Three Valve Head Cam Intake Package - Trey Cool
AMP's Head/Cam/Intake Package Puts Serious Steam In Bone-Stock Three-Valve 'Stangs
From the February, 2011 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By KJ Jones
Photography by KJ Jones
Jesse Allen of AMP Performance...
Jesse Allen of AMP Performance puts the finishing touches on Jose Casas' newly top-halfed Three-Valve. AMP offers two affordable induction upgrades for S197 V-8 powerplants, both headlined by Ford Racing Performance Parts' long-awaited intake manifold (PN M-9424-463V; $599).
Making Mustangs stronger by way of performing a cylinder heads, camshaft(s), and intake manifold swap has a long history with our Mustang hobby. Yes, the infamous HCI," exchange is a tried-and-true performance upgrade for bone-stock Ponies of any vintage, and over the years, we've presented many derivatives of the top-half trio for 5.0-liter engines using aftermarket pieces that we feel offer enthusiasts the best bang for their hard-earned bucks every time the throttle hits the floor.
It has only been a short time that we've been able to explore the effects of a full "top-half" exchange on Ford's 4.6-liter modular engine. Prior to 2006, complete upper-end upgrades for modular Mustang engines had been somewhat limited. Despite camshaft development and a wide variety of CNC-ported heads being offered for Two-Valve and Four-Valve bullets, affordable, non-custom intake manifolds for either were virtually nonexistent.
The Three-Valve engines of '05-'10 Mustang GTs unfortunately suffered from the same limitations with regard to development of affordable, aftermarket intake manifolds. It took nearly two years for sheetmetal pieces to hit the S197 scene, and an additional 365 days before a bolt-on, cast intake left the foundry. One of the reasons for the long delay is the fact that the factory-installed, composite intake is a solid piece in its own right-performing well on stock engines, and also holding its own on engines that are upgraded naturally aspirated mods and power adders.
Despite the manifold's great efficiency, however, engineers at Ford were forced to consider making improvements after studying the stock intake's effect on the engines in Ford Racing's FR500C Continental Challenge Mustangs. Basically, the stock piece's small runners choked the high-winding trey-valve, just as it hit the sweet spot in its power band (approximately 6,000-6,500 rpm). The result of all the intensive research and development is Ford Racing Performance Parts' new Three-Valve intake (PN M-9424-463V; $599.95), which was finally dispersed to the masses in 2010-nearly four years into S197's production before releasing its new manifold.
The arrival of FRPP's long-awaited Three-Valve intake piques our strong interest in seeing how it performs in a naturally aspirated environment, as one of the major players in a good, old H/C/I swap. That's right-no nitrous, blowers, or turbochargers are being used in this experiment. However, based on the intake's high-flow runner design, Three-Valve cylinder heads, and the general dynamics of modular engines, we suspect the new piece probably is exceptional when used with power adders. That's long been the case with its aftermarket Two- and Four-Valve counterparts, which have more than made their mark on boosted '99-'04 GTs, Mach 1s, and Cobras.
While we've experimented with two-thirds of the Three-Valve HCI swap in the past (bolted on various ported heads and higher-lift cams), we're excited about finally being able to take this type of performance testing all the way. The Mustang specialists at AMP Performance of Phoenix, Arizona, offer two upgrade packages for naturally aspirated S197s that we're checking out in this tech effort. Both performance systems are founded on the new intake manifold. They're amenable to enthusiasts on simple budgets (FRPP's manifold, CAI, and 62mm throttle body; $1,453 plus labor), as well as those who can afford to spend a bit more for serious "all-raw" power (everything in System 1, plus Fox Lake Power Products' ported Three-Valve cylinder heads and Comp camshafts; $4,443).
Your tech editor joined AMP's shop boss, Chris Ciolek, and technician Jesse Allen for a marathon parts-on/parts-off evaluation of both packages. The end results of all our efforts were outstanding, as you'll see when you read through this report in its entirety. Be sure to fully process the all-important dyno data.
The factory-installed intake...
The factory-installed intake manifold actually does not inhibit a stock 4.6-liter Three-Valve engine's airflow efficiency as much as stock EFI intakes for pushrod 5.0 and Two-Valve 4.6s did. However, while the stock intake breathes well on moderately upgraded engines, it hinders high-rpm performance of bullets that are modified with ported heads, higher-lift camshafts, and other pieces that enhance intake and exhaust airflow.
In this photo, Ford Racing...
In this photo, Ford Racing Performance Parts' new intake manifold is on the left and the stock piece from our '08 test 'Stang is on the right. The major performance difference between the two is the deletion of Charge Motion Control Valve plates on the new manifold. While CMVCs help bring increased torque to Three-Valve modulars for improved low-rpm/street-cruising performance, they actually present a huge airflow restriction at higher engine speeds and thus limit performance considerably.
Since we (and many of you)...
Since we (and many of you) were dying to learn what FRPP's intake is all about, the intake-manifold swap was done immediately after making three baseline dyno runs. Although Jose's Pony is outfitted with long-tube headers, a catalytic X-shape crossover tube, and free-flowing mufflers, all other factory components remained intact for the manifold-only evaluation, including the stock PCM calibration.
Ford Racing Performance Part's...
Ford Racing Performance Part's 62mm throttle body (PN M-9926-3V) is another element of AMP's entry-level Thre-Valve power system. The billet throttle body is markedly bigger than the OEM 55mm unit, and bolts on in minutes. While we did not experience a need for tuning after installing the new intake manifold, the addition of the larger throttle bore does warrant a PCM reflash, to ensure that air/fuel is safe. DiabloSport's new Trinity handheld flash tool (PN T-1000) is used for such calibrations.
With intake and throttle body...
With intake and throttle body evaluated, Chris Ciolek replaces the factory airbox with FRPP's Cold Air Tuner Kit (PN M-9603-M463). The CAI rounds out the parts included in AMP's basic Three-Valve hop-up package.
Jose's '08 Mustang GT spent...
Jose's '08 Mustang GT spent a lot of time on the Dynojet chassis dyno at AMP Performance. Once the 'Stang was baseline tested, subsequent dyno runs were made after each bolt-on part was installed to determine how they enhance performance independently, and as the system that AMP designed.
Before moving on to the second...
Before moving on to the second segment of our project-swapping stock heads and camshafts with Fox Lake's ported Three-Valve castings and higher-lift camshafts from Comp-Chris evacuates the A/C refrigerant from the system.
Swapping heads and cams on...
Swapping heads and cams on an S197 is best done with the engine completely removed. AMP uses a unique rolling K-member cradle that Chris developed, which allows techs to drop a Pony's entire front chassis structure (engine/accessories, wiring harness, exhaust, steering rack, and so on) in short order.
Speed and efficiency is the...
Speed and efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to disassembling the top half of a Three-Valve engine.
Once the engine is out, Chris...
Once the engine is out, Chris and Jesse work together as one and have Jose's 4.6 broken down to its naked short-block faster than we've ever seen it done.
Before rebuilding begins,...
Before rebuilding begins, Jesse preps the short-block by thoroughly cleaning the cylinders and passages of gasket or other debris. Ultra-fine Scotchbrite pads or a plastic razor are used on the deck surface to prevent scratching or other damage that can affect head seal.
Even at a glance, it's clear...
Even at a glance, it's clear Fox Lake's Stage 3 Three-Valve cylinder heads (left) flow leaps and bounds more than stock castings. On the intake side, cfm flow numbers for the five-axis, CNC-ported heads are: 181at 0.200, 233 at 0.300, 257 at 0.400, 269 at 0.450, 278 at 0.500, 284 at 0.550, and 288 at 0.600.
Exhaust flow for Fox Lake's...
Exhaust flow for Fox Lake's Three-Valve heads is just as impressive: 110 at 0.200, 144 at 0.300, 187 at 0.400, 199 at 0.450, 207 at 0.500, 212 at 0.550, 217 at 0.600.
Fox Lake uses Manley's stock-length,...
Fox Lake uses Manley's stock-length, stock-diameter, stainless-steel race valves (www.manleyperformance.com) in its ported Three-Valve heads...
...as well as Comp Cams' high-rev...
...as well as Comp Cams' high-rev springs and steel retainers, to help keep the valvetrain stable when rpm is high.
A fresh pair of multi-layered-steel...
A fresh pair of multi-layered-steel gaskets (PN FR3Z-6051-A) are included as part of FRPP's Three-Valve head-changing kit (M-6067-3V46). It's important to install the gaskets without putting fingerprints on either surface (block side or head side) to ensure perfect sealing for the heads.
The Fox Lake-prepped heads...
The Fox Lake-prepped heads are developed from Ford Racing Performance Parts bare, unported castings (PN M-6550-3V).
A set of 20 new, torque-to-yield...
A set of 20 new, torque-to-yield head bolts (PN 5R3E-6065-AA) also are included in the head-changing package. Chris gives each fastener a light dressing with oil, to prevent threads from binding and galling during the torque process.
Head bolts undergo a specifc...
Head bolts undergo a specifc torque procedure, wherein each fastener is initially secured with 30 lb-ft of torque. Once they're torqued, Chris puts a horizontal line through the heads of each bolt, and then makes two incremental (90 degree) runs through the tightening sequence.
The stock camshaft followers...
The stock camshaft followers and posts are reused and must be thoroughly cleaned before they're reinstalled.
AMP uses Comp Cams' Stage...
AMP uses Comp Cams' Stage 2 bumpsticks for this naturally aspirated upgrade (custom-grind cams are recommended for power-adder applications). The hydraulic camshafts have 0.490-inch lift on the intake side (222 duration at 0.050), and 0.480-inch exhaust lift (235 duration at 0.050). This cam profile is perfect for the steam-making process at 4,500 rpm and beyond with a Three-Valve.
Timing chains are specific...
Timing chains are specific to the left (driver's side) and right cylinder heads. Chris installs the left chain first, and sets both chains up so that their darkest links are aligned with the L and R in each cam gear, and the "dot" on the crank gear (the dot must always point straight down when installing timing chains).
Jesse uses an air grinder...
Jesse uses an air grinder with a mild scuffing pad to remove residual gasket material from both headers.
As it is with disassembly,...
As it is with disassembly, engine reassembly is faster accomplished with Chris and Jessie working together. The shop's K-member cradle really is a big help for projects like this, as the exhaust and all other components will be reseated as soon as the engine is bolted in.
Jose Casas' 4.6-liter Three-Valve...
Jose Casas' 4.6-liter Three-Valve is all set and ready to make big steam with a freer-flowing AMP Performance top-half package! The dyno will let us know the gains.
On The Dyno
Jose Casas' '08 Mustang GT arrived for surgery in predominantly stock form, with the exception of long-tube headers and a free-flowing exhaust system. Both AMP power systems were tested on the shop's Dynojet chassis dyno. Performance changes were recorded with the Ford Racing Performance Parts Three-Valve intake manifold installed, and then as each basic air-induction piece was added. The 'Stang was also tested after installing CNC-ported Fox Lake Three-Valve heads and Comp camshafts in addition to all of the initial hop-up parts.
Tuning was required for every...
Tuning was required for every step of our bolt-on procedure, with the exception of the one-for-one intake swap. We selected DiabloSport's new Trinity handheld flash tuner (PN T-1000), to make the connection between PCM and the Chipmaster Revolution tuning software that Chris uses for custom calibrations.
Not surprisingly, enhanced breathing brought about by the HCI extended our test-Pony's rev window, allowing it to make impressive power from 4,900 to 6,900 rpm. It's hard to pinpoint exactly which piece is the key to the overall gains, as the entry-level pieces and intake manifold showed us only modest increases in rear-wheel horsepower and an across-the-board decline in rear-wheel torque within the 2,600- to 6,100-rpm parameters. But this doesn't mean the bolt-ons aren't effective and shouldn't be considered. To the contrary, we think the larger throttle body and CAI (and sharp tuning) are essential pieces for the overall HCI upgrade.
This HCI top-half mod from AMP Performance is a safe bet for enthusiasts who want to make steam naturally, and we're confident it will really show off for those who wish to add forced induction to their '05-'10 'Stangs.