"How much horsepower can I get out of my 3.0?"
(Originally a post on the Ranger Power Sports 3.0L Forum answering a much worn out question. I have updated it and provided additional links, so it has changed a bit from the original post.)
"Hmmm... We covered all this multiple times... ...for those that were "napping"...
Speed costs. How fast do you want to spend??
Note: Every application is different, everyone's needs are different, everyone's perceptions and tastes are different. With that in mind.....
Ford's EEC-V DIS is (according to the MSD rep I spoke to) one of the finest ignitions running. It will work just fine until you start increasing the compression (by any method). That is when it becomes weak.
The EEC-IV Ignition is identical to the 5.0L Mustang and there are plenty of aftermarket parts to support it (except for the distributor itself). Caps, rotors, wires, boxes, Boost timing computers, dial in timing from the dash, there are no limits...
Spark Plugs and Plug Wires. Mostly personal preference and aesthetics, just make sure they are NOT solid core! The noise from these wires will hose your ECU! Taylor, MSD, Accel and others make wires for the 3.0L OR the equivalent year 5.0L 'stang, just use the 6 shortest wires!). Stay away for "Split-Fires" with any high output ignition, they will not hold a gap! Open your sparkplug gap in .005" increments until power/mileage go down, then back up .005". Always start with the Ford specs for your engine and move the gap/heat range as needed. Nitrous and boosted applications have special spark plug needs!! Make sure you do your homework!
The 3.0L cast iron crank will handle quite a bit. The TKT "Franken-Charger" that is STILL going through mods to fit under my hood, is quoted at 240+HP on the factory crank and is practically identical to the R. Greco Probe unit that is also over 240HP on a cast crank. The secret is: it will not tolerate ANY detonation with the increased HP. It will fail! You must do a solid build up and seriously address detonation with water injection, no sharp edges in the cylinder or combustion chamber, ceramic coatings, etc. It will not stand up to high RPM's for a prolonged period either (Sure, it can rev to 7,000 RPM's.... once!). The 3.0L Vulcan is incredibly reliable and will put out some serious numbers IF you approach it scientifically, keeping a realistic 6,000 RPM setting on the chip or ignition box/limiter (6,663RPM is the theoretical "grenade-point" with the current stroke, rod length and hypereutectic pistons). Regardless, use Aerostar main studs instead of bolts (never, ever reuse head bolts or main bolts!!!!). They are $50 a set from Ford. Minor mods have to be made to use 4 sets of studs and still retain the factory windage tray (Use Early Taurus windage oil pan??).
A forged crank's main purpose is high RPM stability and strength. It will tolerate some outright abuse, but IS NOT MANDATORY for 240+HP (unless you want to keep it wrapped up tight over 5,500RPM's all the time, then you must go forged). It is possible (and has been done) to modify a FORGED 3.0/3.2L SHO crank to fit the Vulcan block for $800-$1,000 in welding and machining. A "one-off" forging will be $3,000 (or $1,500 ea for 10!). This will support almost 400 HP (Look at the 3.2L V-6 SHO's that are running the Vortech Supercharger at 10psi boost OR MORE!). Granted, you need to use the SHO forged pistons, rods and high quality hardware, and the stock valvetrain won't handle much over 5,500rpm, but the crank could handle it!
The 3.0L block can be taken to 3.1L with boring and a slight offset grind (been done on this board, 91XCAB and others). 3.2L with a little milling of the piston's face (CAREFUL!!!) but custom pistons are the real way to do it. 3.3L with 5.400" 302 (5.0L) stroker rods providing you use the Small Block Chevy 2.100" or SHO 2.049" rod journal and watch the pistons!! The block will take a .060" overbore (.040 easy) as Ford sells these pistons for the 3.0L. The right block can be pushed (if sonically tested) to .075" allowing forged Pinto 2.0L pistons to be used. I would prefer a 3.552" bore, myself! This is entirely decided by your machinists skill and the depth of your wallet. I have numbers for a 3.4L with a welded crank. Now, who has the $$$$???
Our weakest area is the pistons. They are hypereutectic (HE, nothing more than high temperature castings with a high silicon content) that are better than cast, but not as strong as forged. If you want high RPM's, you need forged pistons (redline is a function of valvetrain AND piston speed, over 3500 fpm, you need forged pistons). I have quotes from 2 companies that will make forged pistons per spec from $69-90 ea. Again, stock compression, and 3.3L will work fine for a daily driver that keeps a 5,800 RPM limit and only sees it only occasionally. If you run 12.5:1 compression, Lots of nitrous or twin turbos at 15 PSI, they will melt in fast order. Get forged. They are noisier when cold (piston slap due to the reduced expansion of the billet material), but you will get over it!
Oiling: We are fortunate enough to have a very reliable and capable oiling system. We can make some improvements though. Deburr and thoroughly scrub every last millimeter of the engine. Gyptal winding paint in the lifter valley will speed oil back past the PLUGGED (or at least screened) oil return holes above the spinning cam (reduced windage) and to the relieved returns at the front and rear of the block. "Total roller" engine (roller rockers and roller lifters) builders can experiment with reducing the oil sent to the top of the engine (using reducers in the rear oil gallies - a la Small Block Chevy). The oil pump has NO aftermarket superiors. Stick with a Ford pump, relieve and blueprint all the flow passages (increased volume) and use a small spacer between the pressure relief spring and the pump housing (experiment with size) to increase pump pressure (10 PSI per 1,000 engine RPM readline, so a 7,000 engine needs 70 PSI). Remember to use a quality 1 QT filter relocation kit. An oil cooler and T-stat will help, too.
Headers help mainly above 4,500RPM, but will increase mileage. They are almost mandatory with any real forced induction to lower exhaust temps (thereby lower engine temps) and handle the increased air movement. Exhaust size is slaved to HP and nothing else. Too big and you lose your bottom end. Too small and you lose top end. See any search engine to determine the exhaust tube you need (7 psi boost on a 3.0L results in 240HP, that requires a true 2" set of duals or 3" single!!)
Our intakes (Pre-'98) SUCK! The TB is too restrictive. The heads (all years) are prone to cracking and need some MILD porting and polishing. Take 91XCAB's intake idea, use aluminum and keep the runners 7.5" from the centerline of the 90CI plenum to the lower flange. This is a tuned port for 3,000 RPM's (+/-). You can add or subtract length to target a specific point.
The 3.0L has a relatively weak cam profile, but it is reliable. There are at least 3 companies doing 3.0L cam grinds, for either version. The 2001 Taurus and 2002 Ranger have a dual profile cam with a more aggressive exhaust. The roller cam set up is IDENTICAL to the 5.0L V-8 in design, and the lifters are the SAME!!!! We need slightly stronger keepers, retainers and valvesprings to deal with more enthusiastic/spirited driving. If you rev over 5,500 RPM's regularly, invest in a quality set of double valvesprings. If you have rev'ed over 5,800 RPM's on factory single springs, replace them now! I have a anti-pump up, adjustable valvetrain ready for 6,500 RPM's, who wants one?
I do not feel that anyone on the street needs more than 5,800 RPM's if they select the proper gear ratio. 3.73:1 is the ideal gear ratio with our rod/stroke. It is mathematically perfect! But!!! If you change your tire size, trans ratios or ring and pinion, you change your effective gear ratio. I was running 4.10's with 28.2" tires (that is a 3.89:1 effective ratio) and it towed great, but wound out quick on the street (no load). The 3.73's I'm running now are GREAT unloaded and don't pull as well with the trailer. Suk!
The 7.5" rear is used in the Mustang as well. Go to their boards. I have heard over 250HP with no problems. If you are worried, you can get a "truss cover" from TA Performance (Ford no longer sells them, but TA made them for SVO anyway!), and Mosler Eng. C-Clip eliminators for the 7.5" Mustang rear. Same bolt pattern as ours. The 8.8" rear from a Ranger/B-Series is a direct swap and uses the same hardware. Use the Ranger 8.8: rear, Strange Engineering 9" C-Clip Eliminator axles (Mustang) and an 8.8" truss cover for the ultimate, NO-LEAK Rear!
This is all for NOT with out proper preparations, quality parts, a near sterile work environment and CONSISTENT, SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE BY SOMEONE WHO CAN BE TRUSTED!!
I have seen people drop $3,000+ dollars in an engine and tear it up because they reused parts that cost under $50 new. I have also seen a perfect race engine destroyed by the owner carelessly dropping a sheetmetal screw in the carb (mounting a temporary hood scoop).
You can't go wrong with a really good machinist. It is the best money you will spend. NEVER "skip" balancing when machining an engine. It is money well spent.
You pay your money, you take your chances, CAVEAT EMPTOR!!
Damn... that wasted 45 minutes.... I'm done ranting..... for now........"
While I still stand by those words (dated: 2 or 3 board crashes ago), they have been modified/updated to stay with the ever increasing ideas/parts available. To view the original text, go here.
Go to Rogue Performance!
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