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Offline mikouj

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Iron duke head
« on: June 06, 2013, 07:44:08 AM »
Forgive me in advance; I am a virgin on forums, only recently scouring them and never posting until now.

I have a 79 Spirit liftback (58k original miles) with an 81 Spirit 4 cyl driveline (91k miles) recently married and now on the road at an actual weight of 2515 lbs.  My mission is light car, rwd, 4 cyl, manual trans, no power anything, no electronic anything, (because I am a Luddite) nice body and paint but not too nice, go anywhere reliability, 35-40 mpg, modest power level [my daily driver for the last 15 years is a supercharged 98 Prelude that makes 249 hp at 7800 rpm at the wheels using 132 cubes, so modest to me means about 1 hp per cube], and used as a daily driver.

While totally disassembling then re engineering, rebuilding, and then reassembling the 79, I acquired a spare crossflow head.  In my 50 years of engine puttering, I have found that using a head with poor flow characteristics will render cam, intake, and carb changes worthless; headers always produce power gains.  I hooked up the duke head to my flowbench and pulled baseline readings.  I was horrified to see that intake flow peaked between .25 and .3" lift.  Specs list the cam lift at the valve as .402".  Zero flow increase after .3 means that .102 of lift is wasted and some power potential is lost.  For comparison, an AMC V-8 stock head flow peaks north of .50" and valve lift is .424; the AMC 6 banger head flow peaks at .30 with a valve lift of .372;  thus a 343 will respond to a higher lift cam (but no more duration) with more power, but a 258 will not.

An AMC V-8 bare head casting weighs 55 lbs and is 20 3/4" long.  The duke head is 19 1/4" long and weighs 40 lbs.  I matched the intake port to the gasket, straightened and widened the port all the way in to the pocket below the valve, and put the head back on the flowbench.  No change in flow whatsoever.  I then cleaned up the cone shaped area from just below the valve seat back to the area of my 1st step and reflowed it.  Again, no change whatsover.  Scratching my noggin in bewilderment, I examined, measured, made sketches, and then consulted my notes and sketches from porting 3 sets of V-8 heads and 2 heads for the 258.  Now I notice that the along the floor of the intake port the flow tries to make a 110 degree turn on the short side radius (SSR), goes straight for 5/8" while the whole pocket narrows just below the valve seat.  No way that the airflow stays attached here with that sharp of a corner, flow separation and turbulence result.  The entire valve pocket region has walls only about .10" thick.  Exactly where lots of metal needs to be removed to enlarge the SSR, there isn't any.  With nothing to lose but a score of hours, I reshaped the SSR to a larger radius till I struck water and put it back on the flowbench.  My 15 minutes with a grinder was rewarded with a 13% flow increase at .30" lift.  Short of porting for max flow regardless of the holes that appear, welding those up, and reshaping again, I must stop there and reconsider the head issue.

Only then did I start researching the whole engine.  From various sites, forums, and talking to engine builders I find that:
The block is thin and very weak.  Overboring and honing without using a torque plate results in cylinder distortion of .003 to .004" when the head is torqued on;  scored pistons soon follow.  Numerous casting changes after the late 79 design that the 80-83 AMC dukes is based on finally produced a strong block, VIN codes E and A, found in Chevy S-10 pickups and Astro vans, 1985-1991.  It has however, the 60 degree bell housing bolt pattern.  The main webs have lots of meat and a nearly equal to the 4 bolt Super Duty block.

The crank is likewise light, weak, and insufficiently counterweighted.  The wet noodle-like shaft always flexes but as rpms approach 5000 the flexing is so severe that the rods cannot resist the bending forces and snap.  A vibration dampener is purposely designed to counteract (not eliminate) this flexing.  The duke was designed without one.  The S-10 engine has an SD4 crank, very strong with much added counterweighting.

Finding an S-10 engine and rebuilding the short block for my Spirit promises a durable unit of 150 hp or so but still leaves me short of a good flowing head.  Pontiac had to redesign virtually every part of the duke to meet racing demands.  They called the result the "Super Duty 4"  2 aluminum cylinder heads are available and 1 of cast iron.  Pn 10049801 has intake ports moved closer together and raised, will accept 2.08 intake valves, and exhaust port moved and raised.  However, stock intake and exhaust manifolds will not fit, custom fabrication required; expensive too! Pn 10045437 is also aluminum but less radical and will accept stock manifolds.  "The cast iron performance head is designed to be used on the 151 or 153 engines pn 347056".  Msrp for that casting is $427.14.  My 1st direct question to post readers is:  has anyone ever seen or used this head on their duke?  I can find no reference to it on any forum or site except various GM parts books.  I'd hate to rebuild an S-10 short block for my Spirit only to find that the head isn't the performance improvement GM claims it to be.

My other engine option for replacing the VIN code "1" engine in my Spirit is to go with the Mercruiser 3 liter 140 hp item.  Forum member Captspillane has done this conversion and his post is informative, but ignores some important issues (for me) like the flywheel.  I have a 3.0 available to me for cheap.  I don't really need or want another 30 cubes and head flow is questionable.  I found that the 3.0 head is a shortened 230 inch Chevy 6 head vintage 1962-1970.  A good flowing head with an ancient design might be a hope and a dream.

OK readers, have at it, help me out.
1979 AMC Spirit body with 81 "duke" driveline
1968 Javelin - totally restored
1998 supercharged Honda Prelude
85 Ford truck

Offline captspillane

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Re: Iron duke head
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2013, 05:36:08 PM »
The Mercruiser Iron Duke has the same crank flange, so a flywheel from a small block chevy, 6.2L Diesel, or '77 to '79 GM Iron Duke will work. Only the smaller size tooth count will fit inside the manual transmission bellhousing.

The biggest advantage of the Mercruiser is the heavy duty crank. It is the same crank used in super duty Pontiac Fieros. At the very least you should be buying a Merc motor and using the crank from it for your build.

Some racers have used modified small block chevy heads and larger valves. All but one bolt hole is supposed to be the same, so the modification is relatively simple. One report I read claimed that the valve cover from a SBC will actually work on an Iron Duke head as well thanks to the mutual heritage in the engines.

My Kammback has a '77 Chevy Monza engine, so I already have a set of non-crossflow intake and exhaust manifolds that work with the Mercruiser. I want to ditch the Holley carb and use a GM TBI on a custom made adaptor. I'll use the TBI from my '91 Olds Bravada, which should feed 140 HP well.
Currently Inspected and Insured as of Jan 2013:
-1985 Eagle Station Wagon 258 T5 Stickshift
-1980 Eagle Station Wagon 258 Auto Fuel-injected with GM TBI

Minor Repairs Underway:
-1982 Eagle SX4 258 T5
-1981 Kammback 2.5L Iron Duke T5

Restoration Efforts Near Completion:
-1982 SX4- 401 NV3550
-1983 SX4- 4.5 MPI NSG370 (6 Speed)

Restoration Efforts Underway:
-1985 SW- 4.0 MPI AX15
-1982 SX4- 4.0 AW4
-1981 SX4- SD33T NV4500 (Turbodiesel 5 speed)

Future Rescue Efforts- '85 Maroon SW, '87 Limited SW, '84 Limited SW, '87 4 door Sedan, '81 2 door Sedan, '88 White SW, '77 4 door Hornet, '74 2 door Hornet, '79 Spirit AMX, '81 Kammback.

RIP- Red '81 SX4, '84 4dr Sedan, '84 SW, '81 SW, '80 Spirit, '83 SW, '83 4dr Sedan

Offline vangremlin

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Re: Iron duke head
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2013, 10:17:27 PM »
mikouj, welcome to the Nest!  You obviously have a ton of knowledge about cars, so its great to have you here.  Good luck on your project!
1981 Kammback 258 - "Pepe"
1972 Gremlin X 304
1978 Gremlin 4 cyl 121 - sold
1964 TBird 390

Offline captspillane

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Re: Iron duke head
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2013, 02:33:29 AM »
Here is a description I copied and pasted into my notes. I did not write it and don't know anything else beyond this except that I called Offenhauser and confirmed that they no longer make the manifold kit. It's a shame, I would have loved to have an off the shelf solution with legit headers instead of using an obscure, rare, cast Monza manifold.

 
QUOTE
I have a 73 Opel GT with a 181 Mercruiser. Intake manifold and header kit came from Offenhauser, Keith black pistons machined to fit the head, mechanical cam driven fuel pump, .540 lift Comp Cam, we drilled the flat spots on top of the intake ports and put injector nozzles in each port, Hilborn injector throttle body, 1.94 valves, ported head, Mallory Unilite distributor, big block Chevey roller rockers (1.7), runs on E85 ethanol.
I just got it running today, and it sounds bad to the bone! Can't wait to run it down the 1/4 mile!
Needless to say, there are plenty of parts available for the 181 merc.
UNQUOTE
Currently Inspected and Insured as of Jan 2013:
-1985 Eagle Station Wagon 258 T5 Stickshift
-1980 Eagle Station Wagon 258 Auto Fuel-injected with GM TBI

Minor Repairs Underway:
-1982 Eagle SX4 258 T5
-1981 Kammback 2.5L Iron Duke T5

Restoration Efforts Near Completion:
-1982 SX4- 401 NV3550
-1983 SX4- 4.5 MPI NSG370 (6 Speed)

Restoration Efforts Underway:
-1985 SW- 4.0 MPI AX15
-1982 SX4- 4.0 AW4
-1981 SX4- SD33T NV4500 (Turbodiesel 5 speed)

Future Rescue Efforts- '85 Maroon SW, '87 Limited SW, '84 Limited SW, '87 4 door Sedan, '81 2 door Sedan, '88 White SW, '77 4 door Hornet, '74 2 door Hornet, '79 Spirit AMX, '81 Kammback.

RIP- Red '81 SX4, '84 4dr Sedan, '84 SW, '81 SW, '80 Spirit, '83 SW, '83 4dr Sedan

Offline rollguy

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Re: Iron duke head
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2013, 10:03:44 AM »
Very interesting read.  I am not a 4 cyl guy, but the all this high performance information is very fascinating to read. I will be watching this thread.....Rich
1980 Eagle Turbodiesel Wagon (only 2 known to exist as of 2008)- 7-7-2011 Flight to it's new nest @ Rambler Ranch
1983 Eagle Wagon  Tan over Copper
1982 Eagle SX4 "ALTREGL"  (avatar photo)
1982 Eagle 4 Door Sedan  Copper over Satin Black
1985 Eagle Sport Wagon October 2007 ROTM (SOLD)
4 Biofuel powered Benzs ('98 E300, '82 300 CD, '82 300 TD (wagon), '80 240 D)
1983 GMC Van (6.2 Diesel)
1985 Mitsubishi pickup (2.3 Turbodiesel)


Offline captspillane

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Re: Iron duke head
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 11:25:10 PM »
This is a 392 Hemi Head mounted on the Iron Duke short block.

Currently Inspected and Insured as of Jan 2013:
-1985 Eagle Station Wagon 258 T5 Stickshift
-1980 Eagle Station Wagon 258 Auto Fuel-injected with GM TBI

Minor Repairs Underway:
-1982 Eagle SX4 258 T5
-1981 Kammback 2.5L Iron Duke T5

Restoration Efforts Near Completion:
-1982 SX4- 401 NV3550
-1983 SX4- 4.5 MPI NSG370 (6 Speed)

Restoration Efforts Underway:
-1985 SW- 4.0 MPI AX15
-1982 SX4- 4.0 AW4
-1981 SX4- SD33T NV4500 (Turbodiesel 5 speed)

Future Rescue Efforts- '85 Maroon SW, '87 Limited SW, '84 Limited SW, '87 4 door Sedan, '81 2 door Sedan, '88 White SW, '77 4 door Hornet, '74 2 door Hornet, '79 Spirit AMX, '81 Kammback.

RIP- Red '81 SX4, '84 4dr Sedan, '84 SW, '81 SW, '80 Spirit, '83 SW, '83 4dr Sedan

 

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