Remembering My Old Fords

A regular contributor reminisces about his old Fords and a few other subjects.

| July/August 1968

The enclosed article, while not being strictly Gas Engine, might be of interest to some who read Gas Engine Magazine. I will say that I'm quite a theorist, as you may have concluded by now, but in most cases have to know the why of about everything that I work with. The part on steering may be well known to many, but still I believe there are some who do not know or understand it, perhaps because they have never given it much thought—Lewis Cline 

The other day I received the two books I ordered, and found the "Model A Ford Album" in particular to be very interesting. It surely brings back memories of the "Good old days" and my old Fords. What wouldn't I give to live them over in more ways than one. I have owned three Model A's, a 1930 Ford Roadster, a 1930 Ford Town Sedan, and a 1931 Ford Coupe. These were driven a good many miles with no major trouble. Most of the trouble was had with the 1930 Roadster as I recall. The majority of the roads in those days were either wash-boardy gravel or dirt. Ford had substituted braces from the frame to support the headlights from under the front fenders. Also the rod between them were of stamped steel instead of the forged steel formerly used. The following year they returned to forgings. These braces would break where they were attached to the frame and would no longer hold the fenders and headlights rigidly in position. Also while driving fast over those wash-boardy roads, the windshield wings sometimes would fall off in the road and of course then had to be replaced. It would seem that modern knee-action was much more needed than nowadays, now that most of our roads are paved. I had troubles also with the shock absorbers. For me they did not stand up very well. There was no air cleaner on the carburetor intake, yet many of those Model A's ran over one hundred thousand miles on the original pistons and rings in very dusty road conditions. Nowadays, with our pavements and very little dust, air cleaners are provided. With that good old solid front axle we had almost no trouble holding wheel alignment. Whereas nowadays with knee-action, after the first year or so, wheel alignment must be done at least yearly.

I bought the 1930 Town Sedan used. As it was using some oil when traded in, the dealer had re-bored the cylinders. Shortly after that I was in town one day and a fellow hailed me and asked where I had bought it. He said it looked familiar and that he was the one who had traded it in. He said the dealer had re-bored the motor and told him that the tool had run off sideways so the job would not stand up for long and I'd better get rid of it soon. I thanked him for the advice but I kept it 3 years after that, driving it some forty-thousand miles, and never had any trouble. When I traded it off its next owner was a friend of mine, who drove it to the west coast and back a couple of times and it still was going strong. I figured the dealer must have just told him that to get him to trade cars. With the exposed spare tires in those days and years, previous tire covers for the spare used to be in vogue. They generally had some advertising of a dealers printed on them.

Here's one I heard back then, though I doubt if it really did happen. It seems that a fellow bought a tire cover from a filling station. In about half an hour he came back and told the attendant that he had installed it on one of his tires and it did not last ten miles. That part I do not doubt.

I secured a "B" cylinder head and tried it on a couple of my Fords. They were used generally only by State Police and were of the high compression type. Had to use Ethyl gasoline then and set spark timing back somewhat. Cars had a little better pick up with them, and perhaps 3 to 5 miles more top speed. I could not see as gas mileage was any better though, and the Ethyl gas cost more. Burning Ethyl gas also seemed to make for more valve and spark plug trouble.

With the new cylinder head, the motor seemed to have a sort of rumble to it and did not run as smoothly as before. It sounded and felt most like a loose main bearing. I had all the speed and pick-up I wanted with standard compression, so I soon put the original head back on. Using the original head I raced a fellow one night who was driving a Dodge "Fast Four" (Alter Chrysler took over the old Dodge Co. they changed the motor to five main bearings from three and used 6 Volt system with separate units for starter and generators, similar to the rest of the cars at the time. (The old Dodge system used a 12 Volt Battery, with a Northeast single unit combination starter and generator) This car they called the Dodge "Fast Four, The fastest Four in America." I beat him quite badly, running up to 65 miles an hour. Next day I met him on the street and he asked me just how fast will that Ford of yours go anyway? I told him about 65 was the limit. Well he said his speedometer showed about 75. That must have been how they got all that speed.


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