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Why pine for the good ol’ days when you can have them now?


#1

We first met members of the Magic City Model A’s more than 140 miles from home, parked in front of the local Western Museum. There were six Model A Fords parked in a neat row, and not a single “modern” support vehicle appeared to be traveling with them. The cars represented the wide range of body style’s available, from Bob Voight’s 1929 Model A Business Coupe to Jim Beley’s 1929 “Woody” Model A Station Wagon.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/06/15/billings-ford-model-a-club

#2

Hi All: My first car was a 1929 Model A Ford business coupe with Landau Irons, much to the dismay of our neighbor highway patrol officer who would have lliked me to have purchased a V-8 hot rod. I drove it through my senior year of high school and into my first couple years of university. Was a good car with few problems - only 3! First was when it wouldn’t start (electric or crank) at my buddies house on my way to high school. Simple fix after school- turned out the ignition switch was corroded. Second was the electrical connections in the bulb at the bottome of the steering column. Pulled into the high school parking lot and the thing was smoking like crazy. Disconnected the battery. Fix was a relay for the lights and some fuses. Third was more serious. Driving from Yuma AZ to Phoenix AZ, exceeded 45 mph coming down the hill West of Dateland, and almost immediately started listening to a banging noise coming from the engine. Didn’t know if it was the rods or the crank, but pulled into Dateland (wide spot in the road) to wait for my parents who had given me a 1 hour head start. Dad listened to the racket and decided that we could continue the drive, but at 25 mph max. That was the longest and slowest trip that I have ever done. Fortunately there was a company in Phoenix that could pour babbit bearings, and so we disassembled the engine and had the bearings poured. It seems to me that this is the greatest weakness in these cars. I’m surprised that others are tooling around at over 45 mph with no repercussions. Otherwise, they are great, simple, easy to fix cars. Also learned about metal crystallization - bolts and nut breaking whilst attempting disassembly. Great fun.


#3

@toy83h2ssj53 - That is awesome you managed to find a place that could pour new babbitt that quickly. Likely, many of the cars running greater than 45 have a few factors in their favor-

  • fresh rebuilds with modern parts and new bearings. Tighter tolerances really help the 'A engine in almost every aspect
  • upgraded parts. counterbalanced crankshafts, overdrive, insert bearings, lighter flywheels can all have a significant impact on driveability
    -a combination of both of the above points

#4

Hi Kyle: The thing to remember that the bearings were redone in 1960, and the company that poured the bearings has been out of business for 40 years or so. I would think that the balancing of the crankshaft (as you mentioned), finding a source of modern bearings, and the other things that you mentioned would make the engine bulletproof. The only problem of going fast with the Model A, as with other cars around that vintage, is the brake system as well as the suspension. Faster speed needs better brakes. Cheers, Bob.


#5

My uncle told a story about borrowing my mothers Model A cabriolet for a trip from Los Angeles to somewhere in Arizona and back. Somewhere near Needles CA the hitch hiker he had picked up was driving while my uncle slept. He woke to the clatter of the engine and the car going much to fast down a hill. He opened the bottom end of the engine and used the hitch hiker’s leather belt as rod bearing inserts. The trip home to Hollywood was uneventful.