Hear A Flat-Plane Cranked Small-Block From 1959

Technology has come a long way in the last few years, but this engine shows that ingenuity is not a new thing when it comes to making power. The folks at Johnson’s Machine in Olympia, Washington posted this video on YouTube featuring a small-block they purchased on Ebay about 20 years ago.

The heart of this beast is the 180-degree crankshaft. The engine was originally built back in the late '50s and features added weights to each of the counter-balance points to compensate for the heavy rods and pistons used.

Reportedly, the previous owner’s father had the crankshaft specially-built for this engine back in the late-50s. The entire engine is comprised of parts fitted to accommodate its peculiar crankshaft. The 180-degree crank features additional weights on each counter-balance, to offset the heavy Buick Nailhead rods and pistons.

Keen eyes will note that the two inner pistons are now matched, and opposite of the outer two cylinders. You normally wouldn't see all four pistons at the same level in their bores.

The camshaft is also custom-ground to give the engine its particular firing order (1-6-3-2-7-4-5-8), as compared to the factory small-block’s 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2. As you can imagine, the different firing order and 180-degree crankshaft design gives this small-block a distinct sound. Thankfully, the engine spends a little time on the dyno so you get to hear it at full song.

Being an older build, and based on earlier technology, the folks at Johnson’s Machine decided to keep much of the vintage flavor, rather than infuse too much tech and take away from the vintage vibe the engine exhudes. Still, they opted to run a 650-cfm carburetor instead of the original Algon mechanical fuel injection system the engine was originally fitted with. The reason for the diversion was that this engine is going into a driver, and a carb simply has “less drama” than the oh-so-cool fuel-injection system.

The original ALGON fuel injection was not used because this engine is going to be used in a driver and the owner wanted “less drama” than what a mechanical fuel injection unit could provide on the street.

With the added availability of components today, some of the “original” custom parts were relegated to the parts bin as other, more contemporary units went in their place. The rods are now Eagle brand units and the new pistons are much lighter than the originals and give the engine 391 cubic-inches of combustion to work with. Also, some reworked “smog” heads (487 castings) were treated to a little bowl blending, port work and matching to allow the engine to breathe better while keeping the compression ratio around 9.5:1.

Using vintage parts is cool, but this engine does use some modern goodies to make it more durable. The heavy pistons and Buick Nailhead connecting rods were swapped out for aftermarket pieces and the heads were upgraded and tweaked for better performance. A carburetor was set atop the entire assembly for its ease of tuning and drivability.

While this engine will never take any horsepower awards away from many of the modern-day powerhouses that churn horses and lb-ft of torque at will, it does have a great story and history which the folks at Johnson’s Machine were kind enough to share. How much power DID the engine make? You’ll have to watch the video to find out. Besides, hearing that flat-crank belt out a few revs just makes the journey to the dyno sheet that much more enjoyable.

Continue reading on...

LSX Magazine

Corvette Online has merged with LSX Magazine

Click below to continue reading the full article.

Click Here

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
Read My Articles

Corvettes in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Corvette Online, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Corvette Online NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Corvette Online - Corvette Enthusiast Magazine

We'll send you the most interesting Corvette Online articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

Corvette Online - Corvette Enthusiast Magazine

Corvette Online NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Corvette Online - Corvette Enthusiast Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Late Model LS Vehicles

Classic Chevy Magazine

Performance Driving

Corvette Online - Corvette Enthusiast Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Late Model LS Vehicles
  • Classic Chevy Magazine
  • Performance Driving

Corvette Online - Corvette Enthusiast Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Corvette Online - Corvette Enthusiast Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading