Tech Q&A - General

Over the years, MAFCA Technical Directors have Answered a vast number of technical questions and Answers covering many aspects of the Model A Ford. From the TECHNICAL Q&A menu at the left, select a category that describes the area you would like to research.

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Latest Tech Questions - previously answered in The Restorer magazine

First Model A Books

Question: I just bought my first Model A and I'm brand new to the hobby. I have a million questions! Can you make any recommendations?

Answer: The MAFCA website may not have a million answers, but we have a ton of them. Our TECHNICAL Q&A menu is broken down into several categories, so you can start there. If you can't find your answers on our website, you can ask question questions to our Technical Director - see the link at the top of this page.

Another thing many people new to the Model A ask is "what books should I buy to help me restore and maintain my car?" In an article in The Restorer from March/April 2015, I wrote an article on that very subject. It's one of the many files in our downloads directory. Look for firstbooks.pdf here. -- Rick Black, Las Cruces NM - posted 10/10/18

Car History

Question: My father and I are getting ready to restore a 1930 model A and we able to pressure wash most of the old paint off. But inside the doors there was what looked like army green paint and it doesn't look like the ford green. We were wondering if there was any way to find the history on our car, I have the 7 digit engine number but we don't know where to even start looking for anything about the history. Can you help? -- Crawford Byxbee

Answer: The only information that we might be able to help you with regarding the history of your car is related to the engine number you have located. During the assembly of all of the Model A's, a number was stamped on the top of the frame in the area in front of left motor mount which matches the number that has already been stamped on the engine. With this number you can identify the date of the assembly of the car. A list of these numbers and a few other things that might be of interest to you can be found on the MAFCA website ( If you go to that site and then click on the "References" title on the left side, then click on "Data", you will be taken to another page that has all this information and more. Please remember that if the engine in your car has been exchanged, it may not match the number on your frame -- David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Tudor Restoration

Question: I bought a 29 model A Tudor Sedan in pieces. It is a rust bucket now, but who knows what the future will bring? The car came with two boxes of new wood dated 1980, but I have no idea what goes where (the body currently has no wood at all. Do you have any books or diagrams that might help me? -- Keith R. Johnson

Answer: Obtaining a "rust bucket" car body with all the wood in two boxes is definitely a challenge to anyone. MAFCA recently published an excellent book for you titled: "The Tudor Book 1928 to 1931". I suggest you go to the MAFCA website home page then to the "Store" and purchase and read this book prior to starting the restoration of your Model A Tudor. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Battery Discussion with John Wirth

John, Thank you for your Newsletter Article. You really have discussed two separate issues and both would be a good consideration as a technical article to the Restorer magazine. I have also solved a similar battery problem in which there was an adequate voltage display on a tester, but sill would not spin the starter-engine. I went directly to the battery with a battery tester that allowed me to apply a load to the battery and it revealed a bad cell. The Harbor Freight Cen-Tech 100 Amp 6-12 volt Battery Load Tester for $21.95 has solved many battery and starting problems for me. Also regarding the Battery Tender, the older models of Tender have resulted with a number of destroyed batteries due to the Tender not having an adequate automatic "float" or shut off mode. I recommend only the newer battery maintainer models. I have found after discussing this matter with a few engineers from different battery charger-maintainer companies that the earlier maintainers should not be left on a battery for more than twelve hours or overnight. The newer model battery maintainer that I have found to be economical, fully automatic and very safe is the Schumacher Electric 1.5-amp Battery Maintainer which sells for approximately $19.95 Some of the newer maintainers also have a "Desulfator System" ... which is another story in itself of if needed or not needed !! Thank you again for your article and I look forward to seeing an article from you in the Restorer. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Engine Problem

Question: I have a 1931 Model A and I have a problem that is driving me crazy. I had not run the car in a few years and just started to get it running again. I bought new points, condenser, coil and even a new carburetor. My problem is the car starts fine when cool and runs for about 45 seconds to a minute and then just stops. It will not restart until it cools after about 10 minutes and then starts again runs fine and quits after the same amount of time. I have searched the internet for help, to no avail. What am I missing? I have proper voltage at the coil and places it needs to be. Where do I need to look, as when it is running it runs great but only for a short time? -- Kenneth Calhoun

Answer: Your problem sure sounds like it is either fuel or an electrical not flowing properly. First ... Fuel: An obstruction in the fuel tank, filter, or valve will provide enough fuel to fill the carburetor but not enough fuel to keep the engine running very long. Remove the fuel like from the carburetor and with the fuel valve open, make sure the fuel will flow strong and continuously. Catch the fuel in a container to be safe. Second ..... Electrical: Electricity flows through a conductor similar to water flowing through a pipe. If there is a restriction in the flow for electricity, heat can develop quickly causing it to expand. A poor or loose electrical connection can reduce or completely stop the flow of electricity as it becomes hot and the engine will die. Upon cooling the connection can resume the flow of electricity and the engine will re-start. Check all the electrical connections in your car from the battery to the fuse (if installed) to the key switch, to the coil and to the distributor .... especially the connections inside the distributor on the top and bottom plates. Your problem could be in other areas, but try these first. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Straighten Wheels

Question: I have two 1930 Model A's. Before I put new tires on my old rims I would like to make sure that the rims are not bent or warped. Is there a Co. that can straighten wire wheels and that can powder coat. Is there a company that specializes in this. -- Albert Welledits

Answer: A tire and wheel shop in my town advertises that they will straighten modern wheels, so you might check with one in your area. A few Model A Chapters have their own spoke wheel straighteners and provide this service to others . I have an original wheel straightener made by Wheel Service Equipment in 1934. You can also go to Vince Falter's "Ford Garage" website to see his article and more pictures of my wheel straightener. Another article; "How to Straighten Model A Wheels" can be found in Vol. 8 pg. 53-58 in the MAFCA Store book "How to Restore Your Model A". Several companies also manufacture wheel straightener machines priced from $7 to $22,000 but they are primarily for modern aluminum alloy wheels but might also work on our spoke wheels. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16


Question: A few months ago, I purchased a Ford A 1931 Fordor De Luxe Briggs body, right hand drive. I bought this car in Sweden, has been totally restored there in 1999 and has been awarded for the best restoration project that year. The first of three owners in Sweden imported this vehicle from Norway, it has been a barn find, but in a very good, rust free condition. Further investigations lead to the last known and possibly only owner in Norway, it has been a banker from Bergen in Norway and this vehicle was a special order at Ford. One of the major differences to standard versions, is the full leather interior and the sliding sunroof. The VIN is A3268498 Now the questions. I don’t know and I hope to get answers. 1. the vehicle has parking lights on top of the front fenders, plus the RHD makes it to a British version. Has this vehicle been built in the US, made in US but assembled in UK, made in UK ? 2. How many (roughly) more vehicles have been manufactured with these extras ? 3. MACs has very little RHD-specific spare parts, would you know alternative vendors ? 4. Any information about the UK-version is highly recommended -- Vince Remcho

Answer: The VIN number you provided indicates that it was an engine number assigned in April 1930 and manufactured in the USA. Engines manufactured in the USA and shipped to Europe assembly plants usually had a prefix to the number of AF or AAF rather than an "A". Most Model A's assembled in the USA will have an assembly plant number on the center frame cross-member which can usually be seen by lifting the carpet. You can see a very good research on these assembly plants and their number identification on the website provided by Steve Plucker. He also has some information on assembly plants located outside the USA. The pictures you sent are of a very nice looking Model A, however I do not believe the "full leather interior" and the "sliding sunroof" were Ford assembly plant additions and may have been custom after market additions by either the dealer or a previous owner. MAFCA currently has very limited information on the RHD Model A cars and I do not know of a parts supplier who specializes in parts for these cars David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Commercial Paint Color

Question: I am a new MAFCA member and am restoring a 1928 closed cab pickup. I am considering two original paint colors for my truck: commercial gray and gunmetal blue. The paint guide does not include an example chip of commercial gray, but does have one of commercial drab. Are these the same color with two different names? Secondly, I am having little success finding photo examples of vehicles in these specific colors to help me make my final decision. Can you provide me with a few images? -- Dale Fiedler

Answer: I needed some help on this question, so I went to one of the editors of the book: "Model A Ford Paint & Finish Guide", Doug Clayton, and this is his answer to your question: I have never been able to find an actual sample of Commercial Gray in 25 years of looking. Commercial Gray and Commercial Drab are two different colors and there is no way to determine if there was much difference between the two colors. Gunmetal Blue replaced Commercial Gray in August 1928. I suspect that the Commercial Gray color was fairly dark like the Gunmetal Blue and therefore much darker that Commercial Drab. The era black and white photographs are not any help in solving this mystery either. In fact all trucks were painted dark colors until after mid 1930 when Ford’s sales efforts focused on more attractive colors. For a 1928 truck, the Gunmetal Blue is the safest bet. Wish I could be of greater assistance on this one! David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Seat Belts

Question: Are there any articles or information on adding seat belts to a 1930 Deluxe Roadster?? -- Justin Cuffe

Answer: Your seat belt question is very similar to one I just received from a '28 coupe owner also wanting to add seat belts. My answer to him is copied below. The article I listed as a reference applies to both a Coupe and a Tudor. In either car, try to use an automatic retractor to prevent the seat belt from falling to the running board each time the door is opened. I have installed seatbelts in my Victoria which has seats similar to your Tudor. It has a "stiff arm" on the receiver end and is mounted on the left of the driver seat. The retractable belts are mounted between the seats high enough to be reached easily. I can supply pictures of this installation if you would like to see how they are mounted. Here is the website where I purchased my lap belts with retractors and stiff arms. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Previous Answer: Thank you for recognizing that installing seat belts is the best thing you can do to make your car safer for both you and your passenger. The article written by William Henry titled: "A Bear on Safety" printed in the How to Restore Your Model A Volume 6 and can be found in the MAFCA Store. The same article was also printed in the Restorer in the May - June issue of 1993. This article will take you through the seat belt installation process step by step David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Webmaster Note: Check our this page on our website about Seat Belts. posted 07/09/17

Paint for 1933 Model C

Question: We are restoring a 1933 Ford Model B with the four cylinder engine similar to a Model A and need to know if there was a different in paint colours between Canadian and US built examples. All the literature says green with black oil pan, but we have two examples here that have a silver block and black oil pan. -- Mark Graham

Answer: The information that I have available to me from the MAFCA library seems to be limited to only the 1928 to 1931 Model A's. I also have a limited personal knowledge about the 1933 since I have only worked on a few of them. The 1933's I have worked on were in very nice original condition and they all had the traditional Ford green engine color and the oil pan black. I have never seen a block painted silver. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Paint Colors

Question: Dave, a couple months ago I spoke with Jim Cannon about the final paint color scheme for my 1930 5 window coupe. We were able to find a couple areas of undisturbed original paint that matched Copra Drab/Chicle Drab. In discussing these colors with Jim he sent me an email with the above pictured car attached to his email. I very much like the color scheme of the Model A in the above picture but, we are now finding in doing some spray paint [PPG] samples that the pictured car looks nothing like what my car would look like if we use the spray samples. The sprayed samples are very "gray" whereas in the picture I have attached, the colors appear to be shades of Green. My question for you, is the car in the attached picture in your opinion actually sprayed Copra Drab/ Chicle Drab and the sun and possible camera setting are making the colors to look more green than gray? If we want to match the picture how do we determine the correct PPG paint color codes to use? I appreciate your assistance, as we are ready to paint the car and are at a standstill until we clarify the correct paint codes to use. Thanks for your assistance -- Mark Graham

Answer: The problem with paint codes seems to be that we don't have the correct code numbers for these old colors. The new MAFCA "Paint and Finish Guide" does not include paint code numbers. The old code numbers just cannot be used with modern paints. I have painted several Model A's and have good results by taking the paint chips book to my local PPG automotive paint supply and have them match the paint with the chip. Make sure they do this in natural light or outside and not under artificial light. Their new paint match machines are amazing at how close they can match the paint with the chip or a sample. If you see a car that is painted the color you like, ask the owner if he has a paint sample or if he can take his car to take to the paint store for a color match. If the car color is close to the color in the "Paint and Finish Guide", the judges will not take points away from a judged contest. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Brake Problem

Question: I have a 1930 Tudor sedan. Older restoration and had all new brake drums, linings, floater kit and also modern shocks installed recently. Since have had two incidences of the front brakes locking up when pedal is just tapped. Have had Model A owners check all of brake system and we can find no cause. The first incident actually broke both spring perches at the axle! Any ideas on what could cause such an issue? Do you know of any good brake shops in my area that are knowledgeable and will work on mechanical Model A brakes? -- Eugene Berges

Answer: The short answer is to take the floater kit off your car if it is not working properly and re-adjust the brakes and the "locking" problem will usually go away. I have had this problem in my shop with several car owners who had a floater kit installed and had either a left front, right front or both tending to lock when light pressure was applied to the brake pedal. It usually evens out with a hard brake pedal, but it is still disconcerting and often scary. The floater kits can be very effective most of the time but the brakes must be in perfect condition, adjusted frequently, kept clean, and adjusted VERY carefully. You could have another problem with the many parts in the mechanical service brake system but the "locking" situation is probably a combination of both. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Emergency Brake Shoe

Question: 1). I replaced the brake drums and emergency brake linings on my 1930 Tudor. Now the emergency brake shoe is a very tight fit inside of the drum. Shouldn't the drum turn freely? 2). Is there a proper adjustment for the tubular shock absorber link? How for down down does the screw-in plug need to go? -- Bob Gutteridge

Answer: First, make sure the service brake rods are disconnected and the mechanism is resting at its minimum diameter. One of the problems frequently encountered with rebuilding the emergency brake is the thickness of the lining material and its application to the band. The surface of the emergency brake band and the lining must be very clean and free of burrs prior to riveting the material to the band. We have occasionally needed to reduce the thickness of the reproduction brake lining with sandpaper to have the drum fit properly. Also the emergency brake lever, the brake toggle and the connecting arms must have free movement and have a full return to the release position. Be sure the toggle link offsets match and operate in a straight line. The lever springs must also be installed carefully since they are designed to fit either the left or right side of the car and assist in returning the emergency brake to a full release. I also recommend that the emergency brake connecting rod be disconnected from the cross shaft prior to installing the drum. Regarding the proper adjustment for the tubular shock link, an excellent article on this subject was in the MAFCA Restorer in the May/June issue 1967 written by A. N. Lepore titled: "Restoring Tubular Shock Links". On page 8 he said: "Don't over tighten the plug as the spring, being a tight wound type, will quickly bottom. One turn after contact is plenty." I recommend you read this entire article for a thorough explanation of the operation and restoration of the tubular shock links. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Houdaille Shocks

Question: I am trying to put together information on the Houdaille shocks to do a presentation to my local MAFCA club. Details of the testing equipment have proven to be very hard to come by. In my copy of the Ford Service Bulletins a photo is showing the tool used to check the condition of the shocks. It shows a weight mounted on an arm. Acceptable times are listed for the fall but no data is given for the arms dimensions or the weight used. In lieu of dimensions, a torque value would be most useful to design my own tool. Any help you can provide on this subject would be most helpful -- Derek Morton

Answer: It appears from your question that you have already done considerable research into the operation and restoration of the Houdaille shock absorber. Since I do not have the answer to your question in my personal library, I hope you will be able to find it within either of the two sources I have listed below. - Les Pearson is the author of his new book "Model A Ford Houdaille Hydraulic Suspension". This book provides information on the removal, inspection, complete restoration and installation to the frame of Model 'A' Ford hydraulic shock absorbers. Also covers shock absorber arms and linkage restoration. This book is available in the Amazon book store. - In the MAFCA Store you can find a DVD titled "Rebuilding Shock Absorbers" for $24.95 This DVD is done in four part format, covering the history of shock absorbers, how to disassemble and clean old shocks, how to reassemble the shocks the correct way, and a bibliography if you would like to learn more. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Trunk Handle

Question: I'm a fairly new Model A owner – just bought a 1930 Coupe last December after yearning for one since I was about 10 years old. I have a question about the lock assembly on my rumble seat lid that my club members here in Vancouver, BC, can’t seem to explain. I hope you have the answer. -- Ron Zimmer

Answer: I have a 1931 very original standard coupe with trunk lid and have attached a few pictures of the handle and the locking mechanism. You said "rumble" lid, but the handles are the same and the locks similar in operation and mounting. The handle for the trunk should be horizontal when locked and almost vertical when open. From the pictures you attached of your rumble lid, it appears that you have body filler in that area and that could prevent the handle from fitting close enough to the trunk lid lock. As you can see from the pictures I have attached, the lock should fit very close to the trunk lid metal. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Wood Blueprints

Question: Wondering if there are any blue prints available for the pair of sills for my 1930 cabriolet. would like to make a pair. thank you and happy Easter Sunday! ron zimmer

Answer: I was not able to find any blueprints for Model A Wood parts. I suspect that since Henry Ford contracted with several other body building companies such as Murray and Briggs to manufacture several of his sedan bodies, those blueprints would not have been available to be saved by the Ford Foundation. An excellent article: "The Wood in Model A's" was published in Volume 3 of "How to Restore Your Model A" that is available in the MAFCA store. It does not have information about wood patterns, but is a very good article about the wood used and the construction process. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Engine Runs Erratically

Question: My engine runs erratically. I've changed everything, 3 Carbs, Dist. Condenser, timing is perfect, coil wire, drained the tank & added fresh non-methanol gas, good gas flow. It pops & flames come out of the carb. Cleaned the sediment bowl & screen. I work on 24 Model A’s for the Champagne Collection and this car is probably the best in the Country with only 7,000 original miles. It used to run and drive like new. It’s got me puzzled. Could it be a cracked manifold or blockage somewhere? If you have any suggestions please e-mail me back. I did not change the coil but it does not get hot. Also I installed brand new 3x plugs & checked the point & plug settings. -- Nick Maniscalco

Answer: It sounds like you have already checked most of the many potential areas that could be causing your engine performance problems. The "pops" through the carburetor sounds like it could be a timing problem, low fuel, points too close, or a loose wire making intermittent contact. A crack in the manifold or another source for undesirable air getting into the fuel chamber can also cause a backfire. Check this with WD-40 or carburetor cleaner with the engine running. However, your problem can also be caused from one or more valves sticking. If you are using E10 gasoline without an additive and the gas has been sitting in the gas tank for a few months it can cause similar problems. A compression test will usually show if you have a problem in the combustion chambers. David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 05/10/16

Key Code

Question: Can we please have the key code numbers for key ignition lock number A992. The locksmith cut a key, but was not sure if he had the correct key code number. The key he cut did not work for my 1929 Roadster. Hope you can help me with this. -- Brent Bellamy

Answer: The key code for your ignition lock number A992 is 15153. This information was available from published material by Cal Allen. The locksmith you used may be interested to know that each code number refers to the depth of the cut. Number 1 = .000", Number 2 = .015" deep, Number 3 = .030", Number 4 = .045" and Number 5 = .060".
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Mystery Holes

Question: We have two 1928 Tudors in our local club. (Both July 1928 dated) Both vehicles have these 5/16" diameter holes in sub rails. As noted in photos, the top hole is approx. 6 7/8" from front of rear seat riser. The hole on side of sub rail is approx. 7 1/2" from front of rear seat riser. Both left and right sub rails are identical in both vehicles. These holes appear to have been punched at factory, they have not been drilled at later date. Any comments or info will be greatly appreciated. -- Art Fillyaw

Answer: I talked to several people about these holes in the sub rails you have asked about and no one knows for sure, but we all feel that they were probably used for holding the rail in position for its manufacturing process.
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

1931 Coupe Top

Question: I am redoing the vinyl top on my 31 coupe. Around the edges it had the welting. Do you have any instructions so that the back corners don’t get bunchy looking like my old top does. Also thought about using the metal channels ? I haven't been able to find much online, can you please help? -- Mike Davis

Answer: I also have a 1931 Model 045-B coupe and replaced the vinyl top not too long ago. I was fortunate enough to have the original metal molding that covers the edges of the vinyl where it is tacked to the wooden top rails. It is very rare to find original molding but Bratton's Antique Auto Parts has a very similar reproduction molding listed in their catalog and also on their web page as part No. 29560 Style R-4. It will be a little more work to bend this aluminum molding to fit the coupe body top but you will not have the "bunchy" looking corners. With either the metal molding or the "Hidem Vinyl Welt", I recommend a small bead of sealer underneath to help prevent leaks.
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Model B Engine

Question: My 31 sport coupe has a model B engine. The letter C is cast into the head. Significance ?? Are there any books or information on the B engine? -- Gordon Blumefeld

Answer: The "C" stamped on the head of some of the Model B engines seem to be only a reference to the style of head and has nothing to do with the engine. A good explanation for the "C" on the Model A head can be found by Vince Falter in his Ford Garage site You will also find a good discussion on the B engine on his web site and a similar question about the Model B engines answered on the MAFCA Website.
David Bockman
, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Camshaft Timing Gear

Question: The teeth on the fiber camshaft gear of my 29A have broken off. I installed a new aluminum gear. The gear was tight going on and has zero clearance with the crankshaft gear which I did not replace. I have turned the engine over many revolutions and checked the clearance at several locations and the result was the same. The engine has an estimated 500 mi on it since it was rebuilt with new Babbitt and line bored mains. If I order an undersized gear, how can I determine how much u.s. to go. I do want to use a aluminum gear. -- Sue Condrey

Answer: The Ford Service Bulletin page 218 states: (Time gears are fitted with a back lash of not less than .003" or more than .005") This clearance should be checked at four 90 degree increments around the gear. I would think that if you run your gear with "0" clearance it would be problematic with improper lubrication on the teeth and excessive heat from gear friction. Several people who have used the alloy gears have complained about the noise while others say that they are just as quiet as the fiber gears. Most Model A parts suppliers carry both laminated (recommended) and macerated (not recommended) fiber gears in various sizes to obtain the proper clearance. I have not seen the aluminum timing gears advertised in various sizes but would suggest you find a smaller gear or use a proper fitting laminated fiber gear.
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Lighten Flywheel

Question: Where can I find the information to have a machinist reduce the Model A flywheel weight so an early V8 Ford three finger pressure plate can be used? -- Howard Beaty

Answer: People have been lightening the Model A flywheel for many years. The purpose is to decrease the mass of the rotating assembly of the clutch and pressure plate to obtain faster acceleration and deceleration. The Model A flywheel weighs 65 lbs. and is usually machined down to approximately 26 lbs. for a stock pressure plate and 37 lbs. for a V-8 pressure plate. An article showing where to do the machining for the lightening process with the dimensions was published in the Secrets Of Speed Society (SOSS) magazine Vol. 15 #3 Jan. 2006 pg. 6 with a follow-up article in the next issue regarding a correction on one of the dimensions printed in that issue. You can also find additional information about this process on Vince Falter's website at: ( Several Model A Parts companies sell these fully machined, balanced, pressure plate attached, and ready to install. As with any modification to a stock Model A, there are always some advantages and disadvantages.
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Spark Rod

Question: Is it necessary to retard spark more and more as the car goes faster, or is it best to leave the lever in full advance position (all the way down)? What about going up hills? In other words, how should I manipulate the advance/retard lever when driving at different speeds and on hilly terrain? -- Ed Phillips. Millbrook, AL

Answer: The spark rod lets you manually adjust the timing of the ignition in the cylinder to occur either before or after the piston reaches the top dead center (TDC) of the compression/ignition cycle of the engine operation. The spark rod must be in the up position to start the engine to prevent the engine from rotating backward which can cause problems. After the engine starts, the spark rod is pulled down slightly to advance the spark to allow the engine to run more smoothly and warm up. A few years after the Model A production the technology and engineering took the timing away from the driver and automatically changed the timing based on the vacuum and/or rpm of the engine. Typically, the higher the speed/rpm, the more advanced the engine should be timed by pulling the spark rod all the way down. When a Model A is traveling at a slower speed with slower rpm, such as going up a steep hill, it does not need to have the spark/rod in the fully advanced position and it can be moved to a “sweet spot” where the engine seems to perform more comfortably. This process is explained in detail by Al Blatter in his article titled: “Timing Lever Operation” in Volume 8 of the TECHNICALLY SPEAKING Model “A” News publications. Manipulation of the he spark control rod is also discussed in the Model ‘A’ Instruction Book on page 10.
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Deck Lid Fit

Question: I am restoring a 29 standard coupe and would like to know if there are instructions to align the trunk lid properly. I can't seem to find any literature. I understand there is little room for adjustment, but I need to tweak the upper body/trunk lid fit to better clear the sheet metal as the lid is opened. Can't seem to find much direction. Any advice? -- Bruce Smit

Answer: I also had a similar situation where the deck lid on my 1931 Deluxe Coupe would not properly fit the opening. A friend, Ken Willis, who had been repairing wrecked cars for many years came to my shop to take a look at the problem. He took several diagonal measurements and confirmed that the car had apparently had been bumped on the right rear fender to change the dimensions of the body. With a few of his special jacks and tools, he was able to move the body back into its correct position and the deck lid fit perfectly. I suggest that you take some careful measurements of the deck lid and the space opening of your 1929 Coupe to determine their correctness in dimensions. Bending or re-positioning one or both of these two items may be one of your few options. Other than a need to bend the deck lid or the opening, you will find that the deck lid hinges, the lid aligning wedges and rubber bumpers, are the only options for adjustment.
David Bockman
, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Assembly Plant Code

Question: I have a new question related to my 1930 Roadster. I located the Letter Code on the cross member in front of the seat a little to the right of center. It appears to be a single letter "B" which does not match any of the listed codes. Any thoughts? Warren Barnes

Answer: The number on the frame cross member in front of the seat is the location where most assembly plants stamped a number or letter to indicate the location of the assembly plant. I have a 1931 Deluxe Coupe with a series of numbers (20231-8-31) rather than one or more letters. Dave Sturges who has done quite a bit of research on the assembly plants seems to think that my Coupe was assembled in the Long Beach California plant for several reasons he explained to me in a series of emails. You can also read the research done by Steve Plucker on his website located at: I don't have a definite answer to your question but it could be that the "B" on your cross member was stamped by a worker in a hurry and did not have time to stamp the "O" after the "B" in which case the car would have been assembled in Buffalo New York.
David Bockman, 2016 Technical Director posted 04/22/16

Older Q&A's:


Question: Trying to get an old chassis running. Using temporary wiring, we've hooked up all the systems and we were able to get it running. However, when we look at the ammeter, when we accelerate the engine, it discharges. When we idle, it goes back near zero. What have we done wrong? 
Answer: Do I assume that the battery is connected correctly and that the generator was arced to polarize the field windings before starting up the engine? If so, try reversing the wires on the back of the ammeter. 
Chuck Christensen, 2012 Technical Director
posted 01/14/13


Question: What other vehicles will a hood from a 1928/29 Fordor fit? 
Answer: This particular hood will fit only the 1928-1929 Fordor sedans and the 1929 Cabriolet.  
Chuck Christensen, 2012 Technical Director
posted 11/07/12

68C Cabriolet Production Figures

Question: I ask regarding the article in the “How to Restore Your Model A” Vol 6...68C...I mislaid my copy and am researching  production numbers for this model, ours has the serial"# 4799442 and was assembled in the Chester Pa. Plant and I recall that they listed the # of 68C’s that were made there. Is it possible to access that info  on the MAF Web page? Howard Kriebel

Answer:According to that article the following production figures we----------------- Chester-908, Chicago-740, Edgewater-3,232, Long Beach-1,037, Richmond-629, and Somerville-1,659. The article also states that these figures also include the 68-B units that were assembled in 1931 and that actual production figures for the 68-C don't exist. It's interesting that somehow, someone was able to locate these figures.

Chuck Christensen, 2012 Technical Director
posted 02/04/12


Question: I have in my possession a 1931 Ford Model A Instruction Book that is in very good condition. I have been doing research to find the best route to take in order to sell it. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction for this particular sale of said book. I would love to sell it to a member of your organization considering it is a book for which you are specialized in,
-- Robert H. Mahler III

Answer: I would attempt to locate a local Model A owner or one nearby who might be able to determine if the instruction book is original or one of many reproductions available on the market. You can check for MAFCA chapters by going to our website, move your cursor to Chapters and click on Chapter list. This will give you a listing of current Model A Ford Club chapters with contact information. That contact would also be able to provide you with information on possibly advertising your book through their group.

An original manual would definitely be more valuable that the reprints. You can also check out the various instruction books, including methods of determining original from reprints on our website. Click on Site Index near the top of the home page, then click on the letter I and check out the section on Instruction Books. -- Chuck Christensen 2012 Technical Director
Posted 01/01/12


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
Posted 12/24/11


Question: I have owned Model A's for 40 years and I just purchased a 1930 Model A Dlx. Coupe all restored & beautiful. The only thing is they put a 12 volt alternator that reads 12 volt negative ground. I have the car at a friend's house waiting to make space to bring it home so I have not gone through it yet. My question is that it appears that they put a 12 volt alt. & battery because the car spins over very fast but it seems like the wiring is correct looking for 6 volt? Could someone convert to 12 volt without changing the wires? and if so I assume the bulbs must be 12 volt as well. I am not good when it comes to electrical. Would the stock wiring hold up for 12 volt?
Thanks, Joe Todaro, Bedford Hills New York

Answer:One of the reasons the auto industry converted to 12-volts in the '50's was to reduce the cost of the automobile. When the electrical system is changed to 12-volts the amount of current (amps) is reduced to maintain the same electrical power (watts). With the reduction in current in the system the size of the wire can be reduced, therefore saving money.

As the original system wiring is designed for the 6-volt system the wire size is actually heavier than necessary. This doesn't cause any problems in the system. As for the light bulbs, these would also have been changed to 12-volts. This will also affect the horn, either it has been re-wired for 12-volts or a voltage reducer has been installed to reduce the voltage to the horn to 6-volts. The ignition coil would also have been changed or a voltage reducer installed in series for it also. You might wish to contact the previous owner and determine what was actually done when the conversion was done. - Chuck Christensen, 2011 MAFCA Technical Director - posted 12/10/11


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

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 - posted 10/17/11

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Last Updated: 10/11/2018