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Aluminum Head?
#1
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flyntgr
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My '54 Pacific has a 327 cast iron head replacing the aluminum head the 359 c.i.d. came with.

If I can find a magnafluxed head which appears to be in good condition, should I replace the cast iron head with the aluminum head? I expect it would cost me $1,000 to $1,500 to buy the aluminum head. Would that be worth buying? Would replacing the head be easy or especially difficult to do right? Thanks!

Posted on: 2018/4/2 7:52
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#2
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Owen_Dyneto
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The removal and replacement of the cylinder head is of itself a simple enough operation, easily done in a couple of hours though you'll want a buddy for the lifting. Your problem will be finding a 359 aluminum head in good condition, and then the question of once put into service, how long will it remain serviceable; though state of the art for the era that alloy is pretty primitive compared to today's aluminum engine castings. I wouldn't hold out much hope for it though every so often we do see a 359 still happily running with it's aluminum head.

And I'm not sure if magnafluxing can be used for aluminum, I think it needs to be a ferrous metal; if not there are other methods for checking aluminum for cracks.

Posted on: 2018/4/2 8:07
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#3
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Guscha
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Posted on: 2018/4/2 8:59
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#4
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flyntgr
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Thank you for your reply. I have found a head which is offered for sale for $1,250. Here is their reply to my query as to whether the head is serviceable:
"we always magnaflux and crack check all the engine components we sell through our local professional machine shop. That is done at no cost you the buyer as we pay for that in advance. We will not sell anything that is suspect."

This is from a vendor who specializes in Packard Parts. What say you? Thanks.

Posted on: 2018/4/2 9:00
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#5
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flyntgr
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A corollary question: Is the 327 head just as good as an efficient aluminum head for the 359 engine?

Posted on: 2018/4/2 9:03
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#6
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RogerDetroit
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Quote:

flyntgr wrote:
"we always magnaflux and crack check all the engine components we sell through our local professional machine shop. That is done at no cost you the buyer as we pay for that in advance. We will not sell anything that is suspect."

This is from a vendor who specializes in Packard Parts. What say you? Thanks.


I worked my way through college as an employee of Magnaflux Corp and used a number of NDT methods to inspect auto parts, aircraft parts, underground pipelines, nuclear power plants. Of all our methods you CANNOT test aluminum using magnaflux - it requires the part to be magnetized.

Ask the vendor what SPECIFIC NDT method was used to inspect the head. If he says X-ray, then good. If we says Zyglow Penetrant, then good. But if he sticks with saying it was magnetized, then go to the nearest window and look for a star rising in the east for it would be another miracle.

Posted on: 2018/4/2 9:23
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1941 Model 160 Convertible Sedan
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#7
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Owen_Dyneto
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No. The aluminum head was needed to cope with the 8.7 CR, about as high as practical with an L-head configuration. The cast iron head may raise the CR even more, be less capable of handling the heat, and almost with absolute certainty give rise to preignition problems. Simply retarding the timing is a poor choice, forget about double head gaskets, there is some success reported by reworking the centrifugal spark advance but all things considered you probably will never quite achieve the level of performance the engine had when new with it's aluminum head. I replaced a failed aluminum head on my '54 Patrician with a 327 head back in the 70s, and lived with the timing/preignition issues to one degree or another for as long as I owned the car.

If going to a cast iron head, there are probably better choices than the 327 head, one with a lower CR.

Ross Miller is probably the best person to address this question, he's been thru this a number of times. If he doesn't catch this and respond here you might send him a PM.

Posted on: 2018/4/2 9:27
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#8
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flyntgr
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The vendor is Maxmerritpackard, and no, their machine shop cannot magnaflux aluminum. Their reply was a canned one, the emphasis being on their unwillingness to sell a head or other part that is not serviceable. Their 3rd party machine shop will inspect the head for cracks. I conditioned my purchase on the head being without cracks or other defects. They agreed.
Considering the 327 head not being ideal, and the 359 being oem and apparently being in good working condition, I have conditionally agreed to buy it, complete with copper head gasket, properly treated to avoid electrolysis.
Predictions: Was this a safe part to buy, or not? See Ebay Packard listing today.

"1954 359 cu. in. Packard Standard 8 aluminum cylinder head!! This is the one everyone is looking for! This is in exceptional condition!! Packard P/N 446913. If you are shopping for an aluminum head for your 359, look no further!

"All threaded areas of the head are in good condition with no stripping. If you want detailed pictures of any area of the head, we would be happy to provide that.

If you are looking to do a rebuild or restoration, this head would provide the proper foundation for your project."

Posted on: 2018/4/3 20:00
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#9
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Tobs
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It is after all a 60 year old part, but coming from max merrit, I would have much more confidence that it is a quality part than if it came from some unknown ebay seller. Hope it works well, and you can enjoy full throttle with no pinging.

Posted on: 2018/4/4 8:10
1953 Clipper Delux Club Sedan, 1969 912, 1990 Miata, 2009 Ford S-Max.
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Re: Aluminum Head?
#10
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flyntgr
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MAXMERRIT has had the head checked out, trued, and is shipping the proper copper head gasket to go with the head. I trust them to do the right things, and I have sent them payment. The 327 head is just as old as the aluminum head, but is more durable. However, the 327 head is incorrect and apparently makes too much compression which leads to preignition problems. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Is this a lose/lose situation, or a win/win situation. I don't know.

Posted on: 2018/4/7 21:35
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