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Episode Transcript

(Narrator)>> It's a great time to be a gearhead. For the weekend wrencher 1,000 horsepower was once the stuff of dreams but today on Engine Power Jon Kaase has invited us to his shop where we're building a high horsepower bolt together big block Ford using his latest cylinder head. It makes over 1,000 ponies and you can build one in your garage at home. ♪ ♪

(Pat)>> This unassuming building looks like any other you might find in a light industrial park but beyond this door one of the world's finest engine builders and his team are researching and creating cutting edge power plants that dominate several forms of racing, and they've called us up to come down here to the shop because they've cooked up something spicy for us to work on. Let's take a look. ♪ ♪ Last time we were here we did the Big Foot project, which was extremely fun. So we're here, there's a lot of new stuff starting with one of your famous creations here.

(Jon)>> It's a 1958 Edsel engine. It's an old style, they call them MEL. It has some special stuff done to the chambers and the chambers are extended down with these big brass things. But it is a 1958, 60 year old heads and block, and it makes almost 900 horse if you rev it up high enough.

(Pat)>> That is completely unbelievable, and you've got a lot of cool stuff. You have engines that go all over the world really.

(Jon)>> This is a crate motor we just finished for a guy who's going to Australia for a street car. It's got all the accessories and stuff on it. It's got air conditioning, but 880 horse. It's a nice little drive around street boss nine, and this one, it's more of a drag race engine but it has the new SR-71 heads on it. It'll probably make about 1,200.

(Pat)>> Wow!

(Jon)>> Boat motors, plenty of boat motors. Both those go in the same boat. It's a race boat that's in Trinidad.

(Pat)>> Trinidad, now you don't see many boats with...

(Jon)>> Boss nines? We build them just for him and dressed them all out and stuff. It's a 95 mile an hour boat. They race in one of those class deals.

(Pat)>> Today he's a world class engine builder who's earned dozens of championships and awards across the spectrum of racing. In big block Ford circles he's considered royalty, but this soft spoken guru started out like many other teenage gearheads. Going to drag races and building racing engines. After earning a degree in mechanical engineering, Jon worked three years for one of his early mentors, Dyno Don Nicholson. In 1979 he started his own shop, Kaase Racing Engines in a rented property. He built the existing shop in 1998. For over a decade the P-51 cylinder head has powered big block Ford race engines everywhere, and now there's a newer, more refined option, the SR-71. You may notice his heads are named after legendary aircraft, one of his passions.

(Jon)>> Well I just always kind of like the World War Two aircraft especially. I've actually flown in a P-51 and some of those older planes, and if I wasn't doing this I'd be working on those old planes, believe me.

(Pat)>> Trying to decide between a P-51 and the SR-71? The P-51 is still a great head, but the SR-71 is a little bigger in the right places and...

(Jon)>> A little better at the upper r-p-m's, and it's much better on a bigger cubic inch motor.

(Pat)>> The SR-71 arrives at Jon's facility already cast but in need of final machining. Recently they installed a five axis c-n-c machining center. This state of the art equipment allows them to precisely and quickly machine heads to exact specifications.

(Cliff)>> The c-n-c programming the five axis market has always been very intriguing to me but what this allows us to do just bring the five axis in. We also have a four and a three axis as you move into other avenues of manufacturing.

(Pat)>> Kaase has gotten into marine engine development, and with great success. With characteristic humbleness he admits a bit of a concern going in.

(Jon)>> I almost didn't know if we were up for the task. It's complicated, it's hard racing, but we got with a group from Geico, sponsored by Geico, and when we met up with those guys it was just like a natural fit. They needed some good engine work and we were almost starting off with the best team in boat racing. So we started off at the top.

(Pat)>> Since joining the Miss Geico racing team in 2015 Jon has provided powerful reliable engines, which have led to multiple wins in class one, which is an unlimited division. When talking about his success Jon is modest. Instead of saying "I" he says "we", meaning a team of dedicated engine builders working in the shop. His philosophy is straight forward yet profound.

(Jon)>> It's simple, you just try to treat everybody right. We try and be sort of humble. We win a lot of races and stuff, but you can be right in the dumpster next week. You learn to be humble. To try and figure if you're on top it's not forever.

(Narrator)>> Up next the build begins with a strong foundation, the Ford Performance AFour-60 big block.

(Pat)>> You don't have to do this with a small block Chevy.

(Pat)>> We're back in the assembly room here at Kaase, and I'm with Chuck Lawrence. Chuck is gonna be putting together the bullet we're gonna run later. So Chuck tell me a little bit about what the cubic inch of this is.

(Chuck)>> Well it's a four-600 bore and a four and a half stroke. So it'll be 598 cubic inches.

(Pat)>> Okay, very good. Now I see we've already got some bearings laid in and we're gonna check bearing clearance here in a bit. On something like this what do you like to see for bearing clearance?

(Chuck)>> On a motor that's gonna make this kind of power and this kind of abuse, a little over three, three and a half thousandths. Somewhere in that range is what we shoot for.

(Pat)>> Okay and as far as the components we have a good crank. So the tolerances are all dependent on the parts you're gonna be using.

(Chuck)>> Correct, you never know. Some of them are bigger and smaller than others. So we do have bearing choices you know to try to make up the difference.

(Pat)>> Okay, very good. Well let's see what this front one has and we'll go from there.

(Chuck)>> Usually we start out, I measure the crank. So this one's a thousandth under. Gives you a little room. We like to set the gauge with the mic that we check it with. That way we're dead.

(Pat)>> Yep, dead on.

(Chuck)>> So we'll check them. So we've got about three and a half thousandths here. That's perfect for a race motor. Gonna run it this hard.

(Pat)>> All right, sounds good to me. ♪ ♪ With all the bearings checked and thoroughly lubricated a custom made one piece rear main seal is prepped for installation by cutting it on the marked location. ♪ ♪ You don't have to do this with a small block Chevy. ♪ ♪ That's slick right there man. I always feel better about an engine when the crank goes in.

(Chuck)>> And it works.

(Pat)>> And it works, yeah. ♪ ♪

(Chuck)>> These blocks will hold a lot of power. I've made almost 4,000 with some turbo motors. Held up fine.

(Pat)>> Oh my! ♪ ♪ Next Chuck gently snugs up the main caps before torqueing them down. Alright, what are we torqueing to here?

(Chuck)>> 100 foot pounds.

(Pat)>> Okay! [ torque wrench clicking ] ♪ ♪

(Pat)>> Tell me a little bit about the rod and piston assembly that we're using.

(Chuck)>> A Lunati H-beam rod. It is a Chevrolet rod. We use a two-200 Chevy journal and a 990 pin. A Diamond piston. These are coated. Helps with power a little bit. They are gas ported. It's a pretty serious piece for what we're doing here, and of course you can see it's a flat top. Get good flame travel without a dome compared to some of the other brands.

(Pat)>> I like how a pro puts spiral locks in, with his fingers. Now tell me about the ring pack in this.

(Chuck)>> Total Seal Rings, we use them exclusively here, about all we use. A C-33 steel, stainless steel top ring for that kind of power level. Holds up really well. Zero-43 thickness. We use a Napier cast second ring. Napier does a really good job wiping, keeping them dry.

(Pat)>> Oil control, yep.

(Chuck)>> And then we use a three millimeter oil ring.

(Pat)>> Okay. How long you been building engines Chuck?

(Chuck)>> Since I was 15. Actually the first engine building job I had was working for John Deere on heavy equipment.

(Pat)>> A lot of us engine builders, we all start off doing the same type of thing. I started off building two and a half horse Tecumseh's all the way up to Detroit. So now everything in between you know? It didn't have anything to do with racing.

(Chuck)>> And getting to work here and be around Kaase, and sometimes it's fun just to bounce ideas off of him. He may not say nothing, just look at you. A month later he'll come back, you know you're on to something. We need to do this with that. You know I kinda like that, or he'll just tell you don't mess with that. ♪ ♪ [ drill spinning ] ♪ ♪

(Chuck)>> We'll torque the rods to 75 foot pounds.

(Pat)>> And with that the pistons are in.

(Narrator)>> Coming up the big block gets a top notch top end. Then we go hunting for horses in the dyno cell.

(Pat)>> With the pistons installed the big block Ford is ready for a cam shaft. This custom ground solid roller is from Comp. With big lift and duration it's designed to make power between 5,000 and 7,000 r-p-m. The timing set comes from Innovators West. It's made 100 percent in house on precision c-n-c equipment. The front cover is billet aluminum, and the assembly features anodized pulleys. The belt drive assembly provides fully adjustable cam timing in precise increments. The damper is also from Innovators West. It's a billet piece with full 360 degree timing marks. Like any good engine builder Chuck always degrees the cam. ♪ ♪ The oil pump is Kaase's own design. After years of breaking stock style pumps Kaase designed this one with a more robust mounting boss to prevent the pump from snapping off the block during extreme use. ♪ ♪ Proper oil pan clearance is sometimes overlooked when building an engine. Chuck however uses precise measurements to set up the pick-up perfectly.

(Chuck)>> I like to have it somewhere around 180, 200 thousandths at the maximum. That way it can't suck through the bottom of the pan. And when the oil gets at high r-p-m's we want to keep it submerged in oil.

(Pat)>> The oil pan itself is Stef's Fabricated aluminum design created to fit Fox body Fords. ♪ ♪ Next come the massive nine-sixteenths diameter ARP head studs and a set of mechanical roller lifters. And now the signature piece of the build, a set of Kaase's SR-71 cylinder heads. They have a 70cc chamber along with deeper intake and exhaust bowls. Kaase refers to these heads as ported as cast. Meaning the heads flow like ported ones without the need for additional work. The valve seats, guides, and rocker stud bosses are built to handle high power operation. The heads are being torqued to 130 pound feet. [ torque wrench clicking ]

(Chuck)>> I'm picky about which way I put them.

(Pat)>> Oh God bless you. I've got to have all the writing going the same way.

(Chuck)>> Me too, I know it.

(Pat)>> People that are more goofy than engine builders are cylinder head porters. Well once he's got them organized Chuck drops in the push rods. Topping off the valve train are one point seven-three ratio Comp steel rockers. Cold lash is set at 18 thousandths on both intake and exhaust. Okay what you got with us there?

(Chuck)>> We've got a billet end spacer we have to use as the manifold's raised up. China wall, whatever you want to refer to, and on the SVO block they have pin holes drilled in them. They're not tapped. So we can drill them and tap them, and bolt them down, and stay in place for you.

(Pat)>> A bead of silicone seals up the block. ♪ ♪ Next a dominator flange single plane intake manifold from Trick Flow. ♪ ♪ A locked out MSD Pro Billet distributor will handle the ignition. ♪ ♪ Engine shops often keep a dedicated carb for use on the dyno. It's just one less variable to account for when testing a new engine. This one is from Quick Fuel. ♪ ♪ A couple of quick touches and this engine is complete. ♪ ♪ Well everything went together nice and fit up slick, and what's next?

(Chuck)>> Dyno!

(Pat)>> Dyno, let's make some hot water with it huh?

(Chuck)>> Let's do it.

(Narrator)>> Up next, it all comes down to this. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> We are at Kaase Racing Engines in Winder, Georgia, prepping the big block Ford in the dyno cell. Recently we built a big block Chevy in our Engine Power shop, and since the specs are fairly similar we thought it would be fun to compare the results purely out of idle curiosity of course. The Chevy has 632 cubic inches with a bore of four-600 and a stroke of four-750. The compression ratio is 15.03 to one. On our best dyno run, from 5,500 to 7,500 r-p-m, we made 1,022 horsepower and 821 pound feet of torque, but engine builders thrive on competition. So when we shared the numbers with the crew at Kaase they took it as a challenge. Right out of the box their engine ran great using their everyday dyno carb, but to maximize the numbers they put on a full tilt race carburetor. With the engine dialed in and a couple of warm up pulls under its belt, we're ready for the first run of record. All right this is actually my favorite part, and I always say that because it's true. [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> Look at that. Yeah that's okay.

(Chris)>> 1,099.

(Pat)>> First pull, that is 1,099 on the first pull. Now that makes me kind of sad because my 632 that's 34 inches bigger is making less power, but you want to make another yank on it? See if you can get it to 1,100? I mean it's so close it's scary. Dude that's awesome. How much time is in this?

(Logun)>> Right at 28 degrees.

(Pat)>> Okay! [ engine revving ]

(Pat)>> It did it! Look at that!

(Chris)>> 1,108!

(Pat)>> 1,108.

(Logun)>> Hot dog!

(Chris)>> Print that one.

(Pat)>> Dude that's nice. That is unbelievable and we have an 1,108 horse. 933 at 5,900, and look at how many 1,100's it's printing. From 6,600 all the way to 7,200 it's printing over 1,100. It's right there. Dude that is unbelievable. Man nice job. You guys happy with it.

(Chris)>> Absolutely!

(Pat)>> Nice job! Kaase and his talented team rose to the occasion and barely edged out our big block Chevy, but honestly with either one you can't go wrong. You're getting four digit horsepower in a bolt together engine that you can build in your own garage. We really enjoyed our visit to Kaase Racing Engines. We built an engine that makes huge power and got to spend time with a team that truly loves their work.

(Chuck)>> Being successful with them. Making them run good, making them last, but everyone you do you learn something.

(Cliff)>> What we do is we make things better. That's really what it boils down to. We make things fit, we make things better, and everybody's personality here is you look at something, say hey, this is cool but we've got to work on it. We've got to make it better.

(Pat)>> For more information on anything you've seen on today's show head over to Powernation TV dot com. ♪ ♪

(Jon)>> Well you know on the conventional head with a normal 460 valve placement, as the air comes rushing down the port, that 400 mile an hour air and fuel we're talking about, it has to come out this one little window right here. And with the valve being pretty close to the cylinder wall the farther it opens the closer it gets. That window's fairly small and it has no choice but with the centrifugal force to throw that fuel right into the cylinder wall. The heavy part of the flow, and that's why on these heads, on the SR-71, we moved the valves way back this way. They're almost a half inch in the chamber. So this area right here has a huge amount of room to make that turn. A little bit of extra clearance to the cylinder wall makes a huge difference in power.

(Pat)>> Now we have some stuff cut apart here and destructive testing is part of learning but it's kinda painful to put something in the band saw that's brand new. Tell me what you have here.

(Jon)>> This is a conventional head. Normal port size. Really when you get down to it a fifth grade class could tell you that if you have a bigger engine and you're trying to make more power you're gonna have to move more air into it. The evolution of these heads has grown to this size now. I don't think there's anything even close to this size as far as conventional 460 head, but it's big right here. The valve bowl's very deep, and that will help it to make that turn with the high air speed that we're talking about.

(Pat)>> Now another, I'm not gonna say overlooked but neglected part of doing one of these heads is exhaust side. Tell me about this one?

(Jon)>> Well what we did is we stuck to the exact Ford print for the gasket. It's not necessarily bigger but some of these people that make aftermarket heads they end up making the exhaust port a little bit smaller because they flow better that way, but what we want is a port that flows good. It's big enough to handle cubic inches and it fits in a car. If you start moving the bolts around and you move the port up and stuff, it's not gonna fit in an older style chassis car or anything you can buy headers for. So these heads have the exact same location as a stock port. Stock bolt holes, everything, but they're not exactly bigger than an original factory iron super cobrajet had. We go off the gasket size for that. People have a tendency to take these and just fill about that much of the port up, and it'll flow a little bit better. It also hurts it about 30 to 50 horsepower. So we don't care as much about the air flow as we do what that needle says on the dyno. So we've been through all this and we know if you make this port smaller right here it will flow better and it will make less power.

(Pat)>> Well Jon I want to thank you for having us down and talking air flow, and science, and engine building. It was very much appreciated.

(Jon)>> Thanks, it was a pleasure having you here.
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