Ford 351W Dyno Test – A Rumblin’ In The OC

By D. Brian Smith

Photography: D. Brian Smith

Ever since Smeding Performance built the 427ci Ford stroker engine (Feb. '05 CCT), we've been dying to stoke the stroker and fire her up. In the build article, we mentioned fuel injection would be our induction of choice as opposed to carburetion. Seeking something that would look cool and work well, we contacted Hilborn Fuel Injection Engineering in Aliso Viejo, California. Hilborn claims its new EFI unit will bolt on a 351Windsor with the ease of an aluminum intake manifold and four-barrel carburetor setup. The father of fuel injection is Stu Hilborn, the founder of Hilborn Fuel Injection Engineering. If he makes such a statement, we're guessing the EFI unit works every bit as well as it looks.

George Volkert, Hilborn Fuel Injection Engineering's Technical Advisor, wired the Carabine easy-tune fuel-injection Electronic Control Unit to the Hilborn 351W EFI.
With the Carabine wired to the Hilborn EFI, George merely needs a small screwdriver to fine-tune the air/fuel mix for the Hilborn 351W EFI.
The Hilborn 351W EFI comes from Hilborn's factory pre-set. Hilborn runs every EFI system on its flow bench and calibrates each EFI system to the specifications of the customers' engines. No laptop computer system is required to get the Hilborn EFI running optimatlly, merely the Carabine Electronic Control Unit and a flat blade screwdriver.
Superior Automotive's Donnie works the wrenches as well as he can tell a joke. He had us all laughing throughout dyno day. There were no fuel leaks either. From the smile on his face, you can see he's not immune to laughing at his own jokes.

The CCT Project Truck that's going to receive the Hilborn/Smeding powerplant is in the works, but it's months away from being ready for installation in the soon-to-be-built Project Truck chassis. We wanted to hear that engine rumble and see how much power Smeding and Hilborn could wrangle out of a Ford small-block. If we ran the engine on a dynamometer, we could hear how well the 427 ci sings. Enter Superior Automotive in Orange, California, to the rescue. As the name implies, Superior uses the most advanced computerized engine-building machines in addition to having both an engine and a chassis dyno. What's more, its Hilborn EFI system expertise is highly regarded by the folks at Hilborn. If you haven't heard of Superior Automotive, you probably aren't a big drag- or motor-racing fan. The company has been in business since 1960 performing dyno tuning, product testing, building custom race and street rod/truck engines, and providing complete auto care.

So that George can easily adjust the butterflies for each bank of cylinders, he intentionally leaves the front driver's side and passenger side rear velocity stack off the EFI intake. Both cylinder banks must have a balanced mix of fuel and air.
An endless supply of cool water is pumped through the black cylinder to the engine during the dyno test. The white ABS tank in the background holds 1,000 gallons of water and serves as a water break, should something go awry in the engine dyno room during testing.
The muffler and the exhaust pipe for the Superior engine dyno is huge. When you consider that many of the engines tested produce far greater than 1,000 horsepower, bigger means quieter.
Proving how easy it is to install the Hilborn 351W EFI, the 427ci stroker mill fired up with the first push of the ignition button on the engine dyno. The dyno computer screen reveals that Joe Jill, Jr. is running the engine in at low RPMs. Before any dyno runs are made, the engine is broken in at low revs for 25 minutes.
While the engine is running at low idle, Donnie checked for fuel, oil, or water leaks -- none were found. With his trusty small blade screwdriver, George makes a minor fuel/air mix change on the Carabine Electronic Control Unit for the Hilborn 351W EFI.
After the 25-minute engine break-in period, another Superior technician, Jeff, drained the oil and poured in Valvoline 20W50 racing oil.
Joe Jill, Jr. rechecked the fuel and water line connections for leaks. As usual, none were found. Meanwhile, George confirmed that both banks of butterflies were opening the same amount.
Once George confirmed that both cylinder banks of EFI butterflies were opening equally, he put in the remaining two chrome velocity stacks. His Hilborn coworkers bet George that he wouldn't be caught in a photograph wearing the thick and goofy-looking safety glasses. Pay up, Hilborn cronies!
Right before making the first dyno run, with the engine under load, George fine tunes the Hilborn 351W EFI by turning the appropriate screws on the Carabine Electronic Unit.

After procuring a Hilborn 351W EFI, a MSD Ignition Ford 351W Pro Billet small cap distributor, an MSD Blaster coil, MSD plug wires, and a Zoops Products reverse-flow water pump, we delivered the components to Superior Automotive. We managed to get the CCT Project Truck engine onto Superior Automotive's crammed full engine dyno calendar by talking to Joe Jill, Superior's founder. We then counted off the days to the 427's world-premiere cacklefest and dyno test.

As you can see from the computer screen, the 427 ci engine made 534.4 horsepower and 545.2 lb.-ft. of torque on the first dyno run. Conservatively, Smeding Performance claims a carburetor-inducted 427ci Smeding Performance stroker engine will produce 480 horsepower. Hilborn claims a minimum of 50 additional horsepower when you install one of its Hilborn 351W EFI units. Both companies were right on the money with their claims.

Once you've secured your earplugs firmly in place, follow along with us and see how the Ford/Smeding/Hilborn/MSD/Zoops/Superior powerplant premiere concert went. Will there be rave reviews or plenty of boos? Be the first on your block to find out.

On the ninth and final dyno pull, the engine produced 555.3 horsepower and 557.6 lb.-ft. of torque! The engine had 34 degrees of timing. To say the Ford powerplant opened to rave reviews is a serious understatement.

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