The 12 Port Story

The 12 Port Story Pt. 9
Herbert Hall
(originally printed in Vol. 2, Issue 4 of the 12 Port News)

    In our last issue (May 82) we had an opportunity to visit  with Mr. Nick Arias of Arias Industries, while he shared with us, his remembrances of the good old days of the 1950's and his having worked for Harry Warner.  This month we are very pleased to be able to visit with Mr. Bob Toros, of Toros Equipment, and Tor-Cam Industries is the manufacture of Venolia Pistons, perhaps a more recognizable name.   It was a distinct pleasure for your old author to talk with Mr. Toros for an hour on the phone in May.  Mr. Toros, who is a member of INLINERS INTERNATIONAL mentioned his enjoyment in our humble efforts here at the The 12 Port News and we are most grateful to him for being so kind.  But now on with the story.

    Bob said he was pleased with our interview/story in the May issue with Nick Arias, but that he had a few minor corrections to make, especially dealing with the various companies of which he held the central role, those being Toros Equipment Company and Tor-Cam Industries.  Bob was most helpful and went to the trouble to look up old dates and production figures and foundry names, etc., for us and we do appreciate his taking all that time to help us out and to make the story of the Wayne Chevy 12 port heads as complete and as accurate as possible.

    Let's go back to 1956.  Bob mentions that at that time he and Nick Arias were still renting space from Harry Warner and developing Venolia Pistons and doing outside machine work as well as some special work for Harry Warner from time to time.  This was only natural, as Bob an Nick had both worked for Harry since 1952, and they were still in the same building as Harry at 432 S. Victory Blvd., in Burbank, CA.   Bob said that they stayed there in Harry's building until Nick left the partnership in 1957.  It was at that time that Bob Toros moved across the street and left Harry Warner's building that he formed Toros Equipment Co. which he, Bob, ran as single ownership business for the next few years.  It was when Bob moved and when he set up Toros Equipment, that he purchased from Harry Warner, the patterns and blueprints for the Wayne Chevy 12 port heads.  At that same time, Bob purchased from Harry Warner the full "Wayne Chevy" 12 port line.  Bob purchased the patterns and the blueprints and the tooling for the following pieces of equipment:  the intake manifolds (5 car log type), both exhaust manifolds (straight and curved), the "Wayne" valve cover, the "Wayne" side plate, and the front accessory cover (the one on which mounted the fuel injector pump, idler pulley, tang drive aligning pilot and water pump belt).  Bob also offered the dry sump oiling system with its special aluminum front cover for both the Chevy and GMC in his "Toros Equipment Co." catalogs.  In effect, Bob Toros bought out the entire "Wayne" Chevy line form Harry Warner.  The date for this  transaction was the Fall of 1957.

    The next few years saw Bob Toros developing Toros Equipment Co., selling not only the Wayne Chevy 12 ports and their related equipment but also continuing to market Venolia Pistons and maintaining his successful custom machining business.   It was also in 1957 when Bob started "Toros Equipment Co." that Venolia Pistons no longer continued as a company name.  This is still true today, although nearly everyone continues to refer to it as Venolia Pistons today it really is "Tor-Cam Industries."  But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  Venolia Pistons ended as a company name, but the product name or line called  Venolia Pistons did continue, as a product line of "Toros Equipment Co."  In 1961, Bill Campbell joined Bob Toros, and at that time (not 1959 as we reported earlier) Bob and Bill Campbell formed "Tor-Cam Industries" and Toros Equipment Co. ended as a company name.  Bill only stayed a couple of year and left in 1963, when both Joe Pisano and Nick Arias joined Bob Toros in "Tor-Cam Industries" or as it was more commonly but not accurately, known, "The Venolia Piston Co."  As we mentioned last time Nick Arias stayed until 1969, and from that date on until the present time, both Bob Toros and Joe Pisano have continued "Tor-Cam Industries" as a corporation.

    Bob recalled that during the approximately 4 years that he produced 12 port heads under the company name of "Toros Equipment Co." he cast 26 twelve port heads.  The first thing that Bob did with the patterns that he purchased from Harry Warner was to modify those patterns to make the old "Wayne Chevy" 12 port head fit the new 261 cu inch Chevy six.  This required the placing of 2 new bolt holes on the pushrod side of the head and making minor relocations of other head bolt holes as the head bolt pattern for the 261 Chevy is different than the 235 Chevy although the bottom end of the engines are the same.  Therefore each and every 12 port head that Bob Toros produced was done for the 261 Chevy bolt hole pattern, thereby quickly distinguishing all of them from the standard 235 cu. inch "Wayne" Chevy 12 ports produced by first Wayne Horning and then the late Harry Warner.  All of Bob's 12 ports were done in cast iron, and to date no "Wayne Chevy" 12 ports have ever been cast in aluminum.  Bob mentioned that the blueprints he obtained from Harry Warner were all copies and that he wasn't sure whether Harry Warner had the original or if Wayne Horning may still have them.  Bob cast his first 12 port in late 1957 and the last one in 1960.

    Bob Toros still has everything that he first purchased from Harry Warner in 1957, with two exceptions.  Bob used a foundry in Pasadena called, "Hopping's Foundry" for all his casting work on the 12 port heads over the years.  It seems that the foundry owners retired and closed the business quite suddenly.  By the time Bob heard of this fast turn of events, he was unable to locate anyone connected with the foundry and hence he has never recovered the pattern for the outside shaping of the head.  This was a wood mold and there was a report of a fire just around the time the foundry closed and Bob believes it probably was destroyed.   Fortunately this is the easiest pattern to replace and Bob has all the blueprints, so this loss does not hamper any re-manufacturing plans.  The other loss was the pattern for the front fuel injection accessory cover.  Bob remembers having lent that to someone some years ago, and never having gotten it back.  He also cannot now remember who it was lent to nor can he find any record of who it was.  So, while he still has the blueprints and happily, the tooling to do those special accessory covers, the patterns for it are missing, but of course may someday turn up.  Bob recalls that Harry Warner used a different foundry, and also used a foundry in the San Francisco Bay area as well.

    We asked Bob what was his best estimate of production of "Wayne Chevy" 12 ports during the time that he worked for Harry Warner (late 1952-early 1956).  Bob said he thought that somewhere in the 30 to 40 range was a good bet.   Of course some were produced by Harry Warner before Bob came to work for him and of course there was the production under the auspices of Wayne Horning as well.  Taking an estimate for production of 50 to 70 under Harry Warner and adding Bob Toros' 26, there probably haven't' been over 150 Chevy 12 port heads ever made.  There certainly seem to be a great percentage still alive form place to place.

    As most of our readers know, Bob Toros has let it be known that he is willing to do a re-casting of the Wayne Chevy 12 ports.  He is planning to do this re-casting in aluminum this time.  If the project goes through, they will be the first Wayne Chevy aluminum 12 port heads ever cast.  Bob said he has had about 4 or 5 serious letters but he feels that a minimum of 10 to 12 heads will be necessary to warrant going ahead with the project.  So, guys, if you are interested, write Bob and let him know or the the idea may be dropped.  You can write him at: Bob Toros, 2160 Cherry Industrial Circle, Long Beach, CA 90805, or call you like and ask for Bob Toros at (213) 531-8463 during business hours only.  Another project, among many that Bob Toros is currently involved in is a re-manufacturing a recasting, of a few of the Howard 12 port heads.  Bob said he is about cast 4 or 5 heads for a group of guys in the So. Calif. area.  Bob has had the patterns for the Howard heads for about 10 years now.   Bob has gotten together with Donny Johansen, son of Howard Johansen, and gotten both Donny's blessing and assistance in the project.  Howard Johansen was a true genius and as such didn't always do things the "normal" way.  Howard Johansen never did up any formal blueprints or had any special tooling made, he knew what he wanted and went ahead and did it, so Bob will have an interesting time with this re-manufacturing effort.  We're all certain that Howard Johansen himself, enjoying his retirement on his farm in Sun City, California will be pleased that some of his old creations are once again being brought to life.

    Bob Toros has been involved with inline engines and the Chevy and GMC 6's especially, for at least 30 years now.  He has built them, raced them, worked for Wayne Manufacturing for about 4 years, and then gone on to play the central role in making Venolia pistons one of the leading piston companies in America and certainly one of the very top names in specialty racing pistons.  He has watched his labors with Toros Equipment Co. and its production of 12 port heads, grow into Tor-Cam Industries.  He has seen Tor-Cam grow and survive right up to the present and develop into one of those successful businesses that any man can be proud of.  Bob Toros' contribution to not only the field of inline engines, but to the whole field of automotive component manufacture and certainly American Hot Rodding are clear for all to see.  We salute him and are pleased to call him our friend and to have him "on-board" with all the rest of us die hard inline fans here at "The 12 Port News" and "INLINERS INTERNATIONAL."  Bob Toros is certainly a fine example of a hot rodder making good and we're all happy he has and pleased that he has spent his talents in a field we all love.

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Sonny Balcean and Bob Toros (on right) with Sonny's
Wayne GMC powered dragster at Bakersfield, CA. -
the car that was later sold to Ike Icono.  Looks like
about 1958 or 60 doesn't it?
To quote Keith Young: "You're looking at what makes the Wayne Chevy so neat - the canted intake ports.

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toros4.jpg (16885 bytes)

Wayne Chevy 12 Port - exhaust side with finned Wayne
side plate.  Engine was in the Jorge Daponte (From
Argentina) Wayne Special.  Lower right corner has
Jorge's autograph.
Intake side of the Wayne Chevy-car unknown.  Beautiful curved intake manifolds were required on non-injected engines.

toros2.jpg (17520 bytes)