Spanner Works: Ford Model A

A regular feature by senior workshop technician JP du Plessis outlining the activities of FMM’s workshop personnel who are responsible for repairing, renovating, refurbishing and restoring the museum’s large and varied collection of vehicles. This month, JP reports on Wilfred Tarentaal smoothing out a rough Model A…

The second series of Ford Model A cars – the first series being the very first Ford automobile manufactured in 1903 – had to fill the big boots of the long-serving and successful Model T. It was introduced to the market in December 1927 as a 1928 model. The engine, a water-cooled 200 ci (3 285 cc) L-head four-cylinder developed 40 hp (30 kW) at 2 200 r/min. The drivetrain comprised a conventional non-synchronised three-speed-plus-reverse, sliding-gear manual gearbox, a multi-plate dry clutch, and shaft drive to the live rear axle, which housed a 3,77:1 final drive. Four-wheel mechanical drum brakes were used. The fuel tank was mounted high in the cowl between the engine compartment’s firewall and the dash panel. It had a visual fuel gauge on the dash, the fuel flowing into the updraft carburettor by gravity.

The museum’s 1930 Model A Standard Coupé was recently taken on an exercise run and was found to be running rather rough, so needed some attention. Wilfred carried out a full lubricant service and replaced the spark plugs with the correct plug gaps, before attending to a few other specifics. The carburettor was removed and cleaned in the workshop’s ultrasonic cleaner, then replaced, and the exhaust flange was fixed. Then, Wilfred turned to the base timing of the engine. While adjusting the timing, it was found that the rotor cam shaft had too much free play in its mounting and could not be adjusted to specification. So the shaft was restored to take up the free play to the desired amount.

Once the timing was again adjusted, the car was started and immediately sounded better. With some finer adjustments made, Wilfred took the Standard Coupe for a drive on the estate and came back happy that he had solved the issue.