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1. Intake manifold - I don't have experience w/the Ford 4-bbl manifold. There might be hood clearance issues w/the Air Gap RPM. I haven't read about any noticeable difference between the RPM and Air Gap.

2. Carb - A 600 cfm should be sufficient for a five-oh engine.

3. Headers - I heard/read the same thing about full-length headers. I wanted to avoid ground clearance issues and bought Sanderson headers (P/N FF3). Can't comment on collector size difference.

4. Heads - I bought AFR 165s purchased based on HoosierBuddy's results and positive reviews in five-oh magazines like 5.0 and MM & FF. According to dyno tests, the AFR 185s are better suited for strokers. IIRC HoosierBuddy cited the selection of the combustion chamber size is important.

5. 28-oz imbalance - Did the machine shop rebalance the engine?

My engine has a similar combination (AFR 165s, Performer RPM intake, Sanderson headers, etc). I'll read your future posts w/great interest. Good luck.

I'm always learning so correct any goofs or misconceptions in my post.
 
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