'54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Discussion of the 331-354-392 HEMIs.

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Feral child
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 5:36 pm

'54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by Feral child » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:49 pm

Hi Y'all!

New to this board as a poster though I've been picking your collective mind for some time now (fertile pickings too, and gotta love the info from Gene 'Da Man' Adams) and have built and run a few 354's/392's in various configurations over the years since 1969. I'm currently looking at a new combo that I'm unfamiliar with- the one headlined on the subject line.

I'm sure this combo has been done on filled motors, but the project I have in mind is a streeter, and I've got this really nice pair of '54 car heads, fresh as a daisy with the 2.00"X1.800" valves and some minor cleanup in the bowls, throats, and guide area plus this '92 short block :D but I've never run this combination before. The coolant outlets on the heads are a no brainer, been covered a thousand times or more I know, but I have three questions for anyone who's actually built a wet motor this way:

1) What specifically is actually involved in matching up the coolant passages between the heads and block? Grinding probably, filling too perhaps?

2) What does one do about head gaskets, i.e, is there a stock configured gasket that works or do I go to someone like SCE with a template?

3) HIDDEN GLITCHES! I'm figuring there's likely to be minor piston head to chamber interference, but anything else I should be watching out for that you know of?

Any input here would be much appreciated, and I thank you in advance as I thank you for the fine collection of hemi data and experience collected here to date.
I'm not committed to this hybridization, but it looks like a natural from a couple of standpoints, not the least being that I've got the major assemblies.

On another note, my time is unfortunately quite limited these days, but I hope that there might be times when I'm able to help you good folks out in return and 'earn my keep' here.

Happy Hemi'ing and best to ya!

-Fc

cylontymany
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2004 11:35 pm

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by cylontymany » Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:41 pm

I was wondering the same thing on these heads! I just picked up a nice set of 56 354 823-1 heads but in my research so far they dont flow much better than the 92 heads-so now I have both but I have read nice things on the triple 5 heads and the ones you are wanting to know about. My application is going to be a blown street motor and what I have been told so far is I wont notice much difference if any no matter what heads I use on the street which doesnt help my decision process any. Both the 354 and 92 heads have the water outlets on the front which is nice but the 331s dont so I would like to know how this would work also in case I come upon these heads too! Now TR Waters makes a nice conversion kit for these early heads but so far I have heard no one trying this set up or at least sharing their knowledge. My frustration is that you would think with so many people using these early hemis and building them in the day why dont some of these greats write a book on what worked and what didnt on their combos during their racing days and share their thoughts on what they would do if they were to build one for the street! I feel I have good basic knowledge now but I want to go deeper!

Feral child
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by Feral child » Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:14 pm

cylontymany wrote:I was wondering the same thing on these heads! I just picked up a nice set of 56 354 823-1 heads but in my research so far they dont flow much better than the 92 heads-so now I have both but I have read nice things on the triple 5 heads and the ones you are wanting to know about. My application is going to be a blown street motor and what I have been told so far is I wont notice much difference if any no matter what heads I use on the street which doesnt help my decision process any. Both the 354 and 92 heads have the water outlets on the front which is nice but the 331s dont so I would like to know how this would work also in case I come upon these heads too! Now TR Waters makes a nice conversion kit for these early heads but so far I have heard no one trying this set up or at least sharing their knowledge. My frustration is that you would think with so many people using these early hemis and building them in the day why dont some of these greats write a book on what worked and what didnt on their combos during their racing days and share their thoughts on what they would do if they were to build one for the street! I feel I have good basic knowledge now but I want to go deeper!
Well hello Clyontymany :D

I'm assuming you're building a 392? And do you currently have the heads that came on it? My personal take is exactly what you've been told- the flow difference is so minor unless you do extensive work to them that all else being equal, I'd stay with the factory equipment myself. And the difference likely wouldn't show up until you hit the upper end of the R's even then. Heck, for street with a huffer you can always play with your pulley ratios a tad anyhow (within limits1)to gain what little you might 'sacrifice' going with the stockers. Using the 392 heads would save you the grief of hunting up/commisioning custom parts or modifying stuff to the slightly oddball combination too- off the shelf blower pistons and gaskets and likely a bunch of nickle-dime things that really tend to add up. I think I'd 'bank' those 354 heads for the inevitable NEXT project! And when you get down to it, all this old hemi stuff isn't getting any more readily available, so you could think of it as an unconventional 401K that doesn't depreciate 40% overnight too! :lol:

I've got a set of bare '57 heads, but that's just it- they're BARE and I really don't care to sink the $$$ into them to prep them up at this point in time- too many other places to be directing it even though I'm itching to bash knuckles on another one of these beasties. Sadly, I'm away from my goodies too much these days, but at least doing some advance homework makes me FEEL like I'm going in the right direction, eh?

-Fc

dan miller
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:05 am

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by dan miller » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:41 am

Hello

Low deck heads (331-354) will bolt to a 392 block, but require spacers. Hot Heads makes a beautiful set (billet). You could make your own, or they can usually be found as swap meets. Weiand and several other companies made them "back in the day". I'm just in the process of having some made (water jet) out of phenolic, in order to keep heat transfer down.

The best heads, 1954 and 1955 share the same port and valve sizes. The '54's are smooth (no water outlets), and the '55's have water outlets.

We don't match the water outlets. I believe that they are sized for flow, and seem to cool very nicely.

We use Best Gaskets, available from Hot Heads. They will make special bore diameters (probably very pricey) if needed. We've had water seepage issues in the past with them, and we currently spray them with "copper coat" prior to assembly. Zero issues now, and the "copper coat" does not stick.

One way to check piston to head clearance: Bring the engine to about TDC, and screw an adapter such as a compression check fitting (or a drilled out spark plug) into the spark plug hole. Slip a rod (rounded on the piston side, flat on the other) into the hole, and place an indicator on it. Bring the engine to exactly TDC, zero the indicator, unbolt the rod cap from that cylinder, and push the piston up until contact is made. The clearance will read directly on the indicator.

Danny

Feral child
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by Feral child » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:35 am

dan miller wrote:Hello

Low deck heads (331-354) will bolt to a 392 block, but require spacers. Hot Heads makes a beautiful set (billet). You could make your own, or they can usually be found as swap meets. Weiand and several other companies made them "back in the day". I'm just in the process of having some made (water jet) out of phenolic, in order to keep heat transfer down.

The best heads, 1954 and 1955 share the same port and valve sizes. The '54's are smooth (no water outlets), and the '55's have water outlets.

We don't match the water outlets. I believe that they are sized for flow, and seem to cool very nicely.

We use Best Gaskets, available from Hot Heads. They will make special bore diameters (probably very pricey) if needed. We've had water seepage issues in the past with them, and we currently spray them with "copper coat" prior to assembly. Zero issues now, and the "copper coat" does not stick.

One way to check piston to head clearance: Bring the engine to about TDC, and screw an adapter such as a compression check fitting (or a drilled out spark plug) into the spark plug hole. Slip a rod (rounded on the piston side, flat on the other) into the hole, and place an indicator on it. Bring the engine to exactly TDC, zero the indicator, unbolt the rod cap from that cylinder, and push the piston up until contact is made. The clearance will read directly on the indicator.

Danny

Hello and thanks Dan!

You've run this combination then huh? COOL! I knew somebody here had to have- with 50 plus years to work with and the usual hotrodders 'let's try this' attitude, I figured somebody here had, and experience with the task at hand trumps theory every time in my book... I'm kinda surprised it's a bolt together since the '51-'54 head gaskets are one thing and then change (twice?) from there. Good to know though, and I appreciate your input! Cooling is a biggy here, don't want to be spitting out gaskets or cracking any good Hemi cores! On the subject of gasket sealant, you mention CopperCoat, which I've used in the past with uncoated gaskets, but I've switched to Hylomar (tm) with good results since- Do you prefer the CopperCoat or is that a generic recommendation for sealants vs no sealants?

Yes, I'm aware of the need for intake spacers with the low deck head/tall block combo and the procedure for checking possible piston/head interference as I've built some high squeeze motors before. I actually anticipate some problem at the piston top perimeters due to the chamber size on the 331 heads and the positive volume of the piston tops. Life is a bit simpler with flat tops isn't it? :D I will definitely do at least a couple of mock ups before cinching things together for the last time, but it's nice to know of typical problems ahead of time... This one will be naturally aspirated so it's not escapable with any reasonable comp ratio, and I'm thinking 9.5/10 to 1 here since (if it gets built and used as planned) it's going in an old Dodge 4x4 for off road and trailer hauling at altitude (5000 ft.+) and I'd rather not build it with an appetite for anything over 91 octane...

Again, I do appreciate your input on this!

-Fc

mart
Posts: 536
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:06 pm

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by mart » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:48 pm

[/quote] "On the subject of gasket sealant, you mention
CopperCoat, which I've used in the past with uncoated
gaskets, but I've switched to Hylomar (tm) with good
results since- Do you prefer the CopperCoat or is that
a generic recommendation for sealants vs no sealants?
"
-Fc[/quote]
---------------------------------------------------------------
I'm not sure if you're talking about using composite, copper
br steel shim gasketss, but 'back in day', whenever we used
steel shim head gaskets on an engine, the trick was to give
the gaskets a light coat of VHT brand 'high-heat' aluminum
header paint on both sides and then instal the gaskets while
the paint was still slightly tacky. With copper or composite
head gaskets though, we didn't use any coating.

mart
=====================================================

budmspeeco
Posts: 133
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:35 pm
Location: South Houston, Texas

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by budmspeeco » Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:39 am

"the trick was to give
the gaskets a light coat of VHT brand 'high-heat' aluminum
header paint on both sides and then install the gaskets" I have seen this done on countless engines over the years and I have ALWAYS thought the same about the process. It is PAINT, not cylinder head gasket, or any other gasket, sealer. It is supposed to cover an object to make it more pleasing to the eye, prevent rust and corrosion, or whatever reason someone decides to "paint" something. Copperkote has been around at least as long as VHT high heat paint. I have used it extensively once I became aware of it. I can't recall ever having a seal or gasket fail while using it. So, bottom line, read the instructions carefully on any spray, wipe-on, brush-on, whatever sealant and I think your results will be far more gratifying that using a chemical on/for something that it was not intended nor designed to be used on. I also always clean both surfaces thoroughly with lacquer thinner and dry them with air, not a rag, so as to prevent any lint from sticking anywhere. When you pick the heads up be careful to not let your fingers come in contact with the sealing surface. Put a center bolt in the head "dry" to hold the head in place and flat against the block. Put your other bolts in one at a time with oil or lube per the mfg. recommendation. Snug each to about 20#s torque before installing the next one. This prevents oil/lube from seeping away from the bolt hole and contaminating the gasket surfaces around that hole. Once all the other bolts are in remove the original dry bolt and lube it as the rest were done. Go up to 40#s torque in sequence and then follow a normal torque sequence for that motor. I have removed a lot of heads that had been sealed this way with Copperkote. I can tell you they are STUCK on the block. Once you remove some that were prepped this way you will NEVER use paint again. Buddy
'48 anglia

dan miller
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:05 am

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by dan miller » Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:14 am

We've been using the Copper Coat, and haven't tried anything else, as the Copper Coat seems to work nicely. We had been using silicone, and that's a MESS to clean up. The Copper Coat comes apart nicely, and cleans up quickly.

Danny

mart
Posts: 536
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:06 pm

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by mart » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:41 pm

budmspeeco wrote:"the trick was to give
the gaskets a light coat of VHT brand 'high-heat' aluminum
header paint on both sides and then install the gaskets" I have seen this done on countless engines over the years and I have ALWAYS thought the same about the process. It is PAINT, not cylinder head gasket, or any other gasket, sealer. It is supposed to cover an object to make it more pleasing to the eye, prevent rust and corrosion, or whatever reason someone decides to "paint" something. Copperkote has been around at least as long as VHT high heat paint. I have used it extensively once I became aware of it. I can't recall ever having a seal or gasket fail while using it. So, bottom line, read the instructions carefully on any spray, wipe-on, brush-on, whatever sealant and I think your results will be far more gratifying that using a chemical on/for something that it was not intended nor designed to be used on. I also always clean both surfaces thoroughly with lacquer thinner and dry them with air, not a rag, so as to prevent any lint from sticking anywhere. When you pick the heads up be careful to not let your fingers come in contact with the sealing surface. Put a center bolt in the head "dry" to hold the head in place and flat against the block. Put your other bolts in one at a time with oil or lube per the mfg. recommendation. Snug each to about 20#s torque before installing the next one. This prevents oil/lube from seeping away from the bolt hole and contaminating the gasket surfaces around that hole. Once all the other bolts are in remove the original dry bolt and lube it as the rest were done. Go up to 40#s torque in sequence and then follow a normal torque sequence for that motor. I have removed a lot of heads that had been sealed this way with Copperkote. I can tell you they are STUCK on the block. Once you remove some that were prepped this way you will NEVER use paint again. Buddy
============================
I never said don't use copper coat. All I said was that we used to use VHT aluminum header paint on steel shim head gaskets and it worked. I'm not saying it's better, worse or equal to coppercoat- just that we used it and it worked.

mart
===============================================================

Paul
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2004 2:41 am
Location: Tulsa Oklahoma

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by Paul » Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:58 pm

There's basically 3 sets of 54 heads; 1. the small round port heads (boat anchors unless you own a machine shop & remove material) a guy in Fla buys them & opens them up. 2. the low oval port w/water fillers 3. the low oval port w/no water fillers.

I take it you have a 54' pair with water ports. Just use the intake spacers (as mentioned)
you may also want to ask Bob at hot heads whether the step up dowl pins are needed (4 total) I think they are. They pull out easily. The fronts are usually pretty tight.

H@ll if you were running log manifolds or a Hilborn, you wouldn't even need the spacers.

If the heads are ready, use them. I believe you have the same charactoristics of the "555" 1955 heads. You'll end up w/ slightly smaller combustion chambers. Now, if you plan on running a pretty radical lift (with those valves) It may be necessary to send your pistons to a machinist. A good ( custom motor builder machinist) can do fly cuts on the tops of your pistons for @ 100, with a Bridgeport. You can safely remove maybe .030-.050 thousanths for clearance on most (if not all slugs) High quality forged, usually have thicker bosses n webbing & can be cut pretty far. If you get to that point, you may have your timing gears mixed up ! just kidding . I hope.

Run 2 aluminum block off plates on your water openings drill n tap for AN fittings n run any water configuration you want.

Feral child
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: '54 #1486833 331 heads on '57 392

Post by Feral child » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:50 pm

Thanks for the input Paul. Yes, the stepped pins are required and no biggy to switch out. If I remember right, the reason the front pins are a booger is because the holes for them are wet and they tend to rust together (imagine that!) over 50 plus years .

No,nothing radical in mind planned as far as cam lift, the plan is for mid range torque for moving weight and for off road work, so I won't be exceeding .525" lift and more likely around .500". It's the head to piston clearance (or lack thereof) at the junction of the piston crowns and skirts that I think might get me into trouble first... Seems to me there ought to be plenty of meat there so it ought to be a simple modification ( I WILL mike them out!) but then again, I'm here and my goody pieces are NOT. We shall see, and again, thanks for your input- it's appreciated.

-Fc

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