From: jayarch (Original Message) Sent: 2/26/2002 7:19 PM
I was told this was the place to get answers!
Does anyone have any experience (good or bad...) with the NOS "French Military" Flatheads?

From: Jim Marlett Sent: 2/27/2002 9:29 PM
I'm a little surprised that no one on this board has spoken up. I've seen posts about them working on them somewhere.

I have no actual experience with French flatheads. They do fascinate me. For some information about them check Red's Headers web site and for a little info check my web site. You might want to post your question on the Yahoo flathead list. I'm thinking that is where I saw the posts from people building them.

Red's Headers . . Jim Marlett's Site

From: Jens Sent: 2/28/2002 1:15 PM

I have one of these French flatheads and know a few more that have too. My experience, although not that big, is very good.

I got my engine some time ago and have now finally got it in my 36 Ford which is under restauration. What can I say? It's new and it runs like a dream. You have to be aware that the block as such is essentially a 53 Ford whereas the rear end, i.e. the bell housing is a pre-49. So it will fit with an early transmission but not with a late. Also the front engine mounts are different. I ended up cutting a good chunk off them and made bolt on clamps that made it fit in the car. Also the block seems longer and I couldn't get a fixed fan in and have instead mounted an electric in front of the radiator. It comes with 24 V generator and starter of the brand Paris-Rhone. Besides the voltage the starter is identical to the original one, so I just used that but took the bendix drive from the French as mine wasn't that good. In the 24V, 50A generator I put the field coils in parallel and it is now running 12V with a home-build 12V eletronic regulator. Oil filter piping has to be re-done as it doesn't go in the car and in the same way the oil dip stick is pulled back and needs to be relocated to the spot where it belongs. Finally the carburetors comes with verious kinds of governors that have to be deactivated.

I hope this helps but please do not hesitate to get back to me,


From: Arnies48 Sent: 3/3/2002 11:50 PM
I may be a little late adding my two cents to this discussion, but I've been busy putting in new valves, etc in my "complete" military FF. Here's what I've encountered so far.
Engine was shipped on a military saddle stand complete (no cosmolene) but without starter and generator. It had the military govenor and hour counter, Zenith 2 barrel carb on an aluminum manifold, cast iron exhaust manifolds, and a die cast alum. oil pan, a reverse of the Ford pan (deep sump area in the front). The CI heads are 8ba style and combustion chambers look to be very similar to late 49-53 design. Water pumps have different diameter pulleys between left and right and each is driven by a separate belt on front pulley (not usable for mounting in pre-48 cars without some modification). 4" crank, rods and pistons are excellent as far as I can determine. I've discarded the valves, springs, French adjustible lifters, (Short valves, long lifters, weak springs). Replaced cam with Isky Max 1, installed Chevy Manley SS valves, Isky single springs, etc. French guides are excellent and intakes have both a stem and O-ring guide seal. Discarded w/pumps, replaced with 47-52 truck pumps, replaced front pulley, replaced flywheel with late model 8ba style, and replaced oil pan with 59ab pan (slight modification to front area to clear front main cap). Oil pump is short style and had to replace pick up tube. I'm using early style performance alum. heads and deuce manifold w/97's. (blocked the two front center water holes in block). Using front mount crab distributor so had to replace timing cover. Interestingly, although front of block is 8ba style and the original cam had gear on front, the timing gear and crank gear are of the rear thrust early design.
Everything fits as it should without modification (except oil pan). Anything the french fastened on is metric, such as the govenor, hour counter and exhaust manifold studs (standard threads in block, metric nut threads). Made block off plates for mounting areas of govenor/counter. I've heard of some mismatching of intake ports with aftermarket manifolds on some FFs but mine matches almost perfectly.
Obviously it's not running yet, but I don't expect any surprises. In hindsight if I had the guts of a 59 or 8ba engine it would have been cheaper to start with a bare block, which at the time could be had for $1500. Basically, I paid an extra 1500 for a 4" crank, rods, pistons, oil pump, and valve guides. But that was my choice and if you just want a solid stock flathead engine you could be in business with an oil pan, couple of water pumps, generator, starter and distributor. And if you want the whole French military truck you can get one from Motor City Flathead for 6 or 7 Gs. Hope this helps.


From: Jens Sent: 3/4/2002 2:23 PM
The engines are not all exactly the same. Mine has a normal shaped oil pan but it is made of aluminum. The water pump pulleys on mine are as they were on the late flatheads but the fan is much larger and has more blades. I have seen two squeeze a standard fan into 1936 Fords, but honestly I gave up and is going for an electric.

The carburetor is a huge Zenith and the governor on mine was fairly simple. The throttle shaft is off centered and along some springs apparently that makes it out for a governor. I have removed all the springs and it is not more off centered than it works just fine. BTW since the shaft has to move very easily in this setup it has tiny roller bearings. Of course I hadn't though about that so you know what happened when I took it apart.

I haven't considered the valve mechanics but it looks very nice and for my "standard" use I am absolutely sure it will be fine. It has adjustable lifters.

The exhaust manifolds on mine might actually be used if you are going to make your own exhaust pipes and my paln is to do so. For now I am using the standard 1936 ones. And as indicated in the other e-mail, the manifold bolts are interesting. UNC thread in one end and 10 mm fine thread in the other!!

One thing I forgot to mention. If the engine comes with a clutch please take it out and clean it. The engine is most likely sprayed everywhere with some sticky stuff and one of the engines I know of that included the clutch. Mine appeared to be OK. Also the clutch is the 11" truck clutch and you will need to remove the oit pan to get it off.

Good luck,



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