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camshaft to wake up an old girl

This is a discussion on camshaft to wake up an old girl within the Flair Birds [1964-1966] forums, part of the Thunderbird Model Years category; I would love to replace the stock cam/timing gear while I am there, I need to do the intake/valve cover ...

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Old 12-04-2017, 08:05 PM
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camshaft to wake up an old girl

I would love to replace the stock cam/timing gear while I am there, I need to do the intake/valve cover gaskets on a 70K mile 65 390 bird Town Landau. I want something in the middle with better fuel economy and a little more rumble. I might just go fuel injection, but try to keep "Collector Status". Any thoughts?

Watermelon Jack
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:59 AM
Steve Seebart
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Just a couple of quick thoughts:

A mid-1960's 70k motor would generally be considered near the end of it's service life, especially after 50+ years. Back in the day, you'd be very lucky to get a motor all the way to 100k. Before doing anything too radical, check the compression all around and/or pull the heads to see how things look--if most of those miles were piled on in the 60's and 70's, there could be a ton of carbon build up in there.

There are a bunch of reasonably priced EFI kits out there that can give a modest performance boost without a bunch of new parts. If the engine is sound, this may be the easiest way to get what you want. Added plus--easier starts and no chance for vapor lock.

To my way of thinking, the only reason for a performance cam is to encourage better breathing. A cam can't do much, though, if it's inhibited by the stock manifolds and ignition system. Also, better breathing = hotter burn = hotter running motor. You may need extra cooling if you live in a warm climate.

I don't show my car, but I'm aware that some car shows have a "modified" category. Based on my experience with the hobby, most t-bird enthusiasts wouldn't consider a car "collectible" with these kinds of additions.

Good luck with the project, and let us know how it goes!

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Old 12-05-2017, 01:43 PM
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Hello, I appreciate your opinion, I thought 70K was still a young girl, I have a 94 work truck with almost 300K still original! I hate the idea of open heart surgery in the car, but going down to the heads is pretty deep, tearing the motor out is so much more. She is such a beautiful car to drive and I hate to long term her especially with summer coming around the corner. We love to show her, and don't want to deviate from the original, but any slight modern HP gains would be nice without anyone knowing. Jack
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:43 PM
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What you do to your car, all original or modified, is totally up to you. I don't own a museum so I chose to modify my '64 Hardtop with the 390. My goal was basically the same as you stated in post 1; I wanted just a bit more performance, yet smooth idle and good economy. I also wanted it to last at least 250,000 miles, like a modern engine. It took a bit of research, experimentation and cash, but I think I have a pretty good combo.

I had the engine completely rebuilt. After 87k miles the cylinders were worn by about 0.004" at the top. The decks were not parallel with the crank. Everything else was in good condition.

The engines had poor oiling, with too much delivered to the heads and not enough to the block. Barry Rabotnick "wrote the book" on performance FE engines (look it up), so I took most of his advice on his oiling chapter. After consulting with local builders, I decided on a high pressure oil pump, streamlining the passages, 0.075 restrictors to the heads (0.060 would probably be better), and 6 quarts of 15W-40 in the factory 5 quart pan.

Starting with the cam, I choose a Lunati Voodoo roller lifter type. They have a series from mild to wild and I chose mild. The taller lifters means custom length pushrods and an adjustable rocker set. I chose a PQ set, roller tips. I also have a roller timing set.

The factory pistons only gave about 8:1 compression, not the 10.1:1 as stated in the Shop Manual. Since I kept the factory heads (with new hardened valve seats) we chose new forged pistons to achieve a 9.7:1 ratio. Consider new Edelbrock heads and you'll be able to live with 10.5 or so.

I chose a FAST EFI system with a throttle body. Consider their sequential system instead. The factory dual plane manifold worked terrible with this, so I ended up with an Edelbrock Victor single plane. The FAST sequential setup is based on the Victor.

Sanderson Hot Rod headers. 2.5" dual exhaust with H pipe. 14" Borla mufflers mounted before the rear bend and Hushpower rounds mounted in the stock resonator position.

MSD Ready to Run distributor. I have a 6A ignition box but its not completely necessary. I run 15 degrees initial advance plus 19 degrees vacuum at idle. My centrifugal advance adds in up to 18 and tops out at 18 degrees. Easy starts, no ping or knock. On my last tank of gas I achieved 15.6 mpg. This was a good mix of highway and city driving.

I'm running an electric cooling fan from a Mark 8. Used ones are $100 or less and they move a lot more air than aftermarket fans. It fit almost perfectly on my factory style radiator. A control kit adds in another $150 for a good one. The engine does not overheat, and that used to be a recurring problem before the rebuild.

The factory air cleaner is restrictive, and conflicts with the taller MSD distributor. I have a 14" open type, dropped to clear the hood.

I'm guessing that HP has increased from 300 advertised to about 350. Someday I'll dyno that to confirm, but the car moves quickly off the line and will happily accelerate from the posted 70 mph speed limit to faster than I dare.

Last edited by Yadkin; 12-05-2017 at 03:45 PM.
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