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"Seasoned" Blocks

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  • "Seasoned" Blocks

    At one time, manufacturers of high quality engines, Stude included I think, advertised that they "seasoned" cylinder blocks, before machining them. This involved leaving them exposed to outdoor temperatures for a year or so. This was supposed to allow the casting to assume its final shape. Can anyone verify that Stude did this as late as the early '50's, on V8's?
    Mike M.

  • #2
    Well, if that was true, it would mean Studebaker had finished V-8 engines blocks sitting around outside being seasoned beginning September 1949, for assembly in fall 1950 for introduction in the 1951 Commander in the fall of 1950.

    I doubt that. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.


    • #3
      Mike, I understood that it meant a certain amount of heat/cool cycles to get the expanding or contracting, tho' microscopic, out or stabilized. Some racers prefer a used block to a new one because they say it "holds" clearances better. Just what I've heard, but a manufacturer would be able to have some time to do these cycles I assume, but seems like it would more than likely be on higher performance or heavy duty ones. John


      • #4
        This will be the second time in close to 35 years someone has mentioned Studebaker 'froze' their engine blocks before machining. A fellow student in high school told me that when he saw my '64 Daytona parked out front, stating they were 'good engines' because of that. I never did follow up on where he heard that from, and I can't say I've ever seen that in print; either in Turning Wheels, or any other article about Studebaker. Therefore I never really did believe him.



        • #5
          At the last meet in South Bend, I talked to a former employee of the Studebaker South Bend plant. His job had been to drill the oil passages from the sides of the block before they were machined. He told me the blocks were cast, then put on a rack in back of the engine machining house. There they sat until they took them down to machine them. He said they usually sat on the rack for at least a couple years, more towards the end when they weren't selling many cars. He said they were "well seasoned", although not by design, more by chance.


          • #6
            Beginning in 1979, I was employed in a factory involved in machining cast iron. It was the practice to leave the castings outside at least 6 months, preferably over winter, and then do rough machining on them and let them sit another two or three weeks before final machining. These were cast iron compressor frames, taking crankshafts up to 4 feet long, cylinders would be bolted on at assembly. By the time I retired, 20 years later, the pressure of business the ageing had been cut down to two weeks, and there were no reports of trouble.

            The opinion was that it was a good idea, but not worth the time.


            • #7
              A friend of mine who worked at a secret Hi Po engine lab once told me a story about some engine parts that were shipped via rail car, assembled, tested and run. The engines had a100% test rate compared to the ones assembled and tested engines more local to 'the source' they had a massive failure rate.

              It was detirmined the shaking and rattling of the parts strengthened them. This was years ago aint metallurgy great! Watch any production line, the parts are shaken a bit.


              • #8
                Many myths here...

                All "seasoning" is as mentioned above is...the material..the block, the heads, etc., have gone thru a few normal temp. heat cycles. Hot, cold, hot, cold.

                All this does is, in effect, a mild heat treatment. Similar to the "artifical aging" of aluminum.

                Back when I was running my Anglia, I bought a "new" set of Chevy's best iron heads (of the time). I did some porting (naturally !) and had a 4 angle valve seat put on the heads. I ran these heads for two outings. As runs counted up, the car ran slower and slower.
                I pulled the could see light between the exhaust valves and the seats...all of'em....!

                I took the heads back to the shop, got a small "discount" on a new, complete valve grind....the problem never resurfaced its ugly head.

                It's as simple as that.



                • #9
                  (S), the shaking does in fact help align molecules a bit, with the added benefit of helping to de-magnetize to some extent. Learned that in metallurgy classes, and working non-destructive testing jobs on nuclear plants and aircraft. Yep, metallurgy's great. The type of cars I normally drive (besides the newer throw-aways) always get PLENTY of stress relief and de-magin', the way most of them ride. The oldie I am driving mostly right now is our 63 Mini. Ever rode in a car with no springs at all, but just well worn, oil-soaked rubber snubbers?? Yep, whole lotta shaking going on !! Ha!!, John


                  • #10
                    I remember visiting the Internatial Havestor engine plant in Indianapolis back in the mid-70's & was astonished to see racks & racks of rusty crankshafts setting out in an open lot between some buildings. I was told they were being aged before machining.

                    I'm told that we used to do the same with aluminum water pump castings. The thought was any minute porosity would salt itself shut after the castings had been rained on a few times.
                    Mike Sal


                    • #11
                      If I can find a date code on my '64 block and decypher it, I'll compare it to the serial#/ assembly date. Where is the cast in code, and how does it work?
                      Mike M.


                      • #12
                        I'm not sure about engine blocks, but I've done work with, and researched a lot about, old wood working machines and the high quality machines with large cast tables like jointers and table saws, all had the tables seasoned by leaving them outside for years before final machining to help get the internal stresses resolved. Though it probably isn't feasible to do exactly this in an automotive industry due to engineering times I can't believe there isn't at least some thought that goes into doing it in an expedited way to achieve the same results.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mike View Post
                          At one time, manufacturers of high quality engines, Stude included I think, advertised that they "seasoned" cylinder blocks, before machining them. This involved leaving them exposed to outdoor temperatures for a year or so. This was supposed to allow the casting to assume its final shape. Can anyone verify that Stude did this as late as the early '50's, on V8's?
                          Mike M.
                          FWIW; Can't "verify" it ...and don't even recall the source ...but heard many years ago Studes "aged" engine blocks by burying them just south of the Foundry in the area of their rail yard. A cousin of mine worked in the Foundry for a short time, many, many family members worked at Studes and one relative even owned the tavern right across the alley from Stude's rail yard, perhaps one of them was the source


                          • #14
                            It's not all that difficult, just do some materials homework..!
                            Just like many other metals...even "tires" boils down to...heat cycles.! Read the posts, "left outside for years" summer days and cold winter nights..."heat cycles".

                            Actually now-days, the "new" (actually several years old), is letting the material sit for a time about -30 degrees..yea, well below freezing. Many have done this to oil pumps, connecting rods, cams, trans. gears, and rear end gears.
                            As for the "shaking" comment, yes, that was done for a short time. But it was found that the cost and time invested vs. outcome was not worth the effort for that method.

                            Many methods to accomplish the same thing.....! Only taking "years"....that's absolutly nuts, but yea, I've read the same nonsense.
                            Bill Jenkins noted in one of his Chevy books, that back in the day, he'd run a block on the street for a time (don't recall how long)....THEN build a race engine out of that block.
                            Back to my cylinder head comment...."heat cycles"...ladies....heat cycles..!
                            For those metallurgy fans, it's also called normalization.

                            Last edited by Mike Van Veghten; 10-10-2010, 10:59 AM.


                            • #15
                              The automotive machine shops I work with and am in doing work at least once a week see hundreds of engines come through. I see every BrandX come through and sit beside my Studebaker and Packard V8s. The S-Ps have so much more iron in them than do the BrandXs, they are much less likely to move around. Some of the engine blocks are so thin-walled, the bores are honed, checked for diameter and roundness, then allowed to cool and checked again. The pressure of the hone head and the heat of the operation will distort the bores. Doesn't happen with S-Ps.

                              The big three went on a weight and cost control kick in the mid-50s. The classic small block Chevy's main design directive was to use as little cast iron as possible. They wanted the least expensive possible V8. That it turned out to be a great performance design was a happy accident. As emissions controls required engines to run hotter, the SBC heads started cracking. Just not enough iron there. Every Dodge Magnum 360" head on a core engine is assumed to be cracked and replaced with an offshore head. Lots of other examples of what happens when the design used only enough iron to get through the warranty. Imagine if this were the case with the Studebaker and Packard V8 heads, there would be no more "Driver" in the club. They'd all be running SBCs now.

                              FWIW, after working on and with Packard V8 engines all these years, I just learned the all engine grey iron castings, block, heads, water manifold, were done by an outside subcontractor foundry.

                              Bottom line, as rapid model changes and "just-in-time" sub-contractor supply made seasoning castings impossible on passenger car engine production.