This is the story of the restoration of my 1929 Model A Ford Town Sedan (coach work by Murray). The story begins in the spring of 1975.
Here is the day the car was purchased. It is August 9 1975. It was a gloriously hot sunny day. We had spent the morning with Mr. Lawrence Porteous of 23 Condie St. Smith Falls. Most of that time was spent on one of his off site properties working a deal for the car in a collapsing low barn, it's tires sunk in the now dry dusty mud. There was a beam on it's roof. There were 4 or 5 other cars of the same vintage in the barn as well. All around was the smell of old cars. If you've ever smelled a vintage automobile in the rough it is unique. Sort of a combination of grease, gas & musty mohair upholstery. Unfortunately no pictures exist of this part of the day or the barn full of old cars.
After we had negotiated a price ($500) and paid for the car we went back to his house where he found and pulled all the missing bits out of his garage. These we were to take back that day (I'm shown with them at home in Crown Point above). It was also agreed that he would deliver the car at the end of the month when he would be able to get hold of a trailer.
Here is the day the car was delivered. It is August 30 1975. While the car is on a trailer (not sunk in dried mud) it is essentially as it was sitting there in the barn. He threw in an extra body in case I needed any parts however it was a different model. I remember him having a coffee or beer with my father while I was inspecting the car and upon leaving his humorous comment to me was "Aren't you done yet?"
Here is the body on saw horses in 1976. We've since moved to Georgetown now, northwest of Toronto. I'm still stripping everything down and doing a rough sanding of the body. There was a thick layer of black paint over the original greens. It was at this point I noticed the date stamped on the firewall "17 08 29". It was official, this car rolled off the line on Saturday August 17, 1929 (9 weeks before the crash on Wall Street). While the body was off the frame the frame was completely sandblasted and primed.
While the stamped metal of the chassis was sandblasted all the running gear had to be rebuilt. These pictures were taken in the summer of 1977.
To the left is the differential and the broomstick-like drive shaft. Note how all the running gear is sealed within enclosures so as to handle the dirty dusty roads of the time.
The picture on the right is the transmission. No synchromesh here. Just solid chrome gears that quietly slide & mesh through the toe-tapping dance of the deft double-clutcher ..... a long lost art to be sure.
Here the frame and the running gear are coming together again later that summer.
Never one to miss an opportunity my father decided that same summer that the pool required a sandblasting before painting. He rented a 185CFM trailored compressor and sandblasting rig from Rentalex. I used the opportunity to sandblast the body and anything else that needed doing.
The left picture shows me going at the main body. The sand was recycled many times so its effect on the body was mild but effective. Behind me is the frame and the wooden base for the body that I'm reconstructing.
The middle picture shows me doing more bits (floor pans) in the deep end of the pool.
The right picture shows the sandblasted components that have been freshly primed. My Father did the priming with his Wagner sprayer while I sandblasted in the garage. I think my hearing suffers to this day from that job as I didn't have ear protection. At the end of the day my ears rang till I went to bed.
Here are the before and after pictures of the chrome plating. This work was done by Zenith Plating in Toronto. The black and white picture is one of the inventory pictures they take when you go into the queue. Rather than try to describe unique parts on a bill they take pictures and attach them to the work order so that everything can be accounted for along the way. While the transformation is fabulous especially note how they repaired the completely missing section below the crank hole cover on the radiator shroud. This work is not cheap!
Again in the summer of 1977 here is the result of some of my woodworking. These are the top wood pieces that form the roof of the car. They are made from red oak. Not an easy wood to work with.
This is the completed engine and transmission in the beginning of 1978
Here are the first signs that this work may not be endless, that what comes apart can go back together again.
This is a special shot to me. While the camera completely froze the motion the car is running for the first time. I'm sure the neighbors thought I might do myself in by running a car so much in the garage. :-)
Here, 1980, the car is now in Dave Watkins body shop in Milton (I have left for university).
The left photo shows the wood top being fitted into the car. The middle photo shows a fender well being added for a spare tire. The right photo shows the fitting of the rear fenders. These rear fenders are about the only non-authentic parts on the car. At the time metal fenders were not available and repairable originals were non-existent.
Here, again 1980, the fitting work is nearly complete and the preliminary painting has started. The colors chosen were the same as the original, rock moss green upper body, vagabond green lower body, with a straw strip and wheels (fenders and running gear are always painted black).
Here it is rolling out of the shop in the spring of 1981. It is finally complete!
Here are two 1Mb pictures, above, that show the finished vehicle in a setting which I feel harmonizes well with the era of the car.
Other things that happened in the 1920's
I guess now it's time to get started on the next one!