HAM head policy & head hunting tips

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HAM Inc
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HAM head policy & head hunting tips

Post by HAM Inc » Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:27 pm

There seems to be a little confusion about my head policy (I'm sure I'm partially to blame for that).

First, the Leading Edge line of CNC heads that I developed are ONLY available through R.A.T. I have recieved a few calls from people hoping to buy direct from H.A.M. to save a buck. It isn't going to happen! (I think the calls came HOT VW's readers not forum regulars) Though I developed the heads, the technology that is poured into these is a direct result of the tons of R & D that Jake and I have worked on together. These heads were developed to meet Jakes requirements and he did all of the testing beyond the flowbench. That testing included lots of dyno time, cam work, induction work, etc. before specs were settled upon. Once the prototypes were developed they were used for the HOT VW's build up and I'm sure that everyone knows they were then tested in a crazy cross country blitz and a pass down drag strip too! All without a single problem of any sort with the heads or engine. Since that build up refinements have been made and the CNC heads available now are AWESOME, even better than the HOT VW's prototypes, and available exclusively through R.A.T.

Second, I do still work on used heads (even T1's!). I just got frustrated with the condition of so many of the cores that some people have sent and the reaction people have to the cost of repairs. If you have a pair of heads that is in decent shape and hasn't tossed a seat, or experienced severe detonation, these are candidates for a rebuild. They all should get the exhaust bosses reworked for new HD step studs, even if the 30+ year old studs look okay. If they dropped a seat, but don't have shrapnell damage or detonation damage these can be repaired at a reasonable cost and because the damage looks bad quite often these cores can be had cheap, or free.
For those on a budget look for 1.7 heads. the Q heads are the best, but they don't have to be Q heads. The 1.7 heads will almost always save you money on crack repair.

None of the bus heads are a safe bet with the POSSIBLE exception of the 1.7's. The 2.0 ovals and sq. ports are the worst about cracking. If you buy a bus engine with the hopes of building a budget T4, be prepared for the worst, and hope to be pleasantly surprised. I do not perform any mods to used 2.0 bus heads, oval or sq. They are VERY likely to have internal cracks that show up during the porting process. Some of these cracks are not repairable. If you do have a pair of bus heads in good condition, great! you got lucky!

The 914 heads are a much safer bet. The 1.7 914's are the absolute safest bet of all. 1.8 & 2.0 914's will almost always need some crack repairs, quite often the repairs are extensive so look closely. The upshot of the 2.0 914's is that for most street applications the heads perform great with no port work at all. They will, however, always leave my shop with all new valve seats, as will all T4's with the possible exception of 1.7's

I do all used heads in batches. I will be starting on a batch in a couple of weeks. (The deadline for this batch is June 14). I accept used heads at any time, but if they don't arrive in time for an upcoming batch they get bumped into the next one. I also would be willing to give a discount to forum members that get together to get up a batch of five pairs, provided that I only deal with one member.

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Post by MASSIVE TYPE IV » Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:15 pm

Len, thanks for clearing that up it has been a mystery for some time.

I'd like to add that ALL used heads are processed through Len, none of my kits are engines feature used heads.

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Post by fl_buggy » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:33 am

Len, I believe I've read before that you prefer to work on the new reproduction castings as opposed to VW cores.

From a cost perspective, for a slightly modded 2.0 (exhaust and cam), will it be cheaper for me to find a set of 1.7 heads and send them to you or to buy the reproductions and send them to you?

How much crack repair does it take to eclipse the cost of the new castings?

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Post by HAM Inc » Fri Jun 02, 2006 1:54 pm

I don't mind working with used castings, but I definitely prefer to work with the new replacement castings. That's because the new castings allow me to get right to the work that makes power. No time spent looking for cracks, degreasing and glass beading, that damn aircompressor doesn't run on love! The details that have to be dealt with before the work can actually begin take time and materials (solvent, glass beads, etc.) and I have to pass that on to the customer. I try to keep those cost down, but the power people and my suppliers are ganging up on me!

Quality used castings will be cheaper to start with, if:
-You don't pay much for the cores to begin with.
-The cores don't need more than routine crack repairs
-The ex studs haven't busted and had shotty repairs that require welding.

Overall the only heads that routinely come out cheaper are 1.7's that will be used in applications like yours, mild performance. Occasionally people send in a quality pair of 1.8 or 2.0 914 heads and they come out cheaper too, if they got a good deal on the cores.

If the application will be for high-end performance or displacements over 2056cc's then the 1.7 intake ports are to small. 175CFM is about max without welding for a 1.7

A lot of folks qpproaching a T4 for the first time don't have a stash of cores to wade through to find a good pair of heads. Over and over I have seen people shy away from the new heads because of sticker shock, then spend hours chasing down "good deals" on cheap cores only to find that the cores weren't such a great deal. So then they spend time looking for more cores etc. It is very common for folks to go through all of that and then ship me heads (shipping isn't free either) only for me to tell them that the heads will require extensive repairs, or that the heads are junk. Eventually when they add it all up, (not counting their time) they save a $100.00 or so. Sometimes not even that much.

Compared to a mild T1 a stock T4 will cost more money. But the T4 is more powerful in stock form than a mild T1, and more reliable. Compare the cost of a 2.0 T1 with heads that flow 150CFM (a stock DP T1 flows about 105CFM) to a 2056 with bone stock, reliable 1.7 heads that flow around 150CFM. You will find that the T4 is MUCH cheaper in terms of up- front $ spent and maintenance cost.
T1 heads that flow 150CFM will cost a LOT more $ than a stock pair of 1.7's.

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Post by MASSIVE TYPE IV » Fri Jun 02, 2006 2:01 pm

The main issue is that people **THINK** their heads are good, but len or myself can see an issue from 10 feet away that makes them a downer....

Thats the problem I always had with used castings.

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Post by Tristessa » Sun Jun 04, 2006 11:14 pm

MASSIVE TYPE IV wrote:The main issue is that people **THINK** their heads are good, but len or myself can see an issue from 10 feet away that makes them a downer....
Aside from the obvious (cracks, dropped valves, studs), are there any other fairly easy-to-spot "gotchas" to look for when checking cores?

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Post by MASSIVE TYPE IV » Mon Jun 05, 2006 8:37 am

How deep they have been flycut, exhaust stud issues, Len can name much more!

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Post by HAM Inc » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:58 am

How deep they've been flycut is a biggie! A tell-tale indicator of a deepflycut is that the fin has also been cut into so the cylinder will fit into the register without first hitting the fin.

Detonation damage is a killer. I have seen detonation destroy the casting by impregnating it with carbon/combustion residue up 3mm beneath the surface! Obvious signs of detonation are pock marking as though the chamber had bad acne. Look for it around the ex valve and on the opposite side of the chamber from the spark plug. 1.8 bus heads seemed to suffer this the most. Don't waste your time with these.

Water damage can also be a killer. This is typically found on heads that were pulled off engines that sat uncovered for many years. The water enters the intake ports and disolves the port walls over time. It will enter any open valves and do the same to the chamber.

Ex stud boss damage can be repaired, but it will cost money. It doesn't render a terminal blow to the head, but if you are on a strick budget don't pay a lot for heads with obvious damage. One tip to keep in mind regarding stud damage is that even if the OE studs look great they are going to be brittle. Over the years I have heard countless horror stories from customers that sent me heads with strong looking studs. Because the studs looked good they declined to have me pull them and remachine for new HD step studs. The studs break when retorqued and then the nightmare is on. Now here's the tip. When buying a pair of heads if the studs are broken or have an obviously trashed boss (usually from a failed repair) you may be able to pick those heads up for free or very cheap. Since it's a good idea to replace the OE studs regardless of there appearance you may work this to your advantage.

Dropped seats don't cause terminal damage unless it is accompanied by detonation. If the seat came loose and got jammed sideways in the seat bore this isn't expensive to repair. Here's another tip. Because the damage looks ugly the head can usually be picked up cheap or free. Since the heads always get new seats anyway you can work that to your advantage. Avoid heads with dropped seats that broke and caused extensive shrapnell damage. Those repairs will be more extensive ($$)

It is easy to see why Jake and I have committed so much to developing the Leading Edge CNC heads. Aside from the consistent, superior performance, the customer isn't left sourcing good cores and paying for damage repairs when he can't find the occasional pristine cores. And in the end he has a NEW casting.

But for those of you who have good cores, or enjoy the hunt, we will be more than happy to get you the performance you want.

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