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Old 10-27-2020, 09:52 PM   #1
SteveR.
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Default What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life?

Just installed a new stock/rebuilt engine in my A from a reputable builder. I asked him if it was OK to drive it 45 to 50 mph, or if that would hurt engine life. He suggested that it would likely last much longer if I typically kept it around 40mph or less. I'm inclined to believe him as he has decades of Model A & T experience, pours his own babbits, etc., but I'm curious what the group's experience is on this. I will probably drive the car 1,000 to 2,000 miles per year, so even 30,000 miles will take a long time. If I get 20 years out of this engine that should be plenty.
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:04 PM   #2
antiquepa
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

I Bought my roadster in2002, drove it between 40-45 mph, I had 50,000 miles on the engine when it started loss of power on hills, so i put in a rebuilt one in 2018.
not sure of the miles on the car when i bought it, but it had a re-built engine when i bought it., so i got 16 years out of that engine. sounds to me like you'll get your 20 years..have fun and enjoy!!
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Old 10-27-2020, 11:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

I agree with your builder. If the engine is built like it’s 1929, drive like it’s 1929. If you wanna drive like it’s 2020, buy a car that was built after 1955.
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Old 10-27-2020, 11:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

I don't drive above 45. I guess I'm not in a hurry when I go for a cruise. the car likes that speed and is very smooth.
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Old 10-27-2020, 11:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

There are those that say they drive their Model A 60+mph "all day long". I say let them! My '30 Town Sedan is happy at 45mph and so am I. I know it will go faster but doesn't want to and shows it because she doesn't run as smoothly and quietly when we approach 55mph.
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:30 AM   #6
Patrick L.
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

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What Ruth says. These cars were not built for todays speeds, they are 40-45 mph vehicles. In 1930 only 6.8% of roads were 'improved'. My family went in the auto business in 1918 and salesmen taking a client in a Model A at 60 mph on a paved road for short period was a sales gimmick.
But, that said, with todays oils and clean roads these engines will last a long time. Mine was last rebuilt in 1961.
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Old 10-28-2020, 08:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

when I am in the A I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere so I routinely travel at 35-40.
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Old 10-28-2020, 09:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

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Originally Posted by SteveR. View Post
Just installed a new stock/rebuilt engine in my A from a reputable builder. I asked him if it was OK to drive it 45 to 50 mph, or if that would hurt engine life. He suggested that it would likely last much longer if I typically kept it around 40mph or less. I'm inclined to believe him as he has decades of Model A & T experience, pours his own babbits, etc., but I'm curious what the group's experience is on this. I will probably drive the car 1,000 to 2,000 miles per year, so even 30,000 miles will take a long time. If I get 20 years out of this engine that should be plenty.
Who did your rebuild?
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:24 AM   #9
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

Good Morning...I have been messing with Model A's since 1963, on and off. My experience is that a stock engine in a half way decent car, can be driven at 40 miles an hour for as long as necessary...but no faster...this assumes a 3.78 rear end. Also, keep in mind that the oil should be changed every 500 miles and all 31 or so zurk fittings need to be lubed at the same time...if the car has a 3.54 or 3.27 rear end then the speed can be a bit more. Ernie in Arizona
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

40 is pleanty for me. I want to enjoy the scenery and be confident I can avoid any road issues. I stay off 4 lane roads and 65 MPH traffic as much as possible..
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:59 AM   #11
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

Welcome to Ford Barn. If you want to drive 45 or over you might consider a Mitchel overdrive. I have a Mitchel OD in my 31 coupe and use it also in slower speeds. GREAT OD for climbing hills in low or second over. Enjoy your A at your comfortable speeds.
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Old 10-28-2020, 11:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

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I agree with your builder. If the engine is built like itís 1929, drive like itís 1929. If you wanna drive like itís 2020, buy a car that was built after 1955.
Amen. The sweet spot on a stock Model A Ford is about 40 to 42 MPH on these cars. Listen to the car as you drive it. You will sense and feel it working harder after 42 or 45 MPH or so. Why abuse the car?

That is why it's a smart idea, to keep a 60's muscle car or a 2020 Mustang GT in the garage too so that you can get out and run hard every now and then
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Old 10-28-2020, 11:33 AM   #13
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

I guess I'm the odd one out. Every stock car around here runs 50 no problem. When mine was stock, it ran 50 no problem for many many years.
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Old 10-28-2020, 11:52 AM   #14
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

Same here . I have run mine at 50 MPH for many years with no problem . Momentum is needed to climb the steep hills without needing to down shift . I don't like running at creeping speed and running the risk of getting hit in the back .
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Old 10-28-2020, 02:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

I used to travel to shows on the i/state and state roads 50-55 at least, 1000 mi+ between oil changes, etc. No problems, not sure when or if engine was rebuilt, but acted that way. The "new" to me 40 is a pleasure at 65+ on the highway now.

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Old 10-28-2020, 02:27 PM   #16
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

No more than 40 for me. I do not need to look at the speedometer to tell when I am over 40 mph. Get more life out of the car.............
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Old 10-28-2020, 02:54 PM   #17
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

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Originally Posted by McMimmcs View Post
when I am in the A Iím not in a hurry to get anywhere so I routinely travel at 35-40.
Me too!
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Old 10-28-2020, 03:07 PM   #18
Kurt in NJ
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

The first engine I broke it in slow and easy, rarely over 50, lasted 3000 miles before the rear main crumbled----the engine I have now I knew it would do 67 on the third day of driving, from then on I have driven it trying to break it--- all day at 65, lugged it starting in 3 rd gear, practiced high speed downshifting, ran it on dyno at 3200 rpm, held it in first, second foot to floor to see max speed in each gear

In talking to past owners of model A that drove them to college, they drove as fast as they could to go home to visit girlfriends--over 50 passing every car they could even though they also said they had to put oil in every 100 miles ( used oil)

I was reading in a 1925 Belkin hardware catalog, gears for model T to make car go 55---- people have always gone as fast as they could
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Old 10-28-2020, 03:26 PM   #19
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

I have always been of the opinion that a Model A was designed to run all day long at 45mph with the engine turning over at 2000 rpms (with a 378 ring & pinion). With an overdrive you can travel at a higher speed with the engine still turning over at a lower rate.

I have a 23% Ryan overdrive in my Victoria, I also have a tachometer. Attached is a study I did at various speeds.

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File Type: pdf 4-Tachometer.pdf (220.5 KB, 98 views)
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:02 PM   #20
SteveR.
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Default Re: What is a "reasonable" speed in a Model A for one to get "reasonable" engine life

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Who did your rebuild?
Mr. Model T in College Station.
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