Jumping Gear

If you have a Model A that jumps time, check the distributor/oil pump gear.  The later models gears were pressed on the shaft and could slip.

This tech tip was provided by John Walliser and was printed in the Jan./Feb. 1987 “A” Quail Call.

Seatbelts For Your Model A

Whether we drive the highways or back roads of our areas, we all take the risk of being involved in a vehicle accident.  We know that we cannot control the actions of other drivers that might be speeding, texting or distracted in other ways.  If you are one to not use seat belts in your Model A, have you asked yourself, “Why?”  If you are involved in an accident, did you stop to think that the Model A dash rail is not padded, the steering wheel is not recessed, there are no airbags on board and that the windshield is only 24” from your face?

Statistics prove that you have a much greater chance of survival if you stay INSIDE the car during an accident, and seat belts will keep you and your loved ones where they belong.  A State Trooper once said, “In my 20+ years of working hundreds of major traffic accidents, I have never unbuckled a seat belt from a dead man.”

While Bert and her husband, Arnie were on a tour up in Corning, NY they were witness to a fellow member drive off the edge of the road, just missing a mileage marker sign drive down through a ditch and return to the roadway.  As the car came to a rest on the road, the passenger door was hanging wide open and the passenger was safely held into place with her seat belt.  The car exterior was without a scratch but the interior was covered in mud and anything that had inhabited that ditch!  What was behind this scary Model A ride…the driver fell asleep at the wheel.  What did the members of this convoy learn…the safety and necessity of seat belts.

The Haueter’s were next going on a tour to the Alaska area and had to travel through Canada.  They would be required to put seat belts into their Model A at this point as it was a tour mandate.  They headed to the junk yard to find two clean, functioning and matching seat belts to complete this task.  Today, new seat belts are available at car supply stores as well as vendors of Model A parts.

To begin the process of securing the seat belts in their Model A Sedan, they removed the front seat for careful inspection of the wood within which revealed no deterioration or cracks.  A word of caution here: Do not secure the mechanism in this fashion if the wood is in poor condition.  Most will warn not to attach the belts into the wood, PERIOD!

When installing the belts in your vehicle, it is important to secure your seat belts into some steel-whether it be to the frame cross members, steel seat frames or side rails.  Each body style will require the owner’s evaluation to find the best location for anchoring sites.  If you own a sedan or other forms of multiple seating, you will be faced with double the task.  Some will use some perforated shelving called Dexeion, because the numerous holes allow many adjustments to install the seat belts to the lower body frame.  Various other strap irons may also be used but will require drilling for positioning to the various areas of framework.

The hardware necessary for this project are:

  • (4) 4 ½” x 3/8” SAE fine threaded bolts
  • (4) 3/8” SAE nuts
  • (4) 2/8” lock washers
  • (4) 2” or larger diameter flat washers
  • 29 ½” length x 2” width x ¼” thick strap iron

NOTE:  Some people prefer to use Grade 8 bolts for added strength.

Next you will need the following tools:

  • 3/8” drill bits
  • Drill motor that will accept a 3/8” bit
  • Angle drill
  • ½” sockets and wrenches

NOTE:  If you wish to use 7/16” or ½” bolts and related washers and nuts, you will have to enlarge the holes in the perforated angle iron.  If you change bolts sizes, it will also change the sizes of wrenches and sockets.

Arnie reinforced the 2” thick wood in good condition with the 29 ½” length of strap iron.  The shorter pieces of the seat belts were attached to the side rails.  The two remaining long center pieces of the belts were then placed and drilled accordingly.  Once the bolts are dropped in from the top side, it does not take long to complete the job underneath.

In Bert’s research, she found that Coupes by the use of the Dexeion iron in the rear compartment or trunk may easily be adapted to securing seat belts.  Using a ninety degree angle drill will allow placement of the bolts to the frame below.  In the case of the Tudor, this is perhaps one of the simplest installations due to the easy accessibility to the frame.  We cannot emphasize the choice of the best site of strength for adapting your seat belts in your Model A.

Installation in a Rumble Seat or Trunk Area

 Tudor Installation

This tech tip is a compilation from an article written by Bert Haueter for The Restorer and was referred to in the May/June 1993 “A” Quail Call.

Webmaster note: We travel with seatbelts in all of our Model A’s.  Several years ago we came upon an accident scene and saw a street rod in a corn field and several law enforcement officers walking around the scene.  When they looked up and saw us driving down the road with the top down on our Model A they all began to pale.  As we approached, they looked in our car and saw we were wearing our seatbelts and looked relieved.  It seems we had driven up to a fatal accident scene in which the driver of the vintage restoration was ejected from his car.

Convoy Factor

When travelling in a Model A convoy here is the least understood rule of the road.  When you have 6 cars lined up at a stop sign, the first car takes off and then 5 seconds later the second car takes off.  Remember car #6?  He is still sitting at the sign!  Five seconds later car 3 takes off and 5 seconds after that #4 takes off.  Remember car #6…he’s still stopped at the sign!  Now it’s been 5 second and car 5 takes off.  Once car #5 departs the sign and car #6 stops and then proceeds, the time between the lead car and the back door is not 5 seconds.  It’s almost 30 seconds!  The time difference is cumulative.  It’s kind of like cracking the whip.  If the lead car goes 30 MPH, the distance between car #1 and car #6 is now about ¼ mile.  If car #6 goes 60 MPH, it would take 30 seconds to make up the difference.  Meanwhile, car #1 has gone another ¼ mile or a total of ½ mile.  Car #1 can’t understand why car #6 is so far behind and car #6 can’t understand why car #1 doesn’t slow down.

Now add to the problem…if you should increase your convoy size to 10 or 12 model A’s in one caravan or if you add some traffic, throw in a red light, maybe a light rain, have a few newcomers to convoying and now you have the Convoy Factor times 3.  This is when tempers can flare!  Be considerate to your other convoy members and pay attention to the movement of your group.

This tech tip was provided by Neil Heiss and was printed in the September 1993 “A” Quail Call.

Model A Condenser and Cutout

This story only pertains to those Model A owners that have chosen to run on a generator.  First, if possible, choose a generator cutout made so that the cover is not welded to the base.  Your favorite Model A vendor should have such a unit.

Some of you may know how these “critters” work, but it may be a good idea to review a few details.  The circuit has a set of points very similar to the ones found in the distributor.  Over a long period of time they will carbon up and when this takes place the current that the generator is producing will not pass through them and the result is a burned out generator.

If you select a cutout that does not have the cover welded to the base, you can remove this part and clean the points, and thus, prevent the possibility of a damaged generator.  Cleaning will also eliminate the chance of points sticking should the spring be weak.

A tip for an emergency condenser is to buy a good condenser that has a “foot” on it and a “pig tail” about 3” long.  Loosen up one of the screws that hold the coil to the firewall, slip the “foot” of the condenser between the coil bracket and firewall and then tighten the screw down again making sure there is good contact between all units.  This gives a good ground connection.  Leave the “pig tail” hang free for emergency use.  Should your condenser located in the “A” distributor burn out, just loosen the coil terminal nut, attach the “pig tail” clip, tighten terminal nut again and be merrily on your way.  If you should wish to use this modification, the condenser will serve for years as it is located away from intense heat of the motor.  Heat is the worst enemy of the stock Model “A” Ford condenser.

This tech tip was provided by Bill Brex and was printed in the August 1993and November 1962 “A” Quail Call.

Discharging AMP Meter

During a restoration of a 1931 Panel Delivery, a situation arose that stumped Dick and his chapter members at the time, as they tried in vain to solve the problem of a discharging AMP meter.  After installing a new generator, a cutout, polarizing it and recharging his battery, none of which helped.  What was the solution…reversing his wires to the AMP meter.

This tech tip was provided by Dick & Sherry Huff and was printed in the July 1993 “A” Quail Call.

Preparing for Tour

Spare Parts, Materials & Tools

Points (2 sets)                                                                         Socket Set – 3/8” Drive

Condensers (2)                                                                       Grease Gun

Rotor (1)                                                                                   Torque Wrench

Fan Belt (1)                                                                               1/2 to 3/8 Drive Adapter

Water Pump (1 rebuilt)                                                       Drag Link Socket

Water Pump Packing (2 rings)                                         Valve Spring Compressor

Ignition Coil (Tested good)                                               Gasket Scraper (Putty Knife)

Spark Plugs (1)                                                                        Pocket Knife

Light Bulbs (1 of each size)                                                Scissors

Plastic Wire Tie Wraps (12)                                               Ground Cloth

Water Hoses (1 set)                                                               Plastic Wash Bucket

600 W Oil (1 quart)                                                               Sponge

Oil (1 quart)                                                                             Tire Irons (2)

Water (1 gallon)                                                                     Flash Light

Head Gasket (1)                                                                      Wrenches – ¼” to ¾” sizes

Gasket Paper (1 square foot)                                            Adjustable Wrench

Valve Springs (1)                                                                   Allen Wrenches

Electrical Tape (1 roll)                                                        Hammer

Bailing Wire (3 feet)                                                             Vise Grips

Electrical Wire-12 gage (12 feet)                                    Magnet

Cotter Pins (Assortment)                                                  Hand Cleaner

Turn Signal Flasher                                                              Paper Towels

Fuses (If your car has them)                                            Jack & Handle

Inner Tube                                                                               Drum Puller

Tube Patch Kit (with fresh cement)                               Feeler Gauge

Generator (Tested good)                                                    Brake Adjusting Wrench

Cutout (New)                                                                           Gloves (Leather & Rubber)

 36” Long Jumper Wire (Alligator clips each end)  Drift Pin

Ammeter (New)                                                                     Files (Round & Flat)

First Aid Kit (Band-Aids, aspirin, burn ointment)  Small Mirror



You will want to have all of the tools with you that would be necessary to install the spare parts you take along.  

Make sure you pack your tools, points, condensers & water where they are quickly accessible.

For very long trips, pack a national club roster in case you help from another Model A’er in route.

6-volt electrical parts cannot be bought in modern stores, so be sure to have spares with you.


What To Do When The Engine Quits

Stay calm and think. Most cases are fixable at roadside.

Pull as far off of the road as safely possible.  Try to avoid becoming a traffic problem.

You will want to begin by assessing the source of your mechanical problem.

Is the problem fuel related?  Check the gas gauge. Is there gasoline?

Check for fuel flow at the carburetor by disconnecting the fuel line. Use the gas shutoff for On & OFF control. If no or inadequate flow, work towards the tank. Clean-out the sediment bowl. If you have added a filter to the bowl, remove it and recheck the flow. If there’s debris in the tank or clogging the line, blow hard through the line.

Do you have spark to the motor?  Begin by checking for spark at 1st the plugs, 2nd the points and 3rd the coil. A weak or non-existent spark is likely the result of a faulty condenser, bad coil hi-voltage wire connection or defective coil. Backfiring and noticeable loss of pulling power just before the engines quit are symptoms of a decaying condenser.

Check primary (low voltage) electrical supply to the ignition coil. The source of “electrical” problems could be the wire under the movable distributor plate, poor battery connections, defective ammeter or defective pop-out switch are likely bad actors.

Check for compression by hand cranking the engine – feel it.


Maintenance Recommendations

At Least One Month Before The Trip:

1.) Go over the running system of the vehicle and then fix any issues that are found.

2.) Remove the wheels & drums.  Clean and visually inspect all brakes and wheel bearings for wear and damage.  If the service brake linings are worn replace them.  Make sure all of the brake rollers rotate freely.  Tighten the backing plate attachment nuts & bolts.  Check to see that all cotter pins are in place. Repack the wheel bearings with good quality grease and adjust them.  Make the necessary adjustments to the service and emergency brakes.  Road test your braking ability to ensure you will not experience a problem while on tour.


Within One Week Of The Trip:

1.) Engine Compartment: check distributor plate wire, check condition of ignition points (if pitted replace the points & condenser), adjust point gap, lightly lubricate the distributor cam (use a slight amount of high temperature grease), install a new condenser if existing one is more than a year old, oil distributor cup; clean distributor & coil Bakelite parts, clean & gap spark plugs, adjust ignition timing, adjust fan belt tension, check water pump packing and adjust packing nut if necessary;

            a.) Grease every grease fitting on the vehicle including clutch throughout bearing and U-joint.

            b.) Check your current motor oil level and change as necessary.

            c.) Check transmission oil, steering oil, rear axle oil and top them off as necessary;

            d.) Check the gasoline sediment bowl and carburetor lower body. Drain if sediment is present.      

   Clean all gasoline filters, if used.

            e.) Clean the battery terminals and lugs.

            f.)  If you are using a generator, sparingly oil the bearings.

            g.) Check all lights and the horn.  Make sure they are working properly.

            h.) Check all wheel lug nuts are tight (45-50 ft-lb. torque) & all tires are properly inflated.

            i.)  Make sure you have proof of insurance and registration  papers in the car;

   j.) Check the spare parts and tools you will be taking along. Pack them where they are easily accessible! Include a  water pump, fan belt, ignition points, a FEW condensers, ignition coil (tested), water pump packing, one of each type of wheel bearing, electrical fuses (if applicable), light bulbs, plenty of cotter pins, inner tube, tube patch kit, generator cutout (tested), stop light switch, bailing wire, 14 gage stranded copper wire and wire repair materials. The tools you take should be sufficient for maintenance and to install your spare parts. Bring at least one gallon of water, one quart of oil, a quart of gear lubricant, some rags, and hand cleaner, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, a chamois to wipe the car down and maps of the route.