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Old 04-23-2020, 09:10 PM   #1
daddymikey1975
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Default To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

My fiancé and I are considering picking up a 1929 2 door. It's got 64k miles. Body is mint but missing a few panels. Needs an interior. The engine runs and it drives. Has new brakes. Radiator leaks and still needs restored.

I don't mind putting the time and money onto it but when budgeting for a project like this (this will be my first) should I rebuild the engine anyway or see how well or runs and check compression and make a decision based on the perceived health of the engine? (I'm very mechanically inclined).

Thanks for the input.

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Last edited by daddymikey1975; 04-23-2020 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 04-23-2020, 09:48 PM   #2
daveymc29
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

I would first get to know my car. Make it drive as well as your abilities can and take it for a few runs to see how it behaves. Do change all of the fluids first and check the timing and all the electrical needs. Make sure the brakes, brake and the accelerator accelerates. If all those things happen and the car fits your needs, then delve more into the interior. I'd get compression readings a couple of times, once as is and once more after re-torquing the head to 55 psi. Pull the pan and tray out of pan and clean and check the clearances. If all if good drive it some more to make sure you really want to spend the time, effort and money into a restoration, or just clean it up and enjoy it the way it is. What do you really want out of the car? But by ll means get to know it before plowing thousands into a rebuild and maybe years into a restoration only to find it is not a fit for what you were looking for in it in the first place. Good luck. Unless you don't count your labor as anything but entertaining yourself and learning about your vehicle, you will probably find this to be a hole in the road you throw money into.
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Old 04-23-2020, 10:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

I to would drive it and get to know it well. A compression test will give you some idea of the condition of the engine. I am in the process of restoring my 1930 Model A Coupe and things are getting done slowly as money allows. If you plan to restore it for show, make sure you have plenty of money ready, if it's going to be a daily driver, then I would say use it and fix when you can. Good luck and put up some pictures when you can. Hugh
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Old 04-23-2020, 11:28 PM   #4
Gil Sissons
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Since this is your first go with a Model A.....
Find the nearest Model A club. Go to a meeting and make
a connection there. In almost all clubs there are true experts
with these cars. Ask if one of them will come and help you
evaluate the car you are considering.
Time and effort will definitely pay off.
Buying lunch always a good idea.
Wishing you well

Gil. NoCal
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:30 AM   #5
Charlie Stephens
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Add your general location to your profile, you can never tell when it will pay off. How about some pictures?

Charlie Stephens

Last edited by Charlie Stephens; 04-24-2020 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:48 AM   #6
McMimmcs
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

You might want to contact your local Model A club to first establish a relationship. Request that someone in the club assist in a valuation. If you’ve never restored a Model A before you may be shocked at the cost of restoration. It is not a cheap venture. They can also give an opinion concerning the condition of the engine. Welcome to the hobby and the FordBarn!
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Old 04-24-2020, 02:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

I tend to check an engine over and get it running. If they need repairs, sometimes they're not dramatic. If they are, technology still exists to fix them, for now.
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Old 04-24-2020, 03:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

I'm with the others, see how it drives before you tear into it. The sad reality is it will take far more money to do a complete restoration then it will be worth at the end. Now if you plan to keep the car for many years you might be good, but if you are already looking at money then see how it runs first.
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Old 04-24-2020, 07:19 AM   #9
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

If you are in the "fiancé" stage of your relationship, and new to the Model A cars, I suggest you shop for a complete driver Model A. Restoring a car can be time and money consuming and a strain on a fresh relationship.
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Old 04-24-2020, 07:29 AM   #10
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Try and find out the history of the car, it could be a survivor that has been kept running for years or it could have been restored with a rebuilt engine a few decades ago, an engine rebuild would be a big plus. I restored a 29 tudor and they are pretty simple but there is lots of wood in the top, something to check. Just depends on what you want to do but try and find out the history if you can. Take lots of photos before you work on it. Look up the number on the motor to make sure it matches the title and look it up to see if it is a 29.
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Old 04-24-2020, 08:28 AM   #11
rotorwrench
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

These cars are remarkably resilient. Get it running and see how it goes from there. It might surprise you. If it does show to have problems such as bearing knock, piston slap, or other malady then you can start planning for an internal engine excursion. It's not uncommon to stick valves but a good oiling of cylinders and a compression test will let you know about that.
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Old 04-24-2020, 08:56 AM   #12
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

We had a couple safety slogans at the shop where I worked that apply here: "Expect the Unexpected", and "Trust But Verify". Are the brakes really new (ALL wear components replaced or rebuilt? Or just new lining?)? You will need to pull all the drums and check. The engine is another unknown. Since you do your own work, for the price of a pan gasket set you can have a guaranteed sludge free pan and properly adjusted bearings.
Are you familiar with how to use the timing lever? It's not a set and forget deal. Ignition timing is totally controlled by that lever; there is no advance mechanism inside the distributor. Running full advance (lever all the way down) at low RPMs can shorten bearing life due to detonation, and running at higher RPM's with the lever too far up (retarded timing) leads to overheating and possible burned exhaust valves.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:20 AM   #13
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

On the positive side of the equation it sounds like your fiance is a keeper since she also wants a Model A...


TOB
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:37 AM   #14
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryO View Post
On the positive side of the equation it sounds like your fiance is a keeper since she also wants a Model A...


TOB
Ditto...Can she turn a wrench?
Working together on a car can be very bonding in a relationship.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:46 AM   #15
77Birdman
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Perspective from a want to be owner... I have bought dozens of antique motorcycles over the years, many dating from the 20's. The first thing I did with everyone regardless of condition was to sort out the motor. This may be easier on a one or two cylinder m/c engine but probably not any cheaper! So if it were me, I would take the engine out and do a once over. That way you KNOW what its made of and its capabilities. Nothing like having a new to you car that you think runs ok, take it out for a sunday stroll and end up on a rollback. That would sure put a sour taste in my mouth!! You said car was mint but some panels missing, is that int. or sheet metal. Wood is another weak point with these cars, and replacing and repairing is not for the faint of heart. Not knowing your price point, but consider that for not much more than the price of a lot of 'projects' you can get a pretty decent, older restoration that may need less work. Good luck with your venture.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:13 AM   #16
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

I would pass it up if the price is not very reasonable,check prices on Ford barn etc.As it has been said you would be putting a small fortune into the car that you will never recover if you do decide to sell it,also if you can't do most of the work outside labor is very expensive.I would do research on what it would cost to getting into shape as a dependable driver,sometimes a restored car is the best way to go and cheapest.good luck and welcome to the Barn.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:21 AM   #17
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

If you drop the oil pan clean the oil pump screen, and if you find sludge clean it out as best as you can. If sludge, remove the Valve Access Cover, clean out there and clean out the 3 oil passages in the bottom of the valve galley.


You are most likely aware, do not even turn it over if it has old gas. Get rid of the old gas and drain the carb float bowl/sediment bowl/sediment bowl filter screen/carb gas filter.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:50 AM   #18
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Don't buy the first one you come across. There are a lot of them out there. Start with a nice driver. Join that local club.
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:30 AM   #19
30 Closed Cab PU
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

I agree with Jackson and others above. Find the best one you can for the amount of money you have budgeted. Interiors and reupholstering are expensive. If the wood is not good, lot of time/effort/costs especially if you are not into woodworking/fabrication. For a good top of the line radiator $500-$600. Nice that it has new brakes, if they are set up correctly and a true restoration, you should be able to skid all 4 tires on pavement without a huge effort.


Motors can also be expensive, Motor work including Babbitting or Inserts on the Mains and Rod Bearings replacements are best left to shops with experience and a good reputation.
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:06 PM   #20
daddymikey1975
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Default Re: To rebuild or not to rebuild - that is the question.

Lots of good advice here!

To clarify - the body is in mint or excellent condition with a few caveats.

Doors are off but sandblasted and ready for primer. One side of the hood is missing - the other is with the car and in great shape. One side fenders and running board are missing. Other is in great shape. Fender for rear spare tire and bracket are with the car and in decent shape.

Radiator is original but leaks a little.

Car has no interior and current owner put plywood down to have a floor for now. Dash is in the car with gauges, steering wheel etc. Lights all come with it and look original. Current owner has all new chrome pieces for interior still in plastic bags.

I'm aware that it'll take a few years and maybe ten grand or so to get it done enough to be a Sunday driver. We don't plan to enter in shows. Just for our own pleasure.

Fiancé = she can turn a wrench and we plan to make this a project to bond over. We're definitely not a new relationship. Lol

My plan is to get the car home and go through all the wheel ends (brakes and bearings) suspension and chassis to verify condition.

Then go through the engine and verohiw it runs and assess if it needs rebuilt or not. (same with the trans).

Once the chassis is in order and its able to be driven then start getting the rest of the body panels and have it painted. Then get the interior done.

Current owner is asking $5k or best offer. And he's 12 hours from me.

I'll post up pictures soon.

Thoughts?

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