Lions Gate Model A Club

Dedicated Model A enthusiasts from across
British Columbia and Washington State!

Technical Tips

This is a collection of tips presented by club members. If you have any additional tips to share, please send to webmaster@lionsgatemodelaclub.com


Corrections for errors in Les Andrew's Technical Books

The George Washington Chapter of MAFCA has posted a list of errors and corrections to these books.
Click on the following for a copy Les Andrew's Corrections


Stan Rothstein has passed on a tip that ethanol-free gasoline is no longer available in most gas stations in B.C.
The only stations that now offer it is Chevron and possibly Co-Op and Costco (to be confirmed) in their premium grades.
The addition of ethanol to all gasoline products in recent times dissolves older tank sealer and it is deposited throughout the fuel system, especially the carburetor. It becomes all sticky and causes the needle and seat valve to stick open and leak.
Even if a collector car has the proper gas tank sealer to accommodate alcohol, the corrosive action on engine parts, especially fuel systems, can be very detrimental to your vehicle's health.
The best advise is to use only Chevron 94 (if you can afford it)
Here is a link where you can search for ehtanol-free gas pure-gas.org

Here is an example - left to right:
Super Shell (formerly ethanol free) ethanol has separated and mixed with added water at bottom
Ethanol in SuperShell has dissolved tank sealer
Chevron 94 water added has settled to bottom


Polishing Your Car

The following documents have been provided by Glen Yates of S&S Distributors, who gave our group a demonstration at our September 2022 General Meeting. Contact information and product pricing can be found under "Suppliers/Paint and Body"

LGMAC Tech Session
Auto Polishing - the Basics
Single Stage Paint
Adams Polishing 101 Video


Steering Box Grease

If your steering box is leaking due to worn seals, CV joint grease can be used as it will not leak out. It is available at Lordco.
Do not use chassis grease.


Wheel Alignment using Toe Plates (by Mike Chapman)

Front wheel toe-in can be checked by various methods, including a spring rod and hanging chain between the tires, but below is a handy tool you can make yourself with just a few pieces of wood (or metal if you want something more durable).
Toe Plates can also be puchased from vendors such as Summit Racing.
Before checking alignment, check to see if your wheel rims are bent ("wobble") by jacking up the front end and spinning the tire. Mark the most out-of-line point on the tire and rotate so this point is at the 12:00 position. By doing this you will be measuring from straight areas of the wheels. Roll the car back and forth a few feet to let the suspension settle.

Toe plates are placed against each front tire and tape measures are strung between them. Plastic bags are put under the tires to allow easier movement of tires.
Tape measures are hooked in slots on one side of car.


Ensure there is equal tension on each tape.
Read the tapes on the other side. The difference between the two measurements is the toe-in (the rear tape should read more than the front).
Ford recommended 1/16" +/- 1/32" but up to 1/8" is good also. Any more could result in excessive tire wear.
It's easy to reach under the fender to rotate the tie-rod with a pipe wrench or vise-grips, after loosening the ends, and see the change.

Fabrication sketch. Click on image for larger picture

Steering Wheel Repair

Jon Carey has created a video showing how to refurbish a steering wheel.
Click on the image above to watch the video.

Restoring Whitewall Tires

Bob Fulton passed on this easy method at a recent meeting:

1. Clean tire with a rubber-safe cleaner such as Pro-form Final Wipe Solvent (now called Mild Wax and Grease Remover available at automotive paint suppliers or Lordco)
2. Apply Kiwi running shoe whitener and allow to dry thoroughly for a long lasting finish.


Use of Robertson Screws on Canadian Model A's

One of the unique manufacturing features of Canadian built Model A's was the use of Robertson screws in place of slotted head machine and wood screws used in American-built cars.
Here is a summary of the locations that Robertson screws were used Robertson Screws

Painting Your Car
Are you planning bodywork and/or painting of your car? Confused about surface preparation and the many types of paints available, where and when to use them? Here is a link to the PPG Custom Restoration Guide which will help to guide you through the process. Although it is based on only certain lines of PPG paints, the general principles apply to most others. You can also download a pdf copy using one of the icons at the top of the page in the link below. Your chosen paint supplier, such as Lordco, can generally supply more information on their available paint products.

PPG Custom Restoration Guide
How to Free a Seized Clutch

At the end of an extended storage period, the flywheel, clutch disc, and pressure plate are often found to be fused together by rust and can be difficult to separate. Here is a proven method to solve the problem. (submitted by Gary Morrow and Al Glen).
How to Free a Seized Clutch Disc
Here are links to some good Youtube videos and Technical Tips

Manifoild Gasket Installation by Paul Shinn

Mitchell Overdrive Installation by Paul Shinn

How and Overdrive works by Paul Shinn

How to lubricate a Model A by Paul Shinn

Zenith Carburetors by Bob Guimarin

Model A emergency brake spring and backing plate work part 1 by Robert Sumption

Model A emergency brake spring and backing plate work part 2 by Robert Sumption

Rebuilding a 2-tooth Steering Box

MAFCA has also published a list of tips provided by members click here

ICBC Vintage Plate Driving Restricions in B.C.

Your vehicle must be:

- at least 30 years old,
- maintained as close as possible to its original condition with original parts,
- restored to a condition that conforms as nearly as possible to the original manufacturer's specifications,
- owned as a collector's item and mechanically sound.

Driving Restrictions:

Special occasions only

Vehicles with vintage plates may only be used for special occasions for example; exhibitions, parades, car club activities, community events, weddings and graduations (except if receiving payment for use). Everyday pleasure driving is not permitted.

No business use or test driving

An antique vehicle may not be used for business or commercial purposes. The vintage plates can't be used for licensing purposes when test driving an antique vehicle. For test driving, the seller should buy a Temporary Operation Permit, which is vehicle operation permit purchased to provide insurance and licensing for 15 days or less.

Driving at night

If your vehicle doesn't have the lights and reflectors required by the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, you may not drive it between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.

Insuring your antique vehicle

You can protect your vintage car investment by buying ICBC optional insurance: Collision, Comprehensive or Specified Perils. Because the use of a vintage vehicle is restricted, you'll probably pay less for these coverages.


Checking your rear end gear ratio

1. Jack up one rear wheel so only one will turn.
2. Remove spark plugs.
3. Put vehicle in high gear and release the hand brake.
4. Place the crank in the cranking position.
5. Have someone monitor the turning of the raised rear wheel. Mark the wheel with chalk or masking tape.
6. Count the number of crank turns to turn the rear wheel twice.
7. If it takes slightly less than 4 turns of the crank the ratio is 3.78 (Standard Model A ratio, typically found on light cars.)
8. If it takes slightly more than 4 turns of the crank the ratio is 4.11 (Optional Model A ratio, typically found on heavy or commercial cars, such as Pickups, Fordor Sedans, and Station Wagons, or in mountainous terrain.)
9. If it takes a little more than 3-1/2 turns of the crank the ratio is 3.54 (generally aftermarket "high speed" ratio)

Alternate method:

1. Jack up one rear wheel so only one will turn.
2. Remove spark plugs.
3. Put vehicle in high gear and release the hand brake.
4. Make an index mark on the front pulley of the engine with chalk or masking tape and have someone monitor it.
5. Rotate the raised rear wheel 10 times, while counting the number of turns of the cranksahft (front pulley).
6. Multiply the number of turns of the crankshaft (pulley) by 2 and divide by 10.
7. The resulting number is the approximate gear ratio.
8. If the rear end and torque tube are out of the car, count the number of turns of the driveshaft.
9. Crankshaft revolutions: 20.5 > 4.11: 19 > 3.78: 17.5 > 3.54: 16.5 >3.27

Want to know what effect changing your gear ratio has on rpm? Here is a handy rpm calculator. Remember, 475/500 x 19 Model A tires are about 30" diameter, 450 x 21 tires are about 30.8" diameter. Spicer RPM calculator


Model A Basics - how things work on a Model A Ford

Model A Basics link

Annual Checklist


Ignition Timing (January 2018)

The attached summary is similar to that described by Les Andrews, but with a few additional notes.
Click on the following link Ignition Timing


Problems with Ethanol Fuel in Older Vehicles

The attached article regarding proposed Canadian regulations for increasing ethanol in fuel to 15% was published in the Province newspaper (Nov. 23, 2017).
Ethanol Fuel


Windshield Assembly (by Ron Heppner - Nov. 2016)

Click on link for Ron's tips Windshield Assembly


Ford Adjustable Wrench Repair (by Ron Heppner - Feb. 2016)

Ron presented his method for repairing an old worn out adjustable wrench. Click on link for his description Ford adjustable wrench repair


Automotive GPS Units (by Ron Heppner - Feb. 2016)

Here is almost everything you need to know about the getting most out of your GPS unit. Click on the link Automotive GPS

Battery Disconnect and Starter Switches (by Monte Robinson - Feb. 2015 and Mike Chapman)

Club Member Monte Robinson discussed the importance of installing a battery cutoff switch between the positive battery terminal and ground. These can be mounted below your seat or through a hole in your floorboard. The switch can also be installed on the negative side but ensure that the terminals are protected from accidental shorting to ground when working around it with tools (assuming normal positive ground).

Only use a heavy duty master disconnect switch, not one of those cheap devices that attach to the battery terminal. Remember that the full starting current will pass through the switch. These are available from sources such as NAPA and Lordco. Look for a 175 amp rating such as Cole Hersee series 2484 (2484 Battery Disconnect Data Sheet). Note that turning the switch off while the car is running will not stop the engine, and this should never be done as it could cause excessive generator or alternator output and damage to these or your electrical circuits. The ignition switch should be turned off first.

Monte also stressed the importance of checking your starter switch. He dispalyed a number of used switches, some reproductions that have very thin insulating paper between the copper contactor and the body. The battery cable should be attached with the switch off the starter to ensure that the contactor is not twisted against the side of the switch. If you are buying a new switch, ensure it is made in USA.

Buying and Importing a Model A from the USA (By Derek Morton - January 2015)

Derek has gone through the process to buy his 1930 Coupe and has documented the procedure. CLICK HERE TO VIEW
Hagerty Collector Car Insurance (January 2015)

Guest Nigel Matthews of Hagerty Insurance gave an educational talk on the benefits of Agreed Value insurance, which ICBC no longer provides. "Collector cars require special consideration by knowledgeable staff who appreciate what they are and their true value. An agreed value policy is the only policy that you are guaranteed to receive the sum of money agreed upon by the vehicle owner and the insurer, it is a contract.
For some questions and answers plus more information CLICK HERE

Storing/Winterizing the Model A (by Hugh Hunter, Oct. 2014: edited October 2023)

winterizing checklist

These notes are a product of discussion and friendly debate led by Hugh Hunter at the LGMAC General Meeting on 21 October 2014. They summarize consensus – on some issues there was no complete agreement.

1. Change oil. Gets rid of accumulated acids and carbons. Do not leave engine empty – condensation will be a problem. Use oil with zinc substitute additive. Ideally, refill with 15/40 multi-grade oil with detergent.
2. Drain and refill cooling system. Refill completely to overflow pipe with rust inhibitor antifreeze. Run engine to ensure system is emptied of air pockets. Ideally, use a/f intended for use with cast iron blocks – ethylene or propylene glycol. Alternatively, plumbing antifreeze is ok, but may attack rubber (debate). Avoid a/f designed for use with modern aluminum blocks.
For more accurate and simple measurement of antifreeze freezing point, use a refractometer - available from Amazon, about $25
3. Fill Gas Tank. Use gasoline stabilizer/conditioner. Look for a stabilizer specifically intended for ethanol fuels, such as Lucas Safeguard Ethanol fuel treatment. Avoid gasolines using ethanol, if available.
4. Drain Carburetor and Sediment Bowl. Pull drain plug and clean screen on carburetor. Check gas tank filler screen if you have one.
5. Clean body thoroughly and wax. Use heavy flock cover to avoid abrasion from movement of cover. Apply canvas conditioner for soft tops.
6. Clean undercarriage including fenders. Spray entire undercarriage including fenders with Fluid Film (available at all auto supply houses). Include all contact points – brakes, springs, hangers, connectors.
7. Rodent protection. Weather blocks, Lemon Pledge, mousetraps, resident cat….
8. Battery disconnect, top up, trickle charge on a regular basis once a month.
9. Repack front wheel bearings (strong debate)
10. Back off tension screw on horn (optional)
11. Block up vehicle – optional. No need to worry with modern tires.
12. Keep a record of what has been done for the winterizing. Hang it on the steering wheel.

Here's some more tips from Hagerty: Winter storage tips

Oil Additives (by Mike Chapman, Feb 2013: edited October 2023)

Most currently available motor oils contain a zinc/phosphorous anti-wear additive commonly known as ZDDP. Because the phosphorus tends to reduce catalytic converter life, the maximum allowable level of ZDDP has been reduced from about 1400 - 1600 parts per million (ppm) in 1997 (API class SH oil) to current levels of 800 ppm (API class SM/SN). Some people have found that this has caused premature camshaft wear in engines with flat tappet camshafts, especially during engine break-in. It is debateable if this a real concern with normal operation of Model A engines due to the low valve spring pressures and low rpm, however I was strongly advised to use a ZDDP break-in additive when I recently had my camshaft reground. It has also been found to reduce piston ring wear.

If you are concerned about possible increased wear in your engine there are some alternatives.
1. Mobil 1 15W-50 (1300 ppm ZDDP) - about $12/liter at Canadian Tire
2. Diesel oil such as Shell Rotella T (~1000 ppm ZDDP)
3. Castrol GTX Classic 20W50(~1500 ppm ZDDP) available at Lordco. For more info see this video: Castrol GTX Classic review
4. ZDDP additives. A good choice here is Lucas Break-in Additive - about $16/bottle at Lordco. One 16 oz. bottle added to 4.5 quarts will increase the ZDDP level to 5000 ppm. Therefore one bottle is enough to last 4-5 oil changes using commonly available motor oil and will give you much improved wear protection at an economical price. This should not be used in modern engines with catalytic converters.
Lucas Break-in Additive



Rebuilding Water Pumps (by John Haddon, May 17, 2012)

There were three water pump designs used during production of the Model A.  The first casting, used from the beginning to about mid 1928 had a small hole on the bottom of the body.  It then changed to a unit with a large oval opening on the bottom of the casting which was used to the end of production.  From April 1929 to April 1930 they also used a pump with no grease fittings which is really not suitable for restoration.  Clean and bead blast the pump housing, make sure there are no cracks in the casting  then paint with two coats of Ford Engine Green Enamel paint.  Block off the front bearing compartment, the lubrication holes and the rear bushing compartment to ensure they stay paint free. 
In rebuilding a "LEAKLESS" pump I have found the following parts and the suppliers to be most satisfactory. 
1.   Snyder's sell very high quality water pump shafts which are made from a hard stainless steel and are a full .625" (5/8") diameter.  I use the shafts which are about 1/4" too long to compensate for wear on the thrust post inside the head.  When fitting the new pump onto the head you will have to grind the end of the shaft to fit properly with a fairly thin gasket then change to a bit thicker gasket (about .006" thicker) for final installation which permits a few thousands of an inch clearance between the shaft end and the thrust post.
2.   The leakless rear bushing, the brass packing nut (1928/29), the solid ring lead packing, the bearing felts & washers, the impeller, both the brass square washer and the steel tear drop washer and the grease fittings from  Bratton's are all very good quality and proper.  Do not use the Aluminum packing nut sold by Bratton's it is not proper for 1930/31.  The original 1930/31 packing nuts were Cadmium plated steel.   Good quality reproduction Cad. plated packing nuts are sold by Mac's who also sell a package containing two strips of lead packing which are easy to use in conjunction with the solid lead rings from Bratton's. 
3.  Use a Torrington bearing for the front of the pump, # B-1416-OH which has an Oil Hole to permit future lubrication.  These bearings are now made by Koyo and are very high quality although they are pricey and somewhat difficult to obtain since they are a proprietary bearing and not commonly stocked.  You will have to order from a good bearing supplier. The bearing is matched with a race made by McGill, # MI 10.  The race is much easier to obtain but you need both parts.  I tried the modern bearing & sleeve sold by Bratton's and was not impressed by the quality even though the price was good. 
When assembling a new pump, press the race onto the shaft leaving exactly 1.750" inches from the leading edge of the race to the shoulder edge at the front of the shaft.  Use a bit of #641 loctite on this installation to ensure the race stays in place.  Before installing the rear bushing check the outside diameter to ensure that it is no larger than 1.118" inches.  Bratton's bushings always seem to be exactly the right size but it is still worth checking.  I have found wide variations in bushings from other suppliers.  Rub a bit of grease inside the bushing when installing and be sure to line up the hole on the side of the bushing with the lubrication hole on the casting.  The bushing is a .001" interference fit so needs to be pressed into the housing.  Be sure to pack the front Torrington bearing with grease before installation.  I use Amsol, Synthetic lithium complex grease in water pumps.  Use one solid lead ring and one strip of lead packing, cut to proper length, in a new packing nut which provides the right amount of thickness.  If possible use an old packing nut with Ford's original lead packing in place, they work very well.  When pressing the impeller on the rear of the shaft leave about .005" clearance between the impeller and the washer.  Drill a 1/8" hole through the impeller and the shaft to install a spring pin to ensure that the impeller is secure.  The stainless steel shafts from Snyder's are very hard and difficult to drill so make sure to use a good quality, sharp, drill bit with the pump and shaft well secured in a pair of "V" blocks on your drill press to drill this small hole.            

Vacuum Wipers (thanks to Bill Day)

The Restorer magazine January/February 2012 issue featured a short article on lubricating vacuum wiper motors. I had installed a rebuilt vacuum wiper on my 1930 Roadster Pickup and had been (as predicted by others) disappointed in the utterly inadequate performance of the wipers – weak, intermittent, floppy action that came to a dead stop under any acceleration or slight uphill climb. The article explained that vacuum wipers need regular lubrication – a teaspoon of light oil (I used 3in1) sucked in to the motor through a six inch bit of hose and manual movement of the wiper blade. The result was close to miraculous. The wiper now works like a damn, and is completely adequate. The rebuild was obviously well done. Apparently, frequent lubrication is necessary. For me, this was worth the subscription to the MAFCA.


What to look for when buying a multi-meter to use for maintenance of your Model A: (thanks to Brian Carlson)

  • modern digital meters are preferable to older analogue style
  • models that use AA or other common batteries are best
  • a diode checker is handy
  • a continuity checker is very handy as it gives an audible tone
  • auto-voltage measurement is simpler to use but has slower response
  • expect to pay $50+ for a good multi-meter
  • RP Electronics is a good source

Water Pump Removal 28-31 (thanks to Tom Spouse)

Water Pump Mounting Bolt Set should be ordered by every Model A owner so that when the opportunity arises, the bolt set can be installed in place of the studs normally used. This makes the removal of the pump much easier.


1. Drain the radiator.
2. Move the generator to slacken the fan belt.
3. place a piece of cardboard (about a foot square) in front of the fan and tape it to the radiator. This will protect the radiator from damage by the nut on the fan. Many radiators have damage from water pump removal.
4. Remove the two nuts on the front of the rods from the cowl to the radiator.
5. Slacken the lower radiator hose clamp on the upper radiator hose.
6. Pull the radiator forward until it touches the headlight bar.
7. Remove the water pump mounting bolts and remove the pump.
8. The centre hood rod will have come out of it’s socket so you may need another person to help reinstall it in it’s socket.


Troubleshooting Ignition Circuit

You will need a circuit tester for the following (under $10 at most hardware stores). Carry it in your toolbox along with these directions.
Circuit tester

Turn ignition key OFF.

  • Connect the test clip to a good ground point on the engine or frame.
  • Touch the probe to the passenger side terminal box wing nut. - Light on.
  • Touch the probe to the driver side terminal box wing nut. - Light on.
  • Touch the probe to the (-) terminal on coil. - Light on.
  • Touch the probe to the (+) terminal on coil. - Light on.
  • Place a piece of paper between the point contacts. Now turn ignition key ON.
    Touch the probe to the end of the points arm. - Light on.
  • Remove paper between points. Open and close points and look for spark each time points open,
    (no spark means bad condenser, replace condenser).
  • If points are sparking then disconnect the coil center (high tension wire) from the distributor cap
    (leave connected at distributor end).
  • Place the free end of the coil wire about 1/8" from one of the engine head nuts.
  • Crank the engine over with the ignition key on. There should be a bright blue arc from the coil wire to the nut (ground point). No arc means bad coil.

Print this this file and keep in your car with a trouble light Toublshooting Model A Ignition along with a copy of the wiring diagram Model A Wiring Diagram

Another handy item to carry with you is a jumper cable made from an old ignition cable, with an alligator clip on one end and distributor connection on the other. Use this to bypass ignition switch.


Brake re-lining

Please note that AV Aldous has relocated their shop to:
#208 - 13308 - 76th. Ave., Surrey
. ( a few blocks west of Canadian Tire off King George Blvd.)
ph. (778) 564-3790
. The business has been sold and is now named Senco Brake and Machine Works.
They recommend you use soft bonded linings with cast iron drums and riveted linings with steel drums or emergency brakes. See Suppliers page for more information.


Adjusting Brakes (thanks to John Haddon for the inspiration, Sept. 2012)

Paraphrasing from Les Andrews, " Every brake job must start with a complete inpsection and correction of the mechanical levers." Just fitting new brake drums and shoes is not enough. Starting with the brake pedal shaft and working through the cross shaft, brake rods and actuating arms, check for looseness and wear and replace any worn components. Les Andrews' Mechanic's Handbook outlines the procedure for rebuilding all of the brake components. Note however that early 1928 brakes are much different than the standard setup. New cast iron drums should be used and the club has the facilities for swedging new wheel studs into your hubs and drums.

After final assembly the brakes should be adjusted using the method outlined in this article Service Brake Adjustment


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