Entries tagged with “MARC”.

Summary: when resurfacing the manifold, leave the exhaust and intake manifolds bolted together.

  1. So they will be the same thickness when you’re done
  2. Because the bolts that hold them together are often rusted and will disintegrate and not go back together again later. You may have to drill and re-tap the hole, and use bigger bolts.


Every maintenance saga starts off the same way: someone says something like, “Oh yeah, that should be an easy fix.” This time at least it wasn’t me who said it.

When I first got the engine running on my 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe I noticed that there was an imperfect seal between the engine block and the exhaust manifold. I could see little puffs of smoke coming out. If you’re not a car person, the exhaust manifold is a cast-iron branching tube that funnels the exhaust out of the engine and into the exhaust pipe. I mentioned the leak to my friend Devin, and he was the one who said the famous last words this time, “It’s easy to replace that gasket. You don’t even have to take the manifold all the way off to do it.”

So I bought a new gasket, loosened the nuts on the manifold, slid out the old gasket, and slid in the new one. Easy. Except that it didn’t fix the problem.

I mentioned it to the guys at one of the meetings of the 3 Rivers Region Model A Ford Restorer’s Club and was told that I might have to have my manifold resurfaced. Apparently this is a common problem with Model A Ford manifolds. After a while the flat surfaces that are supposed to be perfectly flush with the side of the engine block get warped and no longer make a good seal. Fortunately Keith Waltower is in our club, and he is a very experienced mechanic of old cars. He told me of a NAPA shop down in Belle Vernon PA that had a giant belt sander that could do the resurfacing more quickly, easily, and cheaper than taking it to a machine shop. Apparently a lot of the cost of getting a part machined is in the set-up, and with a giant belt sander there would be no set-up.

I was trying to get the car ready to drive for a 4th of July parade in Cannonsburg with the Model A club in a couple of days, so I was in a bit of a hurry to get the job done. The place that Keith mentioned was about a 45 minute drive from my house, so I made a few calls to see if I could get the resurfacing done somewhere a little closer to home. Most places couldn’t do it soon enough, and they wanted about $80. So off I went to Belle Vernon with my exhaust manifold. In hind-sight I now know that this is where I made a critical mistake. You may even know what it is if you’re a Model A person, and we’ll get back to it later. (more…)

My birthday was a few days ago, and it was a great one. I met the 3 Rivers Model A Ford Restorers Club at Kennywood (the local amusement park) early in the morning, and we all drove our antique cars onto the park grounds so that the patrons could see them. We were invited there as a part of Kennywood’s “Celebrate Pittsburgh’s 250th Anniversary” week, so everyone in our cars got in free, and each car got an additional 4 free day passes to use another time. It was a total coincidence that it fell on my birthday, but I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

We were led onto the grounds by a staff member in his car, and it was like our own personal secret parade, since the grounds were still closed and no one was watching. Once we were parked, the club members all took turns watching the cars so that people could get out and enjoy the rides and other things going on in the park. It actually worked out better than I had expected. Some of the older members in the club really just wanted to hang out by the cars anyway, so the younger members were free to go on rides. It was awesome. We had to be back at our cars by 5:00 to exit the park, but if we had wanted to we could have re-entered with a hand stamp.

Kennywood is a great park. It’s not very big, but they have done a fantastic job of packing in the rides. There are a ton of roller coasters in addition to all the other kinds of rides. There are only two steel coasters, all the rest are wood, and can be a little abusive in the way they rattle you around. I now understand why Kennywood is the favorite park of my coaster-enthusiast friend Chris LaReau. He prefers the rides that knock you around, so there is plenty of action for him at Kennywood. My favorites were Ghostwood Estate, a modern day version of the interactive shooting gallery, and the Exterminator, where your car actually plays the role of a mutant rat that scurries around and twists and turns in the dark. Amazing.

On the way home it became painfully clear that I had not yet succeeded in fixing the exhaust leak in the engine of the Model A. Lenore and I both arrived home with Carbon Monoxide headaches and a little nausea, so I vowed that I would not drive the car again until that was fixed. On to another Model A maintenance saga….

Today was great. I got to got to a meeting of the local 3 Rivers MARC (Model A Restorers Club). Actually, this was no ordinary meeting either, it was a seminar on paint and brakes too. After setting my alarm for 7pm instead of 7am, I got up late, walked the dog, and then raced down to Main St. Motors in West Newton PA.

The meeting took place in Keith Waltower’s garage, Main St. motors, and it is an awesome place. He was working on 4 or 5 cars upstairs, and the basement had another 20 or so cars in storage. Some of them were Keith’s, but I think most belonged to other people who rent space.