Alfie Bilk June 15, 2022 All Feature Vehicles
Introducing a new engine block with big power potential, understandably, gives rise to a sense of occasion. First, consider the time and treasure invested in its creation. Also, consider the enormity of the engineering details and the designer who tirelessly examined hundreds of complex regions of the new casting. It’s an endeavor not for the faint of heart.
But the culmination of this effort is exactly what we observed at the end of 2014 when, during the PRI exhibition in Indianapolis, World Products unveiled two innovative Ford-based blocks. Both are defined as small-blocks, but they are distinguished mainly by their deck heights: one measures 8.2 inches, the other 9.5 inches.
The 9.5-inch version displayed in finished form sports a displacement of 454 cubic inches (7.4 liters) and exhibits a host of advantages. This was clearly the biggest engine news of the show. It is called Man O’ War.
Boyer, an accomplished race engine builder and tuner, is devoted to the idea that the new engine should be the strongest and most rugged ever.
The Man O’ War block had existed previously, but when World Products was sold in late 2012 the new owners decided to revise the block entirely. Now graced by new architecture, the Man O’ War is the brainchild of World’s Engineering Director Dick Boyer. The block accommodates the original 10-bolt cylinder heads as well as the latest aftermarket high-performance 18-bolt counterparts. Introducing six head bolts per cylinder combined with extra thick decks greatly reinforces gasket clamping. But the new block’s sporting credentials didn’t end there.
Boyer, an accomplished race engine builder and tuner, is devoted to the idea that the new engine should be the strongest and most rugged ever. He cast the new power unit in a 40,000 psi iron alloy. He also increased the thickness of the main bearing webs, upgrading the front one by adding 0.080-in. and the center three by 0.030-in. To increase the main web structure further, the traditional ½-in. main cap fasteners were revised to 7/16-in. to leave more material in the webs.
The Man O’ War is a replacement for Ford’s 302 and the ubiquitous Windsor engine. Therefore, World’s new block is available in both deck heights. Deck heights have a direct bearing on the engine’s capacity. Shorter deck heights limit the stroke length and hence the engine’s cubic inch displacement.
The 8.2-inch block is a direct replacement for 5.0L Mustangs and is compatible with OEM heads and exhaust systems. The 9.5-in. block works with all 351 Windsor-style components. Both employ Siamesed cylinder bores with thick walls, which can be bored to 4.2 inches.
Much to the designer’s credit, the bottom of the cylinder barrels are extended down into the crankcase by 0.5-in. This approach introduces superior piston support while operating with long-stroke crankshafts. In the case of the 8.200in deck blocks, clearance is provided for a 3.500in stroke crank while the 9.500in deck blocks accommodate a 4.250in stroke crank. Finally, the blocks are semi-finished to 0.005-in. undersize to accommodate 4-in. and 4.125-in. piston and ring packs.
To further improve main bearing lubrication prospects, the inadequacy of restrictive oil flow was overcome by enlarging the diameter of the main oil gallery and also the passage from the oil filter to the main gallery.
Billet steel or nodular iron main caps may be fitted to either block. Featuring a splayed 4-bolt stepped and doweled register, they incorporate ARP fasteners (bolts are used with the nodular caps, studs with the billet caps). In addition, a priority-mains oiling system is featured, which delivers oil to the main bearings first, ensuring reliable lubrication at high rpm. To further improve main bearing lubrication prospects, the inadequacy of restrictive oil flow was overcome by enlarging the diameter of the main oil gallery and also the passage from the oil filter to the main gallery.
But perhaps Boyer’s real stroke of genius lies not only in combining a 4.125-in. bore with a 4.250-in. stroke, ensuring the engine would accommodate many off-the-shelf parts, but also in making all the parts available as a complete package, if desired. An entire kit of compatible components has been engineered and tested. Proven parts simplify construction, shorten build times and suppress rising costs. Pushrods, for example, are supplied to the exact length and specification—and so is everything else.
Introduced in 1962 by Ford as their engine replacement for the Y-block, the rated power and torque values of the early Windsor were stated as 145 hp at 4,400 rpm and 216 lb-ft of torque at 2,200 rpm. As it evolved over the next 40 years, the Windsor engine arguably became Ford’s most successful competition powerplant. Now revitalized for 2015 in 454 cubic inch configuration, Boyer has brought a fresh engineering richness to the concept. By combining the new block with World’s standard kit of parts, the Man O’ War generated 735 hp during preliminary tests.