The 12 Port Story

The 12 Port Story Pt. #3
Herbert Hall
(originally printed in Vol. 1, Issue 3 of the 12 Port News)

       At the end of the first installment of this series we left off just after Wayne F. Horning and Harry Warner had split up.  In the last issue we touched on the story of Wayne Horning and now we'll return to Harry Warner.   As mentioned earlier, after Wayne and Harry dissolved their partnership in early 1950, Harry Warner retained the business mane "Wayne Manufacturing Co." and after a time of resettlement got back into the production of 12 port Wayne Chevrolet cylinder heads.  Harry moved his business to 7153 Encinal Blvd., La Cresenta, CA.   The amount of time until production resumed was necessitated by the large amount of post casting, machining that each head required, as well as that always present factor in new businesses' finances.  This was a real family type business.  Harry's wife took care of the bookkeeping and secretarial chores and young son Dam, then in high school, helped out when he could.  By late 1950, Harry was casting a dozen Wayne heads a month, doing most of the machining himself.

        After Harry had gotten settled and back into production on the Wayne Chevy heads, he was able to devote more of his time to the final stages in his development of a 12 port head for GMC's.  Wayne Horning was also working on a 112 port GMC head at this time, and was actually on the salt flats of Bonneville in the Fall of 1950.  As we will see, the concepts for these two heads, while having certain similarities, are however quite different.  This is most noticeable in the area of mechanical concept and the way in which that concept relates to the average GMC owner.  Therefore, as we remember that Harry and Wayne had both been involved for many years with these engines, it is no small wonder that they both came up with 12 port heads for GMC's at about the same time.  By late 1951, both men were offering 12 port heads for GMC's, with Harry Warner also offering 12 port heads for Chevrolet.

       Harry was involved at Indy in 1951, when Bill Johnson's car ran a 12 port Wayne Chevy.  In 1953, Harry was back again with the "Wayne Manufacturing Special," this time with one of the new Wayne 12 port GMC's.  The car was driven by the highly successful South American driver Jorge Daponte.  The car (the dame one that Bill Johnson ran in 1951) turned 133 mph in an attempt to qualify, but it wasn't quite enough.

        Harry continued to produce both 12 port   Wayne Chevy and 12 port Wayne GMC heads on throughout the 1950's.  In 1955, Harry mover the business again, this time to larger quarters at 432 So. Victory Blvd., Burbank, California.  Harry continued to put his engineering and design abilities to use and he designed and built on of the most fascinating and perhaps most exotic of all six cylinder specialty heads.  This was the now famous Wayne DOHC (Dual Overhead Cam) 12 port head for GMC.  What a dream cylinder head it was; dual overhead cams, six intake ports, six exhaust ports, a crossflow head, fuel injection, WOW!  What a piece of machinery!  Three sets of castings were made, and the engine was assembled and tested.  The engine incorporated a special front cover extending from the bottom of the normal front cover area, up to and covering the full front of the motor all the way to even with the the dual overhead cam covers.  This contained a fully gear driven assembly.

        As wild as this head was, Harry had future plans to go even further.  He had a design for enlarging the valves in the DOHC head to 2 1/8 in., that's right, 2 1/8 in. for both intakes and exhausts.  This monster valve head was also going to have dual spark plugs and penthouse design combustion chamber.  Even beyond this incredible work, Harry had plans for a 24 valve DOHC engine, that's four valves per cylinder.  This 24 valve head was to have had chain driven cams.  Harry had hoped for production to begin in 1955 on these two modifications of the basic DOHC head.  Sadly those two master pieces never left the drawing board.  The 12 valve DOHC head with the monster intakes/exhausts was to have sold for $1000 complete with special pistons, fuel injectors and a contemplated new gear type belt designed to eliminate the gear train.  The 24 valve head was planned to retail for $1200.  The location of three 12-valve DOHC Wayne GMC engines, is still a mystery.  As word of them turns up form time to time, it seems certain that at least one still survives.  What a cylinder head that was, what and engine!  It makes the mouth water just to think of it.

        A perusal of an old "Wayne Engineering Co." catalog, reveals a vast array of parts and services.  In addition to the 12 Port Wayne GMC heads, Harry continued to provide all the items for the 12 port Chevy.   He also covered stock head units (both Chevy and GMC) with such items a intakes, pistons, fuel injection units and the pump drive kits for the roller cams and tappets, custom pushrods, etc., the list seems endless.  He also did custom cylinder head work on stock units porting and polishing; built complete ready to race custom engines, both Chevrolet and GMC, had available full pressure cranks for the early Chevy, special main caps, oil pans and dry sump oil systems, dress up goodies like finely finned aluminum valve covers and side plates.  If you needed it or wanted it, and it was for Chevy or GMC Harry Warner had it or could get it or could build it.  He even made available some items for the V8 Chevy.  That's right, V8's.  He offered Quad-Cam covers, dual or triple intake manifolds, special pistons, reworked cylinder heads, Hilborn fuel injection, crankshaft assemblies and exhaust systems, all for the Chevy V8,  Harry was dedicated Chevy and GMC man.

       As time wore on and the public's attention and desire turned more and more to the Chevy V8 and the other V8's, like Olds and Chrysler, Harry found that he just wasn't  getting the return that his considerable talents warranted.  So, as America rolled into the 1960's, Harry moved on the to other fields.  His remaining active business years were spent doing specialty design and manufacturing work for the famous Jet Propulsion Lab, in nearby Pasadena.  In the mid 197's, Harry finally retired.

       Harry Warner had kept alive the products and the services that Inline racing fans have come to depend on and to appreciate.  And he stayed in the business long after most all the others had moved on.  Warner estimates his total production of Wayne Chevy and Wayne GMC's, was less than 200 total.  The majority of these were Wayne Chevy heads produced up until the time he and Wayne Horning split up.  This makes the overall production figures really quite small.  The is especially noticeable of you consider the fact that heads have come to feature so prominately in the cars of so many winning racers, including recent winners at Bonneville.   The longevity of these heads is in itself a mark of a mark of distinction that honors all those responsible for the design, production and marketing of these works of hot rod art.  To this end; the promotion of and the development of, six cylinder racing, Harry Warner deserves the thanks and praise of all of us whose pulse is always quickened when we see or hear an inline engine.

       Sadly, Harry Warner is nol onger with us, having passed away a couple of years ago.  His memory still is strong with his many many friends and family.  His contributions, so many and so diverse have left a major imprint, one that is impossible to miss.  We all miss him and remember him warmly, even those of us who only knew him from a distance of thorough the sound of one if his creations.  His legacy to all of us is sweet, as is the music that his engines still wonderfully make.  His example of dedication, brilliance of mind , sound practicality of design, and just plain good ole American know-how, are certainly the thing stories are made of, and also the stuff that successful lives are based on.


        Perhaps a short look at the Wayne GMC will be helpful, not only to understand it better for those of us who aren't too familiar with it, but also to help distinguish the principle differences between the Wayne GMC 12 port head and the Horning GMC 12 port head.  The Wayne GMC 12 port head used a stock valve cover and side plate, although the finned aluminum dual breather valve covers and aluminum side plates were decidedly a nice touch.  The rockerams and shaft were also stock.  The Wayne 12 port head used the stock valve sequence, thereby allowing for the use of the many grinds of cams available.  This was major difference between the Wayne and the Horning heads as the Horning head used a new valve sequence and needed a special cam.  The Wayne GMC head sat flush on the block.  This design allowed for some major advantages.  The first being that the pistons were the means of determining the compression ratio.  The second was that the valve size was only limited by the bore size.  A third advantage of this design was that very short pistons could be used, these oftened weighed approximately 30% less than other types.   The valves sat vertical and were activated by stock rockers.  The intakes were 1 15/16 in. and the exhausts we 1 11/16 in.  Port faces were slanted to give a direct flow into the dead, the same port design as the Wayne Chevy head.  The head when mounted on 3 15/16 in., bore, 4 in. stroke, 292 cu. in. GMC, with 12:1 compression and running straight alcohol fuel, with fuel injection, developed 320 h.p. at 52 rpm.   The first dozen heads were cast iron, then he switched over to aluminum for the duration of production.  Pistons were available in sizes 3 15/16, 4, 4 1/8, 4 3/16 inches, with compression ratios ranging from 9:1, up to 15:1.  There was an attention to design details that show in areas such as the fact that the full extent of piston travel was held within the water jacket area of the block to assist cooling and to promote long ring life.  Also, available was a special aluminum front cover with special drives for the fuel injection and dry sump oil system.  The stock water pump was used and the distributor was in the stock location.  Perhaps the most overriding feature of the Wayne 12 port head for GMC, and a fact that was certainly central to Harry Warner's design concept and his personal business style as well, can be found in this statement for the "Wayne Engineering Co." catalog of 1955, "The head has been designed so that the individual, building up and engine, or converting his stock GMC engine, may use a maximum of stock parts, thus reducing costs.  The stock camshaft is used, reground to customer requirements."  Harry Warner had a feel for the common backyard hot rodder, the part-time racers and his designs and his business philosophy showed that concern and that camaraderie.  His designs let you use as much of what you already had as possible let you add as you went and still gave you in the final form, the power and dependability that made you competitive.

head.jpg (35617 bytes) The Wayne 12 port head for GMC,
showing intake (bottom) and exhaust
(top) ports.

Harry Warner with his beloved `34 Ford roadster, the car he drove to Calif. to join Wayne Horning in the business venture that led to the 12 port heads.

harry.jpg (65500 bytes)

Another view of Harry Warner with his
Wayne Chevy powered `34 Ford
One of the hottest and most beautiful engines to ever grace the engine compartment of a car.  Frank Iacono's Wayne GMC powered his `33 Ford coupe to astonishing records at drag strips throughout Southern Calif.

The photo shows Jorge Daponte on left
and Harry Warner behind the #95
"Wayne Manufacturing Special," as it
was ready for the 1953 Indy 500 race.
This was the same car that Bill Johnson
had run in 1951 at Indy, but now it had
a different engine; the 12 port Wayne
GMC.  Lap speeds of 133 mph were
achieved, but he car failed to qualify.