When Kyle Whetsel and Brad Simoneau were college roommates at the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH), they didn’t know their friendship would eventually extend into the workplace. However, that’s exactly what happened more than 10 years after graduation.
Kyle had started working at an engine shop in Florida’s panhandle called RPM Performance and Machine in Fort Walton Beach, FL. The shop’s owner was looking to retire from the business, and although Kyle had only worked at RPM for a year, he couldn’t pass up the golden opportunity to purchase the shop in 2015. Brad joined Kyle at RPM in 2018, and today the shop has five employees and does work on just about everything that comes through the door.
Recently, RPM had a new customer find the shop by way of its turnkey engine packages. He was looking to put a new engine in his ’76 Ford F-150, so Brad and Kyle got to work on a 390 cubic inch Ford FE engine, and it’s our Engine of the Week.
The customer contacted RPM interested in building an engine capable of 450 horsepower, so the 390 FE engine was a natural fit. The build included a custom COMP Cams roller camshaft, Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, Harland Sharp rockers, a Performer RPM intake, a Quick Fuel carburetor, custom-length Smith Brothers pushrods, ARP hardware, Clevite bearings, a stock crankshaft that was ground and reconditioned, forged Speed Pro pistons, factory, reconditioned connecting rods, a Canton Racing rear sump oil pan, and a high-volume oil pump.
“We did all the machine work in-house on our CNC and set all internal bearing clearances, etc. The block went through the standard machining processes, but we did have to restrict the oil up top, which is a common thing for the FEs. Other than that, it was a pretty straight forward build.”
The customer’s ’76 F-150 is lifted and sits on 38-inch tires. Now, it adds a 420-horsepower 390 FE engine with 515 ft.-lbs. of torque!
If you have an engine you’d like to see featured, please email editor Greg Jones at [email protected].