How To: Install 302/351 Mustang Cylinder Heads and Valvetrain

Posted 7/6/2015 by Landan Durham

Install cylinder heads and the needed accessories onto your 302 or 351 based engine!

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Cylinder Heads and Valvetrain Install

Cylinder Heads and Accessories

When it comes to cylinder heads, there is without a doubt, many, many choices. From our in house SVE heads, Trick Flow, Edelbrock, Ford Racing, and AFR, there is several choices to choose from to fit your build. Whatever cylinder head fits your needs, you’ll want to pick up a set of high quality Ford Racing head gaskets as well.

Valvetrain Components

Since most new cylinder heads usually come assembled with valve springs and guide plates, you’ll need to pick up a set of roller rocker arms. We offer roller rockers from popular brands such as Crane Cams, Trick Flow and Pro Form. Finishing off the core valve train components, are pushrods and lifters. Hydraulic roller and flat tappet lifters will be available from Comp Cams and Ford Racing. Multiple pushrod kits are available ranging from the stock length of 6.272” to 6.700”. We also carry multiple push rod length checking tools to ensure you select the proper push rod for your application.

Valve Covers

Don’t forget to top off your new cylinder heads with a set of valve covers and valve cover gaskets. We offer several valve covers to match whatever engine theme you are going for. Whatever valve cover you do choose, keep in mind to always check roller rocker and throttle linkage clearance. With taller valve covers you may need to run an intake manifold spacer. Which could then lead to hood clearance issues. So always double and triple check before pulling the trigger on any valve train component.

Some smaller items that will be needed of course will head bolts or head studs, cylinder head plugs for any of you guys that have deleted the smog pump and head bolt reducer bushings for anyone wanting to run a head with 1/2” bolt holes.


Required Tools

  • 3/8" Drive Torque Wrench
  • Socket Set
  • Allen Wrench Set
  • Black RTV Silicone
  • Engine Oil
  • Engine Assembly Lube
  • Small Ball Peen Hammer
  • Paint Pen/Permanent Marker
  • Thread Sealer
  • Fastener Assembly Lube
  • Blue Loctite


Install

    -Before you begin, it is in your best interest to have a clean working area and to clean all of your parts prior to install.
    -Also, it is recommended that you assemble the front of your engine and the oil system prior to installing the cylinder head and its components.
    -Before installation, it is ideal to have all of your parts laid out on a clean, well prepped surface.
    -We also, strongly recommend checking piston to valve clearance and push rod length prior to installing your cylinder heads.

  1. Apply an engine assembly lube to the rollers on the lifters.
  2. Install the lifters into the engine block with the holes facing up and toward the center of the engine.
  3. Position the lifter retainers between the lifters in their marked orientation.
  4. These are also referred to as ‘dog bones’.
  5. Once all of the lifter retainers are in place, position the lifter retainer plate on the engine block.
  6. Loosely tighten the included lock washer and bolts to secure the lifter retainer plate onto the engine block.
  7. Ensure the lifter retainers on centered and then torque the retainer plate to 120 in/lbs.
  8. Mark the harmonic balancer at the zero degree mark with a permanent marker or paint pen while the engine is at top dead center.
  9. Position the head gasket over the cylinder head dowels on the engine block.
  10. Apply a small amount of RTV behind the ear of the head gasket and on top where the cylinder head and lower intake manifold will mate together.
  11. Now it’s time to prep the head bolts.
  12. Apply thread sealer to all of the lower or shorter cylinder head bolts.
  13. Apply a fastener or moly lube to the upper or taller cylinder head bolts.
  14. Since we are installing a set of our SVE heads onto this engine, we used Trick Flow’s head bolt reducer bushings instead of the included ARP washers.
  15. This allows for use of 7/16” bolts into cylinder heads with a 1/2” bolt hole bore.
  16. You’ll torque these bolts from the center out in three stages.
  17. The first stage is 50 ft/lbs.
  18. The second stage is 60 ft/lbs.
  19. The third stage is 70 ft/lbs.
  20. Do the same for the other cylinder head.
  21. Apply engine assembly lube to the top of the valves and to the top of the lifters.
  22. Slide the push rods through the guide plates and then lube that area with fresh engine oil.
  23. Apply engine assembly lube to the rollers and the push rod cups on the rocker arms.
  24. With the engine at top dead center on cylinder number one, install both intake and exhaust rocker arms.
  25. Pre-load the lifter with about 3/8” of a turn on the set screw.
  26. Rotate the crankshaft ninety degrees and do the same thing for cylinder number three.
  27. You’ll then keep rotating the crank ninety degrees until all of the roller rockers have been installed.
  28. You will install each roller rocker in the same order as the engine’s firing order; which is 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8.
  29. Apply fresh engine oil to any key areas that you have missed.
  30. Apply blue Loc Tite to the valve cover studs and hand tighten them into the cylinder head.
  31. Wipe away any Loc Tite that may have run out of the cylinder head.
  32. Position the valve cover gasket and valve cover.
  33. Install the washers and then the nuts; torque the nuts to 15 ft/lbs working from the center out.
  34. Hand tighten the oil fill cap, double and triple check everything and that completes the installation of the cylinder head and valve train components.

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About the Video

How To Install 302/351 Mustang Cylinder Heads and Valvetrain (79-95)

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Published on 2015-06-22
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to install heads and the needed accessories for your pushrod based Mustang; you’re in luck! In this video Landan shows you what it takes to finish off your newly assembled short block or stock re build with a set of cylinder heads and the needed components.

When it comes to cylinder heads, there is without a doubt, many, many choices. From our in house SVE heads, Trick Flow, Edelbrock, Ford Racing, and AFR, there is several choices to choose from to fit your build.

Finishing off the core valve train components, are pushrods and lifters. Hydraulic roller and flat tappet lifters will be available from Comp Cams and Ford Racing. Multiple pushrod kits are available ranging from the stock length of 6.272” to 6.700”.

Don’t forget to top off your new cylinder heads with a set of valve covers and valve cover gaskets. We offer several valve covers to match whatever engine theme you are going for.

Mustang Fitment: 1979 (79), 1980 (80), 1981 (81), 1982 (82), 1983 (83), 1984 (84), 1985 (85), 1986 (86), 1987 (87), 1988 (88), 989 (89), 1990 (90), 1991 (91), 1992 (92), 1993 (93), 1994 (94), 1995 (95) 5.0L/5.8L, 302/351