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Projects '29 Roadster Authentic Prewar Hot Rod

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by jadz928, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    I'm starting this thread to document and share this '29 Roadster preservation restoration my Dad and I are working on.

    We picked up this old girl in Dec 2019 from a guy named Lee, whose dad Daniel, bought this roadster in 1931. After Daniel passed in 1985, Lee took over stewardship and faithfully stored and preserved it in honor of his father. This Model A was in their family for 88 years!

    When Daniel bought the roadster from the first owner in '31, it came with a blown engine. First order of business was he replaced it with a Model B & Miller-Schofield OHV. Out of necessity was the start of Daniel's hot rod.

    Through the late 30's and early 40's, Daniel built his hot rod while working in Detroit where he cut his teeth as a young mechanic and machinist. During WW2, he was stationed overseas and serviced C-47 Skytrains. After the war, he continued to build his hot rod while he worked for Fisher Body in Flint.

    His build features included the B & OHV, 3" chopped windscreen & custom vinyl top w/chopped bows, '32 steering wheel w/horn-light switch delete, '35 wires w/matching spare tire & cover, and exceptional black lacquer paint.

    Here's a couple pics just after we picked her up...


    She was a little dusty and dirty, but altogether very well preserved, having been protected by a giant 'Buick Special' car cover for at least 35 years!

    My Dad and I are very excited about this roadster, and we believe it to be a significant piece of early hot rod history. Our plan is to honor Daniel's build and preserve all the key elements of it's period authenticity. Also, we desire to improve it by picking up where Daniel left off.

    We have experience in auto restoration & preservation, and Model A's, but this is our first traditional hot rod. So we're asking for your help with understanding traditional and period authenticity. I've done a fair amount of research so far, but still have many questions. Also, we ask for your feedback to help develop a faithful approach for this project. Thanks in advance for your help and input.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
    slim38, bowie, Dirty Dug and 26 others like this.
  2. SR100
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 877


    You say: "Our plan is to honor Daniel's build and preserve all the key elements of it's period authenticity. Also, we desire to improve it by picking up where Daniel left off." Isn't the "desire to improve it" the antithesis of "preserve ... it's period authenticity"? Its authenticity lies in both the parts and the sum of its parts. The whole package IS a "key element". The car needs nothing but a good clean.
  3. Damn cool. More pictures please.
    Stogy and winduptoy like this.
  4. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 642


    Love it ! GR8 find, what a blessing to have a "real old timey hot rod".
    Stogy likes this.

  5. Keep It safe,running,driving and tend to its needs.Danial would be happy.
    Stogy and dana barlow like this.
  6. Love it. Clean & enjoy.
    Stogy likes this.
  7. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    Thanks everyone for the kind words. As requested, more pics...


    This is Daniel's son, Lee. While looking over the car with him, we could tell he was very particular with it. He showed us how to carefully open the hood and shut the door without slamming it.

    After we bought the car, Lee made it clear he was happy to see it go! The burden of careful storage was lifted, and then he could let go of this responsibility to his father. I know he was happy to see it was going to a good home.


    This is my Dad, Herb. He's been into old Fords since before I was born. You can read more about him here. He knew right away there was something special about this old girl. As he put it, he said it had 'the right look'.


    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
    slim38, nunattax, alfin32 and 20 others like this.
  8. rustydusty
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 1,780


    Wow! That car is gorgeous. What do you think needs improvement? If it's a finished car, I would be tempted to leave it just as it is...
    If you need something more updated, build another car (my .02)
  9. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    This is exactly the kind of dialogue I'm looking for. I understand 'preserve' & 'improve' can contradict each other, but not in every case as nothing is absolute. But lets consider it.

    As you wrote 'the whole package IS the key element'. This is nearly absolute, outside of giving her a good clean, as you put it. For me to better understand this approach (or ethos, as I suspect it could be called), requires that we first talk about this roadster's significance.

    I only have a loose understanding of it's place in the historical spectrum of everything. I know it's build was started well before hot rods were even called that. I know it was during a time when it was more common for early roadsters to be stripped-down and used for racing. Meanwhile, Daniel's roadster evolved thru this period with the OHV, '35 wires and '32 steering wheel. I'm not sure how many other guys were building-up A's for the street during the 30's. From what I can tell it was pretty rare, and for those which have survived, even rarer.

    It's build continued to evolve thru the 40's and into the early 50's, with the chopped screen & vinyl top and black lacquer repaint. Through this time, the flathead became the engine of choice and the hot rod was born. A flathead Deuce or A from this postwar period would've been more common because that's what they were doing then. Still, I know to find one of those is very rare indeed.

    So this roadster has both prewar and early postwar characteristics, which I think is really cool. Am I in the ballpark? The thing here is I don't know what I don't know, which is why I need your help.

    Is this early hot rod significant? If so, what are we talking about here in terms of historical preservation. Should it be in a museum? Or can it be driven?

    I believe a better understanding of all this will help guide our approach. And we can talk about degree of preservation, absolute or otherwise.

    Detailed pics to follow, stay tuned...
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
  10. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,621

    Alliance Vendor

    It's begging to be driven, wasn't built to stand still

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  11. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    Here's some detailed pics for your review. I used thumbnails so not to bog things down.

    1223191124c.jpg 1223191125b.jpg 1223191128b.jpg
    The vinyl top was done in a style similar to a '34, which came into fashion postwar (were guys doing it prewar? vinyl material is certainly postwar).
    1223191143.jpg 1223191147a.jpg 1223191148c.jpg
    OHV is the Schofield variant (post Miller) from 1930, as confirmed by Steve Serr. All custom electrics w/remote starter solenoid and cloth wire looms.
    1223191136.jpg 1223191136a.jpg 1223191135b.jpg
    '32 steering wheel w/horn-light switch delete and machined aluminum block-off plate.
    1223191138.jpg 1223191136b.jpg 1223191134c.jpg
    Unknown seat, cloth and vinyl. Door panel is some kind of kitchen paneling. Machined aluminum firewall block-off plates.
    1223191123d.jpg 1223191123.jpg 1223191123c.jpg
    Unknown sealed-beam headlights, Guide 2025-A foglights, cool little horn (all installed, but not wired).
    1223191123e.jpg 1223191152a.jpg 1223191126d.jpg
    Ford script bumper brackets (I'm guessing period accessory, what vintage?). '35 spare tire cover.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
  12. Aaron D.
    Joined: Oct 27, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Aaron D.

    If it were mine, I'd lower the front end a little, remove the fog lights, lower the headlights, and maybe even remove the front bumper. It would give it a little more of a hot rod look.
  13. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 8,496


    Beautiful roadster.
    Stogy, lothiandon1940 and jadz928 like this.
  14. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,709


    If it were mine, I would clean it up and drive it, and take it to some shows so other people could see it.
  15. walter
    Joined: Nov 4, 2007
    Posts: 621


    Great Hot Rod!!
    Stogy, nunattax and lothiandon1940 like this.
  16. railcarmover
    Joined: Apr 30, 2017
    Posts: 569


    More of a truck engine than a hotrod,that tillotson is anemic. Stock exhaust and manifold don't help either.Winfield,Schofield Miller and Cragar amongst many others built ford four cylinder performance parts in the 30's and understood the balance of fuel and exhaust with head modifications. The car is a great example of early styling and modifications,enjoy it
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
    jadz928 likes this.
  17. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    Thank you!

    We want to drive it.
    Would like to improve safety for the road with new rubber, better lighting, safe electrics.
    Would like a comfortable interior with seats that are secure and fit my Dad, and a rumble seat which can be used.
    Would like to improve performance and reliability with a downdraft carb setup and uprated dual-point ignition.

    It's a hot rod. Are they ever really finished?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
    Automotive Stud and winduptoy like this.
  18. FORDY 6
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 1,491

    FORDY 6

  19. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    Yeah, we're tossing around those ideas.
    We like the drop bar and 33/34 stainless commercial headlights w/the integrated turn signals. Would probably run a standard 40 watt bulb on 12 volts (would like to keep the orig generator).
    A subtle drop with reserve eyes would be nice.
    We'd probably run with and without bumpers (Dad likes, I do not).
    We've been tossing this around as well and would like to wake it up a touch.
    Thinking about a dual intake with Stromberg 81s, cast-iron downdraft exhaust manifold, and Zipper ignition w/centrifugal advance & stock-like dist cap.
    5301622.jpg A9430h.jpg 2281182_2590443_1566422031.jpg

    Thank you both for your input!
    dirty old man and flatford39 like this.
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 711

    from okc

    Drive it......
    kevinrevin likes this.
  21. radarsonwheels
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 194

    from Philly

    I would carefully wash everything, throw some new tires on that look right, check the brakes, do a basic tuneup and fluid change, and start driving it. It will tell you what it needs- some deficiencies will define its character and some will need attention.

    Don’t be tempted to do disc brakes and a smallblock but I also wouldn’t be too precious about it being a museum piece. I would save all the parts you take off it- if you go with new ignition, plug wires, sparkplugs, maybe even tires, think about what you would want to get in a box with it if you bought it. Same with induction, carbs, etc.

    Maybe a repop weber 32/36 would make the truck a joy to drive and a fancy 12v hei style distributor or msd box would make it drive more like a modern car but then you’re kind of missing the point of owning a time machine.

    When you have to know the combination to be able to quickly start it, how long to warm it up, and that there’s a flat spot around 2200 rpm or you have to give it gas a certain way to make it work the best or whatever quirks it has- sometimes it should stay that way. Sometimes it sucks and needs fixing.

    Either way let the car teach you how to drive it and try to enjoy the quirks. There isn’t much point in trying to make it faster because not only will you change its personality but it probably already feels like 120mph doing 65. Of course if it has a burnt valve or a cyl with low compression then it’s telling you to take out your wallet and wrenches.

    If you find that you drive it everywhere and often at night and want to swap to 12v just do a clean job and keep everything so you can put it back how it was. If a spring is stabbing you in the ass figure out the most reapectful and unobtrusive way to fix it. I wouldn’t make any permanent changes.

    Also part of the fun of what you’re doing is hunting down period correct parts- don’t put ANY new crap on there unless it’s maintainance and tune up parts.

    This is from a guy who can’t post underhood pics of my 50’s hotrod on this site, so just opinions and zero percent from any moral high ground.

    Beautiful car and incredible history- enjoy it man

  22. radarsonwheels
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 194

    from Philly

    Oh and I would change those allens in the steering wheel to nice polished panhead slotted machine screws I think they had phillips heads earlier than people think but that is the only detail that stuck out to me
  23. klawockvet
    Joined: May 1, 2012
    Posts: 412


  24. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    Gave the old girl a head-to-toe cleaning. Seats were removed and interior washed out (it was filthy!). Engine bay steam-cleaned. Vinyl top carefully cleaned and treated.

    We're in the process of claying and color-correcting the black lacquer. All by hand work, no machines. Pics to follow...
  25. Model A Gomez
    Joined: Aug 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,406

    Model A Gomez

    B motor with an OH conversion, looks ready to go to me. The only thing I would consider changing is to change the intake manifold and put a downdraft on it.
    waxhead and jadz928 like this.
  26. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 685

    from so cal

    Maybe I missed it but wouldn’t hydraulic brakes be a first move?

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  27. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,767

    seb fontana
    from ct

    YES! Bolt on up date, big improvement, recent thread..
  28. jadz928
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 49

    from Michigan

    Great advice, Radar. Thank you.

    I'm all about giving a car time to speak to me. And that is what is happening here with this old girl.

    Short-term plan involves getting her clean & running. Then she will stew a little until spring when we can drive her. Big plans are all longer-term.

    I'm with you on your approach to mods too. Certainly, whatever is added or changed is sympathetic to the period (30's, '40s), and reversible as well.
    Whatever is removed is documented, bagged & tagged and kept with the car for future posterity.
    For instance, wheels and tires will be removed, stored, and possibly used for shows. An additional set of 16" wires will be sourced and new tires mounted, to be used for regular driving.

    With respect to period-correct parts, would you suggest an original set of 33/34 commercial headlights vs. new Bob Drake repros, as an example?
    So not just OF the period but FROM the period? Just want to make sure I understand.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  29. waxhead
    Joined: May 11, 2013
    Posts: 1,173

    from West Oz

    Yeah, from the period would be better. For example, try to find an original downdraft intake, they come up for sale quite often.
    BrandonB likes this.
  30. I would really try to keep to pre-war or early post war era for this car. In other words, get rid of the few '50's elements. The interior really does need to be changed back to what would have been used in the '30's or '40's. Probably just stock Model A interior would be the best choice. For brakes, I would consider keeping the mechanicals with the addition of floaters to improve the action. Replace the fog lights with non-sealed beam units and better brackets. I would not do any "improvements" to the engine until you see how it runs in its current configuration.
    Also, post over on the "Ford Barn" The guys over there will go nuts over this car.

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