Really clever way to turn the annoying hub/drum assembly into a more sensible arrangement
Tag: Early Ford
A 1939 Ford 91A V8 featured in the 1988 blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is up for auction online.Although all the animated action is set in Los Angeles, the film was actually filmed at Elstree Studios just north of London, and the V8 was sourced from a local owner.
The car crossed the Atlantic during the 1960s and was fully restored in the 1980s, spending time on display in a museum. When director Robert Zemeckis was looking for suitable cars for street scenes set in 1947 Hollywood the V-8 was in tip-top condition and, according the sales blurb, it remains so today. The owner has endeavoured to keep the car as original as possible although the Ford ‘flathead’ V-8 has been uprated with an Edelbrock intake and larger aluminium radiator. A stack of paperwork and original Ford De Luxe instruction book are included in the sale on auction site Car & Classic. Bidding only reached 15k and failed to meet the reserve.
“This is a Ford with a very special backstory, playing a key part in a movie that many will remember for its unique blend of actors – both real and cartoon” says Car & Classic’s Dale Vinten. “Today the car not only holds that appeal to fans of Roger, Jessica and Bob Hoskins but it also is a very original pre-war Ford that benefits from subtle upgrades to enjoy and show for many years to come.”The five-day auction starts on August 19 and the famous V8 is expected to fetch £20,000-£30,000. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? won three Academy Awards but who will win this star car?
A tight frontend can make all the difference between an enjoyable early Ford and a downright rotten roach of a hot rod. A car that wanders around the lane, is hard to steer and control, or clunks, clangs, and creaks while going down the road is not only uncomfortable, it’s dangerous. Thankfully, early Fords are easy to work on, simple to fix, and easy to find parts for because of companies like Speedway Motors. They stock everything from aftermarket, modern upgrades to OE-style replacement parts for 1928-1948 Fords and beyond.
Before we begin the spindle installation for our roadster, we need to modify the top of our Speedway Motors 1929-1948 Ford Forged Spindles (PN 91632104) to fit their 12-inch Bendix-Style brake kit backing plates (PN 91065420). Here you can see the area that needs to be relieved.
When it comes to restoring an early Ford frontend or solving any of those aforementioned issues, most attention is usually paid to the area of the kingpin. Over time this is usually the spot that has seen the majority of abuse and is one of only a few items on an early Ford frontend that requires any kind of maintenance. Put simply, a kingpin attaches solidly to the straight axle via a lock pin and the spindle rotates around the kingpin on brass bushings.
A 4-inch grinder with a 120-grit flap wheel made pretty quick work of clearancing our spindles, while still keeping things relatively smooth. A couple more minutes with a smaller sander will get things perfect before we paint.
Years of regular use eventually wear the softer brass bushings down, allowing the spindle-to-kingpin clearance to increase, resulting in negative handling characteristics. Caught early, it was a simple manner of installing new brass bushings, honing them to match the kingpins, and reassembling the frontend. But many early Fords were driven into the ground, scrapped, and then scavenged for useful parts. That means buying an old axle at the local swap meet can be a bit of a gamble. Oftentimes, the wear that first attacked those brass bushings, moved on to attack the axle, hogging the kingpin bores out to an undesirable shape. This makes the job of the restorer/rebuilder that much more difficult. Thankfully, there are solutions to even the most clapped-out early Ford axle, one of which bears little resemblance to the old bushing Ford kingpin design.
A piece of card stock works as a good indicator to check the clearance as it gets close. Once the register of the spindle seats fully into the backing plate and the card stock can be slid between the two surfaces, you’re good to go
Recently, we sourced an original Henry Ford V8-60 front axle for our Project Potvin roadster. It was in decent shape, the kingpin and spring perch bores looked good. After careful consideration and thorough design of our chassis, it was decided that we would need to use a pair of Speedway Motors 3-3/4-inch dropped steering arms to clear the framerails of our one-off tube chassis
We’ve used the stock-style kingpin bushing rebuild kits in the past but thought we might try out Speedway’s fancy Deluxe Spindle Kingpin Set for 1937-1948 Fords (PN 91032115) for this project. We like the idea of using precision needle bearings instead of the original-style brass bushings and the fact that we won’t need to hone the bushings to get a nice, snug fit. The needle bearing design is also reported to provide superior strength, better lubrication, and easier steering than the stock-style setup. The kit consists of a kingpin, four needle bearings, shims, lock pin, grease fittings, felt gaskets, endcaps, setscrews to replace the spindle-mounted grease fittings, and a thrust bearing for each side. Also pictured is the bearing installation tool at right.
We had also decided to use their Bendix-style 12-inch drum brake kit, having installed a set on our Model A coupe and being thoroughly impressed. That said, it only made sense to use a set of their 1929-1948 spindles to mate the old and new. And since we were mixing up a couple new components with the old, we thought it was worth giving their Deluxe Spindle Kingpin Set a shot.
Before we begin the installation, I wanted to take a moment to clean out the perch pin holes in our V8-60 axle. Thankfully, the bores were pretty clear, so all we had to do was make a couple light passes with an appropriately sized reamer and we were good to go
Speedway Motors’ Deluxe Spindle Kingpin Set does away with the old-style brass bushings, instead using a set of precision needle bearings pressed into the upper and lower spindle bosses.
The kingpin bores were in similar shape and thus received similar attention. This old Snap-On King Bolt Reaming Tool has been in service since these old Fords were new, handed down from my great-grandfather, who was a Ford mechanic before the war. It’s little things like this that make working on these old cars so much fun!
This design not only decreases the friction involved, providing easier steering and smoother operation but also negates the need for special tooling required to ream stock-style brass bushings to suit the kingpins. The stronger design is also easy to install and maintain, providing a cost-effective solution to the original, bushed design. MR
Gow Jobs Revealed
What’s a gow job? Quite simply, “gow job” is a handy term for differentiating the kinds of home-built performance cars constructed before World War II from those that came after. The phrase itself is old-time California-speak. Its origins, and even pronunciation, are hotly debated—those who were there, like centenarian camshaft grinder Ed “Isky” Iskenderian, pronounce “gow” to rhyme with “cow.” We suspect the true etymology is simply the word “go” spoken by the Southern-accented immigrants from dust-bowl Arkansas and Oklahoma who were flowing into California in the ’20s and ’30s. Blame Hot Rod magazine for the term falling out of favor: that periodical’s 1948 debut got the rest of the country calling any car modified for speed or acceleration a hot rod instead.
Still, the nomenclature change is useful. Gows evolved out of existence after the war, but as our cover car demonstrates, their revival has been under way since the 1970s and has only picked up steam since. The new participants were all born after the hot rod took over—many were born after the ’70s—suggesting there’s a lot more at play here than mere nostalgia. Style, simplicity, and fun are the big reasons people are putting these cars together—the time-travel aspect is there, but one gets the sense that the big appeal is the same as it was when they were done the first time. They’re great looking cars that are easy to build and a blast to drive.
Photo by David and Penny Conwill
1930 Ford Model A/V-8 Coupe – Brian Lundgren
If the gow job is defined at the near end of its existence by its evolution into the hot rod, it must similarly be compared with the speedster at the time of its origins. A huge aftermarket grew up in the 1920s catering to Ford Model T owners (with add-on mechanical braking systems to supplement Ford’s transmission brake being perhaps the single most sought-after accessory) and the extremely affordable, even disposable, nature of used Fords made them the perfect basis for a homebuilt motorized machine of any type. Making a Model T go faster was mostly a matter of discarding the body and fenders, rigging up some seats and a fuel tank, and going for a spin. Lowering, custom bodywork, and other refinements soon followed.
It wasn’t long before aftermarket pieces and the speedster ethos found their way into stock-bodied cars. Some outfits, like Los Angeles’ Sterling Garage, took to offering new or nearly new Fords already lowered, fitted with wire wheels, and tuned up using speed parts from vendors like Rajo, Roof, Laurel, and Frontenac. They were the Yenko Camaros and Shelby Mustangs of their day and inspired emulators for the next 15 years.
For historical as well as practical reasons, most gow jobs begin with a Ford Model T or Model A, though any marque is fair game. The wood-heavy construction of other brands means there aren’t as many surviving bodies, however; plus, Ford has long held an insurmountable edge in the speed-parts area. It’s also worth noting that while most of the original gow jobs were roadsters or touring cars, coupe and sedan bodies have become more popular with time. Although they’re heavier, the comfort can’t be discounted, and there’s no denying they look wonderful when done correctly. The weight penalty isn’t much and most of these cars aren’t being created primarily for competition anyway.
GOW JOB ENGINES AND DRIVELINE
A Burns intake manifold adapts a Stromberg 81 two-barrel carburetor to the original engine in Gabby Goodwin’s 1929 Ford Model A roadster. The 81 was a small-venturi version of the Stromberg EE created for the 60-hp, 136-cu.in. Ford V-8 engines of 1937-’40. Gabby’s engine also boasts the high-compression head Ford supplied to the law-enforcement market, which has earned it the name “police head.”
When it comes to gow job engines, it’s all about the flatheads. Certainly, F-heads, overheads, and overhead-cam engines all existed before WWII, but the clear favorites, then and now, are the Ford flathead engines of 1909-1953, even if they’ve been retrofit with one of the multiple aftermarket cylinder heads that were created for converting a Ford. In stock form, the Ford flatheads were simple, they were robust, and they were produced in huge numbers, making them straightforward and relatively inexpensive to obtain even today. Ford even did the future gow jobber a big favor by keeping the Model T and Model A four-cylinder engines in production for replacement and industrial use through 1941, long after both cars had been supplanted.
The 20-hp Model T engine, designed as it was during the brass-era, is clearly the most primitive of the bunch. Its ignition was a low-tension magneto built into the flywheel, most used thermosiphon cooling rather than a water pump, and its crankshaft is often described as resembling a bent paperclip. That said, it also had the most highly developed aftermarket of its era and is still the most affordable powerplant. Full-race engines have a noble competition history, including multiple appearances in the Indianapolis 500 in the ’20s and early ’30s (one placed fifth in 1923, and another qualified at 108.395 mph in ’31). On the ragged edge, the little 177-cu. in. units will produce 100 hp, and a 60- hp unit is mild enough to give reliable power to a Model T gow job, which in turn is plenty light enough to be a spirited performer with such a mill.
The 40-hp Model A engine of 1928- ’31 and its 50-hp Model B successor of 1932-’34—though they’re also flathead inline fours—share little with the Model T powerplant. They’re physically larger, though not so enormous they can’t be stuffed into a T frame. More than one car currently in the gow job scene is making use of a carefully restored (and thus anvil reliable) Model A engine to double the horsepower of a flyweight Model T. In its original home, the A/B four-banger is easily hopped up using vintage and modern aftermarket pieces.
Best known to the younger generation, of course, are the Ford flathead V-8 engines that came out for 1932 and lasted in domestic production through 1953 (Canadian cars kept them a year longer and the French military was still procuring them into the 1960s). The most gow-jobby of the group are the original-style mills of 1932-’36. They’re recognizable because the water pumps are in the cylinder heads rather than on the block, as with 1937-up engines. The downsides are that they are small (221- cu.in. versus 239 to 255 for later cars), they weren’t as powerful in stock form (65-85 hp), and they were only produced during the Great Depression, when the aftermarket was at its nadir, so speed parts for them are hard to come by and pricey. Many folks fudge slightly and go to the later engines.
There’s no disguising the center-outlet heads of a ’37-up engine, but that’s okay. An early 21-head-stud V-8 looks like a period upgrade, and a ’39-’48 24-stud engine is close to indistinguishable. Squint your eyes, and the ’49-’53 engine (with coolant outlets at the front of the heads) does an okay job standing in for a ’32-’36 unit, even if the water pumps are in the wrong spot. The real trick to keeping a period feeling with an anachronistic V-8 seems to be avoiding obviously postwar speed parts, like finned-aluminum cylinder heads.
Of course, like hot rodding, gow jobbery has never been a strictly Ford thing. The 1916-’28 Chevrolet four-cylinder has a popular and successful history as a performance engine, especially when equipped with the three-exhaust-port cylinder head from a 1923 Oldsmobile. Dodge, Plymouth, and even Studebaker or Buick engines are all fair game if simply owning a period-modified prewar car isn’t quite enough individualism for you.
Backing up the Ford engines, one finds almost exclusively a floor-shifted three-speed manual transmission connected to a matching Ford rear axle via a driveshaft enclosed in a torque tube. The Model A transmission and its accompanying heavy flywheel aren’t quite as easy to drive as the ’32-’39 unit, which includes synchronizers on second and third gear. Parts exist to adapt the ’32-’39 gearbox to a Model A block, and engines fitted with counterweighted crankshafts can dispense with the heavy flywheel for faster revving, but owners of street-driven cars rarely report issue with the A transmission once they’ve gotten comfortable with shifting it.
The Model T, of course, has its own two-speed, pedal-controlled planetary transmission—though once again, the aftermarket of the 1920s furnished a lot of parts to attempt to improve on that. Auxiliary transmissions from the likes of Warford, Chicago, and General offered under-, over-, and direct-drive gearing behind the Ford transmission. The two-speed Ruckstell rear end was so universally popular that Ford blessed it as an authorized accessory for dealers to install.
While the Ford “banjo” (named for its shape) rear axle, like the early Ford transmission, has a reputation for weakness among modern-day street rodders, that’s mainly an artifact of postwar experience with extremely high power. Remember that high-test, leaded gasoline in 1940 was only about 87 octane, so it was quite rare for a Ford rear axle to be pounded with high power levels. Moreover, the tall-and-skinny tires of the day tend to promote wheelspin over traction, relieving the strain on the axle’s innards.
Excellent content from the guys at Strong’s Garage as always
Spring has Sprung in Sunny Alberta so we go for a spin in the Beautiful 1932 Ford Roadster that we just finished at the shop! Come along for a walk around tour of the car and then a Driving Tour of Elk Island National Park.
Between 1902 and 1909, Henry Ford and his team at the Ford Motor Company produced a number of car models, including:
- Ford Model A (1903-1904): The Model A was the first car produced by the Ford Motor Company. It had a 2-cylinder engine and was capable of producing 8 horsepower.
- Ford Model C (1904-1905): The Model C was an upgraded version of the Model A, with a 4-cylinder engine that produced 15 horsepower.
- Ford Model F (1905-1906): The Model F was a 2-seater runabout with a 4-cylinder engine that produced 20 horsepower.
- Ford Model K (1906-1908): The Model K was a luxury car with a 6-cylinder engine that produced 40 horsepower. It was a larger and more expensive car than previous Ford models.
- Ford Model N (1906-1908): The Model N was a small, affordable car with a 4-cylinder engine that produced 15 horsepower. It was sometimes referred to as the “Tin Lizzie.”
- Ford Model R (1907-1908): The Model R was a racing car with a 4-cylinder engine that produced 40 horsepower. It set several speed records in 1907 and 1908.
- Ford Model S (1907-1908): The Model S was a runabout with a 4-cylinder engine that produced 15 horsepower. It was similar to the Model N but had a more powerful engine.
These models, particularly the Model N and Model K, provided important lessons and innovations that contributed to the success of the Model T, which was introduced in 1908.
Here’s a look at some that went for good money over the years
10 Top Sales Early Fords
1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau – Sold for $1,320,000 in 2010
1904 Ford Model B Side Entrance Tonneau – Sold for $825,000 in 2013
1905 Ford Model F Touring – Sold for $671,000 in 2016
1907 Ford Model K Roadster – Sold for $528,000 in 2019
1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau – Sold for $489,000 in 2011
1907 Ford Model K Runabout – Sold for $407,000 in 2007
1908 Ford Model S Runabout – Sold for $385,000 in 2018
1906 Ford Model N Touring – Sold for $363,000 in 2012
1909 Ford Model T Touring – Sold for $357,500 in 2012
1907 Ford Model K Roadster – Sold for $341,000 in 2011
From the Model T to the V-8, some of Ford’s best-recognized products rolled on spokes
Ford had an image problem in the twilight years of the Model T. The Tin Lizzie had gone from revolutionary newcomer to has-been in the 17 years since it was introduced. Henry Ford’s militant disregard for styling meant the T was almost a joke. As upstart makes like Chevrolet and Star started to eat up Ford’s market share, the company cast about for a way to make its cars more relevant.
One of the obvious choices was to give the buyer a bit of what was available in those other makes—luxury and looks. The basic quality of the Model T was as strong as it ever was, maybe better, but buyers were proving that they didn’t care if their car lasted forever, so long as it looked good when new.
When the 1926 cars appeared, they had plenty in the looks department. They sat lower, their bodywork looked more streamlined, and, starting in January 1926, some of them even offered those sporty elements of nickel plating and wire-spoke wheels. For the first time since the Model T was introduced, the Ford buyer had a choice of something other than wood-spoke artillery wheels.
Wire wheels had long been a popular accessory for a number of cars, and Chevrolet made disc wheels available on its Superior line from 1923. Wires had the advantage of offering a better ride than discs, and they were different from what Chevrolet offered. For 1927, Ford ramped up production of wire wheels, and late in the year they became standard equipment on closed cars.
Wire wheels, nickel plating, and even special sport models weren’t enough to save the Model T, however, and in 1928 Ford introduced its replacement, the Model A. Wire-spoke wheels were standard now and, although they still used 21-inch-diameter rims, the new spokers differed from the Model T wheels in several details, including bolt pattern: now 5 on 5½ inches instead of 5 on 5. The Model A wheel even changed part-way through 1928 production, due to a modification to the braking system. Early Model AA big trucks also received a wire-spoke wheel, although it was quickly supplanted by the more-familiar steel wheel.
When the styling of the Model A was overhauled for 1930, the wheels were not neglected. The rim was downsized to 19 inches and the hubcap was revised to a simpler domed piece. For 1932, the hubcap would grow in diameter, covering the lug nuts for the first time, and advertising the new V-8 engine, if so equipped (four-cylinder Model Bs got the familiar “Ford” script and oval). The 1932 models also received yet another adjustment in rim diameter, this time to 18 inches
In the early 1940s, a policeman showed up at the Smith family home in Lincoln, Nebraska, with 12-year-old D. William Smith in tow. Like other youngsters, he had used an old gas-powered Maytag washing machine engine to power a go-kart. Problem was, he’d been driving it down one of the town’s main streets.
From an early age, D. William Smith, to become better known as “Speedy” Bill, had a need for speed. He tinkered with cars, raced them and motorcycles as well, yet went to Nebraska Wesleyan University and graduated with a degree in education.
But instead of teaching, he borrowed $300 from his fiancé, Joyce — who later would insist that he never officially repaid that loan — and opened a speed shop called Speedway Motors in a 20×20-foot building on Lincoln’s main street, US Route 6/O Street.
Fast forward a few decades and the Smiths with their four sons grew Speedway Motors into a major supplier of automotive speed equipment that occupies a half-million square-foot warehouse and headquarters on a 46-acre Lincoln campus just off O Street that since 1992 has included the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed.
The museum is a separate building just across the parking lot that fills three stores while preserving race cars, engines and historic performance accessories. For example, there’s a large area devoted to Henry Ford’s Model T, and to the parts from Frontenac, Rajo, Riley, Roof and others that, shall we say, accelerated the car’s capabilities.
Ditto the Flathead Ford V8, with one wall covered by every cylinder head ever created to enhance that engine’s performance, including some experimental models that Ford sold to the museum by mistake and then asked for their return, which Speedway Motors politely declined.