How to Make 600-horsepower with a Vintage Y Block Engine.

Making an engine designed circa-1950 produce over four times its original horsepower output is tough. Taking that same engine and winning the 2016 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge Presented by HOT ROD –– now that’s even harder. Ted Eaton accomplished that exact feat with his Mercury Y Block engine, churning out class-winning peaks of 603.2 horsepower and 565.5 lb-ft of torque, a far cry from what the original designers ever could have thought possible. How did he do it? Ingenuity, a whole lot of testing and development time, and of course help from teammates Fred Hertzog, Lonnie Putnam, Jody Orsag, and Steve Culp.

We asked Eaton with all of the engine architectures legal for Engine Master’s Vintage class, what is the allure of a Y-block? “I ran them growing up, and they always ran good,” he said. “In the early 2000s, I saw someone run mid 10s with one. A buddy of mine looked at me and said, ‘we oughta’ be able to outrun that.’”

In addition to growing up around Ys, Eaton has been building them for competition, first in his drag car and later for dyno racing, since 2000, and 2016 marks his fourth time competing at AMSOIL Engine Masters. “We entered the Engine Masters challenge in 2009 with a goal not to be in last place,” he said. “Out of 30 engines running that year, we came in 29th. Life was good.”

Ted’s highly developed engine combination displaces 375ci courtesy of a 4-inch-stroke, billet Moldex crank and a 3.860-inch bore filled with Diamond pistons. The Total Seal ring pack consists of a 1.00mm top ring, 1.2mm second ring, and 3.00mm third ring, a huge departure from what the Y-series would have originally packed. Topping the mill is a set of Mummert cylinder heads with 1.970/1.540-inch intake valves and a Mummert F.I. intake manifold that Eaton completely reworked to accept dual 4-barrel carbs.

What is really surprising about Eaton’s engine is how much remains of the original design such as the unique, stacked intake port configuration and the oiling system needed very little updating to handle the massive power increase. “Oiling is pretty good,” said Eaton. “The only problem is all the oil for the top end is pulled off the center cam bearing. I machine a groove in the block so no matter what happens with the bearing, I still get oil to the top end.”

Introduced in 1954, the Ford Y-block was rated at a measly 130 horsepower. Ted Eaton’s Mercury Y-block cranked out 603.2 horsepower, nearly 4.5-times the original output!
Introduced in 1954, the Ford Y-block was rated at a measly 130 horsepower. Ted Eaton’s Mercury Y-block cranked out 603.2 horsepower, nearly 4.5-times the original output!
The rotating assembly of Eaton’s Y consists of a 4-inch stroke Moldex crank cut for tiny, Honda-size rod journals. Eaton tells us the crank and cam centerline are too close on the Y-block, limiting stroke considerably, before taking more creative measures that he hints will be a part of his next Engine Masters build. A set of custom, billet caps with 6-bolts holds the crank firmly in place and cleverly incorporates the rear main seal into the rear cap, eliminating the factory seal retainer.
The rotating assembly of Eaton’s Y consists of a 4-inch stroke Moldex crank cut for tiny, Honda-size rod journals. Eaton tells us the crank and cam centerline are too close on the Y-block, limiting stroke considerably, before taking more creative measures that he hints will be a part of his next Engine Masters build. A set of custom, billet caps with 6-bolts holds the crank firmly in place and cleverly incorporates the rear main seal into the rear cap, eliminating the factory seal retainer.
The unconventional stacked intake ports are a surefire way to spot a Y-block. The heads on Eaton’s engine were produced by Mummert and are CNC ported and angle milled 1.5-degrees for improved airflow. Eaton also had the spark plug location moved up 4mm to better centralize it in the chamber. “The flame doesn’t have to move all the way to the other side of the cylinder to do its job, which improves the flame propagation,” he said. The heads also use a modern beehive valvespring to reduce valvetrain mass.
The unconventional stacked intake ports are a surefire way to spot a Y-block. The heads on Eaton’s engine were produced by Mummert and are CNC ported and angle milled 1.5-degrees for improved airflow. Eaton also had the spark plug location moved up 4mm to better centralize it in the chamber. “The flame doesn’t have to move all the way to the other side of the cylinder to do its job, which improves the flame propagation,” he said. The heads also use a modern beehive valvespring to reduce valvetrain mass.
This gorgeous set of Mercury valve covers really set Eaton’s motor apart form other Y engines in competition. They are the handiwork of Australian manufacturer, Y bloke. Under those valvecovers are shaft-mounted Mummert rockers, working off of an Isky camshaft. Duration for the cam specs in at 256/260 degrees at .050-inches and the lobe separation angle is an extremely tight 102 degrees. The tight LSA helps compress the power and torque bands into the competition’s scoring range for maximum points.
This gorgeous set of Mercury valve covers really set Eaton’s motor apart form other Y engines in competition. They are the handiwork of Australian manufacturer, Y bloke. Under those valvecovers are shaft-mounted Mummert rockers, working off of an Isky camshaft. Duration for the cam specs in at 256/260 degrees at .050-inches and the lobe separation angle is an extremely tight 102 degrees. The tight LSA helps compress the power and torque bands into the competition’s scoring range for maximum points.
The Dynatech headers for this combination have a 1.75-inch primary tube with a 4-into-1 design that Eaton borrowed from John Kaase, last year’s AMSOIL Engine Masters Vintage winner.
The Dynatech headers for this combination have a 1.75-inch primary tube with a 4-into-1 design that Eaton borrowed from John Kaase, last year’s AMSOIL Engine Masters Vintage winner.
Believe it or not, it was a set of old, 660cfm Holley center-squirters that were the magic ingredient for power. “We were having trouble with carburetors, so we grabbed a pair of 40-year-old center-squirters. We just stuck ‘em on there and Bingo,” said Eaton. While originally mounted inline, the carbs were turned sideways to facilitate jet changes during competition.
Believe it or not, it was a set of old, 660cfm Holley center-squirters that were the magic ingredient for power. “We were having trouble with carburetors, so we grabbed a pair of 40-year-old center-squirters. We just stuck ‘em on there and Bingo,” said Eaton. While originally mounted inline, the carbs were turned sideways to facilitate jet changes during competition.
Dual 4-barrel carburetors are great at equalizing airflow to each cylinder, the only downside is that 4 bowls and 8 jets need to come out every time you need to make fueling change. Fortunately, crewmembers Fred Hertzog, Lonnie Putnam, Jody Orsag, and Steve Culp were adept at jet-swaps, accomplishing several in the 30-minute window of competition.
Dual 4-barrel carburetors are great at equalizing airflow to each cylinder, the only downside is that 4 bowls and 8 jets need to come out every time you need to make fueling change. Fortunately, crewmembers Fred Hertzog, Lonnie Putnam, Jody Orsag, and Steve Culp were adept at jet-swaps, accomplishing several in the 30-minute window of competition.

Source: hotrod.com

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