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American Muscle Car Hemi Engine Restoration & Repair /

Early Hemi Engines

This is a 1958 392 Hemi from a Imperial that I restored back in 1998. It is a museum quality restoration.

This is a customers 392 that has been rebuilt by Hemihaines. It is running in this picture and going through the cam break in period. Note the boat headers.

This is a customers six-pac 354 Hemi. Note the Joe Hunt Magneto in the rear. Those are adapters on the water inlet and water pump. Those are 2 1/2" Zoomies.

This block has been ground smooth. This gives a totally different appearance when painted. Here at Hemihaines I give the customer exactly what they want.

This shot shows the three two barrel carbs. This system was built by Larry Fulton at hotrodcarbs.com The magneto is not wired up yet. Check out the original Mickey Thompson valve covers from the 60's.

This is how the magneto looks when properly wired. Larry Fulton at carbdude@Hotrodcarbs.com sells  these components like Joe Hunt Magnetos and the custom six-pac set ups. Personally, I feel these are the best engineered carbs and the quality is second to none. Great customer service also. He is to be on your must buy from list!

This is a 56' 354 Fuel injected Hemi. It is going through the camshaft break-in process. In the picture, I am measuring the exhaust temps.

I wanted you to look at the accessories mounted on the front of this engine. It has reverse rotation chevy water pump, a/c compressor, p/steering and alternator and the use of a serpentine 6 rib belt. The belt is not on in the picture. I don't want to run the p/steering with out being hooked up.

This is the 56' 354 Hemi from the rear. The block and heads were ground smooth. The black box on the back of the trans is a ECU for the Hilborn Electronic Fuel Injection. It is a simple system and has teriffic throttle response. I mean out of this world. It even idled down to 450rpm with ease. Hilborn rated this system at 450hp.

Here is a Extended bellhousing 331 Hemi. Very unique piece. We are using O'Brian Truckers valve covers, Dyer's supercharger. It also will have Vintage Speed's six -pac set up all chromed out. This engine does not have a water crossover pipe between the two heads. I've solved this by routing the water out of the heads through the intake base to a remote thermostat housing.

Here is the picture of the remote thermostat housing. Also being used is a Joe Hunt Magneto for the ignition.

Three two barrels atop a 6-71 Dyers supercharger. Another unique piece.

A Hilborn Electronic fuel injected 392 Hemi with aluminum Heads. This thing is under 490lbs. Hilborn rated at 550hp.

Here is a shot of the rear of that Hilborn EFI 392 Hemi.


Here is another Blown 392 Hemi.

Setting the idle on Hemi number 56. That's 56 Early hemi engines built by Eddie @ Hemihaines.com

Mocking up the spark plug wires. I like the Mallory distributors on these early Hemis. This is a 331 Hemi.

Just about ready to fire the 331. Everybody chooses a different color for their project. This just happens to be Candy Apple Red. Very impressive in the sun.


This is me posed besides Big Daddy Don Garlits. I have bought several Hemi engines from him. He is a lot of fun with a lot of great stories.


This is one of the 392 Hemi engines I bought from Don Garlits and built it to be a supercharged Hemi. TC, Don's crew cheif is giving us a hand.


This is the Hemi core that I bought from Don Garlits. This was my first effort at supercharging many years ago. To say the least, it was a blast.

This is one of my my latest efforts at supercharging. This was for a customer that viewed my web site and choose to have me build him a blown 392. It also has a 6-71 supercharger that is 8% underdriven from The Blower Shop.



This is a Blown 392 Hemi. Aluminum Heads, Don Hampton Supercharger, Mickey Thompson Valve covers. Just moments from firing. This engine is very light in weight.



Andy pictured with another Blown 392 Hemi. Blower Drive Services made the supercharger.


This 392 Hemi  is going through the warm up and camshaft break-in process. Don't you love those boat headers. They had a real deep bass sound to them.


Even at 2000 rpm, this wide lobe separation angle hydraulic camshaft, gives this engine 20 inches of manifold vacuum. Only when you open the butterflies will the blower start to compress the air into the manifold and go from vacuum to manifold pressure. It will not exceed 8lbs. of boost


This gauge shows the oil pressure  when Idling, 64lbs.


Even with ear plugs, it is a wise choice to protect your ears from excessive noise, like I do. Is it loud. Yes, very loud. My chief engine tuner Ira, looks on.  Lets show you how to build a Blown Early Hemi engine. These next several pictures will do just that.

No matter how clean it looks from the machine shop, Wash it. I use dawn dish detergent and a pressure washer to do the job. I also use lacquer thinner and WD-40 to clean and preserve the condition of the cylinder walls. Believe it or not, transmission fluid will float unseen particles out of the cross hatch hone marks, onto the white paper towel. Do this step over and over by using ATF, then lacquer thinner and quickly coat with WD-40 until the white paper towel stays white. If it is at all gray, your not done. It will take most of the day to debur, tap all holes and clean the block effeciently.

If you have done your job right and spent at least several hours on the job, you will find this much that was inside the block that was already cleaned at machine shop.

Always install the Camshaft first. If it does not turn freely, check for where it binds and correct it. It is easier to do this now instead of later when the short block is together. Yes, I have had to modify the bearings with an exact-o knife before. It sometimes is standard practice if you build a lot of engines.

Install a new oil diverter valve(RED). This directs oil directly into the filter first before entering the oil passages.

This engine had main studs installed. Machining of caps and align honing is mandatory.

After rear main seal is installed. Crankshaft can be installed. Clean both sides of bearing surfaces with lacquer thinner and apply liberal amount of assembly lube. Crankshaft should spin freely. No tight spots. If you have a tight spot, the block needs to be align honed for correctness. Wedge a prybar or screwdriver between the crank throw weight and the inside of the block and push the crankshaft all the way in one direction. This sets the thrust bearing in place. Then tighten the bolts. Studs are torqued to 85 ft. lbs. with ARP lube. Using a dial indicator. check end play at .007 or less. If you don't have a dial indicator use feeler guages. If it is greater than specifications, call me and I'll tell you how to fix this inexpensively.

Ring end gaps should be hand fit. Top and second rings are of different types and require different gaps.  Safe rule of thumb if .004 per inch of bore for street engines. Supercharged engines require .005 more added for expansion of heat. Remember that trust you ring manufacture and use the formula they suggest. Racing engines require more clearance. Nitrous engines are even more. Hypereutectic pistons are even more than that. Your looking at gaps from .016 to .030 or more depending on application. WOW!! Consult the manufacturer.

It is most important to keep the two ends of the ring parallel. They must be square. If you make a mistake, stop and get a new set of rings. Don't start that engine with the clearances larger than needed. It will only get larger. Do it right.

Install oil ring first. Then install the second ring and then the top ring. They should be marked as to which is top. If in doubt, stop and call the ring manufacture. Having a ring installed upside down will be detramental.

I have used many type of ring compressors. This type is the best. Right Ira! The two top rings should have their end gaps 180 degrees opposite from one another. The end gap on the oil ring should be 90 degrees from that of the second ring. Also piston rings do not run in oil, so do install then in oil. This is contradictory to what you've heard. Simply coat the cylinder wall and piston skirt with  a film of oil and spray WD-40 on the piston before you install it in the ring compressor. If oil gets caught behind the ring it will hydraulic and not seat properly. If you do it my way and you use a Moly ring and a fine finish on the cylinder wall, it will seat immediately.

Protect the crankshaft journal from nicks by install a hose on the rod bolts.

By allowing the hoses to keep the connecting rod centered, slowly lower the assembly into the block until it bottoms.

Tap until the ring compressor seats flat against the block. Then one or two taps should drive it in. If it get hung up, Stop. Start over by removing. No need  for excessive pounding.  Right Ira!"  Has that thumb healed yet"?

Apply liberal amount of assembly oil to the clean bearing surface. Then install. A little known fact. That groove on the cap near the bolt hole is to squirt oil up on the camshaft when it it running and mainly at idle. The 426 Hemi does not have this. The 426 Hemi is the only engine Chrysler never put it on. The 426 Hemi was designed as a race engine . This is why there is a lot of flat tappet camshaft failure on 426 Hemis.

Turn the engine over in the direction it turns normally. It should be free. Do not torque the rod bolts until you have all 8 connecting rods installed. After torquing the rod bolts, check for connecting rod side clearance. Stay between .008-.014  Anything over .017 is unacceptable.

Install the timing chain. It should be a good fight to get it on. If it is loose, check to see if the manufacture has a shorter chain. Most of them do.

Using a dial indicator,We will find top dead center at this point and degree in the camshaft. Once we have the top dead center, we travel in the direction of rotation and go until we have .050 of lift on the number one intake lifter. We check our timing card included with the new cam. At .050 we should have the same number on the card as we have on the degree wheel. We check it several times before we make adjustments. If you use the cam centerline method you could make a big mistake. Not all camshafts have symmetrical lobes. Some profiles are a-symmetrical. Therefore, centerline would be off unless you degree it in off of the base circle. More on this difficult subject later.

Throw away that 392 oil pump and use the converted 340 style pump. Make sure nothing is in a bind before you lock it down. Use red loctite on the bolts.



Make sure that you have clearanced the bolt and washer like this. The stainless adapter between the pump and main cap has to be clearanced and not to bind. If it hits and you lock it down, it will crack the pump. Take your time and make sure this is done.

Install your modern timing cover that adapts a big block Chevy waterpump.

Install the proper oil pan that goes with the appropriate pick up. Short block is now complete.

At this point install your Tranny adapter, flywheel and starter. This model is using a 4L80E trans from Chevy.

Add your Arp Head studs. Copper coat the Best head gaskets and lower the heads on. You can use standard head gaskets up to 8lbs. of boost. Above that you'll need to o-ring the block or head.

I am putting the cart ahead of the horse. I will go over the heads in the next few photos.

These heads had hardened seats installed and a three angle valve job done at the machine shop. Bronze liners were installed.

Seat widths were held at .080 on the exhaust and .060 on the Intakes.

Top of guides were cut down for .100 clearance between retainers and seals. Guides were cut for Teflon seals.

Stainless steel valves were installed at 1.67" with 120 lbs seat pressure. This is a supercharged engine requiring more seat pressure because the blower is pushing air against the backside of the valve.

Installing the protective cap over the valve stem to prevent damage to the seal as it is installed.

Seal is properly installed. .060 Shim in installed under the spring to increase the seat pressure.

Multi groove locks are installed. What you can't see is the appropiate Moly retainers used with the springs.

Once the heads are lowered onto the block, Extreme pressure lube is use on top of the valve stems and pushrods. I did correct the valvespring position, where it rides in the pocket on the head.

This is a typical 392 Hemi rocker arm before being cleaned and put back into service. They always appear to be some what clean, but we will go through how to service them.

Remove the two tapered pins by tapping them with a drift and lightly tap rocker arm stand until it come off. You can see the large holes in the stands that house the pins.

These items will go into the glass bead cabinet and have all the outside grime removed. Take your time and clean everywhere.

This is a typical exhaust rocker arm on a Hydraulic type 392 Hemi. It may appear to be some what clean but it isn't. This will go into the bead blast cabinet as well as all the rocker arms and stands.

This is the same rocker arm after it has been bead blasted. We will clean the holes at a later time with a different approach. Then the contact pad is re surfaced. Or sometimes referred to as trueing the tips.

Then the pad is subjected to a heat treating. This is a picture of the rocker arm as it is being heated very slowly as not to make it crack. I won't give away too many secrets here as to the temperature or style of quenching. I will tell you that you can under treat it and it will have no positive effect on hardness or you can overheat it and it will become brittle.

After this process is successfully done, this is what it will look like. At this point the heat treat is so hard, it can be checked with a three sided file and it will not even bite in or leave a mark on the contact pad. Most Hemi engine builders leave this process out. This ensures it will be resistant to wear. I can see and tell you all the temperatures it has reached by looking at the colors on the arm.

This is what was inside of the rocker arm shaft. From the outside it appeared to be fairly clean. This reveals a different story. Simply remove the end plugs and force a rod and different size brushes through the inside until it appears clean. Then use tons of lacquer thinner to clean it best. Clean the banana grooves and related holes as well. At this point I want to point out that to clean the outside of the rocker arm shaft is a good idea. Most guys will use sand paper to bring the surface down to the shiny metal. This the worst thing you could do. Simply use a scotch brite pad and clean the surface. Do not remove excessive material, because the outside diameter will be smaller than spec.and spew more oil then necesary. Shiny rocker arms are nice if they come that way. don't try to make yours look like theirs.

This is a shot of the dry coke removed from inside of this rocker arm shaft. This shaft has not had free moving oil running through it in years. As It aged,with no oil and with heat, it turns into a dry powder. The couple of pictures below show why this happened.

This is usually not removed by engine builders. These dowels are for locating and centering the stand on the head. One of the stands is for oil flow up to the shafts. I remove this locating dowel because it is often plugged with sludge and the oil that is routed up from the head through this stand must go around this dowel (in the recessed section) and flow through the oil passage to feed the other shaft. Always forgotten and nobody knows how to remove it. It is standard practice at Hemihaines on a rocker arm assembly rebuild service.

This is the hole that is usually plugged by the locating dowel mentioned in the last picture. Without this hole receiving oil, the shaft on the other side will be dry.

Another overlooked area is the oil holes. Always run the exact size drill bit by hand through the hole until clear. These are always plugged. Also many engine builders offer bushing the bores if they are out of spec. I do not recommend this because this makes the casting weaker. Over 250,000 of these 331,354,392 Hemi engines were produced in automotive, marine and trucks. Multiply this by 16 and there is over 4,000,000 rocker arms out there. Make a call and get a replacement. Don't weaken the casting.

You also must run a wire that is exactly the same size as the oiling hole for the pusrod hole through and clean. It also is fed from the inside of the housing bore. Clean this hole also. I use lacquer thinner under pressure to do all of these tasks. Simply a squeeze bottle with a tip on it.

You must use compressed air to blow these holes clean. If you think they are clean on the first try, think again. I usually clean these holes several times until the dirt stop appearing on the white paper towel.

Sorry for not being clearer. This is how dirty it will be after one washing and blowing with compressed air. Do it until the paper towel is clean.

After I clean the oil holes with a precise size drill bit, I hone the inside bore of the rocker arm housing. Be careful not to remove any material that will enlarge the diameter. You just want to make a couple of passes to remove any burrs from the drill bit. Make sure to use a little bit of WD-40 for lube.

The housing bore should have some faint cross hatch marks from honing. Now, we need to clean the rocker arm again with lacquer thinner several times to remove any grit from honing.

You can faintly see the cross hatch marks left from the honing process. I use a squeese bottle full of lacquer thinner ans pressurize the flow of thinner through the holes and out the push rod end, shown in this picture. This is an Exhaust rocker arm. It only has one exterior hole from which to force thinner under pressure.

This is a intake rocker arm. I am forcing lacquer thinner from the valve side of the arm back to the inside until it is fully clear with no restrictions and no discolorations. These intake rockers have two exterior holes which you can force lacquer thinner through to clean. This perticular hole cools the valve spring with a shot of oil.

This is the second hole on the intake rocker arm which I force lacquer thinner back through to the pushrod hole. It is tough to take the picture and do this at the same time. The hole is clear and flows freely. It slowed down in the snapshot.

This is the final product. It has been bead blasted, Soaked in lacquer thinner, heat treated, holes have been cleared with drill bits, honed and washed several times until the drying white paper towel reveals nothing but a clean part.

Here is a shot of the rocker arms after being subjected to heat treatment. A very consistant process that leaves them wear resistant.

You must assemble the assembly in the correct order or failure will result. One of these stands feeds the oil up from the head to the shafts. Improper placement will be a result in dry rocker arms. Use assembly lube when putting these back together. Do one at a time so you don't get things mixed up. In this picture I want to show you that it is important to lube extra assembly lube, on the side of the rocker arm that rubs against the stand. These rocker arm assemblies have been assembled for the photo and have not been heat treated.

Install the two hardened pins and two cotter pins and you are done. Here it is. It is now clean and ready to reinstall on your engine. I mic all shafts and housing bores before I reinstall. If they are not within spec, they get replaced. If you want, you can fill the shafts with oil and put a dab of grease to hold the oil in, pryer to assembly.

Hydraulic rocker arms assemblies are installed on the heads. ARP moly lube is use on both sides of the washers and studs as well as the nut about to be installed. Torque the head bolts (or studs) in the correct tightening sequence and do this in three incraments, rather than one.


This picture is most important. It shows a proper .030 of preload on the hydraulic lifter. The .030 is between the wire retaining clip and the cup. If you do not have the proper preload it will tick. Then go to adjustable pushrods. (if you have your original camshaft reground, Material will be taken off the base circle and the lifter will sit lower on the bore, causing a lack of preload and you will need to go to adjustable pushrods). I hope that is understood.

Arp suggests that 85 ft. lbs. of torque be applied to the 1/2 head studs. This picture shows the heads fully attached and a new valley pan installed.

Blower Intake Manifold is set into place. It will attach in the normal fashion. In this photo I am installing the pop off plate in case of backfire. The backfire will exit here instead of trying to go back through the blower which is pushing air downwards.

I set the polished valve covers on the long block to show how big this thing will be.

You must trim the gasket between the manifold and the blower base. The blower attaches with 8 aluminum studs and nuts. Designed to break free in the event of a mishap.

This picture shows the big block Chevy water pump and cross over tube between the two heads. It uses a Chevy thermostat under that housing.

Splined coupler and snout is attached to the blower case. Use silicone on the threads. It will leak.

SFI damper and two groove pulley is behind the large blower pulley. This is a 1/2 groove set up.

The upper blower pulley and ldler pulley are installed. Massive blower belt is now attached. You need to allow 1" travel back and forth on the belt. As it heats up and the metal expands, the belt will tighten.

Mallory Unilite distributor with the resister and coil all mounted conveniently on the back of the engine out of the way. It is a simple system and is a single wire hook up. Taylor 8mm wires round off the ignition providing 40,000 volts to the NGK spark plugs.

Now the Edelbrock 600cfm carburetors are mounted to the blower adapter and the Hilborn scoop is in plain view.

Finished product waiting to take on the competition. I hope you have enjoyed your voyage with me down the blown Hemi Lane. Ya'll come back now ya hear.

Classic HEMI and WEDGE Engines For Sale

Looking to restore a WEDGE Engine or HEMI engine for one of the popular MOPAR cars during the 1950's through 1970's? You've found the right man for the job. Give Eddie a call to discuss your restoration or repair project. For over 25 years, Eddie has been excited about restoring the original beauty and performance of HEMI engines and American Muscle Cars. The HEMI engine was popular in production cars during the 50's and early 70's in cars and also in racing as one of the fastest engines on the market. Manufacturers such as Chrysler (FirePower Engine), DeSoto (FireDome Engine), Dodge (Red Ram Engine), and Plymouth were in aggressive competition during what is often called the "Horsepower Wars". The Chryster 426 HEMI Engine was so fast in 1964 that in 1965 it was banned from NASCAR races. HEMI Engines have a hemispherical combustion chamber that was great for efficient airflow and torque. The name HEMI has become synonymous with BIG and POWERFUL and these types of engines helped to shape the state of the art in racing and street cars during their time on the market.

Restoration of HEMI and WEDGE Engines for American Muscle MOPAR Cars

Are you restoring a classic car that requires a HEMI or WEDGE engine under the hood, but yours is non-functioning, rusted out and a fraction of its former self? HEMI Haines has seen them all and can help you restore the engine or build a new one that will be to factory specs to make your car the ultimate replica and in like-new condition. Whether its a Barracuda, Charger, Road Runner, Coronet, Challenger, GTX, or another American Muscle Car, HEMI haines can bring it back to its original glory with a restored HEMI Engine that runs like new.

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