Installed New Studs in Rear Hubs

The hubs come from Ford with the wrong size studs. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just use these, but the kit comes with smaller 1/2-20 studs. You can see the difference between the old (on the left) and the new on the right.

Installing this was much more of a pain than the instructions would have you believe. It’s pretty trivial to knock out the old studs with a hand sledge, but the instructions have you use a lug nut and washer to draw the new stud into the hub. The problem is that it takes substantially more force to turn the lug nut than I could apply (and I’m quite a bit stronger than the average person). With an unlubricated lug nut, I could easily reach the recommended torque (100 ft-lb) long before bottoming out the stud. I ended us lubricating the studs with ARP Assembly Lubricant and using an impact wrench to draw the stud into place before applying a final torque with a torque wrench. It was a little bit of a pain to clean all of the lubricant out of the threads, but it was worth it given how easily it set the studs. I probably should have taken these down to the TechShop and used their large arbor press to press them in, but it’s done now.

Installed Tires and TPMS Sensors

I stopped by BR Racing this morning to get our tires mounted. They have a really nice touchless mounting system that grips the wheels through the lug nut holes.

I picked up a tire pressure monitoring system and had BR Racing install the sensors inside the wheels. The system has a really small display that should be fairly discrete on the dash.

Finished Welding Floorboards

I finished grinding all of the sharp edges and weld spatter off the bottom of the chassis and then welded in the floorboards from the bottom.

I put the chassis back on the dolly and then added additional welds on top of the floorboards.

After dialing in the settings on the welder, I’m getting much more consistent welds. It’s still a little tricky to get sufficient penetration on the thick tubing without blowing through the thin plate, but using a zig-zag pattern and spending 60-70% of the weld time on the thicker stock works pretty well to get even penetration on both pieces.

Fabricated Floorboards

I picked up a sheet of 18ga steel at a local metal supplier this morning and stopped by the TechShop after work to cut them to size. I ended up deciding to cut each side into two pieces instead of one. Each side has a long, rectangular piece and a short, rectangular piece with a radiused corner.

I test fit each of the panels.

The corner radius was not quite right, but it will work just fine.

The only modifications I needed to do were to clip the corners to clear the existing welds.

I set up the welder with the solid core wire and CO2/Argon gas bottle and welded the panel in place. I played around with different voltages/wire feed speeds until I found settings that worked pretty well.

Not all of the welds looked this good, but they should all be plenty strong. It was too late to weld in the other floorboards, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Painted Engine and Prepped Chassis

I still need to do a little more grinding on the bottom of the chassis to clean up some of the weld splatter and sharp edges. I’m also planning on welding steel floorboards onto the bottom of the chassis to better protect from road debris. I wanted to get a better look at the bottom to see if I needed one or two pieces of steel. The bottom of the round tube is essentially flush with the bottom of the square tubes, so it looks like I can use a single piece.

I finished taping up the engine block, heads and timing chain cover and cleaned them thoroughly before painting them with three coats of Eastwood’s high-temperature ceramic engine paint in gloss black. I haven’t pulled the tape yet since I want the paint to be fully cured before touching it. Touching the overspray on the tape showed that it will be easy to leave fingerprints in the paint until it’s cured.

All of the surfaces on the heads and blocks that were painted were a fairly rough case surface, so it doesn’t result in a truly glossy surface, but I think it looks really nice.

The timing chain cover is a smooth casting, so it looks much more glossy.

While I taped up most of the front of the engine, there was a small oval part of the casting that had been sanded smooth and engraved with the Ford Racing logo and block part number. I didn’t mask that off and painted right over it. I took some 320 and 400 grit sand paper and sanded off the paint on this oval.

This left the paint down in the engraved areas. It’s unfortunate that the “c” in Racing” wasn’t engraved properly, but I still really like the way this looks.

Received New Rotors and Installed Brake Hats

We received the new rotors from Wilwood today. I was super happy to see that these are also powder coated black since that will prevent rust on all of the non-braking surfaces.

I installed all of the bolts that attach the rotors to the hats with both red thread locker and safety wire. It seems unnecessary to do both (especially with red thread locker), but it wasn’t too much work and given how catastrophic a failure in this area would be, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Received Wheels and Continued Masking Engine for Paint

We received our wheels from Factory Five today. These are the 17″x9″ front and 17″x10.5″ rear Halibrand replica wheels. I pulled them all out to make sure they look good, but didn’t get any pictures of them.

Afterward, I finished masking the block. Other than a final cleaning, this is ready for paint.

I thoroughly cleaned the timing chain cover and started masking it for paint. The process I’ve been using is to use tape around the perimeter of each section with regular masking tape since it sticks better than the blue tape, then using a razor blade to slice to the exact edge. Larger areas are covered with blue tape or aluminum foil. This is pretty time consuming, but it should produce a nice finished product.

Received Wilwood Brakes

I received my Big Brake Kit from Levy Racing today. This is a custom color combination, so it took several weeks to get here, but we really like the look of the silver calipers with black lettering. These are larger than the Wilwood brakes that Factory Five sells by a fair amount. The rotors are 1.1″ thick which is 10% thicker, but more than 10% more massive. The mass of the rotor determines the thermal capacity and hence the amount of braking you can do before you start to get brake fade. These should be much better on the track than the set that Factory Five sells. These also use pads that are 40% larger than the factory upgrade, so we should see much better braking performance as well.

Unfortunately, one of the rear calipers was gouged (presumably during shipping).

We also received slotted rotors even though we ordered drilled and slotted rotors. I sent an email to Gordon Levy and he was quite apologetic and immediately set about making it right. Things like this happen, but I’m always happy to work with great vendors who make sure their customers are taken care of.

Started Masking Engine

During the virtual engine build, I marked the head gaskets where they hung out beyond the block or the head. Tonight I finished trimming them to the lines I marked and then started getting the engine block ready for paint. I got about 2/3 of the block taped up before running out of steam; there are a ton of spots to mask on these blocks.

Virtual Engine Build

My dad stopped by this morning and we did what we’re calling a “virtual engine build”. We test fit most of the components and verified we had all of the right parts and the right bolts to fasten them on. We also confirmed we had the right sealants, tools and torque settings.

We got started on the bottom end, fitting the oil pump, oil pickup and oil pump driveshaft. We then fit the oil pan and confirmed we had the right clearance between the pickup and the bottom of the pan by taping over the oil pickup and using a small piece of modeling clay. The only issue we ran into was that one of the nuts in the ARP oil stud kit had the wrong thread pitch. I’ll have to call them on Monday and get a replacement.

We then fit the timing chain cover and water pump. Although the ARP bolt kit I ordered from Summit Racing said in contained both timing chain cover bolts and water pump bolts, there were a bunch of missing 5/16″x18 bolts: 2@1.5″, 2@2″, 1@2.75″, 1@3.5″ and 1@5″. ARP said to contact them if the bolt set didn’t contain everything we needed, so hopefully they’ll send these or sell them individually to us. We also confirmed there will be clearance between the harmonic balancer and the water pump. The only potential issue we may have is that I purchased a timing pointer that mounts at the 2 o’clock position which is right under the water pump inlet. I *think* we’ll still be able to read the timing marks after the harmonic balancer is installed, but I may have to purchase one that mounts at the 11 o’clock position.

Finally, we mounted the heads and intake manifold. I’m trying to use all ARP 12pt stainless hardware for this engine build, but unfortunately, ARP doesn’t make stainless head bolts or studs for the 351W. They do for other engines, but apparently there hasn’t been much demand for them with this engine. They do may black oxide bolts and studs, but mostly with hex heads. The only option for 12pt hardware is studs. Given how far back the engine sits in the Cobra, the only disadvantage to studs is that I won’t be able to remove the heads with the engine installed in the car since the heads have to slide straight out until they can clear the studs. I really don’t think that will be an issue. I really like the studs though since they allow full thread engagement in the block and the thread bearings surface will the fine-pitch threads on the studs instead of course-pitch threads in the block.

One issue we ran into a couple of weeks ago was the rocker alignment on the valve stem. With the stock guide plates, the rockers were not perfectly aligned with the ends of the valve stems but were hanging somewhat off to one side. I purchased a set of AFR adjustable guide plates which gave me the ability to independently adjust the alignment of the intake and exhaust rockers. You can see the difference between them in the picture below. With these, I was able to adjust the rockers to be perfectly in the center of the valve stems.