Matt Harwood

1941 Buick Limited Limousine

Recommended Posts

I'm making real progress in the exhaust department. I've been working with Sanderson Headers for the last few weeks and they're going to make me a set of headers for my Buick. Actually, they're going to send me a set of headers for a small block Chevy, which have similar port spacing as the Buick, which I believe I can modify to fit. They make a very tight-fitting header that's only 2.75 inches deep from flange to the widest point, so those two center tubes should tuck behind the intake manifold pretty neatly. The headers that they are sending me will not have a flange and will only be tack-welded together, so I can cut them apart, massage them to fit the Buick using the aftermarket Buick flanges I bought a few weeks ago. I'll tack weld everything in place the way I want it, send them back to Sanderson, and they will finish weld them and give them a satin black ceramic coating. When they come back, I should have some beautiful professional headers expressly designed for a 320 cubic inch Buick straight-8. And presumably, Sanderson will have a template to build them for others in the future. Pay attention, boys.

 

snh-cc1t-sec_xl.jpg.f4d3033b420454992d175bbb99e96d8f.jpg
This will be my starting point for the Buick headers: the Sanderson CC1T
block-hugger headers for small-block Chevy

 

I'll have to do a mock-up and while having the new flanges is helpful, it doesn't really give me accurate port spacing or real measurements that I can use. I played around with the flanges and an intake manifold on the bench for a while, but ultimately decided that I'd have to do it on the engine with everything rigidly bolted in place. However, I don't really want to take the Limited apart and render it immobile while I figure all this out. Fortunately, I happen to have a spare Buick 320 sitting in storage. So last night I retrieved it.

 

Engine1.jpg.43df3b2f4047ebee464a4031946fa822.jpg
Spare engine for mock-up

 

Right now, it's sitting on a cart, but I have a heavy-duty engine stand that can handle its mass. However, this engine is fully rebuilt and balanced, including the flywheel and clutch assembly, which is sealed inside the bellhousing. It's not like modern cars; the Buick's bellhousing is bolted to the block behind the flywheel, so you can't remove one without removing the other. I don't think I want to do that after spending all that money to have it rebuilt. There are four transmission mounting holes on the back, but I'm not convinced that the cast iron bellhousing is strong enough to support the weight of a 3-foot-long, 769-pound straight-8 hanging off of it. When I had the engine on this stand last time, there was no flywheel or bellhousing, so I could bolt it right to the block. 

 

Engine2.jpg.d27ab25e93e1c182a5bd011b8adfc6c9.jpg
Not enough strength to hang the engine on the engine stand

 

My current plan is to build some kind of support bracket system for the front of the engine and attach it to the engine stand. There are two engine mounts on the front of the engine that are built to handle the weight and my engine stand has outriggers that should be just about long enough to land right under the mounts. I'll fab up something so the engine can sit straight on the stand without putting all the weight on the bellhousing and then I can do my mockup for the exhaust. When I'm done, I'll have this beautiful engine on a stand, so maybe I'll install the manifolds, carburetors, and air cleaner, maybe the generator and water pump, and pose it in my office until it's ready to go back into the Century. Better there than sitting in a storage shed in the middle of nowhere, right?

 

Oh, and while I was picking up the engine, I grabbed these since they were just laying around:

 

Manifolds1.jpg.f8e195b07b1d827c1222a46e8982259d.jpg

 

Yes, those are exactly what you're thinking they are and they're not broken. Trying not to be tempted...

 

I'll have the headers shortly and we'll start trimming and fitting. I'm excited that this is going to work!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Got the spare engine up on the stand, but as I said, it's just too heavy and long to simply hang off the bellhousing. I went to the metal store and bought some steel and started taking some measurements. My plan is to mount some brackets on the outriggers of the engine stand and use pins to hold the supporting A-frame in place. I'm going to put a pair of 6-inch long 1x1 box section "feet" under the oil pan rail and have two support legs go down to the brackets on the outriggers. I'll use two cross-braces to keep the weight of the engine from causing the outriggers to spread. Essentially, this will create a cradle where the oil pan rail simply rests on these brackets, so it's not actually bolted to the engine itself. The oil pan rail is plenty strong enough for this job and I don't have to remove any bolts or parts of the engine. By using pins to hold the A-frame to the engine stand, I can remove everything but the welded-on brackets, which will be nothing more than U-channel steel. I might even add some rubber pads on the feet so it doesn't scratch the engine paint. I'll build that tomorrow and then get busy mocking up the headers on Sunday while my family is out of town.

 

Stand1.jpg.0a91c34fa58084a7eabf4abd7b8336d5.jpg Stand2.jpg.591a8345ec4229c6ab39d6cb91e3e138.jpg
The engine is in position. I left it on the cherry-picker just to keep stress off the
bellhousing. Block of wood is extra insurance for overnight. 

 

Stand3.jpg.ded5c589f13111fc41254028369e894e.jpg Stand_Braces.jpg.974d7767a4d8c14884b1419309b1c43d.jpg

Proposed A-frame "cradle" to help support the front of the engine on the stand.

 

And since it was the first truly nice, dry day of the year, Melanie drove her new Chrysler home for the first time. Later, she and I took the Pink Lady out to dinner. It's really a nice car and I have to admit I'm very pleasantly surprised by how well it drives. A few exhaust leaks are bugging me, though--can I PLEASE have a car that doesn't have $*#(ing exhaust leaks? Melanie loves it, though, so that's what matters. And a pink station wagon sure attracts a lot of attention!

 

Chrysler1.jpg.75241cb8f1b523d4808e477a3028b1ad.jpg

 

 

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i hung my 320 off a stand with no issues but not by the bell housing. definitely interested to see more details shots of your A-frame setup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a very strong, three legged engine stand I built long ago.  Tried to hand a '37 Packard Super 8 engine on it, no go, the stand couldn't handle the weight.

 

A friend of mine had a long, heavy engine he needed to put on a stand.  He bought two engine stands, modified the "slant" on the uprights so that they were vertical, and joined them together so that the engine was supported on both ends.

 

We've talked about this a few times, he marvels that we put engines on stands with four little bolts on one end, and that is what we trust to hold the engine in midair!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it took a little longer than I wanted, but my engine stand is modified to handle the giant engine without issues. My initial plan to just install the A-frame support at the end of the existing outriggers wasn't going to work simply because the added length of the bellhousing put almost half of the engine forward of that point. It was going to tip forward no matter what. So the first thing to do was lengthen the outriggers. Some 2-inch square tubing slipped (well, slipped is the wrong word--it took some hammering to get them in) inside the existing outriggers and lengthened them 24 inches. Perfect. 

 

Stand4.jpg.61e86c292b768b639363f863bf9bb059.jpg
2-inch square tubing to lengthen the outriggers

 

Then I mocked up the A-frame support and tacked it into place. It took longer than I expected, as the angles were a little wonky, but with some tinkering it fit well. Once everything was tacked in place, I pulled it off, finished welded all the joints, and painted it. I'm not thrilled with my welds, but it's been 10 years since I've used the welder and both the welder and I are a little rusty. But the more I worked, the better the welds got so I'm glad I was able to practice on the heavy steel before going to the thin exhaust tubing I'll be working with on the headers.

 

Stand5.jpg.1ea862f96e8ae17afe3324d4210de256.jpg
A-frame front support finish welded and ready to paint

 

To hold the A-frame to the outriggers, I used some angle iron to fashion some brackets. Since I want to be able to use this stand for other engines, the A-frame had to be removable. I drilled holes for a pin to hold the A-frame in place then anchored both sides with 3/8-inch pins. Again, the angles were a little odd, so it had to eyeball it a little and then trim the brackets so they weren't hanging off the edges where someone could get snagged or hurt.

 

Stand6.jpg.0bd4e34252cce8689ac523945d762cc2.jpg  Stand11.jpg.15ddff2652b4cf3b15a08e6aa72cf46e.jpg Stand13.jpg.70c28edc2f988cb27335a299d5fceb75.jpg
Brackets and locking pins make the A-frame support removable

 

I cut a few small chunks of carpet to wrap around the pads where the engine will rest, then gently released the cherry-picker. The engine settled onto the pads and held fast.

 

Stand10.jpg.da43d9c7d2d06129c9e5ee54b4b518f4.jpg Stand14.jpg.9828a220742381ebe179564521274a62.jpg

Small squares of commercial carpet make perfect pads for the engine cradle

 

I carefully removed the engine hoist and let the stand take the full weight of the engine. No wiggles, it's not top heavy, and the longer outriggers mean it won't tip forward. I added another pair of wheels to help with mobility and it's extremely stable now. You'll note that I angled it upwards so that the crankshaft is in line with the rotating post on the engine stand--this should minimize the stress on the bellhousing while it's hanging here. I'd call this a success.

 

Stand7.jpg.54ded29bcc3dfe57998b50f42b1c1664.jpg Stand9.jpg.2325ea903be67fc91533132ef2cd5a07.jpg Stand8.jpg.8f028066e51dc19b67a134b6d5930a05.jpg StandFinal.jpg.866d8e378a41b913d8752f97bc570edf.jpg

 

After all that, I was a little burned out, so I didn't do any exhaust work this weekend. I'll see how I feel this week a few nights after work and keep pushing forward on the project. This was a bigger job than I expected but it's good to have the engine here where it's safe and to have a mock-up to use to finish this project.

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was ordering parts from the parts store today, so I had them throw in a set of cheap small block Chevy exhaust gaskets just to see how things line up. As you can see, spacing is a little off, but I'm pretty sure I can tweak the Sanderson small block Chevy headers to fit. Next step is getting the headers and starting to tweak, measure, cut, and tack everything in place with the new flanges. 

 

Gasket1.jpg.419c3471ebcd25244999109ce7f9acb9.jpg Gasket2.jpg.fc55a1667036a9ee8d0465e8824633a0.jpg

I can work with that

 

I also bought a set of high-quality manifold gaskets expressly for the big series Buick from Remflex. If you're not familiar, check out their website at www.remflex.com. I've used these on other applications and I've been extremely pleased with their ability to seal up without excessive torque. They're a little thicker than regular gaskets, so they torque down to about 50% of their original thickness and will compensate for minor imperfections. They're also made of graphite rather than the usual woven materials. They seem to be far more durable and forgiving and at $40/set, they're not terribly expensive, either. I think they'll work well here.

 

Just waiting for the headers to be delivered and we'll start building.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The UPS man brought me a present today--my "unfinished" Sanderson headers. Woot! They're just tack-welded together so I'll be able to cut them apart and modify them as I need to. First impressions is that they're nicely built with 16-gauge tubing and a fabricated collector. It looks like it's designed to use a ball-socket connector to the exhaust pipe, which I prefer to a gasket, as it allows some movement without the risk of breaking open. The collector on my original manifolds has been a source of many of the leaks.

 

They did come with small block Chevy flanges, but I'll cut those off when I get started. Holding them up to the engine, they do need some tweaking for sure--the outer tubes will need to be about 1/2-inch closer together while the inner two will need to be spread apart a bit. At a glance, I'm thinking I'll have to section out a small part of the outer tubes where they're straight to get that half inch, but we'll see. I also like that the tubes are still mostly round at the flange, which will match the Buick flanges that I already have.

 

NewHeaders1.jpg.4decf8bc5ee81da782facc7790c50359.jpg NewHeaders2.jpg.9ab12a0fd8589d1a534266f5bf5e0aa9.jpg
Headers are nicely made and will be easy to disassemble for modifications

 

You will note that the two center tubes are tightest to the block, which is why I ordered these headers specifically--that's where the "box" on the intake manifold lives with the carburetors on top. And even though these tubes have a very tight bend to add clearance, I think I'll still have to trim a bit of the stock cast iron manifold for clearance purposes. It won't affect function, since it's a double-wall construction so the exhaust gasses can circulate around the intake:

 

IntakeTrim.jpg.bf54b3764f0343055001ee1d4cc31eb5.jpg
Yellow arrow shows the actual intake plenum
Red arrow shows outer shell that can be trimmed

 

I did some quick mock-ups just to see how everything might come together. The flange makes it a little hard to judge, but I used my custom Buick flanges to get an idea of where everything might line up.

 

NewHeaders3.jpg.81a125a0ceabdbec65810c46d4e6877d.jpg NewHeaders5.jpg.ad13e8c0f66a68bb693bab935f8d0d5a.jpg NewHeaders4.jpg.d034eb484440a382d5f8d8cb22dad8cb.jpg
A quick mock-up shows that things might work out. Still a lot of work to do.

 

I have two main concerns. One, will the collector on the forward header clear the generator, which is mounted right at the front of the block. Preliminary measurements say it will be close, but it should clear--I might have to make some kind of heat shield, though. My second concern is the outer tube design--sloping down at an angle like it does, it might cause some interference with the intake manifold. Maybe. Again, it's hard to judge without having the flange removed and everything in place, but moving it inboard a half-inch on each side will move it closer to the intake. I'm a little concerned and might ask Sanderson to send me outer tubes from a different header to help add some clearance there.

 

CC5_1.jpeg.46b463726bf145055b22563879139b8d.jpeg

These outer tubes might clear the intake manifold better.

 

If you look carefully, you can see that I actually have two sets of the Buick straight-8 flanges. They are 3/8-inch thick while the mounting flanges for the intake manifold is 3/4-inch thick. My current thought is to simply double them up and weld them together. My second thought is to simply use a single flange and cut the second one apart to make spacers that will make everything the proper thickness so it can be secured to the head. I will likely build some kind of support brace from the headers to the intake, since the weight of the intake, carburetors, and air cleaner will simply be hanging from the flanges, which are not terribly big. In the original installation, of course, the intake and exhaust manifolds are bolted together as an assembly, which gives them strength. I'll come up with something.

 

I'll cut the headers apart in the next few days and start tweaking them to fit the Buick flanges. There's still a lot of work to be done, a lot of fitting, measuring, and welding, and a little luck wouldn't hurt. 

 

Meanwhile, I need to get the car back on its feet and ready to drive, since I've committed it to my best friend's wedding on June 9. The car should run and drive just fine, since I haven't disassembled anything important. I'll reinstall the rear shocks (which are back from Apple Hydraulics and ready to go), weld up the damaged lower shock link bracket, and just drive it with the noisy exhaust--I doubt anyone will notice.

 

Rear_Shocks_Finished1.jpg.3b51a6edd547930063ff0025fb9faf6c.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are a terrific mechanic and engineer Matt.  Maybe you missed your calling.  If you are successful and Sanderson can use what you build to build these for the others of us who may need it, you'll be a hobby hero.  I'm not even talented enough to follow your whole description.  Of course having a small block Chevy part on my big straight 8 would make me kind of sick (haha, said in jest).

 

You keep mentioning the flanges you bought.  I'm not sure which/what part that is, but it must have been a limited availability item.  Would Sanderson make that too?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/16/2018 at 10:05 PM, Dynaflash8 said:

You are a terrific mechanic and engineer Matt.  Maybe you missed your calling.  If you are successful and Sanderson can use what you build to build these for the others of us who may need it, you'll be a hobby hero.  I'm not even talented enough to follow your whole description.  Of course having a small block Chevy part on my big straight 8 would make me kind of sick (haha, said in jest).

 

You keep mentioning the flanges you bought.  I'm not sure which/what part that is, but it must have been a limited availability item.  Would Sanderson make that too?

 

Thanks, Earl. As it comes together it'll make more sense (I hope). I'm still not sure it'll work, but it's worth trying. Doug Seybold is coming to my shop tomorrow and I might pick his brain a little bit and show him what I'm up to.

 

To answer your other question, this is the flange:

 

HeaderFlange.thumb.jpg.ee1d09557395ce678ba443754381790c.jpg

 

It's the part that actually bolts to the head and to which the tubes are welded. It's the foundation of the whole header/manifold and a good fit is critical. 

 

It is my sincere hope that I can build something that Sanderson can reproduce--I'm going to encourage them to take what I give them and copy it. I think they'd sell 10 sets right off the bat and it would be a big deal if it was available. I think if they decide to put this type of header into production they'll have to create their own flanges, but the two sets I have I bought from a vendor called Hell's Gate Hot Rods for $45 per set. They've been very friendly and easy to work with, and when I have questions they always respond right away. I've discussed header design quite a bit with them and whether I should double-stack the flange or just make spacers to fit it to the intake. I think that will depend on how the tubes fit and how much room I have.

 

My goal is to make this whole thing as invisible as possible so it won't look like a hot rod. Most of it will be hidden under the intake manifold and I'm going to have it coated satin black like my current manifolds. Most folks won't even see it, don't worry!

 

PS: I just scored two pair of restored elephant ears today. I don't know if I'll use them, but maybe I'll keep them around. On the other hand, they're probably worth $1000/pair...

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Thanks, Earl. As it comes together it'll make more sense (I hope). I'm still not sure it'll work, but it's worth trying. Doug Seybold is coming to my shop tomorrow and I might pick his brain a little bit and show him what I'm up to.

 

To answer your other question, this is the flange:

 

Buick_320_Exhaust_a__48328.1359002799.22

 

It's the part that actually bolts to the head and to which the tubes are welded. It's the foundation of the whole header/manifold and a good fit is critical. 

 

It is my sincere hope that I can build something that Sanderson can reproduce--I'm going to encourage them to take what I give them and copy it. I think they'd sell 10 sets right off the bat and it would be a big deal if it was available. I think if they decide to put this type of header into production they'll have to create their own flanges, but the two sets I have I bought from a vendor called Hell's Gate Hot Rods for $45 per set. They've been very friendly and easy to work with, and when I have questions they always respond right away. I've discussed header design quite a bit with them and whether I should double-stack the flange or just make spacers to fit it to the intake. I think that will depend on how the tubes fit and how much room I have.

 

My goal is to make this whole thing as invisible as possible so it won't look like a hot rod. Most of it will be hidden under the intake manifold and I'm going to have it coated satin black like my current manifolds. Most folks won't even see it, don't worry!

 

PS: I just scored two pair of restored elephant ears today. I don't know if I'll use them, but maybe I'll keep them around. On the other hand, they're probably worth $1000/pair... 

I never realized that there were separate flanges.  Of course over the many years I've never personally had a set of dual carb manifolds apart.  I think, long ago when I was selling parts, I had a pair of the end pieces.  But, that's a cloudy memory.  In all these  years, you are the first person I ever knew who had cracked manifolds on a dual carb car.  A few years ago I told Doug Seybold I wanted a 41 320cid car because the manifolds never broke.  I remember his reply, "Oh yes they do, Matt Harwood, a guy I know, has had a terrible time on his Limited".  I sure hope I don't have that problem with mine.  That said I'm following your progress closely.  Maybe you, Seybold and Sanderson can develop a saleable reproduction.  Skip Boyer and his late father got the single carb exhaust manifolds reproduced in (I think) Taiwan.  I wonder why you guys can't do that easier?  Speaking to the elephant ears, I have a really good original set extra.  The ones I'm currently going to use were replated by the previous owner, and I'm not sure I'm satisfied with them.  After a bit I may have my original set replated by my favorite shop in Melbourne, FL and sell the set I'll use now.  To me, they make a '41 Buick.  Good, Good luck with your project, and tell Doug hello for me.  We're going to Greensburg so I can get my 250th judging credit, and then we'll be tied down for awhile with my wife's illness.  She goes to So. FL University Medical Center on June 5 for their first evaluation.  Hopefully, they'll know what to do to get her going again.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Dynaflash8 said:

Maybe you, Seybold and Sanderson can develop a saleable reproduction.  Skip Boyer and his late father got the single carb exhaust manifolds reproduced in (I think) Taiwan.  I wonder why you guys can't do that easier? 

 

I actually pursued having reproduction cast iron dual carb exhaust manifolds made. A friend and client of mine is the guy who makes the reproduction cast iron exhaust manifolds for flathead Ford V8s that allows them to use dual exhaust--they're a reproduction of the police package manifolds. Anyway, he has them cast, machined, and finished and sells them through various vendors for like $250/set. Very reasonable. So I gave him an old set of manifolds and asked him to spec. out reproducing them.

 

Sadly, the Buick castings were vastly more complicated than the little Ford manifolds and even though the two manifolds look like mirror-images of each other, they are not. So we had two separate drawings, two separate molds, two separate sets of tooling, etc. The numbers ultimately came in around $3500/set for finished, machined manifolds. Would anyone pay $3500 for Buick manifolds (and that's at $0 profit)? If vendors were going to sell them, they'd have to sell for $4500 retail. Nobody would touch them and how many could they really sell? How many large series dual carb cars were built in '41-42? Ten thousand? How many survive? Three thousand? Two? How many need exhaust manifolds? And how many of those owners would pay $4500 for a set? The numbers just didn't add up. I really tried everything I could before resorting to making tubular headers. I've been pushed into a corner so I have to solve the problem.

 

Doug came by today to drop off a car and while he said he could replace my manifolds, he also said that what I"m doing could be useful to others who aren't looking for perfect show cars. There are a lot of cars that need manifolds and guys just living with it, and if they could get headers like this for, say, $500/set, that could solve a lot of problems. I'm going to try my best to make them subtle and keep them out of sight under the manifold. This isn't a hot-rod thing, it's merely a functionality thing. I'm hoping it's as easy as I'm making it sound...

 

By the way, here's Doug's car, which will be available next week:

 

Centurion1.jpg.15a15d616c8db16dac27a69eea0511a9.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I understand.  I guess the Boyer's could do it because of making them in Taiwan and the fact that the single carb manifold fits all the way from '37-51, except for '41-42.  Good luck.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it was two steps forward, one step back today when I started on the header deconstruction/construction. At first glance, it seemed easy but it looks like I'm going to have to make the headers entirely from scratch to get them to fit. It's sadly more than just a nip and tuck to the existing design. I have to say that I'm really glad I have a spare engine to do the mock-up because trying to do this inside the engine bay would be a total nightmare. 

 

Obviously, the first problem was spacing, and I was able to get the two center tubes to fit easily. I figured I would section the outer two to shorten them and get the spacing right. So that was my first step, cutting the outer tubes so I could remove, say, about a quarter-inch and pull the pipe closer.

 

5-19-18no3.jpg.d33b91cd716586d7b03b8b2f3649cbb4.jpg 5-19-18no4.jpg.3c83854f413b12cfdebe6e8d5b3fdea3.jpg

Pulling off the Chevy flange lets me see how close the Buick spacing is. Some work needed
to get the outer tubes to fit.

 

That got me close, but the second problem is--as I feared--that the intake manifold won't clear the outer tubes and they'll have to be modified fairly extensively. So I cut them in half.

 

5-19-18no5.jpg.93fd1bad2b98121b133646f3a0676052.jpg
Outer tubes need more significant modifications

 

Then there's the third problem: the generator. Some more measuring in the car and it looks like the headers going straight down will put the collector dangerously close to the back of the generator. There might be enough room for them both, but I don't want to cook the generator and decided I had to get the exhaust away from it. Another change of plan and a total redesign of the header. Fortunately, I had a few 16-gauge U-bends that I could cut up, along with the pieces that I removed from the header itself. I think I can make it work.

 

To solve the generator clearance issue, I angled the center pipes backwards and it was a pretty easy modification. I tacked everything in place and it looks pretty good. In fact, it looks a lot like the original manifolds. Depending on the difficulty in making the outer tubes fit, I may try to angle the rear header forward to make it look symmetrical. Or not--there's plenty of room back there and simple is better.

 

5-19-18no6.jpg.372a8719fe2fbc59e0bb549bf3ba9459.jpg
Angling the tubes back gives me clearance for the generator


Once I had the center tubes dialed-in, I tried making the front tube. My first effort got pretty close and I was extremely careful to make the joint between the two sections of pipe as straight and clean as possible to make it easy to weld (and hopefully grind so it disappears). I inserted a chunk of tubing in the intake port to simulate the intake manifold and worked around that. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough and the tube I made would not clear the intake. Dang. Cut the tack welds and take it apart. I'll have to do something a bit more complex, probably with two seams instead of one, but if I'm careful with my welds and grinding, nobody will notice. I just have to work hard to keep it from looking home-made and amateurish--the bends have to flow into each other without a hard transition. That's going to be tough. I'll give that a try tomorrow. And the rear tube on the front header is going to be even more challenging now that I have angled the collector. We'll see how that goes--I'll probably have to go buy some more U-bends...

 

5-19-18no7.jpg.633680f7faf990ab51952e24f55517ec.jpg 5-19-18no8.jpg.8a1a77786827197f54f783618443a93d.jpg 5-19-18no9.jpg.5645d874c8fc0a8c5a3d1e0a33cc562b.jpg
Front tube looks great but sadly does not quite clear the intake. Cut it off and start again. Sigh...

 

I'm also wrestling with the thickness of the flanges on the headers (3/8") versus the thickness of the flanges on the intake manifold (3/4"). I tried doubling up the flanges which fits perfectly and makes everything line up properly, but consumes valuable space that I need to tuck the pipes behind the intake manifold, particularly the heat boxes on which the carbs are perched. I ultimately decided to go with a single flange and perhaps to cut up the second one and use parts of it as spacers at the mounting points to make everything the proper thickness to fit flush. Not quite as neat as I'd like, but that extra 3/8 inch makes a real difference.

 

Unfortunately, it's still not enough, which I expected. I knew I'd have to trim the back of the heat box on the intake, which is now just dead weight anyway--it isn't integral to the intake itself (you can see the actual intake plenum inside the heat box in one of the cut-away photos). Since I have five or six spare intakes laying around, I didn't feel too badly about taking the cut-off wheel to this one and adding some clearance. It'll be totally invisible once everything is assembled and it does indeed buy me enough clearance to make everything fit. I'll go back later and clean up the cuts to make it look tidy and as if the factory made it that way. 

 

5-19-18no2.jpg.d5ddd13cc290e6e1f8c1decd6c4a39ac.jpg 5-19-18no10.jpg.149a8630ab67e21e1692406fe90b057a.jpg 5-19-18no1.jpg.5f07960a7289a6ca1dc6573bbebee2ad.jpg
Trimming the back of the intake manifold adds a few valuable millimeters

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sure hope I never have to go through all of that.  And to think, I had a moment in time to buy two parts cars, meaning two manifolds, all for $6,000.  Waited three days to think about it.  When I called back they were sold to a family member.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt, what if you used some flexible tubing like this

 

https://www.amazon.com/Walker-40001-Universal-Exhaust-Diameter/dp/B0019QJ4EC/ref=pd_sbs_263_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0019QJ4EC&pd_rd_r=FEHM8JDBFANJ05BXDGTD&pd_rd_w=7MN5L&pd_rd_wg=5wMdd&psc=1&refRID=FEHM8JDBFANJ05BXDGTD

 

to create the pattern header?  You could then tack-weld it to the flanges and tack the coils strategically to keep the desired shape.  Impressive project -- keep the faith and press on!  I'm sure if you can come up with a workable solution the Buick Universe will be forever grateful!

 

Question:  I presume the smaller 248 CI will require a similar, but different solution?

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a lot of work done today. The forward header is done. I didn't need quite the radical cutting and welding that I expected for the outer tubes and after some sitting, thinking, measuring, tweaking, and grinding, I eventually got a workable solution that looks right. I bolted the intake in place and worked around it to be sure that everything fit. It's close in a few areas with about 1/8" to spare, but it fits and there should be no clearance issues. I did not need to dimple the tubes or trim the intake manifold for the tube on the rear of the front header, something I was concerned about--I was able to cut the bends tightly enough that the tube tucks in behind the intake without any additional clearance work needed. That was a nice surprise.

 

5-20-18no2.jpg.631290b4e6d47ee51b1a8111c2978c37.jpg 5-20-18no5.jpg.62c744a1cdc11ba62d7da7facda0c41a.jpg 5-20-18no4.jpg.272780a2f59208b2356bd036efa12e1e.jpg 

Front and rear tubes were not as difficult as I had feared. I'm very pleased with the way they hide under the intake

 

5-20-18no3.jpg.de7cbe060be9d40e30154f7158d4ba3a.jpg
Clearance looks tight but there's actually about 1/8" between intake and exhaust

 

5-20-18no6.jpg.873001cd2b63d46cfdf9516e9fd418a4.jpg

Looks awesome, no? I'm proud of the result

 

I'm also very pleased with how the header hides under the intake. I don't think many people will notice the change so it should still look correct. I'm also thinking it should improve flow significantly, especially if I am able to use 2.25-inch or even 2.5-inch exhaust pipes. I don't know if these cars are choked for exhaust flow, but this one certainly won't be. Once it is ceramic-coated satin black (or maybe cast iron gray, I haven't decided yet), it should be all but invisible under there. Add in the carburetor upgrade so they will work in unison rather than progressively and the Limited should really fly!

 

Anyway, after I patted myself on the back for a few minutes and grabbed lunch with my 9-year-old son, Riley, it was time to start on the rear header. I debated for quite a while whether to just run it straight down or to try to angle it forward like the stock manifolds. That would have been good for style points but functionality would not have been improved and frankly, the risk of getting too complicated and running out of patience was too high. Ultimately, I decided that simple was better. There's plenty of room for the rear header and exhaust pipe and a clever exhaust bender will be able to make everything fit without issues. Nobody's going to see it tucked way down in the back of the engine bay and while there will always be a part of my thinking I should have done it the other way, I'd much rather have the car back up and running and ready to go. So straight down it is (for the moment).

 

I cut apart the second header just like the first, again thinking that I could just section out about 3/4" from the straight section of the tube, but no, it still wouldn't clear the intake. Dang. I had to take the whole thing apart again and rebuild from scratch, much as I did up front. I started thinking about angling the tubing once again since everything is just tacked in place and I haven't gone too far yet.

 

5-20-18no8.jpg.1ccf89fbbf8e301fa2b6ef6fd9aba5b4.jpg 5-20-18no7.jpg.d2f629e97f5df8f6c148cbd1ddcfeab6.jpg 5-20-18no10.jpg.e63e354a19ea8c000d727842b9c2b14b.jpg 5-20-18no9.jpg.2ea9cb20d0ba011f82650ebfd1cf26fc.jpg
Rear header construction just like the front. Get the middle tubes to fit behind the heat box, then figure out the outer tubes. I have tentatively decided to run it straight down
but I continue to second-guess myself on that decision. It's not too late...

 

I did some preliminary fitting for the rear tube and there will be some cutting and a seam in the pipe. Still not too late to change the design and angle it forward. Hmmm. What do you guys think?

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, EmTee said:

Matt, what if you used some flexible tubing like this

 

https://www.amazon.com/Walker-40001-Universal-Exhaust-Diameter/dp/B0019QJ4EC/ref=pd_sbs_263_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0019QJ4EC&pd_rd_r=FEHM8JDBFANJ05BXDGTD&pd_rd_w=7MN5L&pd_rd_wg=5wMdd&psc=1&refRID=FEHM8JDBFANJ05BXDGTD

 

to create the pattern header?  You could then tack-weld it to the flanges and tack the coils strategically to keep the desired shape.  Impressive project -- keep the faith and press on!  I'm sure if you can come up with a workable solution the Buick Universe will be forever grateful!

 

Question:  I presume the smaller 248 CI will require a similar, but different solution?

 

I thought about that flex tubing and was tempted, but ultimately decided that if I was going to do all this work, I should do it to the very best of my ability. I would never be happy with the flex tubing and it would stand out more than the regular tubing might. Having worked in a race shop, my standards are little bit out of whack. It's got to be professional grade. I want people to think it was built that way rather than just patched up by the owner.

 

As far as the 248, you could surely do something similar, but it would involve starting from scratch since the size differences would make it as tough to tweak my design as it is for me to tweak the Chevy design. That said, the 248 seems to have fewer problems with cracked manifolds and they're plentiful and inexpensive, so what I'm doing isn't really necessary. I don't know that it'll add much performance on either engine--I wouldn't do it simply for that reason. The only reason I'm doing this is to banish the leaks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

I would never be happy with the flex tubing and it would stand out more than the regular tubing might.

 I was only suggesting the flex tubing to create a 'pattern' header so that Sanderson could replicate the bends with solid tubing.  Beautiful work -- I think you've just about got this nut cracked!  ;)

 

I was thinking about your plans to make the finished headers black and wondering whether heat would be an issue due to the proximity to the intake manifold.  Would ceramic coating them in gray be better than black to reduce radiation?  Maybe approximate a cast-iron color...?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, EmTee said:

 I was only suggesting the flex tubing to create a 'pattern' header so that Sanderson could replicate the bends with solid tubing.  Beautiful work -- I think you've just about got this nut cracked!  ;)

 

I was thinking about your plans to make the finished headers black and wondering whether heat would be an issue due to the proximity to the intake manifold.  Would ceramic coating them in gray be better than black to reduce radiation?  Maybe approximate a cast-iron color...?

 

I talked with the folks at Sanderson extensively and they don't do headers from user-supplied patterns or templates. The closest they'll go is sending me one of their existing designs so I can modify it, then I send it back and they'll finish weld it and give it a ceramic coating. I asked if they would make something custom from a mock-up, but they said that it's just too labor-intensive to try to reverse-engineer someone else's mock-up. Sometimes they get something they can use, but usually not and it makes customers frustrated when they can't deliver (most guys, myself included, are amateurs and don't really know what they're doing). So they decided not to do it. I can understand that. Still, I wonder what they'll think when this thing shows up after they sent me a pair of block-hugger small block Chevy headers.

 

I will, however, make them understand that copying this thing I've built could be beneficial to have in their pattern library. It won't be a big seller like a Chevy 350, but I bet they can sell 5 or 10 of these a year and probably several sets the moment I'm done with mine...

 

I'm leaning towards a black coating simply because I like how it looks (see below). I painted my existing manifolds black and it has a clean, finished look that I find appealing. Some kind of cast iron gray would be OK too, but I think the black will be a better disguise because it won't show as much detail when you look under the hood. Either color should control heat pretty well and with the individual tubes hanging out in the wind by themselves, I think heat won't be an issue. Those big cast iron manifolds getting hot, pumping heat into the intake, and tucked in so close are surely hotter. My car never had any heat-related problems but decoupling the intake from the exhaust and getting that exhaust heat out of the intake tract should only help. 

 

DSC_3362a.jpg.5f0b90eb9f683dd4ed7c0bc2b9227118.jpg DSC_3369a.jpg.69201202c0b99acd6b932c5a11beabb7.jpg

 

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And now that I'm looking at the photos, yeah, I think I'm going to take that rear header apart and angle it forward. I need to do it right. 

 

I also looked down there in the Limited's engine bay and saw the shifter linkage is next to the block right about where the rear header would dump. There's enough room for an exhaust pipe between the block and the linkage, but if I angle it forward, the exhaust shop can make a nice-looking Y-pipe and keep it tidy. I'll probably have it done in stainless so I don't have to do it again. It's just money, right?

 

Back to work...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful work Matt, a credit to your engineering skills. And yes it is just money. As i remind my wife"if your hobby is not costing you money then you are not doing it right" keep at it 

Cheers

Andrew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Building headers is not an easy job. I had to make my own when I built a Cobra replica. I put a Chevy engine in it and for some reason nobody makes a header for a Chevy in a Cobra. ?  I built mine using J-bends and cutting them up and welding them together.  After doing it I definitely have an appreciation for fabricators.

Edited by s_hilmoe
spelling (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/21/2018 at 6:47 AM, trimacar said:

I have a very strong, three legged engine stand I built long ago.  Tried to hand a '37 Packard Super 8 engine on it, no go, the stand couldn't handle the weight.

 

A friend of mine had a long, heavy engine he needed to put on a stand.  He bought two engine stands, modified the "slant" on the uprights so that they were vertical, and joined them together so that the engine was supported on both ends.

 

We've talked about this a few times, he marvels that we put engines on stands with four little bolts on one end, and that is what we trust to hold the engine in midair!

I'd be tempted to build a stand where the motor stood upright on the bellhousing.  You could walk around then for access to everything.  When lifting the engine for placement in the car, I would use a lift and transition the engine to a horizontal position on my rolling stand that supports the engine at the engine mount locations, then adjust the pick up angle with more stable positioning with the lift.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The hard part is done and I now have a full set of headers to fit a large-series Buick straight-8! You'll note that I did go ahead and angle the rear tubes forward to mimic the original manifolds. I just couldn't live with it being asymmetrical and this way it will look neat and tidy with a Y-pipe right down the middle of the block. I am hoping to use 2.5-inch exhaust tubing for the rest of the system to help it breathe, but maybe 2.25 if space gets tight. I'll call my friends up at Classic Exhaust and have them make me  the biggest round muffler they possibly can, probably in stainless. I don't want to have to build another exhaust system for this thing.

 

Once it was all tacked together solidly, I spent some time finish welding the seams on tubes 1, 4, 5, and 8. I'm guessing that the guys at Sanderson would do that for me, but since I have this rock-solid jig (the engine) that will keep everything in perfect alignment, I thought it would be best to do it now. I'm also not sure if they would dress and grind the welds before sending it to be ceramic coated and after that, there's nothing I can do to fix it. May as well make it right before I send it in. I was careful not to grind too much on the welds because I don't want to make the 16-gauge tubing any thinner and increase the chances of failure. I think some 120-grit sandpaper will smooth out the remaining roughness easily. I also did some extra tack welds throughout to reinforce the structure and keep everything properly aligned so that it will be easier for them to finish weld. Fortunately, the design of the Buick manifold setup has plenty of room for error since the original manifolds were meant to slide around as they heated and cooled, so even if there's a little distortion, it should not be an issue when installing the header later. 

 

For installation, I'm trying to come up with the best way to secure everything to the head. The stock intake manifold is 3/4-inch thick at the flange, while the new header is only 3/8. I'm thinking that I'll cut up my spare header flange and use the ends where the mounting bolts are located to add appropriate thickness. I am going to try to keep at least a little bit of the header tube opening intact so that it will index the spacer properly. For that, I"ll probably have to clearance it a bit to make a radius where the weld around the header tube will be. I did it with one piece and it seemed to work well, giving me a level surface for clamping everything in place. I am going to use 3/8-16 x 2-inch studs in the head, some kind of locking nuts, and square washers to provide as large a clamping surface as possible. The headers don't need to move around the way the original cast iron manifolds did, but the Remflex gaskets I'll be using only call for 20 lb-ft of torque so I hope it holds well. I'm still debating whether I want to devise a way to link the headers and the intake manifold to support each other--I removed and installed that intake about a dozen times and it seems to hold itself in place pretty rigidly without being bolted to the exhaust. I'll think on that tomorrow while I clean up the cuts I've made on the intake so it looks more finished.

 

In the meantime, here are some shots of the final header construction:

 

5-26-18no1.jpg.c7e3bd42f25dd5e45900271ee9988a7b.jpg
Yeah, of course I decided to angle the tubes forward. So I cut
the header apart and rearranged the tubes.

 

5-26-18no3.jpg.0e98b7e942d05200b35abe4506d334f8.jpg
Once I had the center tubes secured to the collector, I started
on cylinder #8, which is more or less a mirror of tube #1

 

5-26-18no2.jpg.48c7e155a918ba33abb869ffd7e3531d.jpg 5-26-18no4.jpg.e8686633528ec2e645120ea08ca2a06a.jpg
Reinstall the intake to double-check clearances and mock up the #5 tube

 

5-26-18no6.jpg.469cdfd2c2115bafe0e05ba055f61506.jpg 5-26-18no5.jpg.579626c114c76434e652ec26d42e97ba.jpg
Tube #5 tacked in place, plenty of clearance (plenty = 1/8 inch)

 

5-26-18no7.jpg.d4b0a374593fcbd173524fad037a58cb.jpg 5-26-18no8.jpg.8f4b4e820f2811ff4eee95051d71bba2.jpg 
Clearance behind the intake is pretty good, although I obviously had to trim the heat boxes under the carbs. Good
clearance for the center two tubes behind the intake with no grinding or hammering required

 

5-26-18no11.jpg.ce1bbcae2e8964ded762c9009a7f7d1c.jpg
Tucks in tight to block without being too close. Straight

shot for exhaust pipes, which will clear the oil pan rail

 

5-26-18no9.jpg.df125c600ec7b3d3b2104281b526a5b7.jpg 5-26-18no10.jpg.669aafe08a5c718c500b3c29fa2b4da0.jpg 5-26-18no12.jpg.dea942231b5ee164ad9d64e8de79e871.jpg
Finished. Note that I have welded and dressed the seams in tubes 1,4,5, and 8. A little more light sanding should make them disappear.

 

Part of the reason I'm excited to be working with Sanderson is because I'm hoping they'll duplicate my design and make it available to others. I don't need any compensation but I'm going to encourage them to template the header. It won't sell like a small block Chevy header, but I bet they can sell 8 or 10 a year, maybe more if it's available off-the-shelf. I don't know if this will work with a single-carburetor intake from an older 320--can anyone take some photos of their single carb intake and see if it might work with these headers? It would be nice if this were a universal solution for all the big-series cars.

 

I'll box it up and send it back to Sanderson next week. Let's hope this all works the way it should!

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really great work, Matt. Looks beautiful. From my experience, I would say you shouldn't worry about intake manifold and headers supporting each other. The vulnerability to the headers comes from the weight and length of the exhaust system. Your guys will know how to properly engineer and hang everything in order not to load the headers. At some point not too far from the headers, a flex pipe could be a very good idea for isolation.

 

Also, there probably will be some times when you will need some intake heat (certainly can be introduction of hot air BEFORE the carbs), as your big closed limo will see quite a range of conditions, and my guess is that carburetor icing will happen. Have you given this some thought ?    -  CC 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now