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Old 05-15-2002, 10:33 AM
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Question 409 heads

Well, i am 15 and for my birthday my dad found an awsome deal on a few impalas my brother got a 4 door and i got the 2 door 409 SS, i have heard that the valve seats need to be machined make the engine better for driving... i wanted to know if there is somthin else i can do ( other that buying new heads). I also was wondering about any tech tips you guys have for a 409. thanks a lot for any help...

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Old 05-15-2002, 08:27 PM
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Well, the 409 is a monster from the factory!

By machining the valve seats, I can think of two things you might be talking about.

1. installing hardened exhaust seats. In the old days, gas had lead added to keep teh exhaust seats from burning. To run unleaded gas, you need hardened seats, or use a lead substitute additive every time you fill up.

2. 3 angle valve job. This means adding an extra two cuts to the valve seat (one on each side) and back cutting the valve so that airflow is smoother around the "corner" and at low valve lift. Better flow = more power.

There aren't many heads out there for the 409, but fortunately, in those days, castings were thick, so a good head porting job can give you a boost in power. This work should be done by a pro as this is tricky work, and you sure don't want to mess up a valuable 409 head.

Also make sure the engine has a good tuneup. If it isn't tuned right, you cannot make good power.

Good luck with your new ride. You're a lucky guy!
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Old 05-15-2002, 08:51 PM
taz taz is offline
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Congrats, on the 409 SS. What a Find! I agree a set of Hardened Exhaust Seats, and a Good Three Angle Valve Job, will go a Long way for Performance. Those Heads were Cast Heavy, so even if You have to Mill .005 off of Them, to get Em Straight. I"m sure There will still be Plenty of Material left as to not Weaken Them.
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Old 05-16-2002, 09:02 PM
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A few months back, Street Rodder ran an article on the 409. Trust me, the 409 is a terminal case of nasty when set up right. In the article, they mentioned porting out the coolant passages in the front of the block, where your water pump bolts. This will help the engine run cooler. I agree with the other guys about the valve seats. Have a machine shop prep your heads. Yes, it'll cost for their service but you'll never match their skill.
Now, start looking for the two AFB's and intake manifold to feed it. Cast iron exhaust manifolds with the wto 4-barrel set up produced 425 horsepower, from the factory...Keep that engine!
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Old 05-16-2002, 09:11 PM
Burnin ruber...raising hell!
 
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hey thanks a lot for that info... i love it when people tell me good stuff about my engine. i was thinking about going with a high rise intake manifold and some headers (the only problem with that headers is i have only found 1 ad that had 409 headers and they costed a ton) but ya i think that i am going to go with the hardend valve seats. but right now my money is going towards tubbing my rear end. I am only 15 and im not bringing in much money so i have to do one thing at a time. the place that i work might end up having machine stuff so i might wait a while and get a real good deal. well thanks a lot for the info on that 409. It really inspires me to get my car going so i can smoke all these hondas. I have told a few friends that 409 came factory runnin about 400 hp and they didnt believe, because they are all used to 4 bangin hondas... sheesh i think im hangin out with the wrong crowd.
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Old 08-31-2002, 10:29 AM
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Hi-
Just recently joined your thread, and as an owner of a few 409's I'd like to share some advice, some VERY important stuff, too...
First, porting is great, especially if you can give me a cast number, I can even give you an idea how much meat you've got.
Second, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT put hardened exhaust seats on the heads. You will DESTROY the head, as the water jacket is close to the seat, and you WILL cut into it. This is the one weak spot on the 409. I've been running pump unleaded in mine for years, with no major issues. Buy stainless valves, and get a good valve job (3 or 5 angle), and you'll be fine for 90K+ miles.

Last, if you want to contact me, I can steer you in the right direction for anything from gaskets to stroker kits, sheetmetal manifolds, and blowers. The W-Block is a unique beast, and I've broken enough 409 parts to help you through this!

I just hope I caught you in time to save the heads!

If you need any help, or pics, or tech info let me know!

PS- Replace the rocker arm studs while you've got the heads off, unless it's a 425hp 690-cast head, you do not have hardened studs. They can, and usually do shear under modern cam/spring loads. But make sure the machinist radiuses the bolt holes on the stud bosses, it's another w-block weak spot, they can crack!

Good luck!
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Old 08-31-2002, 11:04 AM
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What kind of shape is the car in? What year 61,62 or 63?
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Old 08-31-2002, 12:54 PM
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I've got a '63 Impala Conv. Bucket delete SS Car.

Factory it had a 340Hp/'Glide in it. Short Console, PS, PB, 3.42 Posi rear.

Now it's a 515Hp 409, 565 ft/lb. Dual Carter 600's, Offy Hi-Rise intake. Ported, polished, and flowed heads. Isky Cam/valvetrain. Fairbanks 700R-4, ATI Converter, Moser 9" Rear end. Looks stock, though. B&M Hammer shifter is in the console (Well hidden, though with a leather shift boot), but other than that and the AutoMeter Street Tach, it looks stock. 15x8 Chevy Rally wheels, too...

It's aqua-azure metallic, black, and black.

I had the heads and short block done, assembled, and put, pulled, put, pulled, and put the motor in myself. Did the tranny myself, including fabbing a crossmember.

I've got a 489-stroker in my basement. It's a 454 Crank, with milled mains, and gives you baseline 500+ HP.

I love W-Blocks, but they ARE quirky. And factory, they have flow issues. The intakes stink, and the heads don't generate ANY seat velocity. Ya gotta work 'em!
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Old 08-31-2002, 06:48 PM
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BentlelyT1 I was asking 409guy about his car. Thinking maybe he might be interested in a swap with something ready to go before he got into all the work he's going to have to do. I've always wanted a 61 409. But then he is only 15 and has lots of time to do it. Your car sounds like a jewel. I don't think I have enough toys to get you to swap your car away.
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Old 09-01-2002, 07:40 AM
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Well.....

Jewel it's not. It's an older body resto, and I thin it's going to have to go in soon again. It has been a NY Car it's whole life, and it has some issues, and some shoddy repair work, but it will be done right in the next year or so. I'd call it a 20-footer!

The mechanicals are great; that's what I can do. The interior's really nice; I can do that to. I just HATE bodywork. It looks good, I just know what's under the paint, and it bugs me.

I bought the car when I was 18, though, and haven't done much to the body since, so I can't complain. It was my response to my father when he said, "Go get a practical car, so you can go to college...". He wasn't very pleased, but I've kept it every since, and I'm 27 now.... So, guess it wasn't a bad investment. I'd still rather drive it than my Volvo cross counrty!

If you want a 409, and a '61, I can steer you right there, too. I know of a believed-to-be factory mule in Binghamton, NY with a tri-power 409, some odd cast numbers in the block, and heads, but there's no paper-trail to prove it. I even took the car to the GM plant at Tonawanda's (5 miles away) "Family Reunion", and asked the GM tech guys if they had info on the cast numbers, and they couldn't find any.... Weird.

The easier way would be buy a '61, and I can hook you up with a 409... If you don't care about numbers matching stuff. My original block and heads are in the basement. I'm running a different 409 because I'm concerned about trashing the original, they have a well earned (And Correct) reputation for being grenades.... Plus, some truck/HD stuff flows better, and you can get more street-liveable performance from the motor than the HP applications GM Threw on the street.

If you're interested, E-Mail me... I can hook you up.
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Old 10-26-2002, 05:48 PM
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So if the valve seats can't safely be hardened, what can you do?

Some people say that unleaded gas will destroy it too.
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Old 10-26-2002, 06:54 PM
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when you get this thing on the road tell us all how the beast runs! if you even decide to sell it [heaven forbid]let us know. it would really suck to see another fine 409 pushing water in some farmers glorified sprinkler!
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