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Head Porters: Where did you learn to port Cylinder Heads?

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Head Porters: Where did you learn to port Cylinder Heads?

Postby Floyd » Mon Mar 14, 2005 10:33 pm

Looking for more of the expierences of guys like Darin Morgan, Larry Meaux, etc...

I was just wondering besides practice how did you learn to become a top flight head porter?
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Postby John Haskell » Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:03 am

I started when racing Go Karts in the 50's, I suppose about age 10. I really believe it was from the thought of competition & the advantage you hoped would come from it, even at that early age. I was allways hanging around older guys listening to the talking about it and the idea of porting. Pretty much all of this at that time was just winging it from everyone. Even in those days someone who was porting was thought of as someone with 'Brains'.

In the 1960's I discovered a freind, Bob Mullen of "Mullen Race Engine Cylinder Heads" in Carson Calif. He was a Chysler engineer who went out on his own offering porting services. He was my mentor and led me along with visits and sending off to him a head now & then to evaluate. ---------- I allways had been a thinker & I really believe he enjoyed the help he gave parially because of that. He had one other thing going for him though, in that he was a real gentleman. --------- You will find in life that the most talented are gentlemen and good teachers.

Because he came from an engineering background, he insisted that I study it and learn how engineering excersizes your thinking just as any schooling. He also gave me source materials and just generally encouraged me with everything.

In general, you learn from someone else. Nothing different here, but it's up to you to be where you want to be in knowledge. It'll take a long time, at least it did in my day. But with computors & such it makes everyone learn faster so it has changed. --------- Myself, I woldn't recommend porting as career. Anyone doing this for long has health issues with joint, nerve, headache & surgical events that you just don't get over. This is a disease, this porting world, but you have to dedicate your whole life to it to even begin to understand.

If I had to do it over again, I would have done anything to get an automated shop set up with the help of the Mormans, Masons, Govt. grants or old money, what ever it takes, because there is no money in it. You will do 'WAY' better financially in another kind of work.
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Postby bill jones » Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:32 pm

-I don't know that I'm a "top flight" head porter, certainly not in the same category as Larry and Darin are, but I've been making a decent living porting since the late 1980's.
-I really got serious about porting in the late 1960's and early 70's mainly to make our open wheel modified oval track car faster.
------------------------------------------
-In the late 60's I really learned how to make the engine run by pulling both heads every sunday, carefully keeping everything organized so I could look at the chambers, ports, valves, sparkplugs, the shiney smooth clean places VS the carboned up areas etc.
-Me and two friends would scrutinize the patterns and between the three of us we'd decide about what to do to each port or valve or chamber of each cylinder then I'd do small subtle changes and we'd document with drawings and notes what we were trying to accomplish.
-About 80% of what we did made the car faster and the other 20% didn't seem to slow it down so we went from top ten car to the guys to beat for two years.
-I didn't know any better that you couldn't or shouldn't try to run a 302 Chevy over 9000rpm with basically all original stock engine componets but everybody we raced against was stuck with 7000rpm ideas.
--------------------------------------------
-Then in the early 1970's I met Allan Lockheed and he showed me the rudiments of how to make a flowbench and how to use it, I tried that and found it to be a very tedious effort so I abandoned messing with airflow.
-But Allan was very helpful towards buying a slightly used Go-power dyno and I put a lot of effort into that for several years.
------------------------------------
-In the mean time I had developed a pretty good idea of what it took to port SBC heads and I had gained a much better knowledge of how to tune the oval track engines.
-Then I got hooked up with some guys who had way more money that I'd ever seen and they let me build their injected sprint car engines that had either Al Bartz, Traco or Mondello cast iron heads so I got to see first hand what "real" race heads looked like, and I found that mine were very similar.
-But for some reason if I'd install a set of my own heads onto their engines they'd end up running faster, and I later found out it had nothing to do with max power but it had more to do with taming the cars down with a lesser low end torque but they also pulled harder on the top end.
-----------------------------------------
-I was wanting a Superflow bench in the late 70's and another late model racer helped me with the purchase of the bench.
-Then I built my own shop in my backyard and that saved me tons of time driving to and from my other rented shops.
-I couldn't use the dyno here in the neighborhood so I felt the flowbench was the next best thing, and I was looking for a way to teach myself more about the physics of racing engines.
--By 1987 I was almost 100% doing cylinder porting and it's been that way ever since.
--------------------------------------------
-I went thru all the math and the calculations and trying to understand the college math of the big thick engine engineering books but I had to end up learning in a language and at the arithmetic levels that I could understand, so that part of the learning taught me a lot but I never was educated enough to glean what Larry and Darin and some of these other guys know.
----------------------------------------
-But it's a job I like, I make decent money, and I've learned how to survive the filth of the grinding powder and dust.
-I wouldn't change nothing about it.
Last edited by bill jones on Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Floyd » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:43 pm

Thanks for the replies guys.... TTT

What do you think helped you the most as getting as far as you are now?
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Postby bill jones » Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:02 pm

-Living it and doing it every day, all day, lots of projects, not really believing or caring what everybody says, doing it "MY WAY", and, a very understanding wife.
----------------------------------
-It's sure a lot easier to learn and get help and answers today, but it wasn't like that in the "old days" so us old guys had to just do it however we could and make it all work.
---------------------------------
-To get an answer about anything like what we discuss here was very special and those few guys who would actually talk to you were like gold.
------------------------------------------
-Guys like Eddie Nelson and Bob & Fred Joehnck in Santa Barbara Ca, Wayne House from Lincoln Nebraska, Ron Weir at Crane cams were several guys that were always very free and accurate with their advice and to this day I appreciate the help from those guys very much.
Last edited by bill jones on Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Floyd » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:12 am

bill jones wrote:-Living it and doing it every day, all day, lots of projects, not really believing or caring what everybody says, doing it "MY WAY", and a very understanding wife.



I think the last part is the key. :lol:


How many of you guys only do Hand Ported stuff or how many have you lets your ports be digitized for CNC use?

I'm really curious to find out who does a lot of the porting for many of the CNC companies...
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Postby Darin Morgan » Wed Mar 16, 2005 10:37 am

I think Bill Jones summoned it up pretty well.

I consider myself very lucky. I was exposed to many great engine builders and racers at an early age. I got the benefit of there knowledge and learned how to do things "correctly" from some of the best. That's a BIG one right there. I still know people that where taught the wrong way to do it and twenty years later, they are still doing it wrong. I have also had the benefit of working on many different projects and taking a little something from each. I actually did it backwards. I was taught and learned what worked and what didn't ,THEN I applied the math and physics to it to make since out of what was going on so I could expand on it. I reverse engineered my own brain in a weird sort of way. I lived it, ate it and breathed it for as long as I can remember. You immerse yourself in the engine building, racing and engineering cultures and absorb everything you can. That may sound over simplified but its just the way it works. The earlier you start, the better off you are. I have taught myself a great deal by doing it the way Bill did ( my own way). The real kick is when you get on this message board and find out that others do it the exact same way! What you thought was a secret, really isn't. Its just the proper way to do it and we all independently found it on our own. About four years ago I hired a guy who used to work for another major engine builder. We have both been doing this for over 20 years but had never met before. After he worked here for about a month I noticed that his approach to porting was just like mine. We compared notes and to both our amazement, we did almost everything the same! Two guys who had never met in there lives, in the same profession, both self taught and learning from people who taught them correctly have the same mind set and general rules in there approach to cylinder heads and induction system tuning! About 75% or what I know, was taught to me by someone else. The rest I had to improvise and learn from constant trial and error as well as self motivated study from books and engineering papers.

First comes the discovery, then comes the theory. Its very seldom the other way around.
Darin Morgan
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-EFI Calibration and Tuning
Reher Morrison Racing Engines
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Arlington Texas 76001
Phone 817-467-7171
Cell 682-559-0321
http://www.rehermorrison.com
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Postby cboggs » Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:14 am

Yup, .. Bill & Darin summit up well.

First and what I think is most important is what seems to be a common personality
trait amongst good porters and induction designers. Curiosity.
They ( we ) always seem to want to know why it did or didn't work, .. and what's
going on inside those ports.

To me it's always been like an addiction, .. only there's no AA for cylinder head guys. ;-)
There's tremendous joy in working on a head, .. see it make more power, then win races.

I was lucky that at an early age I was around some very talented engine builders.
My first influence and what planted the "seed" was as a kid, .. 9-10 year old, ..
I have a faint memory of being in Jenkins shop. I think one of my uncles took
me there, .. I don't remember, I only remember being in total awe, .. and thought
that flow bench thing was really cool.

Later around 14 when I started "playing" with cars & motorcycles it became
a thirst for knowledge and I, like Darin & Larry, went to every source I could find.
SAE papers, .. engine builders, .. people who would share,
took some Fluid Dynamics courses ( failed cause I SUCK at math ;-).

From there I went through a few jobs, all in the thirst for knowledge, ..
working with John Bray on small blocks, SS, Comp, NASCAR, . ..
then Sonny's on the big inch IHRA Pro Stock stuff, ..then a Ford shop in Virginia.
Those relationships are very important. I have a good customer,
QuickSilver Race engines, .. who has a dyno that REALLY repeats, ..
and is willing to try anything, .. test, test, test, .. comes knowlege.

Now mostly what I do is development projects in a wide range, .. road racing,
drag racing, . . some boat. I am on occasion hired to develop heads that go to CnC.
On my in-house stuff, like Dart BB, Chevy 15º, 2.L pinto, Ford 1600, ..
they get hand developed then digitized for CnC.

I still do a TON of hand work, .. always will, .. it's the "artist" part of porting.
30 years later, I'm still addicted to the entire process, .. and envy people like
Darin with positions that challenge them on a daily basis.

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Postby Floyd » Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:28 pm

Thanks again for the replies guys I appreciate it. I was looking into just starting with a set of heads and porting them to see what I could do on my own for fun/expierence just to learn more about Air Flow.

Any books/literature you would reccomend I pick up?

Also what kind of Porting tools are a must for someone to have?
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Postby bill jones » Wed Mar 16, 2005 6:10 pm

-what do you have for a working enviroment?
-what do you have for grinder power, just electric or a big (5hp) compressor?
-got a drill press, lathe, mill, bandsaw etc?
-what do you want to port mostly? cast iron or aluminum?
-how much would you spend for tools?
-what are you going to do for your porting area?
------------------------------------------------------
-We have talked a lot about this sort of stuff recently like in the "porting sitting or standing" thread that is 4 pages long, did a lot of chat about carbide burrs etc along the way.
-I feel it would be better, if you can't find the answers looking back several months worth of threads, to start a new thread and title it something that defines favorite porting tools.
----------------------------------------------
-on Feb 16th there was that thread about sitting or standing and that has a ton of good info in it, is about 3 pages back in the archives.
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Postby Floyd » Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:23 pm

what do you have for a working enviroment?



For now I'm using 2 bays in a 3 car garage for my working area, but this includes all my tools for working on cars, the lawn and all other parts of the house.

what do you have for grinder power, just electric or a big (5hp) compressor?
-got a drill press, lathe, mill, bandsaw etc?



I have electric grinders, and a large air compressor, no drill press, lathe, mill or bandsaw.

what do you want to port mostly? cast iron or aluminum?



aluminum

how much would you spend for tools?


I'm willing to spend 1000-1500 on just the tools alone for now.


-what are you going to do for your porting area?


As of now I was just going to use one of my normal work benches to give it a try if I mature into a worthwhile porter of some sorts (don't really think I can be that good at all) I'd build a work area for just porting heads alone and buy a flowbench, but that seems to be a wayyyy long way off.


Can't say thanks enough for all the replies.


Floyd.
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Postby shawn » Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:21 pm

I think one of the things that gets overlooked by most people who want to get into headporting is the time that is involved. There is a huge amount of time invested not only in the learning curve, but in just performing the work itself. I'm not trying to discourage you from trying, but it always amazes me how the time thing gets missed. We would get heads from people to flow for them and you could always tell which port was the first one they did and the last one. lol. That extra 15 minutes spent on the first one translated into another 2 hours worth of work over the 8 ports and the last ones just didn't quite get as much as the others.I love doing it, from the first port to the last. You never quite learning. I'm an information junky and this stuff just fits me to a "t", so good luck and have fun with it!
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Postby Floyd » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:23 pm

Yea I'm well aware of the "time factor" I've been asking a lot of head porters over the past few days. I'm just looking to build or hone a new skill for the most part.


so anyone here port LSX Gen III style heads on here? I know a couple do but seeing who all here do them...
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Postby bill jones » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:28 pm

-We went thru all of this last month but:

-the very first thing I'd get in my head is to get your head garb figured out regardless of how it looks.
-not using a two strap dustmask is huge mistake.
------------------------------------------------
-I use a dust mask, a larger than normal shop rag to cover my hair, the forward part of the rag droops down to about the top of my eyeglasses and then I use a large 5/8" wide rubber band made from an inner tube to hold that rag against my forehead and down over my ears, then I use a thin clear grinding shield besides that.
-The head rag also acts as side shields to any grit coming in from the sides of your eyes.
-It's tedious to have to answering the phone and getting "undressed and redressed" but it's all part of the deal.
--------------------------------------------
-for 3 years I ported heads in a small storage shed, because I didn't have a shop at home, and the shed was really a perfect small room.
-I had one shelf on each side with flourescent lights and a swivel stool in the middle.
-This is really good for containing the dust.
----------------------------------------------
-I have an 800 square foot shop now and I use about 7 feet along one wall just for the porting stuff, but my actual work place is 40" wide.
-I have a fan mounted from the ceiling about the same height as my face so that air is constantly blowing lightly past my face and above the heads I'm grinding on.
-One primary reason for the fan is, when you wear glasses and a shield and a dust mask, your glasses tend to get fogged up, especially if the shop is cool during the winter.
-I use a shop vac to periodically clean the work area.
-I have one swing arm lamp that has been modified so that I can get that light about everywhere except under the heads when the heads are on blocks.
-then I have a 12VDC power source and I made like an electric "candle" that is about 5" tall that will get up inside the ports from the bottom and I use like automotive dash panel bulbs.
---------------------------------------------------------------
-for grinders I use electrics only for polishing and with a speed controller to slow'm down.
-I did use electrics only for about 10 years but I'd much rather have air grinders for the serious grinding because you have a wide range of speed at your finger tips.
-I have used the $300 air grinders and currently I just acquired 4 cheapy grinders that I am using.
-If you go to air need a good air compressor (5hp) and large tanks and a fan to cool off the compressor motor and the compressor head.
----------------------------------------------------------------
-For carbides I like a 1/2" (SE5)or 7/16" (SE4) diameter egg shaped with regular flutes (not diamond cut) and I like about 10 to 16 flutes.
-Everything I buy has special order 6" shanks and then I cut the shanks to suit where I want to use it and most of the shanks end up at about 4-3/4" to 5-1/4".
-You need a smaller 3/8" egg for getting along side the valve guide and I use about 10 flutes on those.
---------------------------------------
-There's another nice burr that is like reversed taper that is excellent for getting to the crest of the floors on low port heads that Mondello sells for $36 RT4-6-20-RC which is about a .450" head, 6"shank, 20 flutes regular cut.
-This same exact burr is available from Circofile in Long Island NY as part #SN-3.5-CR (20/0) which I think means it's about 7/16" head, the CR might stand for cone reversed, the 20 is tooth count and the zero means no crosscuts or diamond cut pattern.
-The Circofile guy is Tom Carrella, e-mail is CircoFile@aol.com and I'm not sure if you have to capitalize the C and the F.
--------------------------------
-Tom sells 1/2" eggs, SE5 6" shank burrs with 10/0 flutes for $30.45each up to 5 pieces, $27.34 from 6 to 12 pieces and $25.79 for 13 or more pieces in one order and you can mix any style of burr to get the quantities.
-They don't take credit cards and but when you prepay for an order they pay the shipping and delivery is within 7 to 10 days on custom burrs.
-They also repair, rebraze and resharpen for about $9.20 for an SE4 sized burr.
-They have a catalog and a webpage.
--------------------------------------------
-Mondello has'm all. and Joe's catalog has about anything you'd want for porting.
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Postby cboggs » Wed Mar 16, 2005 10:25 pm

I've posted some of this before, .. I'd pay VERY special attention
to the dust issue. Aluminum dust is not a good thing to ingest into
your body.

keep in mind your skin will absorb things through it faster then drinking
it some time, .. I wear rubber gloves the ENTIRE time I'm in the shop,
cutting seats, .. porting, what ever.

Aluminum will collect in your body over time and has been know to be
the major cause of, .. um, .. cause of, .. oh, .. um, .. ..
oh yea, memory loss.

here's a little dust collector I made, ..
it's simple, ..
Image

Image

It's a plastic end cap for PVC tubing, .. I made an adaptor so my shop
vac can attach, .. then installed a low voltage light. It hangs on the
head and sucks out all the dust & shavings while supplying light.
I use a special dust filter in the shop vac, .. all very neat and contained.

It's good for sucking the chips out while cutting seats on the Serdi too.

I'm with Bill on the burrs, .. 99% of the time I use an egg shape, ..
SE-5, 1/2" single cut, .. aluminum, cast iron, .. most things.
I can really do a short turn with them if I run them slow.

I don't use air however, .. I use Shuner electric grinders with a speed
control built in, .. I tend to run burrs slow, .. 4-5,000 rpm and less for
delicate work.

I'd like to try the air grinders Darin uses, .. but I'm fairly happy with
my set up. Now I do have some projects, .. like the W9 rp mopar heads
where I have to remove a TON of materal, .. I'd like to find a way for
that to happen faster.

My read on electric, .. my hands don't hurt, .. if I run the burrs on the
slow side and use electric, .. if I use air my hands are always sore after.

Good luck, .. and you're doing the right thing, asking questions.

The only other thing I can say is if you're really serious about this, ..
go on Ebay and find a used flow bench, .. a Superflow 110 will get
you going, .. heck I still use one for small stuff, ..
The only way to learn is to start learning what air does & what it
wants. The grinding stuff is just a way to give it what it wants, ..
it's not the primary function of a cylinder head guy, .. the flow lab is.

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Simultaneous 5-axis CNC Porting
http://www.raceflowdevelopment.com
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