More Ammunition For The Ongoing War On 4.6L/5.4L Ford Engine Misinformation - Engine Builder Magazine

More Ammunition For The Ongoing War On 4.6L/5.4L Ford Engine Misinformation

If there is a war being waged in the automotive aftermarket right now, it is one of information. More precisely, it is too often the fact that victims are suffering because of the lack thereof.

Be it the “Right to Repair Act,” casting proliferation or parts proliferation, what we need to know is all changing at breakneck speed.  These are just a few of the skirmishes being fought on many fronts each and every day in the automotive aftermarket for both manufacturers or engine builders and remanufacturers alike.  

One of our best defenses in this war is actually the consolidation of components or castings. This process invariably reduces complexity, which in turn reduces errors and warranties and thus helps produce a better product.

Sometimes the biggest helps can be simple, and the information presented here today is just that. We are all constantly looking for ways to “add to the bottom line” while still continuing to improve our processes and providing our customer with a better product.  You may say that’s impossible but every once in a while you fall onto a nugget.  

I’m talking about the 4.6L and 5.4L Ford “Triton Engines.” I know, I know: there has been so much information about these engines that there could not possibly be anything more to add. Well here’s one for you. Back in 2001 on the 4.6L (although this is a split year) and in 2002 on the 5.4L, Ford made some changes to the timing gear set, specifically the crankshaft gear (I am not going to count the two-piece gears seen in the early years because they have all been replaced by the one-piece). There was a shorter gear set used prior to the dates listed above and a longer gear after those dates. (see Figure 1)

The crank position trigger wheel changed as well. The early wheel that goes with the short gear is a PM trigger that has a spacer flange cast right into it. The later wheel, which is stamped steel, is flat and used with the tall gear (see Figure 2).

Knowing the differences in material, it is easy to see why the change was made, right? While they are identical to each other in location and number of cogs, the stamped steel wheel is much less expensive to manufacture than the PM unit. Together they equal the same thing, only one is cheaper to manufacture.

Well, here’s where it gets interesting. Anytime you’re looking to purchase the timing components for a complex DOHC engine such as the 4.6L or 5.4L, it is always less expensive to do so as a complete set. However, to this point I am unaware of anyone in the aftermarket manufacturing the timing set with the late tall crankshaft gear. Therefore you need to buy the early set and substitute the new style tall crank gear into it – which is still cheaper than buying all the parts separately. However, if you hit the 4.6L in 2001 (the split year) you could end up with the late gear and the early crank position trigger, or vice versa, neither of which will work in combination.

This is where the PBT (Practical Builder Tip) comes into play. The later crank trigger ring is only available from Ford and costs about $26, and the later timing gear is around $20. However, the early crank trigger rings seem to be floating around everywhere. In two weeks I located over fifty of them at ProFormance. That’s when it dawned on me: why bother with the later gears at all? The crank position sensor only knows air gaps, not stamped steel or PM trigger wheels.

I have an abundance of the early crank position sensor trigger wheels and I don’t have to buy the later timing gear at all if I just provide the trigger ring with the engine upon selling it and life is good.

So if you’re having this issue in your facility, go on a treasure hunt and see what you can find in the way of the early crank position sensor trigger ring. You may decide for yourself that this is something you may want to incorporate into your facility.figure 1 the differences between the timing gears for ford 4.6l and 5.4l engines are shown. at left, the tall gears used with the stamped steel trigger ring. at right, the short gears are used with the pm wheel.Figure 2 The timing gear on the left is stamped steel and is used with the tall gear set. On the right, is the PM wheel. The flange shown at top fits into the shorter gear stack, resulting in an identical height package.

You May Also Like

CPR Engines

CPR Engines and Coast High Performance are two shops that do high-quality engine work in a shared 12,000 sq.-ft. space in Gardena, CA. The facility features a machine shop, an engine shop, an engine dyno and chassis dyno, overflow storage, a metal working area, and three installation bays.

CPR Engines

For the past few years now, we’ve had a good rapport with the guys at Custom Performance Racing Engines (CPR) and Coast High Performance in Gardena, CA. Shop owner Martin Marinov has been a resource for us on a number of occasions and has shared a few of his engine builds as well. We keep our eye on CPR because they’re always doing high-quality engine work and are a great example of a shop that shares what they have going on through social media. That’s how we’ve come to know CPR’s sales and operations manager Nathan Bush.

Choosing Between the LS and the LT: The King and the Heir to the Throne

There are times when the “eeny, meeny, miny, mo” approach works well for decision making, and other times when you really need to stop, look at all of the variables and then make your choice. For today we’re going to focus on deciding between two GM V8 engines, the LS and the LT.

LS vs. LT
Vintage Engines: Rebuilt to Drive

Classic and vintage car culture in is a diverse one. It’s more than just muscle cars. In addition to the unmistakable rumble of American V8 power, vintage European and Asian marques are part of the regular scenery too, and there are premium events around the world that bring out some of the most sought-after models

Vintage Engines
Off-Road Race Engines

As the off-road racing community and technology grew, so did the vehicle speeds and related suspension components. Today, these are without a doubt one of the most highly strained engines in motorsports – bar none.

Off-Road Engines
Motorcycle Drag Race Engines

Back when we started to get serious about competing in the V-Twin drag racing scene, there were four or five manufactures making engine cases, heads, crank/flywheel assemblies, and connecting rods, along with other parts for large cubic inch competition V-twin engines. At the time, the largest factory engines from Harley-Davidson were 80 cubic inch big

Motorcycle Engine

Other Posts

Closed-Deck Engine Block Conversions

Want power at a low cost? Reliability will become your issue. Want it built for power and reliability? That’s going to hit your wallet harder… or is it? Enter the world of block conversions.

Closed Deck
Nissan Engines

DRZA Auto is no stranger to Nissan engines, in fact, it’s one of their specialities. Read below to learn about owner Derek Cho-Sam’s experience building Nissan SR20 and RB line engines for his customers!

Nissan Engines
Building Air-Cooled VW Engines

VWs are essentially the hot rods of the air-cooled world and because of that, there are some big name manufacturers that have been around for many years producing good quality, high-performance VW engine parts – Scat Crankshafts, Engle Cams, CB Performance, AA Performance, Pauter Machine, and Gene Berg – to name a few

VW Air-Cooled
Popular Engine Swaps

Engine swaps belong in a world of their own. After a little digging, you can find multitudes of ingenious swap ideas, whether it be small block to big block, diesel to gas, or many other combinations.

Honda engines have been a popular choice for engine swap enthusiasts since the early 90s due to their power and dependability.