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Dumb Flathead question

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Dane Matsubara, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. My flathead has been sitting around for about a month now, and I'm starting to feel bad for it. Being my first flathead, let alone motor, rebuild I was wondering how much it would cost me to overhaul the motor. A little background info on it is that it doesn't turn and it had been sitting for a while with one of the heads slightly removed allowing dirt to seep into those cylinders. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  2. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,410

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    How long is a piece of string?

    Bottom line is "it depends" - How much do you do yourself, how friendly are you with your machine shop, how many of the parts do you currently have, what's your intended usage, etc.

    search 'flathead' and you'll have more reading material than you can possibly cover.
  3. briggs&strattonChev
    Joined: Feb 20, 2003
    Posts: 2,231


    well I guess the first step would be to get it unstuck and/or tear it down. Do you know if any valves are stuck?
  4. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    from Texas

    Pull the intake, if any, and see what things look like in the valve chamber.
    Pull the heads and see what good or nightmare shows.

    Think about, ask about it, show us pictures with details, and then decide if you want to build a whomping stomping 135HP flathead for about $2500 more or less.

  5. =StreamlineDeco=
    Joined: Oct 21, 2006
    Posts: 181


    ..and if you don't want it, I'll take it :D
    These old flatheads don't come with much horsepower anyhow. Plus, they're always overheating! *kidding*
  6. Thanks for the info so far guys, right now, all I want to do is get the thing running and into my Model A, nothing exotic or scary, just trying to get it running and useable.
  7. As suggested, pull the heads and intake. It's just possible you may be able to free it up and get her running for the price of some new gaskets. If your cylinder walls look clean, no rust and no grooves or scoring, then put some oil on top of the pistons and put a breaker bar on the crank pulley nut. You may be able to turn it over without the heads on.
  8. Stafford
    Joined: Feb 15, 2005
    Posts: 109

    from N. Georgia

    Has it stuck in the last month it's been sitting around or has it been locked up for a long time. After checking the other things mentioned take off the pan and look at the block where the pan bolts up, make sure it isn't split there from freezing. the pistons are what's stuck, you can take a bar and punch them out from the bottom, don't hit the rods just the piston tops, if it's bad enough you can takem out a piece at a time. As long as it's not froze and busted all to hell you can fix it.
  9. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Start removing things, carefully. Don't throw anything away. Post pics as you go.
    Best case, parts were good "when Parked", everything frees up, you can save everything metal except the rings, do a valve job, drive for a few hundred.
    Worst (except for severe crack, freeze damage), it was worn out when parked, everything needs machine work, new pistons and valves, etc.
    If engine turns out to be basically sound with useable bores, a conservative and frugal freshening will do nicely. If total with any engine, you'll be putting a machinest's kid through college.
    In all cases, be suspicious of the new everything/gotta have the Chinese crank and rods/ gotta go to $pecialist shop with blank check approach. There is a LOT of that thinking in the flathead world.
  10. Ask your grandpa. According to your profile, he is an old drag racer.
  11. Should I be worried about busting the heads off of the bolts?
  12. Fish Tank
    Joined: May 22, 2008
    Posts: 550

    Fish Tank

    Twice as long as from the middle to one end.
    Sorry Ernie, It made me think of a conversation with my Dad.

  13. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,157

    from MN

    What do you have 59ab? 8a? 24bolt - 21bolt?

    Keep the thing covered in marvel mystery oil (or whatever you prefer) for as long as you can. Soak the crap out of it. Lot's of good people on here that can give you better advice then me, but I would soak the crap out of it for weeks to free things up.

    Had mine totally redone by a guy I would recommend to anyone. Well worth it to me.
  14. My personal experience is that you'll be lookin' at about 3 grand or so on up. Don't worry too much about bustin' off the head bolts. Trust me, chances are really good you'll snap a few. You can spend more time to try to get 'em out by doin' the old Marvel Mystery Oil gig--tap 'em, try to move 'em, repeat, repeat, repeat, until they either come out or snap. ;-). Or, you can use my personal method of doin' your best and then just say "The Hell With It!" and just hope for the best and deal with 'em later if they snap.
  15. By the way its a 59AB, if you wanted to know.
  16. briggs&strattonChev
    Joined: Feb 20, 2003
    Posts: 2,231


    so then I believe it has studs with nuts, and not bolts (unless something has been changed, and I could be wrong, someone will know). I believe you said one head was off, one thing you can do quickly is clean off the top of a (or all) piston(s) and see if something is stamped into it like ".020" or something, then you will know if it has been bored out before. That doesnt mean that it wouldnt need to be bored again, but it will give you an idea of where you are currently sitting.
  17. Ok guys, thanks for the info, I'll get on that as soon as I finish my homework, yeah, high school kid.
  18. 4dFord/SC
    Joined: Sep 12, 2004
    Posts: 837


    And vapor locking;-)
  19. tikidiablo
    Joined: Nov 10, 2004
    Posts: 853

    from so cal

    Yeah, I'm sure if he could , he would. Think about it brains.
  20. Jalopy-Phil
    Joined: Nov 15, 2005
    Posts: 53


  21. Please accept my apologies and condolences about your grandfather.
  22. Hey nothing dumb about a H.S. Kid that wants to rebuild a flathead! Compared to modern Overhead motors Flatheads are a bit more complicated when it comes to the valve train. Get a good book on flathead motors and take your time. If your school has an auto shop hopefully it's run by an old fart that actually knows something about flat motors.
    If not be a pest at a place like Taylor Motors in Whittier or H&H in Glendale (La Crescenta actually) and learn all you can. Drop Sush's name if you have to, hey use what you have available.
    Good Luck, and I like your avatar
  23. Damn homework takes forever, and my neighbors have a tendency to complain about people who work on their cars late at night. By the way Hotrod1940, don't worry about it, its a simple mistake.
  24. 39cent
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,569

    from socal

    go easy on the rusted stuck parts work them slo after good soaking of whatever type of 'panther piss' you soak it with. look in google under 'rusted bolts' or somethin like that and you will learn of a 100 ways to 'unstuck' yer motor, you might just be able to save some parts. try to move bolts just a tiny bit in each direction, and keep workin em back an forth slowly, dont try to do it all at once, keep reversing to clean up the threds,as u go.
  25. Karpo
    Joined: Oct 9, 2007
    Posts: 103



    Call me offline and I will give you Dereks number. He is real good whith Flatheads

  26. Flatheadguy
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 2,037


    Lots of advice...almost all very good. Now, here I go with my two cents. By the way, 65 year old flathead rodder for about 50 years. Built (and blew up a lot of 'em).
    Pull the heads. ith the heads off, top off the cylinders with MArvel Mystery Oil. THen, with a propane torch, set 'em all on fire. Go back and forth keeping the flames going. Have a firned try turning the engine one way andf then the other. Not too much force, just short of "grunt". It MIGHT start turning. If it does, add more MM Oil and keep going until it turns over at least 18 times.....roughly. This has worked for me with about 15 flatheads oiver the years. It has failed a few times.
    And, IMPORTANT, do NOT allow the engine to tip over while trying any of the above. Especially not when flaming!!
    So, wadda all you H.A.M.B. types think? Will it work? It always has...almost.
  27. I pulled off one of the heads (the one that was already loose), and all the cylinders are covered in dirt and the valves are stuck. How bad is this?
  28. briggs&strattonChev
    Joined: Feb 20, 2003
    Posts: 2,231


    well it depends on your definition of bad. Its not gonna fire up with some gas and a battery I guess!

    ALL of the valves are stuck? you took the intake off and used a prybar (or the like) to try to open them? I dont mean to pry them open, just to see if they move. Its common in my experience for old flatty valves to be stuck after sitting for a long time so I wouldnt panic.
  29. 31ACoupe
    Joined: Nov 14, 2005
    Posts: 1,416


    Heres my 2cents. I don't go along with the $2-3000 cost guys. I have done a number of flatties and depending on a whole bunch of variables you can get your motor going from $50 to $1500. I had one that sat for 37 years, cleaned it up, put in some gas, primed the carb, pulled it about 20 yards (it was stuck) letting the clutch out slow in 3d gear and after skidding a ways it fired right up and it is still running like a top, no smoke or rattles and it don't heat up. These old motors are very dependable and you don't have to be a brain surgeon to work on one. Very simple. Don't take it to a shop and say fix it, rebuild it, cause then it will cost you big bucks. Study up, ask around, use this site and others that specialize in flatties and you will become an expert soon. Just my humble opinion, been messing with these things for 55 years and have 10-15 motors now and just bought the "little" 60HP motor I have been looking for many years.

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