Community Lounge, Introductions and General Discussion Discussion, Anybody a fan of '51 Mercury customs? in General Discussion; Sometimes, my travels lead me to very interesting places and cars....
Warning: Yes. It's orange....
Been there, done that. '49 Merc chopped, channelled, frenched, leaded. 3/4 flathead, Zephyr gears. 6 coats of hand rubbed DuPont Deep Black lacquer with 2 final coats of rubbed clear lacquer. Full Moons. Dual glasspacks. Rolled and pleated red leather. Built it in '57.
Ford flat head V8s made good boilers. The exhaust passages went between the cylinders to the outside of the block. There was so much heat to be thrown off by the cooling system that there were two water pumps and a HUGE radiator. Abuse it some and the block would crack across the exhaust valve seats and clear down the cylinder. On the early versions not only was the ignition system low voltage, the distributor was right behind the radiator which was very prone to leakage. Radiator leaks, ignition drowns, motor quits. They had a rigid torque tube drive axle and rear end setup. Forward drive thrust was taken up by the engine mounts. When you started out and engaged the clutch the whole drive train shifted forward which tweaked the clutch linkage. The was result was astounding amounts of clutch chatter that could loosen the fillings in your teeth. A popular aftermarket kit anchored the engine to the frame with a steel rod and some rubber biscuits. Transmission strength was marginal. A common fix was to put the gears in a household oven set as high as it would go and leave them overnight. This would soften them up to where they would deform a little instead of breaking. The rear wheel bearings were the same as a Model T, long roller bearings. The seals leaked and the rear brakes were always oil soaked. If you broke the real axle, also common, the rear wheel was gone. There were various after market kits that addressed this and were mandated by NHRA.
Somebody has to tell the kids what the good old days were really like.
During the same time period as the Ford flat head V8, Ford made a flat head six that handily out performed the V8 especially with low end torque. Ask any old time trucker. It had the same propensity to crack at the exhaust valve seats and down the cylinder. A common temporary repair was to drive steel wool into the crack with a hammer and screwdriver, fill the cooling system with water glass(sodium silicate), and drive it some, drain it and refill it with water and Bar's Stop Leak. It'd get you home if you didn't have far to go.
Flatheads were fun, and that's what we had to play with. Just as today, back then a gearhead made do with what he could (almost) afford. Some of the Lincoln V-12s had 4 heads, some had 2. Guy up the street had a Zephyr with a V-12. He was always tinkering to keep it running, but it DID have a wild set of duals with Cherry Bombs. Buddy of mine drove an absolutely gorgeous 1935 Dodge Brothers Town Car 6. Window shades, perfume trays, whiskey bottle locker. Spare tires in the front fenders. He had a row of bullet hole decals up the trunk (a real trunk) and rear window.
Someone needs to dredge up a mid-30s Ford V-8 60 or V-8 85. About 2/3 the size of a common V-8.
Many of today's engines are just as quirky as the old ones - just more electronics (actually there were NO "electronics" until "transistor ignition" came on the scene in the mid-60s.) No, the flatheads were not bulletproof - hasn't changed much in 70 years, has it ? (Especially in the Northstar forums ..................)
1935 ???? Put it in context - When I got my driver's license a 1935 Ford was 20 years old - same as some of you guys with a 1994 STS.
The flat head Ford engines powered a lot of military equipment during WWII including the British "Universal Carrier" that was a tracked equivalent to our Jeep. Aircraft tugs, APUs, pumps, air compressors, welding machines, boats, you name it, were all likely to have Ford power plants. Ford V8 "60s" wound up in French Simca automobiles as well as American midget racers. They were cute little engines with pistons about the size of tea cups. The crank only had three main bearings and the crank only had four throws. Opposing cylinder connecting rods shared a throw and the rod bearings were full floating, were the full length of the throw, also rotated inside the rods, and were also shared. The problem was that when they wore out, everything was worn out, the cranks, the bearings, and the rods. The valves had no clearance adjusters so clearance was set by grinding the tips of the valve stems for more or grinding the seats deeper for less. The valves, guides, and springs were installed as an assembly and the whole works was held in the block with "C" shaped retainers that required a whole set of special tools to deal with. They would really wind and had a great exhaust note but didn't develop enough power to pull a sick whore out of bed. Some guys made special cranks and cams that would allow the V8s to fire two cylinders at once, so-called "square four" which produced a distinctive exhaust note but little else.
The best one of the V8s I ever had was an industrial version that was originally in a water pump and had changes to the casting and machining around the valve seats that went a long way to reducing the valve seat cracking that usually signaled the death of the engine. I suppose there were a few tears shed with the demise of the flat head Ford engines but it would take some highly tinted rose colored glasses for me to forget all the time I spent cussing them. Two years after the end of the flat head Ford came the small block Chevy V8 and we all know how that turned out.