Saturday, June 17, 2017

21.5 Miles Today

I drove to Santa Clara this morning to attend the monthly technical seminar hosted by the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Model A Ford Club of America (Phew, that's a mouthful!).

Good tech tips were shared and I now know what it's like to install windows in a Model A Ford Tudor! :)

After taking the "long way" home, I ended up with 21.5 trouble free miles for the round trip drive.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Coffee Run

Made a quick run to Starbucks this morning. The Woody fired right up without issue and ran great. I stopped at the gas station and put four gallons in the tank and it fired right back up.

I think the brakes are bedding in nicely and are about due for an adjustment again. Fronts were at ~160 degrees rears at about ~115 degrees. Still a little coolant coming out of the radiator cap, but it's not overheating. Measuring the radiator it's at about ~130, and the block isn't over 165, even at #4. Going to continue to keep an eye on it, and plan on re-torquing the head soon.

Two other things I need to investigate.

  1. The speedometer is 5mph off. Not sure if it's the rebuilt speedo, or the drive gear.
  2. The brakes are not completely returning after applying moderate pressure. My plan is to replace the return springs with the 1931 style and see if it makes a difference.
All in all a nice uneventful ride!

Zigzagging my way back and forth I was able to rack up ~14 miles driving to a coffee shop 2 miles away :)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Serendipity on a Saturday Drive

Took the woody on a little longer shakedown drive this morning, and was able to put on a few event-free miles. We took the back roads from Sunnyvale to Alviso, and made a quick stop at the old Bayside Canning Co. to check the temperature of the brakes. There we noticed a historic landmark plaque stating that the Bayside was the 3rd largest canning operation in the US in 1931... the same year the Woody was built.

The ride home was good, as well. We got up to 55mph for a short while, and the car ran great. We did have a little mist from the radiator at one point, but I believe it was from being slightly overfilled vs. overheating. The block and radiator temps were right in line with what I have experienced in the past.

51.9 miles since the rebirth of the woody!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Muffler and Tail Pipe

I installed a new Aries muffler and Station Wagon tail pipe extension on the woody this evening. It took about an hour to install once we got everything laid out. No major issues, it just took time to get everything laid out and we were being extra careful not to scratch anything.

I think it looks and sounds fantastic!

Here is what the exhaust sounded like before:

And here it is after the install was complete:

I need to re-torque everything after I run it a few more times and have a small leak to attend to between the muffler and tail pipe extension. But all in all I think it sounds great. The Aries clamp was so much better than the one that was on the car to begin with.

I think the boys will appreciate the tail pipe extension... especially when we are stopped at lights.

Big thanks to Joe for a top notch product and support!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The latest Maiden Voyage!

Five months later and we're back on the road. I still have a laundry list of things to button up and the brakes are still dicey, but the old orange crate is off jack stands and on the road!

After a small false start, where I stalled and then flooded the engine while driving down the ramp from our upper garage area, we were on the road. The car ran strong, and was purring like a kitten for over 20 minutes. We only drove 1.6 miles, but had a ball. 

Once I get the brake adjustments squared away, we'll go out on a longer shake down cruise.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kind of a Momentous Occasion

The tires are mounted with new "show" hub caps and stainless lug nuts installed. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I'd really miss the white wall tires, but these all black Goodyear diamond treads sure do look nice!

Just a few more things to complete before road testing and dialing everything in.

I can't wait to see how the woody rides with new springs, shocks, tires, brakes, etc.

Monday, April 3, 2017

More Vintage Photos of Our Woody!

From the Altos Computer Annual Report 1981. I don't know a lot about the circumstances of how they found out car and what the deal was, but I do remember when Poppy (my Grandpa / Restorer of the Woody) came back with all the fake Altos signs and license plates. I still have a couple of them hanging in our garage.

Hey you, get off my fender!

I also remember around the same time the Woody was used in a movie. I haven't figured out what movie it was, but keep my eyes peeled every time I see period cars in a 1980's movie.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Progress So Far -- April Fools' Day Edition

Made a lot of progress today. I reinstalled the radiator and filled it with water. No leaks! Started the engine and ran it for 10 minutes or so... Sill NO LEAKS! I have the radiator squared up to the frame rails and have the support rods locked down. I haven't installed the stainless shell yet because I have a couple dents to deal with, so the hood is still off the car as well.

The clickity clackity vale train noise I was hearing went away after the car warmed up. I think it's just going to be the personality of this engine... time will tell. The other good news is the squeak I was hearing when I wasn't depressing the clutch appears to be gone. I swapped out the spring and plunger on the timing cover and also found several missing oil pan bolts... Not sure what fixed it, don't really care... just hope it's gone for good!

I was also able to get my wheels back from Les Schwab Tires. It ended up taking over a month from the day I dropped off the wheels until I was able to pick them up.

The story as it was relayed to me was they were accidentally dropped off at the wrong location and the truck only stops at each store once a week. It was kind of a bummer that I had to wait as long as I did, but at least they're here now.

The good news is they look great and the price was right at only about $30 a piece. We decided to go with orange vs. switching out to black, so now I have a fresh set of black wheels for a future project.

Pictured to the right is my first install attempt. I have since straightened the valve stem.

The Good Year tires went on fairly easily once I used a thin plastic bag as a lubricant. I found a video on YouTube showing how to do it. I was skeptical, but it worked out nicely. I still have five more wheels to mount, but am taking my time as I am still waiting for new stainless lug nuts to arrive from Bert's Model a Store.

I was going to switch out to metal valve stems, but decided to hold off for now. The original (or early reproduction?) valve stem covers appear to be a different thread from the valve stems I bought. I'd rather start driving the car soon rather than hold off on finding the right parts. I can always switch out at a later date.

Next up is mounting the last five tires, final adjustment of the brakes, install floorboards / cown panels, and then start putting miles on the 'Ol Orange Crate :)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Frustrating Day With the Model A

Still no sign of my wheels. They are officially 200% late from the quoted return date.

After paying $185 to boil and rod out my radiator, I reinstalled it and it started leaking out the passenger side... ugh. Back to the radiator shop. It just kills me when you pay for a service and people don't do their job. They saved 5 minutes not pressure testing before calling it a day. It wasted several hours of my time uninstalling, swearing, driving across town, etc. ugh.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A little progress

I haven't been making as much progress as I would like lately, but still a lot of fun in the garage when I can make it down there. I discovered that I was missing the bottom half of my front motor mount (washer, spring, nut & cotter pin) so I replaced those. The rear motor mounts are the Float-a-Motor style and the rubber was worn out! (left side the original, right side is the replacement) I replaced the rubber and all is well in motor mount land. This is the first time I've had proper mounts on the engine in 20 years, so it will be interesting to see if some of the noises and vibrations go away once I get the car back on the road.

The other big thing going on is I sent my wheels off to powder coat. There has been a debate going on in the house about orange vs. black. I ended up bringing down two sets of wheels and we'll decide which ones go on the car when we get them back. I'm now leaning toward orange, as that is what has been on the car since my grandpa restored it. Plus that's what the wife wants. And you know what they say... happy wife, happy life!

I have six new Goodyear blackwalls ready to install when the wheels get back. For those keeping score, that is new brakes, shocks, springs, wheels and tires... The ol' woody should be riding quite nicely when all is said and done!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Timing Gear Inspection

Lots of progress in the last couple of days. I took off the Timing inspection plate and found a nice looking timing gear. The plunger spring felt weak, so I'm hoping that might be the source of my random noises. I'm going to replace the gear while I have it open, and also replace the camshaft nut and plunger / spring.

I also discovered a missing oil pan bolt, which resulted in a loose engine pan. That could also be a source of the random squeaks and ticks I've been hearing.

On top of all that fun, the radiator hold down had separated on one side. I took it to a shop and they suggested I also rod out the radiator since 3 tubes were plugged.

My current challenge is removing the front engine mount "yoke" to repaint and respring. I'm going to have to loosen the rear mount in order to jack up the engine enough to clear the crank pulley.

Still learning and still having fun!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A busy day in the garage

About 90% torn down today. Still need to take a peek at the timing gear / plunger.

Progress So Far.... 2/26/2017

It's been two months since I started seriously working on the Woody, and I have made a ton of progress. Of course, as to be expected, every step forward includes uncovering another six things to work on, and another pile of cash spent. All in all, I'm pretty proud of how much headway I've made. As of this morning, the car is totally roadworthy, but by this afternoon it won't be! More info below...

Major work completed thus far:

  • Front Spring & Shackles replaced
  • Rear Spring & Shackles replaced
  • New Stipe shocks on all four corners.
  • Completely new brakes
    • Rebuilt backing plates and cast iron drums all around
    • New rear hubs
    • New rear bearings
    • New shoes all around
    • Floaters installed on front backing plates
    • New clevis, pins, hardware
    • New front brake actuating arms (both sides)
  • New rebuilt carburetor from Bert's
  • New "modern plate" distributor
  • Cleaned and set plugs
  • New fuel lines
  • New vacuum lines (a working wiper!)
  • Wiring cleaned up / connections cleaned / protected
  • Battery disconnect switch installed
  • Rebuilt speedo installed with new speedo cable.
  • A ton of small parts fixed (speedo grommet / floor board screws, etc.) 
  • Probably a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember at the moment!
I'm working towards a goal of making it to Woodies on the Wharf in June, but hoping to be able to make it to Friendship Day in May.

Here is what is left (so far):
  • Powdercoat wheels
  • New Goodyear tires / metal valve stems, etc.
  • Backflush radiator, determine if it is ok to use long term
  • Check timing gear, spring / plunger, etc. to figure out what my ticking sound is
  • Repaint engine where needed
  • Change out hoses, switch to new two blade fan
  • Install thermostat 
  • Touch up paint / detail car
  • Install new (correct) kick panels inside
  • New floor mats
  • Install new top (If I can find the materials needed)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Vintage Photos of Our Woody

I went to my mom's house and spent the afternoon looking through old photos. I found a ton of great photos, and had a great time walking down memory lane. We found the original negatives from the day my Grandfather brought the Woody home for the first time. It's amazing how beat-up it was before restoration!

These photos are from 1962, 31 years after the car rolled off the assembly line.

And these photos are from 1963, after the Woody was restored.

It's fun looking back at these old photos because I'm able to see the choices he made during the original restoration.For example, the split rear bumper, running board steps, single side spare, etc. He made a lot of changes over the years and it's fun having photos showing the progress.

Installing Tube Shock Links Was Shockingly Easy!

After I bit the bullet and ordered a set of Stipe shocks, I spent a couple weeks painting everything up and getting ready for the big install. I had been dreading installing my new shocks for weeks. I read plenty of horror stories online about how hard it was to install them.

My original plan was to reuse my original shock links, but as soon as I stripped off the old paint, I realized they were in really poor shape. They were full of scars and had signs of previous body work (Bondo and lead) that I'd have to deal with. There was also scarring on the inside of the tube, which I thought would prevent a smooth install. I decided to use reproduction tube links, and was pleasantly surprised how everything went together.

From reading instructions, it's as simple as popping the links over the shock shock arm and suspension balls. I knew this was not the case as I tried to reinstall one of the old ones a while back, and never got it to seat fully.

Here is what I learned, and how I'd do it again if given the need.

Tools needed:
  • Stubby wide slotted screw driver
  • Small needle nose pliers (cotter pins)
  • Large channel locks with the jaws covered in tape I used the 12" model
And here is a consolidation of tips I read on the Ford Barn and other places that helped me do the job.
  1. Install the shock arms on the shocks while on the bench.
  2. Loosely attach the shocks to the frame. The more wiggle room you have the easier the install.
  3. Use a liberal amount of grease to hold the bottom cups, spring and spacer in the tube and one of the upper cups. Leave the top cup and slotted cap out of the equation for now. 
  4. I used Mystic red grease, it's super sticky. Some people suggest you put the grease or greased links into the freezer for a while to make everything stick easier. I did not do this.
  5. Attach the lower shock ball to the link.
  6. Pull up on the link while using your "pinky finger" to push down the upper cup and spacer.
  7. Push the shock link onto the ball. I was able to get it about 40% in and then switched over to the padded channel locks to press it in the rest of the way.
  8. Make sure the upper cup is in the correct position before moving on to the last step.
  9. Drop the upper cup on top of the shock link ball and attach the cap. 
  10. Snug down the slotted cap and install the cotter pin.
  11. Clean up all the grease with rags and touch up any paint.
All in all, it was pretty simple. 3/4 of my links went right on. The 4th gave me some difficulty, but I was able to get it to pop on by swapping out one of the brass cups with one that was slightly thinner.

And best of all, the ride quality is SO MUCH BETTER! I only did a quick trip around the block, but the body roll and rear end bouncing around was a thing of the past. Going from a top heavy station wagon with blown out original shocks and wonky springs to a new set of Stipe Shocks and brand new front and rear springs really improved the ride.

Until next time!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Owning a Model A Ford Keeps Me Grounded!

Some days it feels like I am plugging holes in a sinking ship. Every time I fix something on the Woody, some other strange thing pops up...

I recently replaced the old, rusty Western Auto distributor with a brand new one with modern upper plate from Snyder's. I figured it was worth replacing due to the worn bushings and rusty single piece shaft. I'll keep the old one on the shelf for an emergency swap if needed.

The install was uneventful. I pulled the old distributor out and then since the new distributor had the correct two piece shaft, I lightly coated the new lower shaft with anti-sieze and dropped it into the block. A quick twist of a long slotted screwdriver and the shaft dropped into place. I installed the new distributor and timed it using the instructions found at It fired right up, and ran smoother than before. I let it run for about 10 minutes to get up to operating temp, and then ran the gas out of the carb, shut the key off, and then disconnected the battery.

Pushing my luck, I decided to swap out the leaky Tillotson Model X with a correct rebuilt Zenith I had recently purchased from Bert's. I installed the new carb and snugged everything up... and then went to start it back up...

I connect the battery, go through the normal starting procedures and nada. Nothing. It was like the battery wasn't connected. Pressing the starter did nothing... not a pop, a buzz, etc.

I went through the basic electrical troubleshooting and couldn't figure it out. All my readings were as expected. I decided to give it a rest and throw the trickle charger on it "just in case".

The next day I reran my tests and got the same results. I finally gave up and sent a PM over to a knowledgeable member of the Ford Barn forum. He replied almost instantly with "call me"... so I did.

We reran all the basic tests with the same results. Finally ending the call with advice to check all my electrical connections; especially the ground to frame.

I ended up removing the ground from the frame and taking a wire brush to the frame. I connected everything up, and Boom! The engine fired right up!

Key learning here was even though my Model A has always been garaged, corrosion can and will happen. I'm going to go through the entire electrical system at some point to make sure all the connections are clean and well connected.