For Ford enthusiasts, many options abound when choosing the foundation for a performance engine – the old school FE, the rock solid big-block, the Cleveland engine, and even the Flathead depending upon your definition of performance.
Perhaps the most popular is the Windsor small-block engine family, introduced in 1962 as the replacement for the Y-Block engines of yesteryear. Over its forty years in production, the Windsor was offered in six different displacements to suit a variety of uses, with the largest engine topping out at 351 cubic inches in factory form.
The standard Windsor platform offered a number of displacements and different deck heights over the years; the 8.200-inch deck height version for the 255, 289, and 302 cubic inch engines; the 9.480-inch height used in ’69-’70 351 Windsors, and from ’71 through the 351’s swan song of production in 1996, the 9.503-inch deck height was the standard dimension. With such a long lifespan in all types of vehicles (including marine use), it’s no wonder that the 351 Windsor became one of the most popular Blue Oval powerplants for enthusiasts to modify.
Today, the Windsor is still produced, although not for factory use by Ford. Instead, the design has been enhanced and modified by the performance aftermarket to provide an incredibly rigid base for racing and street performance engines.
World Products offers both their Man O’War 8.200-inch and 9.500-inch deck height Windsor blocks and recently revamped a number of critical features to improve on the design’s already-proven performance. The Man O’War design has been used in many thousand-plus horsepower racing applications over the years, making these latest revisions an enhancement to an already-stout engine base.
Using 3D modeling technology along with Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Machining technology, the Man O’War platform was originally developed with the help of numerous racers and even a well-known NASCAR team to provide the features that are required in those demanding applications. In addition, the race-developed design features also lend themselves well to enhanced street performance.
Both 8.200-inch and 9.500-inch deck height blocks feature a stout .600-inch deck, providing the necessary foundation for both naturally-aspirated combinations and big boost. Each one is available in both a 3.995-inch bore dimension (finishes to 4.000-inch) and a 4.120-inch bore dimension (finishes to 4.125-inch).
The iron alloy has been changed to a 40,000 psi material, a much stronger grade of iron than what was previously used. – Jack McInnis, World Products
The original 9.500-inch Windsor block was designed by Ford to use a 3.00-inch main bearing, but the later development of the Cleveland-style engine used a 2.749-inch bearing dimension. World Products adopted this dimension and set the 9.500-deck Man O’War’s main bearing at the Cleveland size for one main reason – to slow down bearing speeds and promote longevity. On the 8.200-inch deck version, standard 302 main dimensions of 2.248-inch are used.
“Camshaft bearing bores are 2.204-inch I.D. on all five cam bores, and the cam bearings have five different I.D.’s to fit the stock Ford cam journals. The maximum cam bore is for 60mm Babbitt-style or 55mm roller bearings,” says World’s Jack McInnis.
Long connecting rod and stroker applications are recommended to check clearance between the connecting rods and camshaft. The block can handle a 4.25-inch stroke crankshaft when paired with a 6.300-inch steel H-beam connecting rod.
The Man O’War’s oil pan rails have already been clearanced at the factory to make use of this stroke; however McInnis mentions that splayed-cap blocks may require hand-fitment of the oil pan due to potential interference on the front and rear main caps.
Lending itself to both race readiness and street performance, the Man O’War is designed to use a factory style block-mounted oil pump and standard oil pan, but provisions were also made to permit the use of a dry sump oiling system with the appropriate equipment.
Other stock style parts work just fine with the Man O’War – it accepts a standard starter, has a fuel pump boss to allow for a mechanical pump and pushrod to be used, and has OEM-location motor mount provisions. Cylinder head bolt holes are 1/2-inch, and it uses standard Ford head bolts or studs from your manufacturer of choice.
The video below is a two-hour-long complete build of the Man O’War as detailed in the sidebar. PBM Performance Products offers the entire engine shown in the video as a one-stop-shopping style kit, using all brand new components under PN PBM SBF454AEK.
Screwing One Together
World’s Dick Boyer put a Man O’War together himself to show off its capabilities – the complete build is in the video link. It includes the 9.500-inch deck block finished to a 4.125-inch bore, a standard-weight 4.250-inch stroke crankshaft from PBM Performance, and a set of PBM’s 6.200-inch H-beam forged connecting rods retained by ARP2000 capscrews.
With a JE 6.5cc dome piston and BMP 18-degree 245cc cylinder head with 64cc chambers and 2.080-inch/1.600-inch valves, the engine carried a 12.4:1 compression ratio. A custom grind solid roller camshaft from Erson was used to control the PBM rocker arms, and the longblock was topped with an Edelbrock 2924 intake manifold and Quick Fuel carburetor.
On the dyno, as you’ll see in the video, the engine pumped out 700 horsepower and 585 lb-ft torque from 454 cubic inches of displacement.
Company head honcho Dick Boyer and his team looked at every facet of the Man O’War’s design to see what could be improved prior to putting the blocks into production under their umbrella. Improved machining processes and material improvements led to the development of notable changes in the product’s design.
One of the main challenges to getting the small block Ford engine to perform has been the main webbing strength. The casting was originally built with a thin-wall, lightweight design by Ford, and the aftermarket has had to re-engineer the parameters to improve strength in the most critical area of the engine block.
“The iron alloy has been changed to a 40,000 psi material, a stronger grade of iron than what was previously used,” says McInnis.
In addition, the World Products team also made a notable change in the main fastener dimension and type, and for good reason. Main webbing thickness has been increased – the front bulkhead has been increased by .080-inch, and the center three mains have been increased by .030-inch.
“We’ve all seen the Ford blocks split right in half down the middle. That’s a known problem. Have you ever seen a main fastener failure in a Ford block? Improving the grade of iron helps, but what we’ve also done is taken out the half-inch main fasteners and installed a better grade of 7/16-inch fasteners. This leaves more material in the web, thereby strengthening it without having to add more material,” notes McInnis.
Depending on the block the main fasteners are bolts or studs – both are available, the bolts with the nodular iron cap version of the block and the studs with the billet cap version of the block.
McInnis says that 8.700-inch and 9.200-inch deck height blocks with these same features will be produced mid-year 2015.
8.200-Inch Deck Height
- 3.995-inch Bore, Nodular Main Caps – PN WPI087010
- 3.995-inch Bore, Billet Main Caps – PN WPI087110
- 4.120-inch Bore, Nodular Main Caps – PN WPI087020
- 4.120-inch Bore, Billet Main Caps – PN WPI087120
9.500-Inch Deck Height
- 3.995-inch Bore, Nodular Main Caps – PN WPI087072
- 3.995-inch Bore, Billet Main Caps – PN WPI087172
- 4.120-inch Bore, Nodular Main Caps – PN WPI087082
- 4.120-inch Bore, Billet Main Caps – PN WPI087182
Building upon a race-proven design, the World Products engineers went back to the drawing board to re-engineer the Man O’War block to correct a few issues discovered under severe research and development conditions. The Man O’War can be used in everything from street cars to race cars, and most factory gear fits with no issues. In the few instances where aftermarket gear is required, there are known solutions already in the marketplace.
If staying true to the Blue Oval is your goal, then the Man O’War provides a solid foundation for any engine project, be it 302 or 351-based.