The Build

Below will begin the build process, starting with the engine arriving in San Diego. I had previously ordered my Shelby - I knew that would take many months (more) for the car to be built and delivered - in the meantime, I had made my engine choice - the magic ingredient.  Please see here for a short history of how I came to possess this engine:  History of the 427 FE SOHC Engine

A crate shows up February 2, 2005. Not sure if I can put words to the anxiety and excitement that had been building up to this day!
 
 
Took all the screws off and indeed, there was a Cammer motor in there.
 
 
Uncrated. The king in all his glory, with patina. Ford power, yessirree.
 
 
So I sat down with a notebook and began documenting what I found. I intended to pull the valve covers, intake, and oil pan - to get a look at what I had. I took my time. I began by pulling the plugs - Accel 143s. As you can see, they are dark and moist. The motor had been run at least once.
 
 
Now that the plugs are free you can remove the copper plug tubes. What I saw next took my breath away - actually had to sit down - and just stared. Forty years, and there she is - NEW. Yes, that's how the motor was portrayed to me at time of purchase - but to actually see it for the first time....WOW!
 
 
 
A closer look at the valve train.
 
 

This is a real good shot of the timing chain tensioner bolt.  Turn it in to take up slack.  13/16" if memory serves.  I adjusted the chain one time in three years.
 
 
Note the  8-Gamma sand casting. And cam degree markings.
 
 
And now with the intake removed. Surface rust on the intake ports, but still clean as a whistle.
 
Looking at the cylinders. Found small amount of surface rust in cylinders. Small amount. Two cylinders had slightly more rust--the tape covering the exhaust ports had loosened on those two. Leak down tests showed good numbers, with slightly greater loss on those two cylinders.  Underside of intake manifold; truly light as a feather. 
 
 
 
 
 
Pulled the oil pan to examine bottom-end. Note the C3AE part number on the caps. Factory OEM part.
 
 
Next process would be to examine the cylinders. As I have noted, the former owner of the engine went through the motor in 1992 and opted for Venolia pistons and Carrillo rods. All things considered, I would say a wise choice. I would choose to replace the valve springs and intake and exhaust valves later - when I went through the short block. Earl Wade (Mr. Cammer) would assist in that process - to be performed and documented later.
 
 
 
The pistons. Note cross-hatch marks on cylinder.
 
 
 
I called it a day. Well, I did one more thing. Hand-rotated the crank. YES - it turned freely. That is the extent of wanted I wanted to accomplish in this phase. Verify and document - a cursory look, but I would plan to go through the short block in great detail soon. Almost forgot: it would be smart to replace all the valve springs with new Crower springs (130/350), which we did.

As well, I set in motion the process where Shelby Automobiles would finish the car in Las Vegas. As I mentioned, I was the QA inspector for Gary Davis and Gary Patterson at Shelby - for the Cobra program for a total of three and one-half years. Starting with the manufacturing plant in Tijuana where HST produced the Series 4000 CSX cars. And later, for the cars produced in South Africa at High-Tech. Shelby and I signed a consulting agreement and we laid out what work was to be performed on the car. Basically, I worked for free until I "earned" enough dollars to pay for the modifications - after that I was compensated in a normal fashion. This work is an interesting story in and of itself - maybe I'll post another blog on that. I do know, I have the most extensive records of about 80 CSX Cobras - approximately 9000 photos of the build cycle for each car.

To get on with the story, I took the engine home to my garage. My plan was to go through the top-end only and then bring the engine over to the house of noted SOHC engine builder, Butch Englebrecht where he would go through the short block. We would balance the engine and ensure all was well.

So a few shots from home, cleaning the engine - couldn't resist, and going through the top-end.
 
 
 
I couldn't stop there. Those Magnesium valve covers needed attention. Just to hold these in my hands and work on them.... They are powder-coated Ford Blue. Note the attention to detail by the original "painter". Especially like the darker Ford Blue for the logo.... and the unfinished ribs...
 
 
 
Begin tearing down the top-end. I started at the back (10) and worked my way toward the front loosening all the caps a slight amount and progressively more.  Eventually I was brave enough to start removing all the bolts as I was working my way down. Here, they are all loose and the spring tension wasn'r really pushing the shafts up too much. At this point I figured I was safe.
 
 
Nearly there--all bolts are backed out.
 
 
Almost all bolts out and nothing bad happened.
 
 
Number 10 cap goes in its cup.
 
 
 
All the caps are now unbolted and I pick up the upper rocker shaft. I wanted to just slide the rocker arm off in this case and then go examine it on the bench before I pulled the whole shooting match apart.
 
 
First rocker arm lands on the bench. Thought I woulf take a good look before removing the rest. Note snap-ring that secures rocker to axle.
 
 
These are the 17 needle bearings. Rather than just swab some grease in there, I separated the bearings for every rocker.
 
 
I started off applying the grease while the bearings were in a paper towel. Eventually I got better at it and greased them in the palm of my hand.
 
 
Rounded them all up and back into the roller. The dental pick proved invaluable as an arranger.
 
 
Bearings greased and roller ready to go back in rocker.
 
 
At this point I was comfortable enough to pull the shafts and separate all the rockers from the shafts. First two finished go in their cup.
 
 
First shaft lands on the bench.
 
 
Bare shaft.
 
 
Both shaft removed from head.
 
 
Note the orienting dowel for the upper rocker. At the opposite end is the oiling hole from the head which feeds oil down the shaft to each of the rockers.
 
 
It is reversed for the bottom shaft.
 
 
Have finished the 8 rockers for this side and preparing to install the shafts.
 
 
Starting to apply grease to all the surfaces, including cam lobes.
 
 
OK, here I have the assembled shafts back in place. It was a bit difficult to get the shafts to seat all the way due to valve spring pressure. Had to very carefully tighten caps at each end just a little to make sure the shafts were oriented on the holes correctly. From there, just gradually tightened all the caps down little by little.
 
 
Clean cam bearing surface and lube.
 
 
Back together. This concluded Saturday's operation. Sunday, I would do the other side. Very glad I did this. Two of the snap-rings broke during disassembly. Drove over to Butch's to get another set - peace of mind.
 
 
The aftermath.
 
 
I spent a little time torqueing the cam shaft/rocker shaft caps, spark plugs, valve covers, intake in preparation for sending the motor to Las Vegas in preparation for fitting it to my car. I would be bringing it to HST San Diego to load it on the Shelby car carrier. So at this point, a several months have rolled forward and my car, CSX4786 is finished at the factory and ready for me to inspect and sign-off on. Things are starting to come together: the motor and my car are going to Las Vegas on the Shelby car carrier. Once my car was complete, it would be delivered back to me in San Diego and that's when we would go through the short block.
I also did a little more cleaning to send it off in good fashion  The motor actually sat on display at Shelby headquarters during its time there.  The finished product. Pretty damn impressive.
 
 
So, end of August I signed off on my car - at the factory. Quick jacks would be back to black - was curious what unfinished would look like.
 
 
I picked out a license plate and registered the car with an SB-100 number (one of 500 each year in CA - for smog exemption purposes).
 
 
Yeah so things are moving along. Work to fit the engine will commence at Shelby - I will show some shots of that work and then the car returns to San Diego so we can get on with firing it up. All of this would take longer than I hoped.
Building the custom headers. Motor dropped in and lining up the headers. Check out the stoutness of those exhaust header flanges - Butch donated these. Foot box cuts kind of roughed out.
 
 
Embedded image, on Photobucket
 
And the other side which was a bit trickier. You can't really see it but tubes 8 and 7 swap around on the back side. This was critical to getting nice sweeping arcs.
 
 
Here is what the passenger side foot box wound up looking like.
 
And the driver's side. Pretty good-sized cuts to give the cylinder heads clearance. Bracket in indent is for throttle cable attachment.  And this frame strut will hold the heim-joint which will mount the steering shaft.
 
 
Here's what it looks like from the inside. Surprisingly, the pedals all line up pretty decent. Didn't have much difficulty on the brake to gas transition, feetwise.
 
 
Shelby hand-fabricated all the tin panels in the engine compartment - see pictures below. This one, the passenger side is alll one piece with recess for cylinder head and in lower left corner is clearance for header tube. The engine has been in and out multiple times at this point. In right now.
 
 
Tin panels hand-formed the old-school way. This is another unique attribute of this car.
 
 
 
Carpet back in.
 
Seats just laying in there - I would choose to mount the seat fixed to the chassis - ditch the sliding rails to lower the seat by 1 1/2" - to give a more comfortable driving position. Starting to look normal again.
 
 
Last shot of the work done in Las Vegas. All the credit goes to the outstanding Shelby employees who took on this project with gusto and in the end, due to their innovative engineering know-how, made the SOHC motor look like it belongs in CSX4786. The big fellow in the right rear is Gary Davis, VP of R&D and Engineering.
 
 
Okay fast forward in time to July 2006. Car is back in San Diego at Butch's house - ready to go through the motor. Here's what she looked like at that point in time. Oh yeah, Carroll had signed the timing chain cover in las Vegas.
 
 
And here's Butch hosing down the driveway. Did I mention he is a rather German fellow?
 
 
Car coming off the Shelby Trailer.
 
 
Car is in the garage. Protective wrap from Shelby still on.
 
 
Butch is a Cammer expert - as witnessed by a quick tour of his garage. A few cylinder heads laying around.
 
 
One cammer engine in the foreground with boom box used to play German marching tunes. There is also a second cammer engine back there. If any of you have ever seen the book Ford Drag Racing in the 60's, the Performance Years; it has a photo of Connie Kalitta driving a rail with a blown cammer around 1967. This is that engine - the one in the rear.
 
 
More cammer engines and assorted parts.
 
 
The garage continues deeper, back under the house. What's this back here?
 
 
CSX2297, unrestored. Parked since the 70's. Butch and I have this running argument; he says this is Guardsman blue. I believe the registry calls this car Bright blue w/ red interior.
 
Okay, I have been spending time under the car. I have it on jackstands and can slide from one end of the car to the other. Not the best way to work; but it will have to do.
 
Now that the car is here with engine it is time to put some ideas in motion.  Ideas that will yield how to plumb the cooling system.  Where to put the fluid cans.  In general to see how and where things would fit.  In other words, test-fit and place the various running gear components.  It's not like there is a blueprint to fit this engine in this car.  I learned as I went along.  I did not settle for anything though - it was a painstaking design effort to to put every component in a place that gave a nice, clean look.  Ideas that made something look like an afterthought were discarded.  Suffice to say I spent a lot of time in this phase - tried and tried until I had every accessory in the ideal location.  This portion of the project would take a long, long time.  That was OK; after I had test-fitted the various components, the motor would come out, be disassembled and Butch would go through the short block.  This is where Earl Wade came by to lend his two cents. 
 
It was decided to send the short block out for balance.  All the main bearnings and rod bearings were replaced.  When the engine came back, the crank, rods and pistons - entire reciprocating mass was in perfect balance.  The crank was checked for trueness.  This felt like the right care for a motor of this value.  It seemed silly to do anything less and I wanted miles of trouble-free motoring.  Basically the engine was rebuilt again.  New Manley valves were used.  It was during this time that Butch measured the CR using a burette - for each combustion chamber.  12.5:1 - the standard crate motor spec.  We could have used up to .120 head gaskets to tone down the compression ratio.  In the end, I decided to keep the CR near 12.5:1 - we replaced the old-style steel-shim head gaskets with new ones - slightly thicker than stock.  So, CR is about 12:1.  I would not dishonor what the Ford engineers came up with for this engine.  I wanted it to sound and run like it came from the factory - toning it down, would be a sin in my estimation.  So, yes, CSX4786 runs a 50/50 mix of leaded 110 race gas and pump gas. 
 
Here's a shot of the long block on the engine stand awaiting tear down.
 
 
Butch put the motor back together and spent three days ensuring the cam(s) timing was correct.  In the meantime, I am ordering the parts I need in anticpation of fitting them in the near future.  Mini-starter and so on.
 
Back to fitting the running gear and fabrication.
 
First project: checking alignment of bellhousing. Somewhat difficult with an aluminum flywheel. The magnetic base dial indicator obviously is not going to stick to aluminum. Here's looking up at the flywheel from underneath the car. The bracket will bolt into one of the flywheel holes and then extends the dial indicator outwards. I did eventually get it just right - but not easy working under the car with one arm rotating the crank with a breaker bar. Talk about contortions.
 
We have been trying to design a clean-looking water plumbing setup. Unlike a traditional FE, with the side-facing intake port, you have a top-facing port. You can see a test hard pipe in this picture. I will do either one of two things.  The hard pipe in the picture is just for measuring; I will come up with something nicer-looking. But basically, we can fab a custom pipe that rises straight up and incorporates a small reservoir with fill cap at the high point and then plumb out the other side to go to the radiator outlet. I really believe I am going to cut the top outlet off the radiator and move it to the other side (passenger) so I am not coming back all the way across the front of the engine. And this is what we did - it wound up making for a much cleaner-looking engine compartment - we would not have a hose running across the front of the engine compartment to get to the other side of the radiator - I felt it would detract from the otherwise clean-looking engine compartment. This called for fabricating a custom aluminum resevoir tank.
 
 
I got real good at taking the engine in and out by myself. There is a trick to it. The valve covers must be off and then it is a straight shot in and out - with a 1/4" clearance on each side.
 
 
In this shot you can see the water temp sensor is in, the remote oil filter adapter in place and starting to plumb the oil lines, and an old carb mounted so I can check the clearance to the hood with an air filter on and begin fabricating the throttle cable arrangement.
 
 
Distributor out and starting to wire the ignition system.
 
 
Swing back to the chassis and the driveshaft now in place, mated to the Tremec TK II Road Race box with .82 fifth gear. Also bought gel batteries, plain black - no unsightly red batteries.
 
 
The alternator goes in - note the Cammer-specific mounting bracket that Butch got. Again, I tried to really think through at this stage where all the various running gear would go - with one goal in mind - do not clutter the engine compartment.  When you open the hood, your eyes should just be drawn straight to the engine and not have to look at anything obstructing the view.
 
 
Got the sidepipes mounted to the headers on the passenger side - a very nice fit.
 
 
A close-up of the motor sitting down in the foot box cutout. I would find out later that the engine did indeed sit nice and low in the chassis - no taller than a standard 427. At one point i was worried about this - whether the SOHC intake manifold would be taller than a standard medium or high-riser intake - it is not. Air cleaner clearance would not be a problem.
 
 
Throttle cable connected to pedal.
 

Pulley and belt on.
 
 
 
Here is the machined aluminum block thermostat housing.  After much thought, measuring and test-fitting, we had come up with the layout of the cooling system.  It consisted of a custom-fabricated aluminum reservoir tank, -10 AN line for the upper radiator hose, relatively standard lower hose arrangement, and modify the radiator to switch the inlet over to the passenger side.  The radiator modification was critical in keeping a clean look - not having a hose running across the engine compartment in front of the engine.  This way your eye is drawn straight to the magnificent motor.
 
 
Here's the custom reservoir.  There is a reason the can is unfinished - I knew the look I was after - it would rely on brushed-aluminum finishes, NOT a lot of chrome and more than anythng a rather monochromatic them.  None of this will be apparent now - but it will be later.  You can see the lower radiator hose in the background.

 
 
The can would sit nicely down here.  At this point it would fit - next step would be to cut the holes in the tank for the hose ends.  But you get the idea - rise up and over the timing chain cover into the tank and out the other side, a straight shot to the radiator.
 
 
The radiator modification.


 Inlet AN Bung welded into the can and the hole marked for the same, out to the radiator.
 
 
The -AN fitting welded into the thermostat housing.  Test fuel rail setup in place.  The Earl's red and blue theme would NOT stay.
 
 
Here would be the short hose to the radiator.  Butch insisted on using red/blue fittings.  I would replace them later.
 

A lot of thought went into the flow of distilled water through the cooling system.  This insert for the lower hose is designed to match the ID of the -10 AN upper hose.  In the end, it turned out to be a perfect design.  I did have initially concerns about the smallish diameter of the hoses, but the proof would be in the thermal characteristics of the running vehicle.  Water temp is 78 C all day long - and the oil temp is nearly identical at 78 C.  I call this a big win; I have sat in traffic in this car - and it will not overheat.


Starting to look like a car.  I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.  Fuel regulator in and oil lines plumbed.
 

This is one of the Shelby-engineering touches.  What to do with the steering shaft, as it must be located further outboard due to the wideness of the engine.  It is secured to the frame strut with a Heim-joint brace.  Another small touch, coupled with many others that let the motor sit down in the chassis and contributed to the clean design.
 

Block adapter for remote filter - with oil lines secured and you can see the oil pressure and oil temperature lines hooked up as well.
 

In the home stretch.  Old-school Ford coil attached - the mounts on the timing chain cover for the fuel filter canister setup worked perfectly for this purpose.  Distributor is in and so it the oil dip stick.  Timing chain inspection cover is off - this is how and where you adjust the timing chain for proper tension.  Proper tension is 1/2" to 3/4" of slack - measured by averaging several "feels" as you rotate the engine and thus the chain to take your measurement.  In other words, the slack will vary at different points in the firing order.
 

Getting it ready to run.  Cooling system largely in place, distributor in and electronics in, radiator puller fan attached and fuel rail setup in place.  It wouldn't be long now.
 
 
At this point, I decided to move the car to a shop owned by two friends of mine.  Dave and Skip are the principals and we had discussed how to go through firing the beast for the first time.  The shop is Turin International in Escondido, CA.  These gentlemen had long experience in bringing these types of projects to life.  So, it was go over some last few details and set the date for first fire-up.  Here is that day, January 16th, 2008.  I suppose it would be natural to be nervous here - I think you can see that.  I am mainly focused on the oil pressure gauge and to a lesser degree, the water temperature gauge.  The oil pressure I knew would be high at start-up.  I talked to Doug at Precision Pump Builders, who provided the pump and to Butch on what I should expect.  The comment was it will be about 100 lbs. of pressure at start-up - that was expected based on the springs and shims used, BUT the most important thing was what the pressure would be hot - at idle.  Close to 50 pounds is what we were shooting for.  In other words, to give proper lubrication to the top-end, we wanted nearly fifty pounds at hot idle.  True to form at start-up, the Shelby gauge read 100 lbs. of pressure.  It would settle down to a nice fifty or so pounds after warm-up.  Remember, this is a brand new motor, fired for the first time.  After idling for ten minutes the water temperature crept up to 100c, but that was to be expected; timing was "by ear" and the motor was tight.  As I have mentioned, the current day running water temp is 78c and the running oil temp is 78c.  And as far as the oil pressure, it is the same today; gauge hits a hundred pounds at start-up, I let it idle for ten minutes to let the pressure come down and the oil temp come up; then I set out.  Going down the road, the oil pressure is about 70 lbs, and at idle is just under 50.  Just right.

Cammer First Start


Here is a shot of the gauge read-outs.  It runs!  Fuel pressure about 6 Lbs and a beautiful idle at 1000 RPM.  To this day, the motor idles perfectly at 1000 and turns off immediately when you turn the key off.  Note water temp has crept up - and oil temp is low.
 

I was absolutely thrilled at the end of this session.  The motor just sounded flat-out nasty - and it was so responsive - as you can see in the video.  Didn't have any leaks and we ran it long enough that you could just tell - it wanted to run - and run it did - it would fire up by just turning the ignition key - no gas required.  And it just settled down to an awesome idle - quite lopey, but exactly what you would expect to hear - and more.  I couldn't wait to drive it.  To say I got an impression of the power at hand this day would be an understatement.  The Shelby sidepipes are not restrictive and that is part of it, but man, I am telling you - for certain, you got an idea of the amount of power at hand just by running the throttle up to 3000 RPM.  Yes, the car is loud - exactly what I was after.

Okay, I made some adjustments to the clutch slave cylinder to get good pedal feel.  Note, there are very few crappy installed Shelby parts, but the clutch slave cylinder is one. I replaced with a quality CNC product and adjusted it exactly one time - the first time.  Has been trouble-free ever since.  Noticed that the rear main seal leaked - oh well - I decided to live with it.  Otherwise gave the car a sound going-over in preparation for its maiden voyage.  Ensured the fasteners were tight, added some race gas and I would be ready to go.  My ride to my house would be 25 miles.  Before I set out, I rode around the shop's industrial park neighborhood.  All seemed well; I was ready to go.

I jumped on the 15 Freeway south - got a few funny looks because the wrap was still on the car, but quite a few thumbs-up.  Thermostat was opened and it was now I could see what the operating water temperature would be - 78c.  Also noticed that the oil temp as it gradually came up mirrored the water temp.  Just an incredible amount of torque - that was clear right away.  Didn't rev it that high - was still breaking in the motor as far as I was concerned.  I did notice I got break-up at around 3000 rpm.  Wasn't clear whether it was fuel or ignition.  Filed that away for future use.  But I kept it under 3000 RPM and it did just beautifully on the 25-mile ride home.  Here it is. in MY garage for the first time.
 

This portion of the journey is complete.  The car sits in my garage.
 
However, there would be a number of things I wanted to change to make the car look over-the-top - and that I would do over the next several months.  Plus I suspected that something was off in the fuel delivery and/or ignition system because I had break-up above 3000 RPM.  It would turn out to be both.  So, if you are interested, read on, because that part is how the car came to be the car it is today - where I focused on every last detail to get it just right.
 
Actually, I had a deadline.  It was my intent that The Coming Out party for 4786 would be the annual Fabulous Fords event in Buena Park, CA  - I had to be done by mid-April.  So I began in earnest in February - to go through the car and have it ready for the show - but done right.
 
Going in chronological order, the first item was a necessity.  I broke the throttle pedal bracket on the maiden voyage home.  Don't ask me how.  You can see the original piece was cast aluminum.  I had a friend machine a new piece for me - out of a block of aluminum.  Much stronger.  Put it in once along with adjusting the throttle cable and never had to do it again.


Installed.
 
 
Bought these Taylor 9 mm wires that worked great for the purpose.  The spark plug end is already fabricated to fit SOHC motors.  I had to cut each wire to the right length and make the distributor connection.  Crimp tool and one wire.
 
 
Sliding the Cammer-specific boot down the wire - this seals the copper tube opening.
 

Making the distributor end connection.


The wires in - even though it does not look like it, they are cut to the proper length--each wire.  I would focus on wire routing/management later.  As you can see the engine compartment looks roughly the same - many more things would have to change to get the look I wanted.  For instance, the air cleaner, the Earl's AN fittings, the carburetor, do something with the red bell housing and red distributor cap.  


Got all the wires routed to the distributor.  Set my #1 at 12 o'clock and went from there.  The idea being to have nice straight lines leading in to each side of the cap.


Got the car up in the air so I could rotate the engine over by hand so as to check the initial timing on the pointer and then the next shot is starting to go through the ignition system.  Ensure that all the wiring is correct - remember, I had that break-up above 3000 RPM.  And I would start to introduce mesh covers over as many electronic wires as I could.



This is the opening I would have to look through to check the pointer on the timing degree marks.


Pulled the rotor off and began going through the workings of the distributor - checked the advance and so forth.  I started to become suspicious of this distributor - a Mallory Unilite.  I even went so far as to have the curve set on a machine.  I wanted all the advance in by 2500 RPM, initial set at 10 and total at 32 degrees.  These numbers (initial and total) might seem a tad conservative compared to a normal FE, but it really is what is recommended for Cammer engines.  The black mark on the housing is where the rotor should point when #1 piston is at TDC.  


I used this wooden dowel across the hood to check piston travel via the coat hanger to TDC.  After double-checking that I had #1 at TDC on the compression stroke (real easy to feel the compression - it would about blow your thumb off the spark plug hole) and going through the distributor advance mechanism and even curving it on a machine, I realized I would be better served by buying a proper distributor.  The Unilite relies on a shutter wheel blocking (or not) an optical beam and it was not up to the performance level inherent in this engine.  I believe it "wobbled" at speed, putting the timing all over the map.  I set out to find a modern-style magnetic-triggered distributor.  The MSD was the obvious choice.  Guess what?  It would not fit.  It is an oversize housing distributor and the problem came when you wanted to rotate the housing to advance or retard the timing - I could only get about a 20 degree sweep before I hit either the timing chain cover or the water temp sensor.  No way to make it work, plus I did not like how it looked - too big.  It turns out Mallory does make a magnetic-triggered distributor for the FE and it was of a standard size - so I could paint it black and it would look like an old-school distributor.  You can see below, #1 is at TDC and the rotor points to the black mark I made on the distributor housing. 


Here is how you read the timing - for initial and pointing a timing light through here gives a good reading.  It was here that I realized the distributor was not working properly - it had a tendency to advance the timing the 22 degrees I wanted, but not return it back properly.


The distributor disassembled.  I would encounter a problem with the hold-down bracket - it would not hold the distributor securely, thus allowing the timing to retard.  A short ride up and down the street bore this out.  I will say I tried a number of after-market clamps and none really worked right.  In the end, a standard Ford 460 clamp worked perfectly.  It was robust enough to tighten securely without flexing.  Speaking of that, it is very nice to have an old-school 1/2" distributor wrench to reach the hold-down nut - or a 1/2" wobble socket.  This solved that problem.  I never had to move the distributor again - it kept locked down at 10 degrees initial.  I also experimented with coils at this point and you can see an after-market coil in at this point.  This would be another lesson I learned.  The coil you want has no resistance built-in.  The Shelby ignition wiring includes a 1.3 ohm resistance ballast built in.  I eventually found the coil I wanted - no resistance and I scotch-brited it to give an unfinished look consistent with the look I was trying to achieve with all the running gear.   I'll come back to the final distributor solution in a bit - I am recounting the narrative and photos in chronological order. 



I would spend some time to get the alternator properly-secured.  It left Butch's house with a temporary solution.  I went to the hardware store and got the hardest bolt I could find in the desired length.  I forget how long it was, but it has never needed tightening since then.  The problem as you can see is that the frame shock mount is right up against the bolt - leaving little room to insert the bolt.  


At the same time I began dialing-in the carburetor.  I would discover the temporary carb that Butch gave needed to be rebuilt.  Rather than rebuilding it, I gave it back and chose to buy a new one.  It had to be an old-school Holley for the right look and mechanical secondaries would be the ticket for performance.  I settled on an 850 Double-Pumper.  I found it easy to dial-in.  Ran the four post screws all the way in and backed out one turn for a starting point - this was actually pretty close.  I hooked up a vacuum gauge to set the post screws and see if I would change power valves.  Yes, I would change them - you'll see why in a minute.
New 850 DP mounted with nickel-plated AN fittings.  I would get a nifty AN reducer that would take the -8 fuel line to the -6 fuel rail.  THis was the first time I could see that the "unfinished" look throughout was going to work very well.



Okay, the pedal end of the throttle cable secured again.


And the carb linkage end secured.  


Now I could run the car again and fine tune the carb.  Vacuum gauge reveals a whopping 4.5" of manifold vacuum.  This gives you a real clue as to the performance at hand.  This baby is all performance - power brakes and steering would not work.  Seems like a good match - the engine to this car.


Installing the 3.5 power valves.


Next up, I would spend time on tightening the valve covers.  All that is need is a 1/4" drive socket, extension and swivel-socket - pretty easy - this is probably the most difficult; the rear driver's side.  Sorry for the lousy photo, but you get the idea.  The other side is easy.


I bought a variety of sizes of meshed wire cover - again to give a clean monochromatic look.  These would go on as I went along.


Okay, back to the distributor.  As i said, I settled on a Mallory magnetic-triggered electronic unit.  Had it curved on a machine.  Timing all in at 2500.  Initial timing set to ten degrees advanced and total timing of 32 degrees.  This proved to be a wise choice - the break-up above 3000 RPM was gone.  So, now with the dialed-in Holley 850 double-pumper and the new distributor, this thing started to really run.  No more break-up and man, did it go - how hard it pulled was incredible.  This was the first that I got a true sense of just how fast this car would be.  Almost too fast - just rolling on the throttle would produce a sensation of speed that was difficult to reconcile - what's the line from the song I am thinking of?  The telephone poles were going by like picket fence.  :-)  Yes, I was excited.

Back to making the distributor look right.  I would purchase a MSD 6-AL box to trigger the spark and choose to hide it up under the passenger side dash inside the car.  This was where the black wire mesh would be put to use; to hide the colored wires.  And, I would paint the distributor cap black to give a period-correct look.  As I said, having an old-school distributor wrench certainly made it easier to lock down the distributor.


Roughing up the cap so the paint would stick.  This brand of black trim paint is absolutely what you want to use.



The finished product.

 
Purchased a new high-voltage coil which was chrome plated.  Took down the finish with sandpaper and scotch-brite, adding to the monochromatic theme.
 
 
Coil installed and starting to use the braided mesh wire covers.
 
 
 

Ignition system complete - the 6-AL box is wired.  Fuel done and ignition done.  Finish up the dress-out.  Still have those blasted Earl's AN fittings to deal with.
 
 
 
Time to focus on the valve covers; bringing these beauties back to life.  After much research I decided the best breathers would have a brushed satin finish and overwise appear plain-looking.  These Earl's breathers fit the bill - again adding to the theme.
 

Clean the inner fender skins.  I would rough them up later with steel wool to give a brushed finish.
 
 
Clean the driver's side valve cover.  These things are truly a work of art.  Magnesium; light as a feather and the Ford Blue powder-coating has a beautiful finish. 
 
 
On the bench, getting polished with Zaino Brothers.  And detail spray on top of for a little gloss.
 
 
Had to machine some inserts for the valve covers.  The stock ones were too tall.  Determined the proper height and diameter and made them at a local shop.  This is the complete assembly.
 
 
This is what I was running around the neighborhood with.  No blowby to speak off as witnessed by very little oil through the holes in the tape.  I am running the also the standard rear intake manifold breather - so I knew that these two valve cover breathers + the intake breather were going to give the proper amount of crankcase ventilation.
 
If anyone wants to see the underside of the magnesium valve covers.
 
 
Lashed the valves while I was in here.  They had been set earlier, but wanted to check.  .018 and .022 for intake and exhaust.  Motor still clean as a whistle.
 
 
Time to get those AN fittings squared away.  Purchased the fittings I wanted and did the upper radiator hose.  Starting to look good in my eyes - low-key brushed aluminum finishes where possible + black wires, and black radiator cap.
 
 
 
Tackled the oil lines next.  Yeah, these were some late nights.  It was only two weeks to go to Fabulous Fords.  Come hell or high water i was going to have the car looking good and ready in time.
 
 
It was time to clean and polish the intake manifold.  That is beautiful.
 
 
 It was finally time to take the protective wrap off and take care of the paint.  I was astonished with how good the paint still looked.  Still late nights in the garage to make ready for Fabulous Fords.
 
 
 
Back to the engine compartment.  Now had all the accessories I wanted installed - starting to look very impressive.  Labored over choosing the exact right air cleaner.  Settled on this billet aluminum stock number.  Finish roughly matches that of the intake and braided lines.  Would still need to do the plug wire management.  With all modesty, I now felt really good about the choices I made with the air cleaner, AN fittings, breathers, coil, plug wires
 
 
 
Time to paint the sidepipes.  Used a drill with wire wheel to take down to bare metal.  At night, of course.
 
 
 
Next morning out in the backyard to give the 1st coat of ultra high-temp ceramic paint.
 
 
Back in the garage after receiving a 2nd coat of paint.
 
 
Then I decided to bring them in the house - put in front of the fire so as to dry.  My wife asked what they were doing in the house.
 
 
Down to the last week to get the car ready for Fabulous Fords.  I had the car running good, the engine compartment dressed, the interior immaculate and now it was time to give it its first wash.   I was surprised out how nice the paint cleaned up.  Washed once with Dawn dishwashing detergent remove all residues.  Then washed with Meguiars Gold class.  Then clayed the paint.  This was how it looked after its very first wash.
 
 
 
Of course this meant getting the engine compartment spotless as well.  Note I finally dressed the plug wires, all the AN lines and fittings are in place.  There is one clue in this picture as it pertains to achieving the complete monochromatic look - you will notice almost all "other" colors are gone.  I'll point it out in the next series.
 
 
At this point I am pretty damn proud of how it looks and I see I am going to make the show - it is this coming weekend.
 
 
 
Mostly clean - it would need some Zaino Brothers polish and detail spray - and I would put the sidepipes back on.
 
 
Sun is going down - but it sure looks pretty.  The clue I mentioned earlier - you had to look close, but you can see it here:  the bell housing is now painted black.  At last, all the "other" colors I wanted gone are now gone.  Roughed it up and very carefully painted it with high-temp paint.
 
 
After the polish.
 
 
The next morning another Cobra came over to visit.  More polish yields an even more lustrous look.
 
 
 
I felt pretty good - the car was ready.
 
Here's the coming out party.  Displayed at the Shelby trailer.  Drew quite a crowd whenever I started it.  It was a good day; talked to a lot of people.
 

Cammer coming out

 
 
I think that is good for now.  My intent here was to give the complete, detailed documentation of the build.  I have lots of shots of the beast out on the road and truth be told I have enjoyed the hell out of this car.  It is like no other and the fact that it just runs and drives beautifully is I all I could have asked for - and more.  If it is ever possible to become truly attached to a car - this is that car.
 
Bill Malone
January 24, 2012