It begins: the wheels

Immediately after I posted yesterday, Burkhard sent me current photos. I think maybe he’s having some fun with me, because the last one is definitely smaller than the next two, and even accounting for perspective, the closest looks bigger.

Model T wheels

I’m not sure why he feels a need to fix them — it’s just a few bug holes and Model Ts don’t go very fast.

Model T wheel closeup

But he’s picky. No doubt will insist on new tires as well.

Model T wheels pre-restoration

I think that’s a front hub below. You can actually buy one new for USD 289.95. Might make a nice coffee table conversation piece. The new spokes will be made from fresno, or ash, used for ax handles up north (along with hickory).

Rims and hubs, ready to go for refurbishing. Local cost to put each wheel back together with new spokes is USD 100, which seems like a good deal now that I’ve looked online.

Model T wheel disassembled

And meanwhile, some new antique firewood!

Model T spokes for firewood

On to the T

“Don’t laugh,” Burkhard said as he opened the container door.

It’s a Ford Model T he plans to restore. Notice the little round springs – those are aftermarket additions. Apparently the T had a rigid suspension. Ouch.

He confesses that the radiator has already been restored. And though the hood and fenders have been primed, there’s some serious fender rot which will require some TIG welding. He’ll get someone else to do that, since he doesn’t want to invest in a [Tungsten Inert Gas] welding rig. Since I’ve never learned even basic welding (even though my father’s company in the ’70’s made radio-frequency welding machines for similar sheet metal applications), it’s all rather magical to me.

Inside, make yourself comfortable on top of the gas tank.

But nah wurreez; you’re protected by the firewall, that separates the controlled-burn part of the operation (engine) from the potentially-uncontrolled (i.e., gas tank) part. You’ll note that the firewall is made of – drum roll, please! – wood! I’m feeling safer already.

Although it looks like a disaster to me, he says this engine – and car – is in good shape. Unlike the A, he doesn’t plan to rebuild the engine. Turns out that the Ts were such a bitch to drive that when the A came out, they were simply abandoned, so existing ones have much less wear.. As I pointed out a few months ago, Model As have turned out to be venerable beasties.

If you’re curious, do a Youtube search for “how to drive a Model T.” Three pedals: the right is the brake, the left the shift, and the middle, reverse – do I have that right? In any event, you could probably drive a Model A with minimal effort. A Model T, uh, no.

I don’t know what all this crap piled on the back of the vehicle is. I’m not sure I want to know.

This should make for a fun ride – stay tuned!

 

Restoration

My friend Burkhard, of German descent from Namibia, moved from a rather remote part of the interior of Uruguay to a place not far from our little country property. And immediately started projects. One of which was buying a Ford Model A.

To restore.

Which meant taking the whole thing apart. No, I mean really apart.

And from three engines that looked like this, creating one with the best parts from each. He substituted adjustable valves – a later innovation (i.e., not original) that apparently saved days of labor.

And then, of course, one has to put the whole thing back together.

Today it had its first public-road debut. Having been a farmer all his life in Africa, he knew about windmills, and had helped with ours on our barely-used chacra (14+ acres/5.6 hectares). He mentioned that it probably needed lubrication, and since I was halfway through mowing the knee-high grass, and he was offering, we arranged to meet there this afternoon.

And there he was!

He also helped me find a plumbing solution for an annoying oversight from our Uruguayan “of course I know everything” contractor Martín, and then putt-putt-putt was on his way home before he had to use the vehicle’s lights, which are humorously (as long as you’re not driving in the dark) dim.

All photos except for the last two are his. I’ll try to do better next time.

Next time – did I mention he also bought a Model T that he will begin restoring in a few weeks?