Breaking Down is Easy

The Model A carried my friends and I—5 of us in total—to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Dinner.
Everybody loved the car.
Until they didn't. We had to leave it on the side of the road, and come back for it with the truck and trailer.
On the plus side, my friends got a chance to drive!
The view from the rumble-seat.
 <i>I'm a 19-year-old kid named Tom, and my great-grandfather sold this very car new at his Ford dealership in 1929. Now I'm using it as my daily driver.</i>

At the end of my last update, the Model A had carried me from home to work, and I was feeling pretty good about driving it. Too good, as I would later realize.

So, after work, I drove about 45 minutes south to pick up my friends for a night out. Everyone loved it, and we were in a great mood. So great, we climbed the tallest lighthouse in Florida, then ate cheeseburgers—the perfect evening!

The Model A ran great, until it didn’t. We were cruising along at about 25 miles an hour, then it got very loud and slowly stopped running. We tried restarting it, but didn’t have any luck. I suspect the head gasket let go, and we left it on the side of the road.

That put us in an interesting situation. 5 kids, 45 minutes from home, in a broken car. To add insult to injury, I had my toolkit on the bench at home, as I’m still in the process of sorting through it.

Luckily, they made so many Model A’s that enthusiasts are everywhere. We happened to stop right in front of one’s house! He kindly gave us a ride home, telling us the whole time about the Model A he had in high school (apparently you can fit 13 people on one). We hopped out, thanked him, and went back for the A with my truck and our Trailer World aluminum trailer. I know my friends are awesome because they stayed to help out, and even called the night “fun” after it was all over. Thank you!

Today’s project? Figuring out what went wrong. Let’s hope I can find a compression tester big enough for the A’s gigantic spark plug holes.

Read more about crazy old cars in issues of Classic Motorsports six times a year. Subscribe now.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more project updates.
View comments on the CMS forums
7/5/13 8:08 a.m.

Love the project and I look forward to following this from a readers perspective after spending an entire year doing exactly this same thing. I will start out with three pieces of advice:

1 - The Model A is a wonderfully simple and rugged vehicle. If you take care of it, it will take care of you.

2 - When it comes to breaking down (and you will) be very careful not to over-diagnose. Always eliminate the simple and easy possibilities first. I have plenty of stories where I thought the worst and it ended up being quite simple. I even towed it once suspecting a head gasket to later find out a five-minute roadside repair would of have fixed the real problem.

3 - Keep a handful of spare parts with you...mainly a full gasket set, and extra ignition parts (especially spare points and condensors). With a basic tool kit and these items you can take care of most side of the road annoyances.

Lastly...I noticed you were pulling the car on the trailer by the front bumper. I found out the hard way that if you use the bumper to do this you will eventually break the front mounts. Use the front axle instead...

Have fun and let me know if you have any questions!

Sponsored by

Classic Motorsports House Ad

Our Preferred Partners