Rebuilding a Ford 351 Cleveland

Hi everyone! In the Fall of 2009 your humble webmaster embarked on a complete rebuild of my 351C. After troubleshooting perpetually poor engine performance for a year, I finally pulled out the camshaft to discover multiple lobes were worn off and pitting. The quick fix would have been to throw in a new camshaft and a new set of lifters, but judging by the amount of material missing from the old cam, I decided a more thorough and reliable approach was to tear down the entire engine. I know from thermodynamics that conservation of mass is a law...and if mass is missing from my camshaft, it must have gone somewhere else in the engine (via the oil system) and that's just scary. So I figured it was time for a complete teardown, inspection, cleaning, machining, new bearings, new rings, and of course a new camshaft and lifters.

Throughout the whole rebuild process, I photographed most of the steps along the way. I did this for a number of reasons. One, I wanted to document what I was doing to share on the internet. Two, I wanted to document what I was doing so that I have complete photographic evidence of everything that was done to the engine. Lastly, in case I ever do this again, I'll have pictures to use as a reference! Anyway, hopefully those of you visiting this page will find this useful.

Last updated: 07/21/10

I've divided this up into little photo-essays as follows:

Part 1: Engine Removal

Part 2: Teardown

Part 3: Inspection

Part 4: Heads

Part 5: New Parts! Part 5A: Complete Parts List

Part 6: Assembling the Bottom End

Part 7: Assembling the Top End

Part 8: Installing the Engine in the Car

Part 9: Break-in, testing, and tuning

Part 10: Lessons Learned

Photos and text by Matt Hannes, Copyright 2009-2010. Email me with questions or comments.

Additional Resources

I am by no means an expert at this, so don't rely purely on my photos to get through a rebuild. I highly recommend the following technical resources (books):

1) Ford shop manual. Reprints for the Pantera are available from Pantera Performance Center. A Ford shop manual for a Mustang, Torino, or any other car with a Cleveland engine would also work.
2) Ford Performance, by Pat Ganahl. Published by SA Design / Cartech.
3) How To Rebuild Small-Block Ford Engines, by Tom Monroe. Published by HPBooks / Penguin Group.
4) How To Rebuild The Small-Block Ford, by George Reid. Published by SA Design / Cartech.

The two "How To" books listed above are pretty good, but I must offer a word of caution: they are written more for the 289/302/351W family of engines - not the Cleveland. As a result, many of the components shown in these books won't look exactly like the Cleveland components. This is where the Ford shop manual for the Pantera helps out greatly.

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Contents copyright 2009-2010.