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Old 11-09-2019, 07:56 PM   #1
Mulletwagon
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Default Cold Weather Operation

Getting cooler down here in Florida where the wind chill is starting to dip below 70. Just wondering how Model As handle the serious cold up North and way up North. Do you install thermostats ? Any difficulty starting or idling ? Do brakes freeze up when wet to the point they are ineffective ? Are the exhaust manifold heaters effective enough to make the cabin comfortable ? We do go below freezing for a week or two on the Panhandle and would welcome the insight.
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

SE Washington State. Just went to weekly Model A breakfast this morning. It was 34. With manifold heater going, I was still in stocking cap and gloves, but better than no heater at all. After 10 or 15 minutes, it almost gets bearable, but I don't take to the cold very well. I have never experienced any issues with brakes, but admittedly, I have not driven much when it snows or below 20, but some folks here do and don't seem to experience any issues. I have only had the car for a little over 2 years and last year the car was out of commission due to being restored. Remember that the Model A was designed in Michigan where it gets pretty damned cold. Also, I do have a thermostat and that does bring it up to 160 very reliably.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

Here in the mountains of North Carolina it's gets cold. Back in 1985 we had a week with temperatures up and down but lows of 25 below. In the early sixties it snowed every Wednesday for a month and never got above freezing, I've seen photos as I wasn't born yet. So I'm wondering how it would have been back then when model A's were fairly new??

Even as a child I remember going to homes where you literally drove through creeks to get to the house. Most weren't very deep and on foot you could probably jump across. It'd be interesting to know what problems there were in more severe conditions. Could the manifold heater really do anything?? How about the windshield fogging up or freezing. I bet it was an adventure in itself sometimes for trips we absolutely take for granted.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

Wisconsin- put mine to sleep in the Winter, usually end of October, out in the spring 1st part of April. Is put away due to tons of salt used on the roads. Do run antifreeze and a 160 degree thermostat in summer and switch to 180 degree thermostat in late fall. Do not have a manifold heater since it would only be used for such a short time. But even then sometimes late in the season the coolant temp does not come up unless it is around town. No problems starting even in below freezing, 2 compressions of choke, release choke and fires right off. What is affected cold is shifting, lots of light grinding due to cold gearbox lube temps.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

I drove my '31 this morning on an early dawn 50 mile trip...temp 27... The first couple of shifts were hard and some grinding but after a few miles the gears shifted normally. I have no heater so it was a little chilly...



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Old 11-09-2019, 10:19 PM   #6
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I drove my '31 this morning on an early dawn 50 mile trip...temp 27... The first couple of shifts were hard and some grinding but after a few miles the gears shifted normally. I have no heater so it was a little chilly...

TerryO
I notice the same thing. My tranny is very smooth at shifting, but the first few minutes in cold weather, I do experience some grinding. I guess the colder and more sluggish oil slows the gears down in between gears way faster than when warm.
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Old 11-09-2019, 11:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

Last week it was near freezing early morning. I always like to test the car to see how she will perform. She started on the first crank of the starter. I don't have a thermostat. She runs fine in this cold. 30 below might be a different story.
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Old 11-10-2019, 06:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

My grandfather had a TT truck he drove to work (into mid to late1930’s). He said his winter regimen was to drain water from radiator when he got home, (Antifreeze was expensive), jack up one rear wheel, put a lighted kerosene lantern under oil pan and cover hood with a tarp.
Next morning: remove tarp and lantern. Crank engine in high gear and get rear wheel rolling like a big flywheel to start. Put transmission in neutral. Remove jack. Fill radiator. Drive to work. Drain radiator on arrival. Refill radiator for drive home.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:13 AM   #9
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

I drove mine a couple times last winter when it was around 10-15 degrees. Covered the radiator halfway with cardboard and bundled up, I have no heater. Starting was fine, just took a little more choke and a couple more cranks. Shifting was also okay but the oil must be almost solid so you have to speed shift just about or the gears slow down too much and they grind.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

I have a waffle manifold and a manifold heater. Even when the temp is in the teens I have to drive with the window open a little or it gets too hot inside. I have a 160* thermostat. No problem starting or shifting.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

The coldest I have been out driving in was -10, hadn't been run in several months, started up easy, took a bit to get in gear, drove a block in first to loosen up the stiff oil, then normal. I do have a thermostat, and a set of tire chains for when it's too bad for snowplow
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Old 11-10-2019, 09:08 AM   #12
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

When I was getting mine going it was mid winter. A little more choke is all. runs just fine in the cold. Not sure how cold but sliding around in the snow. typically I think the two stroke boys have to richen their air/fuel ratio as the colder air is denser and will cause a lean condition on the summer jetting.


As far as fogging if the window is open the funneled air clears the fog away. And for frost the window being straight up and down will prevent most frosting as the frost falls.

Last edited by mike657894; 11-10-2019 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 11-10-2019, 12:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

The A engine loves taking in that cold air.
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Old 11-10-2019, 12:36 PM   #14
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The A engine loves taking in that cold air.
X2, mine runs better when it is cold out than when hot out. Idles lower Rpm and smoother
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Old 11-10-2019, 02:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

Answer your question?
Attached Images
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Old 11-11-2019, 07:52 AM   #16
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The coldest I have been out driving in was -10, hadn't been run in several months, started up easy, took a bit to get in gear, drove a block in first to loosen up the stiff oil, then normal. I do have a thermostat, and a set of tire chains for when it's too bad for snowplow
When it was below freezing, my parents' '55 manual trans Pontiac would try to creep forward in neutral at first.
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Old 11-11-2019, 07:59 AM   #17
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

I have driven my Coupe in below zero weather. The only difficulty was shifting the transmission until the gear oil warmed-up. The speedometer also was erratic because some grease was in the cable.
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Old 11-11-2019, 08:50 AM   #18
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

We, father and I, drove '31 Deluxe Tudor in winter daily when I was in high school, winters of 1955-56 and 1956-57. Went below zero often. Had factory manifold heater and waffle manifold. Not bad at all, including windshield after few minutes warmup. No one thought anything at all of winter-driving the car in those largely pre-salt days. The narrow tires made navigation quite simple, even on inclines, given decent tread. My cousin and I developed a real winter bearcat by eventually putting knobby 16 inch snow tires (from our 1940 Ford two door) on the back, with his dad's chains over the nobbies. We were then unstoppable on country roads, city streets, etc.

Used cardboard to cover lower half of radiator when below zero. 50-50 antifreeze mix year round. '54 Buick Super was more comfortable, though!
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:24 AM   #19
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

When I was in college in the late 50's my Model A coupe was having engine trouble but I found a 1930 Chevy coach for $100. The chevy was a good substitute for the laid up Model A. School was a 4 hour trip and I would run it every other week or two. The Chevy had no heater but it had a radiator cover where you could unsnap small sections at a time to adjust the engine heat on the go. To keep the windshield clear I made a copper box that fit on the dash just under the windshield. That was filled with candle wax with a few wicks in the wax. This worked great and the comments I got from people coming the other way were priceless. The cabin temperature was brutal but when you are young we don't seem to notice. Jack
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:46 AM   #20
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Default Re: Cold Weather Operation

In the winter, I just put half cardboard in front of the radiator, drive it till it hits 160, then back to the garage after its weekly exercise. I know some guys that fill the tank and hibernate it in the garage for the winter, I wont do that.
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