Archive for August, 2012

It seems my state inspection and registration have expired.  Today I decided to address both items (before the fates decide to give me tickets).  There are a bunch of questions I am often asked about the inspection process and what a 1929 Ford needs to “pass”.   A state inspection is basically a tool the government uses to make certain that a car is in “safe operating condition”. The definition of “safe operating condition” has changed over the years.  Cars ONLY need to meet the standards required at the time of manufacture. 

The check typically includes: 1) Seatbelts, 2) Brakes, 3) Steering/front end/suspension, 4) Tires, 5) Lights, 6) Windshield/Other Glass, 7) Wipers/Blades, 8) Horn, 9) Mirrors, 10) Fuel Leaks, and 11) Emissions.

1) Seatbelts.  Seatbelts didn’t exist in 1929.  My car doesn’t have them.  I can’t get a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt and the car can’t be failed for the absence of seatbelts. Seatbelts became standard in 1965.

2) Brakes.  Cars in 1929 had brakes and parking brakes. Somewhere in the late 1920s it was mandated that they be on separate systems.  Truth be told, as long as the car stops when pulling into the inspection station garage, the inspector is not likely to check the brakes.  There is no concern over hydraulic pressure or things like that.  The brakes on the Phaeton are MECHANICAL.  To be legal, I just need working brakes and a working parking brake. 

3) Steering/Front End/Suspension/Chassy/Wheel Fasteners.  Is the car holding together?  An inspector is supposed to look over the car and make certain it isn’t falling apart and that the wheels aren’t about to pop off.   Regardless of on an old car or new, I’ve yet to see someone actually check this.  I will note that I did tighten the nuts that keep the rear wheels attached to the rear axle before I went to Boston.  They were LOOSE.

4) Tires.  Bald or not. Mine actually still had the nubs on them when I got the car.  The tires are likely 30+ years old and still look ok. 

5) Lights.  The Model As have headlights, a plate light, and a brake light, but no turn signals.  They work… thanks to my fancy rewiring skills.

6) Windshield/Glass.  The glass on my windshield is “safety glass” in tha it is coated in plastic on both sides.  This is not the same as today’s glass.  My other windows are curtains with clear plastic.  No glass there.

7) Wipers and Blades.  The blade on my wiper is in good shape…. the whole assembly is in the back seat of the car and doesn’t work.

8) Horn.  It should work.  My mostly works.   I honked as I drove into the lot.  It took two tries but they heard it.

9) Mirrors.  I’ve got two.  They reflect.

10) Fuel Leak.  I’ve got none… that I know of.

11) Emissions.  If the car has historical plates or is more than 26 years old they are exempt from emissions testing. 

Now the reality of it all.  If you have an old car the inspection shop will likely print you a sticker and install it.  They will not want to futz with your car and won’t know what is/was historically accurate for your car.  The inspection itself costs $10.  It would take the inspector HOURS to research what they should to deem the car as safe.  This is why it is important to do your own inspection and/or participate with a Model A Club safety check.  My car isn’t as safe as today’s cars.  I have fewer safety features, no air bag, no seat belts, no crumble zones, no antilock brakes…. at the time it was manufactured, my car was considered a “safe” car with lots of modern features. 

Living in a quantitative world, I like lists.  One of the best lists I have found is from the Diablo Model A club in California.  This seems to be a well thought out compilation of lubrication and maintenance items.   I don’t know if they created this list or got it from elsewhere, but I keep a copy in the car and in the garage so I refer to it regularly.  One of my goals is to get the car in good enough condition (and myself knowledgeable enough) that I can actually do the checklist and not get “stuck” on items that can’t be done. These days it is not possible for me to complete even the 500 mile part of this list, as items like my windshield wiper are in my “parts that don’t work” box. You can’t check things off as “done” if they don’t work.   This is par-for-the-course when you purchase a car with 40 years of deferred maintenance.

So what am I doing to prepare for my road trip to Philly?  This week I am trying to get some clogged zerks and grease channels to open up.  Here you can see my new grease gun and the chunk of old grease I cleared from one of the channels.  I’ve tried the “use heat and movement” and other methods. Having spent HOURS the other night on one fitting, I decided to try another method.  To help break up the grease in other channels (which are also clogged), I have filled a hypodermic needle with PB Blaster and tried to inject this penetrating oil into the zerk and into the joints.  It is my hope that doing so will loosen up the old crud and that the new grease will then flow.   I’ve gotten this to work on two clogged fittings so far.  As a failsafe, I have also purchased a few new zerks that I can use to replace old one that don’t clean out.  While I should dedicate a weekend and do it all, I will pace myself on this task.

I decided that before the trip to Philly I would address the fan and water pump movement issues. Enough folks have told me that the original fan would eventually explode so I decided that I should make changing it with a replacement a priority. Brattons supplied the new fan. With the order I also purchased one of those sleeves that can be used to eliminate the fore/aft movement of the fan shaft in the water pump. I figured that this was a $4 solution to my problem and that I would hold off on replacing the water pump for now.  Why spend $125 if I can spend $4?

Let’s just say that the removal of the old fan was quite a project. Seeing that I have a ’29, I am supposed to be able to reasily remove the hood, tilt the radiator forward and tap off the fan. “Two hours max”. Ya think? The fan wouldn’t budge. I tried the knockoff, I tried prying (which means that the perfectly good old fan is now probably dangerous), you name it, I tried it. I tried it all a second time with the radiator removed so I would have better leverage. Finally (6+ hours later), with the advice from some folks, I removed the water pump.

Here is my advice if you ever find yourself needing to replace a fan on a 1929 Ford. The best way to remove a fan is to remove the water pump, sit with the fan blades resting on your legs and the pump hanging down between your legs (and with a pillow below to catch the pump later in the removal process), screw on the “fan knock off” nut to the waterpump shaft, hit the nut, hit the nut (don’t hit your nuts), hit the nut, curse, hit the nut, hit the nut, HIT THE NUT WITH FEELING!!!!!! The pump will then plop to the pillow. Very easy….

The new fan and pulley aren’t identical to the orginal. The blade is attached to the pully differently and the pully is a slightly different size. Hey, safety over accuracy.

So, fan was off and I needed to still deal with the fore/aft play. Basically, the shaft slides back and forth. It is not supposed to. The $4 collar slides onto the shaft, you then pull the shaft forward and “lock it” into place. The collar is tighted down and the shaft doesn’t shift. The fight you have at this stage of the repair is with the the woodrif key (that annoying little half moon metal piece that needs to be tapped out of the shaft and that takes a while to loosen). DONE AND DONE AND DONE AND DONE. At this point I am 8 hours into the 2 hour project.

Guess what? There is a crack in the waterpump housing! It is not a full through crack, but it is a crack. Guess what? Since I went with the $4 fix, I don’t have a back up waterpump. Guess what? I am putting the old pump back and will deal with it later. The old pump goes back on no problem, the radiator goes back on, etc. It is all going smoothing. My father even helped with the radiator bolts (the first time he has touched the car) or one of its parts. Awesome. Now the splash apron…. which doesn’t line up correctly and takes an hour a pursuasion. Now the headlights. Remember those conduit connections that short out…. DANG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They still short out.  Ok, I clipped the old connections and put in modern bullets on the passenger side.  This ELIMINATED one of the major headlight flickering issues I had. I’ve got the car back together.  I know I need to eventually replace the water pump.  This will wait. 

“I Love Your Car”

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

I haven’t posted in a while but have been working on my maintenance/repair “to do” list.  This weekend I stayed in Rockland County at my folks place (where I store the Model A) and, spent a crazy day working on the car.  I will go over the work with another few posts put up at another point in time.  I did replace the steel fan with a new one, remove the water pump and check out the impellers (and add a collar to eliminate the fore/aft play), changed the connections on one of the headlights to modern “crimp style” bullets, an futz with clearing out few clogged grease fittings using a hypodermic needle and PB Blaster (which is like WD 40 on steroids).

Having spent all Sunday working on the car, I wanted to take it out and make certain that all  parts stayed attached.  Monday night I drove the car to Nyack NY and left it in the parking lot of River Club where I had dinner plans.  Here is a photo of what I found when returning to the parking lot.