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Flathead Valvetrain Disassembly

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by TurboRay, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. TurboRay
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 144

    TurboRay
    Member

    I'm curious why one can't take the valves, springs, guides, etc. out of a flathead WITHOUT the plethora of specialty tools sold for that purpose. Please indulge my curiousity - after all, I'm a newb when it comes to a flatmotor.

    I recently purchased two Merc 8BA's that were discovered in an "out-building" by the new owner of a recently-acquired property. Amazingly, they both still turned over and, after removing the heads, I found only a couple of very minor 1/2"-long cracks in the deck between h/bolt holes and water passages. BUT, they were both completely fouled with sludge and tar, and I was faced with the daunting task of disassembly ("daunting" because of all the built-up grime AND because I didn't have any of the special "flathead tools" I'd seen in the mags and books for disassembling the valvetrain).

    From the perspective of a semi-retired auto mechanic having never worked on a flattie before - I examined the valvetrain layout and it appeared that I could disassemble it using my traditional tools. Soooo........I reached for my trusty OHV valve-spring compressor and got to work. One at a time, I slipped it in place, compressed the spring and coerced the varnished keepers from their grooves. Then, after releasing and removing the compressor, I pulled out the valve and simply used a large screwdriver to pry the lower end of the spring and its retainer sideways - thus, clearing the lifter and its boss. VOILA!! Admittedly, I damaged a couple of the old springs until I learned that I could simultaneously latch onto one of the coils nearest the retainer with a pair of duck-bill pliers and, with a twisting motion, "aim" the end of the spring in the right direction. So far, so good.

    The next task was to remove the guides. All the magazine articles and "How-To" books I'd read showed the guides coming UP, thru the valve pocket - so, I figured that there must be a reason. At first, I thought, "hmmm.......the length of the guide is probably too long to clear the bottom of its bore without smacking into the lifter". But then I said, "oh, what the heck!". I made sure the lifter was all the way down and got out my BFH and a large brass drift. I then smacked the top of the guide with a couple of good blows, removed the horseshoe clip and proceed to drive the darn thing down, right into the sludged up valley, without any contact with the lifter whatsoever.

    Sooooooooooo.....................WHAZZUP??? Once I get this thing cleaned, checked, bored, ported, etc. and I'm ready for reassembly - I'll probably be using the same method. WHY, you ask? Because (1) I'm a cheap SOB and I don't wanna lay out the cash for the traditional flattie tools that I apparently don't need, and, (2) Cuz I plan on knurling my new guides and installing 'em with Loctite (drawing 'em in from the bottom with a long bolt/nut/washer arrangement).

    Please don't misinterpret this post. I'm not trying to arrogantly spit into the wind or fly in the face of traditional assembly methods. I simply wanna know WHY I can't do it this way and avoid the purchase of the special tools. If this has been covered before, I apologize - I AM a NEWB, remember? :)

    C'ya - RAY
     
  2. Goztrider
    Joined: Feb 17, 2007
    Posts: 3,066

    Goztrider
    Member
    from Tulsa, OK

    Sounds like it'd be an interesting tech post. Take lotsa pictures, and show us all how you did it. I'll bet there are others who've done the same thing before.
     
  3. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    '49-53's can be nicely handled without any tech...if you have strong fingers you could do all without even the compressor I think. Yank valves and knock out the guides...done. We just discussed this about a week ago with someone on here worried about tools he didn't have...
    '32-33 and '33-48 valves are a different story. I'm sure depression era farmers managed to do the job with a rock and a screwdriver, but the tools are worth their weight in blood on these engines--which is about the amount of blood lost in an average '48 Ford valve job, by the way...
    I've become a coleector of weird old valve tools in the eternal quest for easy disassembly of a 99 motor.
    The '32-3 ones are a slightly different source of pain and trouble, and the valves Henry planned but had to recall because of a patent lawsuit in early '32...well, if that had gone through, the flathead would have been extinct by 1934. Even a depression era mechanic's life must have been worth SOMETHING!
     
  4. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus


  5. Nothing to add, but...

    Even if this thread ends up bearing all the world's greatest info on the subject... THE TITLE SUCKS... and nobody will ever find it if they search later on....

    Wake up people....!!! We save this info so others can learn from it.....

    tri tu tytel yor thredz mor smartr nect tyme sow wi kin fynd et laytar......:rolleyes:


    JOE:cool:
     
  6. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    OK, let's do it proper HAMB style and title it "Vlave renoval from lat Faltheads" so anyone searching can quickly find it. We librarians know how to index stuff and crap like that.
     
  7. Bruce, I miss your point.


    JOE:cool:
     
  8. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    I've just noticed that 57.3% of all HAMB posts have misspellings of major words in the title (I've lost count of the ways to spell "carburetor" on here) so that searching becomes a real challenge...most HAMBers, including me, have the typing skills of a cat.
     
  9. TurboRay
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 144

    TurboRay
    Member

    CHANGED! :)

    LOL! My cat is an excellent speller, BTW. :)

    C'ya - RAY
     
  10. Good goin', Ray... I could just about kiss ya... :D

    What years are the engines you're working on...? I'm just curious where they fall in Bruce's explanation.

    ...and let us know how the rest of the build goes.



    JOE:cool:
     
  11. 50flathead
    Joined: Mar 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,106

    50flathead
    Member
    from Iowa, USA

    I have used your method for disassembly and it works well. In fact if your motor is real dirty, and most are, you'll never get the valve assemblies to come out the top anyway.
    Reassembly is another story. You'll thank yourself after you acquire a valve pry bar so you can pull the finished valve assemblies into place.
     
  12. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    Those are in the '49-53 group, which contains two subclasses with spring retainer differences not affecting general approach...
    Most early engines rebuilt nowadays use the late valve gear.
     
  13. SinisterCustom
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 8,269

    SinisterCustom
    Member

    I used a screwdriver, prybar and a small, old spring compressor to remove the valvetrain from my 59AB.....Some didn't want to come out, so I pried the valve off it's seat and cut the head off with a cut-off wheel.....
    I'm cheap too...don't see buying tools for a job I can do by IMPROVISING.....unless those tools are cheap too...hahaha
     
  14. TurboRay
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 144

    TurboRay
    Member

    YUP - as Bruce said, '49-'53. The heads were EAC on one and 8CM on the other which, I ASSume, were the lower-compression versions - possibly '50 or '51? Dunno! One came pretty much complete with a weird-looking "treehouse" carb, distributor, generator, starter, oil filter, cast-iron bell and clutch/flywheel attached. The other had no carb, gen, starter or dizzy - but, DID have the stamped bell adapter and clutch/flywheel. :)


    C'ya - RAY
     
  15. Villlage Idiot
    Joined: Dec 30, 2005
    Posts: 408

    Villlage Idiot
    Member

    Ray. I think THIS is spittin' in the wind. I have also lost a few pints of blood taking old flatties apart over the years. And then it occurred to me that most of the parts I was trying to save weren't going to be re-useable anyway. A valve spring that's been compressed in a stuck engine for 53 years probably isn't going to work well in a fresh rebuild. So when I found a stuck (of course) 59L block last summer I just torched the valves and springs and drove the guides out. Not very glamorous and I'm sure not as much fun as collecting old tools but it took me about 45 minutes. And when I was finished I had my wife cancel the appointment at the emergency room.
     
  16. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,173

    Automotive Stud
    Member

    I did mine the way you described, with a traditional valve spring compresser, and pushing the guide out through the bottom. BUT, I don't think this would work with the two piece guides found in earlier motors.

    That said, I think assembly might have been quicker with the proper tools.
     
  17. chuckspeed
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 1,643

    chuckspeed
    Member

    Having just gone thru this...

    Bruce is on the mark. I disassembled mine with a pyrbar, popping the valve up with a prybar on the retainer, then whapping the valve down with my fist; the keepers just fell out.

    Then - I got a socket and an extension just a little smaller than the valve guide bore and drove the guides down into the galley.

    RE-assembly?

    build up the assemblies on the bench, buy the damned 20 buck tool and install 'em. Beats the hell outta a trip to the hospital.

    So it is written on the H.A.M.B...

    So it shall be done.
     
  18. rodrelic
    Joined: Mar 7, 2002
    Posts: 466

    rodrelic
    Member

    I have done it all ways, some pry down with the KRWilson tool, some the bottom of the guide snaps off. Sometimes cut the valves, cut the springs, whatever for an old crusty. But re-assembly with the right tool is a dream, and I know my two and the other guy's 3 flat motors will come apart easily when they need maintence because we have the tools. They get regular exercise, and shouldn't come apart hard. I have a cheap stamped steel KD tools fork that would never pull a valve down, but will easily be tough enough for asn install.
    I got my 3 bars at farm auctions, spent less than 50 bucks altogether. Seek and ye shall find
     
  19. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 10,020

    RichFox
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I was told by an older Bonneville, flathead racer that he takes a cutting tourch to the valve springs as a begining of teardown to build a race motor. says it saves a lot of time.
     
  20. cruiserbuddy
    Joined: Oct 21, 2005
    Posts: 397

    cruiserbuddy
    Member
    from Germany

    Did it the way, You did, first. Went very well. But then I had the opportunity to buy all the special tools for my Flattie for 50 Euros, and that in Germany. And I took it........Also the Johnsons tools for the lifters.....
     
  21. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 6,417

    arkiehotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    8CM is a 49-early 52 Merc engine. EAC is a late 52-53 Merc engine. The "treehouse" carb came on Mercs (I've got a friend with two 51 Mercs, and they have that carb).

    49-early52 Fords were 8BA, Merc 8CM, and trucks 8RT

    late52-53 Fords were EAB, Mercs EAC.
     
  22. TurboRay
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 144

    TurboRay
    Member

    THANX, Arkie! It's nice to know the lineage of my flatties! [​IMG]

    Hmmmm.............Well, I'm certainly not here to rock the boat! But, as I mentioned in my first post, my intention upon reassembly is to knurl the (OUTSIDE of the) new guides, coat 'em and their bores with Loctite and suck 'em in from the bottom (using a long bolt/nut/washer arrangement). In my alleged mind, if a ready-to-assemble guide/spring/valve assembly simply slides into it's bore......what's preventing it from rocking/wobbling during engine operation and compromising valve sealing? If Henry simply planned on the 45° seat angle to "self-center" the valve, then shame on him! [​IMG] It's been my experience that a worn guide always results in a worn, sometimes off-center, seat.

    PLUS, after Loctiting the guide in place, I had intended on drastically carving its leading edge and building up its height along the backside of the valve pocket with A-B epoxy putty to provide a smoother transition for the incoming mix. And, I wouldn't be able to do that if I even THOUGHT the valve guide weren't solidly anchored to the block, as if they were cast as one. [​IMG]

    C'ya - RAY
     
  23. lowsquire
    Joined: Feb 21, 2002
    Posts: 2,564

    lowsquire
    Member
    from Austin, TX

    yeh i tend to agree Ray, I dissasembled a really nice 99A merc the other week, and as it was a really low mileage motor with no sludge, it all just came apart with a large screwdriver, and a pair of pointy nose pliers on the retainers, but the rather loose fit of the guides worries me too..i think ill loctite em in too, and your idea to build a "ramp" to the guide sounds good. post pics when you do it.
     

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