Model A Club

prepare for long trip

Taking a Long Tour - Get Ready NOW!

By Ray Hinnant

Taking a long tour in a Model A may be one of the most fun and rewarding things I have ever done, well, except for maybe sucking on an ice chip.

I absolutely love the slower speed so I can observe, smell, and sometimes feel nature.

Tours in the fall or spring or in the mountains are even better because I don't need my mister. Opening the door to the Model A heater on a cool fall morning just can't be duplicated in one of our Japanese designed vehicles.

So, are you contemplating taking the Natchez Trace Tour or some other lengthy trip? What are you going to do to get ready?

  • What are you going to take with you?
  • What is your contingency plan? These are all things that you need to consider prior to cranking up the A's.
Model A cars on long trip

Get your car in tip top shape to prevent future problems.

Get Ready, Get Set, Go. The first thing that you need to do to get ready for a long trip is to have your car in tip top shape.

There is a trade off of car in shape to mechanic skills and time.

  • Minor breakdowns will probably occur. They are usually not too big a problem, one need to just pull off under the shade of a tree (this is a very important step in the repair process) and fix the problem. These types of problems usually take between 15 minutes and 2 or 3 hours to fix. These kinds of problems are electrical, ignition, water related, or a dead battery.
  • More problematic breakdowns are best left to evening, sometimes early morning, sometimes all night repairs at the motel while most others are getting their beauty sleep. These troubles may include head gasket replacement, flat tires, brake adjustments and repairs, or starter/alternator problems. If you are a fairly fast mechanic, taking the shims out of the rods or mains might be an overnight kind of fix.
  • Tour busters are mechanical breakdowns that you cannot fix over night. These might include transmission/clutch problems, rear end problems, or even a hole in the piston problems. You might want to plan on staying at the motel for as long as it takes to either rebuild the engine, for example, or rent a car and go back to Natchez or College Station for a trailer. Remember, the Natchez Trace Tour will not have a meat wagon following the tour.

I don't want to scare you off, but I also want you to know what you may face if your car has problems on the tour. I can speak from experience, having spent a week in Everett, Pennsylvania, rebuilding my engine. If you follow my suggestions, you will have a much greater chance of enjoying the tour by spending your time driving and seeing rather than enjoying a Model A event (breakdown).

First, spend some time maintaining your car.

  • Grease every fitting (use the chart).
  • Change the oil.
  • Top off the steering gear, transmission, differential, radiator and battery.
  • Oil the distributor (not just the cap).
  • Be sure that the top shaft bushing is oiled.
  • Check your wiring. Do all your lights work all the time? Be sure and take some spare bulbs.
  • Get in the car and drive a couple of hundred miles in a day if you have not done this before. It will be better to break down a hundred miles from home than a thousand.

What parts are you going to take with you? What parts will your fellow tour friends have that you will need and what will you have that they might need. Remember you can overnight any Model A part you need, but the rest of the tour will be way down the road when it arrives. If you have a pretty original Model A, parts will be fairly easy to come by. It is those specialty items that may be hard to get on a tour.

Items such as an electronic distributor, one wire alternator, leakless water pump, or a performance carb, for example, may be hard to get parts for on the road.

What tools will you take? Think about what you might need, and, maybe, put in a specialty tool as well.

tools for long trip

There are some good references to things to take on a long tour and also tools. You can look back through the Model A newsletters or search MAFCAs site for these articles to assist you in getting ready for the tour.

Think about a contingency plan in case there is a major problem with your car. How are you going to get the old gal home? And, how will you get the car home, too? Some of our members will be trailering to Natchez so maybe you could convince them to drive their A home while your car gets a free ride on their trailer.

The main thing is to get your Model A in as good a running condition as possible, and we probably have a 90% or better chance that nothing major will happen on the tour. We had really good luck on the last High Country Tour. Wayne had to buy half of Exxon's Oil production, but he got home. The better prepared you are, the more fun you are going to have on the tour.

I'm starting right now. The mains in my engine are being poured so I will have a new engine rebuild to make the Trace yet again. I have some other issues that I need to work on before leaving, but they will all get done and I am so ready to jump in the car.

Those of us that are going can get together and see what we are taking so we don't have to take the entire garage with us. Leave a little room for luggage and curios.

So, get your cars ready and lets all have a great tour. We'll meet new people, renew old friendships, and have a great time.

See ya down the road.

Brazos Valley A's

Ray Hinnant is a member of the Brazos Valley A's, a vintage Model A Club, located in Bryan-College Station, Texas.

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