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Old 04-28-2005, 08:43 PM
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old hemi's any good?

I was just wondering if the old hemi's like the 270 Red Ram and the 331s equal the 426 hemis? First of all I understand the cubic inch difference, I mean are they "ahead" of other engines of equal cubic inch? With the same basic design I would say yes but I want to hear from people who work/run them. What is the interchangeability of parts(rods,cranks,heads,blocks and so on)with the small block hemis? I know the 426 and 392 are in their own class, just want to know about the small blocks.
Basically, where do I go to learn about these? Where do I get rebuild parts? How to identify the difference between a 270 or 331. How to identify if it is a 270 or 331. Hell I'm probably wrong on the cubic inch!! Need/want to learn! Give me your favorite sites to visit. Thank you!!
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Old 04-28-2005, 09:25 PM
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Not saying that the motors are bad or anything but I commonly see a 331 hemi with trans both working for 500 dollars in the classified adds of the paper up here. My guess is that they could be good but not as good.

Hope that helps,
Crusch
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Old 04-28-2005, 09:35 PM
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Willys 36 can probably answer this the best, but I belive a 331 hemi can be bored to a 354 I might be wrong on that so dont quote me.
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Old 04-28-2005, 10:53 PM
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http://www.thehemi.com/castings.php
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:02 AM
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The 426 hemi is TOTALLY different from any of the early hemis. In fact, Chrysler Corp. threw out all of the design and engineering from the early engines shortly after discontinuing them in '58 so they had to start with a blank sheet of paper when designing the 426 in '63.

that being said, all of the early engines were very high quality machines. All had forged rods and cranks, hi-nickel iron castings and superb machining.

Unfortunately, Chrysler, Dodge and Desoto all made different series engines and none of the parts are interchangeable between the marques.

Chrysler's models were;
1951 - 53 331 long bellhousing
1954 - 55 331 short bellhousing
1956 - 57 354
1957 - 58 392
Several industrial and marine models

Dodge Models were;
1953 - 54 241
1955 - 56 270
1956 315
1957 - 58 325
Various industrial and marine engines

Desoto models were;
1952 - 54 276
1955 291
1956 330
1956 - 57 341
1957 345
I don't think Desotos were ever used in industrial and marine apps. Not sure of that though.

Dodge trucks had all types of Chrysler, Dodge and Desoto engines over the years.

Although the relationship of these engines was unmistakable due to identical construction features, nothing interchanges between the makes.

I don't know about interchangeability within Dodge and Desoto but within Chrysler a lot of stuff is interchangeable. For example any 331/354/392 valve cover and or rocker arm assembly will fit any other engine. 331 & 354 engines are virtually the same except for bore so cranks rods and pistons (with a 1/8" bore job on a 331) are interchangeable. Heads are interchangeable on all the engines. In fact, 331 heads are popular with the 392 & 354 drag racers because they have shorter, better flowing ports. If that switch is made, 1/2" thick spacer plates must be used to fit the intake manifold since the 'big block' 392 has taller deck than the other two 'small blocks'. Cams are interchangeable between the 331 and 354 and although they fit in the 392, lobe displacement angles are different due to the taller deck so the cams won't run well.

The '51 - '53 long bellhousing Chrysler 331 is probably the least desirable style because of the obvious problem in adapting transmissions but also due to the heads having smaller valves and small round exhaust ports whereas all later engines had larger oval ports. However, Don Garlits used one of these in his first rail top fuel dragster so they still can be made to put out power.

the Chryslers have a bunch of speed and rebuild parts made for them. It is fairly easy to build and hop up one of those puppies. Not so for the Dodge and Desoto. They had a modest amount of speed equipment made for them back in the day but it is rare and nothing is currently in production for them. I have heard rumors that Hot Heads is tooling up to make some new hop up parts for them. I don't know why but Chrysler engines of all sizes are still readily available but the Dodge and Desoto engines seem quite rare.

As far as potential, they are still among the elite engines for all-out power potential. None of their contemporaries from other car makers is even close. They can, and do in the nostalgia racing circuit, compete heads up with any modern big block engine.

Here are a few sites to visit.

The Early Chrysler Hemi Registry

Hotrods and Hemis. This is the home page of our illustrious HR.com member and moderator Centerline!

Imperial Club

Hot Heads. These guys specialize in early hemi parts.
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Old 04-29-2005, 11:09 AM
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Yep another question successfully answered by willys!
BTW 51Studebakerpickup, Allow me to welcome you to the Board (again )


Brad
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:12 PM
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Willys is on the ball!
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Old 04-29-2005, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC/DC
I was just wondering if the old hemi's like the 270 Red Ram and the 331s equal the 426 hemis? First of all I understand the cubic inch difference, I mean are they "ahead" of other engines of equal cubic inch? With the same basic design I would say yes but I want to hear from people who work/run them. What is the interchangeability of parts(rods,cranks,heads,blocks and so on)with the small block hemis? I know the 426 and 392 are in their own class, just want to know about the small blocks.
Basically, where do I go to learn about these? Where do I get rebuild parts? How to identify the difference between a 270 or 331. How to identify if it is a 270 or 331. Hell I'm probably wrong on the cubic inch!! Need/want to learn! Give me your favorite sites to visit. Thank you!!
Okay, now that Willys has clued you in on alot of the positives of the early hemi, let me give you a few more details to think about.

1: (AVAILABILITY) Be careful when purchasing one of these old guys. They are very popular and alot of unscrupulous guys will sell some piece of junk that has been sitting outside since 1960. Your best bet is to buy one out of an old car that is still free, and has always had a hood on it.

2COST) Rebuild and aftermarket parts are available for the early hemi, but expect to pay triple or more (compared to other modern engines) for things like main and rod bearings, pistons, cams valves and guides.

3INTERCHANGEABILITY) You will need adapter plates, etc to mate modern transmissions to them.

4: (SIZE), Although the early hemi is not quite as heavy as it looks, it's a big, bulky engine for it's displacement, and is very wide, making it very pleasing to look at, but sometimes hard to shoehorn into small areas.

5THE LITTLE STUFF) If you delve into one of these, try to start with as complete an engine as you can. They've been out of production for a long time, and the more accessories you get with it, the better. Places like Hot Heads offers alternate, Chevy style water pumps and modified distributors to work in place of the stockers. Everything is available for them, but they aren't cheap.

Now, if you are prepared to deal with these obstacles and added cost, the early hemi is a great rod engine. Powerful, and in my opinion, along with the "W" motor Chevy is one of the hottest looking powerplants you can build.

Do a little homework before you jump into one of these.
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Old 04-29-2005, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centerline
Willys is on the ball!
Whew! I was worried Centerline would tear me a new one pointing out all my wrong facts!
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Old 04-29-2005, 09:36 PM
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I couldn't have came to a better place!! Willys, thank you for that detailed description and taking the time to put it together for me.

NAIRB, thank you also. My old man(Dad) has some of these critters laying around and actually was the first guy(in our area) to put one of these(331) on a Massey Harris 30 and pulled in the old "hot rod" class at tractor pulls. Never could get the clutch to hold up. Anyhow, I understand the risks involved but come on, it's a hemi!!!
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Old 04-30-2005, 08:28 AM
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Nairb is correct in pointing out some of the drawbacks to the early hemis. However the "class" factor greatly outweighs any drawbacks.

Although the early hemis look big, generally speaking you can put one just about anywhere you can put a small block chevy with headers.

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Old 04-30-2005, 10:06 AM
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Good point Center. A 331/354 hemi is only a couple of inches wider than a BBC, is shorter in length and weighs within ~25#.

Stock dimensions;
331/354
W - 29" (valve cover edge to valve cover edge. I measured my 331.)
L - 36 3/4" (fan to bellhousing - may vary between models)
H - 36 1/2" (Bottom of pan to top of air cleaner. Add a blower and this changes!)
Weight ~700#. (392 weighs ~740#.)

BBC
Width - 28"
Length - 39" (Fan flange to bellhousing)
Height - 20.5" (not sure what this includes from the site I got it from. Anyway, visual comparison of BBC w/ a 392 @ a car show shows they are nearly the same height if dressed the same)
Weight ~685#

SBC
Width - 26"
Length - 28"
Height - 27"
Weight ~575#
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Old 04-30-2005, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIRB
2(COST) Rebuild and aftermarket parts are available for the early hemi, but expect to pay triple or more (compared to other modern engines) for things like main and rod bearings, pistons, cams valves and guides.
Yup, that's why someone with a lot more money than me owns the 345" DeSoto I found a while back. I still get to help build it though, my participation in the build was part of the sale.

Larry
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Old 04-30-2005, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldknock
Yup, that's why someone with a lot more money than me owns the 345" DeSoto I found a while back. I still get to help build it though, my participation in the build was part of the sale.

Larry
Beware!

Building a hemi is contagious. You might find that you simply can't live without one of your own by the time you're done.
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Old 05-01-2005, 07:19 AM
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A little pricey to build but, for a hot rod, it is a 1-time expense! Mine has been together since '95 (30,000 miles) and still running strong.
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