2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

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David Vizard
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2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by David Vizard » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:58 pm

So here I am wading through the stuff for my current book project on SB Fords.

The question I am currently posing for the sample engine build chapter goes sort of like this:- You have a limited budget - do you build a truly streetable 306 (.030 over with stock crank) and equip it with some nice aluminum heads or do you invest that would be cylinder head money into a strocker kit and build a 347 and for heads, port a set of the commonly used E7TE factory heads.

There is obviously many combinations and comparisons without any constraints are difficult to make useful decisions from. To counter that the plan is to use the same cam lobes for both builds. Each of course would be ground on an appropriate LCA for the engine concerned.

At the end of the day just how well the 347 turns out to be depends largely on just how effectively the OE ports and chambers are cut. This is where the dilemma creeps in.

My experience porting E7TE heads has been along the lines of basic and safe (ie doesn’t find water). This has meant, at most, installing 1.94 intakes and 1.6 exhausts blending the seats into the port bowl, skinnying the guide boss some and there you go flow up from about 155 at 0.500 to about 190 with a similar increase on the exhaust. While hardly earth shattering a set of heads like this really do very noticably step up the output, especially if used with an appropriate cam.

At my laast November seminar Carnut1 (Charlie), who has had a lot of experience max porting the E7TE heads showed me where the air is in the ports and where the water is. Wouldn’t you know it there are plenty of places where air and water want to share the same spot. Charlie avoids most mishaps here by the use of a sonic tester – but the average home builder does not have a sonic tester.

As most of Ford fans are aware the SBF intake ports flow strongly favor the port wall on the cylinder centerline side. Cut there and you have air – cut a shade too much and you have both air and water. So here’s where the two heads are better than one deal. Using the knowledge gained from all the max ported iron heads Charlie has accumulated over the years and my strong wish not to find water lead to the production of an effective intake port that is far less likely to break into the water jacket. Shown in the photo below is the CD Mk 1 port (Charlie/Dave port) and the flow figs it delivered. The intake results were also helped by some minor chamber mods but the real potential of these heads, when expertly done, is not just the flow increase but also the higher port velocity generated at peak valve lift. In the case of our tests to ensure a strong torque curve the mean port velocity, as measured on the flow bench at 28 inches H2O, needs to be better than 290 ft/sec and torque is usually best when 300 to 320 ft/sec are achieved. Our test head here produced 305 ft/sec for the intake and 308 for the exhaust. What this means is that given the right valve events from the cam this build will make the most of every CFM it has available and thus produce results far better than are most often seen from home ported heads.

Of note here is that strong intake flow figures were delivered at valve lifts on the way up to the 0.500 that the port maxed out at. Those familiar with flow numbers versus valve sizes will note that these numbers are a little higher than most. How did we do it – well I guess you’ll have to wait until the books out on that one but meanwhile the story of porting SBF OE castings is not done with yet as future posts will reveal.

Lift In Ex
50 34.4 25.4
100 68 55
150 101 79
200 129 100
250 155 115
300 178 127
350 203 135
400 216 143
500 220 151
600 220 160
CC’s 142 51
Vel 305 308

Looking at the intake port photo you will see that rather than taking the port wall out the guide boss on that same side has been cut into thus giving it that slanted appearance. This is certainly not everything that can be achieved but it is relatively safe and not far off the 230 cfm that is often about the limit of a well ported head.

Charlie – thanks for your help here.

Here is the port – the high activity wall is on the left. Note the guide has been cut away more than usual and the vunerable to leaking port wall has been spared.
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by GARY C » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:42 pm

In my experience with SBC DBL Hump heads I found that you end up spending far to much time money and effort on a head that will never fit the bill, it is an already weak casting made weaker and you can never recoup the money invested. Save the extra money needed and start with an aftermarket head that you can build build on.

Also human nature will convince you to port the stock head so you can build a stoker and then you will convince your self to buy a head that will support the bigger inches that you convenience your self to buy. #-o

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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by PackardV8 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:13 pm

There are those of us for whom no aluminum heads exist and we're always trying to learn how to do what we can with what we've got; for that we thank DV.

However, SBF/SBC aluminum heads are thick on the ground and inexpensive.
In my experience . . . . you end up spending far to much time money and effort on a head that will never fit the bill, it is an already weak casting made weaker and you can never recoup the money invested.
For true; most SBF owners, DV is maybe tilting at windmills here, as anyone who's looked for a cast iron porter lately can attest. Bring in a pair of cast iron heads and looking to save money; most porters will duck behind the flow bench and open fire with large caliber weapons. Those couple of remaining shops around here don't want anything to do with that hard dirty stuff.

Yes, as always, DV's new book will be a good read; it will also give shadetree SBF dreamers some hope; but even if the guy has a good grinder and he's capable of following the instructions, he's most likely still got to take the iron heads to a real shop for seat, guide and spring work.

Bottom line, unless he can do it all himself, the cost/benefit equation for modified stock heads is not usually positive.
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by Xnke » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:31 pm

This is great info, DV. LOTS of dirt track guys here are required to use factory head castings and there are a lot of die-hard ford fans who just can't be competitive with the SBF, held back by cylinder heads, they claim. These are the slower classes due to the factory head requirement, but they're also the classes that most people really want to get into-they're less costly than buying expensive aftermarket everything, and engines that are legal to run are littering the ground. (lots of 305 chevys and 302 fords, there are two teams running 307 olds, too)

Hopefully this information will help the ford teams be competitive. As others say, it's hard to find cast iron porters and those who still do it around here only seem to want to work on SBC stuff-Possibly the water jacket issue? Who knows.

Personally, I hate doing cast iron port work, but for some engine families it's just the way it is.

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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by GARY C » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:27 pm

Yes, we live in a disposable world now. Basically everything is cheaper to buy new than it is to rebuild the old, this goes for alternators, break calipers, wheel cylinders, cylinder heads and tv's...

If I already had a good usable set of stock heads and only had to port them my self I could see it, but I also have a $1500.00 SF110, a $450.00 Fordom grinder along with a Makita hand held and several years of screwing up heads to feel confident enough to not have to pay someone $600.00 + to get similar results.

If your looking to build a good engine then using DV's writings on picking the best aftermarket parts is the way to go, If your looking to learn how to do it yourself for future projects then using DV's writings is the way to go but it will cost you to learn but it's money well spent.

I would personally recommend focusing money on tools and "how to" education and save parts modification for later.

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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by PackardV8 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:11 pm

Xnke wrote:This is great info, DV. LOTS of dirt track guys here are required to use factory head castings and there are a lot of die-hard ford fans who just can't be competitive with the SBF, held back by cylinder heads, they claim. These are the slower classes due to the factory head requirement, but they're also the classes that most people really want to get into-they're less costly than buying expensive aftermarket everything, and engines that are legal to run are littering the ground. (lots of 305 chevys and 302 fords, there are two teams running 307 olds, too)
Agree, in theory, but there's always a few guys willing to spend more money than the entry-level class should cost. And do claimer rules ever work as designed? Not in my experience.
to not have to pay someone $600.00 + to get similar results.
Good luck with that,
Personally, I hate doing cast iron port work, but for some engine families it's just the way it is
No porter likes iron heads, except when someone's willing to pay you enough to breathe some more iron dust. This well-known northern Idaho head porter had turned down doing iron heads for me, but one race team that wants to be a contender in the "factory head casting" class, just said "How much is it going to cost to get you to do a pair of winning heads?" He thought he'd scare them off by asking for six core heads, a $4,000 check to start, valves and springs additional. They said, "Let us know when you need more money for the parts."
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by jcisworthy » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:42 pm

I port a lot of iron heads. I look like I came from a coal mine after about six hours of porting. I use a very good respirator.
Specializing in engine building and cylinder head porting

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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by KnightEngines » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:55 pm

I never really understood the hate for porting iron, probably a good 60% of the heads I port are iron.
With the right cutters & grinder there is maybe 30% more time in it than alloy, bit harder on the hands but that just toughens you up so when you port alloy it's a breeze.

Anyway, playing right along, with a stock block winnie the reliable limit of the factory block is around 450-500hp (excluding stuff like mexico & ford performance blocks).
So realistically you only need heads capable of supporting 450-500hp.
220-230cfm & 1.8-1.9^" MCSA can take you over 450hp & that is within the realms of quite doable on ported factory iron heads.

The thing is, not many DIY guys could get there & you have to factor in the cost of cleaning, guide work, seat cutting, machining for screw in studs, machining oversize spring seats, machining guide tops for press on seals, millin the faces etc. If you have to pay for all that the budget end aftermarket alloy heads start to look a whole bunch better.

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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by David Vizard » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:11 pm

So many of you guys are right about the cost of installing guides, cutting seats and other misc machining but there is one group that this does not represent a problem. That being the young guy starting work at a machine shp and having access to the equipment to do his own heads - so long as he knows how.
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by PackardV8 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:35 pm

I port a lot of iron heads.
probably a good 60% of the heads I port are iron.
Wish you guys were in the Spokane area.
David Vizard wrote:So many of you guys are right about the cost of installing guides, cutting seats and other misc machining but there is one group that this does not represent a problem. That being the young guy starting work at a machine shp and having access to the equipment to do his own heads - so long as he knows how.
DV
DV, you're absolutely right. However, the number of young guy(s) starting work at a machine shop and having access to the equipment to do his own heads today is relatively small; makes the Studebaker and Packard V8 market look absolutely huge by comparison. Maybe, write a book for us ;>)
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by powerhouse » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:13 pm

DV
Why not start with a set of gt 40 / gt 40p heads if your looking to save $$? They're cheap and alot less work to get the flow #'s needed. I also have done alot of porting on the E7's and there's alot of time spent to get them close to the gt 40's.
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by Walter R. Malik » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:21 pm

The aluminum entry level "X" heads with stainless 1.940" intake valves and 1.540" exhaust valves from "Ford Racing" which still use the bolt down type stock O.E.M. rocker geometry and parts is far and away the best deal ANYWHERE if you are not looking to build a racing engine.
Especially if you consider the cost of needed supporting parts for using whatever heads.
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by Casper393W » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:42 pm

I have the GT40X heads. X307 and I love them. I picked up 4 tenths/ 4 mph out of the box with them. I would love to find a junk head so David and I could play with it on his bench... While I know they aren't the best out there I bet we could get 270cfm right out of the gate! With a 178 c runner the potential is there...

Great Job David! I would love to see these heads with a Super/Stock type buildup and shock a few people with what it would do...

In this day and time we have become HP numb....we read about 600-700-800 Hp and we overlook what can be done on a reasonable budget and a modest amount of power! When you get every component working together in a perfect harmony you become shocked at the ET that flashes up on the scoreboard!

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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by cjperformance » Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:05 pm

Guess the "formula" in a book for a streetable engine build based on the 302/5.0L really depends who the build is aimed at. If aimed at the guys with some porting knowledge/experience or acess to machining equipment then for sure build a stroker and port the iron heads BUT if aimed at the guys who have a basic handle on the straight forward engine assembly side only and maybe doing the build with limited tooling or experience with or just dont want the effort of porting or setting up stroker stuff then base i on Ford Racing alloys or Dart irons etc, keep it stock stroke, make it simple available bolt up gear and get into the checks etc to ensure everything is right.
Then maybe digress a little and apply the same formula to a 351/5.8L aswell for a bigger cube version that is still simple.
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Re: 2 heads better than 1 - power porting E7TE iron.

Post by travis » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:44 am

I think to build a truly cost effective comparison, it would be better to use the E7TE heads with the stock 1.78/1.45 valves, use a spring/retainer package that works without machine work AND can work with the factory short installed height of the exhaust valve (like the Trick Flow kit https://www.summitracing.com/parts/tfs- ... /overview/ ), use the stock style pedestal mount rockers/bolts, a basic 3 angle valve job and surfacing, and perform a "mid level" porting job that anybody with a little experience could do themselves...something safe, yet effective. Once you start adding the cost of machine work and parts to upgrade to oversized valves, screw in studs, oversized springs, and/or having to pay someone for professional level porting work, any cost advantage over a lower end aftermarket head quickly diminishes or disappears entirely. I can still find dirt cheap E7 heads everywhere, and many still have useable guides...and this is in an area where everybody thinks their junk is gold!

I think the "market" you are talking about (the young entry level machinist) would be such a tiny, tiny part of the people that would be interested in something like this.

I would also be very interested in seeing a set of ported stock valve (or even larger valved) E7's on a mild 351w build. I think there would be a lot of appeal there for the truck and bronco guys (like myself), who need power/torque at low rpms for a 4000+ pound vehicle versus the guy building a weekend warrior mustang. I've got several books of dyno tests done on SBF's that show that on a mild to moderate build, that even the smaller aftermarket heads don't start showing real power gains over even a stock E7 head until 3500+ rpms.

I've been doing low budget builds for nearly 30 years now, and have done mild porting on more cast iron heads than I care to remember. I, like 99% of the enthusiasts/hobbyists out there I'm sure, do not own a machine shop or for that matter even work in the industry. It would be way too easy to drop $600+ at the machine shop on a set of iron heads nowadays and that's not including porting. With aftermarket aluminum heads starting around $800/pair at the bottom of the barrel, it just wouldn't make much sense.

A 347 with the heads like I mentioned above, versus a 302 with aftermarket heads, is a comparison I would love to see...especially since I am kind of in the same boat right now, trying to decide between building a 351w with aftermarket heads versus a 393 or 408 with ported stockers. Considering the outcome of the 393w I just built for a buddy of mine, I am really undecided now.

How about throw a set of C9OE or D0OE 351 heads into the mix? There are still a lot of those out there, and they come with bigger valves and ports. I think they would be interesting to compare.

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