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Hot Rods Iron duke in a model A

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flatordead, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. Does somebody have a picture of an model A with a Iron duke installed.
    Or a hint to old magazine articles from the 70/80s about that swap.
    Plan is to put a iron duke with adaptor and early V8 transmission in a 30
    sports coupe.
  2. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 904


    No info but I've thought for years that would be a good swap, I probably saw it in an old Hot Rod or Street Rodder magazine article but have no recollection of where. Hook a five speed to it and have a really fun car.
  3. hotrod37
    Joined: Aug 8, 2006
    Posts: 104

    from Indiana

    We used to have one that came to our ISRA show. I am sure I got a p[icture of engine, but not digital. Ran an auto trans. I think Rod & Custom had article on putting the Chevy II 4 in the model A, showed motor mounts and all. Before the T5s were around.
  4. I was seriously thinking of buying this truck several years ago. A truck closer came up. Anyway I don't know if this will help you or not. It is a '31 but that shouldn't matter. This particular truck had a 5 speed (T5 I think) and a quick change rear.
    30pickup17.jpg 30pickup18.jpg
    belair likes this.
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  5. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,855

    Atwater Mike

    Welll... My Dad has a '29 roadster, full fendered. Built in '64, always a finished car. Outstanding roadster, originally built with a 283 w/2 speed P.G., had 3 successive engines, 300K+ miles, made every NATS, many miles.
    In 1982, he pulled the 283 to freshen it up, he and Mom wanted to make the Reno 'Last Bash' that year, so he slipped his little Iron Duke in, fresh out of a low mileage '64 Chevy ll.
    They took off from Santa Cruz early in the A.M., joined up with some Santa Cruz Streetsters, and tooled along at a nice clip...(around 70)
    When they got around Sacramento, (North of) there was a long grade they had to climb...Pop got real uptight when he had to downshift to 'low', and his speed dropped below 35!
    Mom said the last time he got that mad was when some guy split the wishbone on my sister's '39!
    The little Duke eventually found its way into his '34 pickup, he still rants about that trip.
    The engine's layout is excellent! Pretty as its V8 brother, looks just right in an engine compartment. (T or A) The 5 speed tranny would make a difference, for sure.
    Wasn't there a Mercury Marine crossflow head for those?
    Some friends ran the little Duke (a '27 T track type roadster) and a Model A Coupe, they said performance was 'adequate'.
    I tuned the one in the track T, it ran O.K., but felt like no cam and low compression ratio. Ran 'soft', but dependable.
    I was working on 4 cylinder 2 liter BMWs at the time...(I was 'spoiled') :cool:
    Baumi and kidcampbell71 like this.
  6. This is as close as I can get, a 4 cylinder Chevy II (actually it is the 181 cubic inch Mercruiser version with a 153 head) in a '32. Sure nice to have plenty of room for the fan. I think it looks better with Ford Green on the engine. I think if you go with the Iron Duke you need to be sure the motor comes from a rear wheel drive car or you will have problems with the adapter to the early Ford transmission. The nice thing about this conversion for a '32 is that the transmission, pedals and wishbones problems aren't there.

    Charlie Stephens
    IMG_8089.JPG IMG_8089.JPG

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  7. Mercruiser offered a true 8 port head on it's 140 hp package but it's not a cross flow. That engine also sports a bigger crank. Ansen made a cross flow head though.
  8. To illustrate your post attached is a picture of the 153 and the 181 Mercruiser heads. I have also included a picture of the Ansen cross flow head for the Chevy II engine. Note that heads for the Chevy II 4 cylinder will not readily bolt onto a Iron Duke. I think the current GM Industrial 4 cylinder is the same as the 181 Mercruiser except the Mercruiser had water cooled manifolds.

    Charlie Stephens IMG_6392.jpg IMG_7572.jpg
  9. Cool stuff. Here is the engine. I took it off a little 27 roadster that came from the states to germany. I think it belonged to John Evans before it made it to Germany. The new owner did ask me for a V8 swap so I did what he said and took the cool little 4 banger in trade. Now there is a 30 sports coupe near by that has a hopped up banger. The owner doesn't feel safe with A engine and want's something "bullet proof". I will put this Chevy in the coupe and he will give me the hopped up A. I wan't to stick with the closed drive, hence not so much cutting. Idea is Adapter, V8 box and home made pedal braket. Does not need to be T5.


  10. This is the sports coupe the Chevy is supposed to put in.


    The roadster that donated the Chevy banger after V8 swap
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  11. All heads built for the Chevy will interchange, factory Chevy II, mercruiser 110, 120 and 140hp.
    Sometimes there's confusion, I'm not saying with you Charlie, between the Chevy II and the Iron Duke. Iron Duke refers to, at least originally, the Pontiac 4 banger and the nickname just slopped over to the Chevy II.
  12. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole

    For you 4 cylinder fans... last time I checked out my favorite junk yard they had an old fork lift equipped with a Chevy 4 cyl industrial engine. And I have seen a pair of Mercury inboards in the engine pile at another junk yard several years ago. So, don't overlook the fork lifts and engine pile, you never know your luck!
    dirt t likes this.
  13. The nice thing about the fork lifts is that they might be the 181 cubic inch version. Sorry I don't know the casting codes to look for.

    Charlie Stephens
  14. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 3,933

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Great Info guys, I have 3 of these engines. 2 to go into a couple of Phone Booth A P/U's. (Something along the lines of Lance Sorchik's).
    The 3rd to go into a Bo Jones built 27 T Modified that was one of his last that I bought from Don Small years ago.

    You might want to look over the R&C, perhaps a quarterly that had Jim (Super Bell) Ewing's 29 Roadster in it. Chevy II equipped with a Frontenac Valve cover. Very cool looking car on a A chassis.

    Brian Bauer's Orange 29 Roadster has been powered by on for years as well. Look em up.
    This is the 1st that I ever read of a power problem on a grade, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't pull it, I have a 250 c.i. cyl. in my 77 Custom Deluxe SB 1/2 ton and have towed my BB 1-1/2 stake bed from Nor Cal to So Cal and drove over the grapevine in 2nd much like was mentioned above. It's a single bbl pushrod engine w/2 additional cylinders like that Chevy II. No more than 35 mph from the bottom to Tejon. I'm quite sure a 5 speed or a QC would help that situation.

    In the Hot Rods by Pete & Jake book, one can see Jake's 33 Yellow/Blk 2Dr sedan towing the Ron Jones owned Buddy Alcorn Merc on a tandem axle trailer. It too was powered by a Chevy II.
    That engine later saw time in his Mail Truck that he later swapped bodies for the 28 Tub that became the R&C cover car - and later "Jakeoupaged".

    Very good alternative to a A-B or other Ford derived OHV covered banger, as the parts are still much more cost effective for a rodder on a budget but desires something just a little different.
    RoddyB34 and Tman like this.
  15. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,097


    Hyster ran the 181's in a number of their forklifts for a lot of years. Finding on that isn't totally worn out or blown up might be a challenge though. The guys who drove them (propane powered) in the plant I worked in for a number of years were pretty hard on them..
  16. I think the '82 to '85 Camaros and Firebirds with the 2.5 used the cross-flow style head. You might even luck out and find one in a yard with a 5 speed transmission. But they would have been throttle body injected in production form.
  17. Phil1934
    Joined: Jun 24, 2001
    Posts: 2,644


    Mercruiser 140 was the 3L boat engine. You have to make manifolds as bigger ports. 120 was the 2.5L. Not run hard and used are on Ebay for $500 or so. Also check OMC.
  18. MrMike
    Joined: May 21, 2010
    Posts: 137


    Rod and Custom had an article about putting a 153 Chevy in a 34 Ford, good pictures of the motor mounts and tranny adapter, linkage, etc. The March 1971 issue is the one you want.
  19. Thanks a lot for all the information. I will get me a copy of the said Rod and Custom.
  20. TRUE Hyster and Yale (NAACO) forks used GM industrial engines. True that forks were used hard but they were on propane and governed. I have seen many replaced trucks with good engines.
  21. Stovebolt
    Joined: May 2, 2001
    Posts: 3,275


    P1010502.JPG grand_nationals_car_1.jpg

    Not a model A, but I couldn't help but to add to the conversation about Iron dukes. This car has to seen and heard to be believed - its Awesome.
  22. Gary Addcox
    Joined: Aug 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,216

    Gary Addcox

    I believe that article was about a '34 Ford fordoor belonging to Jake of Pete and Jake's fame. I used the article to make mounts, then used a rebuilt '39 flathead trans. as Jake did. The '34 had a 4:11 banjo so that little mill really zinged up the r's at 70 mph. I built my car the first time around in late '71 or so. If you intend to use the closed driveshaft system, make sure you install anti-chatter rods from bellhousing rearward to the frame, like Ford did.
  23. moefuzz
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 4,951


    Living up here in the north country has it's pluses and minuses,
    I remember driving those under powered 4 cylinders in cold weather (-25) and when the vehicle and drive train were cold, it was tough to get up to 40 mph on the flats until things warmed up. -Just the cold viscosity of the differential fluid and wheel bearings was enough to make acceleration painstakingly slow. And the 3200 foot altitude we live at sure didn't make things any easier for those things..
    It would often take 15 or 20 miles to get up to 60 mph on a flat highway when it was cold.
    These are not great engines in either power/performance of longevity.

    If I wanted to go slow in a Model A I would keep it's original 4 banger which has decent torque but less horse power than the duke, but not by much.

    The so called duke is painstakingly slow even in the summer time.
    Who ever said or suggested that the duke was a good hotrod engine said so before they put it into anything because 35 mph up a hill is dangerous and it pisses people off to the point that they will do stupid things to get around you and that is if they don't rear end you first from coming up on you so fast.
    When new, these cars were dangerous on icy highways do to the 'normal' traffic/speeds all around you. I have no fond memories of driving them, only worried thoughts and memories.

    The only cars that I drove that were slower was the incredibly crappy 1980's Pontiac Acadians with automatic transmissions. The automatic tranny ate much of the available hp of which there was only/about 50. The "Rally" addition got the bigger engine with 8 additional hp peaking at about 60 and most Acadians were lucky to make 50,000 miles before needing an overhaul. This was partially due to the stress of pushing a car at 60 mph and mostly due to poor engine quality/design.
    The first time I ever drove one I seriously though the car had severe engine problems because it was so slow.

    Surprisingly, I think I got more miles out of my one owner chev vega that was still going strong at 63,000 miles when I sold it and as long as I wasn't trying to pull more than 65 the oil consumption was only about a quart ever 700 miles.I honestly don't know why I bought any of these cars other than people were practically giving them away after only a year or 2.

    Conversely, Even with my '39 trucks original 221 cubic inch Flathead V8 rated at 80 hp I can still accelerate at 7o mph going up hills. My 35 Ford Fordor will pull 70 all day and has been known to hint at 90 on a flat stretch. Even my original untouched '41 running on 7 1/2 cylinders will pull almost 90mph.
    There is no way in hell that the so called iron duke makes enough horse power to come close to the original 1939 Flathead at 80 hp and it's debatable whether a duke has any more actual torque or hp than a '31 or '32 Model B/C four banger which are limited more by low gearing than they are by power/pulling.

    I pity anyone that has to drive a vehicle powered by the duke especially if it's equipped with an automatic as the so called 52 horse power duke is frustrating at the best of times even with a standard transmission.

    I think once you get the engine installed in the car, the real race will be to find a better replacement and that's the only racing you'll do.

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
  24. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,223


    These chevy-2 4cyl motors(140/153/181) can be made 'cross-flow' by using a small-block v-8 head ; many a midget racer on a budget used that conversion from the '70 on up(some still do). Basically, you plug all the 4cyl headbolt holes in the block & then redrill the block for the v8 headbolt pattern. use the v8 rockers(probably the pushrods also), use a v8 exhaust manifold or header, & fab an intake manifold to fit the carb you want to use. After all the 153 is basically 1/2 of a 302, & the 181 is 1/2 of a 350, so you can do the v8 tricks to them, just half as many times!! LOL! I'm sure a good many of the engine shops that build midget motors still have the drill fixture for the block under a bench somewhere, & will also be able to give more detailed advice on what needs to be done for a reliable motor.
  25. I second the comment about anti-chatter rods. Here is a picture of the rods on my 181 in my '32. Sorry I couldn't get a better camera angle. For some reason I needed a couple of extenders for the drivers side but the passenger side looks like I used the hole in the adapter/engine. It has been 30 years since I put the car together and I don't remember for sure the reason for doing the drivers side the way I did, there must have been interference somewhere. IMG_2806.jpg IMG_2807.jpg

    Charlie Stephens
  26. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 1,950

    dan c

    i remember seeing that swap (and pinto engines) during the arab oil embargo. gas rationing and 50 cents per gallon really made us crazy!
    moefuzz likes this.
  27. Moe thanks for scaring me, but the owner of the A is more of a non mechanic and his main
    concern is about reliability. No oil stains on the garage floor and making it to the next car show is the deal.
    And here where I live are no hills to climb, everyting is flat as ballroom floor.
    Rear is thankfully 4.11 and wheels 16" with not too big tires.
    So I hope I can get away with it.

    And Charly thanks for the details on the anti shatter rods.
    RoddyB34 likes this.
  28. That's if they had gas by the time you waited in line and got to the pump under the odd/even days
  29. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 3,933

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Hence the reason for Jim Ewing, Brian Bauer and even Jake having a Chevy II in their A-Bone Hot Rods.
    I remember I had just got my car and I was like Oh Sh*t, How am I going to afford $1.27 a gal????
    Pete & Jakes even made Buick V6 231 ci engine mounts for their product line in the P&J's Catalog.
    Hot Rod Mag was spewing smaller cubes and water injection, began talking about Doug Nash 5 speeds and OD transmissions again.

    The 153ci was plenty good enough for the Bo Jones Modified and that was a late 60's build. It's never left my mind and Bo set the one the I have up for a 4.3 V6 as they were less than 153ci's at the time he was putting this one together. When talking to him @ The Throttlers Picnic one year, he said that the power to weight ratio was just right for that 1st one and if he would've been able to have found a reasonably priced Chevy II then that's what it would have had.( Side note here though=He wondered about the Miata twin cam engine as well as they were just beginning to show up a the used Japanese engine places). I think that the were like $300.00 and the took a OD 5spd that was $100.00 = He liked that......

    It's about reliability and economics for a lot of backyard builders. ;).
  30. I still have most of those old issues. One of them was a project with a chevy II going in a 28/9 pickup. They did a nice little write up on building mounts that was pretty clean.

    I remember driving past a long line of cars once and my cousin was smack dab in the middle of it. She'd run out of gas in line and was pushing the car one car length at a time. I pulled over and hung out with her until we reached the pumps. My car at the time was a '56 BBW ford pickup with a 394 Olds in it. I was in line every other day waiting for least it seemed like I was.

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