Entries tagged with “Keith-Waltower”.

I spent the day today working on my Model A Ford at Keith Waltower’s garage down in West Newton PA.  I’m in the middle of a complete brake job, checking and fixing every single piece that is involved in braking.  I had a wonderful moment today when all of a sudden I realized how fortunate I was to be able to spend the day surrounded by so many amazing classic cars while working on my own, PLUS having an expert within earshot to ask about anything I needed to know.  Not to mention having access to any tool I might need.  What a great way to spend a day.

Summary: when resurfacing the manifold, leave the exhaust and intake manifolds bolted together.

  1. So they will be the same thickness when you’re done
  2. Because the bolts that hold them together are often rusted and will disintegrate and not go back together again later. You may have to drill and re-tap the hole, and use bigger bolts.


Every maintenance saga starts off the same way: someone says something like, “Oh yeah, that should be an easy fix.” This time at least it wasn’t me who said it.

When I first got the engine running on my 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe I noticed that there was an imperfect seal between the engine block and the exhaust manifold. I could see little puffs of smoke coming out. If you’re not a car person, the exhaust manifold is a cast-iron branching tube that funnels the exhaust out of the engine and into the exhaust pipe. I mentioned the leak to my friend Devin, and he was the one who said the famous last words this time, “It’s easy to replace that gasket. You don’t even have to take the manifold all the way off to do it.”

So I bought a new gasket, loosened the nuts on the manifold, slid out the old gasket, and slid in the new one. Easy. Except that it didn’t fix the problem.

I mentioned it to the guys at one of the meetings of the 3 Rivers Region Model A Ford Restorer’s Club and was told that I might have to have my manifold resurfaced. Apparently this is a common problem with Model A Ford manifolds. After a while the flat surfaces that are supposed to be perfectly flush with the side of the engine block get warped and no longer make a good seal. Fortunately Keith Waltower is in our club, and he is a very experienced mechanic of old cars. He told me of a NAPA shop down in Belle Vernon PA that had a giant belt sander that could do the resurfacing more quickly, easily, and cheaper than taking it to a machine shop. Apparently a lot of the cost of getting a part machined is in the set-up, and with a giant belt sander there would be no set-up.

I was trying to get the car ready to drive for a 4th of July parade in Cannonsburg with the Model A club in a couple of days, so I was in a bit of a hurry to get the job done. The place that Keith mentioned was about a 45 minute drive from my house, so I made a few calls to see if I could get the resurfacing done somewhere a little closer to home. Most places couldn’t do it soon enough, and they wanted about $80. So off I went to Belle Vernon with my exhaust manifold. In hind-sight I now know that this is where I made a critical mistake. You may even know what it is if you’re a Model A person, and we’ll get back to it later. (more…)

Today was great. I got to got to a meeting of the local 3 Rivers MARC (Model A Restorers Club). Actually, this was no ordinary meeting either, it was a seminar on paint and brakes too. After setting my alarm for 7pm instead of 7am, I got up late, walked the dog, and then raced down to Main St. Motors in West Newton PA.

The meeting took place in Keith Waltower’s garage, Main St. motors, and it is an awesome place. He was working on 4 or 5 cars upstairs, and the basement had another 20 or so cars in storage. Some of them were Keith’s, but I think most belonged to other people who rent space.