Mopar May05


By:Randy Holden
Photography: Rob Wolf
Reprint from Mopar Magazine, May 2005


The masters of organized chaos; Sean (left) and Shannon Hudson (right). Well known for their prowess with their company, Redline Gauge Works, the Hudson brothers were the point men for the project and were the guys who drank the most Milk of Magnesia as everything spun out of control with the SEMA show deadline looming. Since the Rides show aired last January, the boys tell us they’ve received multiple e-mails from enthusiasts wanting them to build more Xtreme Lee-style Chargers. Until they recover or forget how crazy the project became, the Xtreme Lee is going to remain an only child!

cCrossroad Blues has become synonymous with blues guitarists ever since it was first recorded back in the 1930s by Robert Fulton. Since then, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and young gun Kenny Wayne Shepherd has performed and recorded the soulful tune about making a deal with the devil at that barrren Mississippi crossroad in order to play the blues. Well, thanks to the Xtreme Lee, Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s not in the mood for making any deals, and if the devil shows up at that crossroad, he’s gonna’ get his ass toasted by the most radical General Lee Charger ever built. Put your trays up and make sure your seats are in the full upright position, the Xtreme Lee is ready for flight.

If you saw TLC’s popular show “Rides” back on January 26, you were

treated to an up-close and personal look at blues/rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s new age ’69 General Lee Charger. For those of you who have the collector’s edition DVD of that episode, pause it from time to time and you’ll see Rob Wolf hiding in the background. You’ll notice a lot of our t-shirts being worn in that episode (yes, you too can look like a television celebrity), but quite correctly, the show focused on the car itself and the thrashing effort it took to get the car done in time for its public debut at the 2004 SEMA show. What wasn’t divulged within the confines of that one hour television program were all the incredible details that went into the construction of this charger or the wild chain of events which led to its being.
In March 2004, long time MCG friend Bill Cooksey gave Rob a call informing

him guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd was looking to either buy a General Lee clone or a legitimate car from the series. Since Kenny’s a Louisiana home boy and we’re big time into blues/rock ourselves (Rob used to be a decent drummer and your truly was a below average rhythm guitar guy in an ’80’s hair band) Rob took this call quite seriously. The Spring Fling was not far off, so he was soon out in Los Angeles meeting with Kenny Wayne and introducing him to Shannon and Sean Hudson at Redline Gauge Works. We were working on an article at that time about Andre and Renaud Veluzat, who built most of the General Lee Chargers for Warner Brothers when the series was in production (March 2005). Redline Gauge Works has a close tie with the Veluzat brothers because Shannon married Renaud’s

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daughter. These guys know the original Generals inside and out, so the first logical step in the parade was to put Kenny Wayne in front of the principal original players. That meeting in April set into motion a rapid fire chain of events.

The initial plan was simply to build an accurate General Lee clone based on the information and photos supplied by Renaud and Andre. That went out the window almost immediately. Being a creative guy, Shannon started thinking it would be better to build a modern state-of-the-art high-tech General Lee instead of just

another clone. Before long, the name “Extreme Lee” had been concocted by Redline, which was then shortened to simply “Xtreme Lee.”

Since Kenny Wayne was busy launching his new CD “The Place You’re In” and preparing for a huge concert tour, it was obvious he couldn’t sit still and handle the construction of the car himself, so Shannon and Sean were tapped to be the overlords of making this car happen. They found a decent ’69 Charger in Idaho in June, and the phone calls were flying back and forth from Cali to MCG and back. Movie car builder and muscle car

fanatic Ted Moser was tapped to be the man to do most of the work even before the stock Charger arrived in Los Angeles.

Being that everything was happening right there in Tinseltown, Hollywood wasn’t going to let the construction of such a cool car for such an up-and-coming musician go unnoticed. TLC’s “Rides” show decided to cover the construction of the Charger start-to-finish, then came the bombardment of high-tech parts from manufacturers coast-to-coast eager to participate in in the project. What started as a friendly acoustic jam session at the Melody

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Bo and Luke never had it so good! This isn’t your run-of-the-mill power plant by any stretch of the imagination. From the Edelbrock aluminum head to the fuel injection system with the sparkling fuel rails, to the distributorless ignition system, this one’s completely high tech. The custom billet “KWS” valve covers reflect Kenny Wayne’s initials. About the only thing the Xtreme Lee shares in common with the General Lee are the “Dixie” air horns. As crazy as things are under the hood, take note this baby still has the stock windshield wiper motor and even a repro windshield washer bottle!


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Okay, admit it, this is the most beautiful transmission you’ve ever seen. Cope Racing Transmissions wasn’t content to have the KWS TorqueFlite just be beautiful on the inside, it had to be beautiful on the outside as well. The flag and “01” graphics were added atop
the dazzling orange paint for more eye appeal and Kenny was blown away when this piece was uncovered. The only shame here is that now that the tranny’s in the car, few people will ever get to see this attention to detail again.

Ranch Studios to build Kenny Wayne the General Lee look-a-like turned into a major ordeal to build a driveable show stopper that would be ready to make its debut at the 2004 SEMA show in Las Vegas alongside the finest custom cars in the world! And it all came from a simple phone call looking for a Charger last April. It’s amazing how things like this can snowball in a heartbeat.

The starting point was a 318 two barrel ’69 Charger finished in pale yellow with a dark green interior and a black vinyl top. Yep, you’ve gotta’ wonder who picked that combination! Once Ted and crew media blasted the stripped down shell, a host of poorly repaired rust problems revealed themselves, which led to the replacement of both quarter panels. The floors were surprisingly good and so were most of the other panels, so aside from a little body filler to handle minor problems, making the Charger’s skin slick wasn’t overly difficult.
Chris Hickman drew the initial artwork for the Xtreme Lee in August of ’04, but soon even this was modified to make the graphics more radical. Ace airbrush artist Pat Ceo had

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the idea of making all the graphics three dimensional and in the spirit of a true rebel, to give the flag and graphics a distressed, tattered look. This would give the car the illusion of speed even while sitting still and help provide Kenny’s car with its own unique personality.
If you watched the Rides episode, you’ll recall the biggest factor in building the Xtreme Lee was that the clock was ticking. The Charger was committed to be at SEMA 2004, and that’s a dance you just do not miss once you’ve agreed to be there. The bodywork and paint put the project behind schedule from the outset, largely because of the unexpected quarter panel rot problems. David “Bama” Daffron applied the gorgeous custom mixed orange at Ted Moser’s shop, while across town, Richard Nedball was busy building a monster stroker wedge that would be dependable with enough power to uproot trees if called upon to do so.


If that tail shaft doesn’t look like the one on your Torqueflite, there’s a good reason. You’re looking at a seriously state-of-the-art Gear Vendors overdrive unit to ensure that the Charger not only has plenty of power off the line but can make some serious highway speed without causing the big wedge to break a sweat. And let’s not overlook the Tube Technologies, Inc., stainless pipes venting the exhaust gasses aft.

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Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation came through with a set of aluminum slotted rotors for all four corners. Much to everyone’s surprise, when the calipers arrived they were powder coated orange to match the Charger’s paint. Big time kudos to the guys at SSBC for going the extra mile on this one and to Budnik wheels for custom making a modern billet version of the well-known General Lee wheels to fit the car’s unique offset.

The wedge in Kenny Wayne’s Charger has more tricks than a $40 girl on the wrong end of Bourbon Street. Tucked inside the block are JE pistons on
Eagle rods. You’ll find a Comp Cams cam to provide a wicked torque curve, then there’s the obvious stuff like the Edelbrock manifold with fuel injection, Edelbrock aluminum heads, a billet water pump, custom machined billet aluminum “KWS” valve covers, and don’t go looking for a distributor, this one’s fired with a direct crank triggered ignition system.
Richard Nedball did his homework well on this bay. The motor cranks instantly, idles smooth, and dyno’d at 585 horsepower with 614 ft. lbs. of torque which peaks right around 4,500 rpm and remains in that neighborhood even as the rpm go up! This thing’s going to go through a lot of tires!/p>

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TTI Exhaust fabricated a complete system for the Charger utilizing their stainless pipes front to back. Street and Gear provided fast ratio steering, Randy’s Ring and Pinion sent all new guts for the 8-3/4″ rear, Cope Racing Transmissions built the car’s TorqueFlite, utilizing a PTC torque converter.
Parts were flying into SoCal for the project and arms were flailing every day. Throughout the process, Shannon and Sean acted as the nervous co-chairmen of the board to get things done. With one eye on the calendar and another on the pile of parts, nobody wanted to think about how close SEMA was looming.
Rob Wolf flew back and forth to Cali several times to keep an eye on things as well, snapping photos of the whole process and putting in his two cents worth of ideas and advice. Whenever Kenny Wayne was there to be shown something new about the car, usually Rob was there to make sure our homey was happy with the direction things were going.


For added rigidity, which was much needed with so much torque on tap, Magnum – force provided a set of their tubular sub frame connectors. These double tubed bolt-in connectors are the perfect ticket for making any Mopar solid as a brick, and according to Shannon at Redline, they’re “neato” and install easier while you’re drinking a bottle of “pop.” For a minute there we thought Pat Bonne was gonna’ show up and start turning wrenches!

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Pat Ceo gets the credit for air brushing the graphics over at Ted Moser’s shop. The tattered battle flag atop the roof looks completely three dimensional. No joke, standing next to the car it looks like you could reach onto the roof and just pull it off. As with every other area of the car, the spirit of the original General Lee is easily found, it’s just been kicked up a few notches.

With less than a week to go before SEMA, the elaborate paintwork was done, the engine was in place, so the Charger was rushed over to Custom Auto Trim for the luxurious leather and suede tan interior to be installed. This is way past anything an original General Lee ever dreamed of. There was a
non-stop trash job at Custom Auto Trim, which resulted in the Charger being in-and-out in less than 24 hours!
Then came the intense job back at Redline Gauge Work of installing fifteen miles of wiring in the car, along with some serious state-of-the-art electronics. Budnik Wheels came by with their custom made new generation turbine-style wheels for the Lee, 18x18s up front and 19x10s for the back. The offset on the rears wasn’t quite right, so they went back to Budnik and were returned the following day machined to perfection. For the better part of two days, Sean and Shannon labored to install their custom made white faced analog Redline gauges, and Ace Customs installed the incredible Eclipse stereo system with CD changer, and Eclipse on-board navigation system, and most of the Charger’s wiring harness.

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Now comes the big surprise that’s going to make everyone appreciate the wonders of how television shows are edited together. If you watched Rides, you saw Xtreme Lee at SEMA with Kenny Wayne and enjoyed watching Kenny cruising up and down the road in the finished car. The story seemed to have a fairly tale ending – the guys had pulled it off after all. Well, not really. Despite superhuman efforts by everyone involved. It became obvious a couple of days before SEMA that the unholy complicated Charger couldn’t possibly be finished in time.
The tough decision was made to get everything mocked up so it could make the show and be on display, so work turned toward getting everything cosmetically perfect. Rob flew out to SEMA, met up with Shannon and Sean, and they spent the day before the show primping the Xtreme Lee for its big debut. Still not running, we’re pleased to say Rob pitched in his muscle power to push the Charger into the Gear Vendors booth. The Charger had made it to SEMA and no one aside from those who pushed it into the hall ever knew it wasn’t a running, driving, car. Interestingly, we were pleased to see this same thing occurring with a number of other cars at SEMA, so while everyone was bit disappointed at having not finished in time, at least we knew a lot of other car builders had run into the same problem – there simply wasn’t enough time.

Once SEMA was over, the Xtreme Lee went back to

Redline’s shop where the finishing work could progress without too much hassle. With Rides scheduled to come film Kenny’s first drive in his new car, Shannon and Sean discovered a fresh problem. The backing plate on one axle was bent, which made the passenger’s side rear wheel fit askew. The Hudson boys noticed that right away, so with the Rides cameras rolling, they had the car on the lift outside the shop doing a last minute axle change. Rob was snapping pics, the film cameras were rolling, and Kenny Wayne was on-site ready for his drive – nothing like a little pressure, eh?
The job was finished, all was cool, then came the shake-down cruise you saw on television with Kenny Wayne making passes up and down the street near Redline’s shop. The General Lee seen in the Rides episode is owned by Dave Stitzinger, who’s a friend of Renaud’s. This is the General Lee that was shown in our February 2005 issue in our feature on Renaud and Andre and the Melody Ranch Studio.
The story does indeed have a happy ending. The shakedown cruise by Kenny Wayne in mid-December was a full bore success. The Xtreme Lee runs like a champ, drives like an SCCA sports car, and is way extremely fast. Is Kenny Wayne pleased with his new ride? Wouldn’t you be? We were glad to see him smiling big time that afternoon – all the hard work had definitely paid off.
Since he was busy with his concert tour at that time, the


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Xtreme Lee remained at Redline’s shop after the filming of that episode, and since that time the boys have spent their spare time improving on the Charger ever more. When this orange rebel makes its debut to the Mopar faithful at the 2005 Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas, all the bugs should be completely worked out. Following the ‘Vegas show, the Charger’s going home to Kenny’s garage. Throughout the process, Kenny’s been adamant that he wanted this car to be a driver, so it will be frequently seen in an around Los Angeles we’re certain. The Rides narrator kept referring to the Charger as a “show car”, but that’s not entirely accurate. Yes, it will make some car shows, but as nice as this thing is, it should spend more time on the road than it will in a trailer.
Congrats to Shannon and Sean Hudson at Redline, Ted

Moser, Rich Nedball, and everyone involved in making this car a reality. The guys at Redline informed us the day after the show they were already getting e-mails asking them to build more of these, but for now at least, they’re gonna’ take a breather.
However, since Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Kid Rock are buds, and since Kid’s a Dukes fan as well with a General Lee clone of his own, we wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one more of these things put together. This one will remain special to us though, having been the first big time custom we were actively involved in the construction and development of. The fact that it was built for one of our favorite guitarists who also happens to be from right here in Louisiana makes it even more special. Keep the shiny side up Kenny, and for heaven’s sake, don’t try jumping anything!

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Custom Auto Trim did a magnificent job of concocting and installing the gorgeous tan leather interior, which somewhat mimics a stock ’69 Charger cockpit. If the fine seats and panels don’t capture your attention, the covering on the dash and console definitely will. Fender guitars supplied the crew with enough raw imitation tortoise shell material to cover the console. This is the same material used on a number of their retro reissue Stratocasters and is the same material used on Kenny Wayne’s Xtreme Lee Strat.

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Naturally, with Shannon and Sean so heavily involved, the instrument panel was going to be a work of art. Redline Gauge Works came through as usual with these gorgeous custom made instruments which blend modern high-tech style with the flavor of the original instruments. The on-board navigational system was supplied by Eclipse and makes sure the Xtreme Lee will never make a wrong turn in Albuquerque.


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No area of the Charger was overlooked, and here’s ample evidence of that fact. The taillight cover panel is covered in guitar logo stickers to mimic a well used guitar case, but the real attention getter is the tiny little camera mounted facing aft. The signal from this minicam is transmitted to the dash, allowing Kenny to not only rely on the mirrors for what’s behind him, but he can watch the startled faces on screen without taking his eyes off the road! The speaker housing also holds the megawatt amp that keeps this rock-n-roll ride rockin’.


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A2ZFX – 661-251-8962
Ace Customs – 661-510-4867
Be Cool Radiators – 703-331-0100
BFGoodrich – 909-694-6798
Budnik Wheels – 714-892-1932
California Car Cover – 800-423-5525
Classic Auto Air – 813-251-2356
Comp Cams – 901-375-3451
CRT Cope Racing Transmission – 219-374-0100
Dynamat – 513-860-5094
Eagle Specialty Products – 662-769-7373
Eagle Rods – 714-898-9763
Eaton Springs – 313-963-3839
Eclipse Audio – 310-767-4328
Edelbrock – 310-781-2222
Electromotive – 703-331-0100
Fat Man Fabrications – 704-545-0369
Gear Vendors – 800-999-9555
JE Pistons – 714-898-9763
Jerry Noone’s Custom Auto Trim – 661-940-6363

Magnumforce Race Car Fabrication – 408-559-6633
March Performance – 734-729-9070
Melody Ranch Studios – 661-259-7788
Meziere Enterprises – 760-746-3273
Mopar Engines West – 408-888-1293
Milodon – 818-407-1211
MSD – 915-855-7123
PTC Devices – 650-949-4759
PTC Torque Converters – 256-383-6868
Powermaster Alternator – 865-688-5953
Picture Car Warehouse – 232-937-4073
Pure Vision – 805-522-2232
Randy’s Ring and Pinion – 866-262-3510
Redline Gauge Works – 661-259-8891
Restorations By Julius – 818-882-2825
RW Motorsports – 661-259-4992
Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. – 800-448-7722
Steer and Gear – 800-253-4327
TTI Exhaust – 909-371-4878
Year One – 706-658-2140

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tThe low deck stroker motor… everybody’s heard about these things but they’re still considered relatively exotic pieces which few get the opportunity to own. Put a 440 crank on a 400 block and you have an instant recipe for more power. But, the low deck 400 has different main bearing size, and you’ve heard that longer rods are the hot ticket, and what about the pistons? And why even bother with the low deck in the first place? The whole matter gets very confusing very quickly, which is why these motors are still almost mythological in nature.
Low deck “B: blocks are physically smaller, so they fit engine compartments better than “RB” tall blocks. Everything in the block is closer together, which helps the block’s rigidity. Yet, the old Mopar engineers were thinking when they decided to use the same heads, bellhousing, starter, water pump, and other components on both the “R” and the “RB” blocks. So, the only reason not to build up a 400 is that

the old 440 crank and pistons are a problem. Historically, you’d need to grind the crankshaft again and order a set of custom pistons. But, since this buildup has become increasingly popular,


you can now buy a stroker crank from Eagle right off the shelf, along with JE forged pistons designed to work in just such an application. Stoker motor building has almost been made easy!

The Recipe:
    For Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s General Lee project, Mopar Engines West knew a conventional motor would never do for such an unconventional car. This being the case, they decided to build a stroker motor using a nice moderately aggressive XR-286R Street Roller from Comp Cams. The cam’s 248/254 durations and .576/.582 lifts with a 110 lobe separation will yield the stout torque the car will require. In fact, the entire valve train is from Comp Cams, from the 829 solid roller lifters to the indestructible 1321 Chromemoly roller rockers. Mopar Engines West went with a new JE piston, which is a flat top and has a compression height matched to use with an RB 440-type rod. This combo paired with the Edelbrock 84 cc heads result in about about an 11:1

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compression ratio, which is as far as Mopar Engines West wanted to go with pump gas.Moving into the rotating assembly department, here’s the formula. Regrind a 440 crank, overbore


Regrind a 440-crank, overbore the cylinders and you’ll end up somewhere around 451″. And you still have a Mopar crankshaft with no radius at the fillets. Buy a new 4340 4.15 stroker from Eagle part #440241506760 and you’ll end up at 500″, have the high strength fillets, that extra torque that a long stroke gives you, and you don’t have to regrind anything!

the cylinders, and you’ll end up with somewhere around 451″. And, you’ll still have a Mopar crankshaft with no radius at the fillets. Buy a new 4340 4.15 stroker from Eagle (part # 440241506760) and you’ll end up at 500″, you’ll have the high strength fillets, that extra torque that a long stroke gives you, and you don’t have to regrind anything.

A 4.15 stroke and a 4.38 bore is still 500″, regardless of whether the block is a B or an RB. Now use the Eagle H-beam CRS6760B3D RB rod. With this long of a stroke and such a long rod (6.76″), the piston must have a short compression height – the distance from the center of the wrist pin to the top of the piston. Racers have been doing this for years since pistons that short are, by definition, very light. Less rotating mass means a more responsive engine and higher revolutions per minute. But, custom pistons are expensive and you’d better know know how to order them. So, along comes JE with an off-the-shelf piston (par #213460) and your worries are over.


The counterweights on that 4.15 crankshaft are going to hit the block. Get out the die grinder and call back in the morning. Now with a pile of iron dust at your feet you think you’re through Wrong. The rod bolts will also hit the bores so mock up a rod or two, mark the bores, and keep grinding. Now a nice hot jet wash, bush all the internal galleys, and a paint job.

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A small hole (.030) must be drilled in the oil galley plug to supply oil to the timing gears. The gear drive must be installed using it’s own dowel pins which control the backlash in the gears. The gear drive is bolted on for good, since the cam can be installed and degreed from this point on without removing the timing cover.

The heads are the very popular Edelbrock #60929 84 cc aluminum heads. These heads come fully assembled, but the spring for Kenny’s motor needed to be replaced with Comp Cams #953 springs, with the associated retainers, locks, etc., and the installed height must be set to be compatible with the roller cam. (~220 lbs. On the seat and 550 lbs. over the nose). While they were at it, Mopar Engines West worked over the heads a little. Mopar Engines West always does a “bowl blend” along with a custom valve job, and Kenny’s mill was no exception. Angie Timmons did the head work and, because the compression ratio is on the high side, the chambers were polished to smooth the

combustion areas. They were also given a Stage I port job to help with the flow that would be needed. The heads were flowed out of the box at 285 intake and 211 exhaust. After the Stage I port work, they flowed 301 on the intake and 225 on the exhaust, or roughly a 10% increase.

Regarding the block, Mopar Engines West started with a 1972 400″ block out of a truck. It’s amazing how many 400 blocks exist in junkyards. The famous 1971 “230 casting” block is the most desirable, but any block made up through the middle


This project used the Eagle H-beam CRS6760B3D RB rod. With this long a stroke, and a long rod (6.76″), the piston needs a short compression height (the distance from the center of the wrist pin to the top of the piston). Racers have been doing this for years since that short of a piston is, by definition, very light. Less rotating mass = a more responsive engine and higher RPM. But custom pistons are expensive and you better know how to order them. Enter JE with a new, off the shelf, piston (part #213460) and your worries are over.

1970s is fine. Mopar Engines West gives every block the whole treatment because you can’t assume anything when you’re talking about old high production OEM parts. So what’s the whole treatment? Good question.

First, they remove all the plugs and it’s off to the hot tank in order to remove thirty years of crud and rust. Then comes the shot peening which results in a block that looks brand new. Then the block’s magnafluxed to make sure it’s still a candidate. For what is worth, the first block that Mopar Engines chose was, in fact, cracked in the deck. Once a block is verified, then it’s decked an indexed. Decking makes sure the block surfaces are true, and indexing makes sure the decks are parallel with the crank and at exactly 90 degrees to each other. Then, line hone the mains, bore the cylinders, and finish hone with a torque plate.

Now, with most engines you’d be done with the block, but not with a stroker. The counterweights on that 4.15 crankshaft are going to hit the block. Get out the die grinder and call back in the morning. With a pile of iron dust at your feet, you think you’re work is through. You would be wrong. The rod bolts will also hit the bores so mock up a rod or two, mark the bores, and keep grinding. Then comes a nice hot jet wash, a brushing of all the internal galleys, and a paint job.

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Of course, there’s more machine work to be done with a project like this. The rotating assembly had to be balanced, which means equalizing the weights and all the rods and pistons. Then the crankshaft required a little prudent use of Mallory metal. +/- one gram is the result. The rod ends were honed to fit the JE pins (.001), and normally, Mopar Engines West would enlarge the internal oil pickup hole, but it was decided to use an upgraded Milodon external oiling system for this one.

With everything nearly ready for assembly, in a perfect world one would do just that – assemble the motor. But, always check a few things first. Lube and insert the cam to make sure it turns freely. It’s not that uncommon that the cam bearings must be clearanced with a bearing knife. We won’t go into that here because that wasn’t needed in this case. The main bearings were installed, the caps were torqued to spec and measured with a bore gauge. If the line hone was done right, the bearing clearances should be between .0025 and .0035. The same


thing is done for each rod end. On Kenny’s motor, the clearances were perfect.
Now comes the best part; assembly! The rear main seal is lubed, installed, and the crank’s dropped in for the first time (hopefully it drops in on the first try or that’s a good indication of trouble). Once torqued to spec, it should be able to rotate the crank by hand with no uneven spots. Endplay was .006. Milodon supplied the main stud set,


The heads are the very popular Edelbrock #60929 84 cc aluminum heads. These heads came fully assembled, but the springs were swapped to the Comp Cams #953 springs, with the associated retainers, locks, etc. to match the solid roller cam. They flowed out of the box at 285 intake and 211 exhaust. After the stage-I port work they flowed 301 on the intake and 225 on the exhaust, or roughly a 10% increase.

#81185, the oiling system, #21161, and the gear drive #13000. The cam is reinstalled and then the Milodon gear drive goes into place.
Here’s a valuable tip for this stage of the assembly. Drill a small hole (.030) in the oil galley plug to supply oil to the timing gears. The gear drive must be installed using its own dowel pins which control the backlash in the gears. The gear drive is bolted on for good, since the cam can be installed and degreed from this point on without removing the timing cover. Since this is a solid roller cam, its endplay must be set. A hydraulic or solid cam has the

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lobes cut on a slight angle, which keeps the cam pushed back as the lifters rotate, but solid rollers are cut straight, which means the cam could “walk.” That’s why with a roller the endplay must be set using a “cam button.” The stout cover of the Milodon gear drive makes this easy. We installed the Comp roller cam two degrees advanced to help with the lower RPM range.

Then the JE rings #J100F8-4375-5 were filed to fit. The rings, pins, and double Spiro locks all came with the pistons. Pistons were numbered, then installed on the rods, the rings were installed, then installed in the block using Red Line assembly lube on the bearings. A fixed diameter ring compressor makes this part easy.

Once the pistons are in with the rod bolts torqued to spec, the bottom end can be buttoned up. So, in goes the Milodon #18580 oil pickup, the Milodon windage tray #320000, and finally the Milodon #31460 eight quart oil pan. This pan is very popular because it fits all Mopar big blocks and it doesn’t hang down too low. This was a good time to install the Meziere WP-106S electric water pump. This is a great pump for street or strip and with electric pumps you get 100% flow at all times. The old days when electric didn’t hold up in street use are long gone! The BHJ IBB-7 SFI harmonic balancer, together with the Electromotive index wheel and March crank pulley, we now have a stout 500″ short block ready for heads. Yes, Mopar Engines West painted the balancer with a hammered finish just for yucks.

With a head on and no gasket, the piston-to-valve clearance was checked. The clearance was fine, so the heads were bolted on using Fel-Pro 1009 head gaskets. Comp rocker shafts and roller rocker arms were installed and the correct push rod length was measured. It was found that Comp Cams #7932 3/8″ pushrods were perfect. Cold valve lash was set.

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For the valve covers, Mopar Engines West started with a pair of cast aluminum B-1 valve covers and milled the surface flat. Then they went to Curtis at Melrose Metal Finishing to have them professionally filled and painted with automotive paint. Then to Ed Holman to have the KWS logo (Kenny Wayne Shepherd) CNC’d into them. This was a fair amount of work, but the results speak for themselves.

Mopar Engines West modified the Edelbrock #7186 Performer RPM manifold for the Electromotive Tec 3rEFI system by drilling and welding in injector bungs. The Meziere water pump looks great, presenting itself as a menacing high-tech bulge on the front of the engine. The Electromotive distributorless ignition uses an encoded crankshaft trigger wheel behind the BHJ balancer and two coil packs. PLX Devices provided the special wide band 02 sensor with dash readout. The MSD #2250 1,000 CFM throttle body finishes the picture.

This brings up the

really fun part; the dyno work. After the engine was warmed up and the timing adjusted, the hot valve lash was set, and several moderate load runs were run to seat the rings. Then, fuel maps were programmed into the ECU and we were ready for a few pulls. Engine vacuum is 12″ HG at idle and timing was set to 16 degrees initial and 34 degrees total, all in by 3,000 RPM. The peak horsepower number came in at 566 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and the torque peak was 618 ft. lbs. at 4,500 RPM! This motor is a genuine tire shredder!

The actual dyno results compared to the predictions from Mopar Engines West’s computer simulations were within 3% of each other. Years of testing and software tweaking result in relatively accurate computer simulations as long as you know the numbers, such as head flow, etc. But, like with all computer programs, garbage in gives you garbage out, so knowing the parameters and flow numbers up front, along with careful blue printing


The Electromotive index wheel triggers the spark on this motor.

during assembly, yields comparable results.
All that’s left for the motor now is for Kenny to enjoy it! He may not choose to do any bridge hopping with his General Lee, but Kenny’s General will have perhaps the most radical big block ever bolted into an orange ’69 Charger. Keep the shiny side up Kenny!

Page Twenty one


for the better part of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s life, he’s had a guitar in his hands. Most of those guitars have been Fender Stratocasters. If you’ve ever seen Kenny live, take notice of his main axe, a sunburst vintage Strat that has darn little sunburst finish left. Aside from looking like it’s been dragged behind a gravel truck, believe us, that this sounds sweet and the boy uses some really heavy strings for a thick as a brick bluesy sound. Kenny Wayne and the Stratocaster are seemingly inseparable, with the classic instrument seeming to be an extension of his own body. We’ve seen guitarists make tough riffs look effortless before, but Kenny seems to have about nine fingers on his left hand.
Early along in the Xtreme Lee project, Del Breckenfeld at Fender Guitars wanted to do something special for Kenny Wayne as well. They decided to do an Xtreme Lee Kenny Wayne Shepherd edition Stratocaster which would be presented to Kenny Wayne when he took delivery of the Charger. Since the paint on Kenny’s Charger is a custom mix by Ted Moser, Fender shipped a bare premium Strat body to Ted’s shop where “Bama” and Pat Ceo applied the custom paint.

When Kenny Wayne opened the trunk during the filming of Rides, there was the new guitar sitting in the trunk, which was a bit of a surprise for Kenny; he knew the guitar was being built, but didn’t know it was in the trunk.
For all you guitar guys out there, the complete Strat shown here is a relatively stock ’60s reissue Strat with the same graphics applied to Kenny’s personal guitar. The guitar Kenny will be touring with and playing live was also on hand, but wasn’t fully assembled as Fender knows all-too-well that the boy likes to assemble the electronics and pickups in his guitars himself in order to achieve his own personal sound.
Fender is looking into producing a limited number of these guitars. So, if your interested in winning the guitar you see here check out Kenny Wayne’s website for details ( Congrats to Fender for coming up with this axe and hats off to Del Breckenfeld and the entire crew at the Fender Custom Shop for making sure cool projects like this get personal attention. Leo Fender would be most pleased.