The Riley 2 Port OHV conversion is one of the popular pieces of speed equipment from back in the day.
Tag: OHV conversion
1930 FORD MODEL A HOT ROD (Miller OHV) @Bonhams
1930 FORD MODEL A HOT ROD
Hot rod fans of all ages, but particularly those who grew up in the 1940s and 50s will relish this authentic Ford highboy rumble seat roadster, stripped of its fenders and carrying a rare Miller-design cylinder head. It is unrestored, but complete with such delicious period extras as Guide headlights, 1935 Ford 6.00:16″ wheels and special aftermarket three-door hood panels.
The basic 200 cubic inch displacement engine, built by Ford in April, 1930, is equipped with a high performance rocker arm head designed by famed racing car builder Harry A. Miller’s engineer, Leo W. Goossen. The head was produced by the Miller-Schofield Company then by the Cragar Company. This rare piece alone is worth the purchase.
Miller conceived the cylinder head in 1928 when the Ford Model A first came on the market and shortly before he sold his racing car and engine business to Schofield Inc. of America, but Schofield produced it only briefly. The design is a typical overhead valve conversion, similar to the Two-Port Riley and the Rutherford, using forged steel rocker arms to actuate the valves. The conversion more than doubled the original horsepower from 40 to about 90 HP at 3,200 RPM, particularly with the use of two Ford Chandler-Grove carburetors as in this installation, which is on a slightly later Model B block with pressure oiling. The original compression ratio was 5.75:1, but with the availability of better gasoline that could be upped to 7.5 or 8:1. The engine also has finned aluminum side plates and a mechanical fuel pump.
The head provides two oversize intake valves and four exhausts. The original owner, Robert Rein, installed with it better ignition and a lightened flywheel. With aluminum pistons and a re-ground camshaft, the car would be capable of more than 110 miles an hour on a smooth course. At an original sale price of $82.50, it was a bargain, even in the Depression-ravaged thirties.
Unlike some other Model A conversions, Goossen’s design produces a deep, powerful exhaust note, not unlike that of the famous four-cylinder Offenhauser racing engine.
Schofield failed in December, 1930, when a director, Gilbert Beesemyer, admitted to embezzling more than $8 million from the Guarantee Building & Loan Co. he headed in Los Angeles. Harlan Fengler, the Indianapolis driver (1923-24) and later racing official, bought most of the designs and equipment at Schofield’s bankruptcy sale and continued production of the Miller-Schofield equipment under the name Cragar. The original Miller-Schofield heads are extremely rare since they were only produced between January and December, 1930, when Schofield declared bankruptcy. The later Cragar version is vertical on the left side, whereas the Miller-Schofield head is slanted inwards.
There is a great personal story about this particular hot rod. In 1953, shortly after Edward, the present owner bought the car his wife, Gloria, had a hot 1949 Olds 88 convertible, and did not really like the old Ford. She challenged him to a race. The bet: if he lost he had to sell the hot rod. The two lined up on route 83 just outside Oak Brook, Illinois. He won, so he has had the car in his stable for more than half a century.
Such hot rods, based on the popular Ford roadster body and chassis, have become highly- sought-after items. Although there are many reproductions using fiberglass bodies, the original steel- bodied vehicles with legitimate 1930s and 1940s provenance have mostly been snapped up by collectors. To find such a sound, unrestored original is indeed a worthy prize.
This Miller Hi-Speed Head inspires a complete 1929 Ford Model A roadster gow job. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill @Hemmings
Harry Miller was an artist. His preferred medium was race cars—complete race cars built from the wheels up. They cost upwards of $15,000 (almost a quarter-million dollars, adjusted for inflation) and spent most of the 1920s dominating America’s tracks. Unlike such contemporaries as the Chevrolet Brothers, Miller largely kept out of the speed-parts business. He briefly produced a cylinder head for the Ford Model T, but didn’t pursue that market further, supposedly saying “I’m not going to make any more of those heads for the Ford. Those Ford guys don’t have any money anyway!”
In 1929, though, Miller sold his business and retired mere weeks before the beginning of the Great Depression. Unable to stay away, he came back in 1930. Thanks to the terrible economy, however, he had to produce products far less exclusive than his famous racers of the previous decade. One of the things he marketed in conjunction with financial partner George Schofield was an overhead-valve conversion for the Ford Model A. The cylinder head had been sketched up by longtime Miller collaborator Leo Goossen in 1928, shortly after Ford began Model A production.
An overhead-valve (or valve-in-head, as they were often called at the time) design, the Miller head moved both intake and exhaust valves out of the engine block and into the head where the air flow would be freer and more direct to the combustion chambers. The port arrangement was identical to the original Ford, which allowed the stock intake and exhaust manifolds to be used if the buyer desired. The distributor hole was in the same spot as well.
Miller only produced this head very briefly, although Cragar (yes, that Cragar) took over the design and continued it for several more years. Original Miller-Schofield heads like this are a rare find and they still add a lot of pep to a Model A.
All of that is perhaps a long way of saying that a head this special deserves a build to suit. Unfortunately, that’s less common than you’d think. A lot of Model A and T “speedsters” are really just some seats strapped to a stock frame and it seems like when you see OHV conversions for these engines, they’re often on stock-looking closed-cab pickups. All of that is fine and dandy, but it’s not for me.