337 cubic inch Lincoln Big Block Flathead V8
Bob Bendtsen from www.TransmissionAdapters.com recently put his 337 Lincoln hot rod engine on eBay. I know how difficult it is to come across hot rodding information for this engine (I also own a 337 Lincoln) so when I saw it I contacted the seller for information and to ask if they would like to share any information about these engines with you.
The seller ended up being Bob Bendtsen who has an incredible hot rod motor collection and is very active in the hot rod scene in the US. He sent me pics and a great story which I’m sure anyone who is interested in these incredible Big Block Flathead V8s.
Building this engine was an extremely frustrating, grueling, tiresome marathon event. When I first undertook the building of the Lincoln 337 flathead V8, I wanted a rare but cool motor for my Model”A”. Being that I collect engines like some people collect stamps or butterflies, I had to have something representative of my taste for the unusual. This motor was only used by Lincoln for 3 years, making it one of the shortest lived production engines ever. Ford only used this engine for 4 years in the F7and F8 trucks and the heads in the trucks said Ford instead of Lincoln.
I was surprised when I found out that Edmunds actually made heads and an intake for the 337 engine. I only found that out accidentally when a guy walked up to me at a car show, saw the engine and told me he had a set of NEW Edmunds heads hanging on his barn wall and asked if I wanted to buy them. The money actually leaped from my wallet without me even touching the bills when he said he wanted $300.00 for the pair. I had been advertising that I would buy any speed parts for the 337 for YEARS with no takers.
The reason that this was a frustrating engine build was that every block I found, whether it was a good running engine or not was cracked. Not just little cracks, but cracked main webs, cranked block external walls, cracks between the valve seats and down the cylinder walls. I tried to fix some of the blocks at first but even with high tech pinning procedures it just didn’t work out. I drove all over the country buying supposedly good motors just to find one that didn’t have cracks all over it.
Once I drove down to Louisiana and back to Minnesota in 36 hours straight over a weekend to pickup a motor and trans. That ended up being the block that I used, but it was still cracked in the valve seat area. We pinned it and then hard seated the block. Then every single one of the cranks had the center main journal ground up. When Ford designed this engine they kept the 3 main bearing crankshaft design that they used in the smaller flathead motor. Don’t get me wrong here. This is not just a larger version of the Ford flathead. The design is more like the Lincoln V12 with 4 cylinders missing. By now I had kicked myself in the ass for choosing this engine to put in my project.
4 years and a lot of money had already gone by. I sent 2 cams to the cam grinder to see what the specs were. It turned out that the truck cam had a hotter grind and the trucks used mechanical lifters instead of the hydraulics that the Lincoln used. We went with the truck cam and lifters after regrinding and resurfacing them. The rings, bearings, OS pistons and the gasket set cost more than a complete small block Chev engine overhaul. The crank was reground, polished and the entire rotating assembly was balanced.We actually found a new timing gear set somewhere also.
Well, now we had a rebuilt motor but to make it cool we had to have the coolest fuel and exhaust system for looks. I decided to build a custom fuel injection system. I had done that several times before on other engines long before it was cool and before there were lots of injection parts and support available. First I found a Hilborn mechanical racing injection system for a Pontiac at a swap meet.
Years ago all this stuff was cheap. I chopped up the injection manifold for the siamised throttle plate assemblies. Then I had a 1/2 inch aluminum plate water jetted to match the intake gaskets and intake ports. The siamised throttle plate assemblies matched the ports perfectly so I just welded them on directly above the intake ports. Then I made injector bungs and welded them in the bottom of the throttle plate assemblies.
I needed to decide what type of control system I wanted to use as that would decide which other components I was going to use. Remember that years were passing and at first I was going to use a TPI control system because they were cheap and easy and were well know. I had done this on a Chev 409 that I built a custom injection for years earlier. A customer came in with a Jeep that he wanted tweaked for performance and transmission tuning. As soon as I saw the Chev Ram-jet system under the hood I knew that I had found the system I wanted to use. I called GM performance parts and bought one the same day.
Now that I knew which system I was going to use, I could start getting other parts designed and made to work with that system. I made a distributor utilizing the correct module. Then I made a vacuum manifold that brought together intake air from all cylinders and installed a Map sensor and IAC motor that matched the control system. The air was routed to the manifold by making vacuum lines that look like injection lines. The TPS was a remote one. The coolant temp, knock sensor, and O2 sensors were stock GM items that were easy to install. After that we made fuel rails, and tied them to a regulator and pump.
That pretty much finished the engine and control system. We still had the water pump pulleys that didn’t look like it fit the new look of the motor. One lazy Sunday afternoon I fabricated a belt and pulley system with Northstar Cadillac tensioners. As you can see in the pictures there is a transmission adapter to mount a Chev transmission and mini-high torque starter.
Now after all that screwing around and hard work, after having the Model”A” in several magazines before it was even running, you would think that I would be all excited about running the engine wouldn’t you? It had taken so long to get done that I changed direction and stuck a Seagrave V12 into the car and sidelined the Lincoln 337 without ever even starting it. Check the cover of the March 2010 issue of Ol Skool Rodz.