1993 F-150 Rebuild

This web site is dedicated to all motor heads out there like me who, against all reason, enjoy their time spent in garages and under hoods. All my life (not that that's been very long) has been spent working on vehicles solely for the purpose of keeping them roadworthy. It has always been a frustration for me, not tuning or mod-ing, because I have always had the desire to do it, but never the money. Well, my time has come, and as unlikely a project as this may seem, I am happy to use it as an excuse to do some 'tuning and mod-ing' for once.

This project revolves around a 1993 Ford F-150 XLT long bed, with the 5.0L V8 and 130,000 miles on the OD. This truck came with an AOD automatic transmission and speed density, bank-firing EFI. The goal is to take this stock workhorse and turn it into a fire-breathing sleeper capable of turning heads, but only when I want. To accomplish that, I will be:

  • modifying the stock block into a 347 stroker
  • new heads, intake, everything...
  • converting to MAF (mass airflow) computer and SEFI
  • upgrading fuel system (pump, injectors, etc...)
  • replacing AOD with a 5 or 6 speed manual tranny
  • upgrading suspension and rear
  • converting to true dual exhaust
  • lots more little stuff...

By now most people with IQ's above 100 are asking themselves "Why would anyone turn this old beater work truck into a fire-breathing fuel-injected monster?" The answer, as if it needs stating, is: because I can.

Here's a shot of the engine compartment with the guts ripped out.

This image is not for those of you easily disturbed or made queasy by the sight of vehicular carnage.

This is the engine block, completely stripped (of all dignity) and ready for some prep work before I hand it over to the machine shop for boring, honing and cleanup.

All of the old engine parts, most of which will be going to the scrap pile. If this is vehicular carnage, I guess this could be looked at as the "gut pile". The bulk of the parts, nuts and bolts and such, I have separated into boxes and labeled. Nuts and bolts are in zip lock bags and labeled for later use.

This is the crankshaft I bought off ebay. You will learn as I did that those words ('ebay' and 'crankshaft') should never be used in the same sentence. It is a CAT (Cal Auto Transpeed) 5140 forged steel crank with a 3.400" stroke.

The first thing I noticed after taking it out of the box is that it looked like trash. There was a heavy scale covering all non-machined surfaces, and the machining of everything but the journals and the snout looked like crap. I was almost ready to turn it into a mailbox post when I thought to take it to my machine shop to see if it was salvageable. The good news was that, with some work, I would be able to turn it into a useable crank and not have to spend any more money.

To get the scale off I was going to have to wire brush the crank. The first thing I did was liberally wrap all of the journals in low-tack painters tape. I knew I'd scratch a journal if I didn't. After several hours, some serious elbow grease, and the help of two wire wheels and a 4 1/2" angle grinder, the crank came clean. You can see the before and after shots at left. It's still ugly, but at least it won't throw shrapnel around inside the engine now.

As you can see here, the crank looks much better, and I feel much better about using it. At least for now... This is not the last issue this crank will present, as you will see.

The next order of business was to clearance the engine block for the stroker crank. As some of you may know, when you put a crank with a longer throw (the distance from the centerline of the main journal to the centerline of the rod journal) in a Ford 302 block, things get a little tight. For a 347 stroker, which is what I'm building, it's not just tight, it won't work without machining notches in the bottom of the cylinder skirts to clear the bolts in the rod caps when they swing around on the crank. I wanted to do this before having the block blueprinted so that the block would stay clean and not have metal shavings floating around in it when I went to assemble (this is generally frowned upon).

To properly clearance the block, you must have the crank in the block and assemble a piston and one of your rods in each cylinder to mark where to grind. I had to use the old main and rod bearings to do this, so I took the time to clean them up first before putting them back in the block. I used #0 steel wool to shine up the bearings and then wiped them clean of dirt and oil so as not to scratch the new crank journals. From the looks of the bearings, it was a good thing I decided to tear the block down now. Some of them were down to the bare steel!

Since I was having the block bored .030" oversize I could not use a new piston (wouldn't fit) for clearancing. Ryan at the race shop, who I will introduce later, gave me a used 4.000" piston and wrist pin to use. It doesn't hurt to ask your local shop since they usually throw these parts away anyway. Here you can see one of the rods. They are also made by CAT, forged from 4340 steel, H-beam style.

The new crank in the old, dirty block. Just doesn't look right.

Here you can see the piston and rod fitted up in the block with the crank.

It is easy to see now just how much clearancing must be done for the stroker crank.

All cylinders are marked for clearancing, and now to grinding...

Here's the results after grinding. I used a 1/2" carbide burr on a 90° angle die grinder. Obviously it is very important NOT to touch the bore while grinding, otherwise you would have a 200lb lump of scrap metal.

It should go without saying that checking fit after clearancing is VERY important, as is demonstrated here by the fact that I did not grind enough on some of the cylinders. I repeated this process three times until all cylinders were comfortably within tolerance (1/16"). I used a piece of 1/16" TIG welding wire to check the clearance between the cylinder skirt and the rod bolt.

Here we go with the crank again...

Before removing the crank I decided I should check the oil holes to make sure they lined up with the bearing grooves, and boy am I glad I did. This picture is of the oil hole on the #1 main bearing. As you can see here, the hole has completely missed the oil groove in the bearing, and only part of the chamfer is overlapping the hole. This oil hole feeds oil to the #1 cylinder rod journal, and I shudder to think what would have happened if I had not caught this. The #1 rod journal would have been starved for oil and my engine would have been shot within a few thousand miles is my guess.

I had to again suppress the urge to turn this piece of crap into a mailbox post. After careful deliberation I decided to chamfer the oil hole out to the other side of the oil groove in order to get oil to the #1 rod journal. This will give it adequate oil pressure and hopefully not prematurely wear down the #1 main bearing. Only time will tell.

Here we have the first shipment of parts arriving, the pistons being one of the arrivals. The pistons are Probe SRS forged aluminum, flat top with valve reliefs.

  • 4.030" diameter
  • 1.090" compression height
  • 0.927" floating wrist pin

You can see how the wrist pin bore comes into the oil control ring, which is why many people say that these types of strokers have oil control problems. We'll see. Everyone seems to have their own opinion of this, and soon I'll have mine once I have run the engine for a while.

Here's the rest of the parts that need to go to the race shop for balance and machining (pistons, rings, rods, bearings, crank, harmonic balancer, and flex plate (automatic) or flywheel (manual)).

THE ENGINE IS BACK!!! After only a week and two days (this is the busiest time of year for shops that serve NASCAR teams, so yes, that's fast) I have my block back! The cleaning job and machine work on this engine does not compare to anything that I have ever seen. It literally looks like a brand new engine block. The shop that did the work is John West Auto here in Raleigh, NC. Their engine man is Ryan who spends most of his time building circle track engines for teams and individuals from bracket all the way up to Winston Cup competitors. This shop exclusively builds the engines for 4 NASCAR teams and serves dozens more from time to time. Ryan is a great guy to deal with, and as you can see he does amazing work.

The process of having an engine block completely machined and trued is called blueprinting. This involves a complete hot tank cleaning of the block in which the block is submersed in a hot chemical solution and left to soak until all old oil residue loosens from the metal. The oil passages are then cleaned by running gun bore brushes through them.

Once clean, the block is then machined. The deck is fly-cut to the desired height (zero for my block), the bores are cut for size (0.030" for mine) and then finish honed with a torque-plate bolted to the deck. This simulates the distorting action of a cylinder head bolted to the block.

After that the block is cleaned again to remove any machining particles and oils. The cam bearings are installed, the block is painted, and the freeze plugs are installed.


Here you can see the beautiful cross-hatch pattern honed into the cylinder walls. Ryan even carefully chamfered the tops of the cylinder bores after squaring and zero-decking the block. This is how it should be done.

Here are the piston rings. They are Mahle file-fit rings. The top ring is moly coated. You can't get better rings than these. You can see that they are separated by ring type, but that doesn't mean don't check them. These are torsional rings, meaning that the first and second compression rings have a directional chamfer on the inside of the ring (top ring chamfer faces up, bottom ring chamfer faces down, also known as reverse torsional). The first and second rings are also made of different materials. When I got these back from the engine shop the #1 and #2 rings were switched, plus some #1's and #2's were mixed. It just goes to say that when building engines, not paying attention to detail can lead to disaster.

I lay out a large piece of craft paper for keeping the rings organized as I file fit them to each cylinder. It is important to fit each ring in the bore in which it will be installed, and keep all rings for that bore together.

Here I have one of the rods fitted up to a piston in order to square the rings in the cylinder for fitting. I just push the ring down into the bore until the piston skirt is level with the deck surface. I can do this because I have short pistons. If the total piston height is more than two inches, then you would not want to use this method. I would not fit the rings more than two inches down in the bore.

This is a ring down in the bore for fitting. I fitted them by clamping a flat file to my welding table and following the manufacturers instructions when filing. The rings came with a card explaining how to calculate end gap for each ring and how to file.

As I found out, it is VERY important to slide the rings out of the bore by carefully making sure that they maintain their fitted position in the bore. In other words, slide them out the same way they were slid in by the piston. If you don't, and you slide the ring out by rotating it 90° and sliding it out, this is what happens. This was only one time that I did that, and I will never do it again. I'm sure that this will not cause any problems in that cylinder, but I am not going to take any chances.

Here are the rings, file fitted and ready to go. It's a good idea to write down their final end gaps and catalog this for later. It's also smart to tape them down to the layout paper so they don't get bumped and fall out of position. That would be bad.

You can see holes where Ryan had to drill material out of the counterweights to balance the crank. The damn thing looks more like swiss cheese now.

Ryan also polished the journals for me because the factory job was lacking (imagine that.) He still says that he thinks the crank will run fine, and it definitely passes my ring test (sounds like a church bell), so I'm sticking with it.

The build continues on page 2...