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    Thread: Ford big blocks: skool me on differences between FE series (390/427/428) and 385 series (429/460)

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      05-01-2006 12:48 PM #1
      Since there will only be about two of you that know, maybe I should just IM you directly

      I was trying to recall the merits of both of these engines families. Set me straight if I've got it wrong and add any further info you have in the old memory bank.

      FE series: 352/390/427/428, replaced Y block in '61, also found its way into trucks as 360 and others. Includes famed racing 427 variants, but not sure about SOHC motor. Also includes legendary Cobra Jet variant in 428 form. Half-skirted block if memory serves, identifiable by offset water pump & front distributor. Not as big or heavy as 385 series engines. Discontinued in cars roundabout 1970.

      385 series: 429/460, bigger and heavier than FE if I recall. Non skirted block, better head design for much improved flow, higher-revving? (possibly something to do with the rod/stroke ratio compared to FE). Also available in Cobra Jet variant. Possibly had some similarities to 351 Cleveland? Where did I get that from -- maybe the valve geometry? I'm a lot fuzzier on these engines.

      OK Ford guys, help me out here.


    2. 05-01-2006 01:55 PM #2

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_FE_engine:

      Quote »

      The Ford FE engine was a Ford V8 engine used in vehicles sold in the North American market between 1958 and 1976. It was intended to fill the need for a medium-range displacement engine in Ford's lineup of available V8's. It supplemented Ford's line-up of V8's which at the time included a small block (Y-block), a medium block (the new FE) and the prestige big block (the MEL engines). In the ongoing development of Ford V8's, the Y-block was soon supplanted by the new Windsor engines (221, 260, 302, 351 cubic inches) in the early 1960's and the MEL was replaced by the 385-series engines in the late 1960's (429, 460 cubic inch versions). Some claim "FE" is an acromyn for 'Ford-Edsel', while others insist the name meant simply 'Ford Engine'. A careful search of the FoMoCo Engineering archives by currently employed engineers shows that the earliest references to the engine group made reference to 'Ford/Edsel and very soon that was shortened to F/E. Ultimately the designation was simplified to FE. Another engine family, the MEL, stood for "Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln".

      A related engine, the Ford FT engine, was used in medium and heavy trucks from 1964 through 1978.

      In all discussions of Ford V8 engines, it is extremely important to understand that Ford, unlike its competitors at the time, did not have just small block and big block engines. Ford engines generally came in three size ranges, sized to best suit the application.


      And from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_385_engine:

      Quote »

      The Ford 385 engine family was the American Ford Motor Company's final big block V8 engine design, replacing the Ford MEL engine and gradually superseding the Ford FE engine family. This design was a departure from the paradigm utilizing thinwall casting methods and a skirtless block to reduce weight.

      It was available in three sizes in production vehicles; 370 in³ (6.1 L) in trucks only, 429 in³ (7.0 L) and 460 in³ (7.5 L). A 512 in³ (8.4 L) crate engine was also available from Ford SVO.

      The engines were sold between 1968 and 1997. They were manufactured in Lima, Ohio. This manufacturing line replaced the Ford MEL engine line in the Lima plant. The FE engines, manufactured in Dearborn, continued in production but saw reduced applications and volume as the 385 engine gradually took over in the Ford line up. The FE went out of production in 1976, leaving the 385 as the only big block.

      Besides service in large luxury cars in the 1970s and in trucks throughout its life, the 385 series engine was also popular in motorhomes, marine, and industrial applications. Over 50 varieties were produced in any given year.

      As with the FE line of motors Ford also offered a Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet versions of the 429. The Cobra Jet , rated at 370hp, was equiped with a Rochester Quadra Jet carb, larger cam, 11.3 to 1 compression and a special set of cylinder heads. The Super Cobra Jet , rated at 375hp, had a 4 Bolt main block, a Holley carb, and a larger mechanical cam. In 1971 the CJ motor also used a 4 bolt main block. The truth of the matter is these motor were actually in 440 to 460 Hp range. The true horsepower ratings were understated to throw off the insurance companies (common practice in that era.)


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      05-01-2006 02:23 PM #3
      Quote, originally posted by RabbitsKin »
      Since there will only be about two of you that know, maybe I should just IM you directly

      I was trying to recall the merits of both of these engines families. Set me straight if I've got it wrong and add any further info you have in the old memory bank.

      FE series: 352/390/427/428, replaced Y block in '61, also found its way into trucks as 360 and others. Includes famed racing 427 variants, but not sure about SOHC motor. Also includes legendary Cobra Jet variant in 428 form. Half-skirted block if memory serves, identifiable by offset water pump & front distributor. Not as big or heavy as 385 series engines. Discontinued in cars roundabout 1970.

      385 series: 429/460, bigger and heavier than FE if I recall. Non skirted block, better head design for much improved flow, higher-revving? (possibly something to do with the rod/stroke ratio compared to FE). Also available in Cobra Jet variant. Possibly had some similarities to 351 Cleveland? Where did I get that from -- maybe the valve geometry? I'm a lot fuzzier on these engines.

      OK Ford guys, help me out here.

      The big thing with the FEs was weight. An equivlent FE could be 100 lbs lighter then the Chevy small block varient (of the same size).


    4. 05-01-2006 02:36 PM #4
      In case anybody's wondering what MEL is, it's Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln, which should give you an idea of when that engine familly was developed and what it was meant to be used in.

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      05-01-2006 03:45 PM #5
      I've never heard of a MEL block. I'm pretty sure the Mercury and Lincoln big blocks of that era were FE engines, such as the 410. Not that it matters much, the question is about the differences in FE and 385. I'd like to know a little about physical exterior dimensions and weights, if anyone has them. Head design and tuneability also. MM&FF magazine has done some builds on the FE engines that come to mind, and have acheived some amazing results with modern parts. It is by no means a forgotten engine. The 385 series tends to be more common today because they were discontinued more recently, they were overlooked for a long time, and the FE engines are getting harder to come by.


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      05-01-2006 10:16 PM #6
      bump for more info

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      05-01-2006 10:43 PM #7
      Quote, originally posted by RabbitsKin »
      I've never heard of a MEL block. I'm pretty sure the Mercury and Lincoln big blocks of that era were FE engines, such as the 410. Not that it matters much, the question is about the differences in FE and 385. I'd like to know a little about physical exterior dimensions and weights, if anyone has them. Head design and tuneability also. MM&FF magazine has done some builds on the FE engines that come to mind, and have acheived some amazing results with modern parts. It is by no means a forgotten engine. The 385 series tends to be more common today because they were discontinued more recently, they were overlooked for a long time, and the FE engines are getting harder to come by.

      The Genesis2 Aluminium side oiler FE blocks can be had from Ford Motorsport (and elsewere) new for just over $4400.


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