Boil Over Blues

Boil over is often caused by loss of coolant out of the overflow.  Reproduction radiators do cool better than the originals but they don’t have the flow capabilities due to smaller tubes.

When driving at road speed the water pump sends more coolant to the top tank of the radiator than can flow through the coils.  Consequently, the excess goes out the overflow.  As the coolant level decreases, this causes overheating.

A good prevention is to trim the three blades in the water pump to slow down coolant transfer.  The down side to this is parades or slow, heavy traffic.  The best thing is to carry coolant with you and replace as needed.

This tech tip was provided by AJ Pennington and was printed in the August 2003 “A” Quail Call.


What a mess blow-by makes, an oily firewall, underside of hood and even on fenders. We install breather pipes or steel wool and even rags to slow it down.  What causes it?  I’ve heard a lot of theories but I didn’t have a clue.

Recently while running a new engine on a test stand, I experienced rough idle and a lot of blow-by.  I was really puzzled.  Rechecking the timing and carburation didn’t help.  My first thought was to tear the motor down.  While doing this I noticed exhaust burns on the manifold gasket.  I took the manifolds to the milling machine and cut them flat.

After reassembling the motor and running it on the engine stand, I was delighted to discover that the problem was solved.  No more blow-by and a smooth idle.

This tech tip was provided by AJ Pennington and was printed in the July 2003 “A” Quail Call.

Clutch Clearance

Recently I replaced a clutch and throw-out bearing in a Model “A”, which I have done several times before.  But this time when the clutch pedal was engaged, there was a loud ticking noise.

After dismantling the whole system again, I found the problem.  An obvious mark was seen on one of the four bolts that hold the flywheel to the crankshaft.  The replacement clutch has springs where the original did not.  These springs help absorb shock when engaged, but does create a clearance problem.  The springs were catching on the bolt.  After measuring with calipers, I found one bolt head .050 thicker than the other three.

The correct bolt head thickness is .310.  The clearance is close, but don’t leave out the spacer ring.  It holds the dowel pins in.  To help your clearance, the best thing to do is to use a punch and hammer on the flanges next to the springs on the flywheel side only.  Normally there is about .070 clearance between the springs and bolts.  But if the flywheel has been refaced or cut down to fit the V8 pressure plate your clearance can change.

This tech tip was provided by AJ Pennington and was printed in the May 2003 “A” Quail Call.

Spark Plug Gap

The spark plug gap should be .035, right?  That’s what I thought.  But like lots of others, I tried different things.  When installing electronic ignition, it came to my simple mind to try a wider gap.  Modern systems use wider gaps with electronics.

.040 was a bust, so I went back to .035.  Then Ed Better was showing me an article in Les Andrews’ book that caught my interest.  It stated that with high compression heads you should close the gap to .030.

OK, done!  This will be my secret until I know the results.  I was then off to the nationals in Cincinnati.  Wow, an average of two miles to the gallon improvement on my fuel consumption!  I then told others and all experienced the same improvement as long as they had high compression heads.

This tech tip was provided by AJ Pennington and printed in the Mar/April 2003 “A” Quail Call.

What’s that Tic, Tic, Tic?

In the spring of 2001, I finished the restoration on my Town Sedan and found I was ready for a test trip.  I called my niece, who lives about 40 miles from me, and told her I’d pick her up for lunch.

A few miles into the trip my hands were cold.  I pulled over to find my gloves.  The engine stalled, so I hit the starter.  Uh oh, it locked up.

I tried it all, in gear rocking, drifting downhill popping the clutch and even cursing, but no dice.  Pull the starter.  Yeah, right.  With all of the bolts out, I rocked the car.  That starter was not coming out.  Finally using a pry bar, the started popped free with a loud snap.  I reassembled the starter and finished my luncheon trip without any notice.

The rest of the summer, I noticed a slight tic, tic, tic.  It drove me crazy.  I dropped the pan and plasti-gauged all the bearings.  I pulled the pistons and used the micrometer on them and the bore.  No good.

People would say “What’s that ticking?”  Embarrassed, I’d say “piston slap,” not knowing for sure what it was.

To make a long story shorter, I found it.  Yep, that locked up starter caused it.  When I pried the starter free, it moved the starter ring on the flywheel.  Just 1/8″, not much but enough to touch the bottom starter bolt for about 2” every revolution.  The only time it touched was when the clutch was depressed.  This pushed everything up tight against the thrust bearing.

Tic, tic, tic.

Editor’s note:  It’s really quite ironic how and when articles come to us.  This item was e-mailed to us one evening just as I came into the house from working on one of our Model A’s.  When I read this tip, I immediately felt relieved to learn that this was the solution to the problem that I was experiencing.

This tech tip was originally provided by AJ Pennington and printed in the May 2002 “A” Quail Call.

Roadside Repair Tip

As the Flying Quail group was on their annual fall trip a couple of years ago, Herb Mahler heard a strange noise coming from the engine compartment of his car.  He got on the CB and notified the tour leader that his engine was knocking.  Luckily, the leader found a grassy area to pull twelve cars over safely.  This was not as easy as it may sound, as we were traveling through Hocking Hills State Park in Hocking County.  As the men all stuck their head under the hood to find and diagnose the problem, Clara, Herb’s wife, was sitting in the car.  First the rods and mains were ruled out with a huge sigh of relief from the group.  The noise was coming from the bell housing area.  Once that was determined, the gentlemen began giving their ideas as to how a correction could be made.

We had to try to figure out what in the bell housing was making the noise.  We took the inspection cover off the back of the housing near the rear main and the inspection cover off near the throw out bearing.  Then we tried to view the culprit with lights and mirrors.  We could see a nut or a bolt at the bottom of the bell housing.

First we tried magnets to get the bolt out.  We also tried rags tied to a stick.  We were stumped.  Luckily we had an old farmer with us, Fred Kazmaier.  He said to take some grease and put it on the flywheel and then run the flywheel around.  With the grease’s gooey texture, it should pick up the bolt.  After a couple of conservative attempts, we decided that more grease was better.  We caked the grease on in one spot, turned the flywheel around backwards and around it came.  Once we got it out, we realized it was one of the original bendix bolts.  The bendix had broken about a year before and the bolt rattled around in the bottom of the bell house until it had worn enough to stick in the flywheel gear.

Now we all carry heavy grease with us just in case something like this should ever happen again.  It was a really neat opportunity to have men of all ages and experiences coming together and solving our dilemma.  I hope that we all can continue to learn from the more experienced people of this organization.

FYI:  The flywheel weighs 63 lbs., 4 oz.  It is balanced within .15In/oz. and the flywheel bolt torque is 65 Ft./lbs.  Clutch mounting surface and clutch disc surface must run true to crankshaft within .005″ TIR.

This tech tip was provided by the Flying Quail Chapter and was originally printed in the September 2001 “A” Quail Call.