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Old 04-30-2014, 09:06 AM   #1
stouchton
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Default Typical Engine Life !

Hi folks - I tried searching the internet and this forum but could not find an answer to this question:

Roll the clock back to 1931 and buy a brand new Model A. During that era, what was the expected engine life in miles? Were you lucky to get 30 or 40K miles on it before needing serious work?

I know there a lot of extenuating factors, just curious if there was a typical expectation in that era.

Thanks
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:22 AM   #2
George Miller
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

Don't know, but I had a 1930 Town sedan that had 85,000 miles on it when I got it. It was a car that I'm sure lived in Town on good roads. The car was in great shape for its age and miles. I gave it a valve job and adjusted the bearings, which still had all the shims. I'm sure the engine had never been overhauled.
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
Mike V. Florida
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

When the gentleman that built my car the odometer was faded out at 76k.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:42 AM   #4
Keith True
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

I have a 1928 automotive trade journal that states the life expectancy of a vehicle had just been upped to 28,000 miles.My grandfather sold A's new,and was proud of the fact that his new 30 didn't need an overhaul until 33 or 34.Between bad oils,bad gas,and no paved roads it was a wonder they lasted any time at all.When I was little we lived next to the garage where they sold the cars.All summer long you didn't see cars coming,you saw a dust cloud with a car nose sticking out the front of it.The A was really the first low-priced car to change all that.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

I imagine with most roads being gravel/dirt that the engine ate a lot of dust. Especially with no or marginal air cleaners. In addition, with manual chokes and cold weather, the oil was probably diluted with gas more often than not (more so with downdraft carburetors). I've been told by older gentlemen that ring and bearing replacement was common around 20-30,000 miles.
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Old 04-30-2014, 02:14 PM   #6
Marco Tahtaras
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

I'm surprised by some of the responses. When I was a kid (1970ish) original cars were still somewhat common. It was not unusual to find cars around 70k miles that were standard bore and original babbitt which still ran great. I've personally opened up a couple that I can guarantee were as stated above.

As another example, Jim Boehmke purchased the 1930 Coupe below around 1980. The engine seemed a bit loose and certainly was far from 'fresh'. When first acquired, Jim pulled the pan and took up on the bearings as needed and put it back together. He proceeded to use the coupe as his everyday car around town until 2007. Now to be fair, He pretty much kept the car in the Livermore/Pleasanton area and probably never ran it over 40 mph. However his log book shows he added just over 79k miles by the time he sold it a few years ago. I must say that the exhaust sure stunk in recent years but it ran like a clock! There is no way to know for sure but he and I have speculated that the the cylinder head hasn't been off in at least 45 years.

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Old 04-30-2014, 02:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

The AA truck I owned for a short 10 years (and sat in my garage) had 26K original miles. The former owner assured me that the original shims were ALL in the engine and hadn't been taken out under his tenure. And he was sure the former owner before him did NOTHING except move the vehicle around to carry a welder - and maybe change the oil once in a while.

the 26K engine was a bit loose - but not as bad as the original engine of my Model A CC truck - which at estimated 70K had the journals all "egg shaped." (to the tune of 0.003 or more)

I asked Richard Knight of Knight Engineering what he thought was a typical mileage between rebuilds when I had my engine rebuilt.

"Oh, most of them come to me with perhaps 70K miles or so on them. Some more, some less."

He attributed this to dust in the air being carried into the engine. And the wear being evidenced by blowby (taper) in the cylinders rather than lack of adjustment to the mains or rods.

"You definitely will get more life out of an engine if you use an air filter" he said.

Which makes sense given his experience.

Joe K
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Old 04-30-2014, 06:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

I believe that my 30 standard Tudor has just a few valve jobs on top of an original engine that is just a bit tired, so I dont push too hard at 55,402/7
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:37 PM   #9
glenn in camino
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikejunk View Post
I believe that my 30 standard Tudor has just a few valve jobs on top of an original engine that is just a bit tired, so I dont push too hard at 55,402/7
That's the ticket. Don't push'em too hard. 40-45 is hard enough but not sustained for too long. GET OFF THE FREEWAYS AND ENJOY THE RIDE.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:43 PM   #10
pat in Santa Cruz
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

my slant had an original engine in it with 72K miles when I got it. Std bore, Ford script pistons, ford timing gear, Ford valves. I took up the bearings, and noticed one rod was short on shims. At 78K miles, that one rod ran out of shims, so I rebuilt the engine. I could have stuffed a new rod in and kept going, but the timing gear was worn and the crank pin on the shim less rod was not too round anymore, hence the need for frequent adjustment. It hardly burned any oil and only leaked a tiny bit out the rear.. It had been owned by a Redding Cal. Ford dealer's mechanic since 1932, and regularly serviced. He sold it in the early 60's to a kid in town, who only drove it for a summer, then parked it for 45 years.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: Typical Engine Life !

id say with less dusty roads, ALOT smoother roads, and modern oils and gasoline i wouldnt be suprised at 70-80k on origonal built to spec engines
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