretty bold statement! And, those cranks are readily available. From what most guys tell me it's not worth the cost of offset grinding a crank when new is only a little more.

Steve
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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Lem Evans on October 23rd 2017, 8:43 pm

stevesgarage wrote:
Lem Evans wrote:If a guy didn't want a real big engine the decades old 4.150" crank and 6.8" rod package would be hard to beat. RPM friendly and affordable components.

And that would give me about a 502?  Lem, I think I could get behind that, and considering back when I first got into cars the Chevy 409 was a HUGE engine, that's a pretty bold statement!  And, those cranks are readily available.  From what most guys tell me it's not worth the cost of offset grinding a crank when new is only a little more.

       Steve

Yes, 502.5 with a +.030" bore. The new cast cranks are cheap.

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Re: New 385 Build - Head Selection

Post  Scott Foxwell on October 23rd 2017, 9:46 pm

Lem Evans wrote:If a guy didn't want a real big engine the decades old 4.150" crank and 6.8" rod package would be hard to beat. RPM friendly and affordable componets.
Yep. That would be another decent combination.

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