Acceptable Owner’s Manual

As previously reported, many owners’ manuals were available for the Model A.  The “acceptable dates” shown on the table located below will be used for determining the correctness of the owner’s manual displayed for judging.

This tech tip was provided by Walt Wawzyniak and printed in the September 2004 “A” Quail Call.

The Correct Model A Jack

There were four suppliers for the Model A jack:  Ajax – Racine, WI; Walker – Racine, WI; Auto Specialty – St. Joseph, MI; and Noblitt-Sparks – Location unknown.  All Model A jacks were painted black enamel.

The A-17080 jack was a ratchet type with folding 2” top extension, 10 ¼” total height.  It was a carry-over from the Model T Ford and was discontinued as a Model A jack about August 1929.  The handle (A-17081) was also a carry-over from the Model T.  It was made of ¼” flat steel, 7/8” wide and 16” long.  It had a tire iron curve on one end and a round hole in the other which line up with the hole in the jack sleeve when in use.  The handle was painted black.

In October 1928 the A-17080-A jack, made by Walker and by Ajax, was introduced.  It was similar in design to the earlier type, except it did not have the top extension.  The Walker and Ajax versions were nearly identical except for the shape of the bases.  The Ajax jack had square corners on the base, while the Walker was rounded.  Both jacks were 9 ½” high and used a new handle (A-17081-A) made of ¼” x 7/8” flat steel, 20” long with a quarter twist 3-7/8” from the handle end and a tire tool on the opposite end.  This jack was used thru November 1929.

In November 1929, the A-17080-B1 jack, also made by the Walker and Ajax companies, was introduced.  It was similar to the previous model, but was 8 ½” high because of the smaller diameter wheels used on the 1930 models.  The handle was the same as the previous model.  This jack was discontinued in August 1930.

In January 1930 jack A-17080-B2, manufactured by Auto Specialty, was introduced.  It was 8 ½” high and was the first screw type jack.  The base and screw housing were once cast steel piece with no rivets.  For this jack a new handle (A-17081-B) was required.  It was made of 3/8” steel rod and was 39” long when extended; 19-3/4” folded.

The A-17080-B2 jack was replaced in March 1930 by the A-17080-B3 jack made by Ajax.  It was a screw type jack with open gears, an enclosed screw and 8 ½” high.  The handle (A-17081-C) was made of 3/8” steel rod, was 35” long, but did not fold.  The black painted handle was 1” long, 3/8” squared end to fit in the sleeve on the jack.  It did not fit under the front seat of most Model A’s and was not usable with other jacks.

The A-17080-B3 was replaced in August 1930 by A-17080-C1 made by Auto Specialty.  Like the earlier Auto Specialty jack (A-17080-B2), the base and body were one piece.  The gears were enclosed in a pressed steel casing with no rivets.  It was 8 ½” high.  It used the same folding handle (A-17081-B) used on the earlier jack.  These jacks were used until the end of Model A production.

Jack A-17080-C2, made by Ajax, was introduced in August 1930.  The gears and screw were enclosed with a pressed steel casing with no rivets.  The 8 ½” high jack used the folding handle (A-17081-B).  This jack was also used thru the end of production.

In March 1931, still another screw type jack (A-17080-C3) was introduced.  This 8 ½” jack was made by Noblitt-Sparks and had a pressed steel housing, which was riveted together.  It used the same folding handle as the Ajax and Auto Specialty jacks.


                           Jack Handle

                                                                                                     Jack Handle (New Design)

This tech tip was provided by Walt Wawzyniak and printed in the September 2004 “A” Quail Call. 

Proper Tools for Model A Judging

It takes quite a bit of effort in putting a correct tool kit together.  First you have to know the correct date your car was manufactured.  Then you have to find the right owner’s manual, crank, jack, air pump and hand tools for that date.  One mistake people make in collecting tools is looking for the Ford script.  The Ford script was only used in early 1928.  Each Model A was equipped with a 13-piece tool kit.  Below are a few items that will help you identifying the correct tool to year.


The grease gun (A-17125) was nickel plated, made by the Alemite Mfg. Company.  Both fine and coarse serrations on the cap are acceptable for all years.


The tool bag (A-17005 and A-17005-B) was approximately 11” long, 8 ¾” wide (when open) and 6 ½” wide (closed).  The flap folds lengthwise, with one or two snap fasteners.  It was made from leftover top material or artificial leather.  Only one type of bag was used throughout Model A production and it did not have a Ford script marking.


All adjustable wrenches were 9-3/8” long and had a square end on the handle, which is used to remove the drain plug for the differential housing.  Some wrenches did not have the Ford script.


There were four variations to the spark plug and cylinder head wrench (A-17017).  The first, used before February 1928, had a Ford script and was unpainted, with an 11/16” hex end.  The second wrench, used from February thru April 1928, was the same except it was painted black.  The third type was the same as the second, but dropped the Ford script and was used from May thru September 1928.  The fourth type was painted black, with no script, was thicker at the hex head nut end, and was used from late 1928 to the end of production.


The pliers (A-17025) were of two types.  The first, used until February 1928, had Ford script and was unpainted.  From this date to the end of production the pliers were both script and non-script, and painted black.  One handle tapered to a screwdriver blade.


The small open-end wrench (A-17015) fit 7/16” and ½” bolts and nuts.  The large open-end wrench (A-17016) fit 9/16” and 5/8”.  The same manufacturer supplied the two wrenches.  Ford wrenches made after the Model A years were thinner and lighter than those supplied with the Model A, but are otherwise identical.  These are incorrect.


The screwdriver had a wood handle with an unfinished or black enameled steel blade shaft passing entirely through it.  The handle was finished with a black wood preservative.  The ferrule was plain steel or nickel-plated.


The tire iron was initially carried over from the Model T Ford.  Two design changes were made during the Model A production.  In July 1928 one end was tapered so it could be used as a screwdriver.  This design was dropped in November 1928, and the opposite end was changed to a spoon shape.  Some of the spoon shaped tire irons have a square hole in the handle used to adjust the brakes.  None of the tire irons had Ford script.  Prior to February 1928 they were unfinished, but were painted black thereafter.


There were seven different cranks made for the Model A:

Year                         Part No.                      Fits                     Finish              Lugs¹              Throw²

1927 (script)             A-17036                      11/16”                cadmium         90°                   8”

Jan-Feb 1928            A-17036-AR               11/16”                cadmium         90°                   8”

March 1928              A-17036-B                  13/16”                cadmium         in line              7 ½”

Apr-May 1928                                             A-17036-B         13/16”            black                 in line              7 ½”

June 28-Oct 29         A-17036-B                  13/16”                black                90°                   8”

November 1929       A-17036-B                  13/16”                black                in line              8”

Dec 29-end              A-17036-B                  13/16”                black                in line              7 ½”

¹ – Angle between a line thru two lugs and the center member.

² – Distance between the handle and the member carrying the lugs, measured along the center member.


The first tire pump was used thru April 1928.  It had a cast iron base with Ford script, and the several manufacturers designed different screws on top.  Thereafter a second pump was issued, which had a ribbed, stamped steel base without a script, which was brazed to the pump cylinder.  The hose was a black, cloth-covered rubber, 18-19” long, and attached with metal clips.


An owner’s manual was included with every vehicle sold after December 1927.  The owner’s manuals were revised as major changes were incorporated into the cars.  The copyright date corresponds with the year of the car, however there was more than one manual for each Model A year.  For example, five were made for 1928.  Individual dealers furnished the manuals as items of delivery equipment.


All jacks were made to Ford specifications, however minor differences did occur between the four manufacturers in the location of holes and rivets, and the contour of forged gears and pressed steel parts.  All of the jacks were painted black enamel.  Look for another posting for the publish pictures and descriptions of the different jack styles in an upcoming tech tip so that you can identify the proper jack for your month and year of vehicle.

This tech tip was provided by Walt Wawzyniak and printed in the July 2004 “A” Quail Call.

Vacuum Gauge

A vacuum gauge can be a very useful tool to check the performance or diagnose engine problems with your Model A. The condition of piston rings, timing, valves and other parts can be determined without tearing down the engine. The vacuum in a typical engine should be around 20” of mercury for a warm engine at sea level. For every 1000 ft. of elevation you should subtract 1”. The vacuum gauge should be connected to the intake manifold. Those with a vacuum wiper connection are set. If not, you will want to drill and tap your manifold. Consult the manuals for the correct position. Many “non-vacuum wiper” cars had porter manifolds, so you won’t be “wrecking your car” by doing this. Connect this gauge and allow the car to warm up. At a fast idle, the gauge should read around 20. If it is low, check your connections and also check to see that the timing is not retarded. If it is still low, check the spark plug gap, the breaker points and the ignition timing. If it is still low, adjust the carburetor. To do this, retard the spark and adjust the idle speed for the highest possible reading. Note that at low speeds the gauge will be bouncing all over the place. That’s OK…just go for the maximum reading. Next, advance the spark, set the throttle for a high-speed rev and make the adjustments for the highest vacuum reading using the high-speed dash adjustment. If this fails to give you the desired 20 reading, you still have a leak somewhere. Check, check, check until you find the cause. Your engine will love you for it. Carburetors are an often overlooked source of leakage, but are readily checked with a gauge. If you have a spare, swap it out and see if things improve. If not, check for leakage around the throttle shaft and the gasket. (This can be done by squirting some heavy oil on the leakage area and look for “suck-in” or the vacuum reading to improve.) Other sources of low vacuum due to the carburetor are: (1) bad idle adjustment screw; (2) blocked or incorrectly sized jets (by the way, the tape we have on the carburetor has a great chart for correctly sizing jets) will lead to poor high-speed vacuum. Always suspect the carburetor if the problem has been gradual in coming and suspect the ignition if it happened suddenly. Poor rings will give a steady low reading also. Likewise, late valve timing would give a low reading; suspect this if the engine has been running a bit hotter than normal. Remove the cover and check the gears. With the engine in proper shape the gauge should be rather steady around 20. If it is swinging wildly, you may have a problem. Worn valve guides or valve stems, bad valve seats, insufficient tappet clearance or a sticking valve will cause this. To differentiate between them, squirt a little engine oil into the vacuum gauge hose and reconnect the gauge. If the problem is gone for a short while, you have a sticking valve. To check the valve springs, rev the engine. The gauge should drop to around 5. Quickly return the throttle to idle; the gauge should bounce up to around 25 and then return to approximately 20. If when revving the engine the gauge does not go to 5 and stay there but rather bounces around, the springs are weak. (What you will typically see in this situation is the spread between the high and low reading will increase as the engine speed is increased.) If the reading does go to 5, but then slowly goes up from 5, chances are the valves are leaking. If when your engine is idling there is an intermittent drop in the reading, you may have a bad cylinder or a leak in the head gasket. By shorting out a spark plug, one at a time, you should be able to detect which cylinder is the problem. If so, check the gasket for leaks and check the torque on the head bolts (use the proper setting and sequence). If you find two adjacent plugs to be at fault, suspect that the gasket is blown between the cylinders. Just remember that the vacuum gauge is only one of many tools at your disposal. It’s a good idea to take readings from time to time so you know what “your” engine normally does. Because many troubles can cause similar vacuum reading, it is important that you use the other tools available to zero in on the right one. Common sense and the old process of elimination are sometimes all we have. This tool will hopefully help you get to the correct answer faster.

This tech tip was originally provided by Ron Sieloff and printed in the May 2001 “A” Quail Call.