Tech Q&A - Engine Block and Head

"A" or "B" ENGINE?

Question: I purchased a Model A two years ago. The gentleman that restored it passed away, and I purchased it from his widow. A friend of his told me it has a Model B motor. How do I know this for sure? Is there some noticeable difference. The exhaust manifold has recently cracked. I don't know if I should have it welded or try to replace it. But either way I need a gasket set. This is the reason I need to be able to identify it. Also could you explain the difference between the two motors to me. -- Bill Adamson

Answer: There are several noticeable differences between the A and B engines. The Model "A" engine has a oil return tube on the right side of the engine, that extends from the lower left corner of the valve cover to the lower right corner of the block. The "B" engine has no external oil return tube. The Model "B" engine has a small port on the right side just below the valve chamber cover for a cam driven fuel pump. This port will either have a fuel pump attached or have a triangular shaped plate covering the hole. Both engines use the same manifold gasket. The "A" and "B" manifolds are interchangeable for either engine. The differences in exhaust manifolds is the angle of the exhaust tube at the end of the manifold. The "A" is at about 90 degrees (drops almost straight down) and the "B" manifold drops off at about a 45 degree angle.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: Can you advise me where to get some technical info and/or other written information on putting a Model B Engine in a Model A Ford ? --Gunter Smith , Mobile, Alabama

Answer: Last month I gave you an answer concerning putting a Model B engine in a Model A. I was just reviewing some of my E-mail questions and answers and realized that I left out some important information about putting the "B" engine in the Model A. You may have already gotten this information but if you haven't, the engine pan on the B engine must be modified to clear the Model A flywheel housing. I don't have dimensions for you but after the flywheel has been bolted up to the block, set the B engine pan on and you will be able to see what needs to be done to make it fit. It means cutting a piece out of the back of the pan. Its been done many times. A good Body man can do that for you. I'm sorry if this caused a problem for you.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: During our discussion of "excessive valve tapping noise" you mentioned that you had a part number for valve guides that you give me to try. I'm interested in replacing the guides to see if the noise goes away. Here's one more symptom that I didn't mention. When you start the engine cold with the throttle lever down a few notches the tapping starts within 5 seconds and lasts for up to 2 minutes. The noise gets softer as (I think) the valves get oil then the engine will run quiet. If within 10 minutes I drop the idle down the noise comes right back. I experimented with valve clearances and they are currently at 10 thousands. I have had them at 13 and 15 and still have the noise. If you have any other suggestions or questions please contact me. -- Wayne Champagne

Answer: Do you happen to have a "B" cam in your Model A? B cams are much noisier than A cams. Another thing that adds to a noisy cam is the cam bore. There are no cam bearings in the Model A. They are bored in the block. I have seen them worn quite a bit. That means the cam is whipping some and many of them are bent. This usually adds up to a noisy cam (noisy valves.) Changing the valve setting doesn't make that much difference in noise. .015 is usually quieter than .010. It has to do with the harmonics of the cam. I would suggest you reset the valves to .013 intake and .015 exhaust.

Make sure the lifters are not worn (cupped). I just rebuilt the engine in my 1928 Delivery before going to Reno. In the process I had the cam bore bored out and bronze bushings installed and line bored to the cam. I installed a B cam that had only .005 run out. I set the valves to .013 and .015. This is the smoothest and quietest engine I have ever built. I relate the results to the perfectly straight cam and the insert bushings. It would also help the valves to add 4 oz. of Mystery Oil to the crankcase and 4 oz. to the gas tank.

You said that setting the valves at .010 and at .015 didn't make any difference in the noise. It finally dawned on me why. Many times and often overlooked (as I did) we forget to check the valve lifter bore in the block. It sounds like you may have too much wear in the valve lifter bore. You can have it rebored and put in over size lifters. I think Bratton's has over size lifters. The Jeep lifter is the same but has a larger diameter so you will need to bore out for jeep lifters. What happens is the lifter gets cocked in the bore and makes the clicking sound that sounds like noisy valves. Check it out. This may be your problem.

You said you had the cam reground. I would check the lobes on your cam. The Model A grind has a smooth round grind on the high side of the cam lobe. Some shops will automatically put a "B" grind on an A cam when they regrind it. The B lobes come to a very high point on the high side lobe. The other thing to look for is he may have ground nearly all the material from the heel side of the lobe, possibly all material from the heel. If this is so it resembles a B grind with a higher lift, and the valve drops off the high lobe much quicker and results in much more valve noise. If that is the case you will not get rid of the noise until you change the cam. If that is what is causing the noise, it's not a bad thing if you can cope with it.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: When I read much of the literature on the resizing of carburetor jets, which process I have recently completed, most of the writers merely referred to this task as, "solder the jets closed, and then redrill them with the appropriate sized bits." As Russell Baetke wrote to me in a letter, "too often we are writing with other engineers in mind." A similar occurrence has cropped up in the engine rebuild. (I liked your idea about switching and/or grinding down the castle nuts for the connecting rods in order to get them to line up with the cotter holes!) Page 1-139: "6. Insert the asbestos rope gasket (previously soaked in oil) in the timing gear cover..... 9. Bolt the timing gear cover in place..."

In my situation, it simply won't work!!! Frustration, frustration.... After many hours of attempting to implement the suggestions of others (e.g., "use a socket just smaller than the crank diameter to pound the rope seal into place"), there was no way in which even a mashed seal would permit me to line up the bolt holes with those in the block. With the timing gear cover (without seal) bolted in place, I noted that I have only about .030 inches of clearance between the crank and the cover. Of course, this will vary, depending on the thickness of the shims under the main bearing caps (mine average 018-.020 inches with newly bored bearings).

Fortunately, I had saved my old seal (there was no front seal leak before the teardown). I thought that perhaps the previous rebuilder had used a smaller diameter seal than the one-half inch diameter rope seal that I had obtained from Bratton's. The old one was the same type seal with the same diameter, and it fitted neatly into the machined groove; it did not have the look of being beaten into place. However, it had the look of a seal that had been carefully sliced on one side to give it a flat surface to place against the crank. Because of this flat side, the timing cover bolt holes are able to line up. One Club member here in Houston told me earlier that under no circumstances should the rope seal be cut, because it would disintegrate over time. What do you think? I almost feel that I have no choice but to trim the seal. Thanks for any thoughts that you might have, and you still wrote a great book!

Answer: Do not slice the asbestos gasket. Your problem may be that your gasket is a little too long. Its OK to cut a little off the end if necessary. After tapping it into the timing gear cover make sure the two ends are level with the bottom edge of the cover and that the gasket is seated all the way into the cover flange. You should be able to tap the cover down onto the crank far enough to get the top bolt into the timing gear cover, then work your way down from there. I have never had that much difficulty except when the gasket was a little too long. It gets flat from wearing in and makes a good seal. If all fails you might check with Bratton's about a new neoprene seal that is available for the front seal. I have never tried it.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question:Another thought, passed on by a more experienced Model A'er, that seems to have merit is along the lines of using gasket sealer. His suggestion is to use the most permanent sealer on the top of the pan gasket, that is between the gasket and block, and a very conservative amount of silicone for the pan side. This way when you remove the pan, the gasket will stay on the block side and the pan will come away, hopefully with the gasket intact to be re-used. I recently tried this over a year's time and it worked wonderfully.

Indian Head also works good for setting the threads on bolts in place of the more permanent and sometimes damaging Loctite. Haven't had any bolts work loose. More importantly. when removing bolts I haven't ruined any more threads! Loctite is good stuff unless you grab the wrong one. then disassembly is disastrous. -- Mike Flanagan, The Model A Fool.

Answer: Mike, the oil pan gasket technique is commonly used and a good one. However, you must be sure the surface of the bottom edge of the block is clean or the gasket will stick to it and thus tear apart when you remove the pan. Then it's a real headache to clean the pan surface and the block, especially if you use the Permatex gasket sealer.
-- Lyle Meek, Technical Director


Question: I'm getting ready to install a new Felpro 7013 Rev 3 head gasket in my Model A with a Brumfield 5.9:1 head. My concern is which side way is up. Some say to put the writing side up; some say to put the combustion chamber "hem" of the gasket up. But on the FelPro 7013, the "hem" is on one side and the writing is on the other. I looked in Les Andrews' Mechanics Handbook and it's not real clear there, either. It would have been so easy for Felpro to stamp THIS SIDE UP on the gasket somewhere!! - Rick Black Medford Oregon

Answer: I feel your pain! I have been in the same position myself. Here's what Larry wrote a few years ago:

  "The gasket side will work either way, that is crimp side up or down. Now after a gazillion miles, vibration movement will wear an impression of the gasket in the surface it's against. The crimp side is not as smooth as the other side, so some people prefer to put the crimp side up toward the head so the imprint will wear in the head and not the block. The head is easier to re-surface. Now some will say that the smooth side does not wear, but that's not true. Both sides wear. It's just the crimp side wears more and faster."

Hope that helps.
-- Jim Cannon MAFCA 2014 Technical Director - posted 06/23/14


For uniform height, most of the head studs should protrude 2 3/4" above the top of the engine block.
For the stud between spark plugs 3 & 4 where the pop-out clamp goes, if the forged conduit clip is used, the length should be 4 1/8" to 4 1/2";
if the later clamp is used, the length should be 2 29/32". The two water outlet studs should protrude 5" above the block.
-- Bob Hess, Kansas city MO - from The Restorer - Tiny Tips Jan/Feb 2012 p 46 - posted 02/15/21


Question: I recently purchased a 1932 4 cylinder motor & the deck has some pits in it, how deep do the pits have to be before I have the deck shaved? If I have the deck shaved will the pistons protrude above the deck and if the pistons do come above the deck is it OK?

Answer: If your pistons are beveled around the edge so they do not hit the head gasket of the head, then you can shave the block with out any problem. Between the block and the head you can take off up to .125" although most should come off the head so that the piston does not protrude too far above the block. Shaving the block or head is going to raise your compression some. That means more horse power. I wouldn't worry too much about pits in the block. Its more important that the deck (top of block ) is milled perfectly flat, same for the head. Use a .100" over head gasket if the pistons are not beveled and they protrude above the block.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question:There appears to be a bad oil leak on my newly purchased 1930 Model A in front of the clutch housing. I was told it might be the rear engine seal. Does this sound reasonable and how much do you think it should cost to fix it??

Answer: I need some additional information about your engine. How many miles on it since it was rebuilt? When you say a bad leak, how much oil is dripping on the ground? Is it running from below the inspection plate on the front of the flywheel housing on the face of the housing or from the hole in the bottom?

Now having asked that let me say it's to soon to tell if its the rear seal or something else. Now you have some work to do . First, thoroughly clean the engine and the underneath surface of everything, oil pan, engine block, fly wheel cover etc. Get it as free of grease and oil as you can. Because the engine sits at a slight rearward tilt, even a leak from the front oil pan seal can appear to be leaking from the rear. Oil will run along the edge where the oil pan bolts to the bottom of the engine and then down the face of the flywheel cover. Oil can leak from the bottom of the oil return pipe of the valve chamber.

Let's clean the surface and then run the engine and then watch for signs of oil. Also tighten all the oil pan bolts. Be careful not to break any. The worst case of trouble can be the rear main or when the engine was assembled the gasket that goes between the engine block and the flywheel cover was left out. If the gasket was left out, a large amount of oil will leak and give the appearance of a rear seal leak.
-- Lyle Meek, Technical Director


Question: After a 25 to 30 mile trip in hilly country I checked the engine on my "A" and noticed that there was a fair amount of fresh oil below and behind the filler pipe on the block, the radiator connecting hose, and the starter. The crankcase was full according to the dipstick. During this trip I had several long downgrades, using engine braking in high gear, and holding about 30-35 MPH. My filler cap does not have any kind of "screening" - or breather - and I was wondering if this is normal - and if it was possibly caused by crankcase pressure on the long downgrades? Should the "A" crankcase be kept slightly below full, like the radiator? -- George Yarbrough

Answer: Yes the conditions you describe probably built up pressure in your crankcase and caused the blow by out the filler tube. How many miles on your engine ..... if new your rings may not be seated yet ....if lots of miles you may have worn rings.....put a copper scrub pad (from your local grocery store) in the oil filler cap .....that may help.... Do not over fill with oil but at oil change it should have at least 4 1/2 quarts...The book calls for 5 quarts but when you drain the oil some of it still remains in the oil tray... I keep mine just below the "F" on the dip stick.
-- Lyle Meek, Technical Director


Question: Three of us have been building and repairing as a hobby--Model A's and have accumulated several extra parts. We at one time had 11 engines but we had to discard several because of damages. We have recently pulled apart three engines and all have holes in the top oil pan, about 1/8" diameter. right where the rod slinger passes through. We can't find any earthly reason for these holes and feel we ought to braze them shut. One engine had a check valve at the bottom on the rear main drain tube. Again we don't think that this is correct. Would you have any sage advice on these deviations? -- Fred Engelman

Answer: By all means, do not put the pan in the car that way. I have heard of this being done before. Someone that doesn't know any better has drilled the holes so ALL the oil drains out at oil change. When the car sets for a short period of time there goes all the oil in the rod dipper tray. That means no oil at start up until the valve chamber fills up and then drains back to the tray. As you can see, it's a BAD idea. Check balls were put in the AA truck rear main drain tubes. Unless you overfill the crankcase and then drive up a 12% grade or better, the check valve is not needed. Its important not to fill the crankcase above the F mark.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: How does one tell if the oil pump is worn? I have one that has little or no play in the gears or shaft, but has had an end plate from a model 18 car (18-6616) put on it. This pump obviously is not a 18-6600 pump and I presume a former owner did what you say not to do with the pump, i.e. fasten it with a bolt or set screw through the engine block. (It has telltale marks on the upper body as if it were held in position with a bolt much the same as is seen on a distributor base casting). If it is worth keeping, I'll try to find an A-6616 to replace the 18-6616. Otherwise, it's a parts source. -- Don Kidwell

About the only thing that can be done to an oil pump is to replace the upper and lower shaft bushings. There is normally very little if any wear on the shaft or gears. I would not discard it. It's hard to find a bad one if the bushings are good.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: I am doing a valve guide replacement on an engine. I have removed seven of the two-piece valve guides, but have one stubborn one. I have dented it a bit by hard tapping from the top with a narrow punch, and may have jammed it. I am careful as I have previously broken a chip out of the block casting on another engine. Been soaking for a couple of days with WD-40, but still the guide is stuck. Do you have any suggestions about removing a stubborn valve lifter? Ralph Elston Sequim, Washington

Answer: First of all, WD-40 is not the best penetrating oil. Get some PB Blaster or Kroil and soak these stubborn parts with that. Try to dam it up so the stuff is sitting above the guide for a few days. Tap on the guide every day, apply more penetrating oil, then let it continue to soak, to help get the penetrating oil to go in. If still stuck after a few days of soaking, apply some concentrated heat to the guide only. The penetrating oil will smoke like crazy when you do this, so do it outside. This makes the guide expand and crack the rust that has formed. Then apply more penetrating oil when it cools and try tapping it out. If all else fails, take it to a machine shop and have them carefully drill it out with progressively larger drill bits. Usually the vibration and heat generated when drilling will bust it loose. It will start spinning on the drill bit. Make sure they do not drill into the block. On the stuck lifter, clean around the edges well with a wire brush, to help the penetrating oil get in, and use PB Blaster or Kroil. Tap on it from above every day. After soaking for three days, tap harder..
-- Technical Q&A, The Restorer, March/April 2014


Question: I recently purchased a 1932 4 cylinder motor & the deck has some pits in it, how deep do the pits have to be before I have the deck shaved? If I have the deck shaved will the pistons protrude above the deck and if the pistons do come above the deck is it OK?

Answer: If your pistons are beveled around the edge so they do not hit the head gasket of the head, then you can shave the block with out any problem. Between the block and the head you can take off up to .125" although most should come off the head so that the piston does not protrude too far above the block. Shaving the block or head is going to raise your compression some. That means more horse power. I wouldn't worry too much about pits in the block. Its more important that the deck (top of block ) is milled perfectly flat, same for the head. Use a .100" over head gasket if the pistons are not beveled and they protrude above the block.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: After installing the new set of rings on the one cylinder, I've only driven it 40 miles, or so. Is there a chance that if I drove it a while longer that the rings might seat? Or is it just wishful thinking on my part? -- Bob Snellings

Answer: I'm sorry but I'm afraid its wishful thinking. If it were to work, the new rings should have brought compression up to about 55 LB right away. You need to measure the cylinder top, center, and bottom with an inside micrometer to find true condition. The cylinder usually wears heavy on one side at the top and on the opposite side at the bottom of the cylinder. They wear out of round. If they are .010 over at the top and .010 at the bottom it usually means you are .020 out of round. That's too much for rings to take up. With that much compression loss, I would also check for a burnt or warped valve or cracked valve seat. Good luck. I hope it works out OK for you.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question:I have a a engine that I just took apart. 2 of the piston wrist pins have keepers. The other 2 do not. The wrist pins are longer so I cannot tell if there is a grove for the keepers. The pins seem to be tight on the rods. The pistons are standard and say Ford on them. I can only see the word ford on one rod. One with keepers. There is no grove in the block, so I think the pin is stationary in the rod. Have you ever came across this? Byron Royce, Corning Ca. 04/11/10

The original wrist pins used by Ford in the Model A engine used a lock ring centered in the connecting rod. The connecting rod had a two piece bushing with the lock ring in between. The wrist pin had a groove in the center. The wrist pin was inserted with a pointed tool which expanded the lock ring and allowed the pin to enter the rod . There were several tool manufacturers including K.R. Wilson which supplied these special tools. It's very possible that you have come upon a couple original parts. Many of the aftermarket replacement wrist pins were of this same configuration. Removing the original type wrist pins can be a challenge as the force against the removal of the pin must cause the lock ring to expand out of the center groove.
-- Chuck Christensen, 2010 Technical Director


Question: I have discovered that my engine on my 31 Cabriolet has the dam broken off in the front of the valve chamber. seems like this is a very common problem in many old blocks and causes oil starvation in the center and rear mains. The symptoms were the engine was overhauled and run at low speeds for quite a few hours while the rest of the car was being completed. I took the car on the highway and increased the speed to about 55 mph and sustained the speed for about 2 miles. the car started knocking and tried to lock up but when I immediately pulled to the side the knock went away in about 30 seconds. I fixed the oil dam after several days of consultation and found that the car will now run for several more miles but eventually starts knocking again until I stop for a while, suggestions?? I know that I'll have to go through the bearings but would like to solve the problem first! -- Charles Nill

Answer: I'm not sure you can solve the problem before tearing the engine down for overhaul. The things to check are the oil pump (is the valve chamber filling with oil ?). Make sure the three oil passages to the three Main bearings from the valve chamber are clear. I have seen the rear main oil tube partially blocked in an attempt to eliminate rear main oil leak, Then check the rods and the Mains for correct bearing clearance. Make sure the oil pan baffle has not been removed. Its needed for the rods to pick up oil. Let me know what you find.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: I'm in the process of putting the oil pan back on the engine of my 1930 Town Sedan. The rear main cork gasket is 8 1/4" long but it appears to be about 1 3/4" to long. What should the correct length (considering the compression factor of the pan) of the rear main cork gasket be?

Answer: There are 3 different moldings of the Rear Main Bearing cap. They all vary a little in that cork channel. The best thing to do is use a razor blade and cut off a little at a time until it is a perfect fit. This cork gasket needs to sit on top of the tab of the pan gasket and then fully seat in the channel around the Main cap and sit flush on top of the pan gasket tap on the other side. Sometimes the gasket is a little too wide for the channel so I shave a slight bevel on one side to allow the gasket to fit well into the channel. Don't allow for compression. That will take care of it's self. Both ends need to sit flush before compression. Apply a small amount of gasket sealer at each end where it sits on the pan gasket. No sealer needed elsewhere on that gasket.
-- Les Andrews, 1999 Technical Director


Question: I have a serious oil leak on the rear main bearing and would like to replace the seal with a modern seal like advertised in the Parts catalog part no. 6328-A. My question is what kind of machining is required to install this part.

Answer: I strongly urge you not to do that. Most seals require removal of the crank and having a groove ground for the seal. I have seen too many of these fail. You will probably be replacing the seal often if that's the route you take. The answer is not an after market seal. That's not correcting the problem. The Model A will not leak oil if the Mains are set up correctly. 99.9% of the time the rear oil leak is because the rear main Babbitt is cracked and/or too much clearance due to wear at the rear main bearing cap. You need to pull the engine and inspect the rear main Babbitt bearing. Make sure the Babbitt in the block and the bearing cap is not cracked or broken. If cracked or broken, Babbitt must be replaced. Make sure the oil return tube on the rear main bearing cap is in place and is clear (not clogged). Then install the rear main bearing cap with only .001" clearance. The last thing to check is end play of the crank. There should be no more than .004" end play. More end play than that and the crank acts like a pump and pushes the oil out the rear main as it moves back and forth. When the Model A main bearings are set correctly, it will not leak oil. I have three Model A's and have put many miles on them and they do not leak oil. (maybe a small finger print size drop after a long hard trip).
-- Les Andrews, 1999 Technical Director


Question: How do I remove the flywheel after removing the four bolts and saftey wire?

Answer: After removing the four bolts and safety wire, insert two short manifold studs in two of the flywheel bolt holes to support the flywheel during removal. The flywheel weighs 63 pounds and you don't want to drop it! Insert a 3/8-16 x 2" bolt in the upper inside starter mounting bolt hole on the front side of the flywheel housing. Screw the push bolt in until it contacts the flywheel, then give it about 1/2 turn to begin to push the flywheel off the crank flange. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE PUSH BOLT. Then loosen the push bolt, and rotate the flywheel 90º and again tighten down the push bolt. Continue rotating the flywheel and using the push bolt until the flywheel comes off the pins in the crankshaft flange.
- From the Model A Mechanics Handbook Volume 1 by Les Andrews


Question: I removed the distributor and the water pump and all the nuts and bolts on the head. I then soaked everything for a few days with WD 40. I took a soft mallet and went around the head tapping trying to loosen the head. It seems to me that the front of the head is coming loose, but the back likes its home and wants to stay. Can you give me a way to remove the head without taking the engine apart from the bottom??

Answer: Sometimes they can be rather stubborn. The important thing is to have patience. You did the right thing with WD40. Continue to do that around the studs. This might take 4 or 5 days of soaking. Water sometimes works its way up around the studs and rust forms around the hole in the head. So the head is rusted to the stud.

CAUTION--CAUTION. Do not ever try to pry anything between the head and the block on either side. You will surely crack the head. If it appears that the head is lifting at the front it is OK to use a chisel at the front edge and do a little prying (carefully). If you can not get the head to move then the safest thing to do is to double nut the studs (may have to grind one nut thin to get two nuts on the stud). Tighten the bottom nut against the top nut to lock it and then turn the top nut to unscrew the stud. Try to remove all studs. Don't worry about damaging a stud . They should all be replaced anyway and are inexpensive. Head lifts off easy with studs removed. If double nutting does not work of you strip the threads, get a stud remover from your automotive parts house. It clamps to the stud so it can be screwed out.
-- Les Andrews, 1998 Technical Director


Question: I have a 1930 coupe that I'm in the process of trying to remove the head to replace my head gasket. My problem is that the stud that goes thru the gooseneck thru the head is not being too friendly. I have the gooseneck off and tried the trick in your book about double nutting the stud to remove it. It worked for one, but when I tried it on this one the threads on the bottom nut stripped out. I then added more liquid wrench, waited a couple days and tried again with what room is left on the stud . No luck. The same thing started to happen,so I stopped. Next I went to SEARS and purchased a stud remover and all that did was bugger up the threads. Got any suggestions. I'm stuck.

Answer: I have had the same problem so I know what you are going through. The Sears type stud remover will usually not do the trick for a badly rusted in stud. It will take lots of soaking as you are doing and then a professional type stud remover. This is a heavy duty type that has jaws that clamps the stud. It will usually destroy the threads but studs are cheap and easily replaced. It is common for the goose neck studs to get rusted in because of water leaking in the bottom of the stud hole from inside the block. If it happens to break off, not to worry. Drill it out and insert a helicoil as described in the Mechanics Handbook. Try patience first with the liquid wrench and then get on the stud with a small pipe wrench. You must grip it near the base of the stud. This has worked many times for me.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question:I recently redid my Model A engine. I torqued the head to 40 lbs. cold and all was well. I started and ran the engine and retorqued the head hot to 50 lbs. and when I got to the water neck nuts, 50 lbs. of torque squeezed the gasket out of the water neck. I used the paper match stick trick that I see recommended to keep from breaking the neck. My question is should I use less torque on the water neck nuts or use no gasket at all, just gasket cement? -- Ted Purtell

Answer: Torque all 14 head nuts to 50 lbs. this includes the water outlets. However twist the torque wrench on these two slowly. The method you used is fine and use the gasket provided in the gasket kit. Head nuts should be torqued when cold in 5 lbs. steps, i.e. start at 35, 40, 45 and then 50 lbs....warm the engine up and then torque at 50 lbs. again. Drive the A about 100 miles or so and torque the head one final time at 50 lbs.. That should last you for many many miles.
-- Lyle Meek, Technical Director


Question: I want to install modern valves in my Model A Ford 4 cylinder and I have two questions for you. First are these parts available from my local parts dealer? Second , when I ream the guide hole out to 5/8 and insert the guide will I have a good press fit?

Answer: These parts are all available at your local automotive parts store.
Valve Guides - (one piece) Seal Power #VG 361. I'm told this new number will fit without reaming. May have to freeze the guide before inserting. It's been tested and I'm told its a good fit.
Valve - Seal Power # 1558 It is too long, grind the tip off as shown in the Model A Mechanics Handbook.
Valve Spring - Seal Power # VS71.
Keeper - Seal Power # VK115.
Spring Retainer - GM # 14003974 (or small block Chevy).
Some of the above numbers are different than the earlier books stated. These parts are all available.
-- Les Andrews, 1999 Technical Director


Question: How do you adjust model "A" valves? The Ford service bulletins show what order to adjust them in but not how. I have a 1928 motor with Ford Model A valves that are in serious need of adjustment. -- Rick Botti

Answer: First Question is do you have adjustable lifters in you engine? If so, it's just a matter of turning the adjusting screw and checking the clearance. If not, you have a major project ahead of you. It will require pulling the valves and building them up and grind to fit. The best answer for the old style solid lifter is to replace them with adjustable ones. It is a challenge but can be done without pulling the engine.
-- Lyle Meek, Technical Director


Question: Do you have any tips for the installation of valve guides in my late '31 pick-up? All the literature I've read suggests that they should just slip into place. However, that's not the case. I can only get them started by approximately 1/8". -- Mike Sorrentino

Answer: You did not mention if you are installing the 2-piece valve guide or modern one-piece guide. Either way, it sounds like you may have carbon build up in the valve guide bore. The valve guide should measure .594" diameter. Try running a honing tool through the guide bore to clean out any carbon. They should slip in with hand pressure. It should be same dimension for either type of valve guide.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: Les I noticed that the number you list for the valve spring retainer (Chevrolet #3279363 - Page 1-130) is not a good number. The old flat head valve retainers will work, and I think they used the same spring or at least the same spring diameter. -- Bruce Hyland, Charlotte, NC

Answer: You are right. They no longer show up in the parts computer. I was always able to get them until about a year ago. The new number for the spring retainer is GM 14003974 or ask for small block Chevy. The Machine shops use to throw them away when they would rebuild a small block and they would usually just give you the old ones. The new number appears in the latest revised printing of the Model A Mechanics Handbook.
-- Les Andrews, Technical Director


Question: I am having a problem with my late 1931 Tudor Sedan. Whenever I rev the engine in park, it has a bad vibration when you decelerate. People at shows say all different things. What is your opinion of the problem? -- Joe O

Answer: Without hearing the engine it is difficult for me to determine your problem. From what you tell me it sounds like something is out of balance. Everything in the engine beginning with the fan blade and the pistons, rods, crank, flywheel, pressure plate and clutch, should all be precisely balanced. Also check to make sure your rear motor mounts are tight and make sure all three mounting bolts for the starter are tight. You may also have a flywheel that is out of alignment. All the above things I have mentioned can cause excessive vibration. I would probably suspect the flywheel and pressure plate to be more likely the problem because of the vibration on deceleration. A warped flywheel housing can throw everything out of alignment, but any one of the above problems could be at fault. It doesn't sound good. I hope you are able to find the problem and correct it.


Question:I have a August 1931 AA 157" truck I am restoring. The chassis is completed but I am having a problem with a used engine I obtained to replace the missing one. This engine was rebuilt in the late forties and never used. The engine has water leaks around the head studs. I have replaced the head gasket with three different types, replaced the studs, sealing them once with Permatex High Tack and once with Rectorseal, used radiator anti-leak in the radiator, and had the head resurfaced. Now, one of the new studs will not tighten, and will need a Helicoil. Since I'll need to remove the head once again, perhaps a Helicoil in all the holes would end the problem? Or do you know of a fix? -- Jerry Oliver, Olympia WA

Answer: Once you have the head off, the first thing I would do if you have not already done so is to re-thread all the head stud holes in the block. Use the appropriate thread all your head stud and check for the loose ones...if there is side to side movement a Helicoil is probably in order (be sure there are no cracks in the block at the stud holes) When you reinstall your head studs be sure to put a little anti-seize compound on the threads. Occasionally a stud will leak a little water and in a short time will seal itself and you'll have no problem. However, watch it carefully for over heating and a possible combustion must however torque and hold at 50 lbs...... let me know how you make out.
-- Lyle Meek, Technical Director


Question: I have an engine on blocks and stripped of flywheel cover and head. What is the weight for lifting? (or approx.) 1930 Model A? Thank you in advance.
Daniel Campbell, Harvard, IL

Answer: The weight of what you have should be in the neighborhood of 225 to 250 pounds.  A complete engine minus flywheel and clutch assembly,  including generator, manifolds, etc is listed as 350 pounds.
  -- Chuck Christensen, 2011 Technical Director

Last Updated: 10/29/22