I have a 302 Windsor V8 EFI engine that I converted to a 600 cfm carburetor with a Street Warrior intake manifold. It runs smooth but seems lazy. I’m now thinking of adding a cam to match the carb. Can I run the new cam with the same roller hydraulic lifters or do I have to change the lifters too? — K.S.
Jeff Smith: It would have been better to know a little bit more about your combination, but the short answer is yes—with a hydraulic roller camshaft, assuming the lifters are in good shape and the roller wheels show no unusual wear, they can be re-used on a new cam with no danger of adverse effects. The best thing to do would be to use a specific break-in oil for the first 200 to 300 miles of use to reduce the change of a potential problem with undue wear.
As usual, there is much more to this story. You didn’t mention what camshaft you would be choosing or exactly which 5.0L Ford Windsor engine you are working with. We’ll assume it is a 5.0L with stock heads. We’ll also assume that this engine is running stock exhaust manifolds. Our recommendation would be, rather than change the camshaft, you might want to look into adding a set of long-tube headers and a dual exhaust if the engine is not already so equipped.
There are a couple of reasons for this suggestion. First, adding headers will improve power on the existing combination. Early Windsors tend to have fairly restrictive exhaust manifolds, making the addition of a set of headers that much more efficient.
What you are trying to do is to increase the amount of airflow through the engine in order to make more power. The headers will improve this airflow throughout the entire rpm range—adding more torque and horsepower. Adding the headers may also require a slight increase in secondary (and possibly primary) jetting to ensure the proper air-fuel ratio, but that’s also an easy tuning change.
Once the headers are in place, then you can consider if you still want more power. Keep in mind that swapping camshafts is a fairly extensive effort. The entire front accessory drive and timing chain cover must be removed, along with the distributor and intake manifold.
You didn’t mention the car this engine is in, but let’s assume there is enough room to remove the radiator and any other coolers and perhaps some or all of the front grille and/or brackets before the cam has sufficient room to exit the front of the engine. If there isn’t room without disassembling half the front clip on the car, then it might be easier to remove the engine and do the conversion that way.
You didn’t mention which cam you had in mind. There are literally a dozen or so camshaft companies that offer a mild hydraulic roller cam for a 5.0L Ford. We’ll offer one as an example.
Again, assuming this is a nearly stock 5.0L with stock heads, the Weiand Street Warrior dual plane intake and 600 cfm carburetor, it’s important to not become overly aggressive and choose a big camshaft. This is a common mistake with first-time cam buyers who don’t necessarily appreciate that the cam is just one component of the overall engine package.
Since the engine is nearly stock, we would want to choose a relatively mild camshaft with somewhat more lift and duration than stock, but again not going too aggressive. We did a quick search for hydraulic roller cams and landed on a COMP camshaft that looked promising.
Ford GT40P Cylinder Heads Work Great With a Few Mods
Many years ago, a friend bought a used 2001 Mercury Mountaineer 5.0L that was equipped with a set of really decent GT40P style iron heads.
These are among the best of the iron Ford Windsor heads as they tend to flow much better than earlier castings. If you wanted to make your engine feel strong, these would be a decent investment, but they will require some modifications.
Their weak point is that the rotator used on the exhaust valve is very thick. This needs to be removed and different exhaust valves, retainers, and valve springs added to turn this into a decent street head. This will cost additional money but is still worth it, in our opinion. This is just a quick overview of the changes that need to be done. If this is beyond your technical ability, you could ask a local machine shop to perform the modifications. Most of them are aware of what changes need to be completed. Or, you could invest in a new set of heads that would also do the same job but you can expect to spend quite a bit more money.
Assuming this will be a daily driver engine, a short duration camshaft, especially when combined with a four-barrel dual plane intake manifold and headers, will deliver extremely snappy throttle response and the whole combination will increase the torque and peak horsepower by somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to perhaps 35 horsepower.
A COMP hydraulic roller cam we found works well with this combination. The specs are a conservative 212/218 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift but offer a really nice 0.512-inch valve lift for both the intake and exhaust. The combination of this cam with your intake and headers will produce a very nice street engine.
When compared to the new generation of performance engines on the market today like the 5.0L DOHC Coyote engine, your engine will not come close. This is not a criticism but instead consider it to be more of a heads-up. The older pushrod engines just don’t offer the same kind of power potential for their displacement and it all has to do with cylinder head flow.
For 2018, the Coyote makes 460 hp. The reason this new generation of Ford engines make a ton more power is they also enjoy fantastic cylinder heads and four valves per cylinder. Assuming the above configuration—a pushrod 5.0L will potentially make between 250 and 260 hp.
But don’t think that adding a bigger camshaft will make more power. In order to make Coyote-type power you will need some expensive, high-flow cylinder heads with a short block that can withstand spinning in excess of 6,500 rpm. Actually, making around 240 to 250 hp with a near-stock Windsor 302 will feel pretty good.
Good on ya Jeff Smith. It’s always refreshing to see a FORD getting a little face time in your column, even if it’s a tired 302 with no great expectations of setting the world on fire when the dust settles. You might even say it’s like flogging a dead horse without any animals actually being injured during my moments of sarcasm.
However, there’s a distinct possibility that I might pull all of my hair out if I see another in-depth article explaining how I, along with just over a billion other desperate humans seeking answers, need special valve spring split locks for my next tired Chevy build. OR you could put your automotive journalistic skills in motion by reporting on the many new modern components available for the latest generation 351 Cleveland. All manufactured using advanced CNC technology for the extreme durability and precision required of the modern canted valve Ford Small Block at power levels around the 1000 mark reached during recent competitions at the EMC and at the strip.
Yes Mr.Smith, your column here at OAC adorned with extreme performance without power adders, or all Engine as it’s known, from a superior pushrod Small Block featuring almost all USA sourced modern components with the familiar smell of Ford Blue.
Or just play it safe and let the fans ask away about another daring 5.0 TB bolt on or for an exciting surprise, do a “LS______” fill in the blanks. Because it’s all been done time after time after…
And the beat goes on….
I must agree with Jeff Smith. When building an engine there is a lot to take into consideration.
#1:::Throw out all your Magazines that suggest what to do!(it’s not their engine)
#2::: Get advice from a reptile engine builder with experience(first flag for me is when somebody refers to an ENGINE as a MOTOR! (A starter is a motor, windshield wipers use a motor,electric windows use motors) Any one uses that terminology in my shop will be corrected once, only once.
#3::: Do your homework,get quality parts,don’t skimp. And remember ENGINES have been being built/rebuilt/modified for year’s.***Most important is the”Stupid question is the one that was never asked!”***
I’ve been building ENGINES for 40+ year’s. Gasoline/Diesel all makes on earth & still doing it today with great pride.Feel free to contact me anytime.
Hey Motorheadty,Like your comments,question for ya,I have a 92 convertible,just bought a 5.0 out of a 94 gt that was just freshened up top end,gt40p heads w/new springs etc for the new E303 cam,new FRP roller lifters,Crane 1.7 rockers,hardened push rods,double roller timing set,all put on a bottom end w/104000 miles,needless to say previous owner pulled said engine after 800 miles and now building a 351,I pulled engine down my machinest,putting forged internals in and bolting everything back together,I want to run about a 150 shot N2o,and iam going carb,wondering which intake would be best w/the 150 shot,heard that dual planes might not be the way to go? Anythoughts?
I have a very good running stock 1981 302 in a F100 short box. I would like to know what heads, cam and intake manifold combination to use for the most HP I can squeeze out of that motor. Without changing the stock pistons. Thank You.
K.S. Is asking advice for a fairly common situation involving parts with mandatory compatibility between the two for performance and longevity.
The reply has so many assumptions that I can’t even assume to know the answer. But the part about a cam replacement possibly being a labor intensive undertaking is correct. The cost of a new set of standard replacement roller lifters is very affordable at major retailers like Summit.
Common sense would suggest that with the heavy lifting complete and the old cam removed, by not installing the new roller lifters along with the camshaft could be asking for the possibility of trouble just a few thousand miles down the road.
Buy the lifters for peace of mind now and hopefully for the duration. Win or lose, if you buy the ticket you must take the ride.
Be careful, I was once bitten by one of those reptile engine builders. Really hurt too.
There’s many options available for a little more power. Depends on the budget. The factory heads have a boss for the exhaust valve that restricts flow through the exhaust port. Long tube headers are a terrific idea, but you need to open up the exhaust side. GT40, GT40P, would be great factory heads. However there are plenty of factory heads that with the help of an experienced machine shop can be great. I had a set of ’69 302 heads I ran for a while . That said there are some better aftermarket options for heads also. I got a set of AFR heads , night and day. You didn’t provide a lot of information about the engine itself, I’m assuming it’s ’85 or newer ( roller cam) May need a freshen up of the bottom end if compression is the issue. An aggressive cam will wake it up a bit. I wouldn’t recommend reusing lifters though. Eldelbrocks Air Gap intake manifold should work well with the combination. I got rid of the carburetor and went with a F.A.S.T. fuel injection system . Like I said lots of options. Have fun, be safe, enjoy.
Every thing he tells you on this site is true. I have been working on Fords for 40 years and I have experimented with a few tricks of my own. And have discovered something that I don’t think anyone else knows. I have managed to get 402 horse power from a 289 hipo natural aspirated. And agree the cams do help and a few tricks with the heads that I have discovered really make a difference.
402 HP NA from a HI PO 289 isn’t that mysterious of a feat to accomplish with today’s SBF Aftermarket parts availability. I am sure you have increased the bore size and possibly even the stroke a bit and spin it up pretty high in the RPM range. I have a 432 HP non Hi Po 289 I built. It’s NA but makes use of AFR heads and some other aftermarket goodies. I spin it to 6500 and that’s about it. Torque on the other hand isn’t something to write home about. It’s increase while significant is still only about that of a decent 351 w
hi im building a nastalgic car so im not going to drag race it but it must go ok ive got a 302 windsor basicly recoed stock but i want to run tunnel rams to go with the the3am would like to put choppy cam and replace the heads any ideas would be much apprecited thankyou
What is the stock head cc of a 1992 f150 302 windsor
Always the weak area in the 289 and 302 is the tiny 5/16 inch connecting rod bolts and the miniscule intake and exhaust ports. This is the main reason why these engines are not modified as much as the small block Chevy.
Headers and a camshaft will help but the engine really needs aftermarket 3/8 inch connecting rod bolts and aftermarket cylinder heads.
SBF engines are modified constantly. They suffered from poor aftermarket support up until about 15 years ago when it really came on strong. I have heard this rod bolt weakness myth for years but have yet to have a single problem with them in any of the SBF engines I have pounded on for the last 30 years and there have been lots of them. Ive bought wrecking yard SBFs and put 20 lbs of boost to them and spin them to 7000 and made 500 HP with several of them. The only failures I’ve had were timing chains and a couple broken rods in a mid 80s 302 with 200,000 miles on it that got about 35 lbs of boost stuffed into it when a pop off valve I bought on ebay failed. Never not once have I ever seen a SBF rod bolt create a failure. I have a 66 mustang with its original untouched 289 with over 140 k on it that I’ve been running a blow thru turbo making 14 lbs of boost on for the last 5 years and it’s never given me a problem. I turned it because it was tired when I got it. So ….
It’s funny no one mentioned anything about ignition timing or components
69 Bronco mild build use for hunting screwin around up in the mountains also need it to run good on the street