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Hot Rods Should I re build a DeSoto 291 HEMI?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ford350, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. ford350
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 169

    ford350
    Member
    from Wi.

    HI All,
    I have a decision to make.
    I bought a 1955 DeSoto 291 )corrected from 292)Hemi complete from carb through transmission. Of course when I bought it from the guy that bought it from a guy he said it came from a running car that was totaled in a accident.
    Well when I tore it down it was stuck and would not turn over....well it had a broken rod and it spun on the crank.
    So the question is should I re build this particular engine or even one of this type??
    Is it wise to re build a DeSoto 291 engine? Are parts readily available for a 291?

    I need a complete Master re build kit......repair the crankshaft or get another one......New cam.

    I am not interested in making it a race engine, I just want a HEMI in my 1948 Chrysler convertible!

    What do you guys think?

    Don
     

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    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  2. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    No. You should put it on a pallet and ship it me.
     
  3. el Scotto
    Joined: Mar 3, 2004
    Posts: 4,437

    el Scotto
    Member
    from Tracy, CA

    I think that would be cool personally! :)
     
  4. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,205

    -Brent-
    Member

    I think there's no harm in stripping it down and sending the block out. If there are further issues, the machine shop will know. If nothing further, build her up... the '48 deserves a Hemi.
     

  5. If it has a broken rod wouldn't you also need a rod? or by broken rod you mean that it spun a bearing?

    I don't have enough cash on hand to rebuild one but I would try and find it and rebuild it anyway.
     
  6. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,057

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Sure, rebuild it and use it.......would make a good cruiser powerplant. BTW, those are usually referred to as 291 cubic inch with stock dimensions. In any case, neat engine.

    Ray
     
  7. TomWar
    Joined: Jun 11, 2006
    Posts: 727

    TomWar
    Member

    In 1959 my friend had a 259 (I think) Dodge hemi in his 39 ford coupe. It was a great engine/combo. I don't see how you could go wrong!
     
  8. silverdome
    Joined: Aug 23, 2007
    Posts: 553

    silverdome
    Member

    What did the Chrysler have in it originally? If it was a six and you want a little more pep then go for it. The car looks really nice and deserves an engine just as nice.
     
  9. cheveey57
    Joined: Mar 11, 2010
    Posts: 676

    cheveey57
    Member

    If you got it, build it. I had 56 desoto hemi and it was a lot of fun.....
     
  10. flamed34
    Joined: Dec 30, 2009
    Posts: 733

    flamed34
    Member

    I have the 291 in my '55 Desoto Firedome. It's the 2 bbl, 185 hp version, but it's a preppy little engine. You can buy a complete rebuild kit through hotheads research affordably (~$1500)...depending on machine work, you can have a HEMI for the cost of a crate engine!! I'd say go for it!
     
  11. Deuce Roadster
    Joined: Sep 8, 2002
    Posts: 9,519

    Deuce Roadster
    Member Emeritus

    :( :(

    I strongly suggest you sell it to some one who wants a low deck 291 Desoto ... and find yourself a 354 Chrysler ... The 354 will cost a little more to purchase ... but the parts to rebuild are about 1/2 what the stuff is for a 291.
    And you end up with about 60 cubic inches over .... the 291.

    Plus you can buy just about anything for the 354 ... where the 291 has a weird parts availibility ...

    .
     
  12. birdman42
    Joined: Jan 18, 2012
    Posts: 400

    birdman42
    Member

    Shoot yeah, Egge makes parts for just about every engine out there,they should be able to help you out.
     
  13. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478

    budd
    Member

    i have a 276, the one thing that i wish someone sold was a nice 3x2, you can buy a 4x2 that looks ok, everything else looks like crap
     
  14. dad-bud
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 3,884

    dad-bud
    Member

    That'd have to be a yes on the question.
    Old hemi's are cool
     
  15. 35desoto
    Joined: Oct 6, 2009
    Posts: 770

    35desoto
    Member

    Take the time and effort and rebuild the 291 - they are a neat engine and will help haul your car around better than the old 6. While you may have to hunt some parts they are still out there - you just need to be patient and keep your eyes and ears open. Some parts are seen here on our classifieds and ebay has stuff appearing all the time. You also have access to your craigslist so there are three avenues to start with without forgetting people like TR Waters,Hotheads, Egge, Kanter. There are several guys who specialise in these engines on the HAMB like 73RR and a couple of others who I regret I cant remember so ask away Some many say these are an orphan annie engine but by asking around you will be surprised whats tucked away out there.
     
  16. terryble
    Joined: Sep 25, 2008
    Posts: 541

    terryble
    Member
    from canada

    Is there a poly block that would work for that size hemi?
     
  17. Pay attention to Deuce Roadster in post #11 he is correct....
     
  18. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,057

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL


    No...........DeSoto used Dodge 325 Polys in '57, but Dodge engine have different dimensions..i.e.. length, width, height than either Desoto or Chrysler. The crankflange and block/bellhousing bolt pattern are compatible with Dodge/Chrysler.....but block, head & pretty much everything else in major parts are DeSoto only.

    Nonetheless, I would still recommend building it for the purpose the OP inquired about.

    Ray
     
  19. 51 Hemi J
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 394

    51 Hemi J
    Member

    I have a 291 in pieces and its been apart for 20+ years. Over the years I have researched building it and I still think there are plenty of parts available for these little jewels.

    I have a 392 for my Henry J, but will keep my 291 for another project.
     
  20. Mnhotrodbuilder
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,142

    Mnhotrodbuilder
    Member
    from Afton, MN

    What he said^
     
  21. EARLYHEMIBILL
    Joined: Apr 7, 2008
    Posts: 465

    EARLYHEMIBILL
    Member
    from ?

    I would take the block down and get it magged. You can always get rods on ebay. One thing I would do is jump the compression up to at least 9.25-1. The stock compression is way to low and designed for the puke gas back in the 50s. Venolia can make you a set of slugs cheaper than anyone else. That should be worth a good 50 HP anyway. Since the motor doesn't belong in the car, get an adapter and go with an A-727. It will give you extra low-end umph and you can get a better torque converter. Should be lots of fun.
     
  22. charlieb66
    Joined: Apr 18, 2011
    Posts: 549

    charlieb66
    Member

    Build the engine and put it in the car. I have a 330 DeSoto to replace the 351CJ Ford I am now running. Tell the lookers anything you want about the "Hemi", it's the look that impresses 95% of them.
     
  23. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,584

    73RR
    Member

    First, you get major points for planning to use a vintage engine in the Chrysler. Most folks would just throw in a 360 and call it good. Yes, it would save you thousands...

    Since you have the engine in hand it is tempting to use it, however, your needs for the final product have to be considered.
    The 276-291 is not a powerhouse in stock form so some mods will be required, mostly compression. Yes, any of the custom piston piston shops will make a set of 10:1 slugs, price will be the only real difference. We offer them at $733/set with pins.
    If you bump compression, I would recommend a new set of rods since you already need one.
    There are no new cam cores but, again, any cam grinder can warm up the little stick. The design of the stock shaft does not permit big lift and duration numbers. Generally, we find the Desoto cams to be limited to the area of 270°-0.440" lift. We have a 'fix' for this condition, but, it takes more dollars than some of the other EarlyHemi engines.

    Compared to any of the other EarlyHemi engines, the cost to do a proper rebuild is just about the same across the board so if you think you will need more than 300 hp then start looking for an engine with more inches to start. A stock rebuild on a 354 (for example) will be less expensive than a hot-rod 291 and will produce more power.

    As to the crank damage, these are some of the finest forged cranks ever made by any of the mass production car companies, so any competant crank shop can repair the journal.

    As a final note, don't overlook the use of the Chrysler Poly engine, the Spitfire. It was available in 301, 331 & 354 inch displacements, 1955-1958. They are often overlooked but develop very respectable power.

    .
     
  24. Deuce Roadster
    Joined: Sep 8, 2002
    Posts: 9,519

    Deuce Roadster
    Member Emeritus

    Another sensible HAMB member :) :)

    YES ...

    You can rebuild the 291 Desoto ... but a 354 Chrysler can be done for less $$$ with a lot better results. :D


    .
     
  25. ford350
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 169

    ford350
    Member
    from Wi.

    Thanks for that information.

    I am not concerned about having a lot of horsepower just to say to others that I have it. What I am interested in is do I need more HP to get a more reliable or efficient engine for my travels across the country?

    I have other 1948 Chrysler convertibles and they are STOCK with the 6 Cyl 251 Spitfire and that engine gets me around just fine but the transmission can be a lot of work.

    Oh yeah, I maybe thought that this DeSoto was a "Poly" engine. It has the flat top pistons....what does that mean?

    Don


     

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  26. ford350
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 169

    ford350
    Member
    from Wi.

    I did mean it does have a broken rod and a spun bearing.



    "If it has a broken rod wouldn't you also need a rod? or by broken rod you mean that it spun a bearing?"



     

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  27. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,057

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    The terms "hemi" and "poly" have to do with the combustion chamber shapes. The 'hemi' being hemispherical..or 1/2 of a globe....a chamber that is a rounded, dished shape and the valves are splayed in a kind of vee configuration, typically crosswise to the centerline of the engine.

    A 'poly' chamber has an irregular shape, (poly meaning more than one) also sometimes referred to as a 'semi hemi'.

    The hemi chamber shape does not necessarily require a domed piston, though it usually benefits from domed pistons in that the resulting compression ratio increase adds power.

    Ray
     
  28. ford350
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 169

    ford350
    Member
    from Wi.

    Does any one know what this engine is from? Long bell housing attached.
    Re Built and running.
    Does it have any value for a Hot Rod or for my 1948 Chrysler?
     

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  29. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,057

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    That appears to be a '51 thru '53 or early '54 331 Chrysler hemi as they were the only engines to use the extended bell configuration. The intake manifold is a non-factory (likely home made) criss cross affair that loosely mimics the early '60s style ram induction setup offered on various Mopars of the era.

    The engine pictured appears to have an early Powerflite trans, which if original to this engine, would make it a very late '53 or early '54 production.

    It could be used in your car. There may be some clearance issues with the extended bell and the firewall and/or floor trans hump.

    Ray
     
  30. ford350
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 169

    ford350
    Member
    from Wi.

    Thanks,
    So what would you call this engine?




     

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