Tag: Engine Builder

Modified Ford Model Bs – Bill Holder @EngineBuilder

Modified Ford Model Bs – Bill Holder @EngineBuilder


It was known as the Model B engine and was produced for only four years beginning in 1932. Sporting only four cylinders, it was basically an upgrade of the earlier Model A powerplant. The “B” engine sported an impressive 200 cubic inches of displacement. Its compression ratio was a super-low 4.9-1. The paltry 50 horses it produced came at about 2,200 RPMs. The engine certainly didn’t appear likely to be a candidate for upgrading, but that wouldn’t be the case.

It was known as the Model B engine and was produced for only four years beginning in 1932, hence the ‘Deuce’ for that number in its model year

In addition to its carburetors, Winfield also produced a B Block compatible head, shown here.

Sporting only four cylinders, it was basically an upgrade of the earlier Model A powerplant.

The “B” engine sported an impressive 200 cubic inches of displacement. Its compression ratio was a super-low 4.9-1.

The paltry 50 horses it produced came at about 2,200 RPMs. Its main components included an ignition system, which included a coil and a centrifugal distributor.

The engine certainly didn’t appear likely to be a candidate for upgrading, but that wouldn’t be the case.

Shortly after its introduction, there was a wave of professional upgrades that evolved making every stock Deuce a potential race engine.

And, single-car garage engine builders would find many different ways of devising methods to triple, and sometimes more, its horsepower with a multitude of aftermarket and homemade performance parts.

It was a favorite of two types of motorsports fans.

First, there was the type that looked at it for performance street. But the performance improvements that were possible also made it an excellent candidate for oval track racing with the sprint car (then called big cars).

There was one common component in a majority of the conversions, that being a pair of two-barrel carbs, usually Winfields.

All these conversions could run on either alcohol or high-test (then called ethyl) fuels, but for alcohol, it was necessary to open up the jets for more flow. The compression ratios were also higher for alcohol use.

Established B Block Aftermarket Conversions:

HAL B Block Conversion

This high performance head was licensed by Chrysler for use by Ford. On the head was the warning to use high-performance spark plugs.

The HAL conversion was a popular racing conversion for the Deuce. This conversion lasted into the 1950s where it was still competitive. On some occasions, the block was bored out to about 220 cid.

Besides the HAL cylinder head, there was also a balanced crank, and either a single or double overhead cam. The latter was the preferred system if the pocketbook would allow it.

It also used a pair of single-barrel carburetors. It’s compression ratio was about 7-1. It was reported that some of these set-ups were capable of producing one horsepower per cubic inch of displacement, which was a pretty heady accomplishment for the time period

In addition, the very early HAL engines had carburetors sitting on top of the engine instead of the normal side-draft position. Hal B Block conversions have been noted with different displacements, some bored out to 220 cubic inches and sporting a balanced crank.

One restored 1934 HAL sprinter had an illustrious history and carried Flynn carburetors along with magneto ignition.

It burned alcohol. During its racing days, it won the NARA Northeast series and was reportedly driven by Indy 500 driver, Bill Holland

Dreyer B Block Conversion

Pop Dreyer was one of the best-known engine builders of the period. His cast iron heads connected to the B Block provided one of the best sprint car powerplants during the 1930s. The engine also sported twin Winfield carbs, aluminum intake manifold and a SOHC cam set-up. It was reported that these engines could produce over 200 horsepower.

He later would build a block of his own which would incorporate a double overhead cam and five main bearings instead of the three on the standard B Block

RAMAR B Block Conversion

This RAMAR conversion features a steel head, a dry sump soiling system, and 1.25 inch Winfield Carburetors

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Despite not being a fancy, state-of-the-art set up, Mike and his team at H&H have a great thing going. The equipment does exactly what it needs to, his team is experienced and the shop has built thousands of vintage engines for customers everywhere!

It’s not every day that a photoshoot for Rod & Custom is what pushes you over the edge into engine building, but that’s exactly what got Mike Herman to begin his journey building V8s. Of course, this photoshoot wasn’t Mike’s first time being around engines, but before that moment, he hadn’t taken time to learn and understand the work. 

Mike’s father, Max Sr., started an engine shop back in 1972 doing Model A work. As Mike tells the story, he was just out of college and decided to join his dad at a car show in Scottsdale, AZ where Jim Rizzo of Rod & Custom came through the booth.

“He asked if we wanted to do a Flathead article,” Herman recalls. “My dad said, ‘Sure, we’ll do it.’ He stuffed me in all the pictures. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to work a boring bar or anything. The issue took like nine months to come out, and it was like 10 pages in one issue, and then nine pages the next. The phone never stopped ringing, and I just had to learn on the fly. I shadowed my dad to learn all the tech and read whatever I could. I learned how to break everything and fix everything.”

That push into engine building was exactly what Mike needed, who said he might be working a desk job otherwise. Herman soon took what he learned from his dad and started his own shop, H&H Flatheads in La Crescenta, CA in 2003 – March 2023 will be the shop’s 20th anniversary. 

At just 44 years old today, Herman has successfully built a name for himself and his shop in the vintage V8 world, focusing on Ford Flatheads, Lincoln Flathead V8s and V12s, Y blocks, Hemis, early Cadillacs, Nailheads, and others. 

“I was fortunate enough to enter the industry at the right time, because within two years, I bought Navarro Racing Equipment from Barney Navarro,” Herman says. “That was perfect timing because I was up and coming and he was retiring. Since then, I’ve acquired seven other companies. I have eight vintage speed equipment companies under my H&H Flatheads brand.”

Now, Herman gets to add one more accolade to his shop’s name – Engine Builder’s and Autolite’s 2022 America’s Best Vintage Engine Shop award. H&H Flatheads is a modest shop on the surface – around 3,000 sq.-ft. of space, Kwik-Way boring bars, Sunnen hones, a Hines digital balancer, a Storm Vulcan surfacer, some hot tanks, and tons and tons of old and new engine parts.

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Inlet Manifolds for the Modern Age – Brendan Baker @EngineBuilder


Today’s aftermarket intake manifolds offer engine builders many options, but choosing the right one for your build is more than just finding the biggest one.

When Vic Edelbrock Sr. bought a 1932 Ford Roadster as his first project car in 1938, it was a turning point in his young company’s history. Vic Sr. ‘s entry into the world of “hot rods” led to the design and manufacture of the first Edelbrock intake manifold, and thus the hotrod age began. 

Edelbrock Sr. knew the engine’s top end was about moving air and fuel to the combustion chamber as efficiently as possible, and a good design had the potential to unlock horsepower. He came up with the first performance intake for Flathead V8s with a 180-degree dual-plane design. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today’s aftermarket intake manifolds offer engine builders many options, but choosing the right one for your build is more than just finding the biggest one. Experts say it is essential to match the head and intake to your application and intended use, i.e., rpm range. 

If your customer is an occasional drag strip competitor, but mainly drives his showpiece to the local diner for car club nights, you may want to choose an intake that’s good for the street and reasonable on the strip (or from stoplight to stoplight). Today’s performance components blur the lines between street and racing more than ever, so engine builders must know how to read between the lines for their customers.

High-performance intake manifolds should have smooth contours and gradual transitions between segments. The design and orientation of the intake manifold is a significant factor in the efficiency of an engine. Major contour changes can invoke pressure drops, resulting in less air (or fuel) entering the combustion chamber.

While there are several manifold styles from which to choose, each design has some compromise to consider. Take, for instance, the dual-plane manifold. It has consistently been recognized for its performance from idle to 5,500-6,000 rpm. This manifold has been a mainstay for OEMs because it produces excellent drivability. The cylinder runners are grouped and separated by 180-degrees of crank rotation and split a plenum. There are two small separate plenums, and the runners are usually long, with each one feeding four opposing cylinders of a V8 engine. 

One thing to keep in mind when choosing an intake is that air velocity affects throttle response as well as low-end torque. That’s why cylinder heads with port runner volumes that are too large may not perform as well as the stock cylinder head.

Turbulence helps route air into the cylinder more efficiently and promotes better air and fuel mixture for better combustion. Turbulence can also cause air and fuel separation in the combustion chamber, which you can better get an idea of what’s causing the fuel to separate by wet flow testing.

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The name Ed Iskenderian is a legend among racers worldwide. The racing and performance industry pioneer turns 100 on July 10, 2021! You can help celebrate Ed’s 100th birthday as Isky Cams will be throwing a birthday bash July 10 at LTR Racing Engines (29330 Highway 178 Onyx, CA). There will be a car show and cackle fest as well.

From the Isky Cams website: Ed’s life history parallels the proverbial success story. He was born in 1921 in the grapevine country of Tulare County, CA. His future as a winemaker never materialized because several heavy frosts destroyed the vineyards. These conditions forced the Iskenderian family to move to Los Angeles.

While attending Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles, Ed’s pet project was building a Model T Ford roadster. Ed learned the fundamentals of mechanics by working with the Model T Fords and later adapted the overhead conversion by Frontenac (more commonly known as Fronty), as well as the George Riley head known to the racers in those days as the “multi-flathead.”

Experiencing repeated crankshaft failure, Ed began searching for an engine with a stronger lower end. He examined the Ford Model A and B and found them to be only slightly stronger than the Model T. Turning his attention toward the later Ford V8 flathead engine, he found the crank to be much more rugged with larger bearings and a counter balanced crankshaft. He installed special Maxi “F” type cylinder heads (with overhead exhaust valves) and slingshot intake manifold. Ed had the combustion chambers in the heads cast iron filled and he then re-contoured the combustion chambers as advised by his good friend Ed Winfield. The actual compression ratio turned out to be a whopping 13:1, an extremely high ratio for the early days of hot rodding. This was Ed Iskenderian’s first hot rod and it still occupies a corner of his plant today.

After graduating, Ed obtained mechanical experience working as an apprentice tool and die maker. This is where Ed developed the skill and experience of always striving for quality and perfection. His career was interrupted by WWII. Because of his interest in speed, Ed decided to try his hand with an even faster vehicle and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He served with the Air Transport Command, repeatedly flying supplies to the islands of the Pacific.

After his war time absence, Ed lost no time in getting back to his hot rod and getting it ready for California’s dry lake bed meets. When rebuilding his V8, he wanted to obtain a special camshaft. However, the boom had hit hot rodding and there was a great deal of business for the few racing camshaft manufacturers on the west coast. Their production schedules were taxed, which resulted in slow delivery. During the five-month waiting period for his special camshaft, Ed decided to enter the cam grinding business. He bought a used conventional cylindrical grinder and drawing on his tool making and mechanical experience, Ed converted it to a universal cam grinding machine. This machine produced camshafts with a noticeable improvement in performance over the conventional racing Ford camshafts. Ed’s cams were the first to produce 1 hp per cubic inch on gasoline in postwar OHV V8 Dodge Hemi’s and 1.3 hp per cubic inch on gasoline in postwar OHV 283 Chevy V8s.

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