1967 Mercury 410 FE V8 Engine Rebuild – Or How One Thing Leads To Another, Part 1

In March 2023, after dealing with a solenoid jammed in the start position on my 1967 Mercury Park Lane, I noticed I had an exhaust leak of the driver’s side. I thought I simply needed to get the exhaust manifold off to see about maybe welding the small crack. Well a good intention but…

I have never had an exhaust manifold develop a crack much less crack in half but there it is. I didn’t realize it was a complete crack until I took the cylinder head off. There was no way I could easily access the bottom bolts of the manifold while the top bolts were, as expected, rusted on. Of course to remove the head one has to remove the intake. Once the intake is off, and one head is off, then why not remove the other head since you are two thirds the way there and rebuild them. They do have 154,000 miles on them.

So I throw a lift plate onto the intake and using a long bar, the width of the car, my wife and I lift the intake off. Now the valley is exposed for the first time since 1967 and looks really clean. I then unbolt each head, lean over the fenders and lift them off by myself. That is both heads with exhaust manifolds attached.

So with the heads out the bottom bolts come right out. No mess, no fuss, since they have had oil on them for ages. The upper bolts were done a week later as during that week I constantly soaked them with my 50/50 mix of acetone and transmission fluid. The first head the top four came out. Man, am I lucky. Well that ended on the second head as three of the bolts snapped as you can see. I guess the shop will take care of them now. Only that wasn’t the really bad news in the end. The really bad news was when the shop called me after they were dropped off and all the valves were removed. The first head had a crack running from the intake over to the spark plug hole and down a bit in each opening. The head was toast. The head, with the snapped bolts, was fine.

So now the search for a replacement head started and it wasn’t easy. While FE heads can all bolt on they do have slightly different combustion chambers sizes you need to be aware of. My engine is 10.5:1 compression so I needed to match the other head. Thought I had found one in Minnesota and had it sent out. Only the shop notice a spark plug hole was severely compromised. Ugh! So talking to the shop owner he recalled they use a FE head as a mock up whatever once in awhile. Has it brought out and it is a match. So he trades me the one I got for the one he has.


Don’t they look gorgeous. They look almost as gorgeous as my wife. This part wasn’t inexpensive. I’ll leave that up to the crowd to figure out what I am talking about. Now both original heads were port matched by me and had high spots and ridges eliminated in the runners.  To finish up I had new rockers shafts, new TRW rockers arms, and new OEM stands, and new OEM springs to finish off the job. I’ve been collecting parts over the years, when I see them, to have in stock.

The intake, as you can see, is quite coked up under that pan. So the shop, Joe’s Engine is only two miles from me, got it to clean up and make new which they did. Joe must have been in half the states. I then got it back and cleaned up the ports and the runners. You’d be surprised at the ridges and high spots when you run your finger deep into them. A little texture is good for atomization but not ridges or high spots. Once done it was time to paint. There is a trick I learned for painting.

The trick is to use a propane torch to heat the piece and sweat out the water in the metal. Water in the metal is a reason why our aftermarket paint may not stick around for long. So I tried it and saw water drops forming below the flame. So heck yeah I am a believer. From now on this is first on every part from intake to water pump to block. Then painted with what you see right there. Color coat is Rustoleum Royal Blue which is darn close to Dark Ford Blue.

Now since I had gone that far with my project can anyone guess what that means? Yes, that means project creep which I have never been immune to. Once started, I go all the way to treat the situation whether my car or a patient, and to be exact doing it.

So I travel 15 miles down to Danville where my office is for an engine lift using my trusty 91 Mazda 626 Hatchback. The local rental, 3 miles away,  says their pump seals are awaiting replacement. We load the car and the rental guy tells me this is a really nice interior on this car. Obviously I am now going full rebuild. Side note and that is the Sable in the background with it next on my list.

Easy to see what is going on here. With the timing cover off I can pull the camshaft out and place aside. It won’t be used again. Flip engine over to remove the oil pan for access to the mains and the crankshaft. You can see #3, the thrust main cap, still in place, That one was difficult to get out since there was little room to wiggle it.

The crank journals all look like what you see there at #2. The caps though all show wear above with the exception of #1 which looks pretty good for the miles.

Pistons are next to remove. Protect my journals with rubber hose. Then tap each piston out. Didn’t even need to remove any ring from the top of the cylinders as the pistons came right out. Rod bearings look a bit better than the mains. Meanwhile the piston skirts look very clean.

With those two major parts out the crankshaft went down to the engine shop first. Turns out the crank was dead center in tolerance and just needed a polish. He now has the rods to resize, insert new bushings, fit for ARP bolts, weigh and balance them for me. In the meantime I had some work to do on the block.

Anyone who has worked on a Ford FE knows about this. The oil holes in the bearing never line up with those in the saddles on #1, 2, and 4.

What one needs to do is chamfer the the oil feed hole towards the center with your handy die grinder. Here is what the end result looks like on #1 which is the same for 2 and 4.

More oil mods here. The back valley holes are sort of ragged and so they were enlarged a little,  ragged edges removed, and chamfered. The front had an edge on the inside removed so oil could flow out easier along with being chamfered. Last the feed hole for the oil pump was enlarged to match the gasket and oil pump along with the inside being smoothed out to allow a more uniform path for oil to filter.

With that done the block was brought down to the shop for cleaning and boring. It will be 0.030 over since those are the pistons available. I have them already and have weighed them along with 16 pins to equalize to within 0.5 grams each. Turns out I only have three to adjust 0.5 grams each. I’ll do this by chamfering the inside edge of the pins. I will also use the down time to clean up and the parts removed from the engine like pulleys, brackets, and timing cover. The oil pump is replaced by a Melling NORS pump as is the water pump by a TRW NORS pump. The oil pan is relatively new so just needs to be wiped down. Part 2 will be the re-assembly of the engine, placement back into the car and break-in.

I expect it will be a month for me to get back the rods and block. I also have a second block down there from a week earlier. That one happens to be a Continental L flat head four from the Hornet. A tug is getting a rebuild and that project is headed by a couple of high school volunteers, guys and gals, who took it apart. Tom and I, on the Hornet, will overlook when they reassemble the engine. Pretty simple one to start with. If you want a story on them I could do it. Above are two of the at the parts cleaner. Over a year ago one was on the ship and was so taken with planes that he wanted to volunteer. When he was approved and went through the class some others heard about it. We now have 6 boys and 3 girls as volunteers. Their first job was to do all the prep work to prepare the T-28 Trojan for painting, clean up the cockpit, and measure for all the insignia and assorted markings. I spend all my time taking care of the Island Super Structure, and in the machine shop nine decks down, that I didn’t see them arrive till one day the T-28 was covered with them.