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Antique Engine Archives All archived posts from 1999 to 2004 when SmokStak was on EnginAds. This is a read-only board.

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flat head

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Old 05-27-2000, 12:37:30 AM
Wade Kimball
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Default flat head

Hi,my name is Wade Kimball. My father has got me into antique tractor pulling, now I need to beat him with a tractor I am building(the family is in fear of having to raise the ceilings in the house due to his ever swelling head from winning so much).I realize that I may be barking up the wrong tree, but it seems to me that people that work on hit and miss (and small engines) would know some secrets.

I am building a flat head continental for my Cockshutt 20. The tractor came with a 140 cu. inch engine, I have already found a 163 cu. inch engine that will fit and look normal. Every time that I look at the head I just get confused(somebody must have left the valves out.....oh there they are in the block). I am no rocket scientist,but I am smart enough to know that all the secrets that I have learned from cars can be thrown out the window---due to my need for low rpm power(such as grinding). If anyone out there knows anything about continental flat head engines (parts that may interchange) or flat heads in general-----PLEASE HELP ME BEAT MY FATHER--although I love him dearly I must stop the insanity. Thank you....
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Old 05-28-2000, 08:50:24 PM
Marv. Weber
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Default Re: flat head

Wade: Flatheads (L Head engines) are pecular beasts. If you mill the head, the ability of the fuel-air mixture to get from the valves to the cylinder is reduced. Conventional wisdon says to raise the compression ratio, but milling the head isn't the way to go. Check with one of the old time hot rod cam grinders like Iskenderian for a stump pulling grind. Try to find a old time hot rodder who actually built flat head fords or better yet a old motorcycle mechanic who could make Harley 45's go fast. If you are unable to find anyone, contact me and I can refer you to a Harley guy I know.

The other thing to do is to bore and stroke the engine, there are many hot rod suppliers who can make the special pistons needed and do the crankshaft work needed. Marv. Weber
Old 05-30-2000, 11:52:40 AM
John Culp
Posts: n/a
Default Re: flat head

Wade, there's a very active group wringing amazing amounts of power out of flathead engines: Go-kart racers. Some of those little Briggs & Stratton and Tecumseh flatties will really belt it out. There's no free lunch, though; the way you get big power increases is by building the engine to hold together and breathe freely at higher RPM. You can't gain a lot at the lower speeds that tractor engine was made to run at. Here's a good place to start if you want to talk to kart builders about performane tips: There are performance building tips for B&S engines, forums much like this one, and pages of links to other sites and engine builders.
Old 06-01-2000, 02:40:46 PM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: flat head

I suspect that the things that a hot rodder might do to extract performance from a flat head engine are not always the same thing that a competition tractor owner might do. The hot rodder want's to wind the engine up through the gears to gain performance. The tractor driver wants a lot of low end torque and stopping to shift gears brings the whole thing to a halt near the end of the run. Along with boring the cylinders out, a low end torque cam ground for that purpose seems like the best bet.
Old 06-01-2000, 11:00:31 PM
Wade Kimball
Posts: n/a
Default Re: flat head

I would just like to say thank you for all the responses and advice. I am an automobile painter by trade, if there is anything that I can help anyone with let me know. Thanks again.


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