BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

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BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:20 pm

I’m trying to figure out Ford cylinder head terminology, and I have a feeling in my previous thread there might have been a bunch of confusion (mostly on my part) because I don’t know the terminology. I’m searching around, trying to gather as much info as possible to figure out what head I want to run, and on other forums I had been told that, within reason as far as price is concerned, the Trick Flow A460’s are the top notch head. I can understand why that is being that it has the raised intake and exhaust runner and excellent flow characteristics. With that said, here’s where my confusion comes in.

I got a bunch of replied referring to the “A” head, or “A460” head, and I suspect (again, I could be wrong), that we weren’t always talking about the same head. This occurred to me when someone mentioned a B460 head. Then I got to thinking about the Ford SCJ aluminum heads that I just installed on my friends Torino, and how it specified that it required a CJ intake. I began to realize that there’s a lot of different parts you could order that are for a 385 series engine that will end up not working together if you’re not careful.

I have mainly a Chevy background, and in my other thread I made reference to the simplicity of the SBC and BBC heads. For SBC you have essentially one port design, or you can get a spread port with some aftermarket manufacturers, and some minor variations in intake mounting angles. The BBC heads all fall into one of a few categories, peanut port, oval port, and rectangular port, and then you have open or closed chambers. I think it’s pretty simple to understand, but maybe that’s because I’ve been around it for so long, or maybe it’s because it’s just really simple. Regardless, Ford is obviously not that cut and dry.

I really think it sucks on the lack of literature out there for these 385 series engines, because the more I read about them, the more I realize the outstanding potential of them. I’m the type of person who likes to have a book to read, to go back to and reference, etc. I’m also the type of person who like to know the “why” when it comes to what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve narrowed down the possibilities of heads that I might use to the list below, most likely a closer match between the Trick Flow A460 and one of the AFR, but I added the others on there for conversational purposes.

When it comes to 385 series heads, which on my list would be considered “A” heads?

What is a Ford “A” head, as it came from the manufacturer? Would that be something like the D0VE heads?

What is a Ford “B” head?

Does the list go on? Are there Ford “C” heads, “D” heads, etc.? (I’m aware of the 4V C head for mod motors, but I’m going to assume we all are going to be talking about BBF stuff here).

Are there obvious differences between these heads (production and aftermarket) that you can look at and go, “Oh, that’s a (whatever) head” if for some reason you couldn’t find a casting number?

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by DaveMcLain » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:48 pm

A 460 was developed by TFS back in the mid 1980's and also sold through them as well as Ford Motorsport it has a raised intake port, somewhat different valve locations and a big block Chevy exhaust pattern. The B 460 head was around back then too and it is the same as the A460 except for having a smaller intake port. It was intended for smaller engines or more low RPM uses. After a while the tooling for the A460 heads got really bad and they stopped making them so other companies like IDT and Extreme Machine came out with their own variants with improvements to the chambers, ports etc. After seeing this TFS came out with a new A460 head made with new tooling that's much nicer and a very good cylinder head for a large engine.

Regular production(non CJ or Boss) heads are really split into about 3 main groups; Early, small chamber, stud mount valvetrain C8,C9 and DOVE heads(1968 to 1971), D3VE('73 to 87) pedestal mount valvetrain standard port locations, and then the later EFI heads, pedestal mount, raised revised ports(late 1987 and up). There are some oddballs in there too like the D2VE('72 only) with the fully open chambers and the D2OE 460 police head. CJ and SCJ and 429 police production all used the DOOE-R casting which is the large port, large valve, small chamber head.

That should get you going....

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:01 pm

DaveMcLain wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:48 pm
A 460 was developed by TFS back in the mid 1980's and also sold through them as well as Ford Motorsport it has a raised intake port, somewhat different valve locations and a big block Chevy exhaust pattern. The B 460 head was around back then too and it is the same as the A460 except for having a smaller intake port. It was intended for smaller engines or more low RPM uses. After a while the tooling for the A460 heads got really bad and they stopped making them so other companies like IDT and Extreme Machine came out with their own variants with improvements to the chambers, ports etc. After seeing this TFS came out with a new A460 head made with new tooling that's much nicer and a very good cylinder head for a large engine.

Regular production(non CJ or Boss) heads are really split into about 3 main groups; Early, small chamber, stud mount valvetrain C8,C9 and DOVE heads(1968 to 1971), D3VE('73 to 87) pedestal mount valvetrain standard port locations, and then the later EFI heads, pedestal mount, raised revised ports(late 1987 and up). There are some oddballs in there too like the D2VE('72 only) with the fully open chambers and the D2OE 460 police head. CJ and SCJ and 429 police production all used the DOOE-R casting which is the large port, large valve, small chamber head.

That should get you going....
That is by far the most comprehensive response I've gotten so far. Thank you very much... really. I knew the Trick Flow A460's are bad mofo's today, but I had no idea they had been around that long. I'm really considering them with my build, but with the 1" raised intake and 1.5" raised exhaust, I'm a little concerned about fitment (more on the intake side than the exhaust). I'm under the thought that if I go with the new TF A460's, I'll be limited to one of the TF intakes, not to say that's a bad thing. I could, of course, get a custom intake from somewhere like Hogan, but that'd probably cost about as much as the pair of heads!

I've done some searching around and I've been able to find tests on most of the heads I listed, but I haven't found any back to back tests of the same heads run on the same engine. I wish I could find something like that to assist with my choice. I'm not looking to just make the highest peak HP number. I want a head that's going to deliver the best, most linear curve you can get out of a N/A setup on a 553.
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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by DaveMcLain » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:34 pm

The A460 design is nice because it can make really good power using very conventional valvetrain. With that said there are other heads out there that will make more power than the A head.

Some time in the 1990's Ford came out with the "C460" head which is essentially a Yates head scaled up to fit the big block engine. The are like the Yates in that the valves have no side cant to them and the heads require a shaft mount rocker system as well as a lot more port and valvetrain preparation to be successful. Those heads also spawned their own derivatives such as the Blue Thunder, Thor etc. Eliminator Products also makes a head that's based on the A460 but has the production head valve locations. There are a lot of great choices out there for the big Ford many of which were unimaginable 15 years ago.

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:38 pm

DaveMcLain wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:34 pm
...There are a lot of great choices out there for the big Ford many of which were unimaginable 15 years ago.
Well obviously Summit and Jegs are not the place to find them. Got any tips where to find these other heads and read more about them. I'm a bookworm... I like to read.

Edit: Maybe I spoke too soon. Looks like Jegs sells the C460
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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by DaveMcLain » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:52 pm

nickpohlaandp wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:38 pm
DaveMcLain wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:34 pm
...There are a lot of great choices out there for the big Ford many of which were unimaginable 15 years ago.
Well obviously Summit and Jegs are not the place to find them. Got any tips where to find these other heads and read more about them. I'm a bookworm... I like to read.
460ford.com is a good place to start.

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:53 pm

DaveMcLain wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:52 pm
nickpohlaandp wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:38 pm
DaveMcLain wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:34 pm
...There are a lot of great choices out there for the big Ford many of which were unimaginable 15 years ago.
Well obviously Summit and Jegs are not the place to find them. Got any tips where to find these other heads and read more about them. I'm a bookworm... I like to read.
460ford.com is a good place to start.
I'm going to have to check that out. I was recommended to check out 429-460.com by someone, so I did, but it seems there's about 6 guys over there who feel like they own the forum, and God forbid you ask "why" when they reply to anything you ask. You should just take it as gospel that they are the BBF gods and what they say goes. Funny thing though, I posted this exact same post over there and not one of them was able to explain as concisely as you did in one post... they just prefer to argue. Thanks again for your help. It's a refreshing change of pace.
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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by grandsport51 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:52 pm

Nick,
The 385 had the potential to be a world (BBC) beater unfortunately it came out as Ford basically pulled 90% or better of the money

out of there racing programs and started spending it on Anti Smog and Safety features

John Kaase has been the guy pushing the envelope and frankly the P-51 head are fantastic as cast but when ported outflow the

old Boss 429!!

http://www.hotrod.com/articles/0906phr- ... rd-engine/

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:10 pm

grandsport51 wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:52 pm
Nick,
The 385 had the potential to be a world (BBC) beater unfortunately it came out as Ford basically pulled 90% or better of the money

out of there racing programs and started spending it on Anti Smog and Safety features

John Kaase has been the guy pushing the envelope and frankly the P-51 head are fantastic as cast but when ported outflow the

old Boss 429!!

http://www.hotrod.com/articles/0906phr- ... rd-engine/

Dave B
I don't think you can Google "High Performance BBF" without seeing Kaases name come up. There's no doubt he's the man for BBF. Originally I was planning on doing a Chevy for my build, but after a lot of prodding from friends, then having my buddy come drop off his original 1970 Torino Cobra 429 for me to do a bunch of "go fast" stuff to it, I started looking into the BBF a bit more, giving it serious consideration. When I found out I could get 553" with no problem... I was sold. All great things come in due time, and I know this project is going to take me a while to build (read afford), but I know it'll be an absolute blast when I'm done.
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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:19 pm

This is my favorite part of that whole article. I've read that one before, and I think that might've been the article that cemented the idea to shelf the BBC and go BBF.

” Kaase explains. “We have a production-block-based 521 dyno mule in the shop that has a Scat cast crank and steel rods that’s making 900 hp. Just about everything we R&D has been tested on this motor. Despite the fact that we’ve done nothing at all to beef up the block and it has two-bolt mains, it’s still holding together after thousands of dyno pulls.
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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by mag2555 » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:54 am

The AFR 315 looks like a good pick to me with fat mid lift numbers.

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:44 am

mag2555 wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:54 am
The AFR 315 looks like a good pick to me with fat mid lift numbers.
I'm leaning that way myself. I really like the TF A460 with it's highly revised port design, and obviously it flows, but for a street car, and for packaging purposes, I'm thinking the AFR will most likely deliver what I'm looking for in an all around great engine. I wish I knew what the choke point port area was on the TF A460 though... that would be helpful. Flow means a lot, but it isn't everything.
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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by DaveMcLain » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:59 am

nickpohlaandp wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:44 am
mag2555 wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:54 am
The AFR 315 looks like a good pick to me with fat mid lift numbers.
I'm leaning that way myself. I really like the TF A460 with it's highly revised port design, and obviously it flows, but for a street car, and for packaging purposes, I'm thinking the AFR will most likely deliver what I'm looking for in an all around great engine. I wish I knew what the choke point port area was on the TF A460 though... that would be helpful. Flow means a lot, but it isn't everything.
The AFR heads are really great on the big Ford but they require some of their own specialized parts to make them work. A year or two ago I built a 498 inch big Ford for a customer who bracket races. It had out of the box, new stock A460 heads, an A460 intake, Fox body headers and a Pro Systems SV1 carburetor. It made 1029 horsepower on my dyno without a lot of playing around, just some experimentation with carburetor spacers, timing and jetting. They are a very effective sportsman racing piece.

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Re: BBF 385 Series Cylinder Heads... what does it all mean?

Post by nickpohlaandp » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:30 am

DaveMcLain wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:59 am
It made 1029 horsepower on my dyno without a lot of playing around, just some experimentation with carburetor spacers, timing and jetting. They are a very effective sportsman racing piece.
That's pretty damn impressive. I don't expect to see anything quite that high though. I'm going to be keeping this build pump gas friendly. I imagine breaking the 1k barrier required some compression.
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