I think I may be getting the flu - so sit back while reading this. I don't want you to catch it.
I was hoping that Sunday would be the big day. With only a few little jobs to finish, the motor would surely be sitting in the car by day's end. But you know ... I'm learning that building a custom/race car isn't a bolt-up-and-go affair. It seems everything has a "but" or an "option" or an "if then" scenario to consider. I think we have to remember that these cars and drivetrains were originally designed by teams of highly skilled engineers (don't laugh) and every hole, every bend, every angle, every shape, and every fastener was specifically designed to work a certain way. So when a country bumpkin, like me, comes along and tries to re-engineer the whole works in his garage - problems and challenges are to be expected.
Case and point ... I went to install my new electronic oil pressure sending unit. Not a surprise - it didn't fit. Sure, the fitting was the right size, but the body of the sending unit was way too big to fit the space. Dang it! Another trip to Lowe's. I Googled the problem, and found I'm not the first to have it. Apparently, this is a known issue for the Autometer sending unit and a 351w, and many people have devised workarounds with T's, elbows, and remote mounting techniques. I have to admit, this burns my butt a little. This block has been around since 1969, why isn't Autometer aware that their part doesn't fit? Why did my expensive kit not include an adapter? Why do I have to be the one to figure out how to make THEIR part work? Simple. This isn't the part Ford designed to work on this motor, so I'm being punished for tinkering with their engineering. Or maybe I just have bad luck. Either way, now I have to go shopping for fittings - and I'm not happy about it. I know complaining won't fix the problem, but it makes me feel better.
While I was wrestling with said philosophical injustice, my wife got to work wrapping the headers. It was a rare pleasure to have her in the garage today. Wrapping those headers seemed like a job for her. She's very meticulous and neat - plus she's pretty crafty. She wraps an awesome Christmas present (my wrapping jobs suck), so I figured she might do a better job on the header wraps than I could. Turns out I was right. They came out really nice - at least the one on the starboard side. I bought 200 ft. of header wrap - which I thought would be PLENTY. But it took 130 ft. to complete one side. Wow! So I'll have to order a couple more rolls to do the other side. See? Nothing is easy on this project.
Speaking of re-engineering, the theory on these header wraps is that they reduce under hood heat AND increase exhaust gas velocity. As soon as the exhaust gases leave the head, they begin to cool. As the gases cool, they lose velocity. Heat transmits very quickly through metal, so as the exhaust gases enter the exhaust manifold or header, much of the heat escapes into the engine compartment and this loss of heat slows down the flow of the exhaust gas which reduces the scavenging effect in the cam overlap. In that brief moment where both the exhaust and intake valves are open (the overlap), the theory is that the rush of escaping exhaust gases creates a little vacuum that helps to start sucking the intake charge into the cylinder. So the faster the exhaust gases move, the more of a sucking action they create in the overlap. By insulating the headers with exhaust wraps, this should keep exhaust gases flowing at maximum velocity.
With all that said, I'm not sure I totally buy this theory. If it were so beneficial, why aren't wrapped headers standard on all engines? Less heat under the hood and better engine efficiency is good, right? Surely Ford's team of highly skilled engineers know this information. Are they just lazy? Is it too expensive? I just don't know. But in my shadetree wisdom, I've decided to go with wrapped headers because they're obviously better ... and they look badass.
I also popped in the electronic speedo sensor into the tranny. Aside from wrestling to remove the plug (like a freeze plug) that Dynamic had stuck in the hole ... this was pretty easy. In fact it was the only easy item of the day.
Bolting these headers onto the manifold was a MAJOR PITA! Even with the engine hanging on a chain - with easy access - getting those eight header bolts started almost caused me to have a conniption fit. I wrested and tugged on those headers for two hours. They just wouldn't line up exactly. Unlike a SBC, the Ford headers aren't on a flat plate - they're individual runners - and they flex and distort just a little. So I would pull this one and push that one. Lift this one a little and drop that one a little, and the bolts ALMOST lined up. I'd get six, but two wouldn't go. Then I'd take it all back apart and try again. Then I'd get seven, but one wouldn't quite go. I was trying to be careful so as not to damage those aluminum bolt holes in the heads, and the header wrap material made it even tougher - as it would bind my bolts a little. I kept trying over and over with no luck ... so I went to Plan B.
I had a nice set of ARP header studs, so I thought they might work better. I ran the studs in, and then popped the gasket and the header on there with no drama. Awesome! I was about to feel proud of myself, until I realized that my hex nuts wouldn't fit. The clearance for the header fasteners is very tight. In fact, the header bolts are kind'a a specialized fastener, with a small rounded flange - and they just barely fit (not even enough room to fit a socket around them). So the hex nuts wouldn't even come close to fitting on the studs. DANG IT! DANG IT! DANG IT!
So back to Plan A. This time I got out a couple of my long sliding clamps, and pulled the little bits of distortion out of the header alignment before going in. It wasn't easy. It took several more attempts. But in spite of feeling like a cat trying to take a poop on a marble walkway, I finally got all eight bolts started. Thank the Lord! I tightened the bolts down with some little 7/16" hand wrenches and called it a day.
I would have NEVER NEVER NEVER gotten those headers bolted on with the motor in the car. NEVER! In fact, I've made another decision. If this motor/tranny/headers combo won't drop in as a complete unit, I would rather unbolt the suspension and the k-member than take those headers back apart. Seriously! If I have to bring the k-member up to the motor vs. bringing the motor to the k-member ... then so it shall be. Nobody could pay me to remove those header bolts right now. They're on there and they're freakin' staying on there ... plus I feel like I might throw-up. Flu sucks!