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Technical engine choice help: y-block vs w

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Graham Hood, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. I'll be another contrarian and say go with the Windsor; they're a 100 lbs lighter, 400 inches/400 HP is easily attainable with a stroker kit, more if you spring for aluminum heads. Don't worry about the deck height difference on the early block, the difference isn't enough to mess up intake fitment. You won't have to notch the firewall as heavily with the front mount distributor. The only 'major' downside to a 351W is the lack of 'traditional' multi-carb intakes; there's only two out there, an 2-4V offering from Edelbrock (but it only accepts their carbs) and another 2-4V from Price Motorsports that uses more 'traditional' (for Ford) Holleys. Spend as much money as you'd spend on a hot Y-block on a Windsor and you'll have a real fire-breathing W...
    Graham Hood and LM14 like this.
  2. Nothing sounds better or looks nicer than a unblock!
  3. Damn spell correct! YBLOCK!
  4. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 8,878

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    The why part of it as explained by Tim is to have a positive and reliable oil supply to the top end.
    An improvement to the design to help reliability is a plus in my eyes.
    InstantT and egads like this.
  5. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 9,555

    from Zoar, Ohio

    I think the fact your not familiar with a y-block is not a good excuse.
    You want tradition but right off the bat you go back to mommy’s titty.
    Try something new.
    You’ll love the y block after you get it fitted in that tight engine bay.
    You’ll have a Whole army here of y block lovers to help you on your way.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  6. atch
    Joined: Sep 3, 2002
    Posts: 3,968


    I've only had one Y-block and no Windsors. My limited experience, though:

    The car the parental units had when I was 16 was a '61 (+/-) Mercury that had a 292. They had had it for several years when they let my brother and me have it. We rode it hard and put it away wet. Eventually brother traded it in on his first car (the "first-born" privilege). I have no idea how many miles it had on it when Larry turned it loose, but Mom/Dad saw it around town for quite a few more years. Other than oil changes and routine maintenance my family never did a thing with the engine. Judging from what they said about the looks of the folks that had it after us I doubt that it got much maintenance from them. I would guess that the car probably had over 150,000 miles on it by it's end-of-life. Back then that was a LOT of miles for a car. The Merc was no drag racer, but the engine had enough power to lug that big old boat around pretty well. In a car that weighs 1/2 - 2/3 of the Mercury I think that a 292 would be sufficient, excepting for acceleration contests. My conclusion is that these engines can be pretty bullet-proof as they came from the factory. Obviously, from the above replies, there is a minor oiling problem with some of them, though.

    Just my $0.02 worth.
    Graham Hood likes this.
  7. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 2,756

    from So Cal

    I'd definitely go Y-block, wouldn't have to give it much thought. Although I do love the SBF in the right car, I just don't think a pre-war Ford is the "right" car. I would be proud to display Y-block at any cruise night, one of the best looking engines when dressed up nicely; but I'd be embarrassed with the Windsor and would keep the engine side sheets all closed up. That is NOT a good looking engine, not at all. As far as reliability, there is the well discussed issue with top end oiling, but there were thousands of these engines that ran for decades, not being babied. Y-blocks were used in mid range trucks as well as pickups, and many of those trucks are still out there working. With modern oils (increased wear protection, and increased resistance to oxidation, less tendency toward sludge & deposit build up) the problems that lead to the top end oiling issue are less problematic.
    Graham Hood and alanp561 like this.
  8. AldeanFan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2014
    Posts: 297


    My Country Squire has a stock y block in it and that pushes the big old boat around just fine, and with a fordomatic.
    A strong 292 with a 4 speed in a light coupe would be a blast!

    I knew nothing about Yblocks when i bought the wagon, had only had small block fords before.
    The y block has some unique parts like the vacuum matches carb and distributor on the early ones, but they’re just and engine after all.

    I upgraded from the 239 y block to this 292

    run a later distributor, from after ‘57 and you don’t have to match to the carb.
    Pulleys can be tricky to line up if you don’t get a complete front dress with the engine, they had a lot of different combinations of accessories in the 50s and thunderbirds, trucks and cars were all different.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Graham Hood likes this.
  9. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,278


    I gotta be honest I'm a dyed in the wool SBC fan. My only experience with Y blocks was the '55 and 56 Fords that my older sisters owned before the cars were 10 years old & I was the little brother that had to duck down when they saw some boys while cruising the Gut. The 56 had the rocker oiler kit that my brother in law installed. He was always working on it, it had some glasspacks and at least sounded good. The 55 was stock and the rockers rattled and the #8 spark plug would occasionally blow out. When I worked at a service station during high school I hated changing the oil filter.

    My point of this post is: I got my Hot Rod zine in the mail this week and there is a good buildup that adress's
    some of the Y block's drawbacks. I'm sure it was an expensive build with the alum heads and FI tri-power. The build was by Keith Dorton, I think he knows what he is doing. It tickled me that they used Chevy rods. Even so it only made 300 horsepower.
    Graham Hood likes this.
  10. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 350


    I raced Y blocks in the mid 60's to early 70's on the central California coast bull rings. Mostly Santa Maria, occasionally Atascadero, once in a great while at Saugus before they turned it into a strip mall or flea market.
    I ran 292's with ECZ-G 292 truck heads, set the lash at 0.01 hot all the way across and was able to beat up on most of the Chevy's I ran against. I'm not one to brag, you understand, but the fact that I was probably a vastly superior driver to most of those Chevy guys had something to do with it but, I digress. I think you'll be really pleased if you go with the Y block. They are reliable with normal maintenance and best of all, not everybody has one.
    Graham Hood and Blues4U like this.
  11. How tough are Y-blocks? I've seen some that were abused beyond sanity and survived (or at least held together longer than you would expect), but have seen others break cranks at relatively low miles. I had a buddy who bought a used 312 to put in his Starliner, found out the seller had scammed him by filling it with 90 wt so it was quiet and wouldn't smoke. Eventually, it had zero oil pressure but ran for six months without any before finally seizing. But I owned an original-owner 292 with under 80K miles that broke the crank into five pieces without warning while cruising at a leisurely 50 mph. The 312s were particularly noted for broken cranks; it seems the larger bearing journals didn't allow enough 'fillet', that's where they broke.
  12. Y-block, no question in my mind.
  13. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 2,374

    from Berry, AL

    If you want HP, go with the Windsor. Parts are more available and will be cheaper to build a higher HP street engine.

    If you want the cool factor, then go with the Y block. Like most have said, more traditional looking, unique sound, but not as cheap to build, and will have less HP than a mild Windsor.

    Whichever route you choose, stick to it, don't start one way then change over to something else. Too many cars get stuck back in the middle of a build because the owner changed direction midstream, then lost interest.
    Graham Hood likes this.
  14. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 7,464


    I have been driving my Y-block daily for 17 years and have NEVER needed to get any parts on the side of the road. This is an extremely reliable engine and you cant beat the exhaust sound when running dual straight pipes
    Graham Hood likes this.
  15. IronFord
    Joined: Jul 13, 2007
    Posts: 282

    from NoDak

    I vote for the Y-block and I wouldn't change much from the original build. I realize you're going to change it but it was a pretty cool car. What frame was under the original build? The rails look thin like Model A. Do you happen to know what that blue is called? 33.jpg
  16. Thank you all for the replies, this helps me a lot. Kind of one of those questions that I already knew the answer to but needed to hear it.

    There aren’t many guys in South Africa who are into traditional rods, everyone seems to be stuck in the 80s / 90s here. I’ve never shied away from the longer more difficult route and this build has been no exception. I will be doing a lot more research and planning before I sell my windsor and will try get in touch with the Y block guys you have mentioned for queries and parts.

    Thanks again!!

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  17. Damn that is beautiful

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  18. RaginPin3Appl3
    Joined: Mar 31, 2016
    Posts: 1,139


    Y block

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  19. A Y block will make more then enough power to scare you in a 34 Ford

    Keith Cornel and the Rolling Bone's Y block powered coupe on the slat
    warbird1, Graham Hood and Blues4U like this.
  20. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 2,438


    I have had both and if you want traditional then go with the Y block, but if you want real power at a reasonable cost a 408 Windsor will spank about any Y block. Y block's are cool and a tough motor.
    351 stroker kit's are real reasonable and it is hard to compete with that much of a cubic inch advantage and the choice of heads for a Windsor is much better.
    Graham Hood likes this.
  21. Thanks danman55 this is great information.

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  22. Sounds like the same set up for me- just with a 292

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  23. Kiwi 4d
    Joined: Sep 16, 2006
    Posts: 2,202

    Kiwi 4d

    Y Block gets my vote also. We have two flathead rods and one y block and are building another Y block model A with a 5 speed.
    The Y block has the X factor of cool, they were reliable when new so why cant they be reliable now.
    The Y block in our shoebox was put together to run reliable and economical but that doesnt mean slow either it also has a 700r trans. It hauls ass for a heavy car. Just use the right components and put it together with care and you will have a blast.
    The have a special sound.
  24. I hear you- luckily I’m not too far into the build for this to be a major setback.

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  25. it was a home built frame, I have no idea what blue it is but it had quite a heavy metallic flake in it. I thought about keeping it as it was for a long time, but there’s a hell of a lot of hacking and lead in the body (in fairness it was built by my 17 year old dad) and if the build was to be done correctly most of the sheet metal would need replacing anyway
  26. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 7,464


    59f2.jpg I've been running dual straight pipes on my Y-block for 17 years. Its the sweetest sound of any engine
    williebill likes this.
  27. Jimmy2car
    Joined: Nov 26, 2003
    Posts: 1,699

    from No. Cal

    Hi Graham
    Join the forum:
    You'll be happy you did
  28. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 15,243


    My vote is for a 348 or a 409.

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