After the thorough and careful rebuild, Mike at H&H test runs all of his engines on a test stand prior to delivery.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, FORD FLATHEAD ENGINES: HOW TO REBUILD & MODIFY. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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Having completed the assembly procedure, Mike is ready to fire the engine on his run-in stand, on which all the engines H&H builds are tested prior to delivery. A run-in stand is not something that you’re likely to have at home, so you might well be putting the engine into your car for the first (and, it is hoped, last) time. If you have been careful, there will be no leaks that necessitate you pulling the engine.
Everybody has different preferences when it comes to oil. I was at a seminar for Mobil 1 synthetic, and Formula 1’s Frank Williams had me sold. He said that the oil gave his engines 15 hp before anybody else caught on, but in all the years I used it, I never saw an appreciable difference except in the wallet. However, I wasn’t racing Formula 1.
Mike prefers Valvoline VR1, which, according to Valvoline, has “high zinc and provides race-level protection for high-performance engines on the racetrack or the highway.” Mike uses the 20W-50 blend, and a flathead takes 4 quarts unless you are running a fi lter system, in which case you need an extra quart.
The line to the oil pressure gauge is inserted into the back of the block. A little bit of PTFE tape helps to prevent leaks.
The second hole is plugged off, unless you intend to go racing and want to monitor oil temperature. Use a little PTFE tape to help seal the threads.
You can use one or two of the holes for water temperature gauges, otherwise you should plug off the holes in the raised bosses at the top center of the heads.
The same procedure applies to the other cylinder head. Ford produced the heads with four bosses so that the heads are interchangeable.
Cold oil pressure should be in the range of 40 to 55 pounds. Some engine builders recommend pressure in the 80-psi range for hopped-up street engines. Normal warm oil pressure is around 30 pounds at 2,000 rpm.
Unless you’re building the exact same engine as Mike here, it’s highly likely that you could have one, two, three, or even four carbs; fuel injection or a blower; or a combination of all the above.
Multi-carb setups, such as the three Stromberg 97s shown, need multiple fuel lines. They can be fed by a fuel distribution block and operated by means of progressive linkage.
These are fuel distribution blocks for multiple carb set-ups. Two-, three-, or even four-carb blocks are available from a number of sources, including Mooneyes, SO-CAL Speed Shop, and O’Brien.
Multi-carb linkage systems are available from carb manufacturers including Stromberg. Stromberg’s website contains a wealth of information about different systems available for 2 x 2, 3 x 2, 4 x 2, and even 6 x 2 assemblies. This progressive linkage for 3 x 2 enables the secondary carb to open when the primary is at about 50 percent.
For the run-in stand, Mike uses a simple rubber fuel line and hose clip. However, your application might have a much fancier setup.
A multiple carb setup needs multiple fuel lines as well as a progressive linkage, such as that available from Stromberg. For a vintage look, black hose is preferable, but hoses are available in different colors and sizes from Mooneyes.
A wide variety of air filters and scoops are available for the Stromberg 97. These round finned examples from H&H have an internal K&N-type filter. Other suppliers include Mooneyes, OTB Gear, O’Brien, and the SO-CAL Speed Shop.
Due to consolidation of the speed equipment industry, you have few ignition options. Ultimately, you’re looking for reliability. If you’re going the traditional route, a reconditioned stock distributor, perhaps with a Pertronix electronic ignition conversion, is the way to go. Or look for an NOS Mallory dual-point electronic distributor. If traditional looks are less of a concern, then the MSD Ready-to-Run distributor is an option. This distributor is only for 12-volt negative-ground applications.
One end of the vacuum line is placed on the vacuum advance canister. This is only a temporary installation for fire-up and is not a finished engine.
The other end is connected to the brass fitting on the intake manifold, below the carb. Your project will, no doubt, have a more attractive installation.
Mike previously set the timing statically. Now, with the engine running at 600-rpm idle, Mike uses an adjustable timing light to set the timing. He removes the vacuum line, connects the timing light high-voltage lead to the wire going to the number-1 sparkplug, and then connects the appropriate low-voltage leads to the battery connections, per the timing light instructions. With the distributor hold-down bolt loose, he adjusts the timing by twisting the distributor until the timing marks on the pulley align with the indicator. Once the timing is set, Mike tightens the distributor hold-down bolt and rechecks the timing. If all is well, he will reconnect the vacuum line to the distributor. Be sure to check polarity of connections; stock electrical systems are 6-volt, positive ground.
Starter options include a rebuilt original or an original-looking unit from Powermaster. A good option is the Powermaster Mini. Its gearreduction design gives it more power to crank over high-compression engines. Powermaster also makes a Mini specifi c to the French block.
You have numerous header options. You can use stock manifolds if your engine bay affords no alternative. However, better flow characteristics than stock are preferred. Of course, the watchword is clearance, because even with only three pipes, space can be an issue, especially if your engine is not in the car Henry intended.
Ready to Ship
Fire-Up in the Car
For many, firing for the first time is a stressful moment. Did I tighten that? Did I check the valve clearances correctly? Did I do this, that, or the other? The only answer is to go over the procedure carefully. Have a fire extinguisher on hand, check all the fuel line fittings for leaks, and make sure that the fan belt is tensioned correctly, the generator is firm, that you have oil in the engine, and so on. And don’t forget to take the tape off the Strombergs. I know somebody who forgot and pumped all the gas out of the tank and into the engine before he realized his mistake.
Look for oil leaks, especially around the fittings and at either end of the pan where the rope seals are. If you do have leaks, shut the engine off and delve deeper. If it has no obvious leaks, just keep an eye on the oil pressure.
After the initial start-up, let the engine run for about 10 minutes. Then shut off the engine and let it cool down for an hour or so. Next, drain the oil; remember, many flatheads don’t have an oil filter. Although the oil is draining, re-torque the heads if you are so inclined, working to the Ford chart from the center outward.
When you’re ready, refill the engine with fresh oil and start it again. This time, allow it to run while you monitor oil pressure and water temperature and check again for oil or coolant leaks. Assuming that there are no leaks and that the oil pressure and water temp are good, run the engine for a while, increasing the engine speed every so often to 1,500 to 2,000 rpm. While you’re at it, check the charging system.
Written by Greg Kolasa and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks