LQ9 440ci Stroker Breathes New Life

May 8, 2017 / by Bradley Iger

When a "ready to run" LQ9 ended up having a broken piston, Kent Shranke's decided to go out with a 440ci mill.

Kent Shrake’s 440ci LS Build Is All About Turning Lemons Into Horsepower

The Internet age has revolutionized modern living in countless ways, and for gearheads, it’s made acquiring go-fast parts much less of a hassle than it used to be. Of course it comes with its own set of drawbacks though, as what you see on a website isn’t always what you get when the delivery guy drops off the shipment.

A friend of Shrake’s learned he’d gotten a bum deal on the motor he purchased – which was reportedly sold as a good core that was 'ready to run' – when he pulled the cylinder heads off for a swap and discovered one of the pistons was toast, and had done some damage to the cylinder wall on its way out.

“I bought the engine from a friend who had gotten a bad deal off the internet,” explained Kent Shrake, an engine builder from Houston, TX.  It was sold to him as a good core, 'ready to run', but when he took the stock heads off to bolt on some aftermarket heads, he found out that it had a broken stock piston.” However, upon closer inspection, Shrake discovered the 6.0-liter LQ9 iron block was salvageable. “I saw that the cylinder was damaged pretty badly,” he explained. “But it looked like it could be cleaned up without boring too much out of the cylinders.”

After remedying the damage by boring it out to 4.060-inch, Shrake set to work bringing the motor back into fighting form. “I originally just wanted to bring it back to life with a stock stroke crank,” he told us, “but It ended up snowballing into a 440ci stroker when I learned that Wiseco had come out with a new skirt design that allowed us to get away this much stroke in a stock block.”

(Left) Shrake realized the motor was salvageable with a little work though, and boring the cylinders out to 4.060" did the trick. (Right) The PolyDyn coated Federal Mogul engine bearings get checked for clearance during reassembly.

The slugs in question are Wiseco custom pistons for a 4.060” bore with 1.0mm/1.0mm/2.0mm Mahle rings, which are hooked to K1 Technologies 6.125” H-Beam connecting rods, while a K1 Technologies crankshaft with a 4.250” stroke, a Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft and PolyDyn coated Federal Mogul engine bearings comprise the bottom end of this warmed-over LQ9.

With massaged GM L92 cylinder heads, PAC valve springs and LS7 lifters all in the mix, Shrake expects the combination to be good for about 520-550 horsepower at the rear wheels, which should provide plenty of motivation for the ’88 Mustang it will be installed in. “I went with an LS because I’ve been machining and building LS engines for almost 10 years,” he pointed out. “It’s what I am most familiar with, and it’s so easy to make power with this platform.  I feel you really get a lot more for your money.”

(Left) Shrake’s original plan to bring the motor back to life with a stock crank were shelved when he found out that Wiseco offered a new skirt design that would allow for a lot of stroke in a stock block.  He tells us that Erik Koenig, who runs what is now Horse Power Research, helped him figure out the specs to make it all work and ordered up the custom pistons. (Right) The custom Wiseco slugs are designed for a 4.060” bore and they’re paired up with 1.0mm/1.0mm/2.0mm rings.

He also tells us that beyond the new skirt design, Wiseco was a clear choice due to a track record of durability.

“As an engine builder, I’ve had been using Wiseco pistons since 2008 and they have always held up very well,” he explained. “There have been times where the customer added another 100-200hp worth of nitrous or made another 10-15lbs of boost than what the engine was built for and the engine comes back for a refresh with the pistons in good enough condition to go back into the engine.”

As for future plans, he tells us that he’s going to try a few different intake manifolds, heads, and cams over the coming months with the expectation of bringing the rear-wheel output figure closer to 600 hp. And while the car is being built mainly for street duty, Shrake added that it won’t be a stranger to the drag strip. “I’m certainly going to try to take it to the local 1/4 mile track as often as I can.”

With 440 cubes of displacement to work with, Shrake says he expects rear-wheel output from the LQ9 to be in the range of 520-550 hp. But he also points out that he’s already got cam, intake and cylinder head swaps under consideration, so 600 rwhp is on his radar as a long term goal. he motor is destined for an ’88 Mustang coupe. With a curb weight of around 3100 pounds in stock form, this should be one quick little street machine.


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Written by Bradley Iger