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Ford model-T streetrod

5454 Views 111 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  jhn9840
..... This will be a long term post thru the winter and on into the summer as weather permits. .....

This is going to be my next project.
It is a Ford model-T that I had started building into a streetrod and it ended up being put into storage back in the early 1990's.
I pulled it out of storage in the summer of 2021 with the intention of getting it running and selling it to raise money for working on other projects.
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I have since changed my mind about selling it.
However, I no longer want to use the Hemi engine that is in it so I have pulled that out and I have that for sale.
So this is what I'm starting with now.
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And this flathead V-8 is the engine that I'm going to put in it. It is a 1949 to 1953 engine with 1948 or earlier finned aluminum heads on it.
I got this engine from Fred Sibley in Elkhart, Indiana in the late 1970's.
Fred Sibley is well known for building jet powered dragsters and he is in the Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

I haven't checked the identification numbers on this engine yet so I don't know if this is a Ford or a Mercury engine.
If it is a Ford, then it is 239 CID with 110 HP. If it is a Mercury, then it is a 255 CID with 125 HP.
This engine was used in a dragster back in the late 1950's and early 60's. It has a Pro Racing Model intake manifold on it that does not have the boss on the front for mounting the generator onto.
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Ordinarily, I would sell this intake and get one that has a generator mount on it but this has been welded on the side of the fuel pump mount so I wouldn't be able to get much for it.
I could smooth the weld down so it wouldn't be noticeable but I still wouldn't want to sell it because I'm not the one who did the welding and I don't know if it can be trusted to not brake back out later.
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I also have a stock single carb intake manifold off a 60 HP engine that were made from 1937 thru 1940. This is a shorter manifold then on my engine and they really aren't worth very much.
However, the generator mount on the front is the same as the ones used on my engine so I have cut the front off this manifold.
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If you look at the side of the carb mount, you can see a long crack in it so this manifold is scrap anyway.
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The mounting holes on the front of both manifolds are the same so I milled the mounting bosses down on both sides of the front of my manifold.
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This way, I can set the front part of the other manifold on top of the front of my manifold.
I will weld these two parts together but I don't want to do that until I have the engine here so I can bolt both of these pieces together on the engine to help keep it from warping when I do the welding.
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I know ... this seems like a lot of work but these two manifolds aren't worth anything as is and a new one can cost anywhere from $300 to over $1,000 depending on who manufactured it, what style it is and how rare it is.

Besides, this gives me something interesting to play with and when I'm finished, it will look like it came from the factory this way.
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I have finally reached a point where I can start putting primer on some of this.
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This is the original aluminum trim molding from my first model-T that I had bought way back in 1964. This molding was nailed around the back of the car to hide the seam between the upper sheet metal around the rear window and the sheet metal that formed the trunk.
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I found this photo on the internet of a model-T coupe being restored. You can see that the whole frame for the body was built from wood with the metal sections nailed onto it.
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I had shortened the body on my first model-T also but it didn't have any rear side windows like this car has.
From driver door edge around the back to the passenger door edge measures 78 inches on this car.
The original molding had already been cut to fit the other car and it is only a little over 73 inches long.
It isn't going to fit all the way around the back from door edge to door edge.
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So I'm going to cut it in two and just put a short piece of the trim molding on each side.
First I painted the area on the side so that there is paint covering the primer under the moldings.
Then I marked where the front of the molding needs to be to line up with the molding shape that is stamped into the doors.
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A block of wood is clamped in place for the molding to sit on. The molding is clamped there so I can bend it around and form it to fit the curve of the body.
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Mounting holes are drilled thru the molding and counter sunk to fit #6-32 flathead screws.
I have also heated the molding up enough to be able to bend it up a little at the rear similar to the way the roadster bodies ride up at the back corners.
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The molding is fastened on the drivers side. I'm using stainless screws so there will not be any problem of the screws rusting or oxidizing against the aluminum.
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Here you can see how nicely the molding fits around the curve of the body.
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Both sides are now mounted. The ends of the moldings are rounded off in the back.
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Here is the passenger side. The screw holes have been filled in with JB-weld.
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fwiw. the wood leftovers from making the t was turned into charcoal. kings ford
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Here's how the molding looks with it sanded down and primed.
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Working with old metal ( in this case, almost 100 years old ) I like to use Rust-Oleum red oxide primer for the base cote. This is an oil base paint and I have learned that body fill doesn't like to stick to it.
Glazing putty is a lacquer base and trying to use that directly on the red oxide primer will imediantly soften the primer.

I let the red oxide primer dry good ( usually overnight ) then I spray regular lacquer gray primer over it and the gray primer sticks really well to the red oxide primer.
I let the gray primer dry for a couple of hours and I've found that I can then put body fill over it and use glazing putty with no problems.
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I just want to say how impressed I am with your work on this project. Love reading your up dates.

Your methods are a bit different from mine, not wrong just different. I will only use body filler on bare metal that has at least a 36grit mechanical scratch, usually made with a grinding wheel. When the panel is strait and the filler is finished sanded to 180grit. I then spray a coat of self etching primer, this primer eats into the metal and gives good adhesion for the filler primer (lacquer or urethane) to stick to. Self etching is also high in zinc to help with rust prevention. As soon as the self etching primer flashes off (looks dull) I follow up with my filler primer.

One tip I would like to pass along. After your final filler primer dries, mist a contrasting color over it for a guide coat(out of a spry bomb is fine). When you finish sand your primer before painting sand all of the contrasting color off. This helps to show your imperfections that need to be sanded out and lets you know when the entire surface has been sanded properly.
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One tip I would like to pass along. After your final filler primer dries, mist a contrasting color over it for a guide coat(out of a spry bomb is fine). When you finish sand your primer before painting sand all of the contrasting color off. This helps to show your imperfections that need to be sanded out and lets you know when the entire surface has been sanded properly.
Yes. I do that also. It is the only way to be sure to find all of the little areas that need glazing putty.
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Final primer.
Once this is sanded down, it will then get painted black.
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My son came over today to check the engine so we could figure out just what size this Mercury flathead is.
First he measured the bore and stroke and how far the dome piston sits above the deck.
Then he cleaned off area on the head for one cylinder.
He spread a thin layer of grease around the cavity and set a piece of plexiglass down onto it.
The grease seals the plexiglass to the surface of the head.
He then pored some colored fluid into a measuring beaker.
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The fluid is pored into the cavity thru a 1/4 inch hole in the plexiglass.
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Moving the head around to get all of the air out of the cavity.
He keeps doing this and poring more fluid in until the cavity is full up to the underside of the plexiglass.
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Looking at the beaker lets him see how much fluid has been pored out of it and this gives him the volume of the cavity in cubic centimeters.

With all of this information figured up, this engine measures out at 276 cubic inch with 9.7 to 1 compression.
I believe the stock valve lift is .338. The valve lift on this engine is .390.
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how did the dome volume get measured?
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how did the dome volume get measured?
Measuring the height of the center of the dome off the the deck and the bore diameter.
Then figure the volume with using the formula for a cone that size. It isn't 100 percent accurate because the angled sides are straight on a cone instead of the rounded dome sides. However, it's quick and easy and it is very close.

To be more accurate, you have to find the radius of the sphere of the dome and that is a lot harder to do and takes much more time and figuring.
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soyour compression ratio is actually higher than 9.7 /1 thats going to need good gas. will be a cool engine
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soyour compression ratio is actually higher than 9.7 /1 thats going to need good gas. will be a cool engine
Just a smidge.
My son and I talked about that. The difference in area between the slight curve of the dome and the straight line of the cone is so slight that we feel the compression would still be under 10 to 1.

Incidentally .. 10 to 1 is the most common compression on cars these days.
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you planning on adding computer control? thats the only way to get away with high compression engines and crappy gas
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you planning on adding computer control? thats the only way to get away with high compression engines and crappy gas
No .. but I do figure I'll have to run premium .
I'm really not too concerned about it. There are a heck of a lot of hopped up old flathead engines running around out there and they seem to be doing just fine on the fuel available.
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Back in the late 1980's, when I first started building this car, I built my own radiator for the Hemi engine using an early, 4-core, Ford truck radiator for a flathead engine.
I got this photo off the internet so you could see what the original radiator was shaped like.
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I removed the two hose fittings from the top tank and put in a transmission cooler with the fittings coming out where the old hose fittings were.
This was now going to be the bottom tank on the radiator with the one outlet fitting on the bottom and one inlet fitting on the top.
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The radiator cap fitting was removed and a piece of round sheet brass was soldered in to cover that hole.
Then another hole was cut into the tank to install a single outlet fitting.
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Now that I'm going to have a flathead engine in the car, I need to convert the radiator back.
The two fittings on the left will be mounted back into the top tank for the two upper hoses from the flathead engine.

However, I still want to keep the transmission cooler that is now in the bottom tank so I'm going to leave that with the single outlet fitting.
The copper fittings on the right will be made into a " Y " shaped manifold to connect the two inlet hose fittings on the engine to the single hose fitting on the radiator.
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I'm going to pause here for a moment before you guys start hassling me about restricting the two fittings on the engine down to just one fitting.
A lot of you already know and understand the fallowing technical information so you can go ahead and skip ahead to the next photo.

Since 1954, automotive radiators have only had one outlet fitting and one inlet fitting and this has been more then sufficient for engines all the way up to well over 500 horsepower.

The only reason that the flathead V-8 has two outlet fittings and two inlet fittings on their radiators is because the engine has two separate water jackets and two water pumps instead of one water jacket and one pump for the whole engine.
With the two water jackets, it was easier and cheaper for Ford to just to connect each side to the radiator with hoses rather than build water manifolds to connect the two water jackets together and then connect them to the radiator.
This flathead engine will have thermostats in the water outlets on the heads so until the water temperature gets up around 180 degrees, there will be no fluid moving thru the radiator.
Once a thermostat opens all the way, it still only allows about the same volume of fluid to flow thru it as can flow thru a hole about the size of a pop bottle.

The fluid has to move slowly thru a radiator to give it adequate time for it to cool off enough before it is drawn back into the engine.
So .. the taller and wider the radiator, the longer the fluid will stay inside the radiator simply because of the amount of fluid that is held inside the radiator at any given time.
And a 3 or 4-core radiator will hold more fluid then a 2-core radiator of the same width and height.

That being said .. even with both thermostats fully open, the volume of fluid flowing thru them is still less that what the single outlet fitting can handle.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program. ................

The original bottom tank was removed from the radiator core and a top tank was formed out of sheet brass in the shape of a model-T tank, but deeper so it hangs out over the back side of the core.
I chose this early Ford truck radiator to work with because it is the same width as a model-T radiator.
However, It is about 5 inches longer than the model-T radiator and with it being a 4-core, it is twice as thick to supply plenty of cooling for a larger engine.
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This top tank has a single inlet fitting in the underside of it.
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That single fitting has been removed and the hole sealed up.
Here you can see one of the marks on the back of the tank where the new inlet fitting will fit.
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The two inlet fittings are soldered in place on the top tank.
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Then it is painted.
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This shows the opening in the tank.
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It got up to 68 today so I painted the body.
This is flat black acrylic enamel so it looks like the old hotrod black primer but has the weather protection of the acrylic paint.
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I'm putting a new high volume oil pump in this engine. The new pump is 1-1/4 inch taller then the stock oil pump so the oil pan has to be modified.
The corner where the pump is located has been cut out.
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That corner piece is raised up and tacked back on.
The pan is set back on the block and I'm measuring to be sure that there is enough clearance from the top of the stock pump up to the inside of the pan.
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The flathead V8 oil pump has a long housing that fits into a snug fit hole in the block. This housing holds the pump drive gear firmly against the cam gear.
The problem with this is that after a period of time, the pump housing often becomes frozen into the block and is difficult to remove.

This engine has been sitting since the early 1960's and the pump will not even wiggle.
I sprayed penetrating oil around the housing and down into the oil gallery hole and let it sit over night.
I tried gripping it with a big channel lock pliers to try and rotate it and tried using a crowbar to try to wedge it up and it didn't move at all.

Finally, I welded a 1/2 inch nut to the top plate and fastened a piece of threaded rod into it. Then I used some scrap steel to make a stand so I could tighten a nut down onto it and manage to pull the pump loose.
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The hole for the pump cleaned up nicely.
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Here are the old stock pump and the new high volume pump.
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The new pump slips down easily into the block. When I do the final assembly, I'm going to spread some high temp machinist die grease on the pump housing before I put it in the block.
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Checking the oil pan to make sure that there is enough clearance for the new pump before I finish welding it up.
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The oil pan modification is finished.
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And the pan is primed.
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Initially I had intended to just replace the piston rings and rod bearings and give the bores a light honing just to clean them up.
It's been over 50 years since I've worked on a flathead V8 and it dawned on me that these blocks use the old rope oil seals for the front and rear main seals and the crankshaft needs to be removed to replace them correctly.

When I was younger, I would have just grabbed hold of the crank and lifted it out. Today though, I use the cable hoist to do the heavy lifting.
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I'm already putting new rod bearings in so if I have to remove the the crank, I may as well put in new main bearings also.
Looking at the bearings that were in the block and they showed me when this engine was last re-built.
The main bearings have a date stamp on them of 9-63.
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At this point, it doesn't make any sense to put the engine back together with the old cam bearings still in it so I pulled the cam out and I'm going to replace those bearings too.
The block is now completely empty.
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Here are the valves and lifters.
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Does the last number indicate that the crank was turned to .010 under size?
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