Build a 300 with the HP of 360 FE
By Kevin R. Hill
I wanted to give my Ford 300 the horse power of 360 FE v8 (215 HP), but needed 50% better MPG. This is how I did it.
I spent a month reading, copying and pasting parts numbers, reading whether I needed a heat plate for my intake manifold, what type of pistons to use, the best head gasket, and every other aspect of the build. You see, building a 300 is not like building a 351 Windsor, or a small block Chevy. Everyone in the world builds those engines. But doubling the horse power of a 300 is not something you see every day, so parts are not falling from the speed shop trees.
But if you follow along, I’ll save you from having to do the research, and I’ll tell what to tell the machine shop to prepare your engine just as you want it, and ready to assemble. I’ll also tell you the parts to use, which ones are worthless, or even worse, destructive.
If you’re like me, you can put an engine together by following the manual and taking one step at a time. Knowing what to tell the machine shop is the key. When they are done, you’ll have just a few days of part-time work to get the perfect truck engine. That’s why I was happy to pay for the machine work. It was insurance the engine was being done correctly.
At the junkyard I pulled the #1 plug on what I thought was a 300, stuck a pencil in the cylinder to the top of the piston, and cranked the harmonic balancer nut. When it dropped to its lowest point I put a mark on the pencil, and did the same at the highest point. Finding each point took some back and forth movement of the harmonic balancer nut. Then I measured between the marks. That measurement, 3.98 inches, told me the engine was a 300, and not a 240. Ford stroked a 240 to make the 300, just like they did with the 360, to make a 390. On the outside the engines are identical.
At home I stripped down the block, marking the main caps and rods with a center punch
to ensure they stay in the proper order. The other fasteners I put in zip lock bags, labeled with a felt pen: oil pan, oil pump, oil pump pick up, timing cover, etc. Cam, pistons and rods, crank, block, and flywheel went to the shop.
Thanks for reading. If you want to learn what to tell the machine shop to make your engine just what you want, and want to know the parts numbers for rocker studs, connecting rods, and basically save yourself about a month of free-time research, and want to get it from a guy who has done it, you’ll love my coming book: Making the HP of a 360 v8, and 50% better MPG!
In it I’ll pass along the tips you’ll need, how to do the head, cam choices, what compression ratio you want (static and dynamic), the world of pistons for a 300 (from 360 pistons to those for a small block Chevy, and the type of rods that go with them), EFI manifold tricks, best gaskets and fasteners, header pros and cons, carburetors, and the best ignition systems on the market. Yes, the basic steps for the build you could round up in about a month, but the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, took me more than five years to hone. Do you want to test parts, or do you want to spend a few bucks to make your build trouble-free?