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Swapping out 1941 engine Pros Vs. cons

Started by VooDoo, November 11, 2012, 10:49:22 PM

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What if the engine is too tight? Is there a solution for this?  Any way to test if the starter is bad or not working properly?
Andy Fulenwider
1937 75 Series Convertible
1947 62 Series Custom Project


As mentioned, the engine should turn easily by hand using a wrench on the crank pulley. (Spark plugs out.)  It it is hard to turn, put some marvel mystery oil in each cylinder, let it sit for a few hours/overnight and try turning it again.  Be sure to rotate the engine several times either by hand or with the starter before reinstalling the plugs. You run the chance of hydrolocking the engine if there is too much liquid in the cylinders.

If the engine is easy to rotate, the problem lies in the starter or the connections.

T Lewis


it wont take very long cranking to get the cables hot, specially on a 6v system
if you crank for a minuite trying to fire the old girl,the starter and cables will be very hot
have you tried a quick shot of starting fluid,i mean a very little bit
plus , if the plugs have been flooded there is a good chance they may never fire under compression
i would first do a compression test to see what # you have,then work from there
you have spark at the plugs and that is a good sign

on the swap, i think you should do whatever will get you the most enjoyment out of the car
i have a 62 caddy i drive the wheels off
tonight i put on almost a 100 miles mingling in pretty heavy freeway traffic in detroit at 80 mph
is my car bone stock,nope, wouldnt do that confidently with a completely stock 62 let alone a 41
i have stock running gear, big disc brakes, updated 2 turn lock to lock steering and i can drive with confidence at 80 knowing i can panic stop pretty much as good as anyone else on the road and steer where i want to go when i want to
this year alone i put almost 10,000 miles on the old girl,4700 of that was in a 9 day drive,all highway over 70-80 mph

the caddy engine will probably set you back $5 grand to do a complete correct rebuild, trans a couple grand more
as for converting to 12 v, not a real big deal,just everything electrical need like gauges and blower motors need a voltage reducer installed or changing
the car as original would be really really  nice, just not something you want to take on a day long high speed run

you can get a crate 350 for just over 1/3 that
not everyone updates the engine to go racing, they just want something more user friendly, specially if you cant wrench on it yourself
any shop will work on a 350, not to many will even entertain the idea of a flathead
the original engines were dead reliable,some of the best out there,but that was over 70 yrs ago in this case
if you wanted to drive down the freeway at 55 mph, drive to a local car show,do a country drive or drive to the local dairy freeze for ice cream,the stock will be good, but you will be a sitting duck in traffic as traffic whizzes by you on the freeway at 55 mph
when the car was built ,there was no freeway system so prewar cars were never designed to be high speed runners

a lot of cars end up being worth more to the next owner because they have been updated ,when done properly
i personally would go the engine swap on something that old ,as well as adding some disc brakes ,dual circuit master cylinder to safely stop the beast when rolling

at the nationals in st augustine, there was an amazing 35 i think, beautiful car
very modified, either a 472 or 500 caddy engine, trans, newer rear axle,disc brakes and the owner and wife travelled all over in that car
one of the nicest custom jobs i have ever seen and 2  giant thumbs up to him for enjoying the car

it is your car, do as you like and what will give you the most enjoyment
just my thoughts, but i drive all my old cars like i stole them with confidence


That's exactly what my buddy is telling me. Thinks I could sell the engine for what it would cost me for a new 350 and tranny. Tempting with not much money outta pocket. Still buggs me we can get it firing. might try new bushings on the starter. Just cant see dumping a bunch of money into an engine that I cant afford to rebuid. But still would love to get it firing and have it run great...probably a pipe dream since I dont know how long it had been sitting or for what reason.
Andy Fulenwider
1937 75 Series Convertible
1947 62 Series Custom Project


i would do a compression test first before spending a dime on something you may not use

it would be great to have it run for future sale value


I would sign your buddy up to that deal to give you for a shot flathead what the 350 and tranny will cost! As soon as you are finished, I've got a couple of deals for him too!
John Tozer

'37 7513
'37 7533

Steve Passmore

Quote from: andynjoy99 on November 13, 2012, 11:23:47 PM
That's exactly what my buddy is telling me. Thinks I could sell the engine for what it would cost me for a new 350 and tranny. Tempting with not much money outta pocket.

Never in a million years!!  I have seen Flatheads all over the US that need rebuilding for less than $500, I dont know the cost of a 350 but if what your buddy thinks is true Ill take a dozen ;D

1937 60 convertible coupe
1941 62 convertible coupe
1941 62 coupe

1936 70 Sport coupe
1937 85 series V12 sedan
1938 60 coupe
1938 50 coupe
1939 60S
1940 62 coupe
1941 62 convertible coupe x2
1941 61 coupe
1941 61 sedan x2
1941 62 sedan x2
1947 62 sedan
1959 62 coupe


Sorry I said new but what i meant was newly rebuilt.  Big difference.
Andy Fulenwider
1937 75 Series Convertible
1947 62 Series Custom Project


As the owner of the '35 sedan (Big Red) at the St. Augustine GN, I thank you for the kind words "62droptop", I remember talking with you at the show.  Big Red is the kind of vehicle I have long wanted, all of the looks of a car of that era and all of the comforts and driveability of a new(er) car.  Yes, I could have just bought more modern car with "all of that crap" and left the old car home for local car shows and cruise nights, but I wanted my cake and to eat it too and that is precisely what I now have.  My wife and I have driven Big Red with its 472 all over the eastern U.S. and will continue to do so in air conditioned comfort with cruise control while sitting on a pair of comfy 2006 Cadillac CTS seats.  Later this past summer we drove the car from Florida to Connecticut, New York State, Ohio, and Indianapolis, from Indy we went to the "Frog Follies" show in Evansville, IN before returning home to Florida.  I would never have attempted that in a stock '35, nor do I think I would have enjoyed it had I attempted to do so.     

I have no argument with those that want their cars to be original or with those that want to modify for reliability, comfort, safety, and/or speed --- any one or all of those.  I love them both ways.  What you want to do with the car when it is ready for the road and what you want it to do for you is a big consideration and one you should give a lot of weight to as you ponder.  It will be easier to rebuild your current engine (those that know these engines are out there) than swap it out.

For ME personally I would not denigrate a Cadillac with a Chevrolet engine (I like the expression that Chevy's are for Fords).  IMO, something like a 1949 331 all the way up to a 1962 390 would make a much better choice for that car, especially from a value and esthetics standpoint.  If you want more, then a 472/500 cannot be beat (even by a Chevy big block) but that is a lot of engine.  And I agree with the others who have pointed out that selling your old engine, in need of a rebuild, to buy a crate motor, and transmission, will be little more than a drop in the bucket towards the purchase price.     

1935 Cadillac Sedan resto-mod "Big Red"
1973 Cadillac Caribou - Sold - but still in the family
1950 Jaguar Mark V Saloon resto-mod - Sold
1942 Cadillac 6269 - Sold
1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible - Sold
1950 Packard 2dr. Club Sedan
1935 Glenn Pray - Auburn Boattail Speedster, Gen. 2


Quote from: S Passmore on November 14, 2012, 03:37:23 AM
Never in a million years!!  I have seen Flatheads all over the US that need rebuilding for less than $500, I dont know the cost of a 350 but if what your buddy thinks is true Ill take a dozen ;D

around my area, for much less that a grand you can get a really decent running 350 engine auto trans old car or truck for a donor

chevy engines are cheap to build
i bought a top quality timing chain set for my small block chev powered boat for like $35
timing set for my 62 390, over $110 more

if budget is a issue, a good running donor vehicle can give you pretty much everything you could need for a swap if bought the right car,

it is always easier to replace with what was there as there is a ton of fabricating to do, engine/trans mounts,driveshaft,shift linkage,cooling system,exhaust and more importantly manifolds, can you find some to fit your application without hitting steering etc, plus a host of other things that will be very costly if you cannot do yourself

the caddy engines up to the 62 390 will bolt in like others suggest, but still a really expensive engine to build

i too like to see proper engines in the cars, like a chevy in a chevy and so forth
but i would also rather see a old car with not original engine driving and being enjoyed than a old car sitting and wasting away because it is not useable the way it is

and Big Red is one hell of a nice car, and the owners were great people,i talked their ears off for a while, sorry about that!
just wish i took more pictures of it, was truely a work of art
and i love the fact that is driven everywhere!

i think when my 390 calls it a day, i will replace with something different like a  gm lsx and 6 speed auto or whatever better comes along at that time
for me it is all about the driveability and the awesome looks of the old car
i like the fact that i can treat my 50yr old car like a new car and can take anythime, anywhere
i can go buy a new car,but they are boring looking

Jim Stamper

    What ever you do, plan it out from beginning to end and stay organized. Plan the money as well as the work and time. Are you doing the work yourself, do you have the tools and space and patience to see the project through to a happy conclusion?

    If one does a nation wide search on Craigslist at any given time there are literally hundreds of failed projects for sale, many started as good cars but fell victim to someones big dreams, poor planning or short finances or all of the above.  Many of these cars will be lost to the automotive history of the country for good and end up crushed. The best many of them can hope for is becoming donor parts cars for others.

     Best of luck, whichever way you go.     Jim Stamper CLC#13470   Grantham, NH