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Old 07-14-2019, 10:58 AM   #1
rfitzpatrick
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Default Model A Improvements

What best 'improvement' have you made that Henry would approve? Mine was the Transmission Dip-Stick. Radiator Temp gauge (inside cab) was my second best
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:24 AM   #2
BRENT in 10-uh-C
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Define 'best'. Often times I find people label items as being best or needed simply because they are not willing to do what was considered ordinary maintenance during the era in which the car was manufactured. Then, there are areas of safety such as safety glass or cast-iron brake drums that fit into the category or being better because of safety. I tend to subscribe to the latter area of only wanting to upgrade for true safety items. Next are hidden items that are undetectable or easily camouflaged so the vehicle looks authentic. Items in this area are high-compression heads, camshafts, hi-speed ring & pinion, etc. Does this answer your question?
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Old 07-14-2019, 12:00 PM   #3
Flathead
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

I think the addition of a fuse to the electrical system would be reasonable. To be fair, when the A was new it had genuine Ford wiring properly installed and all brand new so it is hard to know if there was much trouble with shorts.
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Old 07-14-2019, 12:59 PM   #4
Mulletwagon
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Although there is something to be said for bone stock, I am OK with turn signals, 12 volts, negative ground, alternators, electronic ignition, oil/temp gauges, battery cut off switches, and contemporary paint systems. I am good either way.
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Old 07-14-2019, 01:05 PM   #5
Patrick L.
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

1. turn signals
2. LED tail lites
3. fuse
4. cut-off switch
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

I think in terms of maintaining the spirit of an antique, safety items are good improvements as well as anything that was an accessory at the time. For instance I put in an automatic spark advance (the type that replaces the distributor shaft). This was a known aftermarket upgrade.

A great book, for those interested in "authentic" Model A accessories, is "Those wonderful unauthorized accessories for Model A Ford" by Murray Fahnestock. It catalogs the advertising materials for hundreds of accessories. For example there were several manufacturers of rumble seat tops so that rumble seat passengers wouldn't be caught in the rain.
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:21 PM   #7
Purdy Swoft
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Front brake wedge floaters , Fun Projects can style voltage regulator , Twelve volt positive ground upgrade . Halogen head light bulbs that fit the original sockets , Free flowing exhaust , inside temperature gauge , oil pressure gauge , heavy duty eight fins per inch radiator , Pertronix Flame thrower coil , Champion W-18 spark plugs , Modern starter drive , Five point nine compression head , Winfield 3/4 race grind cam , single lock adjustable valve lifters , model B flywheel , Model B style distributor cam , Bronze timing gear , Sealed rear brass water pump bushing with two seals , Aluminum two blade balanced fan , shortened by One and one half inch pitman arm and others that I don't recall off the top of my head .

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Old 07-14-2019, 03:00 PM   #8
Joe K
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Cast iron brake drums. Even Ford went to this late in the Model A game.


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Old 07-14-2019, 04:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

How to improve the Model A - Heck, where do I start!
When it comes to doing anything on the RHS of the motor and driver comfort, I would have run the exhaust gasses forward, then down near the timing gear, under the steering box, then to the muffler. It would then be possible to adjust the valves (not an issue in the day, I know) without taking the manifolds off. It would have been easier to take the manifolds at least removing at least remove the rearmost stud from the block. If you can't get it out, the steering column has to be moved - all to get the manifold off. WTF!
Doing that would also greatly reduce the hot air that comes in around the pedals and straight up the driver's leg. Most uncomfortable in hot weather!
In conjunction with the above, the steering box would have been redsigned so that the bottom can be taken off the carby without bending the tall jet.
I'm outy of time but there's plenty more!
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Seat Belts!!
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Old 07-14-2019, 05:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Everybody has been trying to out do "old Henry" for the last 90 years and it's a tough job if everything is original and in good shape. But there is parts that are superior to the parts and materials made at the time of the model A. I put cast iron brake drums number one for safety sake. I run a 6-volt alternator and turn signals. I lean real hard for keeping them as original as possible for every day drivers.
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:55 PM   #12
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

I think it’s ironic that Model A enthusiasts buy a Model A because of what it is, and then once they obtain one they spend the rest of their lives modifying and upgrading it until it’s no longer a Model A anymore. There are degrees to this phenomenon, and I am guilty of having this tendency myself. It’s definitely funny and ironic though, you start with a Model A and after 12 years of tinkering and upgrades via metamorphosis it becomes comparable to a Toyota. (LOL!, I hope you see the humor and still see the genuine propensity that we have to do this.) I hold myself back, but it’s a hobby, enjoy it as you wish. Make your Model A the way you want it to be.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:07 AM   #13
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

We have come to appreciate the creature comforts, the safety and the performance of new cars. It is so tempting to "improve" the ride for what ever seems to be the annoying features of the 90 year old technology. From reading many things and viewing old advertising videos of the time, it seems apparent that the clunky, noisy, bumpy cars were very much the current technology back then. The Model A lasted 4 production years and went through numerous (quite numerous) changes during its run. It seems that the "New Ford" was itself a trial run even as the first ones were being produced. So, Henry & Co. was improving the car as faults were discovered. Keeping and restoring the Model A to bone stock condition is a pursuit that competition contestants do strive for. For driving around in modern traffic, I think we do many "improvements" just so we don't feel like sitting ducks in traffic or so as to not crack it up. Things like turn signals and improving the brakes with cast iron drums. The list probably starts there. Alternators too. As has been voiced by many earlier in this thread, the word "improvements" is pretty darned subjective.

My own "improvements" include:

Cast iron drums
Basic floaters
Alternator (6-volt pos ground NuRex)
Battery shut-off and also fuse.
Nu-Rex base plate and points in distributor
Turn Signals + RH talil light
Thermostat
Inside temperature gauge
My car came with sealed beam headlights so I did go to Halogen
Modern shocks (My car had none when I bought it)

So, I've done several. It still runs and sounds like a Model A.

Some day I may go for a high compression head, balanced crank and even overdrive. My wife hates the uncomfortable seats. See how this thing progresses? Like a disease!

Oh, and what would Henry approve?? None of it. He wanted to stay with the Model T and didn't much approve of the A to begin with. Ha ha.
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Last edited by Magicbox51; 07-15-2019 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:29 AM   #14
ryanheacox
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

If someone comes out with a water pump delete kit Henry would probably approve of that.


As far as what I approve of, cast iron drums top the list.
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Old 07-15-2019, 09:05 AM   #15
goodcar
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Synchromesh transmission, open drive shaft, seat belts, more accessible crankshaft pulley and timing gear, pushbutton starter--most of these not a big deal but you asked.
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Old 07-15-2019, 09:56 AM   #16
Bob Bidonde
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

The Model "A" Ford as Henry built it needs some changes to adapt to today's traffic. Henry would not likely have approved of any of these changes, but my Model "A's" are safer because of them:
>Halogen headlights
>2 LED tail lights
>Turn signals
>Brake floaters
>12V electrical system
>Improved radiator
>Cast fan
>Safety glass
>Improved electrical grounds
>Improved carburetor float valve
>Modern lubricants
>Improved 4-Cylinder engine (AKA the Model "B" engine)
>Hi-compression cylinder head
>Improved water pump
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:30 AM   #17
RB_Nielsen
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Alternator (6v + Nurex)
Turn signals (Turnswitch.com - solid state self cancelling)
LEDs both headlight/tail lights
Rebuilt carb (Marvel. S)
Cast iron drums
Stipe shocks
Pertronix coil/ignition

Last edited by RB_Nielsen; 07-15-2019 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:39 AM   #18
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Seat Belts
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:12 AM   #19
Mulletwagon
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Yep, it is all about your destination. Are you going to Pebble Beach or Dairy Queen.
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:32 AM   #20
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Default Re: Model A Improvements

Replaced and upgraded everything but the frame and body, those only needed some patch panels and modifications. Best improvement would be the drive train.
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