Who has had head work done?

Psychoholic

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Watching the RichardH videos with Courtney has me thinking I need to do better than 284 cfm at .600 lift on the iron heads. The bigger valves make a lot of sense and some bowl work for sure.

I've seen some of you guys talking about how you've had your heads ported and I'm trying to maybe find someone who can do them for me without me spending a day+ of ignorant grinding myself.

If you've done it who did the work and would you recommend them? How bad was the cost? Would it be more cost effective to just buy a set of heads from CadCo?
 

5one9

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Do it yourself. Just know when to say when. Pushrod pinch moved back 0.100”.
33E3A9ED-5C9C-494D-9D26-49D42BDB3A63.jpeg

Port roof raised 0.180”.
E0D19F91-C85D-4BAF-8CBA-C097B3DBE8BA.jpeg
7655B421-D1B9-4783-BD84-6EAD7C09C213.jpeg

Bowl and guide work. I have yet to do the exhaust porting.
36AA3981-7D36-46D6-B9C4-2D48B7CA259E.jpeg
 

Caddylackn

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I wouldn't say this is a day of grinding to port intake, exhaust, unshrouding, and bowl work. This is more like a 40 week if you haven't gone through the learning curve. For 8 hours, you could realistically clean casting flash and sand clean intake & exhaust ports and chambers on a set of heads with valves still installed, maybe some port matching. All this would buy you 5 - 10 cfm.

For a full porting job:
Consider you have to do 8 intake ports, 8 exhaust ports, 16 valve pockets, shape 16 valve guides, unshroud 16 valves, 8 chambers need deburring. Well that is 72 steps. Some of these steps , like reshaping the intake ports, will take an hour, or more on your first. First, dissembly of all the valves, springs, seals, clean up. Then all the measuring and scribing of the intake, exhaust, and head gasket before any grinding. You have to be very slow in cutting and careful or the burr will get out of control. After all the cutting/grinding with the burrs, comes the sanding. So that makes really 144 steps. For bigger cam, you need to trim the top of the 16 valve guides, so that is another 16 steps. Port matching the intake manifold is another 8, or 16 steps with sanding. And possibly you will make at least one mistake and need either new valve seat grinding, head resurfacing, or maybe some cast iron repair. I do not think an amateur porter could get 284 cfm out of iron heads, certainly not on their first set of heads with no prior experience. The experienced porters will have some cut up heads on hand for measuring so they know how close they are to water jacket every step of the way. They have measurement gauges and tools specifically for this job, and good porting tools, and burrs. Good stands and lighting, safety gear etc. This is not to scare you from trying, but to give you a realistic idea of what to expect and what you can accomplish with your time. I am still a rookie porter ( I have only done 4 heads) but I enjoy the work if I am not rushed. I would be happy if I can get another 20 - 30 cfm out of my heads.

I would only pay somebody to port Cadillac BB heads and install bigger valves that knows Cadillac heads and their deficiencies. If they are not familiar with Caddy heads, the first thing they will want to do is cut and install new valve seats. This is normally not needed unless there is significant seat damage. Valve seat inserts will kill flow like crazy since they add horrible sharp angled restrictions into the valve pockets and make a ton more work for you to pocket port.

You can hire somebody to cut in for the bigger valves and partially open up the valve pocket to the new larger valve diam.
You can do the bowl and casting blending and clean up yourself if you are careful. Bigger valves only significantly increase flow if you can unshroud them. This is careful delicate work, so take your time. Watch a ton of videos. Have many hours of experience controlling the grinder and burr before you get it anywhere near the valve seat. It only takes a second to mess up hundreds of dollars of work. There is some work to do on the short turn.

If you find a head porter, I would specifically ask how many Cadillac BB heads he has done, and ask for some flow charts or references for his work. The valve train is not adjustable so all the valve stem heights need to be matching. If they mess up one, then they end up sinking all the valves into head in order to match valve stem tips, and that kills flow.
There are experienced head porters out there that can handle this, just have to find them. Finding somebody local, will save you hundreds in shipping and/or core charges. I would personally not use a porter that has never done a cadillac head before.

So if you do this yourself: Here is a budget

$300-350 - new oversized valves from a Cad vendor
$100 - cheap valve springs/ keepers/ seals
$300 for machining new larger valves, seats, plane heads, top of valve guides, crack check. (this is a WAG probably higher)
$100 in consumables (burrs, sanding rolls)
say $850 for just parts and machining to put oversized valves into a good set of heads. No porting yet.

I recommend watching a ton of porting videos on youtube, to get you an idea of what is involved. Watch the real time ones of them doing a whole port at one sitting, not the condensed version.

If you have all the tools you are good, if not you need:
Valve Spring compressor
air grinder or electric grinder. I use three grinders. Two with different shape burrs and another for sanding rolls. I hate changing bits. A grinder with an extension is useful, or get one larger 4" burr.
good light- something you can stick in the port.
sacrificial old valves, for valve unshrouding
sturdy work bench and a good stool/chair with back support.
Comfortable ear protection
old head , intake, and exhaust gasket- for scribing
machinist blue dye - for scribing
dial caliper
gloves
masks -must have, iron dust is bad for the lungs. get a comfortable one since you will be wearing it for four hours at a time maybe.
head stand - can use 2 by 4 blocks in a pinch
Big ass compressor if you are using air grinder. This will be running for endless hours at a time, so a good cast iron oiled compressor with CFM rated above the tools is a must. Add an auxillary floor fan to blow on this if its hot

This is going to make a complete mess of your shop, this iron dust/carbon crap gets everywhere. You could rig up a shop vac to suck this, but it will be running for hours on end too.

I don't know how much CAD company heads are, but if they are $2,000, that is only around $1200 for labor and markup for porting work. You might find somebody local that can do it cheaper, say for $800 in labor, but the chances are they will not do a better job than CAD company, or make them flow more, and they most likely will not make it right if they mess up. Are they going to assemble the heads? Check them to specs? Replace a head if they mess it up? How long will it take them? Cad Company's are exchange so a week tops, some porters are backlogged for 6 months on their work. Check their references.

Risking $600 ($300 machining of your heads and a $300 dollar set of good core heads) to only save $400 is not worth the risk to me, plus possibly months in delays. You could be risking the full $1150 if you never get your old heads and parts back.
 

Psychoholic

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That is some great information @Caddylackn ! Thank you for the great post.

Well you've pretty well convinced me to just buy some heads. I spoke to a local machine shop (we can do all kinds of fabrication in house but we are not set up for engine work) and they quoted me a pretty solid price on getting my spare block ready, going .01 over so I can put 100 over BBC pistons, and machining my heads to put in the bigger valves. CadCo has a set of pro-street small chamber heads for $2370 (with 470 of that being core) and CHP has what looks like essentially the same heads for $2995 plus core. Not really sure why the giant price disparity there but I'm definitely leaning towards CadCo on that one.

My plan might change later this week when I find out if my wife got accepted to school again to get her masters and if they are going to let her get financial aid or not. If not then I'm moving some money towards that and will just run stock heads with bigger valves and finish the build with the plan of doing better heads later (I have to buy a good set of rockers either way).
 

Caddylackn

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Well, I wasn't trying to scare you away from trying head porting but if you want 290 cfm or higher from iron heads that is probably the safest route.

If you want to start head porting, first start by picking up an extra set of heads to practice on. Then pick up a set of carbide burrs and sanding roll kit. I used Eastwood burrs and Jegs sanding rolls. Then get yourself a cheap air grinder or electric grinder. Even if you buy ported heads, you can still use this equipment for porting oil drain back passages, clean off casting flash off your block, heads, and for port matching an intake, or for cleaning up welds.

Check out some of the old head porting posts by Mad Cadder and others on this board. That will get you some idea of the amount of work, measuring, and planning it takes to get over 300 cfm.

I will try to post up some of my homeport job results and mistakes.
 

PJ McCoy

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Well, I wasn't trying to scare you away from trying head porting but if you want 290 cfm or higher from iron heads that is probably the safest route.

If you want to start head porting, first start by picking up an extra set of heads to practice on. Then pick up a set of carbide burrs and sanding roll kit. I used Eastwood burrs and Jegs sanding rolls. Then get yourself a cheap air grinder or electric grinder. Even if you buy ported heads, you can still use this equipment for porting oil drain back passages, clean off casting flash off your block, heads, and for port matching an intake, or for cleaning up welds.

Check out some of the old head porting posts by Mad Cadder and others on this board. That will get you some idea of the amount of work, measuring, and planning it takes to get over 300 cfm.

I will try to post up some of my homeport job results and mistakes.
Yeah, here ya go, one of those "Old Timers" no disrespect, I mentioned earlier. They are the life blood to us newbies.
Thank you Caddylackn!! Another wonderful and well written post.
And Yes after reading your post I don't believe I did much of anything to my heads except to make me "Think I done something good" in reality I might have just wasted my money and time again.lol. but I did out in about 65-75 hrs in porting and measuring with some bent wires.
I too followed Mad adders guild but have been lost on what you all call the "PUSHROD PINCH"
Any chance to get this figured out for me. I would be extremely thankful and might even say, someone is handsome, ----Mario---?????
LOLPJ
 

Caddylackn

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I was always getting confused with the terminology, but it all becomes really clear when you spend a few hours, or tens of hours grinding on a head.

"Pushrod pinch" is when you look into the intake port it's the narrowest part where the opening is necking down to get around where the casting bulges for clearance for the pushrod. Only one side of the intake port is doing this. The other side is straight. I think the pinch necks down to 1.20" or something when the opening by the gasket is 1.45" wide or so. After the pinch it opens way up and turns. It is a huge increase in velocity in the pinch but it is in the wrong place to improve mixing or flow. All it does is kill flow. The pinch can be opened up carefully some but you can feel with your fingers how thin the casting is here. You can also go into the wall of the other side of the pinch to increase the opening. Best way to "see" the pinch is to use a telescopic gauge and stick it in the port opening by the gasket. Then see how small it has to get in order to pass through the "pinch" .
 

Outlaw

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I wouldn't say this is a day of grinding to port intake, exhaust, unshrouding, and bowl work. This is more like a 40 week if you haven't gone through the learning curve. For 8 hours, you could realistically clean casting flash and sand clean intake & exhaust ports and chambers on a set of heads with valves still installed, maybe some port matching. All this would buy you 5 - 10 cfm.

For a full porting job:
Consider you have to do 8 intake ports, 8 exhaust ports, 16 valve pockets, shape 16 valve guides, unshroud 16 valves, 8 chambers need deburring. Well that is 72 steps. Some of these steps , like reshaping the intake ports, will take an hour, or more on your first. First, dissembly of all the valves, springs, seals, clean up. Then all the measuring and scribing of the intake, exhaust, and head gasket before any grinding. You have to be very slow in cutting and careful or the burr will get out of control. After all the cutting/grinding with the burrs, comes the sanding. So that makes really 144 steps. For bigger cam, you need to trim the top of the 16 valve guides, so that is another 16 steps. Port matching the intake manifold is another 8, or 16 steps with sanding. And possibly you will make at least one mistake and need either new valve seat grinding, head resurfacing, or maybe some cast iron repair. I do not think an amateur porter could get 284 cfm out of iron heads, certainly not on their first set of heads with no prior experience. The experienced porters will have some cut up heads on hand for measuring so they know how close they are to water jacket every step of the way. They have measurement gauges and tools specifically for this job, and good porting tools, and burrs. Good stands and lighting, safety gear etc. This is not to scare you from trying, but to give you a realistic idea of what to expect and what you can accomplish with your time. I am still a rookie porter ( I have only done 4 heads) but I enjoy the work if I am not rushed. I would be happy if I can get another 20 - 30 cfm out of my heads.

I would only pay somebody to port Cadillac BB heads and install bigger valves that knows Cadillac heads and their deficiencies. If they are not familiar with Caddy heads, the first thing they will want to do is cut and install new valve seats. This is normally not needed unless there is significant seat damage. Valve seat inserts will kill flow like crazy since they add horrible sharp angled restrictions into the valve pockets and make a ton more work for you to pocket port.

You can hire somebody to cut in for the bigger valves and partially open up the valve pocket to the new larger valve diam.
You can do the bowl and casting blending and clean up yourself if you are careful. Bigger valves only significantly increase flow if you can unshroud them. This is careful delicate work, so take your time. Watch a ton of videos. Have many hours of experience controlling the grinder and burr before you get it anywhere near the valve seat. It only takes a second to mess up hundreds of dollars of work. There is some work to do on the short turn.

If you find a head porter, I would specifically ask how many Cadillac BB heads he has done, and ask for some flow charts or references for his work. The valve train is not adjustable so all the valve stem heights need to be matching. If they mess up one, then they end up sinking all the valves into head in order to match valve stem tips, and that kills flow.
There are experienced head porters out there that can handle this, just have to find them. Finding somebody local, will save you hundreds in shipping and/or core charges. I would personally not use a porter that has never done a cadillac head before.

So if you do this yourself: Here is a budget

$300-350 - new oversized valves from a Cad vendor
$100 - cheap valve springs/ keepers/ seals
$300 for machining new larger valves, seats, plane heads, top of valve guides, crack check. (this is a WAG probably higher)
$100 in consumables (burrs, sanding rolls)
say $850 for just parts and machining to put oversized valves into a good set of heads. No porting yet.

I recommend watching a ton of porting videos on youtube, to get you an idea of what is involved. Watch the real time ones of them doing a whole port at one sitting, not the condensed version.

If you have all the tools you are good, if not you need:
Valve Spring compressor
air grinder or electric grinder. I use three grinders. Two with different shape burrs and another for sanding rolls. I hate changing bits. A grinder with an extension is useful, or get one larger 4" burr.
good light- something you can stick in the port.
sacrificial old valves, for valve unshrouding
sturdy work bench and a good stool/chair with back support.
Comfortable ear protection
old head , intake, and exhaust gasket- for scribing
machinist blue dye - for scribing
dial caliper
gloves
masks -must have, iron dust is bad for the lungs. get a comfortable one since you will be wearing it for four hours at a time maybe.
head stand - can use 2 by 4 blocks in a pinch
Big ass compressor if you are using air grinder. This will be running for endless hours at a time, so a good cast iron oiled compressor with CFM rated above the tools is a must. Add an auxillary floor fan to blow on this if its hot

This is going to make a complete mess of your shop, this iron dust/carbon crap gets everywhere. You could rig up a shop vac to suck this, but it will be running for hours on end too.

I don't know how much CAD company heads are, but if they are $2,000, that is only around $1200 for labor and markup for porting work. You might find somebody local that can do it cheaper, say for $800 in labor, but the chances are they will not do a better job than CAD company, or make them flow more, and they most likely will not make it right if they mess up. Are they going to assemble the heads? Check them to specs? Replace a head if they mess it up? How long will it take them? Cad Company's are exchange so a week tops, some porters are backlogged for 6 months on their work. Check their references.

Risking $600 ($300 machining of your heads and a $300 dollar set of good core heads) to only save $400 is not worth the risk to me, plus possibly months in delays. You could be risking the full $1150 if you never get your old heads and parts back.
great post
 

48Austin

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For the price of CadCo heads, even if you don't give them a core back! o_O It seems like they are well worth it than spending 100 to 200 hours of your own time with a die grinder.:eek: Then think of screw ups!:cry: They do most of the work with a CNC machine.:D 2400 bucks without cores?:lipsaresealed: Seems like a no brainer to me.:p
 

Darius

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A friend of mine, owner of an automotive machine shop and a guy with his own flow bench plus lots of experience using that bench, was a newby on Cadillac heads. He tried to apply what had worked with other brands to the Caddy heads and it didn't do the trick.

Just saying, like the experienced guys here know, being familiar with the particular brand helps.

For my money, I'd go store bought -- from a Caddy specialist.

bro. d
 

5one9

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I have 16 hours tied up in one head right now. I'll have close to that tied up in the second one since I got in the groove doing the first one. I'll tell you the exhaust port at the short turn just outright sucks on the 120cc heads by comparison to the 76cc heads. They'll do ok on what I'm building but in my opinion don't have any business on anything serious. I'd be surprised if that part of the port is able to outflow the stock sized exhaust valve.

$2000 outright for a set of 76cc, big valve, CNC heads is a steal.
 

Caddylackn

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I have 16 hours tied up in one head right now. I'll have close to that tied up in the second one since I got in the groove doing the first one. I'll tell you the exhaust port at the short turn just outright sucks on the 120cc heads by comparison to the 76cc heads. They'll do ok on what I'm building but in my opinion don't have any business on anything serious. I'd be surprised if that part of the port is able to outflow the stock sized exhaust valve.

$2000 outright for a set of 76cc, big valve, CNC heads is a steal.
Well the 120cc chamber (and valve seats) is almost 1/4" deeper set into the head, and the ports are in the same place. To make up for the 1/4" , kiss the big radius good bye and make it a sharp corner. The 76cc heads have that extra 1/4" of depth to make a smoother turn to the port. IDK why Cadillac even came out with the 120cc heads? They already dropped compression in '71 with different pistons. It doesn't make sense to "engineer" a new head that required a completely new piston for just three years of production, then re-engineer it again for '77, then do it again in '80. Maybe it was emission related. I don't think they was any gas mileage increase in going from 76cc to 120cc. In fact the years with 120cc heads were the heaviest cadillacs made with the worst gas mileage.

16 hours for each head is good in my book.
 

48Austin

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Ya think:rolleyes: it was emissions realated?o_O
 

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I worked at a place that did a lot of porting and flow work. For the porting area they built a wood bench with an expanded metal top and a shop vac to pull the debris down. Still had to wear hearing protection and eye protection, but I don't remember wearing a mask. It was the 80s though.... I ported my CI dual plane there and started on one cylinder head. I can verify you can spend a lot of hours on just one cylinder. Me going slow was probably at least 10 hours a cylinder. They preferred Makita electric die grinders with a variable speed control bought from Grainger.
 

48Austin

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So now. Everybody is spending TONS of time doing their own porting. Cadco CNC ported for 2400.00 clams including valves and springs? Seems like a no brainer to me:rolleyes:. It's gonna cost 400 to send them the cores.
 
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