Archive for March, 2015


On March 11, I finally got around to finishing the removal of the transmission.  This was in preparation of John Karal (the NJRA Guru of things Model A) making a visit to Nyack to look over my car and let me know what needs to be done before the engine is reinstalled (and as one more “you should do X while you are doing Y” thing).  John has been in the Model A restoration business for years.  He had an automotive supply company, he was trained in aeronautic repairs (writing the field manuals for things like doing repairs to the carrier jet), and he runs a small shop which services and restores Model As and Ts.  We are lucky enough to have him as our local “go to guy”.  As my Model A isn’t able to “go to” John, John was willing to “go to” Nyack.  Len Spinelli joined as well, picking up John in route.

Arriving at 6:30, John stepped out of Len’s car, licked a finger, put it in the air, felt the wind direction, and then started to rattle of “to do” items for me based on his “I am one with the car” understanding of Model As…. ok, it wasn’t quite like that.  John, light in hand, inspected the car looking at all major areas of concern.  Here were his “big three” findings.

1) The rubber under the motor mounts should be replaced and the mounts should be inspected for cracks.  If you look really closely, you can see the old rubber between the mount and the frame.


2) The rusty rivet should be removed, the area cleaned, and a new rivet installed.  The other visible rivets looked fine.  Yes, I know the springs look rough…. They are.  I’m not replacing or repairing them this year.


3) The front cross member should be sanded down, inspected for crack(s) and any found cracks should be tig welded if needed.  It is hard to tell what is old flaking paint, new flaking paint, or possibly a crack under the paint.  I’ll admit that I’ve added a few coats of rattle can black to this part of the car every other time I took off the radiator… and no, I didn’t prep the surface first.


All in all, it sounded like John thought the car was in moderately good shape. He also made some suggestions regarding the steering column and the front springs… all of which could be addressed at a later time (like in a year or so).

We then went inside where I had the transmission and tower set up on my dining room table.  YES, I HAD IT IN THE DINNING ROOM ON MY KITCHEN TABLE AND PREVIOUSLY CLEAN PARTS IN THE KITCHEN SINK.   You can even see the foil I keep on the counter in one shot.


This is when John laughed and announced, “this is the worst worn universal joint I have ever seen!”

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Here is a video of John giving his first thoughts on his first look at this transmission.

After looking over the trannie, it seemed John was pleased with its overall condition (having expected it to be much worse), John focused on the tower.

Just for reference, here are links to “Tom Endy’s Transmission Prudence” and “Tom Endy’s Tower Restoration”.  These are GREAT writeups.  Tom has a whole bunch of tech articles he posted on  You should check them out.

Click to access Transmission%20Prudence.pdf

Click to access Transmission%20Tower%20Restoration.pdf

John believes that some of the original bearings are better than the modern replacement ones and that, if the originals prove to be in good shape upon inspection, they shouldn’t be reused as opposed to replaced.  John suggested that he take the transmission and tower to his shop to properly clean, disassemble, and inspect the transmission and tower. Excitement was expressed by John in that this would also allow him to use a new spring tool that he purchased to specifically help him in his work on the transmission towers.

I drove John home and was privileged to hear tales of his aviation adventures and one notable mishap.  At his shop, which is adjacent his home, he provided some initial advice on what I should (and more importantly should not) be doing when reinstalling the engine.   He also showed me the tools I he suggested I borrow from him to make this all happen (including a frame spreader).  For the re-assembly of the transmission and tower, John has invited Len and myself to the shop to watch/record/help put these parts (and any replacement parts) back together.


So much has happened to the engine since the last post. The engine is in great shape. It has been cleaned, fluxed, machined, leveled, bored, honed, balanced and by the time I post this most likely poured, peened, balanced again, painted, and reassembled. Most of the work was done in my absence; however, the J&M boys were kind enough to send progress photos throughout the process. They also welcomed myself and Len Spinelli (President of the North Jersey Regional Model A Club, good guy, and camera man) to come to the shop for a day of fun/work/schooling. Len and I met up at the NY/NJ border at 6:30AM and hit the road to get to Southborough Massachusetts for an early AM start (targeted arrival by 10AM.  We arrived just before 10AM.

We started by leveling the head and the block. They are both placed on a level base on a milling/boring machine. The machine head then takes swipes If a swipe “shaves” off something from one part but not another part, then the head or block isn’t level. This is an iterative process. The machine takes swipes until the head is level, then the bit is exchanged for a finishing bit that shines the surface down a wee bit more.
J&M Machine Company Cylinder Head Resurface

Once the block is level, the machine is set to bore the cylinders. There is a complicated process to locate the “center” of each cylinder, as you don’t want to measure on one specific spot, as that spot may be warped or worn down. The cylinders are then subject to the same process as the head, but at specific bore sizes (which match piston sizes). All cylinders must be bore to the same size and must not have warps, rust, or groves that would impair the engine.

J&M Machine Company Engine Block Decking and Boring

Don’t forget to shape the valve seats

J&M Machine Company Cutting Valve Seats

Once all cylinders are bore and the valve seats are shaped, the cylinders are honed and finished with precision. J&M maintain that this is where many shops skip a step.

J&M Machine Company Cylinder Honing

J&M Machine Company Cylinder Hone Finish

Let’s not forget straightening the crankshaft

Here are some photos of my crankshaft that they addressed prior to the visit.  I know a bunch of cranks I would like straighted out….


(this crank in the video isn’t mine).

J&M Machine Company Crankshaft Straightening

…and then grinding it.

J&M Machine Company Crankshaft Grinding

They sent me home with the bellhousing.  They installed the pedal shaft on the bell housing and replaced/installed lower bushings plus installed new bushings in pedals.

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The block is now finished and honed.  Please note the crosshatching on the hone.

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Here are some images of the pistons once they were made ready for the rebuild.  Apparently the heaviest was 2.2 grams off from the lightest.  They are now all within .2 grams of weight.

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You remember that dirty flywheel…. Here is the a before and after of it.

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….. and in case you didn’t see it already posted on, here is a tour the Mike gave of the J&M Shop.

I’ve also decided, since spring is around the corner, that I would have J&M’s contacts rebuild the starter and the carburetor. I really wanted to do these things myself, but there are only so many hours in a day and I want to get the car back on the road this Spring.  If timing allows this Month (March), I will be taking apart and restoring the transmission with John Karal (the “North Jersey Model A Guru”).