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Pondering about flathead potentials

Engine tech, for those engines, products, and technologies of yesteryear.

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MichaelThompson
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by MichaelThompson »

Yes Nikolas, I like the 8.2” deck Ford block precisely because the short deck would accommodate the thick plate that could house the valve gear and ports.

This could be done relatively inexpensively with a stock type 5.0 short block. Even a late 80’s 5.0 roller block would work.

I’ll bet you could build a 300 hp five main Flathead Ford with such a setup. Matter of fact I’m picking up a 302 short block tomorrow to play with.

The 8.2” deck with the deck plate would still be very compact and light.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

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Just a little follow up on the Ford Flathead thing. If you think about a really stout side valve engine one cannot forget the 308” Hudson six cylinder.

Of course the Hudson has large bores and plenty of displacement for a six cylinder, but let’s not forget that the Hudson like any inline side valve has the advantage of a better point of entry for the intake port being lower on the block.

On the V8 engine you have the intake port in almost a fishhook shape really challenging the flow to reverse direction unnecessarily and abruptly.

A neat experiment would be to fill the intake ports and reshape them so they are fairly straight and at a 45 to the backside of the intake valve.

This would put the intake port in the valley area. A log style plenum in the valley that could tie all the ports together with either a carb in the center or even EFI would really shorten and straighten the intake path.

The most difficult area on a conventional side valve engine is the nearly 180 degree turn the charge must take to enter the cylinder. Things can be done to improve this like valve positioning and pop up pistons. With a drastically simplified intake path like I described could we see a good leap in power? I think so.

I think with some out of the box thinking one could surpass the 200 N/A horsepower mark.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by Ks Fats »

When dealing with the flathead ford working with the port entrance will render some gain but unless you do some judicious work on the choke point where the port enters the bowl the work at the port entrance is less effective. I've done some experimental work cutting off the lip of the intake port that extends over the valley and hand forming a flange and tube that would have attached to a common plenum manifold. Interesting experiment that required grinding into the water jacket and epoxy filling at the choke point to realize the benefits, and it would have only been feasible on a dry block. Overcoming the choke point and still maintaining the coolant passages is a challenge. If one developed a truly modern flathead, thermal analysis should be used to overcome some of the shortcomings of the intuitively designed ford coolant passages; modern casting practices would eliminate the semi- open deck also.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by MichaelThompson »

Thanks Ks, I think we are on the same page.

I guess if we think of it like this......imagine a section of cheap garden hose laying on a workbench. If you took that hose and bent it to a “J” shape that dang hose is gonna want to kink at the apex of the bend.

Well the Flathead Ford intake port sort of mimics that in what you call the choke point. Like the cheap garden hose the Ford port chokes off right at that critical apex point just like you describe. The modification that I was talking about would require some fancy machine work.

I’ve thought about this a lot and the best I can come up with is either boring into the block and pressing in an intake tube or completely machining away the two intake ports as far as possible, with consideration given to the valve guide, and replacing that area with a block of steel or aluminum in which one could carve a more optimum port.

I don’t know what sort of water sealing issues that would create till I actually make those cuts.


The thing that would really be great is a new edition cylinder block with nicer intake ports built in. There have been attempts but so far no mass marketable piece.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by Ks Fats »

Same page Michael, only I didn't cut the block back as far as you have described. Theoretically you could cut it back in a mill to a point just before the goofy little water passage on the manifold side of the block and do the plate deal; sealing the lifter galley with a plate joining the left and right side on the bottom of the plates. You can invest a butt load of hours just doing some semi conventional modifications and I never wanted to invest the time to do any more than I did on the junk block. Thanks for bringing up the Hudson; that one and the Chrysler Spitfire were my favorites. The valve centerlines were closer to the bore centerline so their transfer area was much smaller. They never got the support the ford did from the aftermarket because the O.H.V. was becoming king; bigger valves (I've done 2.02 on a Hudson) and better ports at least gave more potential. Lots of things tried on the ford (some good, some bad) but when N/A the ports were always the biggest work- around problem.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by frnkeore »

The biggest problem with the Ford FH V8, is the 1.312 diameter port. You can't do much with it and as near as I can tell buy scaling my factory drawing, the pinch point is only .83 tall.

I've played with this drawing and I found that if you tilt the block, to 36.5 degrees, you could run a 1.25 ball end mill through the port and then stop the cut, after you take 1/16" out of the bowl wall (it not very thick, as you can see). That 1.25, takes about 1/2 out of the roof, along the red, vertical line. Then make a valve guild with that same .625 R to match the bowl, then blend, couture and widen the port as much as possible. You can also widen it with the end mill, to take much of the cast iron out but, as you can see, the port walls, aren't very thick.

The only flow numbers I've seen on a ported FH is 144 cfm at .400, not the best!
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by frnkeore »

In addition, I think the best thing you can do for the FH, is run as small a engine as possible, with the highest CR you can obtain and run in class racing.

With smaller ci, the cylinder will fill better with the limited it's flow.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by PackardV8 »

frnkeore wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:45 pm In addition, I think the best thing you can do for the FH, is run as small a engine as possible, with the highest CR you can obtain and run in class racing.

With smaller ci, the cylinder will fill better with the limited it's flow.
Agree. I have this discussion with Studebaker V8 builders. Since the heads are intake flow limited, the smaller the displacement, the more competitive in the horsepower-per-cubic-inch.

Back to flatheads - I ran across an anomaly in DynoSim while attempting to model a Studebaker Champion I6, built in both 170" and 185"; all else equal other than stroke. This is the first DynoSim I've ever encountered where it showed a higher net horsepower for a smaller displacement.

Every other time, when displacement is increased, but air flow remained constant, horsepower would usually increase slightly, but low speed torque would increase more.

Any suggestions as to why this would be showing more horsepower in the smaller displacement?

FWIW, guessing at flathead CFM without building a custom flow bench to accurately report it is akin to searching in a dark room for that black cat which might have already gone. What I've done is input known metrics and then adjust air flow inputs to game a net power result close to published data. Any other suggestions?
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

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What version of DynoSim do you have?
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by PackardV8 »

frnkeore wrote: Fri Feb 12, 2021 3:09 pm What version of DynoSim do you have?
The Flathead Version - v4.20.0704 - so old it was for Windows 95/98Me/2000/XP. I've been pleasantly surprised it still runs.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by Les Kerf »

Hmmm... not sure which is more amazing, the fact that this thread went 46 pages, or the fact that I actually read the whole thing! :lol:

As a lifelong lover of flatheads, and duly noting that this thread has already been hijacked numerous times, I feel compelled to give an honorable mention to the unsung hero of low-performance flatheads, the venerable V4 air-cooled Wisconsin.

In a manner similar to my (real) horses, which are nearly ideal hay disposal units (they don't produce as many by-products to get rid of such as milk or meat, just some smelly exhaust products), an air-cooled Wisconsin is nearly an ideal gasoline disposal unit; a Wisconsin excels at converting fuel to noise with very little useful work accomplished per gallon, although there is some smelly exhaust (at least one does not need to shovel it).

In order to truly appreciate modern technology, one really should spend a summer baling hay with a Wisconsin powered baler; trying to re-start a hot Wisconsin engine with a hand-crank after un-plugging the baler out in a hay field in July when it is 100 degrees and no shade is truly a memorable experience. Oh, what I would have given for an electric starter and a modern ignition!

I still have one Wisconsin for running my little sawmill, but it does have electric start and distributor ignition. If ever there was an engine that could benefit from a good MSD ignition, this is it. I intend to keep it running just so my grandchildren can hear the annoying un-muffled staccato cackle of a Wisconsin V4 at full boogey. It builds character.

Sad to say, even Wisconsin finally knuckled under and switched to overhead valves. More's the pity.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by PackardV8 »

Since you took the thread in this direction, my machinist is one of the few remaining who knows the Wisconsin. The air cooling requires it's own valve guide to stem clearances, among other peculiarities. Then, in your hay baler example, the air cooling path is often clogged with chaff and I've seen them catch fire.

He's got a Wisconsin from a stump grinder sitting outside the door waiting a rebuild. He told the customer it could be a while, but the customer knowingly said, "Where else am I going to take it?"
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by Les Kerf »

Don't get me wrong, I do love the old dinosaurs, but they have rightly earned their place in the dustbin of engine development.

My Wife's uncle tells about running a Wisconsin-powered 3-string Freeman baler in southern Idaho back in the 1950's; they did custom baling with it and had the engine rebuilt every year.

My Dad had an old Wisconsin-powered Case 2-wire baler that was HAND tied; my sister and I sat on little benches, one on each side. One person poked the wires through and the other person tied the wires. It actually made quite good bales. With one person driving the tractor it took three people to operate that contraption.

My sister had a 1959 Studebaker Lark with the little 170 CI flathead six; IIRC the bore was 3" and stroke was 4". That was the sweetest running little engine, and it was also the absolute EASIEST engine to work on that I have ever been around. Everything was right there within reach while standing on the ground, and I'm only 5'8" tall. My sister sold that car to some hippie for $50 while I was away in the Marines; I love her dearly but shall never forgive her for that!

My brother had a 56 Packard Clipper with the straight 8 flathead and automatic transmission. It ran so smoothly you could actually balance a nickel on the head while it was idling. I still have an intake/exhaust manifold for it lying in my boneyard.
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Re: Pondering about flathead potentials

Post by PackardV8 »

Les Kerf wrote: Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:48 am My brother had a 56 Packard Clipper with the straight 8 flathead and automatic transmission. It ran so smoothly you could actually balance a nickel on the head while it was idling. I still have an intake/exhaust manifold for it lying in my boneyard.
Since this is a flathead thread, 1954 was the last Packard straight eight. The Caribbean 359" (3.56" x 4.5") with a high compression aluminum cylinder head and Carter WCFB 4-bbl, made 212hp @ 4,000 RPM, possibly the highest horsepower of any OEM US flathead engine ever.

One reason Packard went broke, they spent the money for one-and-done new block, head, crankshaft, valves and pistons.

The reason for the smoothness was a huge nine-main-bearing crankshaft in a heavy block. IIRC, it weighed 900#.
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