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Buffalowed Bill

Pre-war 8/cyl. head information?

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The info that I am seeking is for the 1929-42, 250cu" engines and it's smaller derivatives. The other day I passed on a 1933 cast iron 8 cly head, from what I have been told was from a 1933 Commander limousine, to a friend who needed it for his 1936 President. I am aware that the Model 73 had a smaller displacement of 235cu", but I really can't see any apparent differences in the combustion chamber. His second aluminum head had failed, and he needed help. Most of us know that 1936-37 Presidents only used aluminum heads, and maybe 1934 and 1935, as well (although the earlier castings were from a different manufacturer). Today most 1934-37 Presidents, that I see, have been changed over to the 1938-42 cast iron head.


I have two 1937 Presidents, one of which had the iron head conversion before I bought it. The coupe had the original aluminum head, in place. The coup ran, but the engine was really tired. When I got around to tearing the coupe engine down, I found that the head looked really good. I had always looked at the head as being non-salvageable, but was I wrong? I had the casting checked and while there were some issues, there was nothing major. I found an old world Russian expatriate, who had made a career out of saving stuff like this. He was able to repair it, and pressure test it to 120lbs.  


As many of you know, a proper rebuild on one of these engines is not for the faint of heart. Parts are not readily available, and expensive when you find them. I drifted back and forth on which head to use. I just wasn't sure that I wanted to risk a rebuild to an aluminum head that might fail. The 33 head that I just sold, seemed to have some real advantages over the later iron heads. First it seems beefier, second it was drilled for the additional water passages, like the original aluminum head. The 33 head also used the larger spark plugs, as the did the aluminum head. For me the question of 33 vs the other heads is moot, but I'm still curious about that head, and about the later iron heads. I told my friend that I I would exchange the 33 head for a later head if he chooses, so I do have some questions:


1) How many operational cars still have their aluminum heads?

2) Is there anything special, that anyone has discovered, that helps in the preservation of the original aluminum head?

3) Are there any opinions regarding which iron head, the earlier one, vs the 1938-42, would seem preferable on the 1936-37 engine?

4) Are there any measurable differences in the 1938-42 heads that would set any of them apart, from the others?

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