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Old 05-23-2008, 11:21 PM
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Building/rebuilding a Flathead V8. Can a novice do it?

So I was at a local cruise-in last Saturday night, standing around admiring this sweet, flathead-powered '29 Rat truck when a guy standing next to me asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in a flathead V8 for $100. Of course I said "Yeah, I would", and gave him my number. I figured he was just blowin' smoke and thought I'd probably never hear from him again, but today I get a call and a hour later he shows up at my shop with the motor, completely disassembled but all there, and even throws in an engine stand, all for a bill.

Well here's my question: Can a complete novice engine builder handle a flathead build? Seeing it all disassembled, it looks like it would be pretty strait forward and fairly uncomplicated.

I've fooled around with cars for years (my current project being the '49 Chevy pickup I've posted about elsewhere on this forum) but being a professional artist by trade, I've always been more a design and aesthetics man, and have always paid someone else for the serious work. That said, I am fairly mechanically inclined and can usually figure stuff out. I can also read a book and follow instructions pretty well. While I've never done any real auto engine work before, I did rebuild a couple of motorcycle engines in my youth. In other words, I know basically how it's all supposed to work, I've just never done it.

Fact is, I've been wanting to try my hand at building a hot rod engine for sometime now, and since I have virtually nothing in this motor thus far, I figure I've really got nothing to lose. What do ya'll think?

Any good books or videos on building this particular engine?

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Old 05-24-2008, 12:23 AM
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There are several offerings for flathead knowledge including this list. I know Frank Oddo has been around the flathead scene for quite a long time and would trust his insights.
Before you do anything, take the block to a shop that can magnaflux it for cracks, particularly between the cylinder bores and the valve seats.
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Old 05-24-2008, 07:28 AM
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I am no flathead authority, but have a couple dozen under my belt. They are not complicated, however they do have a few special tool requirements and some unique construction that is not in modern engines. I would suggest you get as much info, mechanical and not specs, and make a decision based on your own abilities. I imagine that I put at least 3-4 hours more in a flathead assembly than I do later ones....partly because of the unique construction and partly because I don't see as many as I do late engines.
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Old 05-24-2008, 03:35 PM
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First thing you need to do is see what year it is. Pre 46 or 47 have one rod bearing per journal that takes care of both rods and the bearing turns in the rod. They are a bit different than a newer engine, but they are pretty cool and Speedway caries most of the parts you will need to get it going.
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