Tech Q&A - Body Exterior

BODY BLOCKS

Question: Where do the rubber pads go on the Model A body blocks?

Answer: The rubber pads are tacked or glued to the under side of the blocks. They are critical to the alignment of the hood and doors. They also help prevent squeaks between the bottom of the body and top of the frame. They actually rest on top of the splash apron. -- Chuck Christensen, 2011 Technical Director 04/15/11

The wood floor boards and all wood body blocks were treated with a dull black wood preservative, on all sides before installation. A flat black paint comes close to matching the original treatment. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

CLEANING CABRIOLET TOP

Question:
I have a water & dirt stain on the leading front edge of my Cabriolet top. What can i use safely to clean it. I am afraid of bleach solution of removing the canvas color. The Cabriolet is a 31 s/w, name is Joe Lisac. See you in KC. Joe Lisac

Answer :
I am assuming that the top material on your Cabriolet has never been washed. Water and dirt stains are usually caused by water spots on a canvas that has dust or normal dirt deposits from the air. When the water hits the canvas, it displaces the dirt that is already there. If it were my car, I would not be afraid to wash the entire top at this time. It is the only way you are going to remove the stain. Applying water or any liquid to a small area will only cause more stains around the area of dampness. Use a mild soap and a soft brush and wash the entire top. Rinse it well and use a towel to absorb most of the water after rinsing. Let it air dry and it should leave you with a clean and even colored top. I know most guys are afraid to wash a new top for the first time. It should do no harm to it. The sun is the worst enemy of the canvas. The sun will bleach it, not the wash water. See you in KC. -- Les Andrews, 2000 Technical Director, 6/28/00

 

CLEANING ROADSTER TOP

Question:
The top on my roadster is mildewed and dirty. Do you have any recommendations for cleaning it?

Answer:
Mildew is a fungus. The only thing I know that will kill the fungus is a mild solution of bleach and water. Then scrub with soap and water. Rinse well. Anything you do will affect the canvas top material. Mildew is the worst enemy of canvas. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

COWL BAND

Question: I am in the process of putting a repro cowl band on 30 roadster pickup. I am having trouble getting it to lay straight on one side as it drops down over the corner. In other words, it rides the cowl correctly except for approximately 6 inches on the driver's side corner. Everywhere else it seems to be fine. The band appears to be straight. Should I bend it? Any tips??

Answer: Some of the reproduction cowl bands have been a problem. and Ford also had a similar problem. That is why he began putting a special clamp on some 30 models that fit into the cowl band and had a bolt attached and went through the cowl and bolted to the channel on the inside of the cowl. This was placed about 1/2 way down the cowl side. You may have to find one of these inside cowl band bracket and bolts. Other wise you will have to carefully try to shape (contour bend) it. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

DOOR FIT

Question: This truck was purchased by me in a "Basket". I have installed new wood supports in the cab. Have set cab on frame so as to align doors before actual refinish process. After many adjustments to both the doors, shimming the body at the posts, and adjusting the hinges, I still have a gap of 1" at the top of left hand door, and 1 1/4 " at top of right side door. Is anything missing re; molding, fillers, inserts to close this gap between top of doors and wood roof section??? Also can you suggest any reference material as to body assembly the way HENRY DID IT???

Answer: It is difficult for me to know exactly what might be the problem with door fit. There is only a single board about 2" wide above the door. The top material also comes over that board. Just above the door, and tacked to that board is the rain gutter. I suggest you get a book titled Restoring the Model "A" Pickup by Mac Hils. It is published by Mack Products, P.O. Box 278, Moberly MO. 65270. You should be able to get it from most Model A parts suppliers. This book is loaded with detail photos and also detail of all the wood and where it goes. This book will probably help you identify the door gap problem.

 

DOOR HANDLE REMOVAL

Question: I am nearly ready to paint the doors of my 1930 Tudor, but cannot get the outside handles off. I recently found out that there is a small bolt on the end of the shafts. Is there a special tool for this? I am trying some WD40 on them to help release them, but no luck with my tools at hand. What do your suggest?

Answer: There is a little trick to getting the outside door handles off the 1930 and 1931 closed cars. First remove the two screws from the outside door handle escutcheon. That's the two screws that attach the handle to the outside of the door. Then turn the handle 1/4 turn to the right and pull straight out. You may have to wiggle it a little but it should pull straight out at the quarter turn. The handle shaft is square cut and the square hole in the door lock assembly is rotated 1/4 turn. A groove in the shaft allows the handle to rotate after it's in place. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

DOOR RUSTOUT

Question: What would you recommend for a rusted out door? Apparently the drain holes in the bottom of the door were plugged and so the water eventually rusted out the outer-bottom of the door. I had thought of buying a complete skin for $166.00 from Mac's and welding it in place of the bad one. Thank you very much for all of your help.

Answer: Depending on the size of the rust out at the bottom of your doors you could try filling them with brass (be sure to sand blast the brass after you finish), or get some "dries like metal" bondo at the local auto paint stores. I have used that on some pretty large holes and it works very well. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

 

FRAME WEBBING/PAINTING BODY PARTS

Question: I have a 1929 Coupe that I am in the process of restoring. I am performing a frame up restoration and have completed the chassis to about 99%. I have a few questions....

  1. Frame webbing, do I just lay this on top the frame or should I spot adhere it with some type of silicone or similar adhesive ?

  2. My steering column shaft appears to have bad threads. Should I remove the column and take this to a machine shop or attempt to repair it myself ?

  3. When painting the body etc. should I paint body, firewall, gas tank, doors etc. all at one time? I was thinking of doing the doors later after I finish the interior.

Answers:

  1. I use contact cement. Put it on the webbing and on the frame let both set before attaching, it helps it stick.

  2. I would pull it and take it to a machine shop, unless you are skill at welding and re threading. With the hole in the middle, its a little tricky.

  3. Painting the parts you describe is up to you. If painted separately, you can be sure of getting into all the hard to reach places. Just be careful when assembling -- it's subject to nicks and scratches. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

 

GLASS [Image]

Question: I am restoring a 1928 Pickup. I am trying to install the door windows. I see that the opening is 3/4” larger on the rear so the 25 1/4” x 19 3/4” window does not go all the way up in the rear. I notice three slots for square nuts in the bottom of the top of the door. Is there a piece that is tapered that goes there?

Answer: Neil Wilson of the Ford Model AA Club says the AA trucks used the same cabs as the Pickups. He responded that these doors were also used on the later Model T Fords and that the slots were for those vehicles and were not used with the Model A. He also indicated that the glass size that you have is incorrect for the Pickup door windows. The correct glass sizes for many 1928 bodies is shown on Page 250 of the Ford Service Bulletins. I will forward a copy to you. Click here to see that page.
-- Chuck Christensen, 2013 Technical Director

HINGE PINS

Question: I have an early 1931 coupe. What is the easiest way to remove stubborn door hinge pins, and would you remove the entire hinge plates in your restorations?

Answer: There are several methods used for hinge pin removal...lots of WD40, a punch and heavy hammer......heat, punch and a hammer.......drill. If you are restoring for show remove everything....other wise sand blasting will clean the hinge plate just fine. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

 

HOOD LATCHES

Question: I recently worked on a newly restored '31 coupe whose hood was misaligned and would not clamp down tightly. You could slide your hand in between the cowl and hood. When going down the road, the hood would flop in the wind. The restorer had done a couple of things that I don't believe are proper. One was to mount the radiator on top of the apron instead of on top of the frame and under the apron. This was easily fixed. Another thing that was done incorrectly (I believe) was to mount the latches so that the hood would be clamped by the base of the latch with downward pressure exerted by the spring in the latch. In this way, the hood couldn't be clamped down tight because the bottom edge was riding on the base of the latch. I turned all the latches 180 degrees, allowing the latches full travel downward. I also removed extra rubber spacers that had been put under the latches for some reason. But, I got to thinking "why?" had the latches been put in as they had been?. I checked the Judging standards (1981 edition) and all the "Restoring Your Model A" references, but could find nothing. Which is the correct way to install those latches?

Answer: The hood latches are attached directly on top of the apron of the fender with two round head screws (10-32) with lock washers and square nuts. The latches are positioned so the bracket is positioned to prevent the latch from falling inward toward the engine. I hope I have understood your question correctly. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

HOOD LATCH BUMPERS

Question: I have a late '30 Tudor that I'm finally finishing after storing for 9 years. I'm trying to install a replacement set of hood latch bumpers. They come in packages of 6 from the parts suppliers but I can find only 4 holes, next to each latch on the side panels. Is this a marketing gimmick like hot dogs in 10 packs & rolls in 8 packs? Or is there some place for those 2 extras? Also, should the rivets be peened over on the back side, inside the hood or inside the bumper? Or does it matter?

Answer: 6 bumpers is correct. The 4 you have identified and the 2 that mount on the center hood brackets which mount on the frame between the hood latches.. they go behind the hood and press against it from the backside. You may be missing the 2 brackets themselves and thus you missed seeing where the 2 go. Brackets are also available from the parts suppliers. Rivets go thru the bumpers and are peened over on the back side of the hood and the center bracket. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

 

INSULATION

Question: While taking apart my 1931 Slant Windshield 4 Door 160A Sedan I found that the channel under the gas tank, where the wires go from the dash panel to the fire wall, was filled with old newspaper. After carefully pulling the very yellow and crumbly newspaper out I was astonished to find a piece with "Houston Press" June of 1931 on one piece! We live near Houston and as far as we know our A has spent all of its time in or around Houston. Since the newspaper was wrapped in a cone shape with the wires and speedometer cable going through it, the news paper had to be inserted in the channel before the wires and cable were installed. My question is...Was it a common practice at the time of assembly, or a trick of some wise mechanic, to use the newspaper to keep the wires and speedometer cable from making noise? Have you ever heard of this happening ever from someone else?

Answer: Sounds like you have a very interesting find. I hope you were able to salvage enough to read a little news of the time. Have never heard of placing news paper in the wiring trough. Maybe the owner complained of a vibration from the speedometer cable and either the original owner or garage mechanic inserted the newspaper to eliminate the rattle. This was not a factory practice. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

LANDAU ARMS - SPORT COUPE

Question: Landau arms appear to be lower body color for 28/29 Sport Coupes. Are the 30/31's body color or black? Can't tell from factory photos and conflicts in books. Thanks for your thoughts.

Answer: 30-31 landau arms are painted black with accessories polished stainless steel. The washers and spacers left naturally black and smooth. Restorers are occasionally confused by the appearance of a maroon, green or other paint found on the landau arm when the stainless steel center bracket is removed. Unknowingly they repaint the landau arm the same color. This is incorrect. A simple explanation of this confusion is that the landau arms originally were primed with a color other than black; the stainless steel center bracket was then crimped on the landau arm, then masked off and the landau arm painted black. The area covered by the bracket would remain another color. All Landau Arms were originally painted black. -- Lyle Meek, Technical Director

 

LANDAU ARMS

I reviewed my material and concluded the same as earlier. In all fairness, I must admit that the latest photo I have that shows a light colored Sport Coupe is late 1930. This means that it is possible (though unlikely) the color was changed to black at some later date. In reviewing Mary Moline's excellent article in the Restorer (15-2), she makes a strong effort to explain away the fact that landau irons are found with body color under the trim (not red primer). This leads me to believe that she probably saw a Ford blueprint for the A-52252-B & 53-B Landau Iron assembly indicating black paint. This is where the confusion really begins. Most parts went through numerous changes throughout (and after) production. Each of these changes are represented by a revised blueprint and an engineering change letter. The change dates and engineering reference numbers are listed in the Engineering Reference block on the upper right corner of the drawing. The ONLY way to know with certainty what and when changes were made is to have every blueprint during the period or a post production blueprint and all the corresponding engineering releases shown on that drawing. Without that information we can't tell if:

They were painted black for service only. They were initially intended to be black in Nov.1929, then revised to body color by the time production began; Changed to black sometime in 1931; Changed to black sometime after production for replacement use.

All the information we currently have at our disposal indicates that all Sport Coupe landau irons were painted body color during production (12/27 - 12/31) as described in the Standards.

P.S. Be careful with Henry's Lady. It's a great picture book for newcomers to the hobby but extremely misleading as a research tool. -- Marco Tahtaras, Pleasanton, CA.

 

MURRAY BODY PLATE

Question: I am restoring a 1929 Murray Town Sedan and would like to know where the Murray body number plate was located and what numbers would have been on it. There is no evidence of any plates on the car. The date stamp on the front of the fuel tank is 08-20-29, & it is also a Canadian car. The car was in pieces when I bought it so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: The 29 Murray Town Sedan had a body number plate inside the right door, under the floor carpet, nailed to the wood sub frame. If the plate is missing, you may see the two nail holes where it was located. If it is a Canadian built, it may not have the body plate, but I would think it would. For more information, contact the Town Sedan Club. You'll find their information on the Special Interest Group Chapters page.
Posted 05/06/12

 

POLISH AND WAXING

Question: Have you any information as to what polish is mostly used on lacquer with clear coat over it?

Answer: You can rub out the Clear Coat with "Imperial™ Microfinish Compound-Liquid. Part Number: 051131-06011 Made by 3M Corporation. Then use Mequiar's Mirror Glaze Wax. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

RADIATOR SHROUD

Question: My radiator shroud has a couple of small tears at the bottom edges and some minor dings at the top. Can they be restored, or is it better to buy a new one? Who can I contact for restoration?

Answer: The early 1928 cars had a fan shroud on the back side of the radiator. This was discontinued after 1928. Your 1930 sedan should not have one unless someone else has added it. I would remove it and have it repaired by any sheet metal or body repair shop. ... or are you referring to the radiator shell. All 1930 and 1931 radiator shells were made of stainless steel. Minor repairs as you mentioned can be repaired. The reproduction radiator shell for 1930 is about $300.00. It might be worth getting yours repaired. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

RUNNING BOARDS

Question: I recently ordered replacement running board matting and trim strips from Snyder's. There were no instructions on how the front and rear trim strips are fastened to the running board edges and there was no hardware to attach the inboard trim strip either. My running boards had no trim strips or matting when I bought the car, but I did see two small rivets on the front and back edges of the running board as well as some small (8-32 or 10-24) almost flat headed bolts (with square edges underneath the heads) in holes along the inboard side of the running board.

Unfortunately the bolts and nuts were rusted solid to each other so I just cut them off. Is there any original style hardware available or how do you use the replacement trim strips? I did see the article in the Restorer on the 1931 running boards but that one has a trim strip on the outboard side only.

Answer: The front and rear trim strips are placed between the fender and the running board. The two carriage bolts that bolt the running board to the fender, go through two like holes in the trim strip. The end of the fender, the trim strip, and the end of the running board are all bolted together. The outside strip crimps under the outside edge of the running board. The inside trim strip (for the one piece splash apron/running board) lays flat along the inside edge and is screwed to the running board with special flat head screws. The rubber mat lays on top of the screw down edge (covers the screws) and slips into the channel of the strip. These special screws can be ordered from several parts vendors, including Stewart's A Parts, P.O. Box 176, Truckee, CA 96160. Phone 530-587-4539. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

TOP MATERIAL

Question: Maybe you can help with information regarding the acceptable top material for the '31 Sport Coupe. When I purchased the car it had a tan canvas top. I ordered a similar top long in advance of needing it and long before I had heard of Judging Standards. I am almost ready to install the top and a "friend" loans me a set of Standards which tells me that the top I have is not acceptable.

Further research indicates that "correct" top material (two tone Diagonal Grain Artificial Leather grey-brown) is not available from LeBaron Bonney. They are willing to take the top I have back and replace with any top they make however my only other choices are two different black artificial leather top materials (Colonial Grain or Cobra Grain). Frankly I would prefer to stay with the canvas because the sum of a black top on a black car equals a very black car. The tan would tend to offset the black but if it is not acceptable???? Do the Judging Standards deviate enough to accept this top. It was available on the Sport Coupe in '28-'29?

Answer: To meet Blue Ribbon standards you must adhere to the Judging Standards. The judges would knock off for the wrong top. It is the intent to restore the Model A the way Henry built it. The Red Ribbon class may be a little more forgiving. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

 

TUDOR PHAETON FLOOR

Question: What is the floor of the two door Phaeton made of? Is it a wood frame with metal panels attached? Are replacement floor panels and wood frame available? Any advise on the proper evaluation of floor condition on a unrestored car would be greatly appreciated!

Answer: The front floor boards are the same in all Model A's. It's a plywood floorboard and can be purchased from most any Model A Parts Supplier. The rear has no floorboard per say. There is a metal step down pan for the rear floor panel and attaches to the wood frame around the edges. This floor pan gets carpeted. It is the same rear floor pan used in the Victoria Coupe. -- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director

 

WINDOW CHANNEL

I was just reading one of the answers I gave in the recent issue of the Q&A Column in the Restorer. I was obviously "Brain Dead" at the time. The member asked about removing window channeling from a Fordor and I was thinking Tudor.

My answer of removing the 3 screws and the top cap apply only to the Tudor and Coupe style. The Fordor is more complicated than that. I have referred the member to the Town Sedan gang and I am sure they can correct my oversight. I am now seeking medical help for my condition. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

WIPERS

Question: What is the proper lubrication for the vacuum wiper interior seals? Mine works well when freshly lubricated with Timkin wheel bearing grease, but slows down considerably within a day or two. Charles DuBreuil, Auburn Washington, posted 10/17/11

Answer: I was not able to find any information on the proper lubrication of the vacuum wiper motor in any of the Model A materials that I have, but I did locate the following: On page 46 of the August 1932 Ford Service Bulletin, there is a short article on "Servicing the Windshield Wiper". " In some cases the failure of the wiper to operate may be due to the need for oil in the wiper motor, which can be done without removing it from the car. Secure an old piece of suction hose approximately 6" in length and slip one end over the outlet of the wiper. Move the wiper bar (blade) by hand to either side and just before the valve mechanism "clicks." insert the (other end of the) hose into a small can of good light machine oil (3-in-one). Then pull the wiper bar quickly in the opposite direction, thus sucking the oil into the motor. Next move the wiper bar back and forth in a normal manner so as to allow the surplus oil to be blown back into the can. This operation will fully lubricate one side of the motor. The other side should then be lubricated by repeating the process but by starting the blade on the opposite side of the windshield."

I also have the following materials in my files. I received a copy of an article some time ago which is marked "From the collections of Henry Ford Museum of Greenfield Village Research Center" titled "Lubricating the Vacuum Wiper Motor". The lubricant mentioned as being excellent is Brake Fluid. I would not use brake fluid as it is very hard on painted surfaces. I also have an article from the January 2010 issue of 'Skinned Knuckles magazine titled "How to Repair a Vacuum Windshield Wiper Motor". There recommendation for the proper lubricant is Vaseline. After cleaning the well and the flapper "Liberally coat the well-sides and bottom-with Vaseline. Be liberal but you don't want it too think. The layer of Vaseline will lubricate and provide a seal. Move the flapper back and forth by hand. Remove excess Vaseline." The wheel bearing grease is to heavy for the operation of the vacuum wiper motor. -- Chuck Christensen, 2011Technical Director

 

 

WOOD

Question: I have a '29 Tudor that will need major body replacements. In lieu of this, I am considering turning this car into a '29 woody station wagon since I am also an experienced woodworker. It appears from pictures that from the cowl and front windshield station supports forward, the two cars are the same. My question is: do you know where I can get some more detailed drawings with dimensions for the wood part of the wagon since I would like to erect the wood section of the car myself? Any books or vendors that you know of that I can contact to get more accurate plans would be greatly appreciated!

Answer: The Woody Wagon club has all of the detailed drawings for the wood. You can contact them at WOODY WAGONS, P.O. BOX 341 McALLEN, TX 78502. Also there is a company in Dewittville, New York 14728 called Pleasantville Mfg Co. that makes the wood to exact specification. The fellow to contact there is Ken Steenburg. I'm told that the cost is about $4,200 for the complete kit. I do not know if he sells his plans.

WOOD HEADER GASKETS?

Question: I am restoring a '29 Closed Cab Pickup. I noticed as I was cleaning the brackets on the front of the cab above the windshield that there appeared to be a rubber (?) gasket-like material that was between the metal and the wood header. There was no wood in or on the cab when I purchased the truck. I have not seen this material in the parts books and was wondering what to use. Would a caulk or sealer of some type be satisfactory? I am assuming something might be needed to seal this area and possibly keep the wood from squeaking against the metal. Thanks!

Answer: Originally there was a strip of friction tape and then a strip of dumb dumb caulking on top of the tape and then the wooden header. Any sealer made today will work, probably silicone rubber (ATV type) will work the best. -- Lyle Meek, 1997 Technical Director

 

WOOD PATTERNS

Question: Do you know were I could get templates for the wood that supports the inside of the body (all wood)? I need them for a 1929 Cabriolet.

Answer: I've never seen templates for Model A wood offered for sale. There are many sources for Model A wood. Consult your local Model A parts dealer. Also, check out the ads for wood dealers that advertise in old car magazines such as Hemmings Motor News. If you belong to a Model A club, ask the other members where they purchased their wood kits and how those new pieces fit. -- Rick Black, Webmaster

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Last Updated: 03/30/2014
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