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The Ford V-8 Engine Workshop
Indy Engines

1963 Indy Pushrod V-8
1963 Indy Pushrod
The 1963 Indy pushrod engine produced 375 BHP at 7200 RPM from 255 cubic inches
Ford powered Lotus cars were prepared for Indy in 1963, to be driven by Dan Gurney and Jimmy Clark. The engine for these cars was designed and built by Ford beginning in the fall of 1962. Bill Gay, Executive Engineer of Advanced Engines, assembled a team of engineers including Joe Macura and Richard Chen. Their objective was to build a racing engine of 255 CID, producing at least 325 hp, and weighing no more than 350 lbs. The competition the was Meyer-Drake Offenhauser. Ford purchased an Offy and tested it in one of their dyno cells. It produced 400 hp at 6000 RPM. The team had their work cut out for them!

The design project was divided into two phases. First, to baseline the 260 Fairlane engine that was to be the basis of the new engine. Second, to develop a reliable aluminum version of the engine. Work on the 260 began on Sept. 1, 1962. The high performance 260 used in the Cobra was the starting point, dubbed the Stage 0 engine. Stage 1 involved revised and enlarged intake and exhaust ports, and 12.5:1 compression through the used of forged pop-up pistons. The special intake manifold carried four 46mm downdraft Webers carburetors. Larger valves, hollow-stemmed intakes and sodium-filled exhausts were fitted to the heads, along with high silicon content aluminum alloy retainers. 7/16" screw-in rocker studs, with Loctite and further secured by roll pins. The connecting rods were taken from the 289 HiPo engine, fitted with bronze wristpin bushings, shot-peened and polished. The crankshaft used cross-drilled journals for improved connecting rod bearing lubrication at higher engine speeds. After several different camshaft grinds were tried, the 260 produced 325 hp on gasoline, meeting the power objective set for the Lotus racecar.

Work on the aluminum Stage 2 engine began on Nov. 1, 1962. The sand cast aluminum cylinder block differed considerably from the production cast iron 260/289 block. The front of the block and timing cover were completely redesigned to support a gear driven camshaft and water pump. Due to the softer aluminum, the deck thickness was increased 50% to 0.64 inches. Bolt holes were lengthened to a thread engagement of 2 X bolt diameters. Main bearing caps were wider and held by 4 bolts. Cylinder heads were attached by studs, using six per cylinder. Four addition studs protrude from the lower edge of the block, and four studs aim down from the heads themselves into bosses at the edge of the lifter valley.
1963 Indy cylinder block 1963 Indy cylinder head
The bore size was changed from the 260's 3.80" to 3.76", resulting in 255 cubic inch displacement. The block was fitted with dry cast iron sleeves, pressed in. The tops were grooved to carry a steel O-ring gasket. Oil and water passages were sealed with rubber O-rings and a bead of sealant ran across the lifter valley. This dry deck arrangement was later used on the Boss 429. All torqued down, there was a slight air gap between the deck and cylinder head, concentrating all the clamping loads on the cylinder sleeve O-rings.

Special aluminum cylinder heads were made up using the 260/289 production head as a starting point. These heads used aluminum bronze alloy valve guides, alloy steel valve seat inserts, steel valve spring seats, oil passages for the shaft mounted Y-block style rocker arms, and four additional bosses to hold the top row of head studs.

The production cast iron crankshaft was not up to the rigors of Indy. The racing engine used a forged steel crank, with revised counterweighting for internal balancing. Bearing size and type was identical to the 289 HiPo, tri-metal Clevite. The rod crank pins were drilled to lighten and and formed an oil reservoir. The ends of the holes were plugged with steel cup plugs, and pinned. This is similar to that found later on the 427. Forged pistons were used, with full-floating pins retained by double-helical spring retainers. Rods were taken from the Stage 1 engine, 289 HiPo, shot-peened and polished. The oiling system was highly modified and is explained below in the article on the 1964 engine.

1963 Indy revkit 1963 Indy tappet and pushrod
The valve train received extensive redesign. Small diameter tappets weighing only 2/3 that of the production parts ran on the 340 degree duration camshaft. Overlap was 124 degrees. Lift at the valves was .510 inches. The hollow tubular pushrod featured a small cup on the top end to mate with the lash adjustment screw. The tappet end had a compbination spring seat and steel ball. The engine used a revkit, springs fitted under the heads applying pressure against the tappets directly. This reduced loading on the rockers and valve springs and helped improve high speed valve control and longevity. Due to the high coefficient of thermal expansion inherent with the aluminum components, valve lash was set at .032 inches cold.
1963 Indy rocker assy.
At high speed the stud mounted rockers were found to oscillate, throwing off valve events and often failing outright. The stud mount ball type rockers were replaced by a shaft-mounted system taken from the Y-block. This system was later used on the Tunnel Port 302. Dual springs, with an inner and outer coil were used and fitted snugly together, rubbing, to help dampen harmonics.

The Stage 2 got a new intake, this time fitted with 58 mm Webers. Ford tested the engines and did some of the tuning work using a 1963 Galaxie. This chassis with a very low rear axle ratio allowed the engineers to simulate the full throttle acceleration runs typical of the Indy racetrack. From a lower rpm limit of 5000 rpm to the maximum of 7200 rpm at the end of the long straights. With the body removed from the chassis, Ford placed the "car" in its windtunnel to streamline the exhaust headers. The Autolite Division prepared an electronic spark box for the engine. No mechanical advance was used. The static timing was set to 50 degree BTDC! Due to delays in the electronics of about 1 degree per 1000 rpm, the final spark timing was 43 degrees at 7000 rpm. (I wonder how that started the darn thing?)

The project was completed in time for the Indy time trials in May, 1963. The engine was producing 365 hp. The test engine had run 2-1/2 hours on the dyno, and over 450 miles on the track at Indy. It was returned to the dyno and found to have broken in a bit, producing 376 hp.


1964 Indy DOHC
1964 Indy DOHC The complete 255 CID engine weighed 406 lbs. and produced in excess of 425 BHP at 8000 RPM while giving a fuel economy of 7 to 8 MPG. Maximum speed is 9000 RPM while the minimum useful speed on the racetrack is around 6000 RPM.
For use at Indy in 1963, Ford prepared a special version of the recently introduced 260 CID engine. In stock form this engine produced 157 BHP. After an extensive series of modifications, the final engine displaced 255 CI and produced 376 BHP with good durability. Many parts were replaced with aluminum or magnesium to trim the weight down to 350 lbs. While impressive for a hotrodded 260, successful competition at Indy in 1964 was simply going to require more horsepower. And to do this, the breathing of the engine had to be improved.

For 1964 a dual overhead cam version of the engine was produced. The block was cast of aluminum alloy, using patterns modified from the production 289. Cast iron cylinder sleeves were a shrink fit in the block, are were sealed at the heads with copper laminated steel O-rings. In order to clear the two banks of camshafts in the heads, the 10 attaching studs were moved in closer to the cylinder centerline. An additional 8 studs protuding from the heads maintained the clamping force needed to seal the combustion chambers. The space occupied by the camshaft in the normal production engine was replaced with an oil tube. This acted as a gutter and collected oil as it drained from above to keep it off the reciprocating assembly.

The bottom end was beefed up considerably. The special forged steel crankshaft was held by 4-bolt bearing caps on numbers 1 through 4. Main and rod bearing journals are the same size as the 289, as is the engine's stroke - 2.87". The rod journals are crossdrilled for better oiling at high engine speeds. The rods are from the 289 HiPo, having been modified for floating pistons pins. The pins are 289 HiPo pieces. The oil pan is cast magnesium and is a structural part of the engine as is common in Indy and Formula car design. Ears cast intregrally with the pan provide the engine mounting points in the chassis.

The cam-ground forged aluminum pistons have a pent-roof dome to closely fit the combustion chambers. Compression is 12.5:1. The cylinder heads used 4 valves per cylinder with a central spark plug location. The plugs are canted toward the 1.64" diameter intake valves. Exhaust valves are 1.36" diameter. The camshafts run in bearing bores in the cylinder heads, directly over their valve banks. Valve clearance is adjusted by the selective fitting of the followers. Intake ports are between the cams, with exhaust out the top of the heads between the vee. This was done to do away with the nightmare of exhaust tubing normally required. Hilborn injection is used having been selected for its light weight and simple low-pressure design.

1964 Indy DOHC bottom end The Indy engine uses a dry-sump oiling system. But unlike most current practice, the scavenge and pressure pumps were mounted withint the crankcase. The pump assembly is mounted to ears on the #1 and #2 main bearing caps, and gear driven off the crankshaft. The scavenge section is designed to be larger than needed to help ensure a partial vacuum exists in the crankcase for improved ring sealing.
Camshaft and accessory drive forms quite an impressive assemblage of gears. 14 in all, including a few that drive the oil pumps and water pump. Ball bearings in the two-piece front cover support the jackshafts for the gears. Very accurate machining of these parts results in only .010" backlash between the crankshaft and any camshaft. A vernier arrangement of the gear mounting holes allows the camshaft timing to be set to within 1 degree of design specification.
1964 Indy DOHC cam drive 1964 Indy DOHC front cover


1968 Indy DOHC
1968 Indy DOHC Turbo Basically the same engine, the 1968 version was turbocharged. They produced 750 BHP at 9500 RPM from only 168 cubic inches!

And with all that exhaust plumbing and the turbocharger itself, these engines were quieter than the 1964 version.

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Modified: July 14, 2010
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