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Old 05-13-2020, 11:19 AM   #1
GinRicky
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Default 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Got it from my uncle, to the best of my knowledge it was parked some time around the beginning of the second world war or just after, and has literally sat in a barn until now. Took my time with it, I've replaced the carb with a Tillotson, the coil of course, plugs, starter, sediment bowl, distributor (modern design), fuel shutoff valve, managed to rebuild the seized water pump, all fluids save engine oil were empty and are now filled and holding. Compression readings were in the 50s 1-4, though I do need to check again after it has run as much as it has.



I have gotten it to idle real low as I have seen they should; glub glub glub nice quiet and smooth, and it will stay like that indefinitely sitting in the shop. Revs up, feels solid throughout. Approx one minute of driving, however, and it starts losing power then dies and won't start again no matter what I do. Not overly hot, hands can be put anywhere without melting to the engine, no boiling over. After it cools a bit it will run and rev, idle as before, etc. But as soon as I try driving it....the same.


Next I plan to check compression after it dies while hot to see what I have there. About 21K on the odometer. Any thoughts? I should also add that it will climb our steep hill outside the shop without issue, within the minute or so before it starts acting up. Got second gear a couple times, it feels perfectly ready to go, and then does its thing again.


Really cool car, so original. They'd put a tow hitch bar on it, and it is painted blue with a paintbrush! There are things on it like bailing wire apparently holding the shock rods together, nails in place of cotter pins here and there, a bullet hole in one of the doors that didn't fully penetrate; the lead can still be seen in there. There's a sticker on the front of the driver door pillar that reads "Serviced with Mobiloil and Mobilgrease", which I've found anywhere between 1936 and 1945, I think. Quite a bit of character in this car, one that you might want to keep as it is because it is so cool that way.

Last edited by GinRicky; 05-13-2020 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 05-13-2020, 11:37 AM   #2
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Good Morning...I don't see that you have replaced the condenser. They can cause such problems. Check the little wire from the bottom of the distributor to the upper plate area. The cover can rot and short to the case with vibration. Clean and tighten all your connections from the battery all the way to the plugs. The wire from the coil to the distributor can also be a problem if it is the original cable...Ernie in Arizona
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Old 05-13-2020, 11:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

We like PICTURES!!
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Old 05-13-2020, 12:27 PM   #4
Bob C
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

When it quits if you hold the coil wire about a 1/4" from the head do you have spark?
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Old 05-13-2020, 12:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

I'd like see that bullet hole picture!!
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Old 05-13-2020, 01:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

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Make it do it again and when it stops, try to start it with a little choke and then stick your finger into the throat of the carb. If it is dry, it’s fuel.
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Old 05-13-2020, 01:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Could be a clogged pencil filter in gas tank or just flakes of rust over the outlet? Make sure you have steady gas flow to the carburetor. Sounds like unless it's electrical that it's using what gas is in the carb bowl and then running out (IF NOT ELECTRICAL).
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Old 05-13-2020, 01:29 PM   #8
Neil Mylar LakewoodCA
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

You might consider dropping the pan and removing the valve cover. If it has been parked since the late 40's there is bound to be oil sludge (thick as grease) in those areas.
I've even found dead snails in valve chambers.
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Old 05-13-2020, 01:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Welcome to the club! Sounds like you have a really great survivor car AND it is a family heirloom to boot! Do what everyone e has said so far and I think you will be fine. The two major points on these cars are the condenser/electrical system and the fuel system. Everything his pretty bullet proof except apparently the doors��. And we want pictures!!!!

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Old 05-13-2020, 05:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Before you do too much, identify if its got spark when it quits. Also try removing gas cap, the gas cap and radiator cap can be interchanged, but the radiator cap is not vented.
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Old 05-13-2020, 05:47 PM   #11
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Hello all, thanks for the responses. Of course just yesterday I dumped all the camera stuff from my phone onto my work PC, but I do have two pictures here at home from when I had just begun working on it:


Aaaaand I almost lost everything I typed because I was logged out before hitting submit. If the pics don't appear I'll put them in afterward.

As far as the condenser, that came complete with the new "modern" style distributor. Although it does run quite a bit better than it did on the original with all its shaft slop and ancient condenser, it is still doing the strange dying thing after a brief drive with the new distributor. There is only one thing left in the system that I did not address (other than internal engine) which is the junction box on the firewall. I had gotten sneaky and crumbled away some extra insulation on the various wires and laid gobs of liquid tape on them. Not great I know so I did take care of that this afternoon and ran a new wire from the switch out, eliminating the rest of the harness. Still runs the same, unfortunately.


However, one of the techs at the shop has what he calls his "Satan" box, which feeds separate ignition direct to the distributor cap and it ran beautifully again. The coil I'm using is a 12v that I obtained using a part number said to be a compatible modern equivalent for the Model A. Since I am now strongly leaning toward an ignition issue, I intend to swap the coil out of our old flathead 12v Allis Chalmers forklift as a test. Doing the spark to ground test the spark does look weak. Why it would run well at times and not others I don't understand yet but it could be that I have an incorrect or faulty coil.


I do have better pictures though, will get those here hopefully tomorrow. Other than that on the car, the wheel bearings seem satisfactory, I adjusted the brake rods and managed to restore more brake function than I could have hoped for; it stops itself downhill without too much effort. And the driver door glass was broken long ago, all the inside handles are broken, electric wiper motor isn't functioning though I haven't pursued that, no blade anyhow but the arm is still in the car. I found what remains of the original window curtain for the rear glass fallen off and under the
back seat.

The roof material is completely gone, just chicken wire and the round dome lamp remain. No lights work, although there is power to the switch that, surprisingly, still operates the horn! It gets a little stuck trying to make noise but a few trips of the switch and it starts working as intended, probably needs a servicing as one might expect after ~70 years.

Clutch operates normally, though it is all the way at the top of its travel. Original battery tray is still completely intact under the floorboard. The park brake lever seems to have been removed, which I don't quite understand. The linkage underneath to the rear wheels is all still there.

And I'll admit in the interest of full disclosure that I have temporarily rigged the front motor mount, utilizing what was left of the squashed bushings and a couple pieces of strategically positioned *cough pieces of cardboard. Hey, they used bailing wire and nails to keep it going originally. Yes, and the car came from South Dakota. An old farm vehicle that apparently saw the family through the Great Depression. The irony of getting it running again at exactly this time in history is not lost upon me.


Oh and Ernie, the original coil wire....literally fell off the coil the moment I touched it. It was beyond toast. The coil itself was covered in encrustation and various filth but I thought I could just make out some writing. The original "Ford" badge was still in place, black paint and all. Not surprisingly, the coil tested nil and the wire, well, it went out with the trash! Kept the coil though cause it's neat lookin.

I will also look into the fuel cap, eagle, though when it quit on me today it did not appear to have any spark. One of the things which did cross my mind was some kind of vapor lock, which, of course having no fuel pump would rather narrow that one down to fuel tank venting. I understand the Tillotson carbs don't have a filter screen as the Zeniths do? That may be incorrect but if the direction I'm headed in doesn't resolve it, going into the carb would seem to be the next likely culprit. I think I'm down to coil or armored cable, as well as ensuring proper tank venting. I know you're not supposed to screw the cable too far into the distributor so I didn't do that; yet another thing I might not have considered without the wonders of the internet. I did run it in a bit further today with no change. May need to also check for voltage at the points. Solid suggestions from you all. Start simple.

Oh, I also read elsewhere here not to overly tighten the distributor set screw, why is that? I can't conjure up any specific reason as to why not.

Last edited by GinRicky; 05-14-2020 at 01:45 AM.
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Old 05-13-2020, 06:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

https://imgur.com/a/FG6j5gg
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Old 05-13-2020, 06:21 PM   #13
GinRicky
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

That's the last pic I can scrounge from home, rest still on my work PC. If you zoom in though you can see the bullet hole in the forward center part of the rear door.


https://imgur.com/a/U6OA6my
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Old 05-13-2020, 06:29 PM   #14
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Another interesting note, there was a set of ancient wheels and tires that also came inside the car. Imagine my surprise when I discovered those wheels actually don't fit the car. Hub size is smaller. From my brief research on it I believe those are for an early '28. The old guy (uncle's father in law) who's family it originally belonged to had apparently entertained ideas of doing something with it ca. 1984, but didn't get anywhere I can only presume due to his age and/or health. I know the year because there are yellowed part pulling type tickets from July '84 in the boxes that were in the back seat. Odd things like new interior door handles, weatherstripping, a brand new still wrapped 15" (yes) tire tube. There wasn't a receipt for the tube but it had about as much place in the back seat as the wheels that don't fit the car. I say they are odd because there can have been no way whatever that the car was in any sort of running, let alone driving condition. New door handles? I did not know him. Really don't know what happened there, but perhaps he picked up the wheels being told they fit a '28, which is what I was told the year of the car was until research proved it is a '29. I imagine this man would have been born around 1920 or so, therefore this would have been a car he knew as a boy and more than likely drove himself before it was relegated to their barn. His last name was Grismer according to the tickets and that completes all I know about him and his family, other than he left the car to my uncle and it remained in the same barn until recently when it was put in a storage unit in MD.


And the last thing I can think of right now; the generator still works! I'm not usually that lucky, perhaps it had been replaced before being parked but running I get ~7 volts out of the system. Haven't had to touch that or any of the wiring to it. Of course, literally touching any of that wiring isn't the best option at this point unless one intends to replace it. Just a new "Ford" labeled drive belt to drive it with which came inside the car, and actually fit unlike the wheels.


And I will get that motor oil good and warm and drain it. Strangest motor oil I've smelled; it just smells like dust and old age home, with a taint of varnished fuel. I know I should have done that already but I have been trying to work this all in around my regular job. Now that I can drive it onto a lift with four serviceable (marginally) tires, it is high time to do that.

Last edited by GinRicky; 05-14-2020 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 05-13-2020, 07:08 PM   #15
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Really nice car, try and keep it as original as you can since it hasn't been restored, it has that original look to it!
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Old 05-13-2020, 07:17 PM   #16
GinRicky
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunnybrook Farm View Post
Really nice car, try and keep it as original as you can since it hasn't been restored, it has that original look to it!



Yeah, it was actually given to my mom by my uncle with the idea that she could sell it and keep the money. He never did anything with it and had it moved to a storage unit in MD some few years ago. I heard that and said, 'Hold on!". You're going to sell the thing for chump change sight unseen, so I paid a grand to have it towed to me. And really, it has been a pleasure to bring it back. Only opportunity I will ever have at a "Model" anything. I had never even sat in one before, let alone put a wrench on it. But the modern miracles of YouTube and forums such as these have been of incalculable aid to me. Never would I have guessed, for example, to remove the little bolt in the timing cover and turn it around to find TDC; who would? But a minute of research here and there combined with a little patience and I'm on my way.


Wish I could keep it now, but the deal was that I get it running and driving and give all remaining profit after my expenses to her, as it should be.
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Old 05-14-2020, 09:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Join a local club as they will be able to help you get it running faster and safer. If you have a 12v coil you will need a 12v system or a resistor to not have problems. Sounds like once the coil gets hot there is a short in it. Why don’t you just buy the car from your mom? You are already working and enjoying it?

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Old 05-14-2020, 10:43 AM   #18
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

Good Morning...Here is a suggestion. Don't sell the old girl. Figure our what price it might bring...not too much in it's present condition. Figure out the profit number after expenses and just offer to pay that amount in monthly payments to your mother. Ernie in Arizona
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Old 05-14-2020, 10:49 AM   #19
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

One other thing to check other than ignition. Did you confirm that the exhaust isn't restricted? Something about idling well but slowly dying after the revs (and air flow/backpressure) are increased make me think plugged exhaust.


I don't know why the engine would be boiling hot after a minute of driving if it idles great indefinitely if the exhaust is clear. Even with the spark all the way up it shouldn't get that hot that fast. Based on everything else the engine sounds pretty healthy
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Old 05-14-2020, 11:41 AM   #20
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Default Re: 1929 Fordor Briggs Running Again

I may have missed it but did you drain and clean gas tank and fuel lines as well as the vent on gas cap ! What a treasure you have !
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