Carl’s Machine Shop opened in 1988 in Calvert City, KY. It’s a small garage with an adjoining office that cranks out some big stuff. Carl’s daughter, Carla, runs the shop with her husband Michael as the lead machinist. The combined knowledge between the two of them is unbelievable.
Pop and I were literally talking about who to bring Mavis’s straight 6 to for some machining when we passed Carl’s. Pulling in I was already nervous about how “Carl” would react to being asked about souping up a little 200. “We only work on V8’s.” “No specialty jobs.” “Why would you waste time and money trying to build that thing up?” Michael was working on a opposed 6 cylinder engine when we approached through the open garage door. We explained our situation and what we were attempting to do and he lit up. “I just finished a 3 carb set up on a 200 for a guy last week.” Hot damn. Michael was our man!
The real engine work is what really blows Pop’s skirt up. He’ll let me clean bolt threads and wet sand all day, but when it comes to the mechanical shit, I’ve gotten my share of love shoves.
Love Shove: When Pop wants you to move, so he can basically take over what you are trying to do, he will use his body to ever so gently move you out of the way while his attention remains on what you are doing. Next thing you know, he is now working on what you were working on and you’re not quite sure how it happened.
I (sort of) gave Pop free reign on the decision making around the engine and its performance. First thing he did was purchase The Ford Falcon 6 Cylinder Performance Handbook by brothers David and Dennis Schjeldahl. It contains about every thing humanly possible to do to get more power out of our little 200.
Then he and Michael co-conspired on how to spend as much of my money as possible. Kidding, but really, they came up with a plan to punch up the power. Here’s the skinny:
The weakest aspect of the little Ford 200 6 cylinder is the integral intake manifold. In other words, the manifold is a part of the engine head casting. Besides being set up only for a small, one barrel carburetor, castings can be rough, limiting, and obstruct a smooth air/fuel mixture. To cure this problem, we had Michael install a two barrel carburetor adapter plate, increasing air intake from roughly 110 cfm’s to 240 cfm’s. So now we can cram 240 cubic feet of air/fuel mixture per minute into the combustion chamber, doubling what we had before. More air, more gas, more power!
To get this increased mixture to the cylinders, we had Michael install oversized stainless steel valves with new stock springs and .060 shims. According to old turbo 200ci Mustang racers, this should be good for 6000rpm without valve float. (Valve float: When the valves do not follow the cam or ‘float’, they can actually run into the piston tops.) This is more than enough, as I told Pop we’ll redline at 5K at the most. He looked at me with a grin and said, “maybe.”
He ported the head, enlarging the intake and exhaust passages. Michael also installed an exhaust port divider on the Siamese number 3 and 4 ports, which stops possible exhaust induction back into the engine at the exhaust port, making the outflow of the exhaust smoother. There’s arguments for and against doing this. Some say it adds 5 or so more horsepower, some say it doesn’t do a damn thing. We’re betting on the horse power.
To finish the top end, we’re dumping the exhaust into oversized, stainless steel headers (BIG exhaust pipes). These will be revealed at a later date.
On the bottom end, or the block, he bored the cylinders .060 of an inch over which cleans up any old scores and imperfections and will give us another few cubic inches. We installed flat-topped pistons, which will raise our compression ratio, adding more torque and power. We turned the crankshaft .010 under on the rod and main bearing journals, again, cleaning up any imperfections or misalignment. Our little inline 200ci 6 cylinder has 7 main bearings, making her virtually indestructible. A 350ci GM V8, for example, has 5 main bearings.
We’ll be running the stock camshaft, great low-end torque, with hydraulic lifters and adjustable 1.6 to 1 ratio rocker arms. Stock rocker arms are 1.5 to 1 ratio. 1.6 gives us approximately .034in increased valve opening.
Soon to come, electronic ignition for the big spark we need and a Autolite/Holly 2V carburetor (also known as a 2 barrel).
Pop says, “We’re hoping to pull 200 horse power out of this little girl.” The stock rating was 91. Dear Lord, what have I gotten myself into?
To close, I must extend a very big thank you to Michael, Carla and the team at Carl’s Automotive. Once we got the engine home for the build out, Michael continued to be available to us for questions and advice. Check out his Instagram account where he pulls in a couple thousand viewers by posting videos of machining crankshafts. Good guy, good family, good peeps.