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1953 ford flathead questions

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by gavin, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. gavin
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 94

    gavin
    Member
    from Sonoma

    I am looking at doing some trading with a friend. Its a 53 ford crestline hardtop. Cool car, needs work, has original flathead and 3 speed. It's a good runner with low miles. I am not a motor expert, and my flathead knowledge is even worse. As for the anyone that is going to tell me to put a 350 in it, well go fuck yourself. I really have 3 questions
    1.) What would you flathead experts do to get the cleanest best running reliable engine you can get. I know waterpumps are an issue and I understand that speedway makes good replacements. I know there are MSD ignitions units for these as well, and I do see a lot of questions regarding points and problems with them.
    2.) It's got a good 3 speed trans in it, which I will probably keep but I would like to know what options I have for going to an auto trans.
    3.) I want to keep it pretty stock, but I am considering airbagging it. There are airride kits for the older fords I know that could work with some modifications, but I am just wondering if anyone here has some good advice on air bagging this car. I know there are easy solutions to lowering it, and I would keep it at that but I have this crazy driveway that will destroy the car getting it to my garage.
    Any advice is much appriciated!
     
  2. VonXulu
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 371

    VonXulu
    Member
    from Ventura Ca

    Fix your driveway, you seem to already know everything else.
     
  3. flathead okie
    Joined: May 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,480

    flathead okie
    Member

    Speedway sells a automatic trans kit if you go that way. That's all I got, sorry
     
  4. Cadien
    Joined: Mar 10, 2007
    Posts: 70

    Cadien
    Member

    I run a 53 Mercury flathead. It's been a fun and reliable motor. It's bored .030, and runs 2 94s, but is otherwise stock. I did switch to a Mallory distributor and alternator when I switched to 12 volt. I got tired of messing with points. The Mallory was one of the best moves I ever made.
    The trans is pretty strong and really easy to work on. I rebuilt mine once and it was no problem. Speedway sells quite a few adaptors for flathead and late model trannys. If I keep the Flatty in my 51 Tudor much longer, I plan on making the switch to a 5 speed trans. (3 gears and a heavy car ain't much fun)
    If looks aren't a problem, an electric fan will help with the cooling. I'm glad I switched.
    Have fun with it.
     

  5. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,840

    40Standard
    Member
    from Indy

    you don't want to hear about putting a 350 in it ,but you want to airbag it? wtf??
     
  6. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,517

    phat rat
    Member

    The trans is pretty strong and really easy to work on. I rebuilt mine once and it was no problem


    LOL When did the 52-56 Ford trans become strong? You should have been around back in the very early 60's when I blew 9 of them in one summer! And that was behind a basically stock flattie! Strong NEVER
     
  7. gavin
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 94

    gavin
    Member
    from Sonoma

    I really like the fix the driveway response. I would love to but I live in a town that cares more about tree roots than good design. So when I built my house the city would only give me a building permit if I didn't disturb any roots! It's basically a giant speed bump and anything lowered is going to get destroyed.
    As for the keep it stock but put airbags wtf response in it, well I think I explained that above. I just didn't want to get into a why I should ditch the flathead and 350 it. I guess I should have said I want to keep it stock except for the suspension, but I wanted to narrow down my responses from people that really know flathead and have good advice for me. I have done 350's and they are great but I am really into trying to get the most reliable flathead combo I can.
     
  8. Ozzie
    Joined: Sep 1, 2006
    Posts: 458

    Ozzie
    Member

    Gavin, I too am slowly but surely getting my 50 with a flat 8 more and more reliable, installing a full Ron Francis kit with new headlight switch and ignition, and on the flathead, installing an alternator and an air compressor with a dual mount bracket from vintage air. I switched to 12 volt generator after my 6 volt spit it's guts, and now want to have a more reliable one wire alternator and electrical system, I'm getting the pumps from speedway, but they seem to be out of one side at the moment. I'll be replacing those, the motormounts and the exhaust manifolds in about 2 weeks and at the same time replace the bottom seals for the pan and flywheel. Really check the engine out. I was told by the guy I bought the car from that the engine was rebuilt about a year ago, which has got to be a lie, since the sludge in the oilpan was absolutely breath taking, I fished out exactly 2 pounds of sludge, pure oil sludge from the inside of that pan, and with that and new Oil I hear more ticking now, so a rebuild might be in it's near future. I'm still glad I got it, and am slowly making it a good reliable driving car. Enjoy yours, sounds like fun.
     
  9. Flatattack
    Joined: May 25, 2005
    Posts: 317

    Flatattack
    Member

    Hi Gav

    I've got a 53 Crestline Victoria that I have been building for the past 10 years and it's nearly finished. I run a efi conversion on my flattie with a 4 speed overdrive auto conversion out of a Toyota Cressida. Flatattack Racing Products from Australia manufacture all these parts and more and if you type in flatattack in google you'll find their website with links to their distributer in America. (I'm not part of them, I just like the name).

    I also have airbagged the car and I'll be airconditioning it - it's a family car so comfort and reliability are paramount! Good luck with yours and let me know if you need additional info or photo's. Cheers, Bruce
     

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  10. chuckspeed
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 1,643

    chuckspeed
    Member

    It's hard to tell exactly what you're asking with regard to the motor; a '53 can be dead reliable with a bone-stock motor. Remember, Henry's progeny built millions of these - and they ran for freakin' ever on the stock stuff.

    If you want it to run better...there are perhaps a hundred+ threads here on what you can do from mild to wild to amp up the performance of the motor. Yours is 112 HP stock; 180 HP is easily attainable normally aspirated, and 300 HP is possbile with forced induction.

    If it were my motor - I'd put one of GMC Bubba's chevy distributors on it (I think they're $150), mill the stock cylinder heads, add a dual 2bbl manifold and headers with dual exhaust - and call it a day.

    As for 'other' things, like waterpumps...yeah. you've got a 54 year old car; stuff is aged and will need replacing.
     
  11. rodrelic
    Joined: Mar 7, 2002
    Posts: 466

    rodrelic
    Member

    "good runner with low miles" translates to "why screw with it ?". Yes, the pumps will start to leak sooner or later. You could purchase the "improvements" and keep them in the box until it need's wrenching. Pumps, electronic fuel pumps, 12 v conversion, electric fuel pump, pick up another 94 carb to overhaul and have for swap someday. For the wealthy Fenton headers are a great way to start duals construction. But my vote is if it ain't broke don't fix it.
     
  12. HotRodFreak
    Joined: Mar 25, 2005
    Posts: 1,935

    HotRodFreak
    Member

    RODRELIC said what I would have.
    No need to change anything until the need arises.
     
  13. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,213

    mtkawboy
    Member

    Look at the tech article on engines in webrodder.com. They have a late flathead build on there
     
  14. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,213

    mtkawboy
    Member

  15. gavin
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 94

    gavin
    Member
    from Sonoma

    Some great responses, thanks! The more I read the more I think the 3 speed tranny is going to be a problem later. I know many go with the T-5 swap, which I am familar with, but I know I can go with a Ford C4 as well for an automatic option. What are your opinions about this?
     
  16. tjm73
    Joined: Feb 17, 2006
    Posts: 3,390

    tjm73
    Member

    C4 is a really good tranny, but I'd go with an AOD. Basically the same as a C4 plus an overdrive built in. Some stock AOD's are better than others. Find the newest AOD out of a V8 Mustang you can and put a shift kit in it with proper torque converter. That's what I'd do.

    Some people say the AOD is a pile of junk. That's false. With a shift kit, a hardened intermediate input shaft and a few other little parts it is far stronger than any stock C4 ever thought about being. In fact an AOD can be made tougher than even a TH400 for not much money. But I digress.... The AOD is plenty strong enough for pretty much any street going flathead.

    Speedway sells a basic automatic conversion kit and it should work with an AOD just fine.
     
  17. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,905

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

     
  18. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,213

    mtkawboy
    Member

    People will walk right by any swap engine you put in it to look at a flathead. Yes the others are better, cheaper to build & more dependable but its just not the same
     
  19. seymour
    Joined: Jan 22, 2004
    Posts: 5,125

    seymour
    Member
    from PNW

    put a Cad with a Hydro in it.
     
  20. seymour
    Joined: Jan 22, 2004
    Posts: 5,125

    seymour
    Member
    from PNW

    you're fucking kidding, right?? :rolleyes:
     
  21. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    The only thing that NEEDS changing is the distributor. Points aren't the issue, bad advance curve is...
    Condition of overall car wiring and electric components is very important, and put in a good filter in fuel sustem since that contains 54 years worth of crud.
    Early two-piece Mallory, MSD, converted Chevy are all viable choices. Chevy HEI would be excellent, aside from being so damn big a lump. Go read all of OlRon's posts on ignition and advance on Fordbarn.
     
  22. JDW
    Joined: Jan 25, 2007
    Posts: 29

    JDW
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    As the long time past owner of 2 '53 Fords, can attest to at least 2 major driveline weaknesses - The transmission WILL break, and with very little help, so will the differential if you horse it at all. You will need some sort of traction bars - the rear springs tend to "wind up"

    Engine wise - any distributor that has a mechanical advance will be a great help as the existing is ported vacuum only. A PCV will lessen the amount of sludge build up. A full flow filter will also help but is a PITA to plumb as you need to make some pump mods.

    Electrically - convert the generator system to an alternator and everything else to12 volts, but consider leaving the 6V starter. These engines sometime start hard and the 6V strter will really spin it up nicely and the extra voltage wont hurt the big windings a bit. If your gas gauge always shows way full, you will need a constant voltage regulator - it looks like a horn relay way up under the dash.

    Dual exhausts can be made of the left side 6cyl muffler and tailpipe along with the current right V8. The old and easy way for duals was a 'J' pipe on the left side with the crossover pipe removed and the front of the right manifold capped. Headers are best though, but not cheap nor easily available.

    This engine is capable of taking a lot of abuse - 100K or more.
     
  23. JDW
    Joined: Jan 25, 2007
    Posts: 29

    JDW
    Member
    from Upstate NY

    The AOD would be the first choice but may be too large as far as bell housing to firewall interferance and possibly overall diameter. It is a direct descendant of the C4, but larger in every dimension just to make it a PITA to install. Not sure if an adapter for an AOD to flathead is as readily available either -- Speedway has C4 to flathead:

    http://www.speedwaymotors.com/p/195...ssion-Kit.html?itemNo=C4+TRANSMISSION+ADAPTER
     
  24. gavin
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 94

    gavin
    Member
    from Sonoma

    After much reading and asking questions, it seems that most people seem happiest with a T-5 setup behind one of these flatheads. Really because of the overdrive. I have found several tech articles on doing this and it doesn't seeem that bad. I probably will be visiting local junkyards are mauling some mid 80's S-10 looking for one but I thought I should ask here if anyone has one for sale. Or if anyone has a line on a web site that sells these tranny's rebuilt. Thanks.
     

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