PROJECT FLATHEAD, PART 1

Our flattie is almost finished. Compared to an original, she’s looking pretty snazzy.

Build, text and photos by Mike Mavrigian

The Ford flathead was a popular platform for early rodders, and basically started the hot rod and performance engine movement. The engine production ran from 1937 through 1953, with one of the most popular versions being the 8BA (1949-53). Since I had never done a flathead before, I figured that it was high time to tackle one of these cuties. While other engine platforms have taken over with enthusiasts as the years rolled by, the flattie has never really gone away. A staunch diehard group of flathead folks have kept the engine alive, and in fact, the flathead is enjoying a notable resurgence in popularity today. All things considered, it just made sense to build one for educational purposes.

All that’s left is to finalize the pulley and belt setup. I plan to change the RH water pump pulley to match the LF pump pulley, to allow me to run a single belt.

This is just another “teaser” shot, showing the test fitting of the Tuff Stuff alternator. I’ll provide plenty of detailed photos in upcoming articles.

In this project, I’ve rebuilt an 8BA, with a few aftermarket upgrades to enhance both performance and appearance.

In terms of restoration of old components, in this build I’ve retained the original block, timing cover, rear cam cover plate and oil pan. Everything else is new, sourced from a variety of aftermarket suppliers.

I’ll provide all of the build details in a series of articles. This first installment includes restoring the old block, test-fitting the bottom end, crank balancing and installing the valvetrain.

THE START

The first challenge was to locate a rebuildable block. Through word of mouth (I have lots of buddies who know people), I located a pair of almost-complete 8BA engines in nearby Crestline, Ohio, a mere 50 or so miles from my tech facility. The guy who sold the engines told me that they were both found at the bottom of an old demolished corn silo. Don’t you just love stories like that? Granted, I took a chance regarding the condition of the blocks, but my hope was that between the two engines, I’d have one block that was at least salvageable. The day that I picked these engines up boasted typical nasty Ohio winter weather…sub-zero temps, blustery, snowy, etc., so I wasn’t about to take the time to disassemble for block inspection. I simply bought the engines with my fingers crossed. Hey, sometimes ya just gotta take a chance.

During my search for a core, I located a pair of 8BA engines, so I bought both, with the hopes of having one usable block. These engines were rescued from an old corn silo in Ohio.

This is the core that I used. As far as I can tell, this 8BA was from a passenger car. Everything was nasty, rusted and ultra-grimey. Teardown was no fun.

During teardown, I managed to break only three bolts (one head bolt, one exhaust manifold bolt and one front cover bolt). That’s not bad considering that we’re dealing with a block that’s about 60 years old. Following a pre-soak with light oil, the teardown involved plenty of help in the form of hammers, impact tools and the use of, shall we say, “course” language. It was a real bitch.

We first power-washed the engine before starting disassembly. Coaxing the pistons from their bores was no easy task. Once the rotating assembly was removed, I found that the bores had never been oversized and that the decks had never been cut. I got lucky.

The camshaft and lifters were stuck big-time. At this point, I had the block jetwashed again. Once the valves and lifters were out of the way, the cam had to be forced out.

The original 8BA features 239 cubic inches of displacement. It featured iron cylinder heads that are cast and machined slabs with no moving parts. The valves, springs and guides are positioned in the block, with valve heads facing upwards toward the heads. Basically, the heads simply serve to contain combustion and to provide a spark plug port for each cylinder. The cylinder heads are secured with 24 bolts each (some versions used studs). The earlier (pre-1949) engines featured a “pancake” style distributor, while the 1949 and later versions feature a full-size shaft style distributor that angles to the right side. The oil pump is located at the rear of the block, driven by a gear at the rear of the camshaft (via an intermediate gear). The front of the camshaft features a gear drive for the distributor and a timing gear that engages to the crankshaft’s timing gear (no chain). The block features two water pumps, one for the left side and one for the right side.

There are several variants in terms of components (based on car or truck application and specific year), but this brief overview provides enough to cover the basics.

The valves are located in the block, with valve faces aiming upward to the block decks. The valve springs are accessed in the lifter valley. I found all sorts of debris in the valley, including mice nests, seeds and, well, you get the picture.

The crank is guided and supported by a measly three main caps. Of course, these engines only produced 90-100 HP in original trim, but still, this seems a bit archaic. Aftermarket caps and girdles are available if you plan to build serious power.

Initial disassembly involved removing the water pumps, generator, intake manifold, oil pan, distributor and timing cover. Removing the pistons and connecting rods was more challenging (fighting decades of rust and dried-up sludge). Several pistons needed to be “persuaded” out of their bores by using an impact chisel. With the crank removed, the chore of removing the valves, lifters and camshaft was even more daunting. At this point, the partial short block was soaked in solvent and then jet-washed to remove excess rust and sludge. Using a special crows-foot pry bar (available from Speedway and other flathead sources), the valve springs were compressed. While each spring is compressed a small C-clip is removed from the valve guide, which then allows the valve, guide and spring assembly to be removed from the block. Again, this wasn’t easy (everything was stuck). Once the valve assemblies were removed, the flat tappet lifters were pulled out of their bores, with a bit of coaxing. The camshaft was stuck and required nudging out by removing the rear cover plate and tapping it out using a heavy drift and a hammer.

Luckily, I wasn’t worried about saving anything except the block, so damage to pistons, valves, lifters, cam, etc. wasn’t a concern.

The lifters ride in their bores in the valley, naturally. The valve guides are located in the block, under the deck area. The valve/spring assembly is secured with a metal C-clip at the top of the spring (the clip engages onto the grooved valve guide body). Note the clip tangs seen here. The tangs provide a grip for removal.

Using a special forked prybar, the top of the spring is compressed and the C-clip removed. The tool is then placed at the retainer (lifter end) and the valve assembly (valve, spring, guide) is pushed out of the block.

The valve service prybar tool is needed for both valve removal and installation. These tools are still available from Speedway Motors and other flathead sources.

Sometimes the valve keepers dislodge during spring compression, allowing the valve to be removed separately. The spring and guide are then pushed out.

With the block empty, it was jet washed again and crack-checked using a magnetic particle and a dye penetrant inspection. As it turns out, the bores had never been oversized (great news). We did find two small cracks between two head bolt holes on the decks, but these were easily repaired by Jody at Medina Mountain Motors (Creston, OH) by drilling and pinning.

Jody then align-honed the main bores, and bored & honed all eight cylinders to accommodate our +0.125” Egge pistons (finishing to a bore diameter of 3.3125”, providing a 0.0035” piston to wall clearance. A plateau brush was then used to final dress the cylinder walls. Plateau honing “evens out” the microscopic peaks and valleys left by the honing procedure, which allows piston rings to seal much more quickly, while allowing sufficient oil retention on the cylinder wall surfaces. The lifter bores were cleaned up by light honing, retaining 0.0015” oil clearance. The decks were then lightly cut (removing only about 0.0035”) to achieve a flawless surface finish.

The Scat stroker crank features a 4.125″ stroke. Scat did a really nice job on this crank. As you can see, the counterweights replicate the fat design of the flathead’s original. The journals, fillets and oil holes were finished beautifully. It’s a hefty chunk, to be sure, but it was machined to a high degree of precision.

All main bearing tangs are positioned to the right (passenger) side. Egge supplied a set of King main bearings for this build. Note the radius registration grooves in the block. The caps feature a matching male tongue on each side of the cap.

The Egge pistons were ordered at +0.125″ oversize. Overboring to 3.3125″ and stroking to 4.125″ provides us with 285 CID. Pins were included with the pistons.

The piston domes were clearly marked to indicate +0.125″ oversize.

ston Piston compression distance is 1.3745″. In combination with our 4.125″ stroke, 7.000″ rods and theoretical 10.4370″ block deck height, this would bring us to zero deck at TDC. In reality, once the decks were resurfaced, we were extremely close to a zero deck (even considering our 0.0035″ deck kiss).

At this point, I began test-fitting the rotating assembly. I chose a Scat forged crankshaft with a stroke of 4.125”. In combination with our bore diameter, this resulted in a final displacement of 285 CID (as compared to the original 239 CID). The original engine featured a bore of 3.1875” and a stroke of 3.750”.

Our Scat forged H-beam 7.000″ rods connect to the pistons using full-floating pins. The pistons are symmetric, so orientation isn’t an issue.

During test fitting, the Scat crank featured 0.0025″ thrust movement, and main bearing oil clearance was checked at 0.0025″ (this shot was taken after the block was painted).

THE CRANKSHAFT

OE SPECS

OVERALL LENGTH…………….26.03”

MAIN JOURNAL………………..   2.4990”

ROD JOURNAL…………………   1.9990”

OUR SCAT CRANKSHAFT

OVERALL LENGTH…………… 26.03”

MAIN JOURNAL………………..   2.502”

ROD JOURNAL…………………   1.9900” (requiring –0.010” rod bearings from Egge)

TEST FITTING OUR CRANKSHAFT

After the block main bores have been align-honed, I installed a set of standard-size King main bearings (supplied by Egge) in the block saddles and caps. The caps are installed to the block with the bearing tangs all oriented to the right side of the block. I tightened each main cap’s bolts in increments (starting at 25 ft-lbs, then 45 ft-lbs, then 75 ft-lbs and finally 105 ft-lbs), checking crank rotation after each step.

Our main bearing clearance measured at 0.0025” (the reference materials I found indicate that OE clearance was specified at 0.000” to 0.0026” (zero as minimum? That’s what the goofy OE specs showed).

With a dial indicator in place, I measured crank thrust (endplay) at 0.0025”. According to my reference materials, the OE end play range is 0.002” to 0.006”.

Note: the main caps feature radiused tongue & groove registration (male radius on the caps and female grooves in the block). These registrations are not very precise, as you can slightly wiggle the caps (especially cap No. 1 and 2) prior to tightening. That’s why I gradually tightened and rechecked crank rotation in gradual steps, to help the caps align. This seems a bit archaic, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Also: when align honing the block, you can’t cut the caps down, due to the male registration tongues. Instead, you must machine the mating surface at the block to reduce the bore diameter prior to align honing.

Since I’m using a 4.125” stroker crank, naturally I checked crank counterweight and rod big end clearance to the block. Surprisingly, the counterweights and the rod big ends cleared everything by a mile (about 0.250” was the tightest spot), which was really cool. However, the left side of the block had a fairly tight clearance of about 0.050” to the rod I-beams, at the inboard edge of the cylinder bottoms. I marked these locations (all four cylinders on the left bank) and ground a slight chamfer at these locations to achieve about a 0.100” clearance.

I also checked rod side clearance at all four rod pin locations, at a consistent 0.020”.

I’ll provide full details regarding piston and rod assembly and installation in a future final-assembly article.

CRANK & ROD CLEARANCE SPECS & RESULTS

FORD SPECS

Main bearing clearance………….0.000” to 0.003”

Crank endplay…………………..0.002” to 0.006”

Rod bearing clearance…………..0.0005” to 0.003”

Rod side clearance………………0.006” to 0.020”

OUR MEASURED RESULTS

Main bearing clearance………….0.0025”

Crank endplay……………………0.003”

Rod bearing clearance……………0.002”

Rod side clearance……………….0.020”

8BA BORE/STROKE

OE BORE………………………….3.1875

OE STROKE………………………3.750

3.1875 X 3.1875 X 3.750 X 0.7854 X 8 CYL = 239 CID

OUR BORES………………………3.3125 (+0.125”)

OUR STROKE…………………….4.125

3.3125 X 3.3125 X 4.125 X 0.7854 X 8 CYL = 284.39 CID

FIRING ORDER

1-5-4-8-6-3-7-2

(right bank, front to rear cyls 1-2-3-4;  left bank, front to rear cyls 5-6-7-8)

(distributor rotation: clockwise)

PISTON TO WALL CLEARANCE…………0.003”

PISTON RING GAPS

OE…………Top 0.007 min, 2nd 0.007 min, oil rail 0.015 min

OUR RINGS….Top 0.019”, 2nd 0.014”, oil rail 0.015

FASTENER TORQUE VALUES

MAIN BOLTS……………..……105 ft-lbs

ROD BOLTS……………..……..45 ft-lbs (w/ARP moly) (not to exceed 0.0047″ stretch. Our rod bolts are ARP 8740  3/8” dia. x 1.600” shank length)

CYL HEAD BOLTS……….……60 ft-lbs (in three steps)

WATER PUMPS……………….. 23-28 ft-lbs

CAMSHAFT TIMING GEAR…..15-20 ft-lbs

INTAKE MANIFOLD BOLTS….12 ft-lbs, followed by a final 24 ft-lbs

TIMING COVER…………………15 ft-lbs

OIL PUMP TO BLOCK………12-15 ft-lbs

OIL PUMP COVER PLATE…..7-10 ft-lbs

OIL PUMP PICKUP…………..80 in-lbs

OIL PAN………………………… 15-18 ft-lbs

FLYWHEEL TO CRANK…….75-85 ft-lbs

EXHAUST MANIFOLD……..25-30 ft-lbs

WATER OUTLETS…………..12-15 ft-lbs

CLUTCH PRESSURE PLATE…..17-20 ft-lbs

BELLHOUSING TO BLOCK……37-42 ft-lbs

STARTER BOLTS……………….15-20 ft-lbs

OE MECH. FUEL PUMP……….6-9 ft-lbs

GEN/ALTERNATOR BRACKET…..55-70 ft-lbs

NOTE: The gasket set provided by Egge initially included copper head gaskets P/N 521-1 AND 521-2, which are intended for the standard bore size. Since I’m using +0.125” oversize Egge pistons  (3 5/16”), I needed the big-bore head gaskets. Best Gaskets offers both copper and graphtite head gaskets, so I opted for their Graphtite P/N 536 G 1 AND 536 G 2 (left and right). The difference in thickness: the copper gaskets measured about 0.060” crushed, while the Graphtite gaskets measured about 0.052” crushed.

All parts (pistons, rods, rings, bearings, valves, guides, springs, retainers, guides, locks and spring clips were organized on our Lista workbench.

Once all rings were fitted to the cylinders for gap clearance, Each ring pack, piston and rod set was kept organized per cylinder location to avoid any mixing.  This provides a dedicated, pre-checked location for each cylinder’s components.

CYLINDER HEAD FITTING

Our Edelbrock heads, P/N 1115, feature 65cc chambers. During test fitting, with 0.060” copper head gaskets, we ran into a clearance issue (not uncommon with aftermarket pistons). After claying the piston dome and installing a copper head gasket and an Edelbrock head, the piston contacted the head, preventing the piston from reaching TDC. I removed the head and began measuring.

Our Edelbrock heads (65cc chambers) feature chambers with a 0.212″ center depth and a bowl radius of 6.974″. By the way, I checked combustion chamber volume using our Goodson burette, and each CNC-machined chamber did measure at exactly 65cc.

During test fitting (using checking clay), the piston dome centers contacted the head chambers, preventing full piston rise to TDC. The clay thickness illustrates a difference in piston dome radius as compared to head chamber bowl radius.

With a piston precisely at TDC, the center of the piston dome measured 0.304” above block deck. Our head chambers (at center) measured 0.200” deep (leaving about 0.104” difference).

Factoring in the 0.060”-thick copper head gasket, we would need to relieve the head chamber by about 0.044” in order to hit zero clearance. To achieve a desired 0.050” piston to head clearance, we would need to relieve the chambers by about 0.094”.

When discussing this with Armin at Best Gaskets, he suggested using their graphtite gaskets P/N 536 G 1 (LH) and 536 G 2 (RH) instead of copper for performance use. The graphtite gaskets measure about 0.052” thick (crushed).

Our choices included either relieving the cylinder head chambers or cutting the pistons. The easy (and least expensive) route was to have the piston domes cut down on a CNC lathe.

A visit to G.L. Heller Co. in Whitehouse, OH solved the problem in short order. The talented boys at Heller plotted the radius of the head chamber bowls and the radius of the piston domes (since the pistons were to be cut anyway, we decided to match the piston radius to the chamber radius). Using their CMM (computer modeling machine), the head chamber bowls were measured at a radius of 6.974” and a center depth of 0.212”. The Egge domed pistons featured an original radius of 5.304”. After cutting the piston domes on their CNC lathe, the finished piston domes now feature a radius of 6.985” (the dome height was reduced at the center, tapering out to a zero cut, with the cut stopping about 0.100” short of the outer edge.

During my visit to G.L. Heller Co. in Whitehouse, OH, the head chamber bowls were measured for depth using their CMM system. The information is immediately stored in the computer program.

Heller’s CMM technician sweeps the CMM probe across the chamber bowl to plot the bowl radius. This information allows the CNC lathe programmer to match the radius during piston dome machining.

A digital height gauge checks dome height on each piston prior to dome machining.

Each piston was also double-checked for profile (dome radius) on Heller’s shadow graph. This shows a magnified cross view of the dome. A stylus is moved across the dome. As the probe sees the difference between the light background and the shadow view of the dome, the machine plots the dome location.

Once the dome-cutting program has been written, we move to the CNC lathe. A pair of custom-made plates insert into the piston’s top ring groove. This allows the piston to be chucked to the lathe squarely. Once the piston is squarted to the chuck, the stop-plates are removed.

With the piston squared in the chuck, the CNC lathe cutting head moves into position.

The lathe begins the cut inboard of the dome edge, following the programmed radius profile.

The lathe cutter sweeps across the dome, following the programmed radius. In a conventional lathe, we’d only be able to perform a flat cut, which would drop our compression ratio quite a bit. With the CNC lathe, the technician is able to precisely follow a determined radius profile. The result is a “taper” cut, removing desired material from the center, tapering the cut out to zero at the outer area.  Each piston cut took only about 4 seconds. Ah, the joys of CNC machining.

After CNC cutting, each piston dome was checked for final center height. Each piston dome measured at exactly 0.186″ height, which provides adequate piston dome-to-head chamber clearance.

This view of a CNC-cut piston dome shows where the cutter started (inboard of the untouched perimeter seen here).

During the final test fitting in our block, this provided a clearance of 0.005” without a head gasket. With the 0.052” gasket in place, this provides us with a running clearance of 0.057”. This worked out great, and was definitely quicker and less expensive than CNC programming and cutting the head chambers.

Note: My visit to G.L. Heller was an absolute treat. This very high-tech machining and fabrication company specializes in prototype and mass production of components for a variety of manufacturing (and military) customers. I can’t be more specific about the military work (they didn’t tell me much, for obvious reasons).

The massive complex is chock-full of computer-controlled milling machines, lathes, water jets, robotic stations, etc. This isn’t your typical machine shop. These guys deal in very exacting-tolerance machining at the highest level. While they don’t specialize in automotive engine components, at the very least, whenever I need a set of pistons cut again, this is the only place I’ll hit.

NOTE: When installing the heads, we used a new 7/16” head bolt kit from H&H Flatheads, along with special stainless steel head bolt washers from Totally Stainless. With ARP moly on the threads and bolt head undersides, we torqued all 24 head bolts (per head) in three stages to a final value of 60 ft-lbs, following the tightening pattern provided by Edelbrock (I started at 30 ft-lbs, followed by 45 ft-lbs to the final 60 ft-lb value).

DRESSING THE BLOCK

When you want any OE cast iron block to look presentable (and the old flathead was no exception), you simply need to bite the bullet and start grinding. Using a variety of abrasives, including 2” diameter Roloc Scotchbrite pads on a die grinder, a host of 80-grit and 120-grit “tootsie roll” abrasive drums on a die grinder, and a pneumatic 3/8”-belt mini belt sander with 80-grit and 120-grit belts, I removed all casting flashings and other protuberances, and smoothed out all sharp edges and worked the exterior casting surfaces down to a uniform finish. Any minor divets or casting depressions were filled with All-Metal body filler (using liquid resin hardener) and sanded (I applied one coat, sanded, and then applied a second skim coat and sanded that). All-Metal filler contains a high aluminum content and holds up well for engine block applications.

I spent countless hours during the course of a week dressing the block exterior. Using a combination of die grinders, Scothbrite discs and sandpaper, I painstakingly removed all surface flaws to achieve a flawless finish. Not a single nook or cranny was overlooked. This was truly an anal approach, but I think the results were worth the effort. After etching primer, urethane filler primer (sanded between coats) and base color (Valspar 4606-02), a very wet urethane clearcoat was applied.

These photos simply don’t do justice to the finished product. The block looks like a chunk of wet red glass. I chose a vibrant red (non-metallic) color from the Valspar color book. The finish on the block is absolutely stunning.

Any remaining slight imperfections (traces of the original sand-cast surface) were then filled with a high-build urethane primer and then hand-sanded smooth (this was done in stages. Apply the first coat, allow to cure, then apply a very light dust-coat of black paint and allow this to dry. Then begin to sand. As you sand, the black will remain in any low spots, making it easy to see where additional fill may be required. Then another coat of build primer, another dusting of black, sand, etc. I did this three times until the surface was perfectly smooth and uniform. Primer coats were sanded using 180-grit initially, with finer grits used with each succeeding coat (240, then 320, then 400, with a final wipe-down with 1200-grit.

Once all prep was done, we applied two coats of red basecoat paint (using Valspar 4606-02 solid red). This was finished off with two coats of Valspar urethane clearcoat.

In all, I spent about 12 hours (and about $100 worth of abrasives plus about $200 in paint materials) to dress the block exterior. It’s a time-consuming job, but the results are well worth the effort.

Since I planned to re-use the original cast iron distributor housing (this was a pretty darned rough casting originally), I spent a bit of time dressing the exterior surfaces. This ancient housing was covered with raised boogers, a feature of the original sand casting. I smoothed out the exterior surfaces using a die grinder and lots of Roloc Scotchbrite pads and abrasive tootsie rolls. I then had the housing powder coated in a satin black wrinkle finish at Greber Machine in Elyria, OH (the best powder coater I have ever used). This should contrast tastefully against the red block, and the subtle wrinkle finish helps to hide any remaining minor surface imperfections.

Although I opeted not to do this, you can promote oil drainback from the block upper valley by coating the valley surfaces with Glyptal G-1228A, a gloss enamel designed for electric armature coating. This generally holds up well on internal block applications and provides a slick surface for quicker oil drainback to the sump. Personally, I don’t want to worry about potential loss of adhesion of internal paint, so I decided not to paint the valley. In my opinion, if you want to dress the valley for improved oil drainback, it’s better to invest some sweat equity and grind/polish the valley.

OUR PARTS RUNDOWN

The set of Egge cast aluminum pistons were very uniform in terms of dimensions.

Egge supplied a full set of new valves. Flathead intake and exhaust valves are identical.

The Egge-supplied main bearings are made by King Bearings. The thrust bearing location is the third (rear) main bore.

The Egge-supplied rod bearings are new-old-stock Michigan bearings. Egge is a wonderful source for vintage engine components. They offer everything you need for period-correct vintage engine restoration.

Egge’s valve guides are exact to original. The iron guides are sealed with rubber ring seals that secure into the guides’ seal grooves.

The solid flat tappet lifters from Egge feature large oil pocket grooves for both lubrication and self-cleaning (lifter bore surfaces). Each lifter features a hex-head adjuster.

Egge cam bearings are size-specific for each cam journal location.

The Egge-supplied Isky flat-tappet camshaft features a valve lift of 0.320″ (int/exh), 264 degree duration and 108 degree lobe center. Valve lash is suggested at 0.010″ hot and 0.012″ cold.

Egge’s valve spring kit includes springs,steel retainers and locks.

The camshaft nose features a distributor drive. The flange behind the gear accepts the camshaft’s timing gear.

The rear of the camshaft features a drive gear that engages to an intermmediate gear that in turn meshes with the oil pump gear. I’ll provide full details of this in an upcoming assembly article.

The Egge-supplied camshaft timing gear features phenolic construction. Aftermarket aluminum gears are also available. For high-horsepower builds, an aluminum gear is recommended.

The Egge-supplied Melling oil pump (original style) mounts horizontally to the block. The driven gear faces the rear of the block and is driven by the camshaft via an intermmediate gear.

Egge’s water pumps are brand new (not rebuilt) exact to original style pumps. The flatheads used a variety of pump and pulley styles (with differences in motor mount ears and pulley diameters and offsets. Aftermarket aluminum water pumps are also available, with special pulleys for blower applications. The 8BA requires two water pumps. Shown here is the right-side (passenger side) pump on the left of this photo. The left pump is seen on the right in this photo. Note that the LH pump pulley is larger in diameter and features a greater offset (closer to the block).

The Egge-supplied gasket kit (made by Best Gaskets) is very complete. Instead of using copper head gaskets, I later opted to go with Best’s Graphtite large-bore head gaskets.

Instead of restoring  the original crankshaft, I chose a 4.125″ stroker crank from Scat. The boys at Scat did a wonderful job in making this crank. It was dimensionaly perfect.

The Scat crank journals feature a ready-to-install finish, and the oil holes are nicely deburred and chamfered. Fillets feature a nice roll to avoid any potential stress riser concerns. Each and every journal measured exactly to spec. A runout check verified that the crank was absolutely straight. In all, a very nice job.

Scat’s forged H-beam rods are at OE 7.000″ center-to-center length. ARP rod bolts are included.

Our crank pulley is from Fluidampr. This is a double-groove nicely chrome plated unit and is SFI certified.

Instead of messing around with antiquated original cast iron heads, I chose Edelbrock’s aluminum heads. These are once-again-offered versions of Edelbrock’s original cylinder heads that are now precision cast and CNC machined to perfection, and are made in the U.S. at Edelbrock’s high-tech foundry and manufacturing facilities.

The Edelbrock heads feature 65cc chambers (total chamber area, including bowl and valve pockets). I verified this on my Goodson burette. Each chamber measured at exactly the same volume.

Edelbrock’s triple-deuce intake manifold was a nice choice. Edelbrock offers variations for the flathead, including a manifold that accepts a single 4-barrel carb. But, mostly for the sake of appearance, I decided to go with three carbs.  The front LH ports seen in the photo are for the original road draft tube (front port) and the breather tube/oil fill (second from front port).  As you’ll see later in this series, I blocked both of these off and installed a breather/oil fill stand at the rear of the manifold where the original fuel pump would have been installed.

I’ll provide details during the assembly phase, but here are the three Barry Grant Demon 98 carbs I installed to the Edelbrock manifold. These are beautifully engineered and manufactured performance-oriented 2-barrel carbs that feature the traditional 3-bolt mounting pattern (same as Strombergs, Holley 94s, etc.). The center carb serves as the primary, while the front and rear carbs are secondary units. The carb tops feature a standard 2 5/8″ O.D. to accept a variety of readily-available air cleaner or velocity stack units.

The MSD billet read-to-run distributor features as-expected MSD state-of-the-art quality. The kit includes a gear depth indexing tip, the distributor gear and a selection of advance curve springs, as well as parts needed to concvert to mechanical advance (if the user wishes to eliminate the vacuum advance feature).

Totally Stainless offers complete dress-up fastener kits for a wide variety of popular engines, and the flathead is no exception. I took advantage of their complete kit. They offer several head styles, and I opted for the SHCS (socket head cap screw) kit.

Each component-deicated fastener package is neatly packed and organized, and labeled for application. Shown here is their timing cover kit. Totally Stainless offers just what the name implies: all stainless steel fasteners, great for both function and appearance enhancement.

COMING UP

In the next article, I’ll discuss crankshaft balancing, installation of the valves and final installation of the crankshaft, rods and pistons. Following is a list of all of our parts and part numbers, along with a list of participating manufacturer contact information. I’ll include this list at the end of each article in this flathead series.

Note: This engine build project was performed, as are all of our engine projects, at the author’s custom shop, Birchwood Automotive Group, in Creston, Ohio. All build and photo work is routinely handled at this location.

OUR PARTS AND PART NUMBERS

Block…………………………Original 1949-1953 8BA

Crankshaft……………………Scat 9-239-4125-2000S

Connecting rods………….….Scat 2-239-7000-2000

Piston/pin set…………….… Egge EP994-8.125

Ring set (Total Seal)……….. Egge SRTCR6276-8

Valves (16) …………………  Egge S1821

(note: intake and exhaust valves are identical)

Valve springs (16) ………..…Egge VS651

Valve guides (16)  ………..…Egge G614

Adjustable lifters (16) …….…Egge VL36

Connecting rod bearings……..Egge CB610.000 (STD)

Main bearings (King) ………..Egge MBS3351SI.000 (STD)

Cam bearings…………………Egge F-1

Cam gear (Republic Gear Co.)  Egge TG2700

Crank gear (S.A. Gear)……… Egge TG2701

Oil pump (Melling)  …………Egge P-307 NEW

Gasket set (Best Gaskets) ……Egge RS521C

RH water pump ………………Egge WP-1231 NEW

LH water pump….……………Egge WP-1232 NEW

Camshaft (Isky)……………… 818800

Cylinder heads………………. Edelbrock 1115

Intake manifold……………… Edelbrock 1109

Carburetors…………………..  BG Demon 98

Distributor…………………… MSD 8573

Crank pulley………………….Fluidampr 600203

Alternator…………………….Tuff Stuff  7781A

Spark plug wires………………MSD 31229

Velocity stacks………………..Eelco 6430

OUR SOURCES FOR THIS FLATHEAD PROJECT

BEST GASKETS

11558 E. Washington Blvd., Suite F

Whittier, CA 90606

888-333-2378

www.bestgasket.com

BG FUEL SYSTEMS/BARRY GRANT

(Demon 98 carburetors)

1450 McDonald Rd.

Dahlonega, GA 30533

706-864-8544

www.barrygrant.com

BIRCHWOOD AUTOMOTIVE GROUP

(the author’s engine build & fabrication facility)

10205 Wooster Pike Rd.

Creston, OH 44217

330-435-6347

www.birchwoodautomotive.com

BOSCH MOTORSPORTS

(spark plugs)

2800 S. 25th Ave.

Broadview, IL 60155

919-846-2115

www.boschusa.com

CWT INDUSTRIES

4708 S. Old Peachtree Rd., Unit 300

Norcross, GA 30071

800-449-1849

www.cwtindustries.com

EDELBROCK CORP.

(P/N 1115 cylinder heads and P/N 1109 intake manifold)

2700 California St.

Torrance, CA 90503

800-416-8628

www.edelbrock.com

EGGE MACHINE CO.

(pistons, main bearings, rod bearings, cam bearings, gaskets, valves, valve guides, valve guide seals, valve springs, retainers, keepers, Melling oil pump, Isky cam and lifters, cam gear, crank gear, …….)

11707 Slauson

Sante Fe Springs, CA 90670

800-866-3443

www.egge.com

FLATHEAD JACK

1561 Third Ave.

Walnut Creek, CA 94597

888-993-2233

www.flatheadjack.com

FLUIDAMPR

180 Zoar Valley Rd.

Springville, NY 14141

716-592-1000

www.fluidampr.com

FRAGOLA PERFORMANCE SYSTEMS

888 W. Queen St.

Southington, CT 06489

866-337-2739

www.fragolaperformancesystems.com

GEARHEAD TOOLS

(TM Machine Products)

24773 Avenue Rockefeller

Valencia, CA 91355

800-733-4463

www.gearheadtools.com

G.L. HELLER CO.

(CNC machining…CNC lathe-cutting our pistons)

6246 Industrial Parkway

Whitehouse, OH 43571

419-877-5122

GOODSON TOOLS & SUPPLIES

(micrometers, burette, thread chasers, misc. tools)

156 Galewski Dr.

Winona, MN 55987

800-533-8010

www.goodson.com

GRESSMAN POWERSPORTS

(crankshaft balancing)

904 Lime St.

Fremont, OH 43420

419-355-8980

www.gressmanpowersports.com

H&H FLATHEADS

(cylinder head bolts, distributor clamp)

4451 Ramsdell Ave.

La Cresenta, CA 91214

818-248-2371

www.flatheads-forever.com

LENOVO

(engine room computer monitor)

1009 Think Place

Morrisville, NC 27560

866-426-4008

www.lenovo.com

LISTA INTERNATIONAL

(pro-level engine room cabinets and workbenches)

106 Lowland St.

Holliston, MA 01746

800-722-3020

www.listaintl.com

LUKE’S CUSTOM MACHINE & DESIGN

(crankshaft snout spacer, compatible with 1-pc front seal)

1457 Charlotte Rd.

North Vancouver, BC V7J1H1

604-980-8617

www.lukescustommachine.com

MAC TOOLS

(assorted hand tools)

505 N. Cleveland Ave.

Westerville, OH 43082

800-622-8665

www.mactools.com

MEDINA MOUNTAIN MOTORS

(block jet wash, flaw detection, align honing, cylinder boring/honing, decking)

199 Factory St.

P.O. Box 192

Creston, OH 44217

330-435-6236; 866-218-7467

www.medinamountainmotors.com

MELLING SELECT PERFORMANCE

P.O. Box 1188

Jackson, MI 49204

517-787-8172

www.melling.com

MSD IGNITION

(ready-to-install billet distributor, spark plug wires)

1490 Henry Brennan Dr.

El Paso, TX 79936-6805

915-857-5200

www.msdignition.com

PRW INDUSTRIES

193 West Orangethorpe Ave.

Placentia, CA 92870

714-792-1000

www.prw-usa.com

PUROLATOR FILTERS

(canister type oil filter cartridge)

3200 Natal St.

Fayetteville, NC 28306

800-526-4250

www.pureoil.com

ROYAL PURPLE LTD.

(Max Tuff assembly lubricant)

1 Royal Purple Ln.

Porter, TX 77365

888-382-6300

www.royalpurple.com

SCAT ENTERPRISES

(stroker crankshaft and forged rods)

1400 Kingsdale Ave.

Redondo Beach, CA 90278-3983

310-370-5501

www.scatcrankshafts.com

TOTALLY STAINLESS

(stainless steel fastener selection)

P.O. Box 3249

Gettysburg, PA 17325

800-767-4781

www.totallystainless.com

TUFF STUFF PERFORMANCE ACCESSORIES

(alternator)

9004 Madison Ave.

Cleveland, OH 44102

800-331-6562

www.tuffstuffperformance.com

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,




  • Rmm

    iT LOOKS GREAT, TOO BAD YOU DIDN’T SPEND THAT ‘GRINDING TIME’ ON A GOOD PORT & RELIEF JOB, ALSO REWORKING THE STOCK VALVES, ESPECIALLY THE INTAKES, 30deg. SEATS ETC. WOULD REALLY HAVE HELPED, WHATEVER=== RMM

  • Joe Wareham

    Great documentation article! I believe the engine in the picture is a truck engine not a car engine. I uses the steel bellhousing adapter to mount the old-style floor shift transmission. The cars had a full bellhousing and a column shift transmission.

    Great job! Joe

  • http://www.precisionenginetech.com mike.mavrigian

    Thanks for your comments. I wondered about the original application as well. Since the oil pan does not have an inspection plate (as truck pans do), I assumed that it was originally a passenger car application. As I understand, the integrated bellhousing (where the bellhousing is part of the block casting) was featured in pre-1949 blocks. Since this is an 8BA and the pan does not have the inspection plate, I assume that it came from a passenger car application.

  • Al

    Great article. Thank you for the piston to head measurements. I hope the good guys at Egge read this article and the fix the clearance problems on their pistons. I had to go to Ross pistons because I ran into the same clearance problems with Egge's.
    Again thanks!

  • Ronaldo Scomazzon

    The Flat Had is the bes, I´m love 8 BA. From Garibaldi, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil.

  • Weldon West

    I used to break a lot of head studs on the old ford flatheads. Do you insert them now prior to torquing the heads? I remember, in the late 50″ 1959. A merc 3/8 squared with a blower, a 4 barrel carb in my buddies car that was fast and had a great sound. It used a lot of gas, but gas was cheap in those days. Would love to get one of those engines now.

  • Weldon West

    Maybe 3/4 Squared? How about an article on how to build one.