Archive for February, 2015

As I sort through all the options being presented to me regarding my engine’s rebuild as well as the plethora of mutually exclusive recommendations from multiple folks “in the know” (all good suggestions and from well intending folks who know better than I), the Gulbankians haven’t stopped their rebuild process. The parts are cleaned and inspected and the nine cracks have been stitched. Prior to this process, I thought the stitching required some welding. Apparently this isn’t the case. It is a cold process that seems more mechanical than metallurgy.

These are the pins (locks?  screws?  whatever!) used for the job.


How do these pins become stitching? Apparently the metal stitching process is one where multiple holes are drilled into the cast iron and then a collection of screws (locks) are put in place then more holes are drilled into both the iron and the screws and then more screws are added.  All the screws are are overlapped and engineered in a way to pull together the cast iron.  Let me try to explain in a more visual manner.  Imagine that these series of letters Os are the screws put in place “O O O O O O” .  Now add a second set of “O”s that fill the spaces in between the “O”s and also overlap each of the first “O”s by just a little This creates a line (stitch) of materials pulling the sides together.

Here is what the results look like.

IMG_1744 IMG_1743 IMG_1748 IMG_1747 IMG_1746 IMG_1745 IMG_1749 IMG_1751

The following is a video from a third party (Lock-N-Stitch), showing the process. The stitching method seems similar to how secant pile walls are constructed in civil and structural engineering. Here is Lock-N-Stitch’s tutorial.

With J&M going at it full speed, I also need to make some quick decisions and start getting ready for putting the engine back in the car.  This is much more work than just putting it back in. While the engine is out, it sounds like I “need” to:

1) Rebuild the transmission
2) Replace the throwout bearing
3) Rebuild the starter
4) Replace the motor mount (or at a minimum checking them for cracks and remaining useful life)
5) Replace the intake/exhaust manifold
6) Rebuild the carburetor
7) Rebuild the distributor
8) Install a thermostat

I am arranging for some people “in the know” to stop by my place and look over the car to see if there are any other more immediate repairs that should be addressed with the engine out. Let’s not forget, I have no real idea what I am doing.  I am assuming there are several repairs related to steering, suspension, etc. This is where I can see repairs further snowballing. While I understand the logic of “while you are doing X it you really should do Y”, this logic doesn’t have an end point until a full frame off restoration is done.  I am NOT doing a frame off restoration at this point.  I want to do the “life safety items”. The car took 86 years to get to its present condition. I want to take my time bringing it back. This said, my desire to “be hands on” with each stage of the restoration is becoming increasingly impossible. There aren’t enough hours in the day.  With unlimited time, I could do things paced, but if I want to have the car back on the road this Spring, I have to send out some parts to respective part gurus… which isn’t something I was intending to do.

More to follow……………

Crack is Whack!

Posted: February 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

The G-Boys are at it again… in fact, I don’t know if they stopped.  Since dropping off the engine this weekend, J&M have been emailing me progress photos at least once a day.

The studs are out (not a reference to the G-Boys but a reference to the bolts in the engine — come on readers…. these puns do come with limits).  None of the studs broke.  The G-Boys found yet another stray Bendix screw in the flywheel housing.  I guess the starter will be rebuilt too — I haven’t decided if I will take that on myself or send it out. All engine parts are now oven cleaned and have been subjected to magnafluxing and a meticulous inspection.  I now suspect the G-Boys are actually in the drug enforcement industry, as they are proving themselves experts in finding crack.  I suggest you try to imagine them chasing eachother around the shop yelling “Crack is Whack” in their New England accents.

The block has three small cracks.  Here are images of the crack at the burnt valve and on the oil return.  I am told that these are “standard” types of cracks and will be “easy” to fix.


The head has two small cracks.  They are between the distributor hole and the water jacket.  I am told these are “standard” types of cracks and again easy to fix.  I am fairly certain this (in combination with the warped head) is where the oil was getting into my coolant. Here are two photos.


The flywheel housing has two cracks on either side and the side cover has a crack as well.  I’ve got to ask them how/why the cracks occur at this place.  One would imagine that this housing isn’t subject to much change in heat… perhaps it is stress due to vibration at this point of contact.  I’ll ask.  <<JG tells me that, “The cracks on the flywheel housing are due to a lack of support . The wishbone of the front axle pushes against that portion of the housing via bell housing. If you hit a bump hard enough (”pothole”) then the stress is transmitted to the unsupported area of the flywheel ” he also states that “Ford rectified this in 1931”>>

Here are some photos of the flywheel housing.


Fortunately the crankshaft was in good shape with no cracks and will be reground. This is the crank on a larger magnet, allowing for the mangafluxing to occur more efficiently than if the G-Boys had to use the single horse shoe.  This device allows them to hose the crank down and inspect.

IMG_1702 IMG_1703

That makes 9 cracks in total. I am assured that these are all very common cracks and most likely have been there for years. This said, my overheating the engine prior to installing the Bergs HD touring radiator and my driving while knowing that I had a burnt valve likely didn’t help the cause either.  Still, i got a few years out of it and apparently could have pressed my luck for a little longer if I just left things alone.

The G-Boys have also machined out the valve seats and installed hardened seats ones in all but the one spot that needs to have the metal stitching.


If I am following the process correctly, the “next steps” include crack repair via metal stitching.  We are also discussing some of the “options and improvements” that folks keep suggesting (like adding a counterweight to the crank).  More to follow as I have more to share…..

The Gulbankian Brothers

Posted: February 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

John and Mike look like they could be a WWF tag team complete with pro-wrestler stature.  These brothers appear as two barrel chested pitt bulls ready to take on any challenge.  John once told me “on a good day I used to lift a short block into a car myself”.  If you see him you would believe it.  Thankfully, most pitt bulls are friendly.  Once you meet John and Mike, you realize that they can not only play catch with a short block, but they are soft-spoke, humble, and good natured (almost shy).  They also have a ridiculously encyclopedic knowledge of Model A engines and LOVE what they do.  These are two of the big-shot-industry-pros when it comes to the engines.  They are masters of an art and they don’t bother trying to impress anyone…. because they don’t have to try.

It is impressive watching skilled professionals do their thing.  If you have ever watched foodnetwork, you’ve seen the ease at which their celebrity chefs prep and cook a meal.  John and Mike no longer were wrestlers… they were now a master chefs butchering a piece of meat and prepping a meal.  John and Mike sliced and diced.  As they were doing so, they were spouting out dates and back-history on parts and the reasoning why certain parts were modified by Ford over the years and what/how the modifications were.  In this regard, perhaps they were more like archaeologists than chefs… either way, still impressive.

John At Work Photo Feb 14, 12 31 59 PM Photo Feb 14, 12 33 35 PMPhoto Feb 14, 12 32 22 PMPhoto Feb 14, 12 59 40 PMPhoto Feb 14, 12 52 17 PMPhoto Feb 14, 12 35 08 PM Photo Feb 14, 12 39 23 PM Photo Feb 14, 12 54 07 PM Photo Feb 14, 12 59 44 PMPhoto Feb 14, 1 04 07 PM

Mangnaflux Video:

Steel Cap Old School

Original Pistons/Rods and Caps Turned Magnet

Why should you go with poured Babbitts (as opposed to inserts)

So what do we know now that the engine is in pieces?.  As Al Clarke (of Go Devil Garage in NY) had previously noted, the engine looked like most of it was un-restored (and yes, I have given GDG a plug…. Al seems like a solid guy and I remain appreciative of his help in October).  With John and Mike’s teardown complete, we could see:

  • The majority of the engine appeared to be untouched since it left the factory floor. The pistons, rods, lifters, valves, clutch, gaskets, etc all appear original.  The clutch is an original wagon wheel design — which I will likely make into wall art. The timing shaft was a replacement (but clearly stated “FORD”).
  • Most of the shims for the crank shaft were gone. The babbitts appeared original although most of them were worn, only one had a small missing piece.
  • There is a burnt-out valve and several more valves ready to go
  • Pistons, rings and chambers are well worn
  • The engine was running very rich and the carb may need a rebuild
  • The starter needs a partial rebuild
  • The distributor shaft is beaten up and the distributor should be rebuilt
  • The oil pump works but should be replaced (it is not the rebuildable type)
  • The engine has some cracks in the block, flywheel housing, and side cover. These are all “typical”.
  • The snow is starting to come down, Boston is still expecting a blizzard, and Gary and I still have a long drive to make.

Overall the Wrestling Team of Chef Galbunkian and Archaeologist Galbunkian (they can choose who is who) thought the engine was in better shape than they expected.  They warned me that more damage would likely be revealed upon the parts being cooked and cleaned but assured me that no major surprises were expected.

Over a two hour period the Gulbunkians tore apart the engine and generated two piles of parts.  All parts to be replaced I have in my “take home box”.  If anyone needs some spare parts (mostly nuts/bolts/guides/springs that are well past useful age), let me know before I have a local artist turn them into a “car part dog” for my desk.  After Mike and I did “some paperwork”, Gary and I left at 2:00 PM to head back to NY where we were heading to his folks place to dig out their car.

Since the 14th, John and Mike have emailed me several times with photos of the engine.  They have already commenced their work.  More to follow……

Friday night almost started with a “breaking and entering”. Early in the week, a local craftsman promised me that he would cut a piece of scrap ¾-inch plywood for me to 46”x46” and leave it in his lot. I was traveling for work and didn’t get back home until late Friday night. His workshop was closed. At about 11:30PM (it was only 11 degrees out), I was ready to jump the 10+ foot fence and “find the piece”. A survey of the gated lot with a small flashlight through the fence didn’t show proof that the piece of wood was there, so the fence wasn’t jumped. I asked a few neighbors if they happened to have some plywood. I am certain that they were confused by the late night request for plywood. As such, “Plan B” was enacted. Don’t tell my landlord, but the wooden hatch to the crawlspace in the basement fit nicely in the back of Gary Holmgren’s Honda Odyssey and served as a decent enough platform to keep the model A engine “safely off the carpet” while helping distribute the engine’s weight. Gary Holmgren, by the way, is a friend for 25 years that volunteered his mini-van and time to help.

Loading a Model A engine into a mini-van is actually not as straight forward as one would think. I don’t know if we should have taken the initial advice I received which was “Keep it simple. Put an old tire down in trunk, put the engine on the tire, drive where you are going”. Our plan was to use the perfectly cut plywood as a base, hoist the engine into the car and place it on the previously constructed stand, and tie everything down.  The hoist did make it into the car (barely) and will a little angling the stand was under the engine and the engine was in place.  When we first test drove around the block the engine tilted forward and dented the plywood….. we should have anchored the stand on the base (as Gary suggested and I agreed) but the screw driver needed to be charged and “what the hell, let’s try anyway”. Let’s just say that this was a process that ended just before 1AM. Having the engine strapped to the stand and the stand anchored is the right way to go.  Having the wood base also gives you a surface that makes it easier to slide the engine in/out of the car. If you are not using the tire method and able to toss around engines like they were bowling balls, the mount/base method is the way to go.  A cut sheet for the mount was posted in a prior post.



Valentine’s Day started at 7:00 AM. Wake. Coffee. Finish packing. Anchored the stand into the wood base. We depart the townhouse in Nyack at 8:15/8:30 when we saw the PERFECTLY cut piece of wood in the enclosed shop lot…. which was still locked up. If I saw it last night, I would have climbed the fence.  We waved to it and kept moving.  The roads were EMPTY.  We took the major roads to avoid sharp turns and hills.

At 12:00 noon we arrived at J and M Machine Shop. John and Mike Gulbankian were waiting for us and ready to go.  Their friend Jeff was also there. Unloading the Model A engine from Gary’s mini-van was easy. John pushed a table to the back of the car, we slid the engine stand out of the car onto the table. John rolled the table to the center of the room and then John and his brother go to action.

More to come.,,,,,,