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Projects Yet another dumbass bought a Model A

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by thehazmatguy, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,075

    scrap metal 48

    Model A's are addictive...
  2. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,418


    You've bought a very nice Model A sedan. I especially like the late 1931 indented firewall. Perhaps consider a 31 grill shell to go with it once your finances allow.
    Then you'll also have an awesome 30 grill shell wall hanger; or sell it and put the money towards more parts.

    You're right, there are so many directions you can go with a build.

    I like the advice given,
    -Get it running and drive it for now.
    -Check out all the Model A photo threads on here (there's plenty). Get an idea of how you want yours to look. This will give you direction for your build.

    Oh, and your buyers remorse will soon be gone. You have a Model A!!
  3. jbon64
    Joined: Jul 26, 2006
    Posts: 485


    congrats hazmat !!! I just dropped some dough on a 30 coupe a few months back . my only regret so far is selling one of my 1st gen nova's to finance what I want to do to the coupe. I was able to sell quite a bit of what I wasn't going to use to offset my original purchase price. the sale of my 63 convertible dictated the direction of my build . the biggest purchase so far has been a Brookville 32 chassis with lots of new parts . and , I will be going the belly button small block route as well.
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  4. Well welcome to the Dumbasses with Model As club. LOL

    I don't know what you spent but it looks nice enough to motor around in.
  5. 27troadster
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 105


    Great find!

    I agree - get it running and have some fun with it as is. But if you're going to rebuild it then, for what it's worth, my $.02 is:

    1) Stock model A's in good shape should be restored, b/c they don't make 'em anymore and the # of complete A's is finite!
    2) Piles of rotted out sheet metal and / or pieces and parts of a model A should be made into fenderless hot rods.
    3) In-between cars like yours are perfect candidates for 50's / 60's era hot rods. Back before the rubber, interiors, etc where completely trashed, guys could hop up the drive line but the interior would be essentially stock, or maybe a set of camaro/mustang/etc bucket seats, but that's about it. Today however, if we want that look you basically have to restore the stuff that some guy in the 60's wouldn't have to touch, then hot-rod the drive line. (ie a RestoRod)

    The first thing that came to mind when I saw your car was this:
    Dennis Jones A.jpg

    This was a feature in HotRod Delux about 1/2 year ago. Here is the link:

    Although this one is a little rough for my tastes, you get the idea. That is what I'd do (if you're not going to keep the banger). - leave the paint alone, fill the roof, stock headlight bar, restore the interior (maybe with a split-back bench seat though), stock interior door panels, etc. Then drop something big in under the hood, Chrys Hemi would be first choice (money not withstanding) or a big nail head, 455 Olds, big Chief motor, 409 Chevy, FE Ford (post '66 390's are the same casting as 428, paint some aluminum Edlebrock heads....), 440 max-wedge, what ever you find big and cheap, then back it up with a 4 speed (or Tremec has a real nice line of trans's TKO-500 / 600, put the shifter any where you want it; in the stock location or in the '60's 4-spd-with-a-Hurst-shifter location up against the seat and find a Hurst shifter handle, Pontiac/Olds 9.3" rear would be period, (but 9" Fords are good too) some narrow Cragars up front and 7-8" wide Steelies in the back, stock ride height, frame - stock A - boxing plates? - maybe depends on how much HP, slicks?, if your under 400HP or you won't have a rear that hooks up, then it depends on if your taking the car apart or not, if not, I'd probably try to get away with stock rails, maybe add an X or K member from the bottom....

    least that was my first thought...

    At any rate, have fun with the ole girl!

    Moondog13 likes this.
  6. That magazine came out the month I bought the Model A! (I waited to post the purchase)

    For a period of time I had considered selling my '55 to finance and make room for the Model A. Engines like 409s, 392/354/331 or a nailhead were all on the table. I've (so far) decided to keep the 55 and I'd rather have something will a SBC drivable sooner than a bitch'n hemi in an unfinished car. And, so far, the 55 is top dog so anything really cool goes in the 55 and then the Model A would get the hand-me-down. BTW - my 55 has a TKO 600 and it's been great.

    I've definitely decided to ditch the stock frame. That much is certain. I have mixed feelings about 32 rails. I like the concept but... well, I went through loads of Model A pics here on the HAMB and the cars a really like are on a stock or similar frame.
  7. I've had my eye out for some 35 wires and I haven't had much luck. Well, I have found them... but pricey and have not found a matching set of 4 in decent shape. They are on my short list of stuff to get.
  8. After spending a boat load of time on the HAMB checking out Model A's... These are among my favorites:



    Oh... I saw I set of these on a 32 coupe at a local swap meet... The repops are crazy expensive but these fenton sbc exhaust manifolds might have to happen:

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
    kiwijeff likes this.
  9. haileyp1014
    Joined: Feb 15, 2006
    Posts: 933

    from so cal

    Don't know what I like more.the selfie or the car.good score
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  10. JB_roadrage
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 372

    from Caintuckee

    Man I hope I'm a dumbass and buy a Model A one of these days...
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  11. Here is my Tudor 161914777_KiDFdf5W_JalopRama15D7500803x4.jpg
    Y block powered
    kiwijeff, thehazmatguy and Jeff34 like this.
  12. You are either rich and cheap to you is not the same as cheap to the rest of us or you have not left the house in about 40 years. You have not named a single big block that can be had cheap. :rolleyes:

    I don't doubt that the rod in the diorama is a real car but the way that the photo is taken makes it look like a model car.

    None of this is a dis by the way just an observation. ;)
  13. boo
    Joined: Jul 6, 2005
    Posts: 566

    from stuart,fl.

    A's are addicting, havent been without one since my first one in 1956, bought another one 6 mos. ago 'agood deal?' sold it last thursday, still have 3 plus a chassi, maby another project???
  14. Well, after all that talk about a small block chevy because it's cheaper... this happened.

    I bought it today, it still had the water pumps, hoses and transmission attached. I'm not sure what I'll do with the transmission, it's a three speed with overdrive. The previous owner didn't know anything about it, it came with a project he bought. He figured that engine had likely been sitting in Needles, California for 30 years or more.



    There was a boat load of rust inside the water pumps and the front water passage - that had me worried.

    We pulled the heads right away and it looks darn good. My dad scratched away the carbon on the piston to see if it was marked .010 or .030... no marks. There may be a hairline crack between a head bolt and a water passage.


    And this picture has my hopes up. I would have never guessed it looked that good inside. The engine turns by hand so nothing is stuck. Once I get the engine on the stand I'll be able to pull the oil pan and check the bottom end.


    It looks like I've got some reading to do, I've never worked on a flathead.

    kiwijeff, Hotrodmyk and hipster like this.
  15. cb186
    Joined: Jul 5, 2013
    Posts: 263


    Thank you for abandoning the SBC. Flathead is they way to go, as well as the 3 speed OD. Take the time to get it working properly(kickdown switch, relay, etc) and you will love it. At least I do.
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  16. verde742
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 5,737

    1. a veteran died today

    Anybody writing in this thread put a 40 rear end in a Model A with a stock Model A engine and trans. ? ( TO GET HYDRAULIC BRAKES AND DIFFERENT GEAR RATIO ) I would like to know the length of the driveshaft and torque tube.
  17.'re now an "A-V/8" guy. Do you have Mike Bishops/Vern Tardell's book? It's "How to build a traditional ford hotrod" and it's chock full of tips on building an A-V/8 car....
    If you want to do this on the cheap and keep the flathead, it can be tough but with a nice base engine to work with you may be able to pull it off. You've already got the heads off and when you check the bottom end you might find a good, low mileage engine. How bad is the cylinder ridge? Might want to coat the top end with some wd-40 or equivalent. Keep rust away at all costs.
    Who knows? Maybe you'll end up reassembling the motor and fire it off to find a good engine under all that surface rust.
    Get Mike and Vern's book and educate yourself ....
    Tim, hipster and thehazmatguy like this.
  18. There wasn't much of a ridge at all at the top of the cylinder walls. All the cylinder walls seemed very smooth. I'm still worried about the water jacket but everything else looks really good. I already have Bishops & Tardell's book but thank you for the pointer. Any suggestions a book detailing rebuilding a flathead?
  19. Yes -- I just got Bishop & Tardel's new book, "How to Rebuild and Modify Ford Flathead V-8 Engines." Publication date is 2015. I got it a couple of days ago and am about halfway through it. I believe it's just what the doctor ordered! ;)
  20. How to rebuild and modify Ford flathead engines = will be delivered Tuesday! Thanks!
  21. Aaron D.
    Joined: Oct 27, 2015
    Posts: 1,019

    Aaron D.

    That engine looks great inside.
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  22. Don't own one myself but I have read it, needed to in case anyone ask me about it. Anyway; first a disclaimer of sorts, I don't care for Bishop at all, I like Verne well enough but I don't care for his buddy. I don't do all things the way that Verne does, but that is beside the point.

    The book is excellent, and I am pretty damned jaded, the build advice is as solid as it comes, and it is written well, easy to understand and complete. I would recommend it to anyone who is building their first rod or anyone who has been up to their elbows in grease for gawd knows how long. Verne's approach is straight forward and is proven to work. If I wasn't using every last cent that I had to buy parts I would have a copy for myself. Right here on my desk and it would be well worn.

    Ok that is my spam for the month. LOL

    LFMAO I just can't pass this up and be forewarned you walked right into this, not sure what to do with a 3 speed OD? USE IT YOU Model A DUMBASS!!!!! :D :D

    I can't see the crack but if it is just between the head bolt an water passage it is easily repaired with water glass. Maybe @Rocky remembers what to actually ask for when looking for it, I sure don't know the other name for it and the guy at the store is not going to know what water glass is but it will probably for a crack like you have described. So ask him about it, please before you abandon the motor or use and then decide that all flatheads overheat. Don't toss the water pumps on account of rust, take them apart and rebuild them, if you are not comfortable with that send them to me and I'll do it for the parts, and grins. :D :D

    If you don't haul it down and hot tank the block do yourself a favor, pop the soft plugs and go after the water jackets with a power washer and a screw driver to get as much rust and crap out of them as possible.

    It has been probably 45 or so years ago now but when I was in high school a friend and I owned a Merc ('53 titled as a '54) Monterrey with the flathead and the 3 speed OD. We took some time in the summer and traveled the 4 western states with it, just because we could. You will love that flathead OD combo for cruising around in.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
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  23. chiro
    Joined: Jun 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,025


    Your flatty looks as clean inside as the one I bought years ago, also of unknown condition at the time. I took off the heads and intake and pan and it was clean as a whistle. Gave it to my flathead guru and he put on a set of edelbrock heads I had and a two pot intake and it fired right up. runs great and blows no smoke. Looks like you you may be just as lucky as me.

    thehazmatguy likes this.
  24. madfish
    Joined: Dec 9, 2006
    Posts: 1,265


  25. Goldy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 476


    Great car , great engine, I've had model A hot rods since I was a kid, and I just bought another one. Good luck on your build ! Goldy
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  26. So... here's the first reason not to use the 3 speed / overdrive: (the big hole in the top of the trans)


    And then there's another issue. When I was moving the trans in my garage today, water came out of the rear seal of the overdrive unit.

    And finally... this is my first Model A build. I was thinking about using a 39 trans and keeping the swap simple.

    I'm certainly no expert but the little reading I've done, the crack in question can be ignored. The picture that shows the piston top that was scraped clean, the crack is on the left side of that piston and up just a bit. The head bolt and water passage are about an inch or less apart.

    About the water pumps - I was under the impression that I needed to use earlier (wide?) pumps to keep the '30 Model A radiator in the stock location with 8BA/8CM? I still have a lot of reading to do on the engine swap.

    I'm really torn on this... part of me wants to do completely take it apart and do a complete rebuild. But, everything looks so nice that it's very tempting to shortcut and just clean the water jacket and start it up!

    That sounds like a blast. My '55 has pretty long legs with a TKO600 overdrive and I'll say that's my highway roller. I think the Model A will just be an around town scooter - but like the SBC/Flatty, plans change!
  27. That is one sweet A. I think it is a small block car if it is the one that I'm thinking about but it is one sweet A bone. Cars like that one are part of the reason that I decided to build a fender car for myself, well that and the tank will look better with a duck tail on each side framing it. :D

    @thehazmatguy ( I just realize what your name implies I had to get a hazmat license in the early '80s for a job that I had, small world. ;) ) the tranny is repairable, eeezy peezy. The hole is from something being dropped on it and will not effect the function of it, JB weld if no TIG machine is available and a small set screw at the ends of any spider web cracks will fix the case. The OD unit is a different story but cleaned up and oiled is maybe all it takes. If you don't use it can I have to do a tech post with? I'll make sure that you get honorable mention, and tell everyone that you are one helluva guy at the end of the day.

    The water pumps I think are one of those deals where you either use a more modern pump and work a little harder at making it work or use early pumps and still work at it. Either way you are golden.

    If you don't tear it down please do an old wrench a favor and make sure that the scratches in the piston tops are not really scratches in the piston tops and just in the carbon. Scratches become cracks under pressure. A good tool for decarbonizing a [piston top is an old wood chisel with all the sharp edges rounded off, and some water in a sprayer. The water will soften the carbon and the chisel rounding off it will remove it without gouging. Not telling you as much as everyone else here. ;)

    Enjoy your adventure no matter how you fly. I'm watching and from here on out I'll try and not get all up in your business. you are well on your way. ;)
    hipster and thehazmatguy like this.
  28. I'm going over some internet material and my new book, "How to Rebuild and Modify Ford Flathead V-8 Engines."

    It seems that Ford started phasing out hardened valve seats in 49 and my block is dated July 31st, 1950. Here's a picture of an exhaust valve in my motor... is that a hardened seat?

  29. Swiss50chevy
    Joined: Apr 30, 2009
    Posts: 561


    I laughed reading how you acquired this model a. Read the story to my wife and she says that sounds like something I would do. I'd be stoked if this was the result of the least thought
    out purchase I've made.
    thehazmatguy likes this.
  30. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 13,152

    from KCMO

    Maybe sneak over to Ryan's "full fendered side project" for some inspiration :)

    I'd say sell me all those fenders and bits you end up taking off but your a ways a way. Should be a fun one to see come along :)

    Let us know if you need anything

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