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  • Things to check when looking to purchase an A


    I'll start with what i feel is a very important item. There is nothing worse than buying a car and finding out that it cant be driven due to crap in the tank restricting the fuel flow or contaminating the carburetor.

    Look into the gas tank with a good flashlight for rust, junk and crude.. This is a potential deal breaker for me unless the price is right.

    I have seen many sellers clean out the sediment bowl and fuel system to hide a contaminated tank. Once the new owner gets home surprise
    4~ Tudor's
    1~ Coupe

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


    Mitch's Auto Service ctr

  • #2
    Check to see if it has a steel sediment bowl, or the glass bowl, and check for crud there. That should be an good indicator of the gas tank. If it a steel bowl, ask if you can drain a bit into a glass jar.

    Look into the radiator for crud buildup there. I have seen cars run with sludge in there, but over heat or pump water out.

    Look at the front cross member on the left side to see if there has been water dumped there by the radiator.

    Check the front tires for excessive wear. This could be a major problem if the king pins are worn. You can also check the amount of play in the front end by the amount of free play n the steering wheel.

    Check the brake pedal for excessive wear.
    You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!

    Comment


    • #3
      Check the dipstick for milky oil.

      Check for excessive blowby from the oil fill tube. If the car has an an accy fumaze down draft tube that could be an indication of excessive crankcase pressures
      4~ Tudor's
      1~ Coupe

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


      Mitch's Auto Service ctr

      Comment


      • #4
        When I bought my car i did what you said the man said the car had been restored a 1000 miles ago did not say anything about how many years the car had been done long story short. Gas tank had crud ditto for carb. Took my camera scope that i used for other things pulled all the plugs, pitting around valve seats in the block and you could not keep the car running. I discussed all of this with the guy and told the motor block was junk after conferring with my mechanic. This car was being sold for the family after it's owner was put in a nursing home. We came to an agreed price after they accepted my offer. Took the motor down and you could tell it had been overhauled as they said and hardly driven however the rear main was going away, block was junk. On the good side this motor had been counter weighted and had a police head the b had been machined off. I found out that about all this gentleman had done was show the car. He also used some kind of a thick expoxy paint on the motor which my machinist said makes it look real pretty and easy to clean but does not allow it to dissipate heat. In the end I should have payed a little less since I also replaced the radiator. On the plus side it came with just about every book written for a model a. I later sent pictures and copies of the large ticket items to confirm everything for the family and of me and the car for her father as well as my model t's. She said it made him very happy as she found out a young guy was also interested in it and wanted to turn it into a street rod.

        Comment


        • #5
          Several years ago I got fooled when I bought a Model A engine at a swap meet. It was running and mounted on a front section of a AA frame, which at one time was a homemade saw rig. I removed the oil fill cap and revved the engine several times, and saw no blowby. It also make no bad noises, and ran and idled perfectly, so I payed $700 for it. When I got it home and removed the pan, then turned the crank, I could hear air going past the rings, so I pulled the head. It had 2 head gaskets, which I didn't see due to years of crud and old paint. All 4 cylinders had deep gouges from the wrist pins scraping against the walls. Someday I'll bore it and install oversize pistons.

          Comment


          • #6
            Take some one with you a extra pair of eyes are always a help

            Comment


            • #7
              Certain bodystyles have an extensive wood structure and one indication of poor body wood is uneven door alignment on certain fordors. Know what your purchasing and what kind of internal structure the car has.
              4~ Tudor's
              1~ Coupe

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


              Mitch's Auto Service ctr

              Comment


              • #8
                Here are the questions I try to answer when looking at a car: Does it have a spare tire carrier? Are the fenders metal? If "rebuilt," who built the engine? Does it have a working overdrive? Does it have original style shocks and links? What kind of wiper motor does it have? Does the dashlight work? Does it have an original horn and ignition switch? Was the upholstery done correctly? Are there any original tools included? 6v or 12v? Safety glass all around? What is the condition of the tires?

                All these things and more can significantly affect the value and price of a car by thousands of dollars. There are many other things to check depending on the body style.

                I also take a tarp, a small mirror, a small flashlight, a magnet and a soft cotton cloth. I use the tarp to lay or crouch on to see the underside, and the mirror and flashlight to see into crannies. I use the magnet on sheet metal to detect bondo areas. I run the cloth over the sheet metal with an open palm (you can feel irregularities in the surface much better this way).

                Comment


                • #9
                  My experience with Model A's that friends have purchased was lots of loose wires. Lots of things done wrong, Many poorly made repo parts that replaced originals that could have been reused. They some times look very good, but the mechanical work was done very poorly.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As mentioned take a good flashlight with you to look into the crevices. One place i always look is down inside the doors and quarters where the windows roll into. If there is previous rot or metal / mud repair that is usually detectable on the interior portion of the panels such as these areas

                    Always look under the back seats they usually lift right up for the same issues
                    4~ Tudor's
                    1~ Coupe

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


                    Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Back in the early 90's I visited with an independant used car dealer who had been a dealer since the late 40's. One trick used back in the day used to disguised rearend noise when trading in a car was to put ground cork in the rearend just before trading it in. It would dampen the noise just long enough to get the deal done and the dealer would have to scrap the car or absorb the costs. Rod
                      "Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good." Thomas Sowell

                      Comment


                      • DaWizard
                        DaWizard commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Another trick was a teacup of brake fluid in the auto trans, swells the seals to get ya there, kills the seals after.

                    • #12
                      Ray mentioned about metal fenders, but also check for metal splash aprons.
                      I have seen those in glass also
                      4~ Tudor's
                      1~ Coupe

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


                      Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Depends on price and what condition desirable. If someone is mechanically inclined with some specialized tools, bad or unforeseen mechanicals can be dealt with. The biggest expense for a non -do- it -yourselfer is body and paint. In our area, a complete strip, repair and repaint can be $30,000+..

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          When shopping for a Model A, be TOTALLY SUSPICIOUS!! ---Try to establish WHY HE'S SELLING IT!!! some are just PATCHED up, so they can DUMP it.
                          On far away cars, say to yourself, "If it was such a GREAT deal, how come it DIDN'T sell LOCALLY????
                          Dad Salesman

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Take a gander at the body blocks underneath. I have seen drilled out hockey pucks used and extra shims to hide frame sag.
                            I have also seen the service brake cross shaft hold down to frame brackets shimmed down so the shaft clears the u-joint housing when pivoting. Another indication of possible frame sag..
                            4~ Tudor's
                            1~ Coupe

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


                            Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                            Comment


                            • #16
                              Check for oil leaks. The location of any leak can tell a lot about how things were rebuilt. Eg, gasket between flywheel housing and block, bolt holes in the diff centre to hold the trumpets on the back ale with chased threads (will leak), rear main etc etc.
                              Greasy residue in the radiator.
                              Too much back lash in the drive line.
                              Bent wheels
                              Slack steering box/ball joints
                              Alignment of panels
                              Do the brakes work properly?
                              Can you confirm why he is selling?

                              Comment


                              • #17
                                As a side note try to refrain from purchasing a car and then driving it home without going over many of the tips mentioned above. These are 87 year old cars of which many things could have been farmer fixed / rigged or neglected over the years. I remember recently stories of a seized differential from no oil and a wheel falling off from doing just this.
                                4~ Tudor's
                                1~ Coupe

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


                                Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                                Comment


                                • #18
                                  btt
                                  4~ Tudor's
                                  1~ Coupe

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


                                  Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                                  Comment


                                  • Paul
                                    Paul commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    I'll add. On all but the 31's the steering bracket is riveted to/thru the gas tank. Check around the rivets for brown gummy stuff, this would be do to leaking fuel. Dido on the fuel shut off valve.
                                    Last edited by Paul; 11-16-2017, 06:06 PM.

                                • #19
                                  I remember reading what I believe to be the best advice of all: Ask the current owner (seller) to drive you around in the Model A and observe HOW they drive it. That will tell you a lot.

                                  Reminds me of a Dr. Don Rose line when he said, "When I shop for a used car, first thing I do is see what presets the radio has programmed in it. If the buttons are set to the rock and roll stations, then you know the transmission is shot."

                                  As mentioned on the first page of this thread, going beneath the car tells you a lot also. If the previous owner keeps the underside as clean as the top sides, then you probably have a car that has received great care. If the topsides are spotless but underneath is a mess, then you might be looking at a car slapped together to get rid of it. How many Model A's do we see on ebay where the topsides are immaculate, but the engine compartment looks like a coral reef? Unless you want a project car, pass on it.

                                  Ever notice how you NEVER see a documented winning fine point Model A up for sale?

                                  Comment


                                  • #20
                                    Originally posted by P.S. View Post
                                    \

                                    Ever notice how you NEVER see a documented winning fine point Model A up for sale?
                                    Your then not looking in the right places if you not seeing Fine Point Cars for sale, or you don't know who to ask..LOL!!! they are ALWAYS for sale.. i know of 2 of them right now in fact and maybe even 3......
                                    Ill., Region MARC & MAFCA
                                    MARC JSC Member
                                    MAFFI Trustee
                                    2023 Hamilton National Co-Chair
                                    National Facebook Admin.

                                    Comment


                                    • Jeff/Illinois
                                      Jeff/Illinois commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Not your cars I hope!!

                                    • Mitch
                                      Mitch commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Everything is for sale

                                    • Jeff/Illinois
                                      Jeff/Illinois commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      True. If somebody throws stupid money at anything I own, it's theirs!! And I don't own any fine point cars. I love them and really enjoy looking at them. I appreciate the work and research that goes into bringing back an old car to original factory specs. Marco's Roadster is one of many that comes to mind what a beauty!!

                                    • P.S.
                                      P.S. commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Mitch: I said, you never see a DOCUMENTED WINNING fine point car up for sale. Not some 3rd place car, I am talking about a real winner. Those cars are pretty special, and something that very few can ever achieve.

                                      Jeff: I have ridden in Marco's roadster. Let me tell you, it was a sincere pleasure to experience that very special car. I posted a video of a small portion of that ride on YouTube. It's still there somewhere. Marco was very generous with his time and knowledge when I was building my fine point 31 Tudor.

                                    • Mitch
                                      Mitch commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Val Maron owns a DOCUMENTED WINNING fine pointer and Mark says you can find them, plus his could be for sale. Read what he wrote above

                                    • Mark Maron
                                      Mark Maron commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Mitch does not say ours is for sale....NOT!! hahahahah

                                    • Mitch
                                      Mitch commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      LOL I wrote yours COULD BE for sale!

                                  • #21
                                    [QUOTE=P.S.;n26170
                                    Ever notice how you NEVER see a documented winning fine point Model A up for sale?

                                    [/QUOTE]

                                    Like I said, you don't know where to look for them PS, they are always for sale.. 2 sold that I know of in the last 3 months...You need to be in the "loop".
                                    Ill., Region MARC & MAFCA
                                    MARC JSC Member
                                    MAFFI Trustee
                                    2023 Hamilton National Co-Chair
                                    National Facebook Admin.

                                    Comment


                                    • #22
                                      Originally posted by Mark Maron View Post

                                      Your then not looking in the right places if you not seeing Fine Point Cars for sale, or you don't know who to ask..LOL!!! they are ALWAYS for sale.. i know of 2 of them right now in fact and maybe even 3......
                                      hahaha HEY Money talks right ........
                                      Ill., Region MARC & MAFCA
                                      MARC JSC Member
                                      MAFFI Trustee
                                      2023 Hamilton National Co-Chair
                                      National Facebook Admin.

                                      Comment


                                      • #23
                                        I have updated the list and turned it into a downloadable pdf. Thanks for all the help and please share it with whomever.

                                        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.



                                        Comment


                                        • #24
                                          Another related thread
                                          4~ Tudor's
                                          1~ Coupe

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


                                          Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                                          Comment


                                          • #25
                                            All good points. Most of them fall under ANY used car even if its just 5 years old. Another thing to ask is see if you can get the seller in a loop. Meaning when your underneath a modern car and see a pretty rusty crusty fuel filter or trans fluid or rearend or something obvious that should be changed regularly take note of it then later on ask when the last time the fuel filter was changed - if they are honest and say it hasn't or its been quite a while they are probably telling the truth about other things. If they say they just changed it last year and clearly it hasn't run away cuz who knows what else they are lying about. Also ask about what brand of oil they use - generally if they use cheapest stuff around the vehicles been run on a budget. Same goes for tires - mis matched tires are also another sign its been on a budget. Also listen to youtube videos of people with bad throwout bearings or rearends or trans bearings so you are familiar with the sounds they make and really listen for them when test driving. I almost bought a 99 s10 with a 5 speed and starting cold sounded good, clutch out in neutral cold it was fine but after i took it on a several mile drive and did the same there was the tell tale sign of a dying input shaft bearing - had that slapping dry bearing whirring noise that my current s10 was making for a year before its REALLY bad now.

                                            I have been guilty of dumping a car on a dealer with known issues i didnt tell them about... turns out they screwed me on things I didnt know about either so i feel justified haha...Read up on every trick in the book when it comes to hiding issues on a car and then really look for them when looking at used cars. Bad signs are suspiciously just wiped undercarrage or oil pan, oil was just changed or trans fluid was just changed or radiator fluid changed. Ask and see if you can start it and look it over when the engine is stone cold. Alot of times a cold engine can sound like crap with timing chain slap, dying lifter/valve issues/ piston slap, but then sound great when warmed up. Also if you have a bore scope (not so much model A related) but check inside the frame rails - they always rot from the inside out. If you can see mud and twigs caked into the rails it could have been in a flood or ran thru deep water/mud.

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