The Famous Jiggler
Considered “The poor man’s Offy” (Offenhauser racing engine), the 134cid Ford V8-60 Flathead (“60” referring to horsepower) was manufactured between 1937-1940. The V8-60s were extremely popular with the oval dirt and short-track “Midget Racers” of the period. Midget cars being small, open wheel, and single-seat race cars. Cooling issues plagued these engines though.
San Antonio businessman and Midget Racer, T. Noah “Tiny” Smith Jr., had a plan. Taking the exhaust heat out of the block, which had the exhaust ports cast into them, was the answer for cooler operating temperatures. These exhaust ports in the block were to be welded up and the exhaust was to then exit valves and ports located in the heads. Intake ports and valves remained in the block in their original configuration
Existence of a functioning Jiggler race engine can be documented as far back as 1939, and Tiny’s idea was granted US Patent #200000248916 in Real development for production began after the war as interest in all manner of motorsports exploded. All this development was done at Tiny’s manufacturing and machine shop facility, located at 514 Sixth Street in downtown San Antonio for his business Lulling Oil & Gas. Tiny funded the design of this revolutionary air-cooled head and he hired aircraft engineer Pete Leonard to produce the blueprints. Eddie Anderson, a WWII P-51 Fighter Pilot and machinist extraordinaire, was also brought on at Lulling Oil & Gas. Eddie not only aided in further development work of the Jiggler, but also designed and built from scratch a dynamometer for determining the horsepower output of the Jiggler. All the pieces of the Jiggler were foundered in the San Antonio area and assembled by Bob Miller and Midget Racer Wes Saegesser.
This new “F” cylinder head featuring short exhaust runners did indeed eliminate the overheating problem. A jiggling, externally mounted, lubed and push rod activated rocker arm was necessary, and is what gives the Smith-Jiggler V8-60 engine its name.
Other speed part manufacturers were involved with the Jiggler project as well. Winfield ground the “semi overhead valve grind” camshaft, designated the “R4”. The Jiggler also featured Eddie Meyer forged aluminum pistons, a Barker magneto, and an Eddie Meyer 2×2 intake manifold with a pair of Stromberg “91” carburetors. The Jiggler head had four separate exhaust ports instead of the stock flathead’s three exhaust ports, which greatly relieved back pressure within the engine as well. Four into one headers were produced in-house.
Compression ratio for the Jiggler was 11.1:1 and the combination produced 115hp @ 6500rpm. After further development, the $1,050 Smith-Jiggler became very popular with Midget racers of the Southwest, often beating, and sometimes even being banned from racing “King Offy”.
Detuned 9.0:1 versions and even conversion kits were also offered. These engines are extremely rare now since only about 30 Smith-Jigglers V8-60s were produced, along with about 20 conversion kits. These engines were raced until the early 1950s.
San Antonian and Indy Car racer from the early 1950s, Bill Jones, met Tiny Smith at the Indianapolis 500 long after their racing days. Jones was involved in an annual reunion for oval track racers and each year the group would honor someone for their contribution to the sport. In the late 1990s, it was unanimously decided that they would honor Tiny Smith and the Smith-Jiggler V8-60. Jones decided he wanted a Jiggler at the ceremony. He scoured the country and accumulated parts from Ohio, California, Colorado, and even San Antonio. The presentation brought tears to Tiny Smith’s eyes and he said, “Bill, that’s the first time I’ve seen a complete Smith-Jiggler engine in over 30 years!”
Enter San Antonian and car-guy since the dawn of drag racing in the San Anto-nio area, Drew Williams. Drew met Bill Jones roughly 20 years ago while co-chairing for ISCA (Inter-national Show Car Associa-tion) and he had been familiar with the Jiggler since he was 10 years old in 1953. Drew convinced Bill to show some of the race cars in his collection which included the car Bill raced at Indy in 1949, two midget-racers, and his Jiggler engine. Bill’s shop had become pretty crowded once he had acquired his second Jig-gler 10 years ago. Bill noted and asked Drew, “There isn’t any sense in two of these sitting around here. Do you have any room in your shop?” Drew did and that is the Jiggler shown on these ages. Still owned by the Jones family, Drew considers himself the caretaker of the Jiggler in his possession and has enjoyed displaying it at area shows ever since. Drew chuckles, “It’s so much fun just to stand back and watch bubbas explain to each other what it is and they haven’t got a clue.”
A very special thanks to Louis Beaumier III &
Hill Country Car Culture Magazine for allowing us the chance to share this great info with our members. Learn more about the great stuff they’re doing at the link below.