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Rebuilt motor, rope seal leakage

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  • Rebuilt motor, rope seal leakage

    Got call a from the Model A shop. They informed me progress of my A, rebuilt motor and lots of other things are basically done. So now once weather gets warmer, I will be going there to drive it around for a couple of hours as shake down so they can correct any concerns I may have before taking it home. They informed me that a rope seal had a little seepage, but since it has been so cold they have not run the motor much and expect it to seal up as the seal absorbs more oil.

    2 questions, need advice.

    I read here on VFF the rope seals are supposed to be presoaked in oil before install. I am confused on what is acceptable/normal on a rebuilt motor. I have seen/heard the comment not to be concerned about a few drips, but do not know if it is normal on a fresh rebuilt motor. Is this seepage normal on a new motor with the expectation it will seal up with time/usage?

    Do I insist it be leak/seepage free before I take the A home?

    I really do not want to make a return trip for this, is difficult due to time/distance/arranging a ride to/from the A shop twice.

  • #2
    Wade, see page 18 on this technical forum article. It explains what to accept as normal leakage from the rope on a newly sealed pan.

    After their running and your shake down it should be dry and not dripping oil. Some dampness could still be present. I am sure that your builder knows this, but some of the front oil pan bolts do go into the crankcase (not blind holes). The threads need to be sealed on those or they will drip.
    I mainly mentioning this for VFF reader information

    Your A shop seems to be very straight forward and honest with you..
    Very nice
    4~ Tudor's
    1~ Coupe

    Henry Ford said,
    "It's all nuts and bolts"

    Mitch's Auto Service ctr


    • 1930 Closed Cab PU
      1930 Closed Cab PU commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Mitch. I knew I had seen info about this before, searched and could not find the above info in the link. And yes, they are great people so far to work with, excellent communications, actually get to talk with the mechanic mostly, instead of the owner who runs the place. Since this is the 1st time with them, still working up on the trust scale, asking for second opinions.

      Thanks for your added comments. I believe it is the front rope seal. Before the rebuild I had a couple drips after running for intermediate trips from the cotter pin. Considering it sat for 50 years, I considered this normal, even after I had pulled the pan and cleaned it out, most likely other gaskets/seals dried up, etc.

    • plyfor
      plyfor commented
      Editing a comment
      We did exactly what Mitch suggests and using the link pg 18. We tried about 3 or 4 different rope seals from different vendors and the ones we have are teflon coated and don't appear to be as flexible ( our viewpoint) like originals, which seem to absorb oil better. Some suggest soaking in ATF. Even soaking didn't help in our case.Our engine builder suggested sealing the pan groove so that oil doesn't pass behind the seal and greasing the pulley or seal as suggested.With about 400 miles on current engine, we still have some seepage but not as much as the grease / seal is settling in.Also, as suggested seal the pan bolts with your favorite (we use the white teflon paste) and make sure pan surfaces are flat as possible. Forgot to mention if the pulley has run out issues, the seal may not be as effective. We had paint on ours which screwed up the 1st seal we tried, so we installed a second one which seems to perform better.
      Last edited by plyfor; 03-03-2019, 11:10 AM.

  • #3
    Plyfor - Which type do you recommend? If original style works best where are they sourced from? Thanks for the info.


    • Mitch
      Mitch commented
      Editing a comment
      I would let your builder call that shot since he is guaranteeing it. If you ask him to deviate then its on you.

    • plyfor
      plyfor commented
      Editing a comment
      concur with Mitch; the vendors appear to all sell the same or similar product. We found some "original looking" ropes with Ford script on them, but they were so hard that even soaking wouldn't soften them.

    • 1930 Closed Cab PU
      1930 Closed Cab PU commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Mitch and Plyfor - after seeing the info/link in Mitch's link, was not going to have the shop/builder deviate, just info for me as to best practices. Some point in the future may want to drop the pan.

  • #4
    I've only ever soaked one front seal, and that's because I heard you had to, when I first bought my Model A. It just makes the seal a sloppy mess to install. Now I install the seal halves dry, tap them down with a proper size socket, then oil and grease the seals. I've never had a leak by doing it this way. Leave the ends about 1/8" above the block gasket and pan lip, so they compress to each other and form a good seal. Sometimes I need to trim the ends to get the right length, and sometimes no trimming is needed.
    Last edited by Tom Wesenberg; 03-03-2019, 05:11 PM.


    • dmdeaton
      dmdeaton commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree, and I don't think the newer Teflon ropes will soak up much anyway. Ask me how I know, I just soaked mine and it was a mess to install under the car. I had a rust pinhole in the pan I changed out.

  • #5
    I have been putting in rope seals since I worked in my Dads garage back in the 50ts. I do them like Tom, most cars used them as the rear main seal back then. Never put one in oil to soak, never had a problem.


    • #6
      I have tried them every way possible and never worked for me. I even tried Tom's way and it is squirting out beyond the front of the pan and front cover. All of them I've tried recently are the white ones that feel slick and slippery. I gave up and decided my engine just doesn't want to give in and accept them. I did try a rubber modern once and it was dry as a bone ... until I pulled the pan off. I can't keep my fingers out of the engine compartment so I've learned to live with it. And yes all the holes that go through have been sealed.


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