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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 65 currently has a 6-bolt 289 that was rebuilt in 1990 by some small shop (long before I bought the car). A few details about the motor... The heads are 289 heads that the PO said he ported before installing. I'm not sure if they have the thermactor bump... any way to check on that without pulling the heads? The car also has a Performer 289 intake and Edelbrock 600cfm carb. The carb seems like too much... I've spent some time tuning it to fix a surging issue but it still seems like it gets pretty boggy. Over the winter I had the rear main seal replaced. While the pan was off, we looked at the bottom of the motor. My buddy said he thinks the motor is in great shape and he wouldn't hesitate to put heads/cam in the motor if I want more power... which I do. I'm tired of joking around that any SUV can beat my old Mustang... but mostly it's true. Oh yeah, and once lockdown orders are removed, I plan to install headers and a fresh dual exhaust. The current 2" dual exhaust is leaking quite a bit both at the header and at a few other spots.

I'm trying to think through the various engine options for my car... I know there are a million. I really don't want to spend a ton of money right now due to the economy... but I also only like to spend money once. If the best choice is to put in a new motor, then I'll just live with the existing setup until I save up enough. Here are the options that I see so far:
1) Use most of the existing engine but still increase power. Target: 300hp. The existing heads were ported by the PO... keep them on the car. Install a new cam. I don't have a tach in the car yet, but based on the MPH and using a chart I created it seems like the car runs out of steam above 4500rpm. I'd like to spin the motor up to 5500 rpm at least... maybe more if I think I can trust the bottom end. The thing I like about this option is that it seems very cheap in the short term. My hope is that I could do this option for ~$1000. One concern I have is that I know nothing about the pistons... no idea if there is the space to go with a cam with more lift, which seems essential to hit higher hp number with this build. I wish old images still showed up... was really curious of the dyno chart from @22GT from a similar build on this thread.
Cam, timing chain, pushrods, valve springs, etc: ~$500
Roller rockers: $300
Tap heads for screw in studs: $200 (?)

2) Buy AFR 165 heads, a new cam, better intake, carb. Target: 380hp. Sort of costly... seems like around $3000. Quite a lot cheaper than a new blueprint engine, but worried that my existing motor might not take this much power. Also worried about valve/piston interference,

3) Buy a blueprint engines 347 long block for $4800 rated for 415hp/415lb-ft. I'll need intake/carb/distributor of course. Would need to figure out what parts I need to change to convert from the current 6-bolt block over to a roller block. I do see that this motor is 28oz externally balanced, so possibly I could keep the brand new flywheel that was just installed during the T5 conversion. Lots of upsides to this motor... forged pistons, roller cam, aluminum heads. The biggest downside I see is that I would need to store my current 289 somewhere in my garage... and I really don't have the space. I'm also hopeful this motor would last a lot longer than options #1 and #2 since this would be a fresh engine.

Thoughts and opinions are very welcome! I really want power and I am not quite sure which route is best!

Thanks!
Rob
 

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It's easy enough to tell if your heads have the provisions for Thermactor by looking in 2 places (depends on which foundry produced them)... either they'll have Thermactor ports at each end that have threaded plugs installed, or individual Thermactor ports next to each spark plug, also with plugs installed.

As far as your goal of 300 horsepower, provided the bottom end IS solid and doesn't need any work, it is totally do-able and I'd think your budget would allow it. First, unless your timing set is truly worn there's no need to replace it, especially if it's already been replaced with a steel cam sprocket and the chain isn't stretched. If it is, an ordinary Cloyes replacement timing set only runs around fifty bucks for a true roller set. Next, save your money on the rocker arms. Roller rockers AREN'T going to gain you any appreciable horsepower, especially on a motor turning less than 6,000 rpm on a regular basis. Your existing rocker arms and, potentially, rocker studs may be perfectly suitable for your needs. Lastly, your camshaft selection... Take $100 of what you were planning on spending for roller rockers and pay the extra for a custom grind based on your cars specs... weight, gearing, tire size, axle ratio, transmission, engine specs AND how you plan on doing the majority of your driving. If you want "pull" that you can feel in your seat then tell THAT to the cam grinder. If you want only stoplight to stoplight power tell them THAT. They'll determine how to grind the cam to provide the performance you're looking for.... and it's money a lot better spent than on stuff that only gets you a couple of shiny decals.
 

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I’m with Woodchuck/Bart. However plan 2 is what I’d do.

I don’t think you need a new carb or intake. I’d do the heads, new cam, lifters and timing chain. The performer intake, a well tuned 600cfm carb should have you 330-350 hp.
It gets harder to gain power with 289 inches once your over the 1.25 horse per cube ratio. 380hp from a 289 is tough to do on pump gas and keeping the driving civil.

A 347 would make it easy... also more money.
 

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What pistons were used when the engine was rebuilt If you have dished pistons, most aluminum heads have 64+ CC Combustion chambers lowering the CR. I don't know what you're going to have to do to compensate for a lower compression ratio by installing AFR heads, a more aggressive cam, flattop pistons,

On your driver side head feel the back of the head for a hole with a threaded plug in it. If you don't find it the head isn't a thermactor head.I don't think Ford started making Thermactor heads until 1966. If your heads are original to the engine and your engine is a 65 motor most likely you don't have thermactor heads.

Other's will chime in but you can easily get 300 HP out of your 289 with iron rbn. You can verify if your heads were ported by removing one of the exhaust manifolds.

What Woodchuck said and also having your distributor recurved.

I recently read a post by 22GT giving advice about an easy way to get 300+ HP out of a 289. It included the hydraulic version of the Hipo cam, recurved distro, port matched heads, hipo exhaust manifolds and a Summit of Holly 4010 carb. I slept since reading it so I may have mixed up a couple of things
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's easy enough to tell if your heads have the provisions for Thermactor by looking in 2 places (depends on which foundry produced them)... either they'll have Thermactor ports at each end that have threaded plugs installed, or individual Thermactor ports next to each spark plug, also with plugs installed.

As far as your goal of 300 horsepower, provided the bottom end IS solid and doesn't need any work, it is totally do-able and I'd think your budget would allow it. First, unless your timing set is truly worn there's no need to replace it, especially if it's already been replaced with a steel cam sprocket and the chain isn't stretched. If it is, an ordinary Cloyes replacement timing set only runs around fifty bucks for a true roller set. Next, save your money on the rocker arms. Roller rockers AREN'T going to gain you any appreciable horsepower, especially on a motor turning less than 6,000 rpm on a regular basis. Your existing rocker arms and, potentially, rocker studs may be perfectly suitable for your needs. Lastly, your camshaft selection... Take $100 of what you were planning on spending for roller rockers and pay the extra for a custom grind based on your cars specs... weight, gearing, tire size, axle ratio, transmission, engine specs AND how you plan on doing the majority of your driving. If you want "pull" that you can feel in your seat then tell THAT to the cam grinder. If you want only stoplight to stoplight power tell them THAT. They'll determine how to grind the cam to provide the performance you're looking for.... and it's money a lot better spent than on stuff that only gets you a couple of shiny decals.
Dang... I have thermactor ports! Is it worth doing anything with these heads or will they prevent me from hitting 300hp?
751119

751120

I don't know how much anyone can learn from this picture... but here is a photo of my bottom end:
751118


That's really interesting/good to hear about the roller rockers. This would save quite a bit of money if I'm able to retain my stock rocker arms.

What pistons were used when the engine was rebuilt If you have dished pistons, most aluminum heads have 64+ CC Combustion chambers lowering the CR. I don't know what you're going to have to do to compensate for a lower compression ratio by installing AFR heads, a more aggressive cam, flattop pistons,

On your driver side head feel the back of the head for a hole with a threaded plug in it. If you don't find it the head isn't a thermactor head.I don't think Ford started making Thermactor heads until 1966. If your heads are original to the engine and your engine is a 65 motor most likely you don't have thermactor heads.

Other's will chime in but you can easily get 300 HP out of your 289 with iron rbn. You can verify if your heads were ported by removing one of the exhaust manifolds.

What Woodchuck said and also having your distributor recurved.

I recently read a post by 22GT giving advice about an easy way to get 300+ HP out of a 289. It included the hydraulic version of the Hipo cam, recurved distro, port matched heads, hipo exhaust manifolds and a Summit of Holly 4010 carb. I slept since reading it so I may have mixed up a couple of things
I am not sure what pistons were used. I have the receipt, but it just notes the price... $995. I would assume flat top pistons since it clearly was not a performance rebuild. Actually, I heard from the PO that when he bought the car (after that rebuild) that it came with a 302 head and a ported 289 head. He pulled the 302 head, found a matching 289 head, ported it, and it installed it.

How would I know if my current distributor would be worth keeping? I remember 15 years ago I tried adjusting the timing but I couldn't get the distributor to budge... not sure what was going on. I still have the (unused) timing gun on the wall... I'll start asking some of my local buddies if they know anyone that can help recurve a distributor.

Has anyone checked the power difference between the HiPo manifolds and aftermarket headers? I'm still leaning towards headers only because I assume that they make more power than manifolds. Of course the manifolds likely will be trouble-free for longer... so there is that to consider.

I’m with Woodchuck/Bart. However plan 2 is what I’d do.

I don’t think you need a new carb or intake. I’d do the heads, new cam, lifters and timing chain. The performer intake, a well tuned 600cfm carb should have you 330-350 hp.
It gets harder to gain power with 289 inches once your over the 1.25 horse per cube ratio. 380hp from a 289 is tough to do on pump gas and keeping the driving civil.

A 347 would make it easy... also more money.
Do you prefer plan 2 for the extra power? Weight reduction? Long term potential for extra power?

Thanks,
Rob
 

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Dang... I have thermactor ports! Is it worth doing anything with these heads or will they prevent me from hitting 300hp?
View attachment 751119
View attachment 751120
I don't know how much anyone can learn from this picture... but here is a photo of my bottom end:
View attachment 751118

That's really interesting/good to hear about the roller rockers. This would save quite a bit of money if I'm able to retain my stock rocker arms.


I am not sure what pistons were used. I have the receipt, but it just notes the price... $995. I would assume flat top pistons since it clearly was not a performance rebuild. Actually, I heard from the PO that when he bought the car (after that rebuild) that it came with a 302 head and a ported 289 head. He pulled the 302 head, found a matching 289 head, ported it, and it installed it.

How would I know if my current distributor would be worth keeping? I remember 15 years ago I tried adjusting the timing but I couldn't get the distributor to budge... not sure what was going on. I still have the (unused) timing gun on the wall... I'll start asking some of my local buddies if they know anyone that can help recurve a distributor.

Has anyone checked the power difference between the HiPo manifolds and aftermarket headers? I'm still leaning towards headers only because I assume that they make more power than manifolds. Of course the manifolds likely will be trouble-free for longer... so there is that to consider.


Do you prefer plan 2 for the extra power? Weight reduction? Long term potential for extra power?

Thanks,
Rob
I think it’s better use of your money. I don’t think your intake and carb are the bottleneck. I think compression, cam and heads are.
 

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Dang... I have thermactor ports! Is it worth doing anything with these heads or will they prevent me from hitting 300hp?
View attachment 751119
View attachment 751120
I don't know how much anyone can learn from this picture... but here is a photo of my bottom end:
View attachment 751118

That's really interesting/good to hear about the roller rockers. This would save quite a bit of money if I'm able to retain my stock rocker arms.


I am not sure what pistons were used. I have the receipt, but it just notes the price... $995. I would assume flat top pistons since it clearly was not a performance rebuild. Actually, I heard from the PO that when he bought the car (after that rebuild) that it came with a 302 head and a ported 289 head. He pulled the 302 head, found a matching 289 head, ported it, and it installed it.

How would I know if my current distributor would be worth keeping? I remember 15 years ago I tried adjusting the timing but I couldn't get the distributor to budge... not sure what was going on. I still have the (unused) timing gun on the wall... I'll start asking some of my local buddies if they know anyone that can help recurve a distributor.

Has anyone checked the power difference between the HiPo manifolds and aftermarket headers? I'm still leaning towards headers only because I assume that they make more power than manifolds. Of course the manifolds likely will be trouble-free for longer... so there is that to consider.


Do you prefer plan 2 for the extra power? Weight reduction? Long term potential for extra power?

Thanks,
Rob
send the distributor to the Mustang Barn. They recurve it and get it back in a few days. They do great work.

The Mustang Barn
 
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380hp out of a stock stroke 289? I'm not too sure about that one... Unfortunately the cheapest way of going about doing it is usually buying a crate motor or one that's already been assembled for you. If going the crate motor route, I'd go with something like this for $5095 as it's definitely more turnkey than the blueprint engine you're referring to. You can also spend some more and have it be a full roller and get better aluminum heads if you so desire.

 

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As for the bogging I’ve got a 600 CFM Holley 4160 on a 68 stocker 302. I did need to retune it a bit. Otherwise runs great. The key is often I learned to change out the accelerator pump nozzle ‘squirter’ at the top if the carb. There can be much more involved such as setting the accelerator pump arm clearance or moving your cam setting around. But in my case I went from a tiny crappy intake to an F4B type repro with HUGE intake runners. It needs a bigger shot of gas when getting stomped on from idle. I Especially when the weather warms up. Lots of good vids covering these things and more. At least from Holley anyhow. Nozzle took me 5 minutes to change. Even easier than adjusting idle jets ? my OE nozzle was a 31 I’m buying a 28 and a 34 for various weather.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
380hp out of a stock stroke 289? I'm not too sure about that one... Unfortunately the cheapest way of going about doing it is usually buying a crate motor or one that's already been assembled for you. If going the crate motor route, I'd go with something like this for $5095 as it's definitely more turnkey than the blueprint engine you're referring to. You can also spend some more and have it be a full roller and get better aluminum heads if you so desire.

I know airflow/power don’t work this way... I came up with that number by looking at how the 306 from the Sept 2003 MM&FF article did with the older style of AFR 165 heads. It was able to do 396hp. 396hp/306*289=374hp. I do agree... perhaps I should have said a target of 365hp. Even that is optimistic considering how many other variables are stacked against my little 289... non-roller... compression ratio... Im sure there are others. That said, since that article AFR has improved the springs and has upgraded to the Renegade head that is supposed to flow even better.

How many people here have used tristar engines? I’m not familiar with them. Do they have a good reputation?
 

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He said the target is 300 HP. That's very doable.

I'm confused. I don't see any thermactor ports on the heads. (??)

Dude, low budget and big horsepower simply don't go together. Since you're on a budget, I would suggest making the best with most of what you have. Sounds to me like you just need a good tune. Sure, install a good cam. Then, as mentioned, send your distributor to Dan at Mustang Barn to have it calibrated to match the cam. He'll tell you where to set the timing.

What rear gear are you currently running? If it's a 3.00 or anything smaller, install a bigger gear: 3.55, 3.70 or even a 3.90. That will make your car a LOT more zippy. And, if you want to build a monster motor later when you have a bigger budget, you'll have that bigger rear gear ready for it.

My take is focus on what makes your car fun for you. And a well-tuned 289 is a lot of fun! Don't worry about horsepower numbers or if you think an SUV can beat you. You're in a cool car having fun and the SUV driver is rushing to pick up or drop off kids.
 

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One of your options was to buy AFR heads. I'd go with 185's at least. It it were me i'd stroke to 347 and get the 185's and go with a good cam that you feel comfortable with. The cam is the personality of the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
He said the target is 300 HP. That's very doable.

I'm confused. I don't see any thermactor ports on the heads. (??)

Dude, low budget and big horsepower simply don't go together. Since you're on a budget, I would suggest making the best with most of what you have. Sounds to me like you just need a good tune. Sure, install a good cam. Then, as mentioned, send your distributor to Dan at Mustang Barn to have it calibrated to match the cam. He'll tell you where to set the timing.

What rear gear are you currently running? If it's a 3.00 or anything smaller, install a bigger gear: 3.55, 3.70 or even a 3.90. That will make your car a LOT more zippy. And, if you want to build a monster motor later when you have a bigger budget, you'll have that bigger rear gear ready for it.

My take is focus on what makes your car fun for you. And a well-tuned 289 is a lot of fun! Don't worry about horsepower numbers or if you think an SUV can beat you. You're in a cool car having fun and the SUV driver is rushing to pick up or drop off kids.
Maybe I was wrong. I thought the larger plug beneath the alternator mounting point in the picture was what we were looking for. I think I'm still unclear what to look for. I found a few pictures that show the thermactor port going through the exhaust manifold. I checked mine and I definitely do not have that eye sore... but Bart mentioned you have to check both ends as well as near the exhaust ports. Does anyone have a photo of the port at the ends so that I can see what to look for? Here is a photo that shows the manifold:
751154


Recently I upgraded to a T5, eaton truetrac, and 3.80 rear gears. It definitely is quicker now, but definitely not yet where I want power to be. I know how this game goes... I'll be happy with the power at 300hp and then I'll want 350... and 400... but you have to start somewhere: ) You are right: These are cool cars and that is half the fun of being in them.

Thanks!
Rob
 

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Dude, just read you initial post again. I'd just chill out and give your car a hug. There are too many things wrong with what you are saying to even make sense of anything.I'd for sure ask around. I had an engine built recently by a local guy and learned so much picking out parts/etc. I don't know where you live, but here in Spokane we have a Mustang guru. "Andy". There must be one around you too. Just ask around. He or she will set you up.
 

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If the PO had the heads ported, most likely the thermactor bumps were removed. At least I hope they were removed!
 

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Here is the formula posted by 22GT for getting 300+ HP out of a 289 without breaking the bank/


I usually advise a simple recipe for increased power, very effective, and easy on the wallet. Recently, a fellow near here not only took my advice to the letter, he had the engine dyno'ed when it was done.

67 289 2V. Upgrades:

• C9OZ-6250-C hydraulic "HiPo" camshaft.
• Screw-in studs
• Port-matched heads link: 289/302 Cylinder Head Port Matching
• Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold (or Cobra)
• Edelbrock 600 cfm carb (a Summit 600 would cost about $40 less)
• Stock distributor recurved to BOSS 302 spec.
• 289HP air cleaner

Notice the lack of exotic ignition and other groovy stuff you see at cruise night. It's not cost effective. He saved money by port-matching the heads himself (I did one, he did the other 7)

Results? A smooth-as-stock engine that gets 323 hp @ 5300 rpm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
send the distributor to the Mustang Barn. They recurve it and get it back in a few days. They do great work.

The Mustang Barn
Thanks for the direct link, Flade! I'll try to call them on Monday to check into their current timeline. Also need to see if I can get the distributor out this time... it was stuck the last time I checked (15 years ago).
 

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He said the target is 300 HP. That's very doable.
I was referring to option #2 that he listed in his first post. 380hp out of a stock stroke 289, while doable, is going to cost a few pennies more than the other options out there.

Dude, low budget and big horsepower simply don't go together.
His 3rd option in the first post is talking about possibly buying a crate motor for $5k. While that's not a ton of money, it's also not what most people likely carry around in their pockets on a daily basis. It sounds like he's wanting something with more horsepower than stock and while also not breaking the bank. There's no reason why one can't get a decently performing motor with a decent amount of power without breaking the bank. Lots of engine companies out there charge way more for an engine than what it's worth and what been put into it in terms of parts and labor. Tristar and others like Creb Engineering seem to be about the best "bang for your buck" that I've seen in recent years.

To the OP, I'd do it once and do it right. If you think you want more power and aren't content with what you have, I think it's better to buy a little more and be satisfied with your car than to buy less or go cheap and then be disappointed. Here are a couple of options I've seen in your price range but have higher hp numbers and are more complete.


 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If the PO had the heads ported, most likely the thermactor bumps were removed. At least I hope they were removed!
Sure hope so... although I'm still unsure if I have thermactor ports. I'll be out there shortly trying to feel around on the heads further to see if I can find a thermactor port.
 
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