Kaase pulls out another win at the 2009 Engine Masters Challenge! In
eliminations we run the qualifying engines from lowest qualifier to the
top finisher, leading to the top qualifier. In last year's event we
made a change to keeping the score silent right up through the
elimination field, so competitors have no idea of the outcome until the
final engine has run. Without knowing the number to beat, each team is
giving it all they have vying for the title of "Engine Master." When
all the dust settled, Jon Kaase Racing inched out a victory by just a
fraction, taking top honors over second place finisher BES Racing by
just 1.4 points! The rest of the field fell in line in the same order
as qualifying, with Hot Heads / Gene Adams Performance finishing third,
Performance Crankshaft in fourth, the School of Automotive Machinists
in fifth, and Jon Kaase's Boss in sixth position.
The 2008 JEG'S Engine Masters Challenge winner is - Jon Kaase Racing with
final score of 2,587 @ 403 cubic inches using the NEW Kaase C-400 CHI cylinder heads!
went into the finals with a new format in which the competitors are
blind to the scores until the end of the competition. In contrast to
previous years in which the scores are revealed while working through
the ladder, the score required to win was anyone's guess. With this
format, there would be no sandbagging or holding back, as competitors
gave it everything their engines had. When the dust cleared Jon Kaase
prevailed to win the 2008 Engine Masters Challenge with his phenomenal
With a low-end torque hit at the bottom of the rpm range that resembled
a bulldozer, the points for the Kaase team piled on for a convincing
The New Kaase Boss Nine Cylinder Heads Finish 3rd in Their 1st Engine Masters Competition! 2008
Jon Kaase is a veteran Engine
Masters competitor and two-time champion, so there always attention
when this team enters the test cell. This year there was a special
treat in store for Engine Masters fans, with the debut of Kaase's
brand-new "Boss 429" cylinder heads and top-end package. The Boss
engine is a larger-than-life relic of the factory musclecar wars, and
original parts are exceedingly rare. After last years Challenge Kaase
went to work to develop this modern version of the famous Boss, and for
his effort captured the 3rd place finish.
Kaase wins 2004 Engine Masters Challenge with 3v 225 CHI Heads!
Jon Kaase is no stranger to
the world of ultra high performance engine building and the incredibly
slick Ford 408 Cleveland he brought this year was by far the most
exotic mill in attendance. With its Australian CH1 Cleveland heads, AMC
six-cylinder main bearings and .5-inch thick copper head spacers, it
was number one qualifier with peak readings of 698.2 hp, 619.6 lb.-ft,
average power readings of 485.9 hp and 557.3 lb.-ft. and a staggering
We asked Jon if there was anything left in the
12.4:1 compression Ford Cleveland to be unleashed for the final rounds
and he said, "I've got the timing back as far as it will go (24 BTDC)
and still make power so jetting is all that's left." During the warm-up
pulls the motor easily made in excess of 650 hp despite audible levels
of detonation. During the tuning period Jon had his hands full. Not
with the engine, of which he declared, "No tuning required," but with
the TV cameras and an interview with Speed TV's Ken Stout. Stout was
there taping an episode of the upcoming series "Lucas Oil...On The
Edge" and Jon spent several minutes talking about the Engine Masters
Challenge while the silent Cleveland cooled off prior to the final
With the Hollywood action out of the way, the
motor was started and the competition pulls commenced. The amazing
result was peak output of 691.2 hp and 616.2 lb.-ft., average output of
485.9 hp and 557.3 lb.-ft. for a total score of 1,043.2 to win the
Engine Masters Challenge. Sharp readers will note that Kaase's
qualifying and eliminations point scores are identical. It's no typo,
Kaase was the only contestant to get the hat trick. Coincidence or not,
it earned him the nickname Kaase the Konsistent.
Kaase wins 2003 Engine Masters Competition with SCJ Big Block Ford!
Jon Kaase (pronounced
KAH-zee) developed a Challenge-winning formula based on a Ford
Motorsport A-460 block, but that is only the beginning. Extensive block
modifications were completed, drawing on Kaase's extensive experience
in IHRA Pro Stock. In his own words, Jon shared the technical
developments with us.
"Like most in this business, I love nothing
more than healthy competition. Entering the Engine Masters Challenge, I
figured there would be plenty. What I'd not anticipated were the
rewards of the process itself. There is much that I learned during this
experience that will soon find its way into our 815-inch engines.
Moreover, I got to better know people I respect with whom I deal on a
regular basis and whose work I've long admired. Those with whom I'd not
worked before but have gotten to know along the way have, happily,
become friends and associates, as well. Forget what the commercial
says, this is the stuff that's 'priceless.'
dimensions and chamber design were pretty much finalized after a
consult with "W.J." My Pro Stock mentor from nearby Sugar Hill
confirmed what I believed to be true: a small chamber with lots of
quench and turbulence was the way to go. 'Detonation Prevention 101'
soon began, as the whole engine was built on that premise. A long
stroke combined with a short rod would produce very fast piston action
at top dead center. This should liven things up. I like short rods
anyway. Two inches longer than the stroke--it works on a 5.0 Ford as
well as an 815-inch IHRA Pro Stocker.
"When planning our Engine
Masters Challenge entry, I knew that there would be no going back once
I committed to rod length, bore and stroke. Because of the low test rpm
range, I felt I needed the longest stroke and smallest bore with which
the heads would work. With pump gas, detonation was a huge factor in
the design of the short-block and heads. A smaller bore has less chance
of detonation because it doesn't have some far-off place for a
secondary flame front to start. The 460 Ford block starts out at 4.360,
which I felt was too big. The smallest bore the heads would flow
reasonably well on was 4.250-inch. The intake valve still had ample
room between the valve head and the bore, but the exhaust wouldn't even
open until I ground a huge notch in the top of the cylinder. The stroke
needed for 468-inch would be 4.125-inch."
"The majority of labor in this engine was the in the block. The A-460
block was bought used from Total Performance in Michigan. Since we had
to sleeve the bores down, I found some ductile iron sleeves on Darton's
web page. Because of the long stroke and short rod, the wrist pin
centerline area of the piston extended completely out of the cylinder
at BDC. The trick was to bore the block to 4.650-inch, and extend the
sleeves down into the crankcase to help support the piston. The sleeves
had a small flange at the top, and the bores required a counterbore to
keep the sleeves in place, since there was nothing to catch on at the
bottom. We used the big O.D. sleeve so it would have wall thickness and
strength where it protruded out of the crankcase."
all by Clevite, with PN MS963P (2.499-inch diameter) mains and PN
CB745H (1.999-inch diameter) rod bearings. All the bearings were
anti-friction coated by Calico Coatings. Bearings are now sold
pre-coated by Calico.
"Ford's new Super Cobra Jet cylinder head
was a perfect match for this competition. The favorable valve placement
allows superb airflow at medium valve lifts. In all the testing we've
done, they seem to require about ten degrees less cam timing then all
other performance cylinder heads. This worked to my advantage, since
the less cam timing you have, the better the power will be in the lower
third of the rpm band. The spark plug is centrally located in the
chamber and requires less timing, which helps with the detonation prone
pump gas. A good example of how good these heads are is Randy Malik's
number one-qualifying Michigan-based entry. He spent less money on his
whole engine than I had in my block and crank! His heads weren't even
ported, with just a little grinding in the valve bowls.
our entry's heads appear to have weeks of work in them, that's really
not the case. I spent one night welding some fill into the chambers
(for more quench area) and another talented long-time friend and
associate, Chris Howe, labored two days on porting and valve seat work.
We started the testing with full-size intake ports and later shrunk
them down, which made very little difference at any rpm."
was to bush down the main bearing size to 2.499-inch. This in an
absolutely terrible job, and the only thing keeping me going at this
point was the picture of Joe Sherman, the man to beat, on last year's
bored the cam housing bores from 2.250-inch to 2.674-inch for 60mm
roller cam bearings. The front cam bearing area looked like it would
fall off with most of its metal now gone, and a steel support was
fabricated and locked into place with Irontite repair plugs. To my
surprise, the large 60mm flat tappet cam with its increased base circle
and .437 lobe lift moved the stock lifters so far out of the lifter
bore that the necked down portion was exposed.
lifter bushings later, we'd resolved the problem. Four half-round tubes
were epoxied into the cam tunnel to seal off the cam oil and keep it
from dropping into the spinning crank. This step saved me from disaster
later. Finally, a sheet steel manifold for directing the returning
camshaft and upper end oil around the crank was devised and installed
ahead of the rear main. This way, it could return oil directly to the
pan sump without getting mixed up in the rotating assembly."
would like to have tried different compression ratios, but in the end
it worked out perfectly. At 13.2:1, it was just right for 28.8-inches
of barometer. In Memphis, at 29.8-inch, it was a little too much. This
high compression would never have worked with a big, lazy chamber.
Fortunately, the barometric pressure at Westech was just right for my
The valves are from Victory 1, with the intake
valve measuring 2.190-inch and 5.600-inches long. The exhaust valves
have 1.695-inch diameter heads, and also measure 5.600-inches long.
Victor 460 (PN 2965) by Edelbrock is a wonderful manifold to work with.
It makes great power right out of the box, and is hard to improve on.
Where the ports meet the cylinder head, I left it the 'as cast' size
for initial testing. When we reduced the head's intake port size, the
manifold port floors had to be epoxied up to match the head. Toward the
end of testing (at the suggestion of Sonny Leonard), we welded
half-round ears to the four corner dividing walls in the plenum
chamber. This helped about 10 ft.-lbs. from 3,000 to 3,500 rpm, and
stayed the same the rest of the way up."
25-year friendship with Sonny Bryant made choosing the supplier of a
crankshaft for this project a no-brainer. At $2,850, the crank is the
most expensive part in the engine, but it's a work of art. Sonny used
mains (2.499-inch), small Chevy rods (1.999-inch) and the final product
weighs 64 pounds. It had small diameter counterweights considering the
4.125-inch stroke, and required 20 pieces of Mallory achieve the
2,100-gram bob weight. I decided on the 2.5-inch main size because the
smaller 302 Ford size (2.250-inch) may have made the crank too flexible
with its long stroke.."
rods are by Carillo, weigh 600 grams. They measure 6.250-inches,
center-to-center. These high-strength steel rods can be custom-made in
any dimensions. "Even with the $2,500 contingency money tempting me, I
could not bring myself to use a set of $500 rods in this engine. I
found a new set of Carrillo rods at Gary's Used Race Car Parts in High
Point, North Carolina. Priced at $1,000, they were $750 cheaper than my
normal price. The spec card listed them as custom built for Richard
Childress Racing in 1998. It hit me then; these were Earnhardt's rods.
Because they were offset for small-block Chevy use, the pin end did not
reside in the center of the big Ford's piston. I needed to cut new
bearing notches in the opposite side of the housing bore, chamfer the
other side of the big end, and turn the rod around. The bushings were
pressed out bored for a .990-inch pin. The Casidium-coated wrist pin
was run directly on the steel rod end."
pistons were crafted by Venolia, and must be some of the strangest
we've ever seen. They are a relatively tall design, and incorporate
much of the combustion chamber into their decks. Pin length is
2.930-inches, and pin weight is 150g. The pins were coated with
Casidium to prevent scuffing, which is becoming a popular move among
racers of all disciplines. The pistons themselves were coated by
Calico. We did hear rattling between 3,000-3,500 rpm, but it cleared up
completely after that, and power began to skyrocket.
again, 25 years of friendship was enough reason to stay with Venolia
and Tom Prock. We found their most suited forging and the perfect dish
shape. With its 2-inch compression distance, ring placement, and
weight, it would seem to be more at home in a Diesel. The long piston
with low pin placement was necessary because of the short rod."
rings were sealed to the bore by Sealed Power piston rings, in .043
(top), .043 (second), and 3/16-inch (oil) thicknesses. The top ring was
also designed with a .155-inch radial depth. The skirt, being longer
than normal, kept the piston nice and straight in the bore, and at
+.010-inch deck clearance (.030-inch total piston to head), the pistons
never hit the head. The ring stack needed to start at .450-inch down
from the deck because the relief ground in the cylinder wall for the
exhaust valve extended .400-inch down.
the dish and intake valve relief in the piston dome were .300-inch
deep, so the top ring groove needed to be at least .150-inch farther
down. The quench areas of the piston dome were .600-inch thick and,
after much internal debate and contemplation, I left them alone with no
lightening. I felt the piston would take longer to heat up and
forestall the detonation process; at least for a short while it would
be a heat sink. I wasn't too worried about weight because the contest
runs were made at 300 rpm per second acceleration rate. At 600 rpm per
second, it would have been a big problem. I believe that the ring being
farther down and away from the heat saved me at the Memphis test."
The HVH carb spacer (four hole-to-open) measured 1.8625-inches tall.
"I also ground the intake's plenum entry to a square shape (from the original cloverleaf design) to match the HVH carb spacer."
"I chose the BG King Demon for its adjustability. This proved to be
very valuable in dyno tuning the fussy pump gas throughout the entire
rpm range. We changed the venturi size several times until the engine
would take a steady load at 3,000 rpm, but not lose power at 6,500. We
had to find the right combination of venturi size, booster, air bleed,
emulsion holes and main jet. Getting all the various components working
together was yet another learning experience and no easy task, but,
ultimately, I'm glad the adjustability was there." All Jon Kaase's fuel
fittings were from Earl's, and he crafted the pieces together from
loose stock to get the final product. The Engine Masters Challenge-spec
14x3-inch round air filter was a Cool Blue unit from Accel (by Mr.
Gasket) and caries PN KR3007.
The ignition system is comprised of
all MSD products, from their 7AL-2 box (PN 7220) through the
distributor (PN 8580) to the wires (MSD's Super Conductor 8.5mm) to the
coil (MSD's HVC II, PN 8261).
"We used MSD's distributor, plug
wires, coil, and control box. I was shocked that the engine needed the
same timing at 3,000 as it did at 6,500 rpm. I would have lost a bet on
this one as I figured much time would be spent getting the advance
curve right. In the end, the distributor was locked with no curve."
Spark plugs are from Accel (PN 762) and were gapped at a typical .035-inch.
cylinder heads are near and dear to Jon Kaase, as he designed them. He
also sells them as his own (Jon Kaase Racing Engines) parts, once
they've been through his porting and machining gauntlet.
you were considering purchase of a pair of Ford Super Cobra Jet heads,
it'd be hard not to recommend getting them from Kaase, as we're
confident no human on the planet is more familiar with them. The heads
carry PN M6049-SCJ, and these particular units were filled and crafted
to flow 420 cfm with .600-inch of valve lift and 28 inches of
combustion chambers were whittled down to a mere 27cc. That is not a
misprint; we said 27cc. As mentioned, the rest of the chamber was
crafted into the piston top, so the heads were able to use a minimal
chamber depth and completely unshroud the valves when opened. Intake
port volume is a zippy 290cc, which is small enough to promote great
velocity. The heads wore valve covers crafted by Unique Aluminum
Headers are Hooker's Super
Competition (PN 6201) for '71 Mustangs with 429/460 engines. The pipes
are legal for the Challenge, even though they are multi-piece. While
full multi-piece headers were not allowed per the rules, partial
multi-piece headers like these (where a single pipe had to be crafted
to go outside the unmodified factory frame rail, but the rest of the
header was a single-piece unit) were specifically called out as legal
per our 2003 rules. If this is the kind of header street guys need to
run in cars with tight engine bays, and no mods were required to
install them, we're on board. The pipes have a 2.125-inch primary
diameter, with a 3.5-inch collector diameter. Primary tube length is a
longish 37 inches, which Kaase felt contributed to solid torque
figures. These headers will also fit '70-'71 Torinos, Rancheros, and
Mercury Montegos with the 429/460 engine. The headers were teamed with
Magnaflow mufflers during Challenge testing.
"I'm glad there were
almost no choices for headers. I may have gone bankrupt buying
different sizes and lengths. The five-year-old Hookers we use for dyno
testing were sent to Swain Tech for coating. I was a believer in this
heat coating after repeated dyno pulls were made with an unharmed
plastic line in close proximity of a primary pipe. I know it would have
burned up near an uncoated pipe.
the last two days of testing I finally forced myself to hook up the
dreaded mufflers. Difficult as it is to believe, this elicited the
largest single gain of any parts tested. At least part of the
improvement was due to a mistake I made when ordering collector
extensions. Looking in the Hooker catalog, I apparently experienced a
'senior' moment and transposed the part number, ordering 3.250-inch
diameter collector extensions instead of 3.5-inch. Who ever even heard
of 3.250-inch collector extensions? To make them work, I expanded one
end to fit over the Magnaflow 3-inch muffler entry. The front end was
easier to reduce its diameter to fit INSIDE of the 3.5-inch header
collector. This combination of extensions and mufflers increased the
low-end torque by 50 ft.-lbs.! I am convinced that the smaller diameter
extensions I mistakenly ordered were a large part of the torque gain
and may have even made the difference in winning or losing the contest!"
oil pan is a Moroso part designed for '79-'95 Mustangs/Capris and all
other Fox chassis cars with 460 swaps, and chassis mods are not
required for it to fit. It was designed by Moroso to clear the factory
crossmember and steering linkage when a big 460 is dropped into a Fox
chassis, which is precisely the kind of part we wanted to see in the
Challenge. It carries Moroso PN 20620 and measures 9-inches deep with a
seven-quart capacity. The pan was filled with Royal Purple #41 oil,
which has a viscosity rating of 10W-40. Again, for those thinking it
would take watery oil to win the Engine Masters Challenge, Kaase proved
this was not the case. The lubricant was filtered through a System One
filter, which we like due to its serviceable filter element. You can
clean it and re-use it instead of having to throw it out, which saves
you cash and is better for the environment.
would have preferred a front sump pan on this stationary engine, as the
pump is in the front. Unfortunately, none of the contingency sponsors
offer a front sump 460 pan. I wanted Moroso's money badly enough to
devise ways of making their only legal rear sump pan perform
efficiently. The theory is that light tension oil rings can't control
mass quantities of oil, and as oil works past the rings into the
chamber, it will surely detonate and lose power. Any extra oil in the
crankcase will try to slow the assembly's rotation (throw a bucket of
water into a fan and see if it doesn't slow down)."
The tube you
see in the photo is purely for support; the tube carrying oil to the
pump runs from the rear of the engine to the front, and can be seen
extending from the pickup out of the photo.
Calico-coated main and rod bearings were tightly fitted to .002-inch
clearance. The stock 3-inch mains need much more oil flow than our
engine's 2.5-inch units. The oil from the lifter galleys could not
drain through the cam area and dump on the crank because of the covers
installed in the cam tunnel. The cam was always submerged in oil for
better lubrication and cooling.
"I have countless times seen oil
pumps break off in the 460 Ford. To prevent this, we brazed steel
gussets to the pump at its weakest point. The pump was also fitted with
low-volume 1.1-inch rotors, and the bypass spring was shortened by two
coils. The small bearings with tight clearances simply don't require
"The biggest problem encountered by all of the
Challenge entrants was that flat tappet lobes have evolved into very
aggressive designs geared toward steel billet satellite welded cam
cores. NASCAR engines use these cam cores but require extremely strong
valve springs to control the valve action."
cost him three camshafts, for various reasons. Each cam problem caused
another rebuild, and his perseverence wouldn't let him stop.
"Another call to Gordon at Comp Cams began rebuild number three and cam
number four. Because of the non-effect of the lash changes on cam
number three, Gordon decided to go 4 degrees larger on both intake and
exhaust. We were now at 256/264, 108-degree CL, .390-inch lobe lift,
and .675-inch valve lift. Of course, I had to press all the homemade
bearing races off the old cam and re-install them on the new one.
much trial and more error, I have a greater understanding and
appreciation of flat tappet cams! Thanks goes to Scooter Brothers of
Comp Cams for supporting me, and the Engine Masters Challenge as a
That's Scooter congratulating Jon with the Engine Masters Challenge trophy.
The timing belt was by Comp Cams, as were the pushrods. Carrying PN
7918 (intake side; 9.0-inch length) and PN 7755 (exhaust side,
9.4-inches long), the pushrods are moly and plenty stiff for a 6,500
rpm street engine. The 1.73:1 rocker arms are Crane's aluminum
full-roller pieces for the 460 Ford. They worked against a set of LSM
valve springs, which have a 1.550-inch diameter and 130lbs. of pressure
on the seat at their recommended 1.950-inch installed height. The
springs carry PN 422 at LSM.
was circulated by a Weiand mechanical (belt-driven) pump. Jon was the
only builder in the Challenge who did not run an electric water pump,
and he won. Myths were getting busted all over the place.
have preferred to run an electric, but Weiand was the only water pump
contingency sponsor, and they don't offer one. The mechanical unit
worked just fine."
To summarize the details within Kaase's
Challenge winning Ford, the starter is a PowerMaster product, and
carries PN 9505. It's rated at 200 ft-lbs and is designed to crank over
even the toughest high compression 429/460 Ford with ease. The
fasteners in Kaase's engine were ARP products. The quality of ARPs
hardware has never been questioned, and good ARP bolts are cheap
insurance for your heavy engine investment. Kaase relied on Cometic
gaskets to seal the deal. We've seen Cometic grow tremendously from the
first Engine Masters Challenge, and they're ability to offer
custom-crafted products with minimal turnaround time are finding great
favor with Challenge participants. Top-quality materials and the
ability to create oddball bore size head gaskets that can ship within a
couple weeks sure helps.
The engine was coated with Dupli-Color
paints and sealed up with Permatex sealants. It looked good and ran
great without leakage, so we know both of these products are good, too.
back of the engine was home to a TCI flywheel and a Lakewood
bellhousing. Both of these critical components needed SFI approval to
be legal for our Challenge, and this certification means they're plenty
tough for street and race use under your car. Safety is a major
consideration when buying both high performance flywheels and the
bellhousings they'll live in. We'd like to thank Jon Kaase for sharing
everything inside his engine so openly with our readers, and to
congratulate him once again for proving to all he is this year's Engine
So, how did participating in the
Engine Masters Challenge affect a veteran professional engine builder
like Jon, whose engines have won several World Championships?
invested year of planning, laboring, and $20,000 in parts; all for
those three 12-second Engine Masters Challenge Finals dyno pulls. Just
whose idea was this?
"In my 35 years of building race engines I
have never been as nervous as I was during those three runs. The last
run seemed to take forever. What a relief when it was over, and the
final score was 1,178, and I was declared the Winner!
thing I most wanted to do for months was to be able to call home and
tell my family and my guys at the shop that I'd won. What an awesome
feeling! Now I could touch the trophy.
"I cannot say enough about
how great all the people involved in the Engine Masters Challenge were.
The competitors were all friendly, like-minded guys, eager to meet one
another and exchange stories about their journeys. The crews at both
Comp Cams and Westech did everything but spread rose petals for us to
"Many thanks go out to both Scott Parkhurst and
Michael Simpson of Primedia for a wonderful experience. They've given
engine builders a place to compete and showcase their talents on a
personal level." -- Jon Kaase