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Comparing Older Domestic Engines



  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,305
    Agree with you. My '39 Master DeLuxe had the identical mechanicals and 60 mph was it's best and smoothest speed. I used to have an oil soaked "blanket" with two holes that fit over the tappets. That thing was effective as long as the intakes were adjusted to 6 thousandths & exhaust 13. We drove it from 1950 to 1958 lasting from high school through college & the Army. :)
  • oldcemoldcem Posts: 309
    Brings back memories - In the early 60's, while I was in High School, I was running around in a 1937 Dodge Business Coupe with a stock flathead in it. She made about 60 - 70 HP I think. As I remember, the engine only had 3 main bearings, and, would torque knock if lugged in 3rd gear. She could only make 60 with a tailwind.

  • Pre-war engines were built for torque and smoothness, certainly not for revs---that was a sure way to wear them out quickly. Not until you got those short-stroke V8s could you start to wind up domestic engines. This is one reason you see overdrives on a lot of the older cars with flatheads.

    Of course, back in the day, people were expected to overhaul their engines periodically, even at 40K to 60K miles.
  • armesarmes Posts: 32
    The manual for my 1917 Olds Flat Head V-8 even says the oil should be changed once every week!
  • I guess people had time for things like that, back in 1917.

    Of course, engine technology wasn't too advanced back then, so the piston rings probably let a lot of compression leakage into the crankcase---that makes oil very contaminated quite quickly.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Very true. Was the Ford flathead V8 an exception, in a way, in that couldn't it wind up pretty well, especially when modified, as many of them were?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,641
    edited October 2010
    Well that engine is decades ahead in development from the one we were talking about, so yeah, as time went on, the old flatheads got to spin a bit faster, especially as people learned how to get them to breathe better with special intakes and cams and multiple carbs.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,350
    Some people talk like the 216 engines were junk but they were really decent engines that would last a long time.

    They didn't like high RPMS or to be hot rodded. At the slightest hint of a rod knock someone who knew what they were doing would need to pull the pan and adjust and shim the bearings.

    Of course, all of the old guys who knew how to do this are long retired or dead by now.
  • You just had to be reasonable about a 216, and avoid higher revs, heavy loads and long pulls up hills. These engines were made for 1930s roads, not 1970s roads.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,350
    edited October 2010
    My first car was a 1952 Chevy. It needed a fuel pump and I was able to buy it for 35.00.

    I remember in the glove box there was a receipt from 1962 from the local chevy Dealer. " Adjust and shim engine bearings...30.00!

    As a youngster, I accidently drove it straight into the Watts Riots not knowing what was happening. A cop yelled at me to get the hell out of there and I did!

    I remember driving down the Harbor Freeway at 75 MPH which the Chevy did with ease and no ill effects afterwards.

    San Pedro never looked so good!
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,305
    Our 2nd Chevy was a '53 Bel Air Sedan with 7,200 miles in April 1955 for $1500. It was a stick with the 235.5 engine. Thus, I think '52 was the last year for the 216.5.
    The '53 was geared better for highway use & regretted selling it in Honolulu, however, the same car was worth $500 less in SF March '58. Those were the years, two married college grads with jobs and a couple of cars - no kids. How else can I piss you off? ;)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,350
    edited October 2010
    If it was a 1953 with a stick, it still used the babbett bearings. The ones with Powerglide had inserts and full pressure lubrication. By 1954 all of them had inserts. Of course those were much better engines but the 216's weren't as bad as some people would have you believe.

    Funny, the stick 235's had mechanical lifters and the Powerglides had hydraulic until 1956 when they all had hydraulic lifters.

    Any more Chevy trivia I can bore you with?
  • you could tell the class why replacing a clutch in those cars was a form of torture.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,305
    Re: our 53.....Stewart Warner made a tachometer that exactly replaced the clock in the dash. It was so tight, you'd think it was factory.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,907
    Speaking of Stewart-Warner, the original owner of my fintail drilled a hole in the dash and installed a S-W ammeter. It looks pretty decent, period correct and doesn't clash too much.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,350
    " you could tell the class why replacing a clutch in those cars was a form of torture"

    Yes, I can.

    Prior to 1955, Chevys didn't have an open driveshaft. They had a torque tube and replacing a clutch was a B***H!

    I once helped a buddy do one on the ground, without a hoist.

    And, inside that torque tube was a seal that prevented the transmission oil and the differential oil from combining.

    If the seal went bad and the car was parked on a hill the oil from the transmission would flow through the tube into the differential and overfill it thus blowing the axle seals.

    They made a "kit" that was referred to as an "Okie" kit where you would pound a bushing as I recall into the end of the tube to cure the problem.

    The kit usually worked and it saved a lot of time and trouble.

    I seem to recall that Buicks kept the torque tubes even longer than chevy did?
  • I used to loosen the entire back axle and differential and hook a come-a-long to it and pull it backwards in order to loosen up the torque tube.

    The 4-speed trucks didn't have this.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    edited November 2010
    The lastest issue of Hemmings Classic Car magazine has a detailed article about the Pontiac I-8 engine. This was of interest to me because my dad owned a '47, a '49 and a '52, the latter two with Hydramatic. After reading about the engineering and features that were incorporated into this engine, to make it rugged, reliable and smooth, I have the impression that Pontiac gave buyers their money's worth when they upgraded from the I-6 to the I-8. It also seemed to be a good value compared with the Chevy Stovebolt 6, although the latter had overhead valves, whereas the Pontiac engines were flatheads.

    This issue of Classic Car also featured an article on the AMC V8, which was introduced in some '56 Hudson and Nash models. This engine displaced 250 c.i., compared with 265 in the '55 Chevy. Yet, for all the fame of the Chevy small block, the smaller AMC engine pumped out 190 horsepower, compared with 162 for the 2-barrel Chevy, and 180 for the 4-barrel, which also had duel exhausts.

    An interesting side note was that AMC had a formal agreement with Studebaker-Packard to buy Packard engines for the large Nashes and Hudsons. In fact, AMC used Packard engines in the '54, '55 and '56 Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet. In return, AMC and Studebaker-Packard had a gentleman's agreement that called for S-P to buy certain body stampings from AMC. The understanding was that the dollar amount of the stampings was to approximately equal the value of the engines. This arrangement made sense for both companies, since S-P had excess engine capacity, while AMC had excess stamping capacity, and both companies stood to benefit from the unit cost savings this exchange would have yielded. What happened was that AMC lived up to its contract, but S-P ignored that gentleman's agreement. According to this article, S-P president, James Nance, thought that AMC wouldn't survive, and that S-P would be able to buy AMC cheap. This infuriated George Romney, AMC's CEO at the time, and he reacted by having AMC develop its own V8. Interesting, eh?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,641
    edited November 2010
    Nance later went on to become a VP for Edsel, to continue his string of successes. :P

    The Chevy small block's incredible success wasn't predicated strictly on HP, but rather lighter weight, ability to rev, lower deck height, and build-ability. These attributes are a great advantage for longevity of design. There were plenty of sturdy V8 engines in the 50s, but they were porkers. The Chevy 265 shoehorned very nicely into the 1955 Corvette and saved the model no doubt. No way you were going to get an AMC V8 into anything else unless it looked like a small house or didn't have a hood. Well of course I exaggerate but you know, a matter of inches, and weight, is important in car design.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    edited November 2010
    I didn't know about the seuqel to Nance's illustrious automotive career. From the Classic Car article, Nance and Romney disliked each other intensely. The writer of the article has a bias for Romney.
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