How to Identify a Ford 428 Engine

by Barbara Stanley

The FE series of Ford engines has not been produced since early 1970. FE engines look the same when viewed from the topside, so inspecting the bottom and sides is essential for a positive identification, according to ERA Replicas: Engines. Using the engine casting number will help you identify the 428 FE series engine. The decade in which it was manufactured is noted by a letter. A 1960-era Mustang is denoted by a 'C,' and one built in 1966 would be a C6. A letter also denotes the make, so a 1966 Ford Mustang is a C6Z.

Restoring classic cars involves the installation of the original engine.

Examine the cylinder head of the engine. All factory FE series heads have a unique, cathedral-shaped exhaust port and split rocker cover rail. The exhaust manifold attachment bolt pattern will differ among engines in the series, according to Mustangs and Fords: How to Identify Classic Ford V-8 Engines.

The 428 CJ engine has a smooth block surface above the oil-pan rail.

Look at the cylinder's bolt pattern. The 428 Cobra Jet engine has a unique, 16-bolt pattern exhaust face. It will also have a chamber of 73 to 76 cc that was rough cast, making it less accurate than if it had been machined.

Measure the intake valve diameter. The 428 should be between 2.022 and 2.037 inches, with the CJ engine measuring 2.080 to 2.097 inches. The exhaust valve diameter should be 1.551 to 1.566 inches, with the CJ engine measuring between 1.652 and 1.660 inches. The valve stem diameter is 0.371 inches and the valve lifters are hydraulic.

Look for extra main-bearing webbing. The 428 Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet have thicker main caps than the normal 428 has, according to The Ford V-8 engine Workshop: 428 Cobra Jet.

Examine the crankshaft. On the Cobra Jet engine, a special front oil seal sleeve with a cast-on counterweight is used for high-speed reliability.

Look for the reinforcement plate for the horn bolts behind the radiator core support. If this is missing, you are probably looking at a fake 428 engine.

Examine the camshaft. All 428 CJ engines were originally equipped with hydraulic camshafts. If all three screw-in or press-on plugs are not there, it is not a CJ or SCJ block.

Tips

  • check Air-conditioning was not available for vehicles with a 428 engine because the oil-cooler used up the space in front of the radiator.
  • check SCJ engines use 427 Le Mans-style rods with cap-screws and forged pistons.
  • check Beginning with the 1968 model year, Ford stamped a partial VIN number on production engine blocks. If the block has a casting date of 1967 or earlier, it is most likely a 428 Police Interceptor block and not a 428 Cobra Jet.
  • check The assembled engine dimensions are 32 inches long by 27 inches wide by 29 inches high.
  • check Because of different piston weights, there are actually four different 428 crankshafts, according to The Ford V-8 Engine Workshop: 428 Cobra Jet.

Items you will need

About the Author

Barbara Stanley has been writing since 2003. Her stories have appeared in many national publications such as "Country Woman," "Wildbird," "Grit," "Capper's" and over a dozen more. She has a story on past loves published in the book, "If only I Could Tell You." Stanley has studied at the Pearl River Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Classic Car Engine Refurbished image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com