Sunday, April 3, 2011

All machine shops are not created equal.

    Finding a machine shop with the proper equipment and expertise can be difficult, especially if you live in a rural area. After searching the yellow pages, scouring the internet, and consulting with fellow gear heads, I thought I had found a shop that could handle the work. The shop, which I will not name, wanted to charge me over $1000 for what should have cost less than $500. The owner wanted to do extra work such as line bore and deck the block when it was not needed. Now would be a good time to mention something important.
    A torque plate MUST be used when the cylinder sleeves on an aluminum modular block are bored and honed!!! A torque plate is simply a thick plate that bolts where the head gaskets go and when torqued to factory specs, distorts the block in the same way that the cylinder heads would if bolted on. The aluminum block distorts more than the iron block when clamping forces act on it and if a torque plate is not used during boring and honing, the piston rings will not seat properly.
    The machine shop owner didn't believe in using a torque plate and this is where our relationship ended. My deposit was put towards polishing the factory crank journals and hot tanking the block, and I starting searching for machine shop number two.
A Torque plate for the modular 4.6 and 5.4 family made by BHJ.

Stripping is overrated.

    It took some work to get the 32 valve Lincoln engine from the junk yard to the engine stand in my garage. Shade tree mechanics 101 says that when an engine hoist isn't available a large tree and chain hoist can be substituted in its place. This can be dangerous, which adds to the excitement.
    Stripping the engine, first to the long block, then to the short block, then to the block, took time. All of the fasteners need to be bagged and cataloged. This was fun. Ok, it wasn't. But it's important so the engine can be reassembled.
32 Valve 98 4.6 Lincoln engine bolted on engine stand
The long block after it has been degreased.
The short block with stock cast internals.

1998 Mark VIII LSC owned...

Engine about to be hoisted from a 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII
After a few weeks of scouting three local junk yards for a freshly wrecked Lincoln Mark VIII, I stumbled upon a gem of a 1998 LSC which suffered a side impact. The cost of the entire engine was a little over $250. It took me about 8 hours to pull the engine since it was my first time and I ran into some trouble unbolting the flex plate from the transmission. I enlisted the help of a local which turned out to be a mistake. What I failed to realize was most junk yards rely heavily on two tools, a large crow bar and a reciprocating saw. Please note that a 6 foot crow bar is not the proper tool to remove an engine.

One Man's Junk...

    Ford first introduced the 4.6 liter "Modular" engine in 1993 in the Lincoln Mark VIII. The 32 valve overhead cam engine made its way into the Mustang Cobra in 1996 and delivered 305 HP. Variations of this engine have come from the factory with major changes being made to the cylinder heads in 1999 and a supercharged version offered in 2003 and 2004 in the Mustang Cobra.
    Many Mark VIIIs are now available in junk yards across the nation. Most have depreciated due to age so much so that a minor traffic accident results in the car being "totaled". The beauty of the early 32 valve 4.6 liters is that they have one of the strongest all aluminum blocks Ford ever put in a production vehicle. Teksid, an Italian company that produces high quality castings, was contracted to make Fords modular aluminum blocks and used high quality aluminum alloys. These blocks, now known as the "Teksid block", can easily handle over 1000 horsepower. This makes them an excellent foundation for a variety of race engines.
Teksid block that has been cleaned and the cylinders have been bored and honed with a torque plate by an experienced machine shop.