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Old 08-24-2020, 03:13 PM   #1
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Default Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

Hey folks. I just about have the block completely stripped (pending fuel rod bushing) and intend to take it to the shop here pretty soon. Since this will be my first experience with a machine shop I'm curious as to what I can expect. Unfortunately I had a hard time getting a positive response from a N. Texas shop so have settled upon the first business that expressed interest and experience working with this block. I was told to bring the following:
  • Block
  • Heads
  • Crank
  • Rods
  • Cam
Since I dont have any large power goals for this motor I suspect the work should be pretty minimal to include cleaning, inspecting, measuring, bore/hone, and valve job. I think this would provide me with a good baseline to start the reassembly process at home. To me this sounds like a pretty standard request that any reputable machine shop to handle; however, I do understand and appreciate the hesitancy for some shop. Are there any particular questions I should be asking? Are there any special machining requests I should have them consider?
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Old 08-24-2020, 04:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

The most important questions you should be asking are related to how many flatheads have they recently built and do they have the necessary experience, tooling and skills to do the work? The area where many screw up is in the valve train - there are specific valve-guide pilots that are unique to flatheads, there is knowledge related to valve angles and value heights, machining procedures, etc.. All engines are NOT the same.

Procedures & Parts - Cost Estimates: There can be quite a bit of labor involved in building one of these engines correctly - so it is very important to get a quote for what they plan to do, the costs, the parts they're going to use, etc.. If you don't do this, you may be surprised on what the actual budget needs to be.

Assembly and Warranty: If they assemble it - does it include a warranty . . . if you assemble it . . . I'm sure there will be none. Think about this when you're trying to save money (if that is a goal). Since you mentioned that this is your first experience with a machine shop, I am assuming that you haven't built engines before. I'm not trying to predict doom and gloom, but if you have no experience, don't have the necessary micrometers (and skills to use them), don't have the rest of the assembly tools that we all use, then are you asking too much of yourself from the get go? Consider working with a 'mentor' who has all of these things - to help you with your first build. . Maybe you can arrange to be a 'fly on the wall' if they are putting it together. Being a 100% newbie (my assumption) - without tools and experience is asking for a bad experience (which none of us want you to have).

Balancing: I would make sure that the engine is balanced - is always a good idea for any engine build.

Parts to Bring: They should also be asking for the flywheel, the clutch, the timing cover, the oil-pan, etc.. There are things like camshaft end-play that need to be checked . . . which requires cam/crank gears and a timing cover . . . and the associated gaskets.

Also, do they (or you) have experience in selecting the various parts (and suppliers) they're going to put into it? There are quite a few suppliers for parts - some good, some okay and some poor . . . what parts are they using and who are they buying them from?

Make sure you buy some good Flathead Books - there are a handful that every beginner should have. Learn everything you can to plan your build . . . ask all the questions on the front end of the project.

Good luck!
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Old 08-24-2020, 04:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

Speak with a previous flathead customer of that shop.
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Old 08-25-2020, 08:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

I do not see any way to do a bore/hone without pistons in hand?? Also, who is going to supply the valves for the valve job? Who is going to check the rods for alignment? How will the pins get fitted? Just to name a few things.
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Old 08-25-2020, 10:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

Checking for (and potentially repairing) CRACKS!

I had two shops just outright reject my block when they found cracks. One shop wanted to source and sell me a replacement block. The next shop just said it was no good.

The third shop said no problem, and it wasn't. Drill and pin, counterbore the valve pocket and put a seat insert in.

You also want to be sure they can do the valve job. A couple of shops said their machine that does head work couldn't handle the size of a whole block.

See if you can source your own parts. Typically a shop will buy them and mark them up for resale to you.

Last edited by Mike51Merc; 08-25-2020 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 08-25-2020, 11:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

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slowpoke - where are you taking the motor for the work? I ask because I am in N. Texas as well and am looking for a shop to work on one of my '34 motors.
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

From what I have read on here you need to make sure they know about leaving a radius when grinding the crank. I guess grinding them square leaves a weak spot where they can break.
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Old 08-26-2020, 07:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

Are you a member of the early ford V8 club?
Echoing what B&S has contributed....
Between the EFV8 club members and here on the Ford Barn you should be able to find a member close enough to help mentor you through the process.
Teaming up with someone will give you the benefit of their experience and tool box.
With this you will be able to minimize shop labor and learn a ton as you build your flathead. They should have experience with machine shops to help guide you.
The questions already suggested to ask about experience are foundational to avoid mistakes.
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Old 08-26-2020, 08:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: Engine Shop Expectations (Flathead 8ba)

You'll get a lot more replies before this thread is done, but I'll add this much:

Mandatory machining operations for the Flathead!

1-Pressure test block
2-Drill lifter bores (for valve adjusting, if in the program)
3-Finish hone bores with a block plate (extremely important today)
4-Balance ass'y
5-Mill decks flat (up to .010" max)

Optional machining procedures (recommended)

1-Drill/tap the extra intake manifold bolt holes
2-Install bronze-lined guides (w/stainless valves)
3-Install Viton valve stem seals (intakes only)
4-Oil filter modification (highly recommended)
5-Drill & pin heads to block
6-Install valve seats (if needed)
7-Hone lifter bores and valve guide bores
8-Pin cam gear to cam (for cam degreeing)

The final "tip" I would put here, make absolutely certain to run the finished build BEFORE it gets installed! One new rule recently set in place here is we will no longer do any complete assemblies without running the build in, either on a stand or on the dyno!

On a side note, change the oil pan dipstick adapter gasket, most times they are destroyed by age and hot-tanking the pans!

Thanks, Gary in N.Y.

P.S. If they can't block plate-hone it I would find another shop!
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