Would it Generate Power? Would it Blow Chunks on the Dyno? The Only Way to Find Out was to Do it
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Some of you may think that extracting any real power from an assembly lineremanufactured short-block would be like squeezing blood from a stone. For all the ink weve given to spot-on custom machine work, triple-checked tolerances, and high-zoot ultra-strength components, its not surprising that some of you think that an engine wont even run if you dont spend more money than you make in a year at the machine shop. Not so. In an effort to test the limits of common senseand our own logicwe wanted to make at least 300 horses using a Pep Boys remanufactured short-block. Whats more, wed do it with a measly 302 cubic inches. Would it generate power? Would it blow chunks on the dyno? The only way to find out was to do it.
Pep Boys has applications for just about any foreign or domestic engine. The Pep Boys short-block is your typical mass-assembled engine designed to be quick and easy to manufacture and to provide a long service life. Performance definitely doesnt factor into the short-block equation, so it would be a major challenge to make power by simply bolting on speed parts. With no consideration given to final compression, quench, specialized cylinder wall honing, or rings geared towards maximum sealing, the bolt-ons would really have to do their job. Our Pep Boys Ford 302 was slugged 0.040 over, filled with all new bearings and freeze plugs, and fitted with an anemic cam and a replacement timing chain. Since theyre intended to be used as a stock replacement part, changing the cam or any other component voids the warranty, but thats what credit cards are for.
We assembled a dream team of speed parts to slap onto the Pep Boys mill. For a complete list see the sidebar Sum of the Parts. The major players are the Edelbrock Performer cylinder heads, cam, and intake.
Finally, we wanted to make sure that if the short-block spit fiery piston pieces at us it wouldnt be the fault of the assembly, so we hauled all our stuff to JBA Racing Engines in San Diego. The experts at JBA are wizards at making Ford engines do things mere mortals can only dream of. JBA builds engines ranging from reliable daily driver tow-rig stuff to full-psycho race mills, so we knew our parts were in good hands. Master engine builder Kevin Peterson handled the assembly of our 302 and imparted some of his wisdom to us. This is what youve been waiting for: an engine buildup that you can duplicate in your garage with little more than a torque wrench.