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401 Nailhead Recommendations...Help!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Stutz, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. Putting a 401 Nailhead in my 54 Buick, and I am building up the engine. Looking for some advice that yall might have as far as what parts you recommend over this and that, so that my first engine build up isnt to frustrating. Things like what plugs, wires, coil, exhaust manifolds, pulleys, fuel pump, ect. Im gunna go with offy dual quad high rise, edelbrock performers (unless someone has a better carb recommendation), th400. everything else is kinda up in the air. Any help is muy appreciated. Hap New Year.

    Attached Files:

  2. Oh forgot to add that the engine machine work has all been done. 0.030 over
  3. Brad54
    Joined: Apr 15, 2004
    Posts: 6,014

    from Atl Ga

    The 401 is a touch wider than the 322 in your car...that could become an issue with the steering box. Look at the passenger side exhaust manifold: it's got a bend in it to clear the steering box. There aren't any 401 exhaust manifolds that have that dip in them. A set of 364 manifolds might work, I don't know. They're shaped kind of funky, and had to clear a similar steering box. Your 264/322 manifolds won't match up to 401 heads.
    Otherwise, think about of the guys on here sells flanges.

    Pertronix makes a distributor kit, and MSD sells a new distributor.

    I can't tell from the pics--what model is your car? What trans was in it?

    What trans are you going to put behind the 401? And most importantly, what are your plans for the rear suspension?

  4. 39 Ford
    Joined: Jan 22, 2006
    Posts: 1,558

    39 Ford

    The offie manifolds have a reputation of being restrictive, may work better with porting do some research on google etc. Sanderson makes block hugger street rod exh. eyeball a set and see if they would work.

  5. back when i was running my 60, i had an msd coil and a pertronix pointless ignition module thing. i ran stock carb, stock everything else. the car ran like a dream, as a matter of fact, it ran so well, when i sold the car, i yanked the motor and its still stashed away waiting for some rails

    one thing to be *very* careful with is to make sure you have that pesky balancer to spec- otherwise youll fuck your crank - and worst of all the close to impossible to find timing chain cover.
  6. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,555

    from Garner, NC

  7. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,555

    from Garner, NC

    They're being repopped...
  8. Ole don
    Joined: Dec 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,915

    Ole don

    That sounds like a wonderful combination, to bad you cant find a 700R4 to fit. Those overdrives a nice on the highway.
  9. DualQuad55
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,377

    from Epsom, NH

    I did a similar swap into my '55 Special about 12 years ago.
    It sounds like the motor is fairly stock other than the overbore and 2x4 intake. I have run stock spec Delco plugs, Autolite plugs and now I am running Bosch platinum (per a recommendation) All plugs have worked well so far. I can get you the p/n for the bosch if interested. They were only about $3-4 each-not too bad.
    Any decent 7mm or 8mm plug wire will be fine the key to the wires is not to run them touching each other parallel-keep seperated with proper clips etc, and not to leave them dangling on the Valve covers or exhaust manifolds. ( Exh. Man will burn them, valve covers, intakes etc... usually result in the wires arcing through in short time).
    A good coil such as Accel, Mallory, MSD, Pertronix etc.. should do fine.
    I run the pertronix conversion right now with no troubles-4 yrs now. Although good quality, reasonably maintained points will give good performance also.
    You will need to make/modify the motor mounts as the orig 322-264 only had a small three bolt pattern and the 401 uses a larger 4 bolt pattern. I made a plate that fit the 401 pattern and welded it to the original steel mount for the 322. When I pull the motor to refresh I will probably do a different set up, such as a Hurst conversion mount on the engine, then do something for frame mounts-just a little cleaner looking.
    You will also need to use the alternator/generator bracket off the 401 as the 322-264 used a bracket attached to the right side motor mount.
    I used the stock 401 single groove pulleys on my set up.
    I used an aftermarket electric pump, but you should be able to get a stock pump in there-TA Performance has them.
    The exhaust manifolds may be a little tough to find, but the motor is only about 3/4-1" wider than the 322-264. This means less than 1/2" each side. The 322 exh pors are round, the 401 are rectangular.
    You could get the orig manifolds 'close' by grinding them some to help match the ports but they would still be restrictive-although they will bolt up to the heads with no modifications.
    Ultimately a set of manifolds off of a 65-66 Skylark GranSport should fit well with rear dump exh ports but they bring fairly decent money when the pop up on Ebay.
    The street rod headers may work, but make sure they will clear the steering box it self. Most block hugger type will not clear the factory box. I think the headers for the GranSports etc... may fit better. (I built my own set for my car) TA Performance has headers for the Nailheads in the big cars, they may know if they will or will not fit the 54-56 body style.
    The offy manifold is not the best performer, some say it actually produces less power than a factory single 4bbl. However, some porting etc can make it a reasonably decent set up. I did infact run one and the ET was worse with the Offy intake and a set of factory 2x4 off a SuperWildcat setup than with a stock 4bbl intake and an Edelbrock 1406 600cfm carb.
    If you have not already purchased the intake, you may want to look into the Eelco intake. It is based off the Edelbrock B262 which was the best performing intake for the Nailhead. Although I have heard it is tough to get the parts from Eelco, companies such as TA offer it and I think I would go through them rather than direct. TA has a very good reputation where Eelco doesn't-if TA says they have the intakes instock and will ship it-they will. I have heard otherwise of Eelco. Using some 600-650cfm Edelbrock carbs should work well in you application.
    Lastly is swapping the closed drive rear to an opendrive (regular driveshaft) set up. I used an Olds/Pont rear with stock coilsprings and adjustable ladder bars but have seen some very nice setups done using the stock rear and modifying it to open drive, also 9" Ford and 4 bar, and 61-up Buick fullsize rear and trailing bars.-Go to and check under the 'Nailhead' forum-search for open drive or dynaflo to th/sp400 conversions. At somepoint a couple years back there were quite a few pics of the different setups different guys used.
  10. The Bomber
    Joined: Dec 10, 2005
    Posts: 528

    The Bomber
    from mass.

    Plugs? As Far As Plugs Go,a Friend Of Mine Ran Nailheads For Years And Said That The Motor Always Performed The
    Best With Ngk Spark Plugs. I Bought One Of His Motors And
    Ran Those And Champions, But Can't Remember Which Ones I Liked. He Ran The Motor In His T Bucket On The Street And Strip And Swore By Ngk Plugs.hope This Helps.......dennis
  11. Thanks guys, and thanks joe, you don't even know how much that info is helping me. My main issue is just figurin where things went on the 401 since I got it through my brother straight from a machine shop, and what if any will just plug right in from the factory engine compartment set up to the new shiny 401.
  12. telriv
    Joined: Aug 24, 2005
    Posts: 67

    from Conn.

    When I installed a '59/401 in my '55 Special I used the '59 exhaust manifolds. No clearance problems. Eventually I went with headers I made by using the '65-'66 GS headers & adding about 6" to their length. You will also need a rear sump oil pan & matching oil pump pick-up. For the mounts I took the rubber off the 401 mounts & bolted the 322 mounts to those. I had to spread them out to fit over the '55 studs about 3/8ths. inch both sides. I was already standard shift so all I had to do was get the proper bellhousing & assorted pieces. I modified my shifter linkage from the 5 bolt top cover trans. I used a 6 bolt top cover trans. from a '56 Special. Then I got a floor shifter, Ansen I think it was, very rare today. I was starting to mod up adapting a TH400 to the stock torque tube, then somebody came & made an offer I couldn't refuse, so it went away. The Bosch stocking part number is 4236 & I run a .045" gap. I also use Taylor wires that I make-up myself. The stock '59 fuel pump fit with no problems as well as the generator mounting for the 401 & used the '59 generator. When I installed a dual quad set-up I got from a '65 Riv. I used the '59/401 carb. to keep the gas pedal start feature. Used to blow minds stating it came stock that way with 2x4's & all. A word of caution, I, as well as many others can testify to this, make sure the balancer is tightened a MINIMUM of 200-225 foot lbs. DO NOT!!!! rely on the machine shop to have done this, as most don't have a clue. Somethings that's very easy to do now. Later it may cost you a crank as well as a balancer.
    When & if the time comes I have a mini-starter that I've designed & "Adjustable Roller Tip Rockers Arms" that I was in the design process of over 6 years that I now sell if your looking to add 40-50HP as well as being "Adjustable".

  13. motorpsycho
    Joined: Feb 3, 2006
    Posts: 45

    from Finland

    Yep, i agreed that.I have 401 and th-700r4 with 4.10 gears in my ´30 roadster Hudson.About 1900rpm @ 60mph :cool:
  14. Big Red
    Joined: Nov 21, 2007
    Posts: 18

    Big Red
    from wichita ks

    I have a 322 fully machined 30over allnew parts bearings etc . I just got thru putting 401 in my 54 century 65 riv rearend , 65 riv 400trans with 350 torque converter

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