Tag: Model A Ford

Peep Mirror Adventures Part 2 Grinding it Out!

Peep Mirror Adventures Part 2 Grinding it Out!

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It’s the weekend again and back to the mirror conundrum.

I worked out the grub screw thread using a thread gauge and ordered some shorter screws. The originals are 6mm x 6.5mm. So decided to try 6mm x 6mm and 6mm x 5mm. However upon trying both options the door still wouldn’t clear the mirror.

So back to the bracket and see how we go

As can be seen above the screws are proud and causing the issue

So the best option appeared to be to grind one of the original screws down to a correct level as it appears 6mm x 5mm are about the shortest available. To make things easier the screw was inserted into a nut and locked with another screw to allow an easier grinding operation.

Once the grinding was done and the threads cleaned up it was time to fit them to the bracket.

This now allowed the screws to be tightened with the right clearance to allow the door to shut.

Next step is to fit the arm and once again check the door for closure

As you can see there is a bit of paint damage from where a mirror was previously fitted, this will be touched in when the weather warms up a bit.

The fit was good, so the mirror head was attached and initially adjusted

Looks pretty good with the two mirrors and will help safety wise.

No such thing as an easy job!

For prewar Ford four-banger speed enthusiasts, the Roof OHV conversion is tops – Daniel J Beaudry @Hemmings

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Image from the Roof family collection, shared by Jim Roof and the Secrets of Speed Society.

It doesn’t happen every day, but sometimes you just fall into something really, really good. That’s how it was with me when I was researching an upcoming article on pre-muscle speed parts and my friend Kevin Carlson told me about the existence of an exceedingly scarce original Roof overhead-valve conversion for Ford Model A’s. And it’s what happened to Brandon Fish of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, when he answered a Worcester, Massachusetts, classified ad for a couple of Winfield SR carburetors, a homemade intake and what turned out to be that rare Roof OHV.

“I drove up, and it was a blizzard,” Brandon remembers. “It took me two and a half hours to go maybe 70 miles.”

And, truth be told, when Brandon saw the OHV conversion, he wasn’t quite sure what he was looking at, but the price for the assortment of parts was too good to pass up. “I knew what the carburetors were worth, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong, and when I saw it [the OHV conversion], it was clean. It was a raced head, back in the day, because the water pump—the fan—was cut off, so it had external cooling. There was no scale. I’d say it was maybe used minimally. Minimally. It was mint.”

Brandon had been very close to missing out on the historic purchase because, like himself, a lot of other hot rodders had noticed the listing—planning, building and bench racing is what we do during the long winters up here in the frozen North. “They all had seen it,” Brandon says of some of his comrades, “and they laughed because they all tried to get it that same night. It was first-come, first-served.”

But, while Brandon had been considering an overhead-valve conversion for the engine in his Model A he was reworking for the 2014 Race of Gentlemen, a Roof hadn’t been on his radar. “We’ve done The Race of Gentlemen for two years now, and you don’t like to keep the same car … I had pretty much a stock B motor in my coupe. It was nothing flashy, but it was kind of a hopped-up B motor,” Brandon explains. “I was going to go overhead valve… I was leaning more toward a Riley.”

It took several months and some conversations with Charlie Yapp, of the banger-focused Secrets of Speed Society and Scalded Dog Speed Parts, before Brandon changed his plans to include the Roof. Charlie “…was the only person I knew who was knowledgeable,” says Brandon. After their chats, Brandon was hooked: “I thought, ‘Oh, I gotta build this, just to have this huge piece of history’

Image from the Roof family collection, shared by Jim Roof and the Secrets of Speed Society.

What, exactly makes the Roof head so special? Roof patented an OHV conversion for the Model T in 1919, and according to Charlie Yapp, while “Morton & Brett was the first speed parts company to advertise an overhead conversion for Model A Fords … Roof, of Anderson, Indiana, was the first to have actual product and 101-MPH race results for his promotions.”

With a four-cylinder L-head engine displacing 200.5 cubic inches and rated at 40 hp, a stock Ford Model A engine could turn between 60 and 70 MPH, given enough smooth surface to travel over, but Roof was claiming that his “Cyclone” OHV conversion could increase this figure by around 34 percent.

Image from the Roof family collection, shared by Jim Roof and the Secrets of Speed Society.

Charlie explains, however, that, while almost any OHV conversion would improve the airflow and increase the horsepower of a Model A engine, the original Roof castings would be considered rough by the standards of today, and the 101 MPH claim was likely possible only because of “having a longer run than the other guy.”

Nevertheless, along with the premium componentry—Winfield carburetion, Packard sparking, etc—that accompanied the Roof Cyclone, its F-head, two-port architecture utilizing 2-inch intake valves, resulted in a smoother, more powerful engine not unlike those then distinguishing themselves in professional racing automobiles.

But their enhancement to four-banger performance isn’t what makes them so desirable, especially when they are compared to the more powerful Riley, Cragar and Miller conversions that would soon become available. It’s that the Roofs were the first and that they are rare—”rarer than hen’s teeth” was a phrase I encountered a lot when talking with people about them.

Charlie doesn’t have any definitive production records, but “I’m pretty sure,” he asserts, “that only about 10 of these heads still exist, and only four or five are in a condition to run”—a fact that makes Brandon Fish’s find even more exceptional.

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Almost a century later, the Model A is still one of the easiest cars there is to own – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Great examples are common, and restoring one couldn’t be simpler

While the A started out relatively simple, buyers carried over their accessorization habits from the Model T. Note the running-board luggage rack on the car above and the Moto-Meter temperature gauges on both. Welled fenders were a factory contribution to this craze .Courtesy of the Hemmings archives

The easiest collector cars in the world to own are those you can get the most parts for. You can probably name a lot of them: the ’55-’57 Chevy, the early Mustang, the first-generation Camaro, the Triumph TR6, the MGB, and so on. As grows the hobby, so does that list (as do the criteria for being on it—which now includes complete reproduction steel bodies), but since the beginning, included the 1928-’31 Ford Model A.

The complete history of the Model A as a sensational new car – including its proven durability during the worst of conditions of the Great Depression and World War II, and its popularity as a simple and easily improved used car in the shortage-wracked postwar period – is too detailed to get into here, but suffice it to say that the historical popularity of the A translates to an extremely robust and complete aftermarket still supporting these cars on the eve of their centennial. Even in as-delivered form, the Ford Model A remains an eminently driveable car—married with some improvements developed when it was nearly new, it can traverse virtually any 21st century road with ease.

There are plenty of opportunities to do so, too. Two clubs serve the Model A hobby specifically: The Ford Model A Restorers Club (MARC) and the Model A Ford Club of America (MAFCA). They maintain technical libraries, advisors, and most importantly, communities of enthusiasts with whom to trade ideas, tribal knowledge, parts, and information. Both organizations are variously tolerant of modifications pioneered in the A’s earliest days as a used car, especially when the appearance is kept stock or made to resemble a period speedster or race car.

Many of those changes blend seamlessly into a road-ready car, ideal for participating in tours like those organized by MARC, MAFCA, and the local chapters thereof, plus multi-marque events run by other organizations. Moreover, unless you live in a really congested area, a touring-grade Model A makes a great fair-weather driver for any purpose —assuming your insurance provider and licensing authority agree.

Speedsters and more heavily modified cars will find themselves welcome at other sorts of events, including hill climbs and traditional hot rod gatherings like The Race of Gentlemen. Beware, though: Beyond a certain point, the more heavily modified the engine, the more temperamental it becomes and the shorter its lifespan.

The standard Ford closed body for all years of production was the two-door sedan (spelled Tudor by Ford, to complement its naming the four-door sedans Fordor). It also proved the most popular in original production, with 523,922 built in calendar-year 1929 alone (Ford didn’t track body-style production by model year) and 1,281,112 by the end of ’31 production in early 1932. Most in-demand today are the roadster and coupe bodies. The former is reproduced, and though repair panels are obtainable, no complete closed Model A body is. A late-1928 to 1931 Tudor makes perhaps the ideal Model A owner’s car for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the prospect of extra leg room in the front seats, attractive price point in the current market, and an all-steel body (compared with the wood-framed Fordors, built by outside suppliers). It’s on that specific model that we’ll focus here.

Engine and drivetrain

While it’s a flathead four-cylinder, and parts from the Model A engine have been made to work in the Model T block, there’s not much in common between the 177-cu.in. Model T engine and the 1928-’31 Model A engine, which displaced 200 cu.in. and made 40 hp at 2,200 rpm —twice the T’s 20 hp at 1,600 rpm. Famously, one reason the Model A is often seen wearing a quail radiator mascot is because its abrupt acceleration reminded operators of that bird bursting forth from the underbrush. The four-cylinder retained its reputation for quick starts right up through the V-8 era, when owners of “bangers” preferred to race from a standing or low-speed rolling start (the origin of the drag race) against V-8 owners. The V-8’s longer-legged nature was reflected in the popularity of the greyhound mascot on ’32-’34 Fords.

In its stock form with a heavy flywheel, the Model A engine remains a roadable unit, though it’s hard for most owners of driven cars to resist internal improvements when rebuild time comes along. Upgrades to the oiling system are popular, as are counterweighted Model B crankshafts (which permit a lightened flywheel and installation of a later clutch). Replacement of the poured bearings with modern-type inserts are frequently discussed, but probably overkill on anything but an engine regularly driven hard.

Top-end modifications, including additional carburetors (both stock-style updraft and later-style downdraft), high-compression (this is relative —stock used a 4.22:1 ratio) cylinder heads, high-performance camshafts, and free-flowing exhaust manifolds all exist and are of varying utility depending on the owner’s intended use of a Model A. Some more compression (Ford itself offered a Police head, though aftermarket heads usually boasted a superior chamber design and more compression yet—anything in excess of 6.5:1 is not advised with poured bearings), a distributor incorporating centrifugal advance (stock units are driver-adjusted from the steering wheel—not a situation favored by every modern driver), a Model B-grind camshaft, a downdraft two-barrel carburetor (Stromberg types being a good compromise between period tech, flexibility, and present-day parts availability), and a cast-iron exhaust manifold will give a healthy enough boost to any engine that you may wish to look into some of the brake upgrades discussed below.

Some A owners have gone even further than modifying the factory engine, yet without straying all the way into V-8 territory. More than one Model A has received, complete, the 50-hp four-cylinder engine originally found in a 1932-’34 Ford Model B. Aside from an external fuel pump, the Model B block looks very much like the Model A, yet it hosts oiling improvements and a counterbalanced crankshaft. Opinions diverge on whether the earliest 1932s had the balanced crank, but the real split in desirability seems to stem from Ford’s switch from sweated-on to cast-in counterweights, the latter of which aid immensely in rebuilding.

The Model B engine was originally packaged with a heavily revised transmission. The original Model A unit was scaled down from the big Lincoln transmission in use in the late 1920s — complete with multi-plate clutch. That clutch was soon replaced with a conventional disc unit, but the heavy flywheel and unsynchronized gears remained. When synchromesh was introduced to the marketplace, however, the consumer wouldn’t long stand for the necessity of double-clutching, and lighter flywheels had the added benefit of letting an engine gain rpm faster—though to the detriment of shifting unsynchronized transmissions.

For 1932, the Model B transmission was essentially that of the V-8 car, but in a gear case designed to work with the four-cylinder. In fact, gearsets from Ford passenger cars up through 1948 will fit in the Model B case, though it’s tight. Because the Model A bellhousing also mounts its pedals, many B-powered A’s will have been modified to accommodate the Model A oil pan, bellhousing, and transmission. Alternately, a variety of schemes have been worked up to use Model A pedals with later transmissions, including swaps intended for the Borg-Warner T-5 five-speed, the Ford SROD four-speed, and the 1932-’39 Ford V-8 three-speed.

Transmission choice complicates the rest of the driveline, as Ford cars built through 1948 had their driveshaft enclosed in a suspension member called the torque tube. The Model A axle, though theoretically not as strong as the V-8 units of 1933-’48, will mate with the later Ford transmission without modification to either. Adapters to fit the SROD and certain models of T-5 to the torque tube have been offered, and some enthusiasts choose to switch to an open driveline. That latter option is complicated, however, because the radius rods alone were not designed to deal with the braking and acceleration forces of the rear axle.

The Model A came with a standard gearing of 3.78:1 while V-8-era Ford axles were typically 4.11:1, so swaps to later rear axles are possible but rarely performed unless seeking added strength during a V-8 swap.

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How the 1928-1931 Ford Model A started the entire auto restoration hobby – David Conwill @Hemmings

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It’s the car that put a wrench in many a young enthusiast’s hands

Like a lot of things, auto restoration has antecedents in the pre-World War II era, but is most strongly associated with the postwar period. Brass car enthusiasts were already preserving and fixing those machines by the late ‘30s, but the first thing that most would recognize as the hobby/industry of today really springs out of the post-war DIY movement centered on the 1928-1931 Ford Model A.

Why the Model A? Well, a bunch of reasons…

Background on the A as a new car

What started out as a handsome new car for the masses finished its run as a quality, less-ostentatious, more-affordable car for middle- and upper-class folks who found themselves both strapped for cash themselves and wishing to avoid conspicuous consumption. Image via lov2xlr8

Like the early Mustang, the Model A was a sensation when it first came out in late 1927, and Ford was hard pressed to keep up with the demand. From an engineering standpoint, it was strictly evolutionary, not revolutionary: The chassis, based on transverse leaf springs and solid axles front and rear, was very much like that of the 1909-’27 Ford Model T but with the addition of shock absorbers and front brakes.

Stylistically, the new Ford was patterned after the Lincoln Model L, though today both cars are often confused with the Model T because the subtleties of styling evolution in the late-‘20s/early-‘30s have been lost to the non-enthusiast public over the decades. Regardless, what was perceived as a handsome car in 1929 has endured as a period icon to later generations. It’s also more welcoming to most drivers compared with a Model T, both for the improved chassis and the seemingly more familiar three-speed, floor-shift gearbox—virtually the industry standard by then, though Ford had clung to a 1900s-tech two-speed planetary transmission through the end of Model T production.

To rectify the various perceived shortcomings of the Model T, a huge aftermarket industry had grown up around Ford in the 1910s and ‘20s. It turned its attention to the Model A immediately, though those attentions were severely interrupted by the October 1929 stock market crash (right about the time 1930 Fords arrived in the showroom) and the ensuing Great Depression. The resulting products were memorable, as they were intended to improve upon an already excellent, 40 hp car rather than bring a 20 hp 1909 car up to the present standard, and have been intermittently produced up to the present day

Influence of the A as a used car

From student jalopies like this phaeton seen at the University of North Carolina back in 1940 to the speedy roadsters of the dry lakes and circle tracks, the Ford Model A proved to be a durable and enjoyable used car that remained viable as everyday transportation right through the early ‘50s.Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Basic, stock Fords proved their durability in the Great Depression, and well-used examples are frequently seen in period photographic efforts by the Farm Security Administration, a New Deal Agency that employed many talented photographers to document the plight of rural immigrant families fleeing the Dust Bowl. While the Joad family may have driven a Hudson Super Six in The Grapes of Wrath, far more itinerant working families traveled the U.S.A. in Model A’s held together by optimism and ingenuity.

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More New Flatheads – The Re-Engineered Model A Engine

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A couple of years ago I did a post on the re-engineering of the Model A Engine by Terry Burtz, you can find the article here

Since that time things have moved on massively and Terry is in full production and selling not only the engine to the public but also many other ancillaries to match.

The new “Burtz” Ford Model A engine block is now available!  It features a 5-main bearing design and includes a dynamically balanced crankshaft and set of connecting rods. 
All remaining components needed to complete the engine build are stock Model A Engine parts. 

These include flywheels, cylinder heads and camshafts with probably more to follow

Also on the very comprehensive site are all the technical data and ordering information for this excellent piece of engineering.

The site is here

Forties technology would make for a perfect 1928 Ford Model A shop truck. Here’s how I’d build it – David Conwill @Hemmings

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A Ford Model A roadster pickup like this 1928 Ford Model A roadster pickup (“Open Cab Pickup”) in the Hemmings Classifieds would make a great shop truck or long-distance hauler with just a few period upgrades.

This one caught my attention because it’s nearly identical to the one we have in the Sibley which was once dragged to TROG. I saw it there for the first time, and I’ve harbored ambitions about turning that little pickup into something with a bit of 1940s flavor ever since. Talking to Jeff Koch about his plans for his family’s 1931 coupe re-energized my appreciation for Ford’s 1928-’31 masterpiece and the myriad ways people have found to improve them since. Jeff wants to walk the line between hot rodding and touring using some newer equipment, but left to my own devices, I’d always hew closer to how Ford developed its cars from 1928 to 1948. It’s a good lesson for making any ’20s car a better driver without sacrificing the vintage experience.

Although the Hemmings pickup is the one I see most often, any ’28 or ’29 would fit the bill. It’s mere coincidence that this one is also a Commercial Green (Rock Moss Green? Something like that) 1928 model. The Hemmings truck is somewhat rarer as it is an early 1928 with the slightly nicer looking splash aprons and the hand brake near the door, Model T-style. Supposedly, Pennsylvania didn’t permit the early design, hexing a big potential market for Ford. I seem to recall the objection was that the hand brake was used to set the rear-wheel service brakes, but PA required separate systems for emergency/parking brakes and service brakes.

No matter, all those interesting old parts, new design or old, could be removed and preserved someplace after a proper pickling/mothballing. In their place would go the best of early 1940s technology, starting with 12 x 2-inch hydraulic drum brakes, front and rear. Up front, I’d go with new Lincoln-style units from Bass Kustom and in back, Ford-type brakes, as they’re somewhat easier to retrofit to an early axle. The Lincoln units have the advantage that Ford chose to license Bendix’s self-energizing technology for its up-market brand, whereas regular Ford and Mercury cars stuck with the Chrysler-Lockheed type through 1948.

The original axles and Houdaille shocks, if in good condition (and the listing says the little pickup has only “88 miles since completion” of a “complete frame-off restoration,” so they ought to be) can stay. If not, there’s always longtime Hemmings advertiser Apple Hydraulics. If my planned tires (which I address below) look a little lost under the fenders, a reverse-eye front spring is a good way to get the nose down slightly without resorting to dropping the front axle

Four-million Ford owners can’t be wrong. The 200.5-cu.in. Model A four-cylinder was a solid, dependable unit that saw millions through the Depression and World War II. The basic design stayed in production for years and fitting one with pieces developed in the Thirties and Forties improves them further still.

I’d ideally give this shop truck a touring-grade Model A engine with a balanced crank and pressurized oiling, but retain the poured bearings. Some of those upgrades may already be present on what is supposed to be a fresh, low-mileage engine, but if not, it would be a good canvas to add them. With a solid foundation to rely on, I’d add performance with a Model A police-service 5.5:1 compression cylinder head (marked with a cast-in B; actual Model B engines got heads marked with “C.” Very confusing) or a cast-iron Winfield head for as close as I could get to 6:1 compression (poured bearings get cranky when you go higher than that); single downdraft carburetor on an aftermarket intakeModel B camshaft and either a Ford Model B distributor or the upgrade unit produced by Mallory for many years in place of the manual-advance Model A unit; and the Duke Hallock-designed exhaust header I had wanted for my late, lamented Model T.

You could probably run this fairly mild engine against the original un-synchronized three-speed, but it would really up the ease of driving if you followed Ford’s route and adapted a V-8 gearbox with synchronizers on second and third gears. The 1932-‘34 Ford Model B used a trans behind its 50hp four-cylinder that was internally the same as the V-8 models but used a different case. Now, you can put any 1932-’48 Ford passenger-car transmission or 1932-’52 light-truck three-speed behind a Model A engine using an adaptor from Cling’s. The pinnacle of early Ford V-8 transmission technology is widely agreed to be the nice-shifting ’39-’52 Ford floor-shift three-speed (exclusive to trucks from 1940-on) containing ’46-’48 Ford passenger-car or close-ratio Lincoln-Zephyr gears in order to mate with the enclosed driveline.

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Ford Model A ammeter – How to prevent a fire in your Model A – Paul Shinn

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The Ford Model A ammeter (amp meter) is at the center of the Model A electrical system. Today, Model A Ford mechanic Paul Shinn shows you how to modify the typical reproduction ammeter to make it safer, and as a bonus, how to make it look more like an original. If you don’t want your Model A to break down, just subscribe! http://www.youtube.com/user/paulshinn…

1927-1929 Model A Speedo Refurbishment – @Astra-Werke

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There are two general types of Speedometer for the Model A – the oval and the round bezel is the most obvious difference from the outside. On the inside, they are entirely different, too – so since this thing landed on my bench, I decided to do a teardown and repair video on this one, too. Enjoy!