Small block Ford performance help

26grumpy

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It's a 1965 Ford 289 2 barrel with no mods except an ignition module inside the distributor.

I had a reputable machine/ engine shop re-build my existing long-block. It ran and didn't leak oil or water prior to the re-build. After installation I filled it with water. It began to slowly drip water from a crack on the outside of the driver-side head. I ran the engine in the driveway and it ran great but for the leak. My builder said no problem and he'd get me a correct head. He did and I installed it with new gaskets.

Once back together it ran like crap. I did spark and fuel checks, timing, plugs and wire tests. I adjusted the valves several times just to be sure including with the engine running. Everything is good. Cap and rotor are new (2nd new set) and it still runs like shit. I put a vacuum gauge on it and it jumps rapidly between 30-40 and runs really rough.

I also did a compression test which showed (cylinders 5,6,7,8) 90-90-90-75. Ok... so I pull the head back off, and re-installed again with new gaskets thinking I might have a head or manifold gasket problem. It still runs like shit with the exact same compression test and vacuum test.

I also did a compression test on the passenger-side head the builder installed when he originally did the re-build.. I got (cylinders 1-4) 110,110,110,120.

I've adjusted the valves with the engine running and at stop for the tenth time...still runs like shit.

It does seem to have a lot more vacuum than previously, judging just from the vacuum sound the engine puts out it seems like much more vacuum. I don't have a baseline for vacuum from prior to the re-build nor when it ran great re-built with the water leaking head.

While it was running I pulled each spark plug wire off at the cap and listened for a performance drop. It appears #'s 7 and 8 are not firing as there is no perf drop off when I pull those wires as opposed the drop off I get when I pull #'s 1-6.

When I remove the #8 spark plug it appears to be wet/glossy even though it has spark. WTF??

Help.
 
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wils

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75# compression @ non-firing #8 is directly opposing #4 firing with 120# compression.
hmmmmmm.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

pull the wires at the plugs and check/listen for a spark. could be as simple as a cracked sparkplug.
 
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26grumpy

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75# compression @ non-firing #8 is directly opposing #4 firing with 120# compression.
hmmmmmm.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

pull the wires at the plugs and check/listen for a spark. could be as simple as a cracked sparkplug.

I wish.

I switched the bad 7&8 plugs and wires to the known good cylinders and put the known good wires and plugs in 7&8 and got the same results. I pulled 7&8 after the wire/plug swap and got no perf drop-off.

Remember...it ran perfect with the water-leaking head and the same parts which are all brand new and known to be working.

I forgot, I also re-cleaned my just-re-built and dialed-in carb (Carbshop in Santa Ana) and still same shitty results.

It's running on 6 cylinders...wtf?
 
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TEAMFISH

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Firing order is for a 289 and not a 302 right? I've deen crazier shit. And I've never seen a stock V8 pull more than around 21 inches of vacuum.
 
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26grumpy

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Firing order is for a 289 and not a 302 right? I've deen crazier shit. And I've never seen a stock V8 pull more than around 21 inches of vacuum.

Checked and re-checked. Even went to two different printed manuals AND the top of the intake manifold stamp to make sure!!! Triple-checked the plug wires at the cap and at the plugs as I've made those simple mistakes too!!!

I can't get a good vacuum test because the engine is idling so poorly.
 
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BiggestT

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Joe, the '65 factory Shop Manual lists 130-170 psi for 260/289 with a +/- 20 psi tolerance between cylinders. All of your readings are not good and the one bank is simply bad with 3 of the 4 barely running and the one at 75 psi is gone.
 
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TEAMFISH

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Almost sounds like a bad valve job. I would pull the head and have it checked.

That was going to be my second thought. Sticky valve.
And with the vacuum gauge bouncing around I would make sure the cam and/or lifter didn't go flat on you. A miss adjusted/dead valve can effect the compression reading also.
 
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gecsr1

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Bad head... everything points to it....but one more test ...do a compression test wet (with oil in cylinders ) that will determine heads or rings...
 
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OILAGER

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Why did your "original" non-leaking head come back with a crack in it? Why is the replacement making it run like shit? Sounds like the 2nd head is warped or your block has an issue- if its your original block, not an exchange. I'd be all over the machine shop on this one.
 
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gecsr1

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Why did your "original" non-leaking head come back with a crack in it? Why is the replacement making it run like shit? Sounds like the 2nd head is warped or your block has an issue- if its your original block, not an exchange. I'd be all over the machine shop on this one.

It's all points to the replacement head.... he needs to do a wet compression test to rule out the rings....
 
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disD1

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It's a 1965 Ford 289 2 barrel with no mods except an ignition module inside the distributor.

I had a reputable machine/ engine shop re-build my existing long-block. It ran and didn't leak oil or water prior to the re-build. After installation I filled it with water. It began to slowly drip water from a crack on the outside of the driver-side head. I ran the engine in the driveway and it ran great but for the leak. My builder said no problem and he'd get me a correct head. He did and I installed it with new gaskets.

Once back together it ran like crap...

After having the engine rebuilt by a reputable shop, why are you trying to fix it, yourself, rather than bringing it back to the shop?
 
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Assalt Weapon

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I have a 65 mustang.

A couple years ago my son and i rebuilt a roller cam 302 engine for it.. Goal was 225 hp clean fuel effient engine.

My compreession is over 130 on all cylinders, pushing close to 140 on a couple.
My vacuum at idle in the 17-19 range.
Likes the timing advanced in the 10-12 degree range..
I do have one small issue with the motor, but not relavent to this thread..

Either you have two bad heads, or a messed up short block..

But thats my opinion.

The reason, i believe this, is the old 302 engine with over 100,000 miles had about 105 ish compression, some barely over 100. In my research, that engine was just about done, but it was still running ok, but burned a little oil.
 
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tunalover69*

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do a leak down test before pulling the head, put cylinder TDC on cylinder ur testing, pull spk plg and install compression tester with out Schrader valve put 100psi shop air to the cylinder...You may have to hold the crank nut from turning then listen for the rushing air #1 .the tail pipe..bad exhaust valve...#2 out of the carb bad intake valve..#3 out breather on valve cover bad piston rings. Start here first before wasting ur time pulling the heads. now you will have a starting point..PM me if you need more help..I grew up building ford race engine's with my father and after the military I worked as a master tech for Chrysler/dodge for the last 12yrs now I just sit on my ass and watch inmates at CDCR finest. I kinda miss working on this stuff.
 
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26grumpy

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The rest of the story...

3 years ago I pulled the engine and took it to Orange Engine Re-Building in Anaheim. It's a busy, 20+ year old engine shop with complete machine shop under one roof. The place is always stacked with custom engines including blown big-block 1200 HP pump-gas BEASTS. I felt very comfortable working with Jim and his son.

I had him re-build my #'s matching block to stock specs as my goal was to build a coast-to-coast, fully restored (as close to Concour condition as possible) classic. It's about 95% complete with just the rear-end left to remove, re-furb and powder coat (it's working fine but I still want to go through it). EVERYTHING else is re-finished, re-conditioned or replaced with period correct parts or Ford licensed new parts. Interior, undercarriage, engine compartment, heater core and ventilation box, all electrical and gauges, suspension, steering, gas tank and fuel lines, brakes...EVERYTHING is done and restored to original condition sans a few not-date-correct brackets that I'm always searching for. The build-date is March 1965 btw.

So after 10 months (with me pushing ever so politely) he calls and says it's done. A total re-build with machining and a master re-build kit. I install it, it fires right up and runs sweet. I put 20 miles on it dialing it in and begin to notice a very subtle vibration in the gas pedal. I take it back to the builder who says it's something in the drivetrain and not the engine.....hmmmmm.

So I go after it. New vibration dampner, balancing of the driveshaft and new u-joints...still vibrates. Professional re-build on the original carb including complete dial-in on a test engine at The Carb Shop...still vibrates. Next is the flywheel, torque converter and C4 trans rebuild (even though I know the flywheel is correct and have zero trans issues)...and it still vibrates.

While at the trans shop the dude calls me and says the engine rear main seal is leaking and one of the heads is leaking coolant....at 20 miles...WTF??!!!

I go back to the builder with 6 months left on my 2 year engine warranty. He finally says yes the engine is vibrating and he will tear it apart and re-balance it and repair the crack in the head.

After 9 more months with me doing a bi-weekly surprise visit at the shop I finally pin him down on a completion date and make him put it in writing on his invoice. I also ask for the balancing numbers. I gave him two weeks as he is a legitimately busy. 13 days later he called and said it was done. He shows me the balance ticket from West Coast Balance Shop in Santa Ana and says , "Here's your problem, your rods and pins were not balanced". I'm thinking.."MY PROBLEM?" Whatever, I just want the fuck out of his shop and to never see him again so I just say thank you and I understand that sometimes shit happens.

So I rent a cherry picker for the 4th time and plug in the re-built re-build and as I'm filling it with water the same fucking head in the exact same place starts dripping water which is where my original post begins.

Sorry for the rant, I've been choking this whole thing down and playing the nice guy for over 3 years and I guess I needed to finally vent. My wife keeps telling me to YELP the shit out of Orange Engine Re-Building in Anaheim but I have yet to do so. :D Or maybe I just started....

BTW, all the driveline stuff I did I was going to do anyway so no biggy on that stuff.

I'm seriously considering not going back on the shop and just finding another head on my own if in fact it is the head.

Thanks guys for all the help.:appl:
 
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26grumpy

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do you have any pic of the leaking head? and if you still can' get this resolved shoot me some #'s on the head

The block is early 1965 according to the casting #.

When I bought the car the heads and intake were stamped C8 1968 289 so sometime in the past the top-end was reconstructed. It ran well but I wanted it to be fresh so I had the numbers correct block re-built knowing I'd find date correct heads and intake sometime down the road to totally complete the project.

The builder cracked the head in question. I brought him the head so he could match proper casting #'s and push rod openings. He had a stamped 1965 289 head in his inventory and said he went through the head and it's all good.

So now I've got a 1968 head that's good, a 68 intake manifold that's good and a 65 head that's in question.
 
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BiggestT

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The rest of the story...

3 years ago I pulled the engine and took it to Orange Engine Re-Building in Anaheim. It's a busy, 20+ year old engine shop with complete machine shop under one roof. The place is always stacked with custom engines including blown big-block 1200 HP pump-gas BEASTS. I felt very comfortable working with Jim and his son.

I had him re-build my #'s matching block to stock specs as my goal was to build a coast-to-coast, fully restored (as close to Concour condition as possible) classic. It's about 95% complete with just the rear-end left to remove, re-furb and powder coat (it's working fine but I still want to go through it). EVERYTHING else is re-finished, re-conditioned or replaced with period correct parts or Ford licensed new parts. Interior, undercarriage, engine compartment, heater core and ventilation box, all electrical and gauges, suspension, steering, gas tank and fuel lines, brakes...EVERYTHING is done and restored to original condition sans a few not-date-correct brackets that I'm always searching for. The build-date is March 1965 btw.

So after 10 months (with me pushing ever so politely) he calls and says it's done. A total re-build with machining and a master re-build kit. I install it, it fires right up and runs sweet. I put 20 miles on it dialing it in and begin to notice a very subtle vibration in the gas pedal. I take it back to the builder who says it's something in the drivetrain and not the engine.....hmmmmm.

So I go after it. New vibration dampner, balancing of the driveshaft and new u-joints...still vibrates. Professional re-build on the original carb including complete dial-in on a test engine at The Carb Shop...still vibrates. Next is the flywheel, torque converter and C4 trans rebuild (even though I know the flywheel is correct and have zero trans issues)...and it still vibrates.

While at the trans shop the dude calls me and says the engine rear main seal is leaking and one of the heads is leaking coolant....at 20 miles...WTF??!!!

I go back to the builder with 6 months left on my 2 year engine warranty. He finally says yes the engine is vibrating and he will tear it apart and re-balance it and repair the crack in the head.

After 9 more months with me doing a bi-weekly surprise visit at the shop I finally pin him down on a completion date and make him put it in writing on his invoice. I also ask for the balancing numbers. I gave him two weeks as he is a legitimately busy. 13 days later he called and said it was done. He shows me the balance ticket from West Coast Balance Shop in Santa Ana and says , "Here's your problem, your rods and pins were not balanced". I'm thinking.."MY PROBLEM?" Whatever, I just want the fuck out of his shop and to never see him again so I just say thank you and I understand that sometimes shit happens.

So I rent a cherry picker for the 4th time and plug in the re-built re-build and as I'm filling it with water the same fucking head in the exact same place starts dripping water which is where my original post begins.

Sorry for the rant, I've been choking this whole thing down and playing the nice guy for over 3 years and I guess I needed to finally vent. My wife keeps telling me to YELP the shit out of Orange Engine Re-Building in Anaheim but I have yet to do so. :D Or maybe I just started....

BTW, all the driveline stuff I did I was going to do anyway so no biggy on that stuff.

I'm seriously considering not going back on the shop and just finding another head on my own if in fact it is the head.

Thanks guys for all the help.:appl:

Joe, that sounds painful. I've used OC Engine Rebuilding. They need to make it right.
 
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J.C.

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Sounds like you need a new mechanic.... maybe she can help :D

1358137594.jpg
 
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Tailwhipped

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Wow! He needs to make this right. That's a long time to build an engine and for you to have so many problems a second time. I understand your frustrations but still this is not your fight to figure out his mistakes. Good luck with this.
 
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BiggestT

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Wow! He needs to make this right. That's a long time to build an engine and for you to have so many problems a second time. I understand your frustrations but still this is not your fight to figure out his mistakes. Good luck with this.

I suspect that the lengthy time frame was due to them knowing that they F'd up and them hoping that they'd just wear down Joe in the hopes that he'd go away. I had Orange Engine rebuild a 302 for my '73 Bronco and it only tools them a month to do it.
 
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tunalover69*

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hey I spoke with my father it sounds like the left bank head (driverside) may be warped. again do the leak down test but also check the radiator for bubbles this would indicate the head or block deck is not right. I've never seen a cast iron head warp that bad but if it got hot enough it should of just been scraped.. also on the same note did you see a crack in you're first head 100% or is that what someone told you? if the machine shop did any block deck work they could of jacked up the drivers side and only a straight edge will confirm that. the whole left bank haven low compression is telling me the head is not sealing correctly to the block..IE coolant leak or poor valve job and compression leaking past the valves.
 
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