|What's an FE?|
|At the risk of too much criticism I will only go into a brief history and description of what an FE motor is and how to identify them from other motors.
Designed around 1955/56 and put into production in 1957 the FE came on the scene with the 1958 model year and was used in automobile service until 1971 and in light truck service from 1965 through 1976. The year 1958 was also the first year of the Edsel automobile and therefore the controversy goes on to this day with people asking the question;
"What does FE stand for?"
Some claim the FE stands for "Ford-Edsel" because the motor was used for the first time in these automobiles. Still others claim it stands for "Fairlane Engine" and others claim it is just an acronym for "Ford Engine." It all depends on whom you talk to about the subject as to what they choose to believe. In my personal thinking, I believe it means "FEarsome" because it is a fearsome thing for those sporting other motors on race day to be staged next to an FE in the other lane. We all know that fear begins with FE.
The FE engine has been used in nearly every type of race and every type of vehicle. It has won on the NASCAR stock car tracks, drag strips, boat races, tractor and truck pulls, hill climbs and in sports car and endurance races such as Daytona, Talladega, Charlotte, Sebring and Le Mans. These engines are still competing, still winning and still setting records even though they have been out of production for thirty years. Few engines have competed, won, and are still winning in such a wide variety of races.
The FE is also related to the truck engine known as the FT. The FT engine was used in medium and heavy Ford trucks from 1964 through 1978. The FT engines came in 330MD (Medium Duty), 330HD (Heavy Duty), 359, 361, 389, and 391 cubic inch versions. Both the FE and FT engines have the same external dimensions, and many parts from these engines are interchangeable.
Here is a brief description of both motors:
The FE and FT engines are both Y-block designs (not to be confused with Ford's earlier Y-blocks 239, 272 , 292 and 312 cubic inch engines). This means that the cylinder block casting extends below the crankshaft center line. This gives this motor great strength, but at the sacrifice of some added weight (although these motors are still 50 to 150 pounds lighter than most other big block designs). In these engines, the casting extends 3 5/8" below the crankshaft center line, which is more than an inch below the bottom of the crank main bearing journals.
All FE and FT engines have a bore spacing of 4.63 inches and a deck height of 10.17 inches. The main journal diameter is 2.749 inches.
Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of these engines is that the intake manifold extends to under the valve cover. The pushrods come through the intake manifold instead of the cylinder head.
|The first and smallest version of the Ford FE engine to be introduced in 1958 was the 332 cubic inch displacement motor (cid) with (4.00" bore X 3.30" stroke) rated at 225 Horsepower (HP) @ 4,400 rpm and 325 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,200 rpm with a 2 barrel carb and a compression ratio of 8.9:1. There was also a 265 Horsepower @ 4,600 rpm and 360 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,800 rpm version with a 4 barrel Holley carb and a CR of 9.5:1. These engines were only produced in 1958 and 1959. Soon after the introduction of the 332 in 1958 came the 352 cubic inch version (4.00" bore X 3.50" stroke) rated at 300 Horsepower (HP) @ 4,600 rpm and 380 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,800 rpm. It also sported a 4 barrel Holley carb and a compression ratio (CR) of 9.6:1. In 1960 the 352 was upgraded with a more potent solid cam, new heads, an aluminum intake manifold, better flowing exhaust manifolds and a horsepower rating of 360 @ 6000 rpm and 380 lbs. ft. of torque @ 3,400 rpm with a compression ratio of 10.6:1. By the end of 1960 Ford had won 15 Grand National races, which was more than any other make of automobile. By 1961 the cubic inch battles had begun and further development of the smaller displacement FE's had come to a close and the 352 was limited to two versions with two barrel carbs rated @ 220 HP and 250 HP respectively and a four barrel version in 1965 & 1966 also rated at 250 HP. The truck version was rated at 208 HP. The 352 cid motor was phased out at the end of the 1966 model year.
In 1958 Ford also introduced the the 361 Cubic inch FE motor for the Edsel. It was used as the standard motor for the Ranger, Pacer, Villager, Bermuda and Roundup and was optional for the Ranger, Corsair and Villager in 1959. It's bore was 4.0469" and it's stroke was 3.50". The 361 was the first Ford FE to use the 4.050 ( rounded off ) bore and were machined from the same casting as the 352. All 361 motors used hydraulic lifters. It was rated at 303 HP @ 4,600 rpm with 400 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,900 rpm and had a CR of 10.5:1. These motors were also issued to law enforcement agencies as 1958 Ford Police Interceptors. Police Interceptor Fords sold to the public consumers were 352- 4V with an extra large air cleaner (AFP-14 or equivalent).
In 1961 the 390 came into production with a bore of 4.05" and a stroke of 3.78". It used the same heads, cam and manifolds as the 352, but came in three single four barrel versions rated at 300 HP @ 4,600 rpm with 427 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,800 rpm and a compression ratio (CR) of 9.6:1, 330 HP @ 5,000 rpm with 427 lbs. ft. of torque @ 3,200 rpm and a CR of 9.6:1, and a 375 HP @ 6,000 rpm with 427 lbs. ft of torque @ 3,400 rpm version with a CR of 11.0:1 . The big news though was the 6-V version (as Ford called it) with 3 X 2 barrel carbs (3 deuces) rated at 401 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm with 430 lbs. ft. of torque @ 3,500 rpm and a CR also of 11.0:1.
In 1962 Ford introduced the 406 cubic inch version of the FE motor. This was accomplished by increasing the bore to 4.130" and retaining the 3.781" stroke of the 390. It was introduced in two versions. The single four barrel version was rated at 385 HP @ 5,800 rpm with 444 Lbs of torque @ 3,400 rpm and a CR of 11.4:1. The 6-V version was rated at 405 HP @ 5,800 rpm with 448 lbs. ft. of torque @ 3,500 rpm. I also see listed a two 4 barrel version also rated at 405 HP for 1962, but I have my doubts. At least I have never seen one. The early 406 motor did not have the famous cross bolts, but later factory race engines did.
In 1963 Ford got serious about racing and introduced the famous 427. The 427 was designed to be a racing motor pure and simple. The 427 engine was accomplished by increasing the bore to 4.2328" while retaining the same stroke as the 390 with a stroke of 3.784. Some believe that the 427 blocks had a high nickel content. This is a myth, as there is nothing from Ford Motor Company, or metalurgical analysis to support this statement. Ford did however use a higher Chromium content in the casting of their FE blocks. The first 427s were rated at 410 HP @ 5,600 rpm with 476 lbs. ft. of torque @ 3,400 rpm for the single four barrel Low - Riser (LR) version with a CR of 11.6:1. The other version (also a Low- Riser) was rated at 425 Hp @ 6,000 rpm with 480 lbs. ft. of torque @ 3,700 rpm with two 4 barrel carbs and a CR of 12.0:1. These engines also sported the famous cross bolted main bearings. It was discovered that by cross bolting the main bearings the block was stronger and more stable.
In the early summer of 1963 Ford cast the XE/C3AE - 6090 - K, Hi - Riser heads and these appeared on the race circuit in late 1963 and were used as the production heads for the early 1964 models. The modified castings, C4AE - 6090 - F were used on late '64 and 1965 engines. The 1964 & '65 Hi - Risers were still rated at 425 HP. The Hi - Risers had taller ports to match up with the taller intake manifold giving the fuel/air mixture a straighter shot to the valves thus creating a ram effect. They also had machined combustion chambers to prevent hot spots and pre-ignition. The Hi - Riser was discontinued as a production option in 1965.
In 1965 Ford introduced the Side Oiler (SO) for the 427. All 427 blocks before this time were Top Oilers (TO), or Center Oilers (CO) as they are sometimes called. Although the side oilers had some great advantages on the race track, (where the cars were constantly turning to the left) there does not seem to be any advantage to their use in street, or drag racing applications over the top oiler. Some other features that came on the scene about the same time as the side oiler block were the Medium - Riser (MR) heads and intake manifolds, ( introduced on March 1, 1965 and used through 1967 ) and the introduction of the forged steel crankshafts which were quite a bit stronger than the nodular iron cranks used in the past. The steel crankshafts first appeared on the FT trucks in 1964 and soon found their way to the race track in the late 1964 427s, and in 1965 they were installed in production 427s. The FT truck crankshaft can be modified for use in an FE, but the front nose needs to be machined from the FT size of 1.750 inches down to the 1.375" size of the FE crankshaft. The rear flang must also be shortened 3/16". You must have the bottom assembly balanced after this is done. You do not have to machine the front snout if you are using the FT timing chain, sprockets and timing cover, but the rear flange still needs to be thinned 3/16" and the unit still needs to be balanced.
|By looking closely at the very bottom of this drawing you can see how the pushrods come through the 8 dark circles of the intake manifold instead of through the cylinder head. Also notice the valve cover rail surrounding the pushrod holes.|
|This cutaway view shows what is meant by a Y-Block configuration. Notice how the bolts come in at right angles on a cross bolted block.|
|By 1966 there were several 427 motors with different head / intake manifold combinations. The High - Risers, Low - Risers and Medium - Risers were joined, by perhaps the ultimate OHV version of the FE engine. The "Tunnel Port" with it's huge round ports and awesome horsepower making capabilities.
Also added to the list was probably the ultimate of all 427s. The "Cammer." This single overhead cam (SOHC) 427 motor was perhaps the greatest performance motor ever built by
Ford Motor Company.
Also in 1966 Ford introduced the famous 7 Litre, or 428 cubic inch motor. The 427 was an awesome performance/race motor, but it was simply too impractical and expensive to manufacture for street use. Ford took the 4.130" bore of the 406 motor and lengthened the stroke to 3.984 inches which gave them almost the same cubic inches as the 427, but didn't need the close tolerances of that motor and it gave the added torque to run the accessories people were demanding in luxury vehicles of the day.
It was rated at 345 HP @ 4,600 rpm with 462 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,800 rpm with a single 4 barrel carb and a CR of 10.5:1.
1966 was also the year of the 428 Police Interceptor's (PI) introduction. It retained the same block and heads of the stock 428, but featured an aluminum intake manifold, a solid lifter cam from the single 4 barrel 427, an Autolite 4100 four barrel carb rated at approximately 520 cfm, but retained the obsolete and undesirable log exhaust manifolds. The early versions vere rated at 360 horsepower. From 1967 and up the 428 PI used the 390GT/ 428 CJ cam while the carb and exhaust remained the same. Since it retained the same heads and block as the standard 428, I assume the compression ratio was the same. The horsepower was rated at a conservative 345 horsepower, but torque figures are a mystery.
There was also a 410 cubic inch version of the FE motor that was used in Mercury automobiles in 1966 and 1967. It used the 390 block and the new 3.980 inch stroke. It was rated at 330 HP @ 4,600 rpm and developed 444 lbs. ft. of torque @ 2,800 rpm with a single four barrel carburetor with a CR of 10.5:1.
In April 1968 Ford introduced the famous 428 Cobra Jet. It was considered by some to not be a true racing motor, (you can't prove it by me and the many class records it holds) but was a new FE that Ford built for performance, more so than for smoothness. Thanks to a longer stroke the 428 CJ has more low-end torque than the 427. The Cobra Jet used a beefed-up version of the 428 block with extra main bearing webbing and thicker main caps than the standard block. To this block were added the 427 low riser heads, the 390GT camshaft and a cast iron version of the Police Interceptor (PI) intake manifold. These were parts Ford already had in stock. The horsepower was underrated at 335 HP at 5,200 rpm and actually produced well over 400 HP. Torque was rated at 440 lbs. ft. @ 3,400 rpm with a 735 cfm Holley carb and a CR of 10.6:1. The same HP and torque figures are given for the "Ram Air" version. Later came the Super Cobra Jet which used the heavier 427 "Le Mans" style rods with capscrews instead of bolts for greater strength. The 428 SCJ was provided with an oil cooler and came standard with a 3.91 Traction Lok rear. Because of the added weight of the rods and other parts the SCJ was externally balanced and many times can be recognized by the hatchet balancer weight at the front of the crankshaft.
1968 was also the first year the 360 truck motor was used in the Ford F Series pickup trucks. These motors were basically a 390 block with a 352 crankshaft with a bore and stroke of 4.050" X 3.500". The 1968 - 1971 engines were rated at 215 HP @ 4,400 rpm and the 1972 - 1976 engines were rated at 196 HP @ 4,000 rpm. In the 1970s there was also a 4 bbl option for the 360 truck engine, but both versions suffered from low compression (in stock form) as the advertised compression ratio was 8.5:1 but was actually closer to 8.1:1. These motors were constructed with heavy duty truck use in mind and were very durable. What they lacked in horsepower they made up for in durability and reasonable torque. They are easily modified into great performing engines with cams, intakes, carburetors, pistons and distributers from other FE motors, or after market products and are quite abundant and easy to find.
Ford phased out production of the FE Motors from automobile use after the 1971 model year but they continued to be installed in trucks through 1976. There are even reports of some FE/FT hybrid truck engines being used in some 9,000 Lb. G.V.W.
U-Haul trucks as late as 1979.
|Drawings from Steve Christ's book "How to Rebuild Big Block Ford Engines."|
|The above photo shows the improved exhaust manifold used on the 1960 360 HP 352. the early version is on top, while the newer version is on the botton. Later versions had even longer tubes|
|In the above photos you can see the different markings found on the front of FE and FT blocks. The 352, or no marking (at all) means the block was cast at DIF (Dearborn Iron Foundry) and possibly (CF) Cleveland Foundry. (I'm not positive if they were cast at Cleveland, or not. Sorry.) The mirror image 105 means it was cast at (MCC) Michigan Casting Center , or Dearborn. Early FT's have the 352 and late FE's have the mirror 105. It has nothing to do with application, but only indicates where they were manufactured. Basically, the 1972 and newer blocks are marked with the mirror image 105, while 1971 and older blocks are marked with the 352, or nothing. There is some overlap because DIF was still producing some blocks even after MCC took over production. Thanks to Hawkrod for this information.|
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