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Projects 31 Model A Coupe. What could be the dullest project on here...

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by OverThePond, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. OverThePond
    Joined: Jan 30, 2021
    Posts: 16

    OverThePond
    Member
    from London, UK

    Hi all, bear with me, I've lurked for ages but only just got around to signing up and, finally being in a position to afford to, I've only just got round to taking a step towards having a proper rod.

    I'm in England so, of course, the car scene is totally different to that in the States. I've always been into American cars, owned a few over the years, mostly muscle cars but ever since I can remember I wanted a proper hotrod, something from the 30s or 40s. Now, we've been in lockdown on and off for nearly a year and the only tiny benefit I can see is that I've saved a ton of money. I admit, I nearly cracked and chopped in my BMW and the cash for a Porsche but then I thought, hey, why not get a real car? So I did!

    So here's why I think this might be the dullest thing you've seen in a while...........

    20210314_124332.jpg
    It's a totally bone stock 31 Model A Coupe. It's solid but just the right amount of scabby that I'm not going to be precious about the paint or worry about dings etc. Everything works (well, almost everything but we'll come to that) and I can get in and drive it down the road which is exactly what I wanted. I already have some projects and I wanted something complete and running that I could tinker with along the way because I already have another long term project.

    First up I need to sort the issues (and I don't mean the visual ones :D). The wiring is, to use a phrase, a complete dog's dinner. Sure, the engine wiring is fine including the 12v conversion but everything else is a mess. The wiring to the lights is an unholy mess of crimps, electrical tape and components recycled from other cars. Still, there are very few wires on it in total so I have ordered the stuff to rewire the car completely which should only take a few hours. Second, I got overexcited with the starter and all of a sudden there is whirring but no engine turning over......... Starter out, oh dear (or at least words like that), the bolts have fallen out of the Bendix drive and now reside at the bottom of the bellhousing :mad: I got very lucky here for once, a magnet on a flexible arm managed to retrieve everything. All back together now with threadlock etc. I know I should put a modern Bendix on it but here's where being in England starts to cause trouble, you have to take what you can find or, once shipping and taxes are included, bite the bullet and pay a lot for parts.

    Last problem for now which I hope someone here has some advice on, is the roof material. Heres the horror:
    20210314_124421.jpg
    The chicken wire fills me with confidence............ My understanding is that the material is secured to the wood underneath (hoping that it's not rotten) with nails that go through some sort of edging strip. Is this right? I'm hopeful that I can strip it all off, treat the rust and attach new material. Can anyone point me at any guidance for that?

    So, aside from fixing problems, what are the plans? I want to try and use period parts which, of course, is going to make my life tricky because this stuff just isn't over here in bulk, maybe I will be able to source stuff on the HAMB and work with a shipping guy I know out of Florida. First up will be removing quite a lot of stuff (like the spare wheel and the bumpers). Then, in terms of modifications, probably juice brakes, steel wheels, a downdraft carb and maybe a head. Actually, looking at the wires and whitewalls maybe wheels and tyres are top of my list! In the future a dropped axle etc. Final question, am I right in thinking that if I had hubs, drums and backing plates from a 40s Ford those would fit my Model A axles but could also be used if I got a later dropped beam and spindles in the future?

    Thanks for looking, I wrote all this whilst drinking some tea in case you needed confirmation that I really was in England :D:D:D
     
  2. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 2,946

    goldmountain

    That car looks like an excellent place to start from. The top material can be obtained from various old Ford supply places and there are videos on youtube on how to do it by Classtique Upholstery.
     
    clem likes this.
  3. You don't need a starter with a Model A...use the hand crank :p
    That car looks in pretty good shape. Yes, they make a welt material that hides the nails in the roof fabric attachment. Should be able to order the roof material and assorted hardware from places like Macs and others.
    Be careful driving that on English roads. You will be on the wrong side of the drivers side :D
    edit: And I would get rid of that rumble seat...they are useless.
     
  4. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 211

    Glenn Thoreson
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    That's a nice looking car and quite valuable but you have a major problem there. Just my opinion but I would find myself a good panel beater and cut out all the rust and replace the top insert with sheet metal. All the wood will certainly be rotten and the structure it's touching will probably be rusted away, too. Model A Fords are not weather proof by any stretch of the imagination. Be sure to check the drain holes in the bottom of the doors and make sure the inside bottom of the cowl panels are clean and sound. With some work you will have a fun car to drive. Be aware that these cars are a low speed item in their stock form. 40 - 45 MPH is a comfortable highway speed for them. Have fun and enjoy.
     

  5. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 11,407

    AHotRod
    Member

    Happy you got your Coupe, now make a Hot Rod from it !
     
  6. brianf31
    Joined: Aug 11, 2003
    Posts: 705

    brianf31
    Member

    I would so make a drag coupe out of that. Look up Brent's build.
     
  7. i like cars & stuff
    Joined: Sep 14, 2012
    Posts: 74

    i like cars & stuff
    Member
    from Aotearoa

    I don't do hydrolic brakes, found making mechanical ones work to be better, and the best part is they don't absorb water.
    The chicken mesh is supposed to be there.
    I find they look good with just a bit of lowering so that's a place to start if you want to change the looks.
    A rule I use is I try not to do anything I can't reverse in one weekend,. That becomes an intellectual challenge worthwhile.

    Sent from my CPH1931 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    panhead_pete likes this.
  8. Dedsoto
    Joined: Jan 7, 2014
    Posts: 127

    Dedsoto
    Member
    from Australia
    1. Aussie HAMBers

    Nice start, we face the same issues with parts here in Perth, Australia.

    You'll need a centering ring for the 40 backing plates on the A spindles, you'll also need to slot the bolt holes. Won't stop you using them on later spindles once you go that way.
     
  9. Cymro
    Joined: Jul 1, 2008
    Posts: 726

    Cymro
    Member

    Doesn't the chicken wire support the wadding for the vinyl insert over the wooden roof frame bows as per H Ford Esq intended?
    Looking forward to seeing your updates, all the best.
     
  10. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,900

    woodiewagon46
    Member
    from New York

    The modern style Bendix is available from Bratton's in the USA for about $40. I can't imagine how much the UK would tax you and the shipping cost would be, but you need a reliable starting car. They also have every part to repair your starter. Hand cranking is no fun and especially in your climate. Once the wood is rotted, the only way for the repair, is to glue in pieces for the screws and nails to grab. Model A's were all over the world, there isn't a place in the UK that has parts?
     
  11. OverThePond
    Joined: Jan 30, 2021
    Posts: 16

    OverThePond
    Member
    from London, UK

    Thanks everyone for your comments and advice. I happened to put my post up and then start reading a book so I'd already sussed out that the chicken wire is indeed original, I guess the roof has never come off or, if it has, someone did a good stock resto on it. I like the idea of filling the roof panel but that's for some time down the line, for now I will replace the material and make repairs to the wood if necessary.

    I've read about that Classtique video before but damned if I can find it on their channel. Maybe it was hurting their business in replacing the roof and they took it down :p

    I think that's a brilliant piece of advice for this project, I'm sure we all took a car to bits and then it sat like that for years and, in fact, I do have a car like that right now in my garage. I'm interested in the challange of lowering it and keeping the mechanical brakes and all the while making sure I don't end up buying stuff from the States, shipping it here and finding out it's the wrong thing!

    There sure is but ultimately if I'm not in a rush for the parts it's cheaper for me to make a bit of a list and get a shipment from the US.
     
  12. OverThePond
    Joined: Jan 30, 2021
    Posts: 16

    OverThePond
    Member
    from London, UK

    Progress in some areas but not others. Got all the roof stripped, sorted the rust and painted everything. Just the excitement of trying to neatly install the cloth now.

    I've found a guy over here who has a container on the way over that has early Ford wheels inside so I'm top of the list to go and root through for a set of those.

    My main problem is I still haven't driven it! First I ran it out of fuel and then today I put more in, turned the tap on and immediately petrol (sorry, gas) started pissing out of every part of the carb! This obviously wasn't a problem when I got the car because it ran and was driven onto the trailer. Judging by the crud in the filter bowl though my first guess is something has got stuck in the seat so it won't shut off. Does this sound likely? The fuel appears to be coming out of the bolt underneath which is the main jet by the looks of the diagram. Genuinely never seen a carb leak so much :(

    Guess I need to buy gaskets and then whip the carb off....
     
  13. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 211

    Glenn Thoreson
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    You should check the gas tank for rust. It sounds like a bunch of rust has washed down and gotten into the carburetor. Common problem for these cars after sitting in storage for a long time especially in a humid atmosphere. Some tanks are repairable and some are not. Clean out the sediment bulb. Remove the gas line at the carb and see what comes out when you turn on the gas. There is also supposed to be a fine mesh screen in the fuel inlet on the carb that may be missing. Dismantle the carb to see what's in there and clean it out. There is a fine mesh screen available that fits up in the tank that will catch the big hunks. I have a tank on my '29 that has so much rust I can't use it. Even liquid tank liner won't fix mine.
    Put new gaskets on the carb drain and the bolt that holds the halves together.
     
  14. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 2,588

    rusty valley
    Member

    Yes, its a gravity feed fuel system, so if the float sticks or needle leaks fuel will flow nonstop. Always turn off the gas valve when parked. Its a very simple carby , just take the top off and blow it all clean. Make sure the float is free to travel and not sticky and try it again. perhaps but a new needle and seat with your next order of parts just to have in stock. I like to use an inline filter too as the sediment bowl will let some fine stuff get past.
     
  15. I've had a modern bendix or two (three actually) shatter so I've gone back to originals. One broke in two as we were climbing the last hill going to Pendine and just drifted into engagement.

    I have spares...
     
  16. '28/'29 Model A's had a screen filter approx 3/8" diameter X 2 1/2" high that screwed into the shutoff petcock, then into the tank, meaning it's not visible from the outside. This drove a buddy of mine nuts on his fuel-starved '29 until we found it. I don't know if this was still used in the tank when the petcock was moved to the firewall.
     
  17. OverThePond
    Joined: Jan 30, 2021
    Posts: 16

    OverThePond
    Member
    from London, UK

    Thanks everyone for the tips. Hopefully it should be a simple enough fix. Fingers crossed I don't need to take the tank off though :confused:

    I ended up rebuilding mine, turned down some bolts and put it all back together with threadlock.
     
  18. OverThePond
    Joined: Jan 30, 2021
    Posts: 16

    OverThePond
    Member
    from London, UK

    So I pulled the carb off, as soon as I touched it fuel was leaking out.... Here's the victim:

    20210501_100024.jpg

    It feels like someone dismantled it to clean crud out and then put it back together without new gaskets and without doing anything up more than finger tight. So I took it apart, checked everything and found that the brass float was full of fuel, that definitely isn't going to help things. I need to resolder that then I can put it all back together with new gaskets and a filter.

    I have a lead on some early steel wheels too, hopefully going to look at those next week. Slow progress!
     
  19. kevinrevin
    Joined: Jul 1, 2018
    Posts: 113

    kevinrevin
    Member
    from East Texas

    Keep at it. Slow progress is better than no progress.
     
  20. CC-Mo
    Joined: Oct 13, 2019
    Posts: 39

    CC-Mo

    Unless your dead-set on the original style soft top, this would be a good candidate for a steel insert.
     
    Nicholas Coe likes this.
  21. PotvinV8
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 133

    PotvinV8
    Member

    Your carb is fuel of fuel because your fuel shut off under the dash (maybe on the firewall on a '31) isn't closing completely. You'll need to address that as well. A rebuilt carb with a leaking shut off valve will still leak fuel...
     
  22. Ice man
    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 984

    Ice man
    Member

    And soldering the float will be fun, ask me how I know.
     
  23. OverThePond
    Joined: Jan 30, 2021
    Posts: 16

    OverThePond
    Member
    from London, UK

    I wouldn't say I'm dead set on it but in the short term it's a quick, cheap and neat fix. I'll reconsider when I get itchy and take the car apart!

    Shut off works great, thing has been dismantled fora couple of weeks and not a drop of fuel has made it from the tank to the sediment bowl.
     
  24. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,021

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    You know about the support nubs/ring on the hubs and how they interfere with later ('40 and later) wheels, right? Note the A hub has a support inboard of the stud that sits above the rest of the hub surface. To mount later steel wheels you need to either remove this raised portion, or add a support outside the stud at the same height.
     
    31Apickup likes this.
  25. panhead_pete
    Joined: Feb 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,695

    panhead_pete
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

  26. PotvinV8
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 133

    PotvinV8
    Member

     
  27. chiro
    Joined: Jun 23, 2008
    Posts: 941

    chiro
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Don't solder the float! Can you say, "BOOM!"? Just buy a replacement float. Cheap and easy.
    Andy
     
    panhead_pete and loudbang like this.
  28. Tons of spares - not just starter parts...
     

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