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Buick 215 v-8

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Danny G, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    GM had some casting issues and a problem with cast in place bore liners being out of position. GM was using a semi-permanant mold casting process. Although that was potentially better, and cheaper to do in volume, Rover fixed the issue by reverting to conventional sand casting. That added a few pounds to the weight of the block. Over time Rover continued to periodically have problems due to incorrect press fit of the sleeves.

    From what I have seen, most of the overheating issue was due to undersized radiators. Aluminum engines reject more heat into the cooling system than iron ones. GM made the same mistake a few years later putting undersized radiators on Vegas.

    Without proper corrosion inhibitors anti-freeze actually promotes corrosion. When the engine was introduced not all anti-freeze had corrosion inhibitors that protected aluminum. The resulting corrosion promoted overheating and caused other problems.




    Possibly some race blocks were made with aluminum bores, but I have never heard of any. Both GM and Rover production blocks ALL had cylinder liners. GM used iron liners that were cast in place and had grooves on the exterior to help retain them. Rovers blocks had press fit sleeves rather than cast in place.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  2. Chuck Carman
    Joined: Oct 19, 2009
    Posts: 238

    Chuck Carman
    Member

    Pop Kennedy and Reynolds Buick ran a '61 Invicta in '61 and '62 called "Old Nailhead."
     
  3. R Pope
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 3,309

    R Pope
    Member

    We had a '56 Buick Special 2 door HT in 1962, and it was always a nail valve to us! Well, that and a "Bubbler", after the unique exhaust sound, like a boat with the exhaust under the water.
     
  4. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,173

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL


    Yes!!!.........another old timer who remembers they were nail valves before they became nail heads :D

    On the question of the the 2 speed automatics......worked around a Chev/Buick store in the '60's and do not recall any problem with those in their original applications. I can imagine they may not have a great deal of high performance potential.....but that doesn't make them a bad design.


    Ray
     
  5. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,180

    d2_willys
    Member
    from Kansas

    I agree with the 2 speed Dual Path drive. It was meant for the smallish series cars and not performance minded. However the transmission was more reliable than the F-85 Roto 5 slimjim. It had an unusual gearing method in that the planetary was internal to the torque converter. And that planetary was used to provide Lo range reduction, along with providing a reverse gear, all out of the same planetary. This is why the box itself was so short in length.

    As far as the 215 being boltable to VW transaxles, well I know it is possible if you use Kennedy Engineering adapters. They made both the 198 v6 and 215 adapter plates.
     
  6. jimbousman
    Joined: Jul 24, 2008
    Posts: 547

    jimbousman
    Member

    Currently in my shop reringing the pistons for the 215 hanging off the engine stand in my garage. First off, yes it has iron sleeves, second as noted in Relic Stew's photo, the heads are parallel to the block. Only the valve covers are vertical like the older V8s. Other than looks, there is nothing interchangeable with the older Buicks. While there are some similarities with the later 300/340 Buick, only the heads and distributor are directly interchangeable. Using a set of aluminum 300 heads on mine.

    Rover made some improvements but it amazing how little the engine changed for the nearly 40 years they used the motor. Yes, the little V8 was a dog in the Land Rover but considering it was pushing 4500 LB net (6500 LB Gross), it's no wonder. Interesting in that the Rover V8 is the popular engine of choice for hot rods in Europe.

    Mines going in my '31 "A" coupe with a S10 T5 and 373 S10 Rear end. I scared up a Kenny Bell cam and plan to run the stock Q4 for now. Scarfed up a set of cast Rover headers and Rover alloy valve covers.

    I know it won't blow the doors off any Vettes but at 200 ish HP it should push the 2300 LB coupe down the road at a respectful speed. Will post the progress.
     
  7. cwheelin
    Joined: Jun 6, 2011
    Posts: 15

    cwheelin
    Member

     
  8. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,803

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    We were calling Buick 322's, et al 'nailheads' in the 60s. It was explained to me at that time that the reason for this nickname was that, when you took off the valve covers, the vertical valves looked like a bunch of nails hammered into a piece of wood.

    The little 215 motor has had a good history. All those 90s-era Land Rovers you still see on the street are running them. I would not mind dropping one of these into my DD Jeep.
     
  9. Dzus
    Joined: Apr 3, 2006
    Posts: 321

    Dzus
    Member

    Take a good look at the rocker arms on a real nailhead:
    [​IMG]
    The pushrods go underneath to push on the outer end of the rocker. The valves are actuated by the end facing to the inside. That's bass ackwards from most wedge V8's, including later buick 215-300-340-350 and the BB replacement 400-430-455.

    Take a look at the rockers on the experimental '51 Buick XP-300:
    [​IMG]
    Intakes are the same.
    Have you figured out the exhaust rockers?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  10. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,614

    Ebbsspeed
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Only three corrections required here. They were alloy bores (pretty much any metal is an alloy), but NOT aluminum alloy. They were iron, cast in place when the block was poured. The very early ones had some issues with the liners not bonding well, but that was resolved early on.
    The Buick has five head bolts around the perimeter of the chamber, and the Olds has six. The Buick blocks have the boss cast in for the 6th bolt, but it is not tapped.

    Moto Guzzi, among others, was one of the first users of the aluminum alloy cylinder bore, which was actually an aluminum cylinder with a plated bore. The alloy that the bore was plated with was called nikasil, which I believe was a mix of nickel and silicon carbide. The process was developed by Mahle in the middle 60's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  11. Dzus
    Joined: Apr 3, 2006
    Posts: 321

    Dzus
    Member

    This was another case of GM putting a technology into production prematurely. In an attempt to reduce costs the GM 215's were precision diecast around the sleeves. But the process had not been perfected, so the scrappage rate was high.
    British Leyland back-rev'd to casting the blocks, boring the blocks and pressing the sleeves in place.
    And America early 60's wasn't ready for having to maintain the correct coolant/antifreeze for corrosion control in aluminum engines.
     
  12. dawford
    Joined: Apr 25, 2010
    Posts: 498

    dawford
    Member

    Dzus,

    I missed my calling, when I saw the picture of the 215 I thought that it was almost a Hemi and that if they could have run push rods to the other side of the combustion chamber that it would be hemi.

    I then thought that they could run push rods through a hole between the cylinders.

    The cylinder banks being offset would mean that one bank of push rods would run in front of the cylinders and the other behind the cylinders.

    This could be accomplished with a minimum of lengthening of the overall engine block.

    The other advantage might be in the area of main bearing configuration.

    Then I moved down and saw the XP-300 and saw that Buick engineers stole my Idea 61 years earlier than I thought of it.:D:D:D

    I looked up the 1951 Buick XP-300 engine specs and saw that they got 335 hp @ RPM out of a supercharged 215 V8.

    This makes me admire the Buick engineers and despise the management.

    If they had put that engine in a production vehicle we would be 30 years ahead in automotive design today.

    That design would have forced all of the other manufactures to get off their duffs and do something different.

    That engine if taken out to 270 cu/in could have won at the 1951 Indianapolis 500.

    Anyway thanks for introducing me to the XP-300.

    Dick :) :) :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  13. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    Your post pretty much re-caps what I posted earlier. However, the GM block castings were a combination of semi-permanant mold and sand, not die castings. The technology to do what they were doing existed, GM just cut too many corners and was trying to do it faster than they should have.

    I like GM. My shop did a lot of work for them, and I have met and worked with some exceptionally nice, knowledgeable, talented GM people. But, those are feelings, not facts. As far back as the copper cooled Chevrolets of the '20s, in spite of other notable successes, Gm has had a full quote of major problems over the years. For example; the Corvair suspension, 215 V-8 blocks, Vega engines, 350 diesel engine, record recall setting X-cars, 4.1L Cadillac engines, 4-6-8 engines, vehicles with 350 transmissions that should have gotten 400s, Fieros that routinely cought fire and burned, etc, etc. Contrary to what some choose to believe, none of those disasters was the result of GM being bitten as a result of pushing the envelope of technology. In every one of those cases it was mis-application and/or excessive cost reduction of proven existing technologies that got them in trouble.
     
  14. Dzus
    Joined: Apr 3, 2006
    Posts: 321

    Dzus
    Member

    So it was actually a hybrid. Did Reynolds develop this process?

    Thanks Al for the clarification.
    I stand corrected.
     
  15. Zandoz
    Joined: Jan 23, 2012
    Posts: 307

    Zandoz
    Member

    I had a 63 Skylark with a 215 and 2-speed AT for about 5 years, back in the early 70s. It was driven hard before I got it, and I was not easy on it. The only particular problem I remember with the engine or trans was that it seemed to eat starter motors. It was still going strong when I traded it. I do not recall it being referred to as a nail head.
     
  16. Arominus
    Joined: Feb 2, 2011
    Posts: 394

    Arominus
    Member

    My OT DD has nikasil cylinder walls, its not uncommon for the 944 motors to go well over 200,000 miles. Good stuff!
     
  17. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    I know GM cast the blocks in-house. Where the process came from; sorry, if I ever knew, I don't remember now. An internet search brings up information about the process. I remember GM was using some kind of ceramic for the molds.
     
  18. jan bogert
    Joined: Jul 11, 2011
    Posts: 655

    jan bogert
    Member

    i know some motor heads that are in thier 70's and they know what motors are called nailheads.:)
     
  19. Greg55_99
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 39

    Greg55_99

    That there is a Rover 4.0 block with a cut down Buick 350 crank sitting in her. That's 3.85" stroke. I have no idea how to make it work, but, I know it rotates freely!

    Greg
     

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  20. Terry Buffum
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 292

    Terry Buffum
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Oregon

    We ran an Olds "215" with Buick 300 crank, Chevy "pink" rods, Arias pistons, four Weber 48IDA carbs, Crane cam in Lotus 19. 350 HP, 270 cubic inches. Only problem in several years of vintage sports car racing was broken rocker shafts, most likely from too much valve spring pressure.
     
  21. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,803

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    I would love to put one of these motors or, maybe, a GM odd-fire V6 in my DD Jeep. It is already purely mechanical (carb and points). Which is, IMHO, what you want in a vehicle that travels to weird places and could break down (and need to be fixed) with what you have on hand.
     
  22. masterdeluxe
    Joined: Oct 29, 2010
    Posts: 66

    masterdeluxe
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    Wow. So much info...

    General Motors had casting problems due to porosity in the block casting at 95% or something close to that in the hardening stage. Or to say it simpler, air bubbles caught in the casting. Leaking oil slowly right through the block itself. Not to mention it was a niche market in its time,as in a Tempest, where by 1963 they had dropped the 215 for the cheaper & more powerful 389, which the 194 was created from, and also ran off the same line, courtesy of Mr. John Z. Delorean, who was head of advanced engineering for Pontiac, and spent all his allocated monies for the F-85 Pontiac to have a flexible intermediate drive-shaft which had a 3 degree bend to flatten the floorboard and allow a rear 2 speed trans-axle borrowed and adapted from the Chevrolet Corvair.The torque converter is mounted out in the open at the rear where in a corvair there would be an engine, whereas here a little more or less than a half inch wire (depending on whether or not you elected for the automatic or preferred to shift yourself, in that case, you got an extra gear and a shorter shaft, since the shaft mated to a hub attached to the drive end but non torque multiplied end of the 215)was fitted through the front facing end of the transmission to the business end of the torque converter. It was also air cooled, and downshifted from a series of long stamped metal rods actuated by the gas petal through the floor. A LOT of money went into this, so for its unique and economical engine,he loped off the left side of a 389, creating a slant 4, with 194 cu in. weighing in at over 500 Lbs, and a hell of a miss with incorrect throws. A distributor cap from one will better explain what happened if one cylinder didn't fire.Same as a 389 minus 4 brass nipples for the cylinder which was next to fire on a 389. Also, in all fairness to Mr. Delorean, the drive-shaft was referred to as the 3 degree wide track, and not a 'rope drive'.

    Whatever. The man went on to build the Overhead cam Cog belt Sprint versions of the 230 & 250 and then left GM to found his own car company.Sometimes you have to sacrifice your freedom for your dreams. The big 3 tried to send Tucker to prison because he was years ahead of them too.

    Buick, With the air cooled Dual Path Twin Turbine, which was also a 2 speed, and had a 60/40 split lockup drain type thing like the tempest, which was also advertised as a 2 speed automatic (Tempest torque, I believe) but names and lingo change after times go by - and we forget things for 20 so years. For reliability in automatics this was the most (Buick) as compared to the other offering, the Roto Hydramatic 5, which was a 3 speed with an internal fluid coupling, which made for a long 1st gear as it was simultaneously draining the coupling and filling the servos which activated the bands to cause gear #2 to initiate, then refilling the coupling before the second band and planetary gear-set, only to empty it down the road. (the mechanics of the era understood this as well as they understood the turbocharged 1bbl version and its compressor side of the turbo pressurized "rocket fluid" alcohol injection, to cool the intake charge, for which the engineers hoped to prevent detonation in their 11:0-1 compression engine that made up for spool up or lag time, and 3 BOV's to prevent any higher than 5-6 PSI of boost).

    The Roto 5 should also be noted as having the publicly deemed dangerous gearshift pattern of PNDS1R instead of still today's PRND21. Also the S stood for "Super" and not "second" gear. Like the same egghead at Indian Motorcycle during WWII that decided to mount the gas & brake lever on the left side of the handlebar, so it would create 'ease of access' to the shotgun in the front wheel holster. Was this meant for the rider in the sidecar?

    By 1964's model year Ford had been testing the mustang, and Chrysler had imitated GM with an Aluminum Block Iron head Inline Six 225, and even after an oil crisis which started the whole F-85 and Ford's Falcon and Chrysler's Ummmm, yeap. Gm sold the Buick tooling to Rover Ltd., which it had in the P6 Land Rover, and the 3500 Daimler in a few more years. Plus Morgan, MG, MGB, and some other make that alludes me at the moment. But by the late 70's they had finally found the culprit behind the iron liners bowing in the middle. The undrilled webbing for Buick's 5th bolt (Rover dropped to a 4 bolt perimeter head bolt pattern in all the madhouse restructuring during the British economic collapse of the 1970's, but left the webbing in place undrilled for some time before opening the motors bore up with the rover 3.9. 4.0 4.2 & other non Ford/Jaguar displacements were subject to liner slip, destroying both the block & head, and let me reiterate, this wasn't a problem with the 3.9, because it was still based on the Buick design, which had no webbing cast into its blocks for the sixth head bolt, brought to you by Oldsmobile.So the top 5th webbing was warping & the 6th Oldsmobile bolt had no webbing and undrilled 6th hole in a Buick block, Just 4.0 & beyond) was causing warpage in the shape of an egg in the steel liners. Rover also outfit the 215 with cast aluminum valve covers and twin SU carburetors before going with sequential fuel injection.

    That sums it up pretty much I think.
     
  23. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    masterdeluxe,
    I would add:
    - Another issue GM had with the block castings was holding the cylinder liners in place while the block was cast around them. They are often out of position, in some cases enough to require scrapping the block.

    - As I remember, 215 Tempests had the Buick version of the engine, not the Olds.

    - Rover cured the casting issues by going from GM's semi-permanent mold casting with cast in liners to a sand cast block with conventional press fit liners. Thgat added a few pounds to the engine's weight.

    - Over time Rover had problems with installing the cylinder liners too loose and too tight. Not surprising, both led to problems. When they increased the bore size is when trouble really started. To keep the bores from being siamesed the thickness of aluminum supporting the cylinder liners ended up being marginal. Then, they installed the liners with a LOT of press. That caused cracking of the block behind the liners. Of course things go downhill from there. The plant was actually measuring every block to determine how much thickness there was supporting the liners. Each block was graded and marked accordingly. Even the best ones were a bit thin. The fix is to install flanged liners that are glued/locktited in. That works out pretty well. There is also an aftermarket block that's made from a set of modified Rover cores. Those blocks are essentially bulletproof, but they are VERY expensive.
     
  24. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,803

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    Thank you! Some of what you said was somewhat familiar, plus a lot of new information, too.

    So, with all said and done, which makes/years of these engines are OK to use, and which ones should you stay away from? I'm hoping that the mid-90s Land Rovers (Discoveries, I think) are in the 'good; category as they should be easy to find nowadays.
     
  25. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,173

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    One correction to masterdeluxe.......in '63 Pontiac went to the 326" engine, not the 389".........

    One request......next time you want to share that much info, please consider breaking it up into more paragraphs..........to improve readability.

    Ray
     
  26. masterdeluxe
    Joined: Oct 29, 2010
    Posts: 66

    masterdeluxe
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    Ray

    Sorry, I hadn't taken into consideration the volume, it just poured out and by the time I was done... It was a 1000 word essay.

    I collect these motors. And anybody around them will figure out sooner or later that they'll have needed the gearbox with it. Suck as the automatics may, they're still cheaper than any european automatic.

    Bellhousings for T-10's & manual flywheels are like gold, boughten used off craigslist or eBay or new and/or adapters from D&D.
     
  27. masterdeluxe
    Joined: Oct 29, 2010
    Posts: 66

    masterdeluxe
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    Also

    To the fellow three posts back, I would stay with the 3.9. You can stroke a 215 with a 300 crank, but get ready for hardware mode. There's surface grinding for bearing fitment as well as adding 300 heads from a 1964, one year only, in 65 they went iron. The advantage is bigger ports. But you already knew that.

    That was supposed to be funny, that last line. All I hear is crickets. Damn these night rains. The bugs are coming back. I guess spring is really here.
     
  28. masterdeluxe
    Joined: Oct 29, 2010
    Posts: 66

    masterdeluxe
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    I did not know that. Thanks Al. I know the 4.4 had a horrible reputation for liner slip and overheating.

    Cool.
     
  29. 5window
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 8,370

    5window
    Member

    In '63, my dad bought an Olds Jetfire -215 with a turbo. Dad was an ex-fighter pilot and that thing would scoot! It was a rare production engine that yielded 1HP/cu in. Only thing was that Olds couldn't keep the turbo running well. He paid $300 more for it than a carbed engine when he bought it, got $300 less when he traded it in a year later. $600 was a lot of money in 1963.

    Wish I had a 215 now-they all seem to be in California.
     
  30. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,594

    zman
    Member
    from Garner, NC

    I see them occasionally here. Last one I had I sold to go in a MGB.
     

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