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Old 12-14-2010, 09:24 AM
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Selecting a flathead

Being a life long bowtie man, thought it was time to go to the dark side for a try want to build something ratty old school and should have a flatty in it. Could one of you fine gentlemen tell me what to look for a far a suitable engine to start with. Much appreciated brian

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Old 12-14-2010, 10:01 AM
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Brian - the first thing you have to be aware of is that it costs a bunch of money to make 200Hp in a flattie. Once you have cleared that "little" hurdle, then you are ready to go.

OK - MY OPINION and what I have built several times in the (way) distant past:

-An 8BA or Canadian equivalent '49-'53 block bored to 3-3/8
-A 4" Mercury crank remachined offset to 4-1/8
-A set of good aluminum heads, Offy or Edelbrock are still available new. You can use either the earlier or later head interchangeably.
-A 3x2 or 4bbl intake, Offy or E-brock with Holley 94 carbs on progressive linkage ('97's are the traditionals, but most leak and are w-a-a-a-y too expensive)

Whatever block you use, it must be checked for cracks, primarily at the center exhaust valve pocket to the cylinder walls. They can be fixed with cylinder sleeves and weld or metal stitching, but that's really expensive, assuming you can find a good pro to do the work.

-Camshafts - Isky for off the shelf or have ground to your specs. I used to use Clay Smith track grinds

-Adjustable lifters - Johnson's were what I used

-Ported and relieved plus an exhaust splitter in the middle port

-Ignitions - I really like the look of the '46-'48 pancake ignition. You have to make sure that you have the right camshaft and timing housing to fit your engine block of choice. I just saw that MSD makes both the pancake and later '49-'53 versions.

-ARP bolting

This mixes some of what I used way back as well as what I would use today. I first would contact one of the flathead builders to price his offerings in today's world. You would get a ready to run engine without the pain yourself of trying to locate hard to almost impossible to find parts. After you get done with running around, buying pieces that are junk then trying to find a machine shop with someone with skills to do your work, you might be bucks ahead.

Whatever way you go, there are several here that can help a bit ----

Dave W
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:30 AM
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Thanks , Dave. Out here on the bald prairie there are still a few grain trucks sitting in the coulees - most people don't want/care/have the inclination to fiddle with the OLD junk so there is still the chance of finding something that is complete and runs for cheap. I appreciate your help. Merry Christmas b
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:33 PM
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Flatheads had cooling issues, this is 1 common reason on why 'most' blocks are cracked and some are not repairable.. even if you find a 'runner'. the block could be trash or need lots of work, and the block you end up using could be from a seized engine.. so you still have to tear any Flatty apart that you get to make sure it is really good
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt167
Flatheads had cooling issues, this is 1 common reason on why 'most' blocks are cracked and some are not repairable.. even if you find a 'runner'. the block could be trash or need lots of work, and the block you end up using could be from a seized engine.. so you still have to tear any Flatty apart that you get to make sure it is really good

Matt - the only reasons flatties had cooling issues was if someone thought they would run cooler without thermostats or possibly that the radiator or even the engine got plugged with crud. These engines were "before" today's good anti freeze with lots of inhibitors Then if one of the water pump impellers failed, you would have a hot side.
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:28 PM
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disassembly is a given - I was thinking more along the lines of something not too wild - just enough to make it sound and look right.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:20 PM
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You can also look at www.flatheadjack.com, they build only flatties and have some nice stuff. You can get an idea on how you might want to build your engine. I think you're best bet would to be contacting some the local engine machine shops, one of them just might know where a useable core is.
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