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Get The Y-Block Outta Here!
by Larry D'Argis
The phone rings… it's a friend on the line and fellow car guy Wayne.  Now Wayne's a definite Bart Simpson type, but that's another story.  It seems one of his Mopar buddies has a Y-Block he wants to get rid of and he thinks it's a 312.  Well if you've been in the '50s Ford hobby long enough you find everyone thinks every Y-Block they come across is a 312.  Even if it was in a farm truck and only has a small two-barrel carburetor with a single exhaust and the old elbow-burning crossover pipe, it must be a 312 eh!  I make the call to Aimie the Mopar magician and find the engine was purchased along with a slew of other Mopar engines and that the seller mistook the Y-Block for an old early poly-spherical head 318 engine.  With both engines having top bolted on valve covers it's an honest mistake, heck I've even gone out to look at a Y-Block and found an Olds Rocket V8.  Yes the valve covers are bolted on through the top onto that engine as well, must have been a '50s thing.
Now Aimie really knows his stuff when it comes to Mopars and he's also sharp enough to know where to look for an engine code on a Canadian Y-Block.  He told me the engine was light blue with blue valve covers, had the wide-base four-barrel intake manifold and had the letters VV on the left face of the engine block with a five-digit number following.  With that information it sure sounded like it was a '57 Mercury 312 and I told him I'd drop out and have a look at it.  I also asked what he needed for it and he said, "I just want it gone."  I understood, he just wanted to get the Y-Block outta there before anyone else saw it in his shed and started asking embarrassing questions.

With Club member Gord Atamanchuk and his brand new Ford F250, diesel powered Super Duty pick up, we headed out of town about 25 miles to Aimie's place.  There's nothing like venturing out in a 360 horsepower, four-wheel drive pickup in search of Y-Block prey.  Sure enough this big blue lump of Y-Block was sitting there just as Aimie described, so we loaded it on the truck and hauled it home.
Once on the engine stand I started stripping her down.  Unlike your typical 50-year old sludge encrusted Y-Block this one was clean under the valve covers and valley cover.  There were the 1.54:1 ratio rocker arms and big-valve ECZ-G cylinder heads.   It was definitely a '57 engine but what bothered me, was on the crankshaft flange the 312 has a notch that should have a 5/16" raised dot and cranks without it are usually of the 292 variety.  I pulled the left head off and found everything was O.K. with only a slight ridge you could barely catch your fingernail on at the top of the cylinders from the ring travel, indicating this engine had minimal wear.  On pulling the right head, I found the head gasket had let go and allowed water into the number two cylinder.  The piston is at the bottom of its travel and yet the cylinder wall doesn't look pitted or even very rusty, so the piston may come out without too much trouble.  On the number three cylinder there was a very faint valve mark on the top of the piston.  I noticed the timing chain was rather dry and worn to the point where it probably skipped a tooth on the gear.  I spun the engine over and undid the oil pan bolts.  Pulling the pan, I saw the bottom end was as clean as the rest of the engine and everything was in its place including the pal nuts on the connecting rod bolts.  A quick look at the ECZ main caps was all it took to verify that Aimie was right this was in fact a 312 Y-Block.
Club President Albert Lannoo and club member Marcel Lafond dropped over the next night and we went to work pulling the bottom end apart.  All of the connecting rod bearings were factory Ford and showed little wear, the main's were about the same with just a couple showing wear through the tin to the brass.  All of the pistons came out without much fuss except number two cylinder, which took a lot of PB Blaster and several smacks with a wood block and heavy hammer.  The cylinder heads were then stripped.  All of the factory Ford valves are in good shape, as are the seats and guides.  I'm willing to bet an early timing chain failure, put this motor out of commission before it really had any miles on it.  Next it went to the machine shop at Piston Ring Service and they cleaned it up and checked it for cracks.  It all checked out except for one cylinder head.  This had a crack into the water jacket by one of the intake manifold studs.  It looks like our Friend at Tommy's Welding can take care of that in short order and thankfully save the head.
Sometimes you luck out, more often you don't, but with an overbore, new pistons, and a performance cam to go along with the Edelbrock 573 tri power intake manifold, this just may end up being the engine for my wife Rose Marie's Crown Victoria.

Canadian produced Y-Block engines in both Ford, Monarch, Mercury and Meteor cars produced during the '50s are all identified by a two letter block suffix code and four or five character engine serial number stamped on the front of the engine just below the left cylinder head up by the valley pan.


The suffix codes are as follows:

1955 - SQ or SR or SS = 272 cu. in.  ST = 292 cu. in.

1956 - TQ = 272 cu. in. TT or TTD = 292 cu. in. TV or TVD = 312 cu. in.

1957 - VG or VQ = 272 cu. in. VT or VTD = 292 cu. in. VV or VVD = 312 cu. in.

1958 - WQ = 272 cu. in. WTD = 292 cu. in.

1959 - YTD = 292 cu. in.


Hope this helps you in your search for the elusive Y, and Happy Hunting!