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Advice on Porting the Head

Just a full disclosure as to my experience with building engines, there is none. This is the first time I've really torn an engine down all the way with the intention of putting back together.  Any advice is welcome, even if its not directly related to the question. 

I'm just starting a 2.3l Turbo build (out of a 1988 Turbo Coupe) for my 1976 Ford Courier, and have the head ready to go to the machine shop for a valve job, surfacing, and possibly some porting.  That being said, the machine shop I talked to didn't seem particularly familiar with the 2.3l, and I'm not sure if I want to be their trial run for porting one.  (Recommendations for a good shop in Virginia would be nice, I don't know any) On top of that, I'm not really sure if its worth getting the head ported in the first place.  I'm looking for around 200hp to start, with room to grow to 250hp later on.  More or less, the engine is going together stock, but I'll have a decent sized intercooler and a higher volume fuel pump, so hopefully that should help a little. A better turbo to come later, for now I have the stock IHI.  I'm pretty much following the Stinger FAQ on "what mods do I need for X hp".

Another option would be to port it myself. I know there is a good post on here to walk through the process, and I'm not wholly opposed to doing it myself,  but if it's a very risky/delicate procedure it might be best for me to get someone else to do it. 

The other thing I read about was that the heads have a problem with cracking.  I know Boport has a service for installing hardened valve seats, would that help with the cracking issue?  If that's necessary, I might just have them do the porting as well, but that's starting to look like a lot of money.  

I guess the short version of the questions are:
1.  Is porting the head particularly helpful for reaching 250hp?
2.  Is porting the head something I can trust a random shop with, or am I better off sending it to Boport or trying it myself?
3.  How risky is it to try and port it myself? How tight are the tolerances I'm working with?
4.  What about trusting the shop with a valve job vs sending it to Boport?
5.  Is there anything I can do about the head cracking issue such as sending it to Boport for hardened valve seats?
6.  Any decent shops in Virginia?

I appreciate the help.  Again, any advice relating to building the engine is welcome.  I have never worked on a 2.3L before and I'm jumping right into building one, so there's a lot to learn. 

WELCOME to TurboFord, Ish......what's your name? A ported head is a good upgrade, BUT......only if it's done right. Some folks figure they can just go in with a die grinder and some carbide burrs, grinding stones, sanding rolls, etc. and just hog the snot outta the ports ~ which is a good way to ruin a perfectly good head & probably make it worse than stock.

OTOH, having a professional, like Bo Chrisman (Boport), Tim Ottinger or Steve Schlodes do it will ensure that it's done correctly. There's nothing wrong with tackling it yourself, as long as you do it methodically with specific dimensions as a goal. HERE is a writeup that I did a while back with Tim Ottinger, but......keep in mind that you're still gonna need hardened exhaust seats AND a "proper" 3-angle valve job.

As far as extending your goals further (250-300), the "guide" on Stinger's site is pretty darn good. Due to the low octane of pump gas nowadays, I suggest using boost-friendly E85, if available in your area. You'll also need:

  1. Bigger turbo (ranging in price from $200-ish "Churbo" to $1700 B/W EFR series).
  2. An FMIC (front-mounted intercooler).
  3. Bigger injectors.
  4. Aftermarket ECU (PiMP, 'Squirt, DetonationEMS, etc.)
  5. Wide-band sensor/controller/gauge
  6. Bigger downpipe and exhaust (3 ~ 3-1/2)
  7. Bigger cam (Boport 1.5, 2.1, etc......consult Bo).
  8. Mildly-ported E6 manifold or a non-Chinese header (log or individual tube).
  9. Bigger f/pump 
Placerville, California
(former)  '78 2.3T Courier w/blow-thru Autolite 2bbl carb ~ (current)  '87 2.3T Ranger w/PiMP’d EFI

Ray, thanks for the quick reply.  My name is Ashton, but people usually call me Ish.   I'll think about the porting for a bit and let y'all know what I end up doing.  I think I might just try and follow the writeup on here and be real mild with it. $350 seems like a heck of a lot of money for something that might be a bit more than I'll need, and I really don't want to hand it off to someone who might not be so careful.  I'll call Boport and ask about it today just in case, I'm considering sending it there to do the rest of the head/valve work anyway.  We'll see.  

Any recommendations on which valves to get? I really don't know where to look.  I suppose I could reuse the old ones, they don't look bad, but I'm getting all the valve work done and I figure I should go ahead and get fresh valves.  Summit has the oversize valves, but I'll probably stick with stock size just to save some money. I suspect oversize valves take a fair bit of machining, and I'm not really sure I would use their potential.  

I also think I'll get the performance lifters and drop-in springs from Boport so I'm ready if I ever end up getting the Boport 1.5 cam, and maybe an adjustable cam sprocket.  I will be getting a ranger roller cam and followers from the junkyard soon. As with everything else, I'm open to opinions on this.  

I know I'm asking a lot of questions here, I just want to run everything by someone before I spend too much money.  I think that should about wrap it up with my plans for the head.  Here's a summary:

-Machine work (Porting???, guides, surfacing, valve job, hardened seats, cam bearings)
-Ranger roller cam and followers
-Boport performance lifters and drop-in springs
-Esslinger adjustable cam sprocket
-New stock size valves

Look like a decent plan? Let me know if anything seems like a waste or not the best route.

Does the stock 99 TC motor run w/o any unusual noises or smoking? If so, I suggest installing it "AS IS" for the time being, so you can work out the engine mounts, clearances, etc... The stock turbo short blocks were/are "good" for up to 400-ish hp! BTW ~ Ford didn't start putting the 2.3 Lima in Couriers until '77, so you may discover a lot of obstacles. I THINK you'll need a front-sump pan and I KNOW you'll have to fab the engine mounts (the ones in the later Couriers won't work).

The truck PROBABLY has either a TK 4 or 5spd trans. My 78 2.3T Courier (blow-thru carb) was a factory 2.3 version and it had the TK 4spd.......which is vastly easier to work on than the 5spd and I never had any probs with it. Also, I don't know what size ring gear is in the diff, but I never had any issues with mine.

As for cyl-head mods, Bo's least-expensive "Stage 1" porting is a helluva good bang for the buck. It includes minor/moderate "bowl work" and a 3-angle valve job (but, AFAIK, NOT hardened exh seats ~ which you DO need). Ask Bo, BUT........I don't think you need oversize valves for 250-300hp. Besides, the factory exhaust valves on the turbo engines were "special" (made from Inconel).

Keep in mind that the Ranger/Mustang "roller cams" were/are less aggressive than the OEM slider cams. Most folks who swap 'em in don't do so for more performance, but rather b/c their slider cams & followers are severely worn. If you DO install a R/R, retard it 4°-ish with your adjustable Essy cam sprocket to extend the torque curve higher in the RPM range. 

Unless yours are clicking/ticking, the only reason to get new "lifters" (actually hydraulic lash adjusters, aka HLA's) is when using a reduced base circle cam, where the HLA's need to be shimmed higher to maintain proper valvetrain "geometry". Therefore, SOMETIMES (depending upon how high they're shimmed)......there's a possibility that the "oil-receiving band" will wind up ABOVE the feed hole in the HLA bore. You can measure to determine the hole location relative to the band in the shimmed HLA.  <shrug>
Placerville, California
(former)  '78 2.3T Courier w/blow-thru Autolite 2bbl carb ~ (current)  '87 2.3T Ranger w/PiMP’d EFI

Funnily enough, I bought the Courier with a 2.3l and a T-5 already swapped into it.  The guy before me put it in with some homemade engine mounts and the front sump pan. It fits pretty nice, just not much room up front.  It was my idea to put a 2.3T into it (I figured a 302 didn't really fit the spirit of the truck), just to make the truck more fun.  

As for the TC engine, I bought it already pulled from the car and about half disassembled.  It was the closest one I could find and it seemed like a much better deal than the others I saw for sale. I figured that I was going to take it apart and rebuild it anyway, so it wasn't too much of an issue for me.  The guy I got it from seemed real friendly and glad to help, so I was willing to take the chance on the engine in its current state. Plus, he has a ton more parts, so if I'm missing anything I can probably get it from him.  

I just called Bo a little while ago, and went ahead and ordered what I need from him.  I'm skipping the lifters, and I'll order them at the same time as one of his cams.  That's something I can do after the engine is in the truck, so I'm not in a hurry.  I'm going to have my local shop do all the valve work, and try porting it myself. I'm not going to do much, just smooth it out and clean it up a bit.  I agree that the Boport Stage 1 porting is plenty fair price, but once I started adding up all the other machine work, plus shipping it across the country, it was starting to look like one very expensive head (For me, anyway).  He said to just reuse the original valves, so that's what I'm gonna do.  

I'm not certain if I need to swap to a roller cam, but the stock cam I have looks like it has some surface rust on the lobes from where it sat without the valve cover on, so I figure I might as well swap to a roller cam instead of spending time or money cleaning this one up.  I'll get a Boport cam eventually anyway, so I might as well be ready for that.  I appreciate the help.  Don't worry, I'll be back with more questions soon.  I'll also throw in some pictures when I eventually (lightly) port the head. 

P.S. Sorry for these walls of text, it didn't look like that much on my computer, but reading it on my phone feels like I'm scrolling through a novel.

(05-26-2022, 07:13 PM)Ish Wrote:  1) As for the TC engine........I was going to take it apart and rebuild it anyway.......
2) I'm going to have my local shop do all the valve work, and try porting it myself.
3) the stock cam I have looks like it has some surface rust on the lobes.......  
1) If the bores don't have a fingernail-catching "ridge", I suggest doing a light hone with a bottle-brush hone and re-using the stock forged pistons and rods with a new set of rings. If you take it to a machine shop, [1] Most are notoriously tardy with projected completion dates, and [2] They're gonna recommend line honing, crank regrind, overbore and new pistons......which will PROBABLY add up to over 1500 bux! <eek>

2) I urge you to follow the DIY head porting thread that I linked and DON'T do any extra. If possible, find a local well-reputed head porter to cut your seats and valves.

3) Surface rust on the lobes of a slider cam is GOOD, Ish! After cleaning it off with a wire brush, steel wool, etc......you're left with little pockets to hold the oil!  <thumbup>  Smile
Placerville, California
(former)  '78 2.3T Courier w/blow-thru Autolite 2bbl carb ~ (current)  '87 2.3T Ranger w/PiMP’d EFI

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