By the time I got to this point, several months had passed and my spies up at the tech center were telling me that Grant was really making major progress with his '68. The pressure was on more than ever, but I felt I was beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I picked up an ARP rocker stud kit and thought my troubles would soon be over. Unfortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a train, as the stock 302 heads' days were numbered. The only thing standing between being able to install the ARP studs and finally being able to bolt the stock 302 heads back on was that the OEM pressedin rocker studs had to be pulled out, and then bigger holes drilled and then tapped to screw the ARP rocker studs back in on top of the Lunati guideplates. I tossed the Ford heads into the back of my '79 Big10 and dropped them off at the machine shop. It was about a week or so before I got a call to come up and take a look at my heads. When a machine shop tells you that you need to come up and take a look at something, it's never good. When they tried to pull them out, half of the bottleneck studs had sheared clean off in the heads, rendering them junk. It was a dirty shame, because my stock 302 heads were freshly rebuilt-complete with silicone bronze valveguides. I didn't even want to look at them again. I asked the machinist to throw them away. Then the search for another set of heads began.
Looking for a set of used Ford heads isn't as easy as finding a set of Chevy heads, especially if you're trying to do it on the cheap. Oddly enough though, my search ended when the Mopar freak that lives down the street from me coughed up a set his dad had prepped for a Mustang and then bailed out on. This pair of heads looked like they would work okay, so I broke them down and prepared to do a valve job. Unfortunately, the heads sat on my workbench for about another couple of months before I came to the realization that the low-buck route could potentially end up taking me years to finish my truck.
One of the good things about working in the Rod & Restoration group is that we have a magazine rack upstairs full of all of our company's latest titles. One of my favorite magazines (off and on) is Car Craft, this goes back to the '60s when they used to run a lot of custom car show coverage. Anyways, these days the guys at Car Craft are running a lot of good engine building tech, so I like to keep an eye on what they are up to. One of the recurring themes in particular is when they take an existing engine and throw a cam, carb, and heads, to wake it up. In the December '07 issue with a cover main blurb that read "Budget Boost" they ran a story on how to take a junkyard Ford 5.0 motor and make it produce 600 hp on pump gas. In the beginning I was only interested in what they did for heads on the engine, but in the back of my mind I was remembering that Grant mentioned he was looking to supercharge the Mod Motor in his '68-but before we get sidetracked let's talk about the heads I'm going to run on my 302-inch truck motor.
Finally, a weekend came up where I didn't have to be on the road, and I tore back into the head dilemma. I got back on the horn and told the Lunati guy that I discovered what I had on my heads were what the Ford guys called "bottleneck" studs (some other makes have them too). Plus, there was another issue that came up because I was dealing with an early 302. I would need to use Lunati guideplates to go along with the Lunati roller tip rockers (the early Fords use a design built into the stock rocker arm tips to guide the pushrods).