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How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? #2712476
11/03/19 04:13 PM
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Doc Fiberglass Offline OP
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Kind of eyeballing a street rod with a 354 that needs a bunch of work to make it “done”.

Anything to eyeball deeper ? I heard that the heads are fragile bone stock using unleaded fuel. Also looking for something with MPG as a concern ... as I really want to really DRIVE IT.

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Doc Fiberglass] #2712626
11/04/19 10:49 AM
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first thing ya need to do, is pick up a copy of Tex Smith's "The Complete Chrysler Hemi Engine Manual"" by Ron Ceridono.
it's been out of print for a while, but i think you may be able to pick up a copy on the bag. maybe elsewhere ? i haven't looked.

don't know what to tell ya on mpg. either adapt an A518 or use a gearvendor. stock engines in the cars they came with were not known for gas misers, but weren't too bad for the times.
put in a lighter vehicle, it would definitely help, but by how much, who knows ?

as to the unleaded gas issue, hardened exhaust valve seats would be a good idea, however, unless you are beating on it at the drags, or stop light to stop light, this may not be entirely necessary. chrysler used way better material in their engines than did the others, and you may be able to skip this step unless the seats are beat in bad, or the valves are burnt up.

and don't forget this : "hemis = $$$". they are not an inexpensive engine to build.
beer

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: moparx] #2712769
11/04/19 06:02 PM
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Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Sniper] #2712788
11/04/19 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Sniper


84 beans shipping !! ... oUcH

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Doc Fiberglass] #2712816
11/04/19 08:34 PM
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I Don't know about the book, looks pretty high $$$ to me for old info. I would think you could get a lot of that info off the net unless owning the book is important to you.

I read someplace that the early Hemi's came from the factory with stainless steel exhaust valves. If that is true, the seats are the only thing you would need to worry about. If the valve seats are in good shape, it takes the unleaded fuel somewhere around 75K before any damage is suppose to occur, and then it will depend on how hard the motor was run. If the motor you are planning on using has already been used on the street, it might be wise to get stainless valve seats installed, and make sure the exhaust valves are still stainless.
My son had a factory 54 331 with the 200 HP motor. His 4bbl motor got somewhere around 15 mpg, but the 200 hp was less then impressive in this day then it was in 54. That 200 hp motor was the highest HP rated production motor at the time.

There are 3 different versions of the old Hemi and the cubic inch displacement changed often, getting bigger as time passed (51-58 production time for the Chrysler version)) in each division. Very few parts will interchange between the 3 versions, so you need to know the year and the brand of the old Hemi you are looking at.

A Desoto version was the smallest cubic inches and the lowest HP. It is also the hardest one to get performance parts for.

The Dodge version was the middle in cid and HP. though not easy (or cheap) some performance parts are available.

The Chrysler version is the grand daddy. Its the biggest and the most HP. There is a pretty wide aftermarket support for the Chrysler motor, but anything Hemi is expensive.The early Chrysler motors had an extended bell that caused issues with some transmission issues. 53 was the dividing year, but it seems no one was quite sure when the change over took place, a 53 could have an extended bell, or the "normal" bell. The transmission bolt pattern of the late 53 and newer is the same as a small block Mopar, but an adapter/spacer is required to make the modern transmissions work. Gene

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Doc Fiberglass] #2712936
11/05/19 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Doc Fiberglass
Originally Posted by Sniper


84 beans shipping !! ... oUcH


even the book = $$$$ laugh2
search the web for info instead.
beer

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: moparx] #2713957
11/08/19 12:32 PM
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i was told chrysler already was using hardened valve seats in the first hemis-------add electronic ignition and an electronic injection------the 354 head is the best of that era and was copied by hot heads....bolt on a 518 tranny.....

Last edited by savoy64; 11/08/19 12:33 PM. Reason: speling
Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: savoy64] #2714320
11/09/19 06:59 PM
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www.hothemiheads.com is a great place to start.

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Doc Fiberglass] #2717891
11/20/19 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Doc Fiberglass
Kind of eyeballing a street rod with a 354 that needs a bunch of work to make it “done”.

Anything to eyeball deeper ? I heard that the heads are fragile bone stock using unleaded fuel. Also looking for something with MPG as a concern ... as I really want to really DRIVE IT.


Check the sides of the block for cracks. The heads have NO issues. Some valve seats were induction hardened, some had inserts.
We use 10:1 in virtually everything that leaves the shop and modern fuel is not a problem. Mopar electronic ign is best system IMHO.
New cam cores are usually available from the 'big' guys.

Yes, some parts can be expensive so shop around.
Send an email or call if you have questions. hemi.parts@yahoo.com


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Early Hemi Parts and Tech
EarlyHemi and flat 6&8 trans adapters
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Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: wayfarer] #2718127
11/21/19 03:45 PM
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The heads should not be a problem. All the early hemi heads I've personally dealt with have had factory installed hardened exhaust seats. You might want to inspect the valves closely however as many of the early hemis also used sodium filled valves and any pitting on the valve especially where the stem is welded to the valve head should be replaced.

If the engine hasn't already been rebuilt pay special attention to ensuring the rocker shafts are cleaned on the inside and the oil passages in the rockers are also cleaned. Also removing the original check valve and using a bypass plug and late model spin on oil filter adapter is a good idea.

I also like the Mopar electronic ignition. Kits are available but it's also easy to convert the stock cast iron distributors to electronic using small block electronic internals and rotor (and 56 and up distributor cap). My experience with the early Hemis is that they are a little coldblooded when the temperature drops but an MSD box helps with that.

The BB Chevy water pump conversion is also not a bad idea especially if you travel far from home......a replacement for the Chevy pump is a bit easier and quicker find than an original if the pump goes toes-up.

As far mileage the old Hemis can do pretty well depending on gears/tire size and transmission. My 57 Plymouth with a .060 over 354, A833 overdrive 4 speed and 4.10 gears got 20 MPG @ 75MPH with the AC on when I was running the Tri-Power. I converted to dual quads on a stock 57 intake a couple years ago and it dropped to about 17 MPG.

I've never checked the mileage on them 37 Dodge Pickup......(1955) 331 Hemi, Weiand Drag-Star 6 X 2 intake and Dana 60 w/4.56 Gears. I'm running a 46RH with a Compushift controller to control the lockup and OD functions in that one. Even with the 4.56 gears it will cruise comfortably at 75 MPH.

Both vehicles have proven to be very reliable and the 57 Plymouth has made two 4000 mile trips to Illinois and back.......and I'm planning on doing the trip again next year. I haven't been much more than 50 miles away from home in the 37 but that's more a case of this fat old body stuffed into the small cab of a 30s truck has more problems than the truck does. whistling


1957 Plymouth (Hemi, Dual Quads, A833 4 Speed 9 1/4 w 4.10)
1937 Dodge Pickup (Hemi, 6X2 intake, 46RH, Dana 60 w 4.56)
Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Doc Fiberglass] #2723382
12/12/19 03:40 AM
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The 1955 300 motors are the only stock Chrysler passenger car motors that I know of that had hardened seats in them from the factory.
I believe all the H.D. truck and industrial 354 C.I. Firepower type Hemi motors that had 1/2 inch valve stems in them had hardened seats in them along with sodium filled exhaust valve stems shruggy
I'm not sure if Dodge used any 331 C.I. H.D. motors or if Chrysler even offered them in that size C.I. in the H.D Dodge trucks confused
All the 1954 Chrysler passenger car 331 C.I. motors I've seen didn't have the extended bell housing on them like the 1951 to 1953 Chrysler 331 C.I. motors had, which was about 5 1954 motors shruggy
As far as making that motor a good cruiser that is what Chrysler engineers design those motors for, not racing work
I loved the 1955 Chryselr New Yorker motor I had in my first real hot rod, a 1934 Ford pick up that had been chop and channel with a custom made sheet metal bed on the stock 1934 frame with the early ford drive train in it back in the mid 1960s boogie
I broke a lot of stock Ford drive train parts with that truck once I put a set of 8.20x15 inch 7 inch wide Casler cheater slicks on it whiney realcrazy shruggy

Last edited by Cab_Burge; 12/12/19 03:41 AM.

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Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Cab_Burge] #2723392
12/12/19 08:29 AM
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the flathead sixes had hardened exhaust seats not sure why they would do that to the flatheads but not the hemis.

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Sniper] #2723566
12/12/19 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sniper
the flathead sixes had hardened exhaust seats not sure why they would do that to the flatheads but not the hemis.


Motors ,made before the early to mid 1950s with the harden seats was because gasoline didn't have any lead additives or and anti knock additives in them until around 1954, I think scope

Last edited by Cab_Burge; 12/12/19 08:47 PM.

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Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Cab_Burge] #2723577
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TEL has been used as a gasoline anti-knock additive since the 20's. In WWII it's use allowed aviation gasolines to reach as high as 150 octane. In 1921 GM patented it's use as an anti-knock additive and called it "Ethyl" hence the phrase "fill it up with Ethyl".


Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Sniper] #2723808
12/13/19 06:07 PM
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I was told by a petro chemical engineer in the early 1970s at the old Orange County drag strip that one of the local petro refinery in Wilmington, CA had helped develop TEL and was still working on that product. He said that most American gasoline selling company had not used that additive until the early to mid 1950s shruggy
One of that company engineer employ had a 1962 Dart M.W. car that they used as a test bed at the tracks and on the roads testing different mixtures of additives.
The environmental anti smogger activists kill that program didn't they work
I can remember buying and racing with 130/145 Av Gas for around .35 cents a gallon back then before the first gas crunch, regular and premium where under .30 cents a gallon including the road taxes boogie

Last edited by Cab_Burge; 12/13/19 06:11 PM.

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Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Cab_Burge] #2723833
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Who knows why Chrysler put hardened seats in the flatheads, probably belt and suspenders engineering.

Probably stopped in the 50's as a cost savings since TEL took care of it the issue anyway. I understand Chrysler was feeling the financial bite then.

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Sniper] #2723978
12/14/19 12:54 PM
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that financial bite is what caused chrysler to build the poly heads and mount them to hemi blocks----it took awhile to develop a cheaper poly block ........

Last edited by savoy64; 12/14/19 03:23 PM. Reason: speling
Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: savoy64] #2723986
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The first Plymouth V8 made in 1955, was 301 C.I., I believe, was the first poly head only block, correct?
I'm thinking the Chrysler Windsor and Saratoga cars may have had poly heads on them before 1955 work I seem to remember hearing about those cars having a 301 C.I. motor in them in 1954 to 1956, also but not the same as the little Plymouth poly motor, that you could use the Firepower Hemi heads on them if you needed or wanted a small C.I. Chrysler Hemi head motor work
I don't know anyone who did that, I sure didn't tsk

Last edited by Cab_Burge; 12/14/19 01:21 PM.

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Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Cab_Burge] #2724005
12/14/19 03:27 PM
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there is a story out there about a street racer that took a bored and stroked 392 block and capped it with poly heads--and the poly heads were a good flowing head in the day-----he street raced telling everyone he had a stock poly with a 4 barrel-----after wins he usually had to lift the hood to show the motor because he was accused of lying----just looking at it you couldnt tell....

Re: How to make a early Hemi a good cruiser ? [Re: Cab_Burge] #2724049
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Minor clarifications..
The first Plymouth only engine, the 'A' series, was 1956 at 277 cubic inch.
The Dodge based Poly engines, 241 and 270 overlaped the A engine into 1956 in the Plymouth car line.
The Chrysler 'Poly' engine was the Spitfire and was first used in the 1955 Windsor as a 301 ci. This is a poly head on a Hemi block. This is NOT the same as the Plymouth 301 which is an A engine. In 1956 the Spitfie used the 331 block and in '57 and '58 was a 354.
The Dodge based Poly can be converted to Hemi.
The Spitfire can be converted to Hemi.
The Plymouth A series cannot be converted.


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