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The Mighty Fine Chevy 409 Engine - Back From The Grave

Edelbrock Breathes New Life, Literally, Into The Venerable W-Engine.

By Mike Harrington, Photography by Edel Brock, Mike Harrington

Mighty Fine 409
It seems that lately the 348/409 engines have been experiencing a Lazarus effect. Since their introduction in 1958 until their demise in 1965 (with the introduction of the 396), the Chevrolet W-motors have been dismissed and praised by drag racers and performance enthusiasts alike. Even those unfamiliar with automotive sports will certainly be familiar with the 409 engine thanks to The Beach Boys. The Lazarus effect is, the 409 is back from the grave. Let us explain.

Just a little over a year ago, the Edelbrock Corporation decided to start mass-producing aluminum cylinder heads, dual quad intakes, and water pumps for the fabled engine. Conventional wisdom and critics alike told them they were nuts. Why produce parts for an extinct engine? Thankfully, Edelbrock thumbed their nose at both by reviving and producing performance parts for an engine that-let's be honest-never really left the scene.

It was at the SEMA show in 2007 that Edelbrock's first set of aluminum cylinder heads was introduced. This year at the 2008 SEMA show, a set of shorty headers, a single quad intake, and full roller cam and lifter were set to debut.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Bill Mitchell and the crew at World Products in New York have been working with 409 guru Lamar Walden of Lamar Walden Automotive (Georgia) to produce an entirely new aluminum 409 block. Yes, that's right, an entirely new aluminum 409 block based on altered designs by Walden and produced by World Castings will soon be available to the public at large! Imagine surfing the Summit website buying parts for an all-new 409. We'll have more in-depth information and builds as soon as production starts.

Recently, Super Chevy had the chance to sneak a peek at the production of a set of cylinder heads at the Edelbrock facility in Torrance, California. It was there that we got to witness the transformation from rough bare castings into the finished product. I guess this proves once again that what goes around comes around.

The mill that you see here is an in-house test build 409 at Edelbrock. The block is a cast-iron 409 truck block punched out to 421 cubic inches. The cylinder bore is 4.37-inches. The crank is also a GM steel crank with a stroke of 3.500. The rods are Eagle Specialty pieces, length 6.135-inches with JE pistons. The cam that was used has an intake duration @ 0.050 of 230, and exhaust of 234. Intake lift is .616 and exhaust is .628, with a lobe separation of 112. The lifters are Edelbrock lifters, and a Cloyes timing chain is employed. The rocker arms are 1.7 ratio roller rockers. The oil pan is a GM pan, and the oil pump is a Melling pump. The ignition is an MSD electronic distributor with bronze gears. Of course we know who made the intake, heads, water pump, and carbs. The peak engine is 469 at 6,000 rpm. Peak torque is 467 lb-ft at 4,000. At 2,500, the torque is a healthy 402 lbs-ft.

Specifications:
220cc intake ports
90 cc exhaust ports
2.190-inch intake and 1.720-inch exhaust valves (stock High Performance Version diameters) with 11/32-inch
stems (stock is 3/8-inch)
Stock valve length
1.55-inch diameter single-coil springs with dampers
Recommended gaskets: Intake - Edelbrock PN 7240, Fel-Pro 9788 (large port); Exhaust - Edelbrock PN 7241

Valve Lift .100" .200" .300" .400" .500" .600" .700"
Intake 73 143 203 239 260 272 285
Exhaust 62 118 158 185 205 217 222
SOURCES
Edelbrock
Dept. 5.0
2700 California St.
Torrance
CA  90503
310-781-2222
www.edelbrock.com
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By Mike Harrington
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