My 1993 GT needs a new balancer. The engine is completely stock.
I want to buy the best dampener available that fits without modifications so what are my options?
Any others I should look at? I've read on Google searches that the Fluidampr won't fit without clearancing the water pump and timing cover, same with the Ford Performance unit. Is that true? What do you recommend?
The best available is the Pioneer SFI approved Elastomer balancer. If you asked 5 years ago on StangNet, 10 people would have replied immediately with this balancer. It has the SFI approved safety ring, so the outer piece won't seperate from the crank. The factory elastomer design actually dampens vibrations better than the fluid filled designs. The link is for the factory 50 oz imbalance.
Everyone I have spoken too tells me that the elastomer balancers are actually better than the fluid filled ones. It is honestly more complicated than I understand. There are two types of vibrations. In a Small Block Ford, one out weighs the other, and the elastomer balancer dampens it better.
On high revving race engines, the fluid one has some advantages. Keep in mind, we are talking about race cars that operate between 7000 and 9000 rpms. So if you don't have an expensive 4 bolt main block, the fluid balancer is not going to help you.
Are you doing engine work where the rotating assemble will be dismantled? If so I recommend having the individual components of the rotating assembly balanced. They weigh each connecting rod and shave them all down to the same weight as the lightest one and balance by shaving weight from each rod end. They weigh all pistons and determine the lightest one then remove material from the others so they all weigh exactly the same. They assemble the crank with balancer and flywheel and and balance that separately. In the end you get a very well balanced assembly that can spin at much higher rpm and survive.
It will free up power otherwise lost to imbalance. If you're doing even a moderately serious rebuild, I can't imaging not taking these extra steps. Worth every penny it cost me. $75 is what I paid extra for these tasks and to me that seems low.
Race dampers are made with various designs so they wont come apart under the rigors of racing. That's mostly what makes them more expensive. Bad harmonics are from imbalance components within the rotating assembly. If any damper does it's job it will soften the vibration and loss of poor balancing. But, the expensive ones will always stay together. In any event, you can't expect an expensive one (or a cheap one) to cancel out the losses of a poorly balanced rotating assembly.