Register now to get rid of these ads!

Projects First flathead project...

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by CaliforniaDreaming, Sep 5, 2021.

  1. Great idea, you'll have fun.

    80 vote(s)
  2. Bad idea, forget it.

    16 vote(s)
  3. Just get a newer car.

    8 vote(s)
  1. Looking for some feedback.

    Got the idea in my head a decade ago that my next hotrod will be a flathead. Haven’t bought one yet but I’m close. They’re so cool. Seems like it will save money in the long run to get best paint, interior and mechanical I can find that somebody else has already put their money into.

    Plan to drive it locally once or twice a week and make a 2,000 mile road trip once a year. Speed and power aren’t issues except to keep up with traffic on the freeway (if necessary.)

    Going for a classic look inside and out as much as possible, but with plenty of technical updates: radial tires, 12V, electronic ignition, T5 trans, front disc brakes, Vintage Air, and MAYBE even the heretical throttle body fuel injection.

    Right now I have my eye on a ’41 coupe with an 85 hp motor.

    A lot of guys seem to think the SBC or similar OHV Ford are much better choices. I get the points about reliability and power, but I think I can still do what I want and get home reliably with a flattie.

    Is this just a bad idea?
    Shamus, ChupaJustin and jnaki like this.
  2. sloppy jalopies
    Joined: Jun 29, 2015
    Posts: 5,163

    sloppy jalopies

    i never had to torque the stock cast-iron heads, but i torqued the aluminum heads twice a month...
    trucker1 likes this.
  3. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 3,637

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    Welcome to the flathead world. Nice engines when done right and kept up.
    Bandit Billy likes this.
  4. Actually had a few runners I put together - the last being a 1950 Ford Club Coupe which was just a great running engine - not saying fast - but it could idle all day - well not all day - but just never got hot ! Just be mindful they aren't a big motor and will do well if your not in a hurry in a standard size car. And most just love the sound they can make ! Have Fun !
    gary macdonald likes this.

  5. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,477


    One thing about a flathead, they have the best sounding exhaust ever. I had a nice 47 Ford Coupe with a stock flathead and it ran very well. Everything on the car was stock and in good shape. It was reliable, handled well and stopped well. I had it up to about 85 and it would run 55/60 all day. However, it felt the best at about 50 mph. If I would have kept it, I probably would have put a higher rear gear in it.
    PhilA and chriseakin like this.
  6. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 11,230

    from Zoar, Ohio

    I’m not following this response at all.
    Please elaborate?

    original poster:
    The 85 horse in the 41 is a bit shy on power for that heavy coupe. Id suggest a 49-53 later model 8ba flathead.
    Any AC system in a heavy coupe with a flathead will rob needed power and may even cause overheating problems if not properly installed.
    In this case I’d advise an earlier coupe with a tilt windshield and a cowl vent.
    It will make 80-90 degree days tolerable. A taller rear end gear will get you up to speed on the four lanes. The more inexpensive solution.
    Be prepared to spend a lot more money using a flathead instead of a belly button SB.
    Good luck and yes nothing beats seeing and hearing these engines run in an old Ford.
    gary macdonald and The 39 guy like this.
  7. Well, bought the '41 Ford today to start the project. All original except for an electric fuel pump. One wiper, one tail light, no turn signals, no rust, single exhaust, 6 volts, one 24 stud flathead. 7.jpg
    Lil'Alb, alanp561, Shithouse and 52 others like this.
  8. el Scotto
    Joined: Mar 3, 2004
    Posts: 4,496

    el Scotto
    from Tracy, CA

    That’s a gorgeous car.
    juan motime, HeavyRoller and tdog like this.
  9. Thanks el Scotto.
    Stogy likes this.
  10. glennpm
    Joined: Mar 29, 2015
    Posts: 69


    That's a beauty!
    Hnstray, juan motime and Stogy like this.
  11. Darin Younce
    Joined: May 8, 2019
    Posts: 589

    Darin Younce

    Agree and yes to the taller gear, I have a 39 pickup with a 52 flathead bored 60 over , 3 carb intake, alumheads old school mallory dist, 3 angle valve job , aprox hp is 132ish , I run a 3.25 rear , later 39 3 speed and it does well here in the relatively flat south even on a few small hills . I Torqued the heads upon installation with a few follow ups during break in but I have not had to re torque on a monthly basis. Ac is doable I suppose , but even here in the hot south, I crank my windshield out a bit on 90 plus days and am quite comfortable other wise the cowl vent gives plenty of air on most days.
    Packrat likes this.
  12. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,419


    She’s a beauty! I don’t see much of a project there;).
    warhorseracing likes this.
  13. Maybe pull the bumpers, wider tire/rim on rear, a red pinstripe on the wheels, dual exhaust with your favourite mufflers and you could be done. That side shot makes it look really sharp.
    warhorseracing likes this.
  14. tdog
    Joined: Nov 15, 2009
    Posts: 444

    from Omaha, NE

    Great looking car !
  15. jersey greaser
    Joined: Feb 21, 2009
    Posts: 173

    jersey greaser

    i too would use a 49 to 53 8ba 54 if the motor came from canada, 8ba is the last of the flaties and the strongest IMMO of them all, built right and kept up they can and do run for almost forever, carb wise 2x2 carb.intake feeds them enough fuel , that leaves one carb over each set of intake ports . if you want more motor swap in a merc crank,pistons and rods and have more CI's
  16. thefabulousnip
    Joined: Sep 8, 2021
    Posts: 8


    Awesome car. I'm just starting to work on a 41 Tudor sedan project. I wish I was starting with as nice a car as you have
  17. 51504bat
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 3,398


    Packrat likes this.
  18. With no bumpers it would be shorter and easier to dodge the distracted drivers. Jimmy six, I get what you are saying, but not sure those old solid mount spoon bumpers really offer much in the way of safety todays traffic. Still cool either way.
  19. 210superair
    Joined: Jun 23, 2020
    Posts: 1,316

    from Michigan

    That's a beauty.
  20. SWEEET! Great starting point, congratulations.
  21. Thanks for all the comments; it is a looker. Appears to have been in a very large personal collection as an example of a super stripped down 1941 Deluxe, one tail light, one wiper, no lock on passenger door. Probably the original 221 cid 11A 90HP engine. BTW, it does have red pinstripes on the wheels, just can't see it in the photo. Surprised at how well it steers; I'll keep the front tire size. Wouldn't mind a 2" front drop but all the drop axles I've seen are 4".

    Haven't received the car yet, waiting for check to clear and shipping (not going to drive it in heavy traffic on I-5 for my very first ride.) I live in San Diego, no other reasonable way to get there.

    1st modification is a 12V conversion for installation of some bright tail/brake/turn signal lights and for better cranking when hot. (Thinking about horizontal LED lights mounted on the rear bumper brackets so it doesn't change the look of the car. If I'm caught out after dark around San Diego, HAVE to have a major lighting improvement.) I'm considering a 12 V conversion kit from Vintage Auto Garage even though I might be able to piece together all the necessary parts for about $100 less.

    PITA issue with 12V conversion is the existing 6V external electric fuel pump. Don't know how many amps it draws so hard to pick a step-down converter. Might just try running on the mechanical pump alone w/o the electric pump. I'll buy a 12v in-tank pump later but don't want to do that right off the bat and get involved in too many things at once.
    olscrounger likes this.
  22. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,419


    A 4 inch dropped axle doesn’t drop it 4 inches, since your axle has some drop already. Might be about 2.5 inches? Or there abouts.
    But what you can do is send the axle to one of the many “droppers” and let them know you want “x” amount of drop. You can also look into doing drop with the springs.
    Someone with way more experience with reverse eyes, etc will be able to fill you in.
  23. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 981


    Flattys can get to Ya. Be careful, or you might have a FLAT ATTACK. That could be flat out dangerous. A ton of fun in a 41 !!
  24. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,857



    Nice find and purchase. It has lots of character and you have a good start. Having been an owner of a 85 HP Flathead in my first 1940 Ford Sedan Delivery, you are barking up a tree that will be giving you difficulties on anything steeper than a small hill. Going to the local mountains? Forget it, with A/C, still forget it. You will lose a ton of actual horsepower with A/C. So, there goes your 85 hp.

    You say that speed and power aren’t issues. If you have ever been on any freeway, in So Cal, the right lane is the slow lane, but the minimum speed is 55. On any steep hill or grade on any freeway, the slow lane traffic will be piling up behind you, due to the fact that your car will not have sufficient power to accelerate, despite shifting to a lower gear.

    Going up a steep grade in the slow lane while the speed drops as the grade gets steeper will drop your speed below the minimum if it is a freeway. So, get ready to be pulled over by the CHP. (been there, done that twice)

    In our 4 years of So Cal travels on most coastal highways, it was smooth running. But there were some steep grades that made life in the 40 Ford Sedan Delivery with two old style longboards (100lbs+)and stuff miserable with a lack of power. Sure, we could go 55 or faster, especially down the steep hill on the opposite side of a coastal road, but when we were going up the other side of the steep grade, it was automatically, a 2nd gear shift and if there was a little traffic to slow us down, perhaps a shift to 1st was necessary.
    upload_2021-9-12_5-11-57.png Famous Old El Morro oceanfront trailer homes, before the state park designation. And, a pristine point break on specific swells.
    In California, the Coast Highway 1 in Laguna Beach, (El Morro Grade) is/was the primary one that gave us fits, every time. Since we were always going to the OC for great surf spots, this was the only way to check out the surf spots toward our destination. (Check out the beginning of a popular TV home show called “Christina on The Coast.” It shows the steep grade that she easily makes with her spiffy convertible.) What you see is the El Morro grade is part of what is called Crystal Cove State Park beach.

    With two surfers, two longboards and necessary stuff for a surf trip, the 85 hp Flathead was just overworked and underpowered. Going downhill on the Corona Del Mar beach side was fun, full throttle and in 3rd gear. But as soon as we crossed the old beach side entrance, we had to shift to 2nd and now the battle of the sedan delivery, gravity, and steep incline grade was ahead of us.

    Definitely not enough power. If we started at the entrance gate after being allowed to drive into the beach, it was 1st gear all the way up to the top of the grade upon leaving and going South, toward Laguna Beach. It always happened, but as carefree teenagers, it was a challenge. Today, the traffic is horrendous in the summer, necessitating a downshift to 1st, if we still had an 85 HP flathead powered hot rod. Flathead power sedan delivery


    Since we were teenage surfers, we knew the rewards of what lies ahead at the selected surf spots. It was a long way from home in Long Beach, but worth it every time with the maladies the Flathead motor for power, caused us. Farther North in Los Angeles County, the Camarillo/Oxnard Conejo Grade on the 101 freeway to Los Angeles was the longest, steepest continual grade for the return home from Santa Barbara/Rincon surf trips. That is another steep grade story...
    upload_2021-9-12_5-20-37.png Facing the Del Mar coastline heading for the Camp Pendleton/Carlsbad/Oceanside area, Going North on the Coast Highway is almost as bad...prior to the other side of the Torrey Pines lagoon inlet.

    But, since you live in San Diego, the worst one and probably the most traveled in the whole area is the steep grade South on Highway 1. The Torrey Pines Grade in San Diego County was 3rd gear for the start, then instantly 2nd and close to the top, first gear was necessary. If anyone starts from the beach parking lot at the base of the grade going back towards San Diego, it definitely is a 1st gear, slow climb to the top, especially if there is any kind of traffic headed your way.
    The high speed run down the Del Mar side of the lagoon approaching the steep grade heading South to Torrey Pines Grade was always fun. (Del Mar side at the top of the photo) Going back to Long Beach and the OC, North, through Del Mar was also a grade, but not as steep or bad, as going south to San Diego.
    Looking South from Del Mar area side of the steep road grades.

    So, what to do? If we had money, we would have built the Flathead with one of Joe Reath’s Flathead Stroker Kits and have so much more power for acceleration. Those steep grades would have been 3rd gear all the way without any worries about loss of power. The local Big Bear/Lake Arrowhead Mountains, no problem with the modified Flathead stroker motor.

    But, then again, money talked back then, and the reliability of a stock 85 hp motor versus the high power, stroked Flathead may have told a different story. It was possible that our Flathead motor was so reliable for the 1000s of miles of coastal cruising on our numerous surf road trips, that we overlooked the lack of power.

    It probably would have been less expensive to drop in an SBC motor that had more horsepower overall. The 40 Ford Sedan Delivery originally had a 348 motor in it when I offered to buy it as a teen. Your situation with the new flathead powered coupe could be a completely different story. But, be forewarned from history of the grades versus a flathead powered sedan delivery.

    We worked with what we had and had a great time being teenage surf travelers. Highway 1 was and is a major attraction while taking road trips down to San Diego and back. We even took it many times from 2011 to 2018 on our sailing trips on the San Diego Harbor/bay/ocean. We had to take the Coast Highway back to bypass the "Encinitas Slowdown" that occurs everyday on the I-5 freeway at all hours. The Coast Highway... is always a treat to drive and wonder at the areas. YRMV

  25. Jnaki, must really be some great memories for you to spend that much time on a post! Thanks for the heads up. When I run out of power going up these hills, I won't be surprised.

    I actually make the pleasure run Ocean Beach San Diego to Del Mar and back along the coast every other week or so. VERY familiar with the hill up to Torrey Pines from the lagoon.

    We'll see what happens with this flathead. I'll probably start with a Pertronix ignition module, then throttle body injection. Maybe some new heads too to raise the compression a bit. Maybe if want more power I'll figure out porting and relieving. Like to get more information on what a stroker crank does to reliability before going that route.

    Thanks for the stories!
    jnaki likes this.
  26. fullhouse296
    Joined: Jan 30, 2009
    Posts: 400

    from Australia

    If you start foolin round with the innards ,itll be the most money youve spent to go slow . And Im a fan of em !
  27. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,801

    from Woburn, MA

    I would suggest you drive it as it is now for a while before you jump in and start doing street rod stuff to it. That is a very nice looking car. LED bulbs may be a better solution to replacing the whole fixture and wiring just to suit them. Most LED bulbs will run at a range of voltages just fine IIRC. I'm pretty sure 41's all had 2 tail lights, someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I think someone smoothed one over.

    If you REALLY want a flathead/T5 setup, I would suggest finding a nice, running, and maybe built up 8BA/EAB/8RT or Merc 8CM (Or a nice vintage 265/283) and setting it up with the T5 outside the car while you're still driving and enjoying it with the stock gear. It's all new stuff you're swapping in so why tear the car apart before you need to?

    Front brakes you will need a kit to adapt the newer style MC but you should be able to do that job without a lot of tear-down. I would throw a catalog kit at the spindles and brakes. You should be able to do dual exhaust with a set of tube headers while you do the brakes.
    The 39 guy, Packrat and Budget36 like this.
  28. Very nice lookin ride and welcome to the Flat side! I'm like the others here run it and make upgrades one at a time so you can enjoy it as you go on...........
    Budget36 likes this.
  29. I must ask. WHY? A proper 6V wiring system is adequate to operate LED lights which will brighten them accordingly.

    Again. WHY? The Pertronix, OK I can justify that I guess but the original carburetor will perform just fine. Adding a "throttle body injection" will not increase your power and just cost you money. This is not a toyota or honda and will never drive like one or even run like one. Adding those are not only unnecessary but also non authentic and are not even close to traditional.
  30. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 6,045


    I can see the desire of some to move to 12 volts, as it is more forgiving than 6 volts. You have to be a little more careful with component selection and connection quality with 6 volts, although 6 volts will function just fine when done correctly. I will, however, disagree with the selection of a Pertronix unit, mainly on a reliability basis. Aftermarket electronic ignitions have a nasty habit of failing unexpectedly and at the worst times and places, while a standard points ignition will almost always start to degrade, giving you plenty of notice and time to get home.

    Fuel injection, unless done by someone that really has the proper experience and done on a specially prepared engine, is something to be avoided at all costs on a flathead. There is a fellow on "The Ford Barn", who has done it successfully on his '51, but only after a lot experience, work, and (probably) expense. He did not use an aftermarket "bolt-on" system. I can provide a link if desired.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.