Aftermarket 302 Block

Aftermarket 302 Block – Today’s Ford engines, including the incredible Coyote 5.0-liter V8, almost make enthusiasts forget about the drudgery of modifying a traditional small-block Ford. Not so long ago, stock V8 engines produced only 170-250 horsepower, and with the help of power adders, racers tried to double or triple the output. Advances in technology have put the ability to produce high performance into the hands of many, as well as a strong aftermarket that supplies parts with improved materials designed to increase performance without fear of component failure.

Many of today’s Mustang and Ford fans have taken to the 5.0-liter H.O. engine that left its mark in the mid-1980s. With just 225 horsepower (correct for the era), the five-speed oh was the catalyst for many accomplishments. However, the competitors soon realized the limitations of the production block.

Aftermarket 302 Block

So what is the alternative? The solution is simple, as companies like Dart Machinery and World Products have developed aftermarket blocks with racers and street enthusiasts in mind. Not only are the aftermarket offerings more robust, but they are designed for performance rather than assembly line production. They have a stronger iron (or aluminum) alloy material, have better lubrication and, combined with a suitable rotating structure, provide a much greater displacement potential.

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Looking for a solid foundation to build your Ford small block? Consider blocks from Dart Machinery (left) and World Products (right) for their use of premium materials, unmatched durability, and modern design, not to mention a variety of options to fit almost any performance and budget requirement.

People often say that horsepower comes from the cam, the head, and the air you take in—and of course, proper breathing is important. But what good is an expensive, well-designed induction system if design flaws in the block result in bad ring seals, blown head gaskets, or blown bearings? In other words, a winning engine starts on a solid foundation, and that means it has a high-quality engine block.

The engine block is the vehicle’s most extreme load component. It has to resist the enormous torque involved in rotating the crankshaft – the force of the pistons and rings pulling on the cylinder walls – while the deck has to stay flat to seal off the combustion chambers and withstand the incredible pressures created during compression and combustion. cycles. It must also withstand the heat generated by friction and combustion and be designed to include lubrication channels and water jackets for the coolant. And we haven’t even mentioned the harmonics created by the cam and the valve. The block must be hard enough to withstand this load, but soft enough to be machined. A difficult task for a component. If the block fails, it will be an expensive proposition, so choosing the right product for the application is important.

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One less expensive option is Dart’s SHP block, which accepts factory roller lifters and retainers. Features include Siamese bores (maximum bore size 4.125 inches), serrated water jackets, priority main bearing lubrication, four-bolt steel main caps on second, three and four main lines, and accommodates most stock parts and accessories. As with all blocks, Dart can complete the preparation and machine the block so that it is ready for assembly after delivery.

Small Block Battle: World Man O’ War Vs. Stock Engine Blocks

With a racing block, you will see better ring sealing and even increased performance in low consumption applications. —Jack McInnis, World Products

So what separates a factory block from an aftermarket race block? In layman’s terms, the competition block is made of robust iron alloy material, or cast aluminum, or billet. Cast (or finished aluminum) will be thicker in critical areas, prioritize lubrication, and be designed to achieve different bore and stroke combinations. In contrast, factory blocks are designed to meet predetermined power (horsepower and torque) requirements without much consideration for future power and voltage increases due to modifications.

For the Ford Windsor small block (including the 302 and 351W) this limit is around 300-500 horsepower depending on the block used. Fordnatics recognizes 1969-1970 Boss 302 blocks and most 351 blocks as stronger than the 5.0 H.O. (1985-95) but still can’t compare to a modern aftermarket block.

(Left) At the other end of the spectrum is the Dart’s aluminum block. The original 355-T61 aluminum alloy cast blocks save over 100 pounds over iron blocks and have all the design and performance required to achieve the highest horsepower levels. (Right) The aluminum block has the main four-bolt steel caps and you can see that the three center caps have flared outer bolts. You can choose from two crankshaft main bearing diameters – 302 (2.249 inches) or 351C style (2.749 inches) and a small or large articulated camshaft. These blocks also accept a standard one-piece rear main seal.

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“In the old days, the level of strength exceeded the capabilities of the material,” says Disk Maskin of Dart Machinery. “The goal is to get the tensile strength so the block doesn’t crack and then design to maintain the ring seal. When it comes to power generation, the O-ring is everything – period,” he exclaims.

This is a late model Ford 5.0 short block assembled. These thin-walled cast blocks were installed in Mustangs and some trucks and SUVs between 1985 and 1995, and provided no power handling capability as revs and horsepower levels increased.

There is an endless list of classes and combinations today’s enthusiasts build, and both Dart Machinery and World Products meet or exceed the challenge of building components to these exacting requirements, some of which can exceed 2,000 horsepower. Each manufacturer offers a full range of Ford Windsor blocks, from the budget friendly to the most extreme. Dart’s product line includes SHP, Iron Eagle Sportsman, Iron Eagle, Cast Aluminum and Billet Aluminum. World offers its Man O’War series in several configurations.

Ford fans always want more displacement, which means bigger bores and longer crank strokes. A few years ago the 331 or 347 was considered a big cube for an 8.2 deck block (the 408 was the 351W), but these days it’s small potatoes. Cylinder bores in Dart and World blocks can be made from 4000 inches to 4200 inches. That’s over 360 cubic inches on the 8.2 and over 470 cubic inches on the high-deck Windsor from the small block.

Canton Racing Products 13 600 302 Ford Oil Pan

Despite niceties like a flywheel, efficient long-bore intake, stock headers, and EFI, it was based on a 5.0L thin-walled cast block that was prone to cracking. Push one too hard and cracks form in the lifter’s main web and galley, as seen in this extreme example. Regular high revs above 6500-7000 rpm also cause this in the short term.

Failures occur because the material is thin and the block does not have the characteristics required for increased cylinder pressure and rpm. The small two-bolt main caps are weak and tend to walk (a term used to describe movement) and eat the bearings and create vibrations and harmonics that lead to cracks. Additionally, these blocks have trouble maintaining a cylinder head seal, especially in boosted applications due to the small head bolts and thin cover surface.

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It’s hard to win a race or championship with a broken engine – above all, riders need endurance. That durability comes from solid construction, and these Dart and World blocks reinforce it while retaining the Windsor architecture for bore centers, bellhousing bolt locations, engine mounts, head bolts, sump and other mounting locations. Great care has been taken to strengthen these blocks, using superior iron alloys for strength and adding more material in critical areas prone to storage failure.

“We make the blocks as strong as possible and leave nothing on the table,” says Maskin. “The blocks are primarily made from iron used in the diesel industry and we have better machining processes – we don’t use a transfer line. Basically, we do full custom machining on our blocks.”

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The Dart’s SHP (Special High Performance) block can be used with Ford hydraulic roller lifters and a lift bracket to make swapping from the factory block easier, while the Iron Eagle series (including an aluminum version) offers extreme performance options.

World Products has a full line of Man O’War blocks that have proven successful on the street and track. They are known for their racing blocks from Man O’War, which have seen a complete resurgence recently.

“We have just completed a major renovation of our blocks. We refitted and made significant changes, including improved materials rated at 50,000 psi,” says World’s Jack McInnis.

The factory blocks are covered by two-bolt main covers and thin castings. A weak web causes the cover to move as the harmonics increase with power and RPM, leading to cracks in the main web area and pitting of the lifter.

Canton Racing Products 15 620 302 Ford Oil Pan

“Stock blocks are usually cheaper to manufacture and are made of thinner material. Racing blocks are under more stress due to increased compression and cylinder pressure, increased RPM, and increased heat and friction. You want to avoid cracking and “creep,” which is a form of material deformation over time. With a racing block, you’ll see better ring sealing, and you’ll get more power even in low-power applications,” says McInnis.

World’s Man O’War has much more material

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