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Old 11-22-2020, 06:31 AM   #1
Gpetty
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Default Engine upgrade

Hey guys, I am having my motor rebuilt and have to decide if I want to go with the larger intake valves and high compression head. What do you think is it worth the $500 upgrade.
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:38 AM   #2
alexiskai
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

If there's an option to just do the head by itself, for less money, that's the most bang for the buck. Larger intake valves won't help much unless you follow up by using a different carb, enlarging the intake, new cam, etc.
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:44 AM   #3
nkaminar
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

My newly acquired Fordor has those upgrades and more.

In my opinion the high compression head is a good upgrade. The larger valves will help too. A higher lift and higher duration cam will is another good upgrade.

I like my counterbalanced crankshaft. I think this is a great upgrade. The engine is almost vibration free and the main bearings have less stress.

I also like the high volume oil pump and oil filter. I can go longer between oil changes. Better for the environment and better for the pocketbook.

I have insert bearings but some owners feel the babbitt bearings will last longer, especially if taken up periodically. Although the insert bearings are easier to change. The babbitt bearings have to be done right or they will fail and they require special tools for pouring and machining.

I am not fond of the lightened flywheel but the later clutch is nice.
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:48 AM   #4
Gpetty
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

I see you are in Mebane NC I live over east of Raleigh. My wife’s sisters live in Mebane.
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

A lot of performance modifications are better done with the modifications to drive train to get the benefits from them. To build a stronger engine and still have a non synchronized transmission is kind of a wasted effort. Then when the car has a faster top end speed, the hydraulic brakes become a safer bet than mechanical types.

I think you can see that this stuff expands the needs for better technology just for safer operation if nothing else. Personally, I never saw a need for all this stuff. I figure if you want an AV8 hot rod then that's the direction to take. If you want a stock type model A then just maintain what you have. These cars weren't designed to go 70 MPH down the freeways all day.

Folks that built the 200 CID Ford motors back in the day were making hot rods and they were constantly tinkering with performance to get the best runs on the street or at the dry lakes in California, Utah, or on the beach at Daytona.
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:56 AM   #6
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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What are you after? When you bought your Model A, did you want to experience what it was like driving a car from that era? If so, than every "upgrade" will take you further away from that original Model A experience.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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Originally Posted by Will N View Post
What are you after? When you bought your Model A, did you want to experience what it was like driving a car from that era? If so, than every "upgrade" will take you further away from that original Model A experience.
I couldn’t agree more!
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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I couldn’t agree more!
I second this.

Enjoy.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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What are you after? When you bought your Model A, did you want to experience what it was like driving a car from that era? If so, than every "upgrade" will take you further away from that original Model A experience.
This. Before I'd mod an A engine, might as well find a flathead & go that route.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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Originally Posted by Gpetty View Post
I see you are in Mebane NC I live over east of Raleigh. My wife’s sisters live in Mebane.
Nice, well come over sometime.

Re: driving a car "of the era," the high-compression heads were definitely available at the time. Most heads available now are replicas of period heads. Some other upgrades are also period-correct, such as mechanical spark advance and various cabin heaters. There was a thriving aftermarket ecosystem from day one, both in terms of comfort add-ons and improvements to the engine. Fahnestock's "Those Wonderful Unauthorized Accessories for Model A Ford" is a great reference for this.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:51 AM   #11
Jack Shaft
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

Stock engine are fun, modified engines are fun..my model A reflects an 'era' the car lived through as well..

Flathead V8's are a lot of work for a little gain..

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Old 11-22-2020, 12:37 PM   #12
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

I had the 2 barrel downdraft Webber and an exhaust header like Jack Shaft's car when I bought it. My Fordor had no problem getting to 70 mph on the highway but it just did not look right. I switched out to the stock manifolds and the updraft Tillotson. I am happy going 55 on back roads. The car will still go 60 when asked. I have owned Model A's since they were just old cars. Part of owning one now is nostalgia so I want the engine to look like a Model A. But I am happy with internal changes that make the engine more reliable and more powerful.

It also had a distributor with electronic ignition and automatic advance. Also did not look right. I went back to the stock distributor and the engine actually runs better.
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Old 11-22-2020, 12:51 PM   #13
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

My 2 cents worth is this. Yes the larger valves and HC head will help the engine run and breath better. Again you will have other things to do to it as mentioned above. I tweaked me engine with a HC head and 'B' cam, CW crank and lightened the flywheel some. The car will cruise all day long at 55 but she likes to cruise on the freeway at 50 best. That is where I stay, the upgrades will just make the engine run smoother and last longer in my view. To me that is the reason I did the mods.


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Old 11-22-2020, 02:04 PM   #14
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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Originally Posted by alexiskai View Post
Nice, well come over sometime.

Re: driving a car "of the era," the high-compression heads were definitely available at the time. Most heads available now are replicas of period heads. Some other upgrades are also period-correct, such as mechanical spark advance and various cabin heaters. There was a thriving aftermarket ecosystem from day one, both in terms of comfort add-ons and improvements to the engine. Fahnestock's "Those Wonderful Unauthorized Accessories for Model A Ford" is a great reference for this.
Can we assume you meant 'auto spark advance' since mechanical advance is on most Model As?
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:09 PM   #15
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

From the perspective of an engine rebuilder, it is WAY easier to install a high-compression head at a later date than it is to install larger intake valves. If your budget is tight, opt for a new cam followed by the bigger valves. The high compression head can come later if you feel it is needed.

Worth noting, I personally feel the biggest bang for your buck in the performance department is camshaft. Then comes a high compression head. Using a Stipe IB330 camshaft helps the engine think it has more compression because of a tighter centerline (lobe separation) and adds torque to the lower RPMs. It also raises the lift from 0.287" to 0.330" advertised. Most reground Model-A camshafts have the torque band curve raised which does not allow the engine to pull well unless it is revved up. That was not how the Model-A engine was originally designed.
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Old 11-22-2020, 03:19 PM   #16
Jack Shaft
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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Originally Posted by nkaminar View Post
I had the 2 barrel downdraft Webber and an exhaust header like Jack Shaft's car when I bought it. My Fordor had no problem getting to 70 mph on the highway but it just did not look right. I switched out to the stock manifolds and the updraft Tillotson. I am happy going 55 on back roads. The car will still go 60 when asked. I have owned Model A's since they were just old cars. Part of owning one now is nostalgia so I want the engine to look like a Model A. But I am happy with internal changes that make the engine more reliable and more powerful.

It also had a distributor with electronic ignition and automatic advance. Also did not look right. I went back to the stock distributor and the engine actually runs better.
Its all good,change and run what you like,its your car. From a performance view mechanical advance distributors are superior to manual advance stock distributors,your timing adjusts automatically to your RPM,resulting in optimum performance.The Tillotson flows at half the rate of the engines capacity,the weber you had matches CFM air flow to the engine.
I agree with Brett,the camshaft is the foundation to build to..You have to do alot of work to achieve returns on the big valves,its more a selling point than improvement.


Oh,thats a Stromberg 97 in my picture..I prefer the Holley 94..The weber 32/36 the vendors sell in a good lash up..all three benefit from a fuel pump
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Old 11-22-2020, 04:05 PM   #17
Gene F
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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Originally Posted by BRENT in 10-uh-C View Post
From the perspective of an engine rebuilder, it is WAY easier to install a high-compression head at a later date than it is to install larger intake valves. If your budget is tight, opt for a new cam followed by the bigger valves. The high compression head can come later if you feel it is needed.

Worth noting, I personally feel the biggest bang for your buck in the performance department is camshaft. Then comes a high compression head. Using a Stipe IB330 camshaft helps the engine think it has more compression because of a tighter centerline (lobe separation) and adds torque to the lower RPMs. It also raises the lift from 0.287" to 0.330" advertised. Most reground Model-A camshafts have the torque band curve raised which does not allow the engine to pull well unless it is revved up. That was not how the Model-A engine was originally designed.

I have had both the 3/4 Winfield, and the touring grind cam in my car. The 3/4 cam gave more speed, but not enough torque. I now have a fresh engine with the IB-30 cam, and the big valves. All of these had a Brumfield head. I have a Borg Warner 33% overdrive unit, heavy duty radiator, and cast iron brake drums. I also have a B intake, and B carb. I am eager to get the engine in, get it broke in, and see how it does. High compression heads lower the operating temp, and as far as I can tell the touring grind cam was a waste of time. FYI: I have a 28, so my car has the taller tire.

I drive my car. I want to go to the hardware store, I go in the A. I want to go to the golf course, I go in the A. Our local chapter has a trip, or an outing I go in the A.

My advice is get the thing to where it is reliable, and drive it within it's limits. But please drive it. A few well planned engine modifications, cast iron drum project, and a super heavy duty radiator make all the difference. If you can feel like you are driving it within it's limits, you will want to drive it, and that makes the car desirable. If possible talk with the guys in your local club, and ask them. Ask them to let you drive their car a little. They will let you! Then an informed decision can be made. Don't think about price. Think about the "package" that you want to end up with. Getting it right the first time is way cheaper. Every time you do an engine you should figure on about $5,000, so choices count.

An overdrive unit will always be smart money.
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Old 11-22-2020, 04:22 PM   #18
Jack Shaft
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

I agree Gene,drive the wheels off it..they aren't museum pieces..
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Old 11-22-2020, 06:46 PM   #19
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

To answer your question directly, bigger valves are expensive and not necessary for just normal driving and/or touring. The easiest and cheapest route to more power are higher compression and a bigger carb. Both changes can be done now or later, easily. If I were you, I'd put in a B or very mild touring cam now, and make changes later if you want. Your present cam is likely worn and should be re-ground anyway, now is the time to do that.
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Old 11-23-2020, 06:50 AM   #20
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Default Re: Engine upgrade

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My advice is get the thing to where it is reliable, and drive it within it's limits. But please drive it. A few well planned engine modifications, cast iron drum project, and a super heavy duty radiator make all the difference.
Gene, out of curiosity and perhaps putting my ignorance on full display here - where does the radiator factor in on the performance of the engine? Unless the engine is suffering from overheating does it make a difference there?

(I need a new radiator for my Fordor - hence the question )

\Dan
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