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First time to rebuild engine: 390fe: recommendations needed

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kingdesgn, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. kingdesgn
    Joined: Nov 11, 2010
    Posts: 254


    I'm looking to take the heart out of my 64 Galaxie 500 XL 4 door hard top and rebuild it. It has the original 390fe in it. This will be the first time for me to rebuild a motor so any advice, r&d recommendations are needed. I also would like to pep it up a bit.

  2. Humboldt Cat
    Joined: Feb 20, 2003
    Posts: 2,235

    Humboldt Cat
    from Eureka, CA

    Aluminum aftermarket FE intakes aren't competively priced, and in my experience, hard to find (within reach of my wallet). If you can get yer hands on a stock CJ390 intake or Enforcer (police issue), grab it, makes a difference.
    Get a Petronix unit to tuck into your distributor to easily change from mechanical to electronic points. FE's notorious for both burning through condensors and points as well as old distributors having to have the points reset often. I've had 4 under the hood of 2 trucks, have definitely seen that pattern in points.
    Need to replace header/exhaust mani gaskets? Prepare for the snapped bolts from decades of heat. Very likely with old FE's. That said, I recommend RemFlex brand exhaust gaskets, they're made to work with heat-warped heads & exhaust planes.
    Hope that helps!
  3. 75ford
    Joined: Sep 30, 2012
    Posts: 10

    from burlington

    good luck man, my first car is a 75 f150 with a 360 fe in it :)
  4. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 7,184

    from Michigan

    There is a very comprehensive series of youtube videos for the rebuilding of the FE 390.

    Just search "rebuild ford 390" on youtube.

  5. TomP64
    Joined: Dec 10, 2008
    Posts: 418

    from Vancouver

    The regular rebuilding is like any other engine. Extra power can be had easily with a cam, headers and better intake. The stock 64 heads are decent, a little smoothing in the ports can help and for sure get the exhaust side planed flat to help header or manifold seal.

    Keep in mind that is you are wanting to keep the stock 64 valve covers without breather holes you'll need an intake that has the oil filler and rear breather. Blue Thunder makes such an intake. The Edelbrocks made in the last 40 years will require valve cover breathers.

    You can pick up 100 hp just with a better streetable cam , the intake and headers.
  6. The question is also going to vary according to the budget due to the current price of FE parts and machine shop steps. A ultra budget rebuild may consist of getting the block inspected by a reputable shop as to it's needs which will be at a minium of cleaning, inspecting for sizes and a estimate as to the least to a premium rebuild which will also include besides the normal boring and cam bearings, core plugs, the extra deck resurfacing and align honing of the crank bore. The crank and rods will also be inspected for needs of resizing and maybe new bolts. The cylinder heads on a fe normally will have some broken exhaust bolts or stripped threads and the heads tend to need a lot of valves and guide work. None of this mentions a bigger cam, intake , etc, just the basics. Parts and labor could be a low( perfect block, crank, heads) of $1000.00 or $3000.00. I spent about $3800.00 on the on in my '62 Galaxie but it got all the good stuff stock with a bigger cam, springs, .060 hypers, decked and aligned bored, all new valves and a Edelbrock intake, QFT carb. CHeck your budget and ask around about a good machine shop in your area first, then go talk to them and see how many FE's they have done....Good Luck.
  7. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,793

    from Napa

    The C4 heads are very similar to a LR 427 head, but have the smaller 390 valve sizes, and the larger valves can be installed if you like- but just a good valve job and cleanup will work pretty good on a budget 390. Something like a Comp 270H if you "a bit" more power and a little noise, 280 if you want a little more, and don't get talked into one of those poser "Thumper" cams that only make noise. Headers and good mufflers help like any other engine. ARP rod bolts for the stock rods for a mild budget build
  8. Captain Chaos
    Joined: Oct 16, 2009
    Posts: 596

    Captain Chaos
    from Missery

    Depends on what you want to do , if just cruise, stock rebuild w some upgrades will make plenty of power . Do NOT do a high volume pump , there is a high preasure pump made by melling. Keep eye for used intakes and valve covers , weight savings and power . I like the voodoo cam specs for FE, Howards Cams has some nice ones as well, I prefer dual pattern cams cause intakes and exhaust weren't created equally. Decide if your going to run headers before picking cam , look at your gears and find cam that operates int the range of rpm you will have on hwy for best efficiency . Adjustable rockers will make life easier , . Shop ebay for closeouts and swap meets. As pointed out, ask machinest if he is familier w FE motors and their quirks. You will not need oil restrictors on street motor . Also make sure they do not have issue w you bringin in own parts , get price sheet up front, I do not like machinist who do not have basic price list. If you do a job every day you should know what things cost . Some jack up prices when you bring your own parts , also good idea to break it down youself and do inspection of cylinder bores and crank , some guys just want to cut everything when it can be honed and repolished .
  9. saladbar
    Joined: Jul 4, 2011
    Posts: 4

    from auburn CA

    Dont mill the heads to much or the intake will not fit well. did that years ago leaked oil a lot.
  10. sanfordsotherson
    Joined: Mar 21, 2005
    Posts: 955

    from So. Cal.

    It's been a long time since I rebuilt my 428. But, I highly recommend the Ford Engine rebuild book by Pat Ganahl. Can't remember the name of's out in the garage somewhere. There's a very good section in the book on FE's, along with several improvements that came be made to the FE engine, and Ford engines in general. I think it's still in print...check Amazon for new & used copies.

    When you get the machining done, have them tap the little oil plug holes around the cam on the back of the block, to use allen-head threaded plugs instead of the steel freeze plug type. Mine kept popping out. Probably that Mellings pump someone already mentioned, that I put in it.

    Ditch the stock intake, I think mine weighed 90 lbs. Edelbrock has a good one.
  11. barstowpo
    Joined: Jun 27, 2012
    Posts: 232


    There are lots of little tricks that can add to reliability and performance. How To Rebuild Your Big Block Ford is an excellent book. It is by Steve Christ. I would go with a high volume oil pump and I usually go higher pressure as well. Depending on your goals, I would loosen up the bearing clearances. you can also align the main bearing oil galley for better flow. You will see the misalignment when you look at the bearing shells installed in the block. I also use 427 type rocker shafts with fewer holes and a Holley 80 jet to restrict oil to the valve area. Used intakes are reasonable on ebay and elsewhere. Check out a vendor on ebay called pumpbldr. He does blueprinted oil pumps, chrome moly oil pump drives and hardened rocker shafts. he also has roller rockers and other stuff. I think he is in Clovis CA. There is also DSC in Anza CA that has lots of new and used FE parts.
  12. e-tek
    Joined: Dec 19, 2007
    Posts: 424

    from SK, Canada

    I'm just building a second 390 for my 67 Galaxie. is an excellent site with all the info you'll need to maximize these engines. Easiest way to add 100HP? EB Performer Intake and heads, mild cam and headers. Easy way to add 200HP? Forged pistons, loosen the tolerances and slap on a turbo - that's what I'd doing.

    But for a 450HP bolt-on build, check this out:
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  13. Squatch
    Joined: Feb 3, 2007
    Posts: 125


    2X on the fordfe forum...

    A used aluminum intake is easier than you think to find... finding PI or other factory alum intake will set you back $450... I for my edelbrock for $150. running a 268H cam... a little sound, no convertor needed. The stock intake is about 75lbs... weight savings alone will have you running 10's... lol

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