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Helping a Reader: Updating the guts of a ’57 Ford blower

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1957 Ford cars, like this Fairlane Sunliner, were available with a supercharged engine topped with a Paxton VR-57. Image via lov2xlr8.no

Not too long ago, Senior Editor Matt Litwin and I drove out to Brick, New Jersey, to photograph Rich Stuck’s ’57 Ford F-code. The F-code, for those of you whose ’50s Ford trivia is a bit rusty, was the supercharged, 312-cu.in. Y-block V-8 that could be had in Ford passenger cars and Thunderbirds. It’s a rare and desireable option that we’ve written up in both the December 2016 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines and once again in the May 2019 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

In response to that last article, I received a voicemail asking about how Rich had converted his old Paxton VR-57 to use the newer, more-easily attainable internals from a Paxton SN-series blower. I gathered up that information, but was unfortunately never able to get the reader on the phone to tell him about the process–nor did he have a voicemail service set up.

Cleaning off my desk recently, I found my notes, and before I placed them in the circular file, I thought I’d share the information here and see if anybody out in the Hemmings Nation had another approach to this problem:

1) The parts of the VR-57 and the SN do not directly interchange. The conversion requires machine work and essentially irreversible. If you’ve searched for VR-57 parts and come up short, however, it may be your only option.

2) The conversion eliminates the variable-ratio feature (hence “VR”) of the VR-57, but also does away with the oil leaks and reliability concerns endemic to the earlier design.

3) SN balls, races, seals, output shafts, and ball drivers are available brand new.

4) You must bore out the housing for a modern SN rear seal and then use an SN-sized output shaft.

5) You must also machine race adapters and press them into the VR-57 case to hold the smaller SN races and balls.

That’s it. If you’re not confident in your ability to make the conversion, hunt up a Y-block forum (this information was culled from a couple of them) and you’ll likely find someone willing to undertake the work for hire. Good luck!