Buick Header Installation Tips
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On the Buick 400, 430, and 455 there are four "ears" that stick off the block at the top, right off the deck on each side. These "ears" are very much in the way of in-car header installations, and as such it is recommended that they be removed during an engine rebuild. The first reaction of most folks to cutting off parts of their engine is to recoil is shock and give the person suggesting it a funny look. In this case, it's safe to do - the "ears" were used to locate the block in the machining equipment used by Buick at the engine factory to machine the raw block casting into a finished and usable block. Since that's a one-time operation (machine shops don't use the Buick-specific machines to do their work), the "ears" are not needed and can safely be removed.

The idea is to take a Sawzall or other similar metal cutting tool and trim these "ears" down from the 1"-1.5" that they are originally down to something around 1/4" or less. You clean it up for aesthetics only.


Here's the work I did on one of my engines where I removed the block "ears" to make future header installation easier. I used a small cut-off wheel to groove the top surface, then used a Sawzall to complete the cut. Cast iron is soft, but these are decent sized chunks of cast iron to cut through, so it takes a while. I used two blades up cutting off all four ears, even though I used a copious amount of WD40 to help lubricate the blade. After cutting, I files the surface reasonably smooth and removed and sharp edges. As with the flashing removal, cutting cast iron makes an incredible amount of fine dust. The cut-off ears were surprisingly heavy as a group - I'm guessing 5lbs or more.

BuickBlockEars01.jpg (771872 bytes) BuickBlockEars02.jpg (766365 bytes) BuickBlockEars03.jpg (762998 bytes) BuickBlockEars04.jpg (805165 bytes) BuickBlockEars05.jpg (822019 bytes) BuickBlockEars06.jpg (825342 bytes) BuickBlockEars07.jpg (815350 bytes) BuickBlockEars08.jpg (815117 bytes) BuickBlockEars09.jpg (744778 bytes) BuickBlockEars10.jpg (775761 bytes)


Here are the initial pics I had posted of this before I did the work on my own block. This gave me an idea of how to hack off the "ears" that are on the block to make it easier to put headers on the engine (or, take them off to work on things!) while it's in the car. Many thanks to Dave Berry for the three pics below that helped this make sense to me.

The first pic is the block showing one of the "ears" cut off. The other two pics show what the ears look like before trimming. By removing these, there is one less obstruction to get the headers around when installing them. These "ears" are not needed - they are reference locations only used during the original block casting process. This is a safe and easy mod to do while the engine is out for a rebuild - you'll thank yourself later when you go to install headers.

455BlockEars1.jpg (54762 bytes) 455BlockEars2.jpg (53395 bytes) 455BlockEars3.jpg (56426 bytes)

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Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM