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Speedmaster Harmonic Balancer

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Old 03-27-2016, 05:27 PM
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Speedmaster Harmonic Balancer

I am assembling parts for the upgrading of my 390 FE (to 447 CID) and need to draw upon any experience members here might have had with the Speedmaster fluid harmonic balancer. It is described by the vendor here but I'm finding an issue with this piece already and I'm wondering if there isn't more lurking in the shadows.
The issue that has piqued my curiosity has to do with the bolt pattern used for attaching a v-belt pulley to the balancer which is connected to the crankshaft. My pulley has three grooves (to drive water pump, alternator, power steering and A/C compressor). Speedmaster is using the bolt circle for the big block Chevy which is slightly smaller than what the FEs use. This same problem exists with the much more expensive ATI Super Damper which also uses the smaller Chevy bolt circle. Both use three equidistant holes. There are various ways that FE builders have responded to this. Most commonly mentioned is simply elongating the holes on the FE pulley. I can see that this is something that I will have to deal with.
The other ATI issue which may also apply to the Speedmaster (copy cat?) unit is that ATI uses the outer ring from the 385 series Ford engine. This renders the degree markings to be off - some say by as much as 10. Since I'm not in a position to test this right now, I am trying to learn what others may already know about the Speedmaster unit.
Specifically, is the Speedmaster unit also inaccurate with respect to timing marks? If so, how do people deal with it, glue on a corrected set of timing marks? The Speedmaster unit is 7.25" in diameter whereas stock is 7.00" and the ATI unit, which duplicates the 427 damper, is 7.50." Will I need a different pointer and, if so, where could I get one?
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:44 AM
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Buy a Pioneer, Powerbond or Romac balancer depending on your budget and intended use. They are all 3 good quality, reliable and the timing marks are accurate.

The last Pioneer I bought was actually a Powerbond in a Pioneer box. I think Powerbond makes them for Pioneer. Powerbond and Romac are both made in Australia.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by abyars111 View Post
Buy a Pioneer, Powerbond or Romac balancer depending on your budget and intended use. They are all 3 good quality, reliable and the timing marks are accurate.

The last Pioneer I bought was actually a Powerbond in a Pioneer box. I think Powerbond makes them for Pioneer. Powerbond and Romac are both made in Australia.
Thanks for the reply. Are you confirming that these other balancers use the Ford bolt circle and not the BBC bolt circle?
I don't yet know whether the Speedmaster balancer timing marks are accurate or not. I was hoping that someone here does know and would share that knowledge.
BTW, Speedmaster is also apparently an Aussie outfit.
FBTW, I have since observed that the thickness of this balancer will put the accessory pulley 0.50" further out unless I reduce the length of the crankshaft spacer by that amount. This is troubling because I have a new billet steel spacer on order from BlueThunder via Survival Motorsports. I ordered that part to avoid the possibility of a front cover oil leak due to the groove but if I wind up shortening the original spacer, that issue will be moot. The seal will be working on fresh, ungrooved metal.
So do these other balancers also require shortening the crankshaft spacer?
I've been relying on Barry Robotnick's book, "How to Build Max Performance Ford FE Engines." He does discuss dampers on page 84 where he says that the ATI damper is off re both timing marks and accessory pulley mounting holes.
So I'm still a bit unsure as to what I should do.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flowney View Post
Thanks for the reply. Are you confirming that these other balancers use the Ford bolt circle and not the BBC bolt circle?
I don't yet know whether the Speedmaster balancer timing marks are accurate or not. I was hoping that someone here does know and would share that knowledge.
BTW, Speedmaster is also apparently an Aussie outfit.
FBTW, I have since observed that the thickness of this balancer will put the accessory pulley 0.50" further out unless I reduce the length of the crankshaft spacer by that amount. This is troubling because I have a new billet steel spacer on order from BlueThunder via Survival Motorsports. I ordered that part to avoid the possibility of a front cover oil leak due to the groove but if I wind up shortening the original spacer, that issue will be moot. The seal will be working on fresh, ungrooved metal.
So do these other balancers also require shortening the crankshaft spacer?
I've been relying on Barry Robotnick's book, "How to Build Max Performance Ford FE Engines." He does discuss dampers on page 84 where he says that the ATI damper is off re both timing marks and accessory pulley mounting holes.
So I'm still a bit unsure as to what I should do.

All I know is the Pioneer and Powerbond will bolt in place of the factory FE balancer, no tricks needed and all pulleys remain in the same spot.

I don't have personal experience with the Romac but the drag racing FE guys swear by them.

For my stock engine in my truck Barry recommended the Pioneer or Powerbond and that's what I bought. The timing marks are spot on and my pulley alignment did not change.
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:08 PM
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Thanks Anthony for sharing your experience. On the strength of that, I have asked Speedmaster to let me return this item for a full refund. My F-150 really doesn't need an SFI approved balancer and I've already identified Pioneer and Powerbond units on Summits web site that should be perfectly adequate.
Best regards,
Frank
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by flowney View Post
Thanks Anthony for sharing your experience. On the strength of that, I have asked Speedmaster to let me return this item for a full refund. My F-150 really doesn't need an SFI approved balancer and I've already identified Pioneer and Powerbond units on Summits web site that should be perfectly adequate.
Best regards,
Frank

Good deal. I'm glad I could help someone. The guys on here have helped me so much.
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Old 03-29-2016, 03:21 PM
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I don't know why a company would make a balancer for an engine that requires modifying the spacer so that you can run a generic pulley that wasn't made to fit the engine to begin with. Why would a person want to but a Chevy pulley on a Ford engine that doesn't line up with any of the other Ford pulleys without modifications to other parts of the engine.

I bought a Powerbond for my 406, stock pulley's bolted on and lined up like they should.
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Old 03-29-2016, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Destroked 450 View Post
I don't know why a company would make a balancer for an engine that requires modifying the spacer so that you can run a generic pulley that wasn't made to fit the engine to begin with. Why would a person want to but a Chevy pulley on a Ford engine that doesn't line up with any of the other Ford pulleys without modifications to other parts of the engine.
As I look on the FE Forum, I see that many favor the fluid damper offered by ATI which also uses the Chevy bolt circle. The most common solution seems to be to simply elongate the holes on the stock pulley. I was prepared to do that.
To be fair, racers are probably not as concerned about accessory belts as I am. They are interested in those fluid dampers and may well run them without a pulley of any kind (electric water pumps and all). That half inch offset was the deal breaker for me.
I should have realized that Speedmaster caters to racers and are probably largely unaware that their product isn't suitable for street use. We'll see what they say about my returning the item.
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Old 04-07-2016, 10:44 AM
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I bought a Powerbond and it's a great product. It looks just like the factory one and works fine. I checked and the timing marks were on with a piston stop.
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:05 AM
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Speedmaster allowed me to return the damper so I ordered a Professional Products PowerForce Plus Harmonic Damper 90009 which is SFI 18.1 safety rated and specifically designed for FE.
Although I could have re-drilled the pulley mounting holes and shortened the spacer, I could not fix the 0.004 difference between the OD of the crank snout and the ID of the Speedmaster fluid damper. This difference shouldn't be greater that 0.001" So this was the ultimate deal breaker.
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