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  • Inspection List Before Purchase

    I am adding a check list to my website and thought I would post it here for the “experts” to scrutinize (please, I have been married way too long to have hurt feelings. Rip it apart if need be). The premise for the list is for the first time Model A buyer. Who, on their own, would be able to go out and look at vehicles and make a preliminary judgement before asking an expert/club member to tag along for further inspection and/or confirmation.



    Model A's are particular on their own. Keep it original and any Model "A"er can help you fix it. Specialties require special mechanics.
    1. Join a local club.
    2. When looking at a vehicle bring along someone who is knowledgeable.
    3. Do not buy the first car you see there are many good deals out there
    4. Decide on what you want a show car or a good daily driver
    5. Decide what year you want. The 1928-29’s look more antique and the 1930-31’s look more sleek.
    6. Decide what body style: Trucks are nice for hauling- Sedans are good for going out with friends- Roadsters and phaetons are nice when the weather is nice
    7. Become familiar with the value of a Model A. Search Ebay, Craigslist and Hemmings
    8. Don’t buy a “basket case”. Restored cars are less expensive in the long run.
    9. Look at the car in the daylight. Do not be fooled by a nice paint job.
    10. Most important of all, verify that the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the car matches the VIN number on the paperwork. If buying out of state know your states title process. Do this before you buy, the difficulty of the process can be a game changer.

    Under Hood
    • Ask if the engine bearings are Babbitt or inserts (Pros and Cons on both, worth noting)
    • Check the fan. If it is an original fan look, for fatigue cracks. (may be need to be replaced with a new aluminum)
    • Inspect the radiator for small leaks.
    • Check the water in the radiator, it should not be frothy.
    • Check the water pump for leak
    • Check the steering gear box for oil level (A tell on how well it is maintained)
    • Pull the dipstick and check the condition the oil. The oil should not be frothy.
    • Look at wiring it should be simple and straightforward, fancy gadgets should not be attached to the firewall
    • Inspect where the head meets the engine block. Brown ooze indicates blown head gasket
    • Check exhaust pipe for oil and/or coolant
    • Use a screwdriver and/or stethoscope and listen for valve/tappet noise
    • When running check for oily/smokey exhaust
    • Check if engine number matches year of car

    Outside the Car
    • Proper paint scheme helps with resale
    • Look for door sag/alignment.
    • Correct body parts for the year and body type.
    • Rotten sheet metal
    • Check the front fenders along the bead for patches
    • Look under the fender for patches and welded cracks
    • When the doors are shut the handles on the outside should be level
    • Check for even wear on tires

    Under the Car:
    • Frame condition: Bent, Sagging, Cracks, Reinforcements Welds, Heavily Pitted and/or Corroded
    • Wheels: Bent, Pitted, Missing and/or Bent Spokes
    • Transmission and rear end: (Small leaks are permissible on transmission)
    • Check gearbox oil level (A tell on how well it is maintained)
    • Check that it has all four shocks, filled with fluid and working (Expensive to replace)
    • Jack the front of the car up, grab the front wheels at the tops and push/pull laterally back and forth to check the spindles.
    • Check looseness of pitman arm, drag link, and tie rod ball.
    • Look for bent brake rods
    • Look for dry joints where it should have been greased (A tell on how well it is maintained)
    • Look for oil running down the rear backing plates or drums
    • Look for incorrect bolts and missing cotter pins
    • Look for rusted out floor pans
    • If the seller allows, pull a brake drum or two to inspect
    • Inspect front and rear spring and perch bushings

    In the Car:
    • Check for gas leaks where the steering column and petcock are riveted to the gas tank (You will see brown stains)
    • Windshield should open and close
    • Windows should open and close
    • Bump the door lightly to make sure it remains shut
    • Inspect the interior rips, tears and or improper or missing screws

    Test Drive:
    • Start the Model A it should start easily
    • Move the spark advance lever all the way up and all the way down, you should notice a difference in the sound of the engine
    • Close the GAV and the engine should want to starve for gas
    • Check to see if the generator is charging
    • Check all lights
    • Check to make sure the horn works
    • Check operation of windshield wiper
    • Check gas gauge to make sure it works
    • The clutch should have about 1 inch of play before engaging
    • The clutch should not chatter when engaged
    • Before moving any distance, check to make sure you have brakes
    • Bring the vehicle up to speed and check your stopping distance. It should stop smoothly and in a straight line
    • The steering should not have more than 2 inch play
    • The Model A should steer easily and not shimmy
    • The vehicle should run smooth/strong and relatively quiet
    • Whine the engine out between shifts and listen for excessive gear noise
    • The transmission should never pop out of gear. Test: going uphill, downhill and over a bump
    • When traveling over a bump the A should not pull, jump or shimmy
    • Take it up a long hill to see if it boils over.
    • A stock/restored Model A will easily do 55 mph and ride very close to a normal car.
    After test ride and being parked, there should not be more than a quarter coin sized puddle under the flywheel housing.

  • #2
    Paul this is great.
    I'm not sure if you have noticed these 2 threads in the chassis technical forum. One is for before and the other is after purchasing your A. I have not looked over your list yet but i am sure we can add info from each others ideas and the suggestions of the posters on those threads.

    https://www.vintagefordforum.com/for...-purchase-an-a

    https://www.vintagefordforum.com/for...sed-your-new-a

    3 ~ Tudor's
    Henry Ford said
    "It's all nuts and bolts"


    Mitch's Auto Service ctr

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Mitch, I am learning my way around the site. I posted the other sheet I am working on in https://www.vintagefordforum.com/for...sed-your-new-a I like the way the site is laid out, I just hate learning new.

      Comment


      • Mitch
        Mitch commented
        Editing a comment
        I saw your post.. It's a nice addition to that tech thread. Thank you

        You'll find the site is very easy to navigate.. A good start is to read the sticky threads in each individual forum. I tried to explain things for whats going on in each area.

        feel free to ask for any help

    • #4
      Regarding your list, here are a few quick things that came to mind.. Maybe others can add some also



      Maybe add about checking for blowby from the oil fill tube

      I don't think most need a listening device to hear abnormal tappet noise

      Head gasket ooze does not mean it's blown. One possibility could need a retorque

      Check the gas tank for contamination (rust etc)

      It would have to run really bad to see oil or coolant running out of the tail pipe

      Air bubbles in the radiator or steam from the exhaust could be a sign of a head or head gasket issue

      Make sure its running on all 4 cyls


      Check the rear differential fluid


      the clutch should have about 1 inch of play before engaging???????????


      After test ride and being parked, there should not be more than a quarter coin sized puddle under the flywheel housing.



      3 ~ Tudor's
      Henry Ford said
      "It's all nuts and bolts"


      Mitch's Auto Service ctr

      Comment


      • #5
        Those are all good points to finding a perfect car. My experience in the past 55 years of buying is that few cars will pass that strict test. I have had plenty that would fail that test, and still had fun with them.
        Bill
        http://www.brauchauto.com/
        Eastern Connecticut

        Comment


        • #6
          I agree, none of mine would pass either if it were a test. The idea is to know what you are buying. The big one on the list for me is fuel leaking at the steering column.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Paul View Post
            I agree, none of mine would pass either if it were a test. The idea is to know what you are buying. The big one on the list for me is fuel leaking at the steering column.
            I had that in a coupe, and fixed it by installing a 31 style column support.
            Bill
            http://www.brauchauto.com/
            Eastern Connecticut

            Comment


            • #8
              That’s a great list.

              Comment


            • #9
              A. For some reason, from past experiences, and after thinking about such a list, the very first comments 1., 2., & 3. appear to me to be of utmost importance when a person is looking to buy his first Model A Ford.

              B. Could be this is "why" you most wisely have them on the "top" of "your" great list:

              1. Model A Clubs: In joining a Model A Club, a new possible interested Model A buyer will always find members with a devout interest in Model A Fords, plus at least a few "Model A type", Model A "knowledgeable" mechanics, and a very diverse group, (similar to this VFF Forum), who will gladly willingly assist in any way possible with easy or difficult questions if they are asked.

              2. Knowledgeable Model A Guys: Modern mechanics, modern body repairmen, etc. are dime a dozen in dealing with fuel injection, electronic ignition, etc. etc.; however "experienced" Model A "vintage" type Model A "knowledgeable" mechanics are far and few between ...... just try to imagine "anywhere" in the U. S. A. ....... if one's Model A broke down on one of today's interstate highways ......... next, try to imagine after trying for (10) straight days, trying to force about 10,000 drivers to stop and pull off of the interstate ........ then try to imagine holding a pistol on their throats, and ask each of them to re-time your Model A distributor after you have removed your distributor cam for a simple cleaning ....... just because a guy is a modern mechanic, this does not mean he is a "knowledgeable" Model A guy to assist in selecting & buying a vintage Model A.

              3. First Car Observed: Yes, do not buy the first car you see; however, after seeing the conditions of many different Model A's afterwards, "maybe" the first car was the best one ...... nothing wrong with reconsidering. LOL

              C. Your list is very detailed and you did a wonderful job researching and preparing same and taking time to share same.

              D. One more little bit of important advice is the fact that "NO" moderately priced Model A observed will ever be perfect; however, associated with your suggested paragraph (2.) above, the total number of all of the individual deficiencies may not be as important as one may think; hence, "after" one is accompanied by a "knowledgeable " Model A guy, please always listen carefully to his comments and his advice, (no matter how "numerous") are these deficiencies, because many of the deficiencies listed above and noted by him may be very inexpensive and very easy correct as opposed to him having one (1) single comment such as, "Only one (1) deficiency noted is "Termites", i.e., the entire Town Sedan Wood Body and upholstery is termite eaten, and beyond repair." Orkin is not the answer. LOL
              Last edited by H. L. Chauvin; 01-03-2018, 06:54 PM. Reason: typo

              Comment


              • #10
                Engine discussion, ask who rebuilt it and what was done. Ask if they know the type of babbitt used. Lead babbitt is not good if you actual plan on driving.

                Ask how fast they drive the car. If they say it is only a 45 MPH car you know it likely has issues that will be costly to fix.
                No shocks and the car can be driven over 25 MPH with feeling like it is going to jump off the road means the springs are dead.
                Look at the front brake lever, if it is not leaning forward some (15 degrees or so) you know the brakes are not right.
                Look at the perches or any other bolts. If they have rust dust around the edges you know the parts are loose and have been for a while. Same goes for the springs.

                Know how to tell original from repro parts. Generally a car with all sorts of repro parts has all sorts of interesting problems you will have fun fixing. It also establishes the overall knowledge the person had while restoring the car.

                Buy an antique car is really about establising what is wrong with the car and how much it is going to cost to make the car be what you want. Of course the first thing you need to know is what could the A do from the factory. The car was made to go 60 MPH and it is a comfortable car to drive at that speed if it is restored properly. It will run that fast if the driveline is restored to factory specs. This means building the engine to what people car race car standards today (Yes that is what a machine shop said when my brother ask them to do some machine work no A parts). A engine that vibrates a lot and a tranny that is so noisey you can not talk while moving is not right. That car would need close to $10,000 worth of work to make it right if you have to pay people to do all the work. Probably closer to $8000 if you can do the work and send out to one of the well known engine shops.
                Just because you buy from a known restorer does not mean the car is right either. I know of 2 cars bought from well known restorers where each car needed about $8000 (this was 20 years ago) worth of work so they would start easy, drive right and stop. One guy I know had a fan fly apart because a well known restorer filled in the pits on a very bad fan. Yes I know of the shops and I will leave the names out as I know one shop has changed how it does business substantially.

                Comment


                • #11
                  I must have been asleep, just noticing this thread now. Paul, that is a super checklist.

                  Maybe I did not see it, but you might consider adding
                  Do a compression test

                  That has always been an important indicator of engine condition

                  welcome to the forum, it is good to have clear headed posters here!!!!

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Paul did you ever get the final list done?
                    It would be great to have it added here:
                    https://www.vintagefordforum.com/for...-purchase-an-a
                    3 ~ Tudor's
                    Henry Ford said
                    "It's all nuts and bolts"


                    Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      There are no 'wizards' in a model a ford,today's mechanics bring modern solutions to old problems often improving what is 'time honored methods', all good mechanics need a reference to draw from to be successful.Those who 'toss the book' because they are arrogant enough to believe they know the task are the ones who fail.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by CM2 View Post
                        There are no 'wizards' in a model a ford,today's mechanics bring modern solutions to old problems often improving what is 'time honored methods', all good mechanics need a reference to draw from to be successful.Those who 'toss the book' because they are arrogant enough to believe they know the task are the ones who fail.
                        Yes, send them to the Chit Chat part of this forum, and let them figure out why my Echo blower will not rev up.
                        That will be a test of their smarts. LOL

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Thanks for all of the replies. Break is over and it is back to school for me. Once when my lesson plans are back in place, I will update the list.

                          Comment


                          • #16
                            Purchase Inspection.PNG
                            Thanks Mitch and all of VFF for the help!! Please copy and share with whomever.
                            Last edited by Paul; 02-06-2018, 05:35 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #17
                              Paul @ model A basics list

                              2130650A-551C-4D66-9D96-2EF4037668F7.jpeg
                              3 ~ Tudor's
                              Henry Ford said
                              "It's all nuts and bolts"


                              Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                              Comment


                              • #18
                                Related Tech Thread
                                3 ~ Tudor's
                                Henry Ford said
                                "It's all nuts and bolts"


                                Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                                Comment


                                • #19
                                  An average Model A for sale 20 years ago would be considered a real gem today. What came with the older cars are mostly missing or in bad repair. Buying a Model A today for a reasonable price presents quite a challenge today.

                                  The guidelines stated above are mostly wishes.. Buy the best you can afford.
                                  ____________________
                                  Good enough.. Isn't.

                                  Comment

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