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Old 10-31-2019, 08:56 AM   #1
GOSFAST
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Default Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

I was going to add to Ol' Ron's post about cylinder heads but didn't want to "hijack" the thread so I figure I'd start a new one instead!

When you're installing ANY brand of aftermarket (aluminum) heads it's necessary to choose some sort of method to "stabilize" them on the blocks.

Just got a couple PM's and a couple e-mails asking if we could "pin" the blocks, gaskets, and heads like we normally do here. Was asked if the tooling was "portable"? I can only do the "pinning" while the casting is here being machined, the tooling works in conjuction with some of our other equipment. It doesn't really pay to ship a block/heads around for us to pin only, it just wouldn't be cost-effective between the price of both the procedure and the shipping!

The head bolts holes now in all the newer castings I have here (8 Edelbrocks to be exact) are now coming in drilled .500"+, way too big in my opinion for the .437" fasteners, something must be done to keep these castings more stabile. This "looseness" will have a "negative" effect on the head gaskets over time!

The next best scenario is using some thin-wall aluminum sleeves (this has been mentioned previously up here by others) and fitting 2 sleeves to each side on ANY two studs (preferably 1 on each end of the heads) that have enough room to slide "comfortably" between the bolt holes and the bolts/studs.

Just fabricated 2 sleeves and gave it a shot, will work OK as an alternative method to the "pinning" and can be done easily using a small lathe and some aluminum tubing starting with a .500" O.D.

We've been "pinning" every build here for some time now and I would never install (new) heads here any longer without making certain they aren't going to move around! I don't care which fasteners you choose, bolts OR studs, I would want the heads/gaskets stabilized.

(Add) I will also say this: we've never re-torqued a single head on any Flathead ever built here, I have one now that I know has over 40,000 miles on and it is still "perfect". It has the Edelbrock 1116 heads/Fel-Pro copper head gaskets/ARP studs on it, and they are all "pinned".

Thanks Gary in N.Y.

P.S. Here's a shot of a new Edelbrock showing the 2 sleeves (circled in red) in position, this isn't quite as good as the actual dowel pins we use but it IS a good second alternative!
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:02 AM   #2
Russ/40
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

Gary, I have my doubts as to the longevity of the aluminium sleeves. The wall thickness being very thin, I would think they would degrade through corrosion to the point they would add to future head removal difficulty. Perhaps stainless would ameliorate that issue.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

Another method is to setup two stud/bolt holes for what are known as ARP steel "Hat Washers" - I've used them on various blown applications. I would NOT use them on all studs, as they can be a bit of a pain to get back out.

Another aspect of Gary's post is that he is using ARP studs/bolts. The quality of these fasteners is a big reason he does not have to retorque the heads. When you're using lower quality studs/fasteners (think stock stuff), you will find that it normally takes 2 - 3 heat cycles and retorque sessions for them to hold torque.

I've seen some aftermarket stock-style "stud/bolt kits for flatheads that required multiple re-torque sessions. Not only due to fastener stretch - but also due to the low-quality of the head washers. You need to use thick, heat treated head washers - period. Ford did not use washers on their cast iron heads (49-53 with bolts) - but you must use them on aluminum heads - or you'll gall the Hell out of the heads themselves.

If you're pondering studs - really think about using the ARP studs with the nice Allen Head receivers in the tops. This makes it possible to remove a stud (or even re-seal it) without pulling the head. Also, it makes the removal of the heads a LOT easier.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

I believe I was the one who first came up with this technique and have done it on the last two engines I built. One has been in daily service for three years with no problem. I don't see how corrosion would be a problem as they are not exposed to the coolant. !/2" aluminum tubing with a .030 wall is what I used. I enlarged the two holes used to 1/2" so I did't have to remove any material from the tubes. Believe me, not much material was removed from the heads. These tubes are quite substantial and may be subject to electrolytic degradation over the years, but the absence of an electrolyte (cooling system fluid) would make this a very long term prospect. Also, once the heads have been installed and properly torqued for a few years, I don't think they would move around, even if the tubes disappeared entirely.

I do use the hardened steel washers that I get from Gary.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

I guess my sentiment on the corosion of the sleeves comes from my experience taking down engines, and being surprised by the extent of corrosion on studs in engines that have been in service for only a year or so. Wheeping bolts and studs will do it every time. I dont fault the technique, just the material.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

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Originally Posted by tubman View Post
I believe I was the one who first came up with this technique and have done it on the last two engines I built.
I do use the hardened steel washers that I get from Gary.
I believe you are right.
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Old 10-31-2019, 12:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

Ever since I built my first Flathead a very long time ago i figured the easiest solution to the head alignment problem was to just make two thin wall sleeves for each head. When needed i locate one sleeve between the two cylinders on each head using the bolt hole located just below the water transfer hole. A simple bench top lath is all thats needed to make these simple sleeves heck even the cheap Chinese harbor freight lath is accurate enough to make them. Its been my experience theres no need for the pinning alignment and the added expense involved. The simple sleeve alignment works perfectly in the extreme environment for racing all of my record setting Flathead race engines have the alignment sleeves when needed never experienced any issues with head alignment using upwards of 28 pounds of boost to easily make more than four times the stock HP on gasoline. When i remove the heads for inspection and then reinstall each head they return exactly to there previous location also this allows me the opportunity to reuse the head gaskets also. Using the sleeve idea for all Flathead applications is a perfect way to go.
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

One thing I don't see mentioned here, and what I do, is liberally apply nickel based anti-seize compound to each headstud prior to installing the head[s]. This really does aid in minimising corrosion to the studs, and it is definitely easier to remove the heads years later....
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Old 10-31-2019, 04:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

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Originally Posted by Brian View Post
One thing I don't see mentioned here, and what I do, is liberally apply nickel based anti-seize compound to each headstud prior to installing the head[s]. This really does aid in minimising corrosion to the studs, and it is definitely easier to remove the heads years later....
I do exactly the same thing . . . makes me a happy camper later down the road!
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

I've been pondering this since gosfast posted about pinning. I was measuring some head gaskets and discovered that the 2 upper/outermost holes were smaller than the rest and fit the studs very closely, presumably to locate the gasket better than if they were the same as the rest. I'm thinking of making short sleeves for the bottom of those 2 holes and boring a short counterbore in the heads to accept those 2 sleeves/rings. That would allow me to make them .050 or so thick, maybe .300 tall, and would act like pins without needing to modify a block to use them.
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

This problem was solved, many years ago for the 8BA. In the tools that I got from my dad (he was a mechanic in the '40's and worked for a Ford rebuilder), when I became a mechanic, there was a store bought tool that had 2, short 7/16 x 14 threads. The tops of those were larger, by a little and threaded 1/4, LH thread. You screwed them in, put the gasket on them, then put the head on and used a knurled shaft with a LH male thread, to take them out, after a few bolts were installed, tight enough to hold the gasket.

I've made my own, for 1/2 x 13 threads. For those, I used a 5/16 x 18 LH tap and LH threaded stud, to take them out.
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Old 11-02-2019, 09:56 PM   #12
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

I wouldn't use aluminum. I would machine some bronze bushings and press them into the head. Then ream them to fit the bolts. Just like king pins. Problem solved.
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Old 11-02-2019, 10:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

I should point out that bronze and cast iron are much further apart on the Anodic Table than aluminum and cast iron. Also bronze is quite a ways from aluminum. What you are suggesting would just promote corrosion. Plus, "pressing in" and "reaming" are overkill in this situation.

What you are proposing will probably make the heads impossible to remove down the line.

Last edited by tubman; 11-02-2019 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 11-04-2019, 08:04 PM   #14
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Default Re: Flathead Alum Heads-Block Alignment

A couple of shoulder studs will resolve the issue. I would use Saf-T-Eze anti-Seize compound on head stud shanks, and spark plugs in aluminum heads. This is a MIL-T-5544 spec. anti seize containing graphite and petrolatum. No nickel, copper or zinc metals. Used for steel spark plugs in aluminum aircraft engines, and sold be Aircraft & Spruce. Made by SLT Compound Corp., Lombard, IL USA.
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