There are many knowledgeable members of the Brazos Valley A's who have extensive knowledge of the mechanics of a Model A, and we are fortunate that they will share their expertise with us.

Maintenance Tips

Ray's Tiny Tips

Ray's Rust

RATIO ANTIFREEZE TO WATER Add a gallon of antifreeze to the water to fill the cooling system.
BATTERY Safety: Remove jewelry, wear goggles and disconnect ground cable. Maintenance: Clean cable connections with solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 pint water. Tighten connections. Check fluid level. If low, use distilled water. Don't overfill.
TYPE OF GAS Just use regular, unleaded gas in your car.
OIL Use 30wt high detergent oil with either a zinc additive or racing oil to your car for maximum benefits. Then, change it every 300-500 miles.
VISIBILITY IN RAIN Apply Rain-X to exterior windows and water will slide off more easily. No Rain-X? Cut a potato in half and rub it over your windows . . . it's almost as good as Rain-X.
SPARK PLUGS Clean a glazed spark plug with a stiff wire brush. Check to see that the insulator is not cracked and that you do not see burnt, smokey deposits, known as tracking, on it. If you see tracking or a cracked insulator, replace it with a new one.
RECOMMENDED TIRE PRESSURE Fill your tires with 32 - 35 lbs of air.

Ray's Rust

By Ray Hinnant

ray hinnet

I Attended the Giddings swap meet again this year. Not a lot of Model A parts, but enough to keep my interest and as always, enough other "rust" to make it worthwhile. I noted that license plates for 28-31 continue to climb in asking price. One vender had a '30 rear for $165 and unrestored '31 plates had $260 or so on them. Most of the Model A parts was of the small variety. I did talk to a vender from Victoria that was selling out his dad's Model A collection. He said he had all the good stuff still in the barn. BTW, the hot dog vender at the Giddings swap meet is really worth the trip whether you find anything to buy or not.

Exciting times are upon us as we have had several new Model A folks join up with us. Some have running cars and some in the restoration phase. Can't wait until they get their cars running and can join us on some tours. It is fun to help the new members and they will have to sort out all the "advice" they are getting with a little practical school of hard knocks (think Norman's knock may have finally left the block) and observations. We have some really knowledgeable Model A folks in the club and usually they are only a phone call away if you need help.

Speaking of tours, Susan and Sherry have planned a couple of fun tours for this fall. I for one am ready for a little cooler temperatures and some serious touring. Wish we could make the North Carolina and Pigeon Forge tours this year. Jane is really excited about the New York City tour in 2016. I am going to draw up a few tours for them to drive in their Model A next year in preparation for the NYC tour. Just to get them excited, I have one planned to start on I-45 at Spring at 4pm and traveling the main thoroughfares through downtown to the Astrodome area. There, they will spend the night and leave the hotel at 7:30 AM and travel back to Memorial drive and out to the Galleria. No police escort, but it will help them get ready for a little traffic in the "city". If for some reason they have to stop in either city, they will be left with only about 350 of the 5,350 parts that make up a Model A Ford!

A little of my personal bias for parts (you are welcome to get them anywhere you wish). Now that we don't have Model A parts available right here in town, we are going to have to choose a Model A supplier. There are some good ones out there that will stand behind their parts. There is at least one out there that will not. Bratton's, Mike's, and Dennis Pirianio ( I think gets his parts from Bratton's) are good choices and I have found that I can get them here the next day from Dennis. If you can find NOS (new old stock) parts these are the best, but they are getting very hard to find these days. Bert's in Denver and another ford supplier in Dallas(can't think of his name right now) usually have a pretty good selection of decent used parts. Swap meet parts are great, especially if you buy Model A parts instead of Willis Overland parts that look like Model A parts. I have lots of these if you want to save some shoe leather and just buy direct rather than searching swap meets.

Get those cars running and let's hit the road!!

See you down the road.


Bob's Brake Project

By Bob Hensz

Now here is a very familiar sign to all drivers, and especially to us Model Aers who are extra cautious as we approach these as we watch to see if others on the cross streets are to stop or not. Sometimes though we have slid through because we did not see the sign hidden in the trees, or something distracted us. In other cases, we really wanted to stop, but with the brake pedal on the floor, the old Model A slowed down a bit but then sailed straight through, coming to its stop somewhere past the sign. This was my experience during the MACFA National Tour in April this year.


Everything started out just fine - an enjoyable drive to the first stopping place and the beginning of the tour, but as the time went on, I noticed some difficulty stopping. I first noticed it coming down some very steep hills on some of the back roads; however, I convinced myself it was the steepness of the hill. Then in Kerrville on the way to dinner, I smoothly sailed through a stop light and ended up about half a car length into the intersection - OOPS! For the rest of the tour I tried to take it easy on the brakes and slow down plenty early, still, in San Marcos on the way home I again ended up further into the intersection than I wanted.

After arriving home, I pulled out the books and read up on brakes, then began tearing into it. First problem was the rear hubs. The left and right were not the same type and after breaking two 3-jaw pullers, I called Norm Cumings and arranged to borrow his puller. This enabled me to get one of the hubs and drums off. I also placed an order for both types of pullers (if you need to borrow one, let me know.) As a note, the rear hub are very hard to pull, so you need a puller and as Norm pointed out, a long crow bar angled between the studs allows you to place the pressure you need on the bolt to get the hub pulled.

I then pulled the front drums which was a breeze. Of course, as anyone with a Model A knows, we could quote Forrest Gump with "Life's like a box of chocolates." Sure enough I saw some brake parts not in the books nor in the ads. So off went pictures to some BVAers - to which Mike Murphy responded that it looked like some type of floater system. Seems that no one had seen this type of system.

But all seemed to agree they were not the problem, so I decided to retain them and press ahead.

In all the reading I did, authors consistently made a point of cautioning about the thickness of the drums. When Henry originally built the Model A, the drums were stamped steel - not the cast iron we are used to (for anyone who has worked on a 50s or 60s model car or looked at one of the newer ones with drums). Originally they were 140 thousands thick and could be turned - but only down to 110 thousands. Below 110 they become unsafe because they can heat up and expand, with the result the linings do not make good contact. Now there are bands which you can heat up to expand them and drive them around the drum, but this does take away from the appearance - and to me that seemed like a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage. I took a micrometer to mine and discovered one rear one was at 100 thousands. I then did a front and it too was at 100. The other front was about 140 - hmmm. The more I looked it seems as though they at one time replaced one of the front brake drums. I did not bother to check the last one, as I was convinced they all needed replacing. After a discussion with Norm and the hub problems he experienced, I called and talked to Walt Bratton about his drums and hubs. Walt indicated many people send in their hubs, which he said are over 5 thousands out of tolerance and instead of shims, it is better to replace them. Since this made perfect sense, and due to the difficulty of taking the hubs off the drums, I chose to get them as a set which are machined true after assembly. Later I ordered new shoes with liners already attached. On one of my rear brakes, it looked like they had stacked liners and riveted them both on the shoe to the make them thick enough to make contact with the drum.

Eventually all the parts came in and I began to rebuild the brakes. (Oh, I also ordered the rear drums with the bearings and seals installed and greased - ready to install.)

Now to pull the rear plates and get them ready for new shoes. Read though the directions - sounds easy enough, start pulling bolts. That is until you have almost everything undone and discover you cannot get the emergency brake arm to go through the wye of the rear radius arm. After multiple tries, I gave up and took off the emergency brake arm and took off the rear plate. I removed them one at a time so I had a model to look at of the right way to put everything back. I was able to arc the shoes to fit the drums using a bench mounted belt sander. I ordered new cams which did not fit in the holes - probably from another country. I assembled all the parts and of course could not get the emergency brake arm though the wye. So off came the arm and on went the backing plate. Then the arm went on like clockwork - until I got to the return spring. After a few hours, different trials, and a few choice words, I got the spring on. I then did the other side except I removed the radius arm to pull the drum. After rebuilding it on the bench, installed the arm then put it on the car along with the radius rod. All was looking good until I walked to the front of the car where I had placed all the clean parts. Here I discovered the return spring! Darn!! Back to working for another hour to get the spring back on.

After installing the backing plates and the shoes and parts on the front, it became time to install the drums. The front went on but seemed a bit tight - even with the adjusting wedges all the way out. Then the left rear would not go on at all. I studied the problem and finally decided the new linings and drums, although arced correctly, were too thick. That meant off with the rear backing plates again - or at least the left one as the right one fit. I pulled the plate and sanded down the linings. This time I used the backing plate assembly and fit it to the drum to be sure it was the correct size - which I should have done in the first place. (Brake rebuilders take note!!)

I then reassembled them and went through the same tedious process on the return springs. With all in place I decided to use the new method from the Model A Times to adjust them. After driving it to the BVA meeting, I went back to the old method of adjusting the brakes, and this time all worked just fine - FINALLY! I can stop again!

NOTE: About two weeks after I installed the last return spring, I discovered an article in the Model A Restorer magazine titles "Emergency Brake Return Spring Installation," by Les Andrews. It is on the September/October 2013 issue on page 8. Guess if I had kept up with my reading I would have remembered it!

Note 2: I discovered a better way to rebuild backing plates -when they are in a raffle at a Texas Tour, buy a ticket and win a set!


Ray's Rust - September 2012

ray hinnet

By Ray Hinnant

Note: This article is loaded with important information that can be used year round and will stay pinned to this page for easy reference.

Taking a long tour - Get ready NOW!

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 this fall with a tour director of non other than our esteemed Her Majesty BVA's President Jane? 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 "sA"s.

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. Now, 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.

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? (Webmaster takes editorial license here ... Ray, you might want to plead Senior Moment for that last comment.) 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.