Flathead Engines

Early Ford V8 Swap Meet--Fitchburg, MA, April 21, 2002

Nice clear weather, but a little on the chilly side (in the 40's). Better than what is forecast for the next two days which includes mixed rain and snow.

Anyway, we took the truck and drove the twelve miles or so to Fitchburg Airport for the annual swap meet run by the local chapter of the Early Ford V8 club. The swap meet includes all kinds of cars, and the non-judged car show (just park on an un-used runway) is for cars from 1975 or earlier. Even that isn't strictly enforced: we saw a couple Fox-body Mustangs, for example, but these were clearly show cars.

McCulloch SuperCharger

1940 Coupe with supercharged Flathead McCulloch supercharger Close-up of McCulloch name plate

We couldn't help but look at a few cars before heading over to the swap meet area. The first one that caught our eye was this 1940 coupe with a super charger. These were made by McCulloch (yes, the same people who make the chain saws today). That single carburetor on top gets a real workout. There's not enough room under the hood of a 1940 for a hood, but in older cars (like 1932's), the McCulloch blower will fit.

1930's Dodge Pickup

Dodge Pickup from the 1930's

Although the various car manufacturers have distinctive looks, I'm still surprised how much alike they look. I've seen enough other Dodge pickups to recognize this isn't a Ford, but place it at around 1935 or 1936.

1935 Ford Cabriolet

1935 Ford CabrioletWe followed this for about 5 miles on the way to the show. I thought it was a 36 because it had the spare tire mounted on the rear, but I guess that isn't unique to that year. I don't remember peeking through the hood slots, but I'm pretty sure it's flathead powered: he slowed down going up the hills. An extremely nice stock restoration.

1936 Long Wheelbase Ford Pickup Truck

1936 Long wheel base Ford pickup 1936 Long wheel base Ford pickup from the left side

In a picture by itself, you don't quite see how large this pickup is. It's a 1936 (easy way to tell is by the placement of the V8 badge on the hood), although now that the show is over, I'm wondering if all the model year differences for the "commercial" 1/2 ton pickups carried through to the full size trucks. The cab looks very much like the 1 1/2 ton truck I photographed a few years ago, but this was a darker blue. It looks a lot like a metallic Caspian Blue Ford used on Mustangs in the mid 1960's.

Tailgate and spare tire of 1936 Long wheelbase Ford PickupThe big trucks had longer wheel base, and leaf springs on each side in the rear rather than the single transverse spring used by cars and the 1/2 ton pickup trucks. I took the picture on the left to show the spare tire under the bed. I wonder if the long beds were this plain (no Ford logo), or if this was a well done home made repair panel.

Real steel fender! Very rough, but real steel fender for a 1935 Ford Pickup

The last picture shows that these are real steel fenders! Funny that most people would find that hole underneath as a flaw, but the only other steel fenders we have seen for a 1935/1936 Ford truck were on the very first truck we looked at, but didn't buy. We had no idea that steel fenders would be that rare.

Roadster with V8-60 Engine

Model A roadster? V8-60 Badge from roadster hood

My usually foolproof method of model identification (looking for the year on the license plate frame) failed me here. It's clearly a roadster, but that looks more like a 32 grille to me than a Model A grille. On the other hand, why would a 32 owner downsize to a V8-60? True, the 1932 Flathead V8 was only rated for 65 horsepower, so with the weight savings, the V8-60 could be a step up. And like most of the cars at the show today, the hood was left down, but there was a flathead under there with center outlets on the head and smaller than a 59A engine.

Speed equipment

Sharp heads and manifold for 1939 to 1948 24 stud Ford Flathead engine Edmunds intake manifold and heads for 1939 to 1948 24 stud Ford flathead V8

The swap meet booths had a good assortment of stuff, but aside from being on the lookout for steel fenders, there wasn't anything we were particularly looking for. You'd often overhear questions like "What year is this for?" or "What did this come off of?" and the answer "I don't know" as often as a specific answer.

And you'd also find speed equipment for Flatheads. As well as the usual Offenhauser and Edelbrock intake manifolds, some more unusual brands. I didn't look at these heads to see if they were unused, new reproductions, or just good used condition. One of the advantages of running a 21 stud engine is all the money you can save by not buying yet another set of heads (although the intake manifolds work on the old engines).

1952 Ford F1 Truck

1952 F100 Ford Truck 1952 license plate

I should get more systematic about taking pictures of various years with particular attention to the differences that lead to a "spotter's guide", but that's difficult when you don't know what to look for. I do know that in 1952 (and 1951? 1953?) cars and trucks had little or no chrome trim because all the chrome was set aside for the Korean war. In the mean time, I've already explained my simple spotter's tip: look at the license plate frame!

1932 Sedan in progress

1932 Ford Sedan, still in primerThere's nothing like real steel, and nothing like real steel prices! This car can still go either way: stock suspension. Mostly stock engine, although it's a later 24 stud engine, not a 21 stud 1932 engine, but newer wheels. I didn't check, but I would guess hydraulic brakes.

Willys 6 cylinder flathead heads

Heads for a six cylinder WillysIt's easy to forget that not all flatheads are Ford V8's. I think that script says "Willys". I would guess that these were the stock engines in the cars that get hotrodded, not the Willy's Jeeps which I thought used four cylinder engines. But drop me an e-mail if you know for sure.

1952 Ford F-1 Pickup

1953 Ford F100I first thought this was a 1953 because of the chrome, but the grille changed substantially in 1953 and no longer had 'teeth' in front.

I thought all along that it couldn't be from 1952 because of the chrome grille. My wife checked in "Ford Trucks since 1905" by James Wagner and he said that Ford phased out use of chrome and other metals during the 1951 model year. Ford did use silver-colored paint to replace some chromed parts.

I got e-mail from mtflat99 that points out the trim on the side of the hood and says this is from 1952, which makes sense and is a more reliable identification since the grille can be chromed or painted later.

NOS V8-60 Heads

New V8-60 cylinder headsThis could be quite a find for someone (no, not the $2 rain ponchos -- the weather was clear, but cold and windy; if it had started raining, the price would have quickly risen to $20).

These cylinder heads for a V8 60 looked brand new. Probably repair/replacement heads rather than factory new-old stock, but very nice. I didn't heft them, but they look like cast iron, so probably not reproductions.

1933 5 Window Coupe

1933 Ford 5 window coupe Early 24 stud engine with Navarro aluminum heads

In addition to the "fixer upper" cars, there were some already fixed up. The difference between 1933 and 1934 is mostly how the hood closes. The 1933 has a single handle in the middle of the hood; 1934 cars have handles at the front and rear of the hood.

This engine has cylinder heads by Barney Navarro, a very long time flathead performance pioneer. The carburetors are Strombergs. I didn't check the intake manifold closely. The generator is in the stock location, but both the Edmunds and Sharp intake manifolds earlier on the page would allow that as well as the 'regular' Offenhauser dual intake manifolds.

1940 Deluxe Convertible

Maroon 1940 Ford Deluxe Cabriolet Engine in 1940 Deluxe Convertible

This 1940 Deluxe Convertible is also ready to go. One of the "deluxe" features is windshield wipers mounted low rather than above the windshield. I don't remember if the windshield would still crank outward, or if there was still a cowl vent. I think by 1940 both standard and deluxe cars had turn signals built into the headlights. In 1939, that was a deluxe option.

This engine also has two Stromberg carburetors mounted on a high rise manifold, probably a Thickstun. You can see that the carbs are above the generator; in the 1933 car, the tops of the float bowls is below the top of the generator.

Stock and speed equipment

Stock iron heads for 49-53 engineI've been unable to find anything on the web about these heads. I didn't turn them over, but maybe they're NOS. I didn't think there was anything special about any of the cast iron heads. The painted side sure looks good on these.

Evans Intake manifold Dual intake manifold for a V8-60

I took these four pictures in a rush and never got back to get a better set. I thought at the time that both the Evans intake manifold and the Bandicie manifold are for V8-60 engines. I'm sure the Bandicie is. By the way, I've never heard of them before either, but have seen some Evans heads in either the Tex Smith or Frank Oddo books on flatheads.

Evans heads for V8-60 Racing heads

The Evans cylinder heads are definitely for a V8-60 which is why I think the intake is also. But that's a Fenton intake manifold for a "full size" flathead on the left. Funny how the polished manifolds at a swap meet always have the carburetor cores in the worst condition, and vice versa. Maybe I'll regret passing on an older Fenton intake, although reproductions aren't too hard to find. I also should have taken a better picture of the other heads with the log manifolds to the water jacket. All I can make out on them is something Racing. I think they were also 24 stud heads, but can't tell now.

8CM Mercury heads Edmunds intake manifold

And at another booth was this pair of 8CM Mercury heads, also called Canadian, Denver, or just "cheater" heads. The casting marks don't show up in this picture, and they would be easy to paint to look like the cast iron heads. But these were higher compression and were used in Mercury engines, and also at high elevations and in Canada. At $600 for the pair, it may have been a good deal, but I didn't see what sort of shape they were in. The Edmunds intake is in nice shape too, but I'm keeping an eye out for some sort of high rise manifold.

Bare 1940 Flathead block

Early 24 stud Flathead engine block Sleeved cylinder from early 24-stud engine

Most of the engines for sale seemed to be in trailers rather than outside where you could see them. This is an early 24 stud engine. The label says 1939-40. The detail shows a sleeve in the cylinder. All the cylinders were like this. I'm guessing that this somehow saved material or allowed for more core shift when casting. Anyway, you can't bore these blocks out as much as later blocks which is why the 59A blocks from 1946 to 1948 are so popular.

Mini Stock Cars

Miniature race chassis with engines and radio control Body for the mini race frame

Can't afford a real stock car, but racing electric R/C vehicles just doesn't do it for you? This could be the answer...

I don't know where they race these, but the tires had definitely seen some wear. The fabrication on the frames is impressive. I almost missed the body up on the back of the truck. And after reading about belt sander racers, I figure guys will race anything!

1956 Big Window F-100

Light blue 1956 Ford F-100 with big rear windowThis truck attracted a crowd of guys who just couldn't resist touching the merchandise.

Buying Stuff

"Your wife called and said you can buy anything you like!"

What's a swap meet if you don't buy something expensive and useless, or at least useless! Walking around, I'd overhear snippets of conversation like:

"I must be crazy for getting up early on Sunday for this."

"No. You're normal. Everyone here is normal."

"I still think I'm crazy for getting up early on Sunday morning."

"Hey Frank! You don't need that! Frank doesn't need that! Frank doesn't need anything!"

"How much for this? I'm the only guy in the country who's gonna buy this..."

I got some useful items -- three brass drifts so we can try to overhaul a 1939 transmission we got nearly two years ago (it turns out the number on the transmission case is from 1937, but the shifter rails are from 1938, and do have the extra detent for second gear which is what we're really looking for).

The useless items are a pair of NOS cast iron 1936 heads. Parts 68-6049B and 68-6050B. We have some of these on the truck now, but these are unused. They do seem to be service replacements based on some other casting numbers. There were also some with no obvious date marks, but we'll probably run these at some point so why use up true NOS parts? Our engine has got a lot rougher looking in the four years we've had it, partly because we hadn't been obsessive enough about rinsing off antifreeze when dealing with the various coolant leaks, including leaking water pumps last year. Of course we could just take our current heads off and paint them. And I might still do that, or maybe have these new heads shaved some to raise the compression. And if we do put new heads on, we'll have to at least paint the parts of the block you can see.

Other things we saw but didn't get pictures of: some aluminum 1935 heads (48-6049 and 48-6050). They looked to be in acceptable shape, but we'd already used up our cash. We did have a nice talk with the seller. He said the front fenders for the 1935 were already sold, but the rest of the stuff would probably be up in Amherst, New Hampshire the following week. The car had been complete, but disassembled, and he's selling the parts since no one bought the complete car when he advertised it in Hemmings. I said it's funny how half the people at the swap meet were taking cars apart and selling the pieces, while the other half were madly running around trying to collect all the pieces and put them back into complete cars. It keeps everyone busy and happy.

1951 F-1

1951 Ford F-1 in green with black fenders 1951 License plate

Here's an F1 that claims to be from 1951, and since it also has white teeth, I concluded that the truck with a chrome grille must be from 1953.

Weber 3-in-1 Carburetor?

Weber carburetor on multi-carb flathead intake manifoldThat finished the swap meet for us, so we went out to the runway/parking lot to look at cars. The more I look at this engine, the more fascinated I am. It's an 8RT style engine with the oil filler tube at the front, but early 24 stud heads with the water outlet in the middle. The fascinating part is the carburetion scheme. I can see it's made by Weber, always good for mucho fangle points. But it seems to be a single huge carburetor mounted on a triple-dual intake. I'll have to look through my Tyrods pictures to see if I have another shot of this engine.

National Association for the Advancement of Flatheads

National Association for the Advancement of the Flathead 1932 Coupe 8BA engine with 4 barrel intake and Edmunds heads Same engine taking in September 2001

I had taken the close up of this license plate at the 2001 Tyrods Reunion as well as the fourth picture shown here. There was more wind in April than September so the hood wasn't folded back as far: I got a better view of the engine back then.

I was thinking that this may be closer to what people were aspiring to in the 1950's: certainly don't think twice about going with the latest Ford engine. And why mess with those fussy carburetor linkages when you can use a four barrel?

1936 Four Door Sedan and two 1936 Cabriolets

1936 Fordor Sedan Two 1936 Cabriolets

The guy parting out the 1935 has a 1936 Fordor Sedan, complete and assembled, in storage. I think he'll wait a little longer to sell it as a complete car because it isn't already in pieces. This is the picture of opportunity.

And two 1936's side by side showed what the effect of a drop axle could be. It was a little more dramatic in person where it was clearly more than just perspective making the one in back look lower.

1937 Coupe

1937 5-window CoupeI still prefer a 1934 or a 1940, but the 1937 body style has definitely grown on me. And if you're going to get a year-of-manufacture plate, might as well get a good one (this one has Maine O-1).

1948 to 1950 F-1

Early F-1 from between 1948 and 1950And for flathead trucks, the classic shape of the early F-1's isn't quite as cool (to me, at least) as the 1940 or 1935.


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Last modified Sunday, April 28, 2002
All pictures taken by the author
Tom Teixeira