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HEMI Tech- Block, head, porting/polishing, and gaskets

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by scootermcrad, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53


    I'm hoping to get some advice on some heads I have a chance to buy. I'm not an expert and trying to buy good parts at good price for a long term build. I have a 39 P8 coupe I will be building. I've had the car for a while but life has gotten in the way of my build.

    Over the last few years I have bought 2 51-53 extended bell housing 331s. Both disassembled. Both motors have a set of early heads with rockers. I have one set of exhaust manifolds. One motor came with a ceramic coated Weiand 2x4 intake with carter carbs (no tstat in manifold). One motor came with a 1954 4bbl factory intake manifold (tstat in manifold).

    I expect I will bore the block out. I'd like to go up to the 354 bore size, assuming one of my blocks is solid enough.

    From what I've read the early heads don't flow well. I'm guessing that both the 1954 4bbl and the Weiand 2x4 would outflow the heads.

    I've found someone selling several sets of heads, rockers, and exhaust manifolds.

    He has a single 1955 head (casting #1556157-1).

    He has what he claims is a matching 1954-55 set (casting #1632158-1 & 1832159-1- I'm wondering if this is actually 1632159-1). These numbers don't match what I've found on line. Are these actually 54/55 heads? One google search came up with 54/55 Dodge truck heads. Are they better than my 51-53 heads? Do I need matching rockers & exhaust manifolds or will my 331 rockers & exhaust work?

    He also has what appears to be 3x 1956 354 heads (castings 1619823-1). Would these be a good head for my motor?

    The prices seem fair but they are a long drive away (4 hours each way). I don't know what to look for and really don't want to drive that far if it's not what I want.

  2. 402BOSSMAN
    Joined: Jul 26, 2015
    Posts: 334


    I can answer your head question. First and foremost what do you plan to do or achieve with this engine? Do you require the water ports on the ends of the heads? The 51-53 heads are horribly small and can be identified by the round exhaust ports, IMO stay away from them if you seek any real performance. All 54 and later heads virtually flow the same 331/354/392 in as cast form however some have better capabilities than others when ported (ie 331 heads). So the "Triple Nickel" #157 head being the "Best" head is partly true but only when fully ported and needing water ports. The #159 head is a 331 Industrial head and I prefer those as the exhaust crossover is plugged in the casting. The intake port core is the same as the Triple Nickel and the #367 Truck Head. If you are building a street performer than the 354 head is really up your alley. I have a 354 CNC Program for them that flows 320-325 CFM which will support 650hp. So the question is, how much do you want to get after it?
  3. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53


    Thanks for the info. My plan is to put them into a 1939 Plymouth coupe. Nothing radical, something streetable & fun. I did a bunch of reading last night, and realized my plan of punching out to 354 is unnecessary. I'll probably stick with a minimal overbore and rebuild. I have 2 sets of the early heads that have come with the 331s I bought. I just want to upgrade without spending crazy money on a set of aluminum or '555' heads. I'm open to any combo to make a good, reliable, strong motor.

    I just got a new message from the seller. It included a page of casting info. The 1632159 heads are 55-56 331 heads, as you said. He's rechecking the casting codes today, I'm guessing the 1632158 is really a 1632159. So there are no 1954 heads.

    Regarding water ports on the heads. I guess I could go either way. I have no 'need' except to make things work together. Since there is no set of 1954 heads, my factory 1954 4bbl manifold would probably get sold.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, assuming I buy one of his sets of heads, I can use the #159 331 (or #823 354) set of heads with the Weiand intake. I'm not sure what I'd do for the tstat & water neck. I'm guessing that some part of the early front dress would have to be changed to add a tstat & water neck. If you have advice on this I'd appreciate it. I just haven't read up on that yet.

    Will my 51-53 rockers and exhaust manifolds work with the #159 or #823 heads? Or do I need those specific to those heads?

    Thanks again.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  4. The truck heads are sort of UGLY.
  5. The truck heads are sort of UGLY.

    Make an offer
    scootermcrad likes this.
  6. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53



    I added to my post since you responded. I fat fingered and sent it too soon.

    How do you add the t-stat & water neck to the early 331 when using 55+ heads? I'm sure the info is out there, but I haven't read up on it yet.

    Also, are the early 331 rockers and exhaust manifolds compatible with the 55+ 331 & 354 heads? Or should I buy a set specific to the 55+stuff.

    I actually have a ceramic coated old "Say Why-And" 2x4 manifold with 2 Carter carbs that came with my first 331. I'm very curious what a fair price is.

    Looks like I'll be going with 55+ stuff and selling off the 54 4bbl intake I got with the second 331 I bought.

    Thanks again for all the info.
  7. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53


    I actually got lucky buying my 2 motors. Both came with intakes that are probably worth more than I paid for everything

    Attached Files:

  8. So for heads with water ports , that would be be 55 and up you need a water crossover and it has the thermostat housing. Check the link.

    For the ‘54 down, truck, or industrial heads you need to run an intake with the thermostat housing built in, or run a remote with hoses by utilize the intakes ports or drill holes in the heads and tap for npt fittings or if you can get TR waters to let loose of some of his super cool water blocks.

    That 1954 intake is the only factory 4bbl with the thermostat housing. It fits but doesn’t function so good on the 53 heads with small ports. The 51-53 heads have smaller ports and valves. Great for building low end torque but run out of breath on the top end. Great for a street car geared right. Not good for high rpm race car.

    The 54 heads have the bigger ports and same core castings as ‘ 55 heads (555) but no water ports.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  9. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,382


    All the way after it, plus a 6-71. How much, shipping aside?
  10. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53


    Great info, the HHH web site if wonky and not loading right.

    So for a strong street motor (not looking for drag strip power) are the early 51-53 heads adequate? Am I wasting time and money looking to upgrade? This will be a 39 Plymouth coupe hot rod, street car. Nothing crazy. Just want something fun and reliable. The car is fairly light and I'm not looking for a race car.

    I'm correct thinking the 54 4bbl intake, and Weiand 2x4bbl intake are totally over kill on a 331 with the 51-53 heads. They will look cool, but would leave something on the table. Upgrading to 54+ heads would be a better match to the intake manifolds.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  11. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,265


    Probably wouldn't make much difference on a street engine. 54 heads & intake, of 55/56 heads and intake or run what you have. The '54 OEM intake with a 500 Edelbrock is fine. The Edmunds is probably looks more than anything, but what looks! The Edmonds 2X2 is designed for the 51-3 heads
  12. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53



    Right now I have 2 options with what I have.

    51 heads and 54 4bbl intake. Easy and all bolts together with no extra water cross overs etc. Then sell my Weiand 2x4 and Carter carbs.


    51 heads with my Weiand 2x4. Looks cooler than the single 4bbl. But have to add tstat and water crossover.

    Is it worth doing any port work to the 51-53 heads?

    Sent from my E6910 using Tapatalk
  13. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,361


    My opinion, and worth every penny you pay for it........
    OK, the 51-53 heads are a bit small ported but certainly usable for a DD. The small port heads have a bit more air flow velocity (compared to big ports) within a limited rpm band...below 4000 or so then it starts to run out of steam. Again, my opinion only, using 'late' heads and intake on the 'early' engine create some problems and require parts that really don't look like they belong there. I have used the '54 4-bbl intake on the small heads and found the package decent enough.
    '54 heads are available, keep looking...gee, I wonder who is cleaning out their shop these days...hhhmmmm.
    All Chrysler rocker assemblies are the same, 331-354-392-pass car, marine, truck, industrial, all of them. If you want to use the oem adjustables then you need to correct valve cover.
    51-53 exhaust manifolds do not interchange with 54 and later.
    One of the biggest problems is trying to use too much cam.
    Keep the carb in the 450-500 range.
    If you use electronic ign then stay with Mopar.
    Good to hear that you decided to stay with minimal overbore; 10:1 c/r will easily make up the difference.

  14. You’ve got to define realistic goals for yourself.

    I can’t tell you how many folks have built a freaking bad ass, slobber idle, ground thumping engine that doesn’t make any power until 3500 rpms then they wonder why it’s no fun to drive on the street because it can’t get out of its own way off a stop light unless the RPMs are high enough to get a ticket.

    WOT off the tree starts that apprise 2% of the seat time are kinda fun but the other 98% of the time sucks.

    It’s the power (area) under the curve, the higher averages, the flatter curves that make street driving fun. Monster torque

    Utilize what you already have, obtain the necessary stuff to make it work, minimize your expenses if that fits your goals. If you’re going to use that 2x4 intake you have I’d get the later heads, bigger exhaust and a strong rear end with decent gear ratio to support the power at RPM.
    If you’re going to use the small heads get a decent intake to make more torque via port velocity.
    Just for grins,, look at the 401 nailhead engines. The port configuration and valve size seems torturous. Over 400 ftlbs of torque at 2800 rpm. Lots of fun and you can boil the tires with a 3.08 gear and have 2000 rpms on the highway Cruisin
  15. c-w-a
    Joined: Feb 9, 2012
    Posts: 53


    Thanks for all the advice, appreciate all the experts helping out a newbie.
  16. 2x4 design for 51-53 heads

    Edmonds took the ‘52 4 bbl carbs and made the manifold to fit hemi in 53. Then Chrysler switched up the heads in 54. There’s another manifold just like it for 54 heads but it’s different looking with larger runners.
    They’re kinda rare because it’s sorta like 1 year production. The 2x2 had a longer production run from edmunds
  17. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,265


    Well, that's interesting. Had only hear of 2X4 for the '54.
  18. Work In Progress
    Joined: Dec 14, 2010
    Posts: 153

    Work In Progress

    Disclaimer: If this is the wrong section or you feel I should start another thread, please just let me know and delete.
    Disclaimer 2: My sonic tester is metric, my sincere apologies on a traditional site.
    Disclaimer 3: Picture heavy and long background story.
    Known engine facts: 58 354 truck block #1619829 / 54 large port heads (no water outlets) / Venolia pistons .40 dome / Sat for 15 years + after rebuild. Disassembling it to check and clean everything and piece of mind.
    I am hoping for a little more help on this engine I bought many years ago. Never, never, never buy an already "built" engine without hearing it run or a complete breakdown of what was done!!! That said, I broke my own rules because the price was right and emotions made the purchase happen. I got some great advice earlier in the valvetrain section and now I'm down to the short block and I got scared with what I saw...
    When I measured the cylinders, it is bored to 4.030, yeah an .090 overbore. When I saw this my hopes all sank into the toilet waiting to be flushed. I had no other blocks and life can't allow the funds to start over :( I kept my chin up and purchased a sonic tester to confirm the worst. I also spent a lot of time reading about max overbore, wall thickness, cylinder failures Including one from Scooter on and 4.040 354 truck block failure. When I got my sonic tester and started measuring the mystery deepened and I just don't know what to make of this thing anymore. Granted I still need to measure the bottoms of the cylinders after the pistons come out but here is what have...
    Bore size
    Bottom thrust side
    Measurement - 7.3mm = .287 inches

    Upper thrust side - 6.1mm = .240
    IMG_4895.JPG I measured all the cylinders and they all measure within 1mm of each other. I set my tester up for both hard cast iron and steel, readings withing 1mm of each other. I calibrated it, I checked a portion of the deck where I can get a micrometer in and it's really close to an actual measured thickness, I cannot see any evidence of sleeving, but I just may not be able to see them on the deck. I realize more comprehensive measurements are needed once it is apart but I never thought I would see these thicknesses. Thoughts?
  19. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,265


    .040 too much, even using "Rule of Thumb". Sleeve it or junk it. @ $100 per cyl (typical) that gets expensive. Scooter's was a 331.:eek:
    Work In Progress likes this.
  20. Work In Progress
    Joined: Dec 14, 2010
    Posts: 153

    Work In Progress

    Even though I still have that much meat left in the cylinder walls?

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  21. I don’t see a problem,
    That’s thicker than sleeves are .
    Work In Progress likes this.
  22. You really don't know much yet. Once you have it apart, then you need to sonic test every cylinder - in about 12 places each. You do every 90 degrees around the cylinder and then top, middle and bottom. Pay particular attention to the major-thrust side of the cylinders - it is a different side of the cylinder on the Driver's versus Passenger's side. On the drivers side the major thrust is the intake side of the cylinder on the passenger side it is the exhaust side of the cylinder (clockwise rotation). These are the two sides of the cylinders that take the most load and therefore you're most concerned about cylinder wall thickness. Once you've done all these measurements, then you'll have a much better idea as to what you're working with, is there any "core shift" in the block, etc..
    73RR and Work In Progress like this.
  23. from an article,,,,

    ,,,,with a ball-peen hammer to get a closer look at the damaged area. Though the cylinder wall generally showed plenty of meat, the source of the problem was readily apparent-a thin spot in the wall about the size of a nickel was not as thick. The flaw was in the highly loaded thrust side and provided a spot for the wall to let go.

    So sonic check it like your hunting that elusive thin spot. Fill it to the core plug holes with Hard block.

    Most selves are 0.125 or less.

    There’s story after story with proof the overbores can be stupid and still the engine thrives. Then there’s story after story with proof that overbores fail. How Lucky are you feeling? What’s your alternative? How will you find out? What’s the worst that can happen?
  24. Work In Progress
    Joined: Dec 14, 2010
    Posts: 153

    Work In Progress

    Thank you all for the info!
    Is filling the block to the core plugs ok for a street use?
    Since I have the tester and my time is my time, I plan to do very thorough testing with it.
    At this point, not much more of a risk. Either way it will become an expensive conversation piece. I can part it out for what I have in it but it would be sad.
  25. check it the best you can, of course.
    After you’ve checked every square centimeter of the bores, then worry when you find the thin spots. Core shift happens.
    If it passes sonic and The thing breaks, then you worry about fixing it or sleeves or like do everyone else does when their shit breaks.

    Yes you can fill the bottom of the block on a street car.
    A great big bunch of street cars have their block bottoms filled with rust, crud, scale and casting sand. Some are even hard block filled.
  26. Btw/ got a link for that sonic tester?
  27. Work In Progress
    Joined: Dec 14, 2010
    Posts: 153

    Work In Progress

    31Vicky with a hemi likes this.
  28. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,980

    Mike VV
    from SoCal

    31Vicky (all) -

    Check this one. American (and euro) units, easy to use. I've had this Dakot for many years with no trouble. Easy on batteries too.

    I port cylinder heads for some side money and use this as I go in certain areas, for obvious reasons.
    They have many to choose from, but this is the one that I have. Can be used on cast iron, aluminum, steel, etc. I have two probes. The smallest radius for cylinder head ports and a larger one for cylinders and other larger I.D. surfaces.

    Last edited: May 14, 2020
  29. I have the exact same unit as MikeW - have had it for about 10 years and it has worked extremely well for some very extensive porting jobs. It is not inexpensive, but it sure gives you a bit more insurance when you're trying to "Go Big or Go Home" . . .

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