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Street Race Truck More... The Toolbox

Valve Cover Replacement - 1954 Dodge 241

7/11/2016
Red Ram, Part One

I’ve had an old 1954 Dodge 241 “Baby Hemi” in the corner of my garage for a long time. The old tired engine had been waiting many years for the right build to come along, and a little Model A coupe project seemed like the perfect reason to bring her back to life.

I had collected some interesting parts over the years for my 241, but was unsure what do for valve covers. I really like the “Dodge Red Ram” embossed script on the OEM pieces, but couldn’t decide if I should run the original steel wire covers, leave the wires exposed, or switch completely to an aftermarket finned valve cover. Just recently I discovered this great item by Offenhauser which gives me the best of both worlds – OEM charm, with just enough Hot Rod flair! Offenhauser Part 1189 (Speedway P/N 560-1189, Availability may be Limited)is a good looking set of finned aluminum valve cover caps which bolt on in place of the original wire covers. They look great while protecting the wires and spark plug tubes from the elements. In this short tutorial I will cover how I restored my original valve covers to utilize these trick vintage pieces purchased from Speedway Motors.

Fitting the caps to the valve covers is a snap because they are cast with exactly the same hole spacing as the originals. While these are designed to work for all baby size hemi engines (Dodge 241, 270, 315, 325) (Desoto 276,291,330,341,345), they can also be adapted to work on the larger Chrysler Hemi engines (331, 348, and 392). My original valve covers were extremely caked in grease and had some noticeable, but not serious surface rust. Luckily they were straight showing no dents or heavy scratches.

After a trip through a parts cleaner, and then a cleaning in my media blasting cabinet they are looking much healthier. The embossing of the script is not very pronounced, so to preserve the readability of the “DODGE – Red Ram” I had to use blasting media that wouldn’t disturb the base metal more than necessary. I used Glass Bead blasting media also purchased from Speedway Motors, part 91080315. It is available by the gallon, and it was just the ticket for gently cleaning off 60 years of grime and corrosion.

The wire covers are held on by three tapered ¼”x20 slotted head screws. After going through the parts cleaner and glass bead blasting process I decided to clean the threads with a tap to ensure everything would go together smoothly.

The caps as produced by Offenhauser do not come supplied with hardware, so I simply I visited my local hardware store and picked up six new 1/4 x 20 steel screws to tighten things down.

Everything fit great ad these caps really wake up the appearance of these Dodge Hemi Valve Covers! Once the engine is ready for paint I will also give everything a coat of glossy red then clean off the polished fins which will make things really pop visually!

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