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Old 07-19-2012, 12:50 AM   #1
mrtexas
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Default 59ab & 8ba

I'm relatively new to v8 flatheads having got my 36 woodie last just January after owning Model As for a few years. It has a 37 21 stud engine in it which doesn't bother me because of the insert bearings and better cooling water pumps. I'm just curious about the 59AB & 8BA and know only that the 59AB is 24 studs.

What year Fords did these come from and what are the advantages to each? When did the front mounted distributor go away?
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Old 07-19-2012, 03:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

24 stud began in 1938, and was otherwise basically the same as your '37. The 59 series dates to 1945 (trucks), and runs through 1948 in cars and pickups. This block is considered the best Ford Flathead due to thicker cylinder walls and wide set valves. All flatheads had a front mount distributor from its introduction in 1932 through 1948, and was the best mechanical distributor ever built, due mainly to the dual point system, a Ford patent. The 1949 through 1953 flathead has no advantage over the 59 series block. (The Merc 4" crank can be mounted in an earlier block.)
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:44 AM   #3
Vic Piano
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Alan, the F series trucks (introduced in '48) had 8RT's, the truck version of the 8BA which was in cars starting in '49. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old 07-19-2012, 10:52 AM   #4
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

The 8ba's used individual insert rod bearings (1 per rod) as opposed to the 59ab's which used floating rod bearings, 1 per 2 cylinders. The 8ba's also had somewhat improved water passages to promote better cooling. Cylinder head bolt pattern was same as other 24 bolt engines. 8ba's used head bolts whereas previous engines used studs and nuts. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

The 59 AB engines, which ever year they were made, have always been the preferred engine for re-powering just about any early Ford V8, '32/48.. Some people don't care for the low mounted distributor.. I have been running one for almost sixty years and never had a problem, that is except for them being prone to wetting out in heavy rain and/or trying to ford a creek on a fishing trip.
"A shot of white gas in the distributor will drive the water right out of the ignition". Learned this from my dad in 1946 when we got caught in a flash flood..
It is a common held believe that the majority of the early Ford flatheads, '36 through about '51 had hardened valves/seats. It has been reported in several texts that Ford discontinued the hardened valves/seats in the 8BA/8CM engines starting sometime in '51/52.
The placement of the distributor on the 8BA style of engine makes the unit more accessible, however, it interferes with the placement of original accessories, gen/fan, etc. Reputedly the 8BA engine have an improved cooling feature designed in to the block/heads.
The 59 AB engine is a direct swap into the early Fords, '36, etc. The 8BA's require a combination of '49/50 Merc and/or Ford F-1--3 truck parts... Namely the bell housing and water pumps... The Ford cars 49-53 do not have motor mounts built into the pumps.
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Many of the parts will interchange between the 59AB and 8ba type engines.
You can put early water pumps, front cover and ignition on an 8ba block and vice versa. Heads between the 2 models will interchange with slight mods.
All this enables you to tailor the engine to available space in custom installations.
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

The best FoMoCo V8 L-head blocks were the early Mercury & truck blocks starting in 1939 but they are harder to find since the country was scoured over for them clear up into the 50s. This 99A block was the first 239 and was continued till the 19A block in 41 changed the design a bit & did away with the pan rail core sand plugs. The 29A block in 1942 was carried all the way through the war with improvements till the final improved version in 1945 was redesignated for civil production as the 59A block. The only non-improvement in the 59A was they didn't make the cylinder walls as thick as the pre-war motors (99A thru 29A). I think the 41A block may have been produced during the later part of the war (1944) as a replacement 221 block for all early cars with 24 stud heads but they were continued right on into the late 40s and even had the 59 designator on many of the bell housings.

In 1948 when the F series bonus built trucks started production, they had 8BA engines. 8RT has always been a designation for V8 trucks but the 8RT heads were a replacement part for the old 8BA designator in truck engines so by 1951 or so, all FoMoCo made for trucks was 8RT heads. The blocks are all the same no mater what the heads have cast into them. The 1CM heads were replacement heads for the older 8CM heads on Mercs. EAC heads can be used to replace 8BA heads since they are pretty close in CR. EAB heads are the ones most folks look for now in the 8BA family of engines.

Last edited by rotorwrench; 07-19-2012 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic Piano View Post
Alan, the F series trucks (introduced in '48) had 8RT's, the truck version of the 8BA which was in cars starting in '49. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Vic, you are correct. I was trying to keep my response simple, but now we've got everyone pulling up all the differences, which I don't think the OP was asking about. No matter, he got good answers!
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Old 10-07-2016, 05:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

I haven't found my question answered.
Restoring 46 tudor - 59ab engine.
Block is good - in machine shop now - boring +60.
Crank turned - +10 mains, +30 journals.
Inspection of the rods was questionable - I decided not to use them.
I got a nice set of 8ba rods.
My question is can the 8ba rods be used on my 59ab crank?
Or what is recommended?
thanks, dave
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Old 10-07-2016, 05:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

You can utilise the 8BA rods if your crankpins have double oil holes.
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Old 10-07-2016, 05:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
You can utilize the 8BA rods if your crankpins have double oil holes.
This is very important, if you use the wrong crank and rod combination, it will quickly lead to disaster. 8BA rods and a 59A crank is usually the wrong combination. I emphasize this as the O/P admits to a low level of knowledge about these engines, and "skylarkman2" looks like he already has the wrong parts.

While the earlier blocks may have a slight advantage for highly modified engines, my opinion is that an 8BA (if it will fit) is a better choice for a mild street engine. I prefer them because I like to work on my own engines, and not being a professional, prefer not to mess with full-floating rod bearings. I also like the later distributor location, although a different distributor is required for all but bone stock engines. The aftermarket guys and people like "Bubba" and "CharlieNY" have got that situation pretty much under control.

Last edited by tubman; 10-07-2016 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Thanks guys. I have built a bunch of engines, but the last time I touched a flathead was over 40 years ago. Now learning a lot about them. I found some nicks on the original rods, and ground them out. Stress risers are a disaster waiting to happen. I decided that I didn't want to trust them at all. The 8ba rods were easy to come by, and I preferred the inserts over the floating bearings. Also the 8ba rods are a little stronger.
Unless I am sure about using the 8ba rods, I had best just get a set of the 59ab rods.
What are the concerns about the full-floating bearings?
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Quote:
Originally Posted by skylarkman2 View Post
I haven't found my question answered.
Restoring 46 tudor - 59ab engine.
Block is good - in machine shop now - boring +60.
Crank turned - +10 mains, +30 journals.
Inspection of the rods was questionable - I decided not to use them.
I got a nice set of 8ba rods.
My question is can the 8ba rods be used on my 59ab crank?
Or what is recommended?
thanks, dave
The answer to the question is no you can't run 8ba rods on a 59a crank.

R
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:27 PM   #14
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Quote:
Originally Posted by skylarkman2 View Post
.
What are the concerns about the full-floating bearings?
There are far better qualified on here to answer this but, hey, it's a week end.
There are clearances between the rod and the bearing, and between the bearing and the crank. Full floating. These should be calculated because of varying bearing thicknesses. And the full floating bearing have to be "adjusted", or bent, so as not to bind on the rod or the crank pin.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:34 PM   #15
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

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Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
The answer to the question is no you can't run 8ba rods on a 59a crank.

R
you can replace the 59a crank with 8ba crank with 59a main bearings and 8ba rod bearings.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Brian's comment caused me look at my 59ab crank.
The answer then became obvious. There is a single hole at the center of the bearing.
I suppose the crank could be drilled for the inserts, but not practical.
Now I must decide whether to just get new 59ab rods or get an 8ba crank.
I hope this discussion will answer some questions for someone else later.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:43 PM   #17
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

8BA crank is probably your easiest way out. Some Canadian 59A cranks have the double holes, but that stuff is probably hard to find in Texas.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:51 PM   #18
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Thanks 40cpe (nice looking 40 by the way).
I would expect the bearing clearance to journal to be within tolerance (plastigage).
I would also expect it to fit tightly against the rod (little or no tolerance).
I have also wondered about an adhesive to prevent the bearing from turning in the rod, as the tabs on an insert do.
If the bearing surface is lubricated properly, then it should float on the journal, and not move in the rod.
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Old 10-07-2016, 09:06 PM   #19
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

Quote:
Originally Posted by skylarkman2 View Post
Thanks 40cpe (nice looking 40 by the way).
I would expect the bearing clearance to journal to be within tolerance (plastigage).
I would also expect it to fit tightly against the rod (little or no tolerance).
I have also wondered about an adhesive to prevent the bearing from turning in the rod, as the tabs on an insert do.
If the bearing surface is lubricated properly, then it should float on the journal, and not move in the rod.
Remember, there are TWO rods (one for each bank) on each journal that have to move independently from each other..
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Old 10-07-2016, 10:17 PM   #20
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Default Re: 59ab & 8ba

.I wrote in my book how to fit floating bearings, I believe they are better than the incerts. However, they must be fit. I would suggest getting an 8BA crank, they can't be very expensive as very few people use them. I junked a few dozen some years back. Besides the bearings are very expensive.
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