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.