1929 Ford Model A Hot Rod

Written by Brenton Wight, Health Researcher
Copyright © 1999-2021 Brenton Wight. All Rights Reserved.
This site is non-profit, existing only to help people improve health.

This page might help hot rod builders.

Updated 15th April 2021

This is just a “health project” that I have been building in my “spare time”.
After all, I cannot sit at this computer all day, and everyone should have a hobby or special interest apart from normal daily activities to help the body and brain to function well.
This has taken many years due to the small amount of time available, and was recently nearing a stage where it was capable of running on the road. However, while it was on jacks, I checked the transmission, but found I had forward gears, but no reverse. In reverse and neutral, the wheels were still running forward, which is not very practical.

My first mistake was to pull out the transmission and take it apart.
In thinking about the problem part way through the overhaul, I should have taken it off the blocks, driven it around the yard for a while, run a few 10-second stall tests get the oil hot, then see if the problem cleared itself, after all it has been sitting idle for over 6 years, and probably another similar time with the previous owner, and possibly sitting in a wrecking yard before then for a long time. The next step should have been to take some pressure tests. There is a test plug on the left side of the trimatic, and readings from all of the ranges should be compared with specifications to help diagnose where the problem may be. However, too late as it was already in bits by the time I thought about it.

It has been over 50 years since I studied Automatic Transmissions I and II at TAFE, but it is all coming back to me now, although I had no opportunity to study this transmission as this was just before production of the trimatic, only earlier versions such as the Borg Warner 35, Powerglide and the hydramatic (“slushmatic”) from the EH Holden era. I can remember many things from long ago better than what happened yesterday…
Here are some of the bits partly dismantled:

While waiting for the parts, I overhauled the valve body. Surprisingly good condition with no stuck valves, just a little gunk here and there, now cleaned, assembled and lubricated. Other parts also in good condition for the age, about 46 years old, and has been in storage for many, many years.

Australia Post finally delivered an overhaul kit. I purchased the kit on eBay that included the band, the three clutch plate sets, the sprag, some (but not all) bushes, seals, O-rings, gaskets, modulator, kick-down solenoid etc.
Warning: These kits come with no instructions. Clutch plates are easy as they are all different sizes. O-rings, however, have no identification about what they are for, so in future one should place each old one in a plastic bag and write on the bag the correct location. Gaskets are easy enough because most can only go one way.

Rebuilt the reverse clutch where I thought there may be a problem, but found no issues.
Rebuilt the third clutch, replaced the sprag clutch, even though the old sprag clutch appeared OK.
Replaced the bushings, including the one at the back where the tailshaft is supported, where the old bush showed signs of wear.
There is a good you-tube set of videos on how to put together a strong trimatic auto. Although designed for the commodore series, known as the TH180 3L30 transmissions, the basic parts for the HQ series appear to be much the same. The transmission I have appears to be the Australian Holden-built TH180 Trimatic series 3, although I have yet to find a full definition of the differences. The manual appears to have some minor errors, or the manufacturing has some minor changes, adding to some confusion.

Because the identification badge was so badly damaged, I could not read the model, only the serial number that was stamped – the model number was painted only.
Here are some videos that will help if you want to try this yourself.
Includes some tips on rebuilding a trimatic even stronger.

Trimatic TH180 3L30 Auto Transmission Holden Commodore GM Disassembly/Overhaul Part 1 of 4
Trimatic TH180 3L30 Auto Transmission Holden Commodore GM Overhaul Part 2 of 4
Trimatic TH180 3L30 Auto Transmission Holden Commodore GM Overhaul Part 3 of 4
Trimatic TH180 3L30 Auto Transmission Holden Commodore GM Overhaul Part 4 of 4

This is the start of keeping the log. A bit late as the many previous years were not recorded as work was very intermittent.
26th December 2020.
After Christmas Day, I am happy to get back to work on the transmission.
Now completed third clutch, second clutch, band, reverse clutch.
Tomorrow I can start assembling bits into the case.
27th December 2020.
Special tools are mentioned everywhere in the manual. None were purchased for this job. Several bushes had to be replaced, and because they have very thin walls, and often have a split along the length, one cannot simply drive out the old bush with the new one. I found a few blocks of aluminium that required machining into punches that were used to punch out old bushes and press in new bushes. Internal and external circlip pliers were already on hand, but both had round ends. Rectangular ends would have made the job much easier. Inserting the O-ring at the bottom of the detent valve was difficult, but a piece of wooden dowel the right size did the job.
30th December 2020.
Finally bolted up the transmission. As it was very difficult balancing it on a jack when removing it, I welded up a flat plate arrangement for the floor trolley jack, which worked well, just rolled it in and lifted into position.
Once close to the engine and at the right height, removed the metal strap I used to hold the converter in position and bolted everything up after cutting yet another hole in the firewall for easier access to the bolts.
Tomorrow I should finish the tailshaft, rear trans mount, oil cooler lines, fit the starter motor and fingers crossed, hoping for a running transmission.
31st December 2020.
It runs! We now have reverse, although the gearshift says it should be in Second gear.
Should not be a problem, just shortening the selector arm next to the transmission.
I thought this may have been the original problem, but remembered that the selector arm was not connected before and I was carefully clicking the arm through all the gear ranges.
Another job for another day and another year (2021).
New Year’s Eve and I have had enough for one day and one hell of a year.
1st January 2021.
Great start to a great year.
Modified the selector arm and now selects all of the gears, but not tested yet.
Because our neighbors were very quiet, I assume they were still asleep or had hangovers, so I did not want to start the engine (exhaust system not finished yet) or finish a lot of jobs that required grinding or other noisy operations.
I connected the vacuum modulator hose today, added some more transmission oil, connected some wiring to the rear lights, modified a bracket for seat belts.
5th January 2021.
Installed exhaust pipes over rear axle and out the back. Still needs some adjustment to clear the rear tyres a little more.
Engine runs OK when warm, but very rough when cold, although my manual choke modification for the front 2 barrels seems to work reasonably well.
Finally got the car off the blocks and on the ground. After some lengthy maneuvering to get out of the shed, a short run around the yard was successful, although not enough speed to see how well it changes gears, but we now have forward, neutral and reverse working, and the GPS speedometer works..
Detent switch now set up at the carburetor. Original Holden switch was on the accelerator pedal, but too difficult to fit one there. Now need to connect one side to ignition and the other to the detent solenoid on the transmission.
A stop was built to prevent the secondary throttle plates opening, because the original Rochester Quadrajet carburetor was behaving poorly, not delivering enough fuel at wide throttle. The front twin barrels should be more than enough.
6th January 2021.
Eventually got the twist out of the tailgate and welded the bottom hinge bracket so the tailgate now hinges and shuts correctly.
7th January 2021.
My birthday (74 years today) so not a lot done, general tidy-up.
9th January 2021.
Installed the ute lid handle, lock and tailgate connector.
Set the distributor timing. Spec says 6 degrees but engine ran better at about 10 degrees advance (idle, vacuum disconnected from distributor and plugged)
Engine overheated after idling for about 15 minutes. There was a small coolant leak, even so the small 10″ electric fan is not up to the job. Hoping to get a 16″ or 17″ fan installed soon, along with the replacement of the thermostat and housing, heater hoses etc.
Reverse lights wiring tested and complete.
Re-wired the system so that the fuel pump switch is isolated by the ignition switch as well as the extra switch for the 12 volt fuel pump and 12 volt cutoff solenoid.
From the old carburetor days, I often had problems with carbys flooding, so I wanted the option to switch off the fuel pump but leave the ignition on.
Completed the air cleaner modification to allow crankcase gases to vent through the carburetor to be burnt in the engine.
Verified that the alternator is now working after converting to a 3-wire system instead of a 1-wire system, and now have a red LED that should illuminate when ignition is on but not charging. After reading the vague instructions 6 times, I realised that the 1-wire system still needs at minimum, a jumper from the live terminal, otherwise it will not charge. To get an alternator light working on the dash, we need a 3-wire system.
11th January 2021.
Reworked the right side exhaust pipes to give more clearance to rear tyre, but not happy with result, and need to think about this some more.
Measured radiator for replacement. Ordered a 19062-1964 Ford Mustang radiator that will fit in the shell, but will require an inline filler neck in the top radiator hose, on order.
Order the largest mechanical fan possible, probably 16″ or 17″ after mounting the new radiator as low as possible to allow fan clearance to the bottom radiator hose.
Decided against an electric fan as the mechanical fan will move more air above idle, and should not be idling too long. May have to increase revs a bit if held up at traffic lights too long. The mini-alternator has only 50 amp capacity, and up to half that required to run a powerful 17″ electric fan, along with electronic distributor, fuel pump, lights, etc.
14th January 2021.
Removed radiator and grille shell.
17th January 2021.
Replacement carburetor arrived, replica Quadrajet which is a post-pollution model, needing several hose connections blocked.
18th January 2021.
Installed the external rear view mirrors, motorcycle units from aliexpress.com that look slightly flimsy but once installed seem quite solid.
20th January 2021.
Radiator arrived. Designed for a 1962 Ford Mustang, and slightly shorter than I would have liked, but the same core height and width as the previous radiator, but with a much thicker core, combined with the aluminium construction, should give almost double the cooling capacity. Unfortunately I could not get the bottom pipe any lower, so a 16″ fan is the biggest I can use. May need a fan spacer, but by mounting the mustang radiator as far forward in the grill shell as possible there should be just enough clearance between the fan and radiator.
Replaced thermostat and housing. Chrome housing was about $1 more than standard, worth the extra as it also has O-ring seals instead of a gasket.
25th January 2021.
The replica Quadrajet carburetor is different from the pre-pollution carburetor and manifolds, such as my HQ Holden 308 manifold, around 1972. The new carburetor hangs over the front of the manifold, allowing vacuum that is supposed to feed the vacuum advance in the distributor now goes to outside air.

The solution: Build a metal plate between the manifold and carburetor that will block off this passage.
Carburetor now mounted with thick layer of liquid gasket between the plate and manifold, and gasket between plate and carby, stuck down to the plate with liquid gasket along with a small section of thin cardboard to replace the missing area of the gasket to cover the exposed vacuum channel in the pic above. No liquid gasket between the gasket and the carburetor as I do not want to destroy the gasket if I have to remove the carburetor again.
Connected the fuel line and started the pump, but no fuel entering the carburetor.
Removed the top section after knocking the rolled pin partly through to release the lever for the internal squirt pump.
Details on dismantling the carby here:
No petrol in the float chamber at all. Not sure what the problem was, removed the float needle but did not look at it closely enough beforehand, but re-assembled the float needle and fuel then flowed well. Either the needle was stuck (unlikely as it lifted out effortlessly) or it may have been incorrectly assembled at the factory.
Re-assembled the top half and all appears fine now.
26th January 2021. Australia Day. The Lucky Country.
Kapunda is one of the best towns in the best State in the best Country on Earth. No Covid here..
Ordered a new bottom radiator hose, as the mustang radiator had a standard 45mm bottom spout, the old one had the bottom spout the same 38mm as the top.
27th January 2021.
Rebuilt the brackets for the kickdown switch and throttle cable.
Completed the top radiator hose with the inline filler neck cap that worked out OK, as the mustang radiator had the filler neck inside the grill shell, not a convenient position.
29th January 2021.
Installed the firewall cover that gave access to the distributor clamp for setting the timing.
Installed some plywood over the lower firewall passenger side to help level out the area before carpeting and prevent too much heat coming from the engine compartment.
30th January 2021.
Installed the internal rear view mirror.
1st February 2021.
Machined a 22mm fan spacer to allow clearance between the fan and pulleys and fitted the fan.
Needed 2″ x 5/16″ UNF bolts. I have purchased that many bolts for this project it must weigh much more than originally estimated.
Finished all of the seat and seat belt anchors and installation.
Installed new transmission oil cooler hoses. The original radiator had no oil cooler in the bottom tank, so I installed a separate oil cooler alongside the transmission.
The new radiator had an oil cooler, so I re-routed the exit from the first oil cooler to the radiator cooler, and from the radiator cooler back to the transmission return line.
Second return spring and bracket added to the carburetor to comply with the rules.
2nd February 2021.
Fitted the new bottom radiator hose OK.
Clearance between the fan and the bottom radiator hose is less than desirable, but should increase under engine power as the left side of the engine always lifts under load.
Fabricated some blocks for the manifold heater connections, and re-routed the two connections from the thermostat housing to the water pump.
Modified my original manual choke modification for the new quadrajet, which has a feature of preventing the choke operation until the throttle is opened somewhat. Now need to use some care when using the choke to prevent damage to the mechanism by operating the choke before depressing the throttle. Update: No need for a choke. 2 or 3 pumps of the throttle and it starts with no fuss.
3rd February 2021.
Installed the right door lining, but first had to rebuild the linkage for the claw lock so it would not interfere with the lining.
4th February 2021.
Started the engine with the new quadrajet. No choke required, just 2 pumps of the throttle and it started well and ran smoothly, much better than the old quadrajet. Had to stop it because coolant was overflowing in the top hose filler neck. Could not find the radiator cap that came with it. Spent an hour tidying up the shed but nowhere to be found.
Will tidy some more tomorrow but may have to buy another. It will turn up one day when I am looking for something else.
5th February 2021.
Found the radiator cap. After searching the entire shed again, eventually found it sitting on top of the radiator shell in plain sight. Well, at least after kicking myself in the butt, I have a slightly more orderly shed now, hopefully making other things easier to find.
Engine ran for a while but had to shut it down due to a small coolant leak , and no transmission oil showing on the dipstick and none left in stock. Back to our Kapunda Hardware shop again for more Dexron 3 transmission oil. Originally, the trimatic was designed for dexron II oil, but when dexron 3 was released in the 1990’s it was backwards compatible with dexron II transmissions.
After our Auto Spares shop closed, much of their stock is available at the hardware shop which is very handy.
Fixed the coolant leak, then made a tee-piece with 2 x 8mm connections and 1 x 6mm connection to connect the two radiator overflows to an overflow catch-can yet to be mounted.
Heavy rain coming in, time to lock up for the day.
6th February 2021.
Family gathering in Adelaide today, so now work done.
7th February 2021.
Mounted the catch-can on a fabricated bracket.
8th February 2021.
Ran the engine for 25 minutes today to check for overheating issues.
Unfortunately, coolant temperature kept rising, although rising slower, after the thermostat opened, but when it reached almost 200 degrees F (93 decrees C) I had to stop the engine.
Part of the test time I had the transmission in gear (car still on blocks). Checked the under-floor transmission oil cooler and found it warm, but not unreasonably hot, unlike everything else around the engine too hot to touch, so the transmission oil load is unlikely to be an issue with overheating.
Although a lot better than the electric fan and copper radiator, still getting too hot.
Of course, in everyday situations, the car moving along the road most of the time will make a big difference.
But I will now build a fan shroud anyway.
10th February 2021.
Removed the brake light switch I originally spent a long time setting up under the floor against the brake pedal. The original switch simply connected +12v to earth which was not the way the rest of the wiring was configured. So the option was to order a new switch with 2 contacts, or to insulate the original switch, and that looked messy and time-consuming, so a new switch was ordered.
Started routing wiring for the brake light switch, the transmission kick-down solenoid and the brake warning light. All of these are on the right side of the car, but rather than run the wiring across the firewall, I chose to run the wiring straight down the firewall on the left side, then over the transmission to the brake light switch (yet to arrive), the transmission kick-down terminal, and the brake warning light on the master cylinder switch.
11th February 2021.
Further work on the wiring.
Started building brackets for the fan shroud.
12th February 2021.
More work on the fan shroud, but it seems almost impossible to build a shroud in 2 pieces (top and bottom or left and right) halves and fit them with the fan in the way. And without the fan installed, once the shroud is in position, the fan cannot be installed or the bolts inserted or tightened.
Also I looked at the option of building the shroud in four quarters, but there were too many issues that way.
So the shroud is on hold until I have another brainwave.
The new brake light switch I ordered was probably not the best type, so I have ordered a more suitable one. Should arrive next Monday 15th.
13th February 2021.
Tidied wiring some more underneath.
Installed switch and wiring for demister. I used a 12v demister to eliminate water hoses from the engine going through the firewall. A waste of time as without side windows, there would probable never be any mist, and this car would never be taken out in unsuitable weather.
But the rules say we have to have a demister.
14th February 2021.
Fitted the marine ply lining to the passenger side door.
Installed a blue LED light in the dash for high-beam headlights. A more prominent position than the headlight switch that was mounted on an aluminium plate just below the dash.
Installed the rear hood latches both sides.
The front latches are in the way of a bolt attaching the mudguard to the chassis, so this is a job for another day after I have slept on it.
15th February 2021.
Brake light switch still not arrived. Actually had arrived, but the only person who knew anything about it was away until tomorrow.
Tidied the hand brake cables where they pass over the rear suspension control arms. Easiest way was to use a large hose clamp to hold the cable outer firmly, and this worked well.
16th February 2021.
Brake light switch arrived yesterday, and now the right person unboxed yesterday’s delivery, and proceeded to set up the product on the computer system so they could sell it to me. After a while, I had it in my hand. For a $14 product, they went to a lot of trouble to get this part for very little financial gain, so I cannot complain.
Unfortunately, this switch did not come with a nut on the white plastic thread to hold the switch in place. On reviewing the part image online, it seems that is how they come. No problem, I thought, I have a wide selection of metric and imperial nuts, bolts, taps, dies so I can fit almost anything. However, this turned out to be a non-standard thread. Smaller than 12 mm metric, bigger than 7/16″ imperial, but the close to the same pitch as a 12 mm x 1.25 mm pitch metric thread. I happened to have a rusty old wheel nut with this thread, and a thread tap to suit, so cleaned it up, cut in half as the tapered section was too long, and squeezed in the vice in 3 directions to attempt to close it in to the right size.
This partly worked although still too loose, so I assembled the switch on a revised bracket with some tough adhesive I had used successfully before, and left it to set for the next day.
17th February 2021.
Adhesive on the brake light switch looked OK, but decided to leave it for another day.
I wanted to build a cover for the chassis section in front of the radiator, hoping that this would direct more air through the radiator rather than underneath it.
I had run out of sheet steel large enough for this job, but in my stockpile of old appliances, found a washing machine side panel that was plenty big enough. Cut to size, drilled for 2 bolts each side, rolled the edges front and back, curved the panel to match the chassis, painted undercoat, then black gloss, and installed with stainless bolts. Pleased with the way it turned out.
18th February 2021.
Installed the brake light switch assembly and completed wiring for the brake light switch, brake fault light and transmission kick-down solenoid.
Built a kick-panel passenger side and fabricated a “glove box” to go above the kick panel.
An offcut from the other side of the washing machine above served as the metalwork. Cut, folded, pop riveted the box and painted gloss black.
This keeps feet and obstacles away from electrical terminals, and hides the rat’s nest of cables under the dash. Tomorrow I should fix some brackets to support the glove box and kick panel correctly.
19th February 2021.
Built brackets for glove box/kick panel support.
Installed, stain and varnish the timber strips around doors, stained and varnished the marine ply inside door panels.
Worked out how to build partial fan shroud and started laying out materials.
20th February 2021.
Built components for fan shroud in 4 main pieces covering about 65% of the fan, mainly at the top where the radiator is hottest.
Insulated and carpeted the floor, passenger side and central.
21st February 2021.
Painted and installed fan shroud components.
Ran the engine and pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the partial fan shroud,
Even with the engine idling, a significant blast of air felt behind the fan, where before there was no significant air movement.
Drove around the yard for a while, and the engine temperature rose to 185 degrees F and remained stable at that point, which is encouraging. The Tridon TT1-190 thermostat is rated at 88 degrees C (190.4 degrees F) so I assume may not be fully open at 185 degrees F.
23rd February 2021.
Removed mudguard bolts and installed the front hood catches.
Ordered new long, round mufflers and flexible stainless tube to go around wheel arches, allowing greater clearance to tyres.
Ordered some bends to make the exhaust neater between the new mufflers and the flexible stainless  tube.
25th February 2021.
Needed to resolve poor oil pressure with a hot engine. It idle, oil pressure on the electronic dash gauge was showing zero pressure, but with a good mechanical guage screwed direct into the oil pump, pressure was actually 5 to 10 psi at hot idle, rising to 20 to 30 psi at revvs.
Today I drained the oil, which was 10/40 for running in the engine, and replaced it with Penrite 40/70. Noticeably thicker, took a long time to drain from the rocker cover into the sump. However now we have 30 psi at idle, still dropping to around 10 psi when hot, and going up to 50 psi at revvs. This oil also contains zinc and molybdenum.
This is all with a new hi-flow oil pump, and a rebuilt engine with new pistons, rings, crank and big end bearings, still tight because of the limited time it has been running.
I did not replace the camshaft bearings during the rebuild as they looked OK, but in retrospect perhaps this was a mistake, as I cannot see where else the oil pressure is going, apart from some slight wear on the crankshaft journals.
Ordered rear suspension bump stops, not as high as the previous stops, allowing more travel upward.
Took current photos, see image at top.
26th February 2021.
Carpeted the glove box to tidy things up and eliminate some sharp edges.
28th February 2021.
Re-arrange and tidy the shed to allow more room to update exhaust system next week. All parts should arrive next week.
2nd March 2021.
Exhaust gear arrived. Two 30″ long x 2 1/4″  mufflers and two lengths of 2 /14″ flexible stainless steel to run around the inside of the rear mudguards, and some extra 2 /14″ tube bends. Also received a device to expand the tubing to the allow lap joints, but it does not work very well. I used the medium-sized tool first, but stripped the thread attempting to expand a 2 1/4″ exhaust pipe. Next, tried the largest tool in the kit, flooded it with oil (essential) and managed to enlarge the tube by 1 mm. As I wanted to increase the size by a few more mm to cover the outside of the flexible stainless tube, I cut 4 slots in the tube first (so that when the exhaust clamp tightens it will give a firm grip) and then the tool easily expanded to tube. Then assembled the joint with a smaller tube inside the flexible tube and the larger tube over the flexible tube, which worked reasonably well, but time-consuming and a little fiddly and untidy.
3rd March 2021.
Designed, built and installed a swivel bracket to support the rear end of the long muffler.
Seems to work well, allows some movement to allow for the engine moving under load, but controlling the height of the muffler and stopping excessive sideways movement so it will not knock on other frame members. Although there is no rubber involved, I do not expect undue vibration to be transmitted to the frame or body.
Designed another bracket at the top of the wheel arch to support the flexible stainless exhaust tube, and that worked well, so built another bracket about 60 degrees rear from the top of the arch.
Fabricated a length of 2 1/4″ tube with a 60 degree bend to run from the end of the flexible tube to the rear muffler.
Will see how that works tomorrow.
4th March 2021.
Used a different method of joining these tubes. I used a smaller tube welded to the 2 1/4″ tube to allow the flexible stainless tube to fit over the smaller section, then a standard clamp over the stainless tube. This was the way I was going to do this originally, but I thought the clamp would damage the stainless tube, as it is very thin-walled.
However, all worked out well, and the left side is now complete, and started on the right side today. Much faster now I have the method OK.
Also changed the rear bump stop, much more difficult than I originally thought as I did not remember how the bracket was assembled, but got there in the end.
Ordered a new starter motor, original unreliable unless the battery is absolutely fully charged.
5th March 2021.
Completed replacing the right rear  bump stop.
Hoped to complete the right side today, but time limited. Completed the first and second bends around the wheel arch, and part of the last bend and rear anchor.
6th March 2021.
Completed the right side at last!
Still a few small cosmetic things to tidy up, but ready for road testing.
Aim to start next Monday 8th if I can get a temporary registration permit online.
7th March 2021.
Built and installed the left door strap to stop the door from hitting the mudguard.
Prepared some parts for the right door.
8th March 2021.
Today I wanted to check the wheel alignment again, now that the weight is somewhere near final, but never got around to it.
First, I completed the leather strap on the right door to prevent it from hitting the mudguard.
Then I wanted to check the primary jet size in the new quadrajet carburetor, as the exhaust is still showing richness – black smoke, soot in the exhaust pipes, even with idle jets completely closed.
So off with the air horn section, and thought the float level was slightly too high, so bent the float lever a little and checked the level again, perfect at 5/8″. Electric fuel pumps are best for these jobs.
Then I looked at the jets and the rods that hang in the jets.
These are the front ones, not the secondary ones.
The original carby has number 72 main jets, but there was nothing stamped on the new quadrajet. The jets were smaller, and the rods were much narrower than the original, so swapped the new jets and rods with the old ones and hoped that they would work in the new carby. Will finish assembly tomorrow.

9th March 2021.
Finished assembling the Quadrajet today.
Engine is now idling a little faster and smoother with the idle screws just 1/4 turn out from bottoming.
I decided to leave the faster idle as is to ensure a good flow of air through the radiator, and is not fast enough to “clunk” the transmission when engaging a gear.
No black smoke evident if engine revs are increased slowly, but flooring the pedal blows a heap of black smoke.
I am hoping that this is because the Quadrajet squirts in a lot of fuel, mainly as the secondaries open, to avoid flat spots, but a road test up a long hill will show any black smoke under constant load.
Checked the wheel alignment again and looks good.
Considered increasing the caster because the steering is so light, but will wait for the road test in a sealed surface before I change anything.
10th March 2021.
The new starter motor arrived today, but fairly late.
Supposed to be for a HQ Holden 308 engine, but I am not sure if it will fit.
The bell housing cover plate appears to get in the way, too low, and fouls on the boss of the business end of the new starter motor, which is somewhat smaller than the original.
The bolts for the original are too long so I will either get the correct bolts tomorrow or pack them with a heap of high-tensile washers.
This was an original cover and had been battered around but straightened.
Tomorrow I will attempt to move the cover up at least 7mm, but if this cannot be done easily I will attempt to cut a piece out for clearance.
11th March 2021.
Completed the starter motor replacement today, also ordered some lexan for the future side windows.
The started did not work at first. The new starter needed more current for the solenoid, so I traced the wiring back to the relay and found it was not connected. Too hard to work under the dash, so I installed a new relay on the firewall, and all works well.
the new starter was physically smaller than the original, and I resorted to removing the bell housing cover plate and grinding the starter boss opening so the starter would not foul the plate. Starter bolted up OK this time and now working reliably (so far).
12th March 2021.
Temporary registration obtained online for 3 days, cost $69, starting tomorrow, 13th March.
13th March 2021.
Road testing!
All ready for the road test, but as soon as the engine was started, a loud noise issued from somewhere in the engine/transmission.
Did not sound like the water pump as the would normally rumble before failure, but this was a metallic, scraping sound.
The last work on the car was the new starter motor, and the issues with the bell housing bottom cover meant the starter had to come out and also the cover. On inspection, the cover had a very small mark near the crankshaft area, and I was surprised that it would have made so much noise. However, some more cutting away of the central area of the cover resolved the problem. All assembled again and no noise.
Now the road test. All fine except a slight noise on overrun and I was worried that the transmission still had problems. Also the GPS speedometer suddenly stopped working after a short distance. However, the car ran very well up to about what I thought was approaching the speeds limit, no noticeable vibration and driving straight and true, except that the noise on overrun was more than slight, getting louder, so back to the workshop.
Checked the speedometer wiring, all looked good, power wire had 12 volts, light wire had 12 volts, earth wire had zero ohms to earth, Plugged the wires back in wobbling to ensure they went all the way.
Turned my attention to the overrun noise. I began to think that this is the sound a differential makes when it is on the way out.
Then it clicked! About 2 years ago, when I was building the rear suspension, I thought I should check the rear axle oil level, but I did not have the right socket size to undo the plug, and other spanners were just rounding off the very flat plug, so I left it, and over time forgot about it, until TODAY!
Now I had the right 6-sided heavy duty 1″ AF socket, and unscrewed the plug with my nut-runner, and of course found the axle housing empty of oil. A little mist, that’s all, so there must have been a tiny bit there somewhere. No hardware/auto shops open now, so a job for tomorrow.
While the back was on blocks, I adjusted the rear brakes and they are now more equal in braking force.
14th March 2021.
Purchased 85W /140 Diff oil today, hoping that damage to the diff will not be too severe and that this heavier grade will help.
Filled the diff and road testing was geat! Not a sound in overrun conditions, so very happy.
Engine slightly rough, so replaced 4 spark plugs and cleaned some others, and the engine is running smooth again. All plugs were sooted up from the previous rich conditions, the worst were the original plugs that would have been dirty before anyway. Will get a complete new set tomorrow.
The original HQ Holden ignition key was extremely worn and had been bent and straightened, so Peter at Kapunda Hardware did a great job of cutting a new key that actually worked very well. I was always concerned that the old key would end up breaking in the lock.
Speedometer still not working with the engine running, but finally found the problem. It used to work OK, but recently would find the satellites OK, but then fail to work as soon as the engine was started. At first I blamed the electronic distributor, but then remembered that the 50 Amp mini-alternator was not charging earlier because of a missing jumper, and now it was working, so that must be the problem, even though the alternator was charging the battery at 14 volts, and the speedo had a specification: Input voltage 9 volts to 32 volts. However I sold my oscilloscope many years ago, but guessed that there was some ripple that was upsetting things. A web search found a possible solution, use a 3mfd capacitor to take some ripple out of the alternator output, or use a voltage regulator. I wired the speedo power to a completely separate battery, and the speedo then worked fine with the engine running. Not a viable solution, so I found a 7812 voltage regulator chip in my electronics box, soldered it in the power supply lead to the speedo, connected the earth, and problem solved. The chip ran quite cool, no significant heating, so the speedo obviously does not use much power.
Further road testing was fine, and with one more day on the temporary permit, will try to get some lengthy testing done.
15th March 2021.
More road testing today, but no time left for longer trips.
Started work on the side window frames. Lexan material due here by the end of the week.
16th March 2021.
Organised AHRF TAC inspection for Thursday morning 18th March.
Started building timber door tops. Need to complete these before finishing the side window frames.
17th March 2021.
Started building some pivot hinges for the side windows. Dropped the idea of hinges.
Replaces all 8 spark plugs. All existing were sooted, obviously still running too rich., but not as bad as before.
Will try to get some larger needles for the carburetor.
Noted that with the engine running, the brake pedal does not quite return to the top position.
Attached a bracket to the bell housing and a spring from the bracket to the clevis pin, and problem solved.
18th March 2021.
AHRF (Australian Street Rod Federation) TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) Inspection!
Thanks to Tim Harris and the Kapunda Men’s Shed, allowing the inspection on the hoist at the shed.
No serious problems, just a short list of relatively minor things to tidy up.
Bought some reflectors a year ago, but they have disappeared in my shed, then forgotten about, so bought some more and installed them today.
Ordered a few parts that I needed:
– Steering column lower retainer and bearing
– Front lower control arm lower inner bush kit
– LPG Safety cut-out switch, for petrol cut-off solenoid
– Tie rod end
Parts should arrive in a week.
Tie rod end had a split boot. Was brand new 8 years ago, but the boot deteriorated over time (maybe also got hit with some welding sparks). Could not find a boot to order, so ordered the whole tie rod end.
The rear lower control arm bushes need replacing when the parts arrive.
Will need to align wheels again.
The steering column lower bearing was somewhat loose, and will be replaced when the part arrives.
The universal next to the column was also very slightly loose, but a squeeze in the vice fixed this easily.
Fixed the light on the transmission indicator, had a broken wire inside the column.
Need to adjust brake hose alignment at calipers to prevent touching the upper control arms.
I thought I had already done this, but that was when the car was jacked up with wheels hanging, and slightly different geometry when the car is on the ground (or hoist).
Will improve the battery tie-down soon.
As soon as these jobs are completed, the next inspection stage will be:
Vehicle Identiry Inspection, DPTI (Dept for Transport, Planning and Infastructure) where they will record the chassis number and engine serial number on form MR29.
Next, the Vehicle Inspection, DPTI again, where an Interim Certificate of Exemption should be given, which will give the ability to then register the vehicle immediately. (Club rego or full rego).
Required for this inspection: Statement of compliance, MR29, and tools to remove the wheels so that drum-to-drum and track measurements can be verified.
19th March 2021.
No time today, too many things to do for other people, but picked up some better ear muffs from Bunnings.
20th March 2021.
Our 50th wedding anniversary today – so NO WORK ON THE HOT ROD!
21st March 2021.
Completed the improved battery tie-down.
Valley Hot Rodders meeting from 4:00 pm.
22nd March 2021.
Started removing the lower control arm bushes while waiting for parts, but fairly difficult to move them.
Too busy with other jobs to complete this today, and the next few days.
25th March 2021.
Received and installed the lower steering column bearing.
Received the petrol cut-off switch. This one either surrounds the alternator wire and detects the pulses, or uses the tachometer terminal on the electronic distributor.
I chose the latter to keep the wiring short and simple.
When no pulses are received, the fuel cuts off as it assumes the engine has stopped.
In case of an accident where the ignition is still on, the solenoid cuts off the fuel supply when the engine has stopped. When starting, the cut-off switch still keeps the solenoid open for 1 or 2 seconds to give enough fuel for starting.
26th March 2021.
Installed and tested the cut-off switch today.
Finished removing the rear lower inside front control arm bushes.
Not an easy job, but made easier by cutting a 20mm long section of 1″ water pipe, cut in half and used between the bush and the cross member. A hit on the control arm loosens the bush, and pinch bar each side then wiggles the bush out.
1st April 2021.
New bushes arrived, but not so easy getting the bushes installed.
Would be a lot easier removing the lower control arm and using a press for this job, but that is a lot of work.
Started making a tool for this job, but ran out of time again today.
2nd April 2021, Easter Friday.
Rebuilt the special tool, but need a longer 3/8″ UNF bolt to complete the job on the left side.
Requires 2 x bolts and nuts behind each side of the control arm so the arm does not get bent during this installation.
Will get a bolt, preferably a set screw tomorrow, nothing open today.
3rd April 2021.
Finally got the right bolt and finished installing both control arm bushes.
Re-mounted the steering rack, installed the tie rod end, adjusted the toe-in and checked the camber.
4th April 2021.
Re-installed the steering shaft and bled the brakes today.
5th April 2021.
Wheels back on and down on the ground, ready to go as soon as I have the DPTI Identity Inspection appointment.
6th April 2021.
DPTI Identity Inspection carried out at Nuriootpa Police Station.
7th April 2021.
Cleaned spark plugs, as late yesterday there was some rough low-speed running, possibly  caused by sooting. Slight sooting found, but half the insulator was brown, suggesting the rich condition is not as bad as I thought.
Pumping the throttle still blows black smoke, but normal speed driving should be OK.
Idle mixture screws are fully closed, and normal quiet driving appears to run mostly on the idle mixture.
Accelerating or going up hills means the throttle is open wider and then fuel is metered through the promary rods/jets combination.
I will still look at using larger primary rods and adjust the power pump.
Booked the DTPI Vehicle Inspection for Angaston, but may be delayed as the officer only comes every fortnight. Waiting for a call back to confirm a date, time and location. Another $288 paid for this service.
11th April 2021.
Built a window frame for passenger side and welded to door.
12th April 2021.
Built an inside release for door.
Started fitting angle to window frame.
I intend making the left window fully fixed.
When I fit the right window I will make some sort of vent to allow cool air in the cabin, as a lot of heat comes through the firewall.
13th April 2021.
Finished fixing angles to left window frame, made template, cut and installed the 3mm lexan.
Cut and installed a 10mm meranti spacer under the frame, and gave the frame 2 coats of blue after first using up some cheap white paint.
Unfortunately the white bled through the blue on the first coat, and as I was applying the second blue coat, the white underneath was starting to bubble up, so a lot of scraping  and cleaning got rid of most of it, then a new coat of blue.
Will tackle the paint again tomorrow.
14th April 2021.
Confirmation received for the DPTI inspection – Friday 23rd April at Noon, KADS Truck and Diesel, Heuritsch Road, Angaston. Would have preferred it sooner, but gives me more time to complete the side windows.
Started the right side widow:
Set up the interior door release, same as the successful method used on the left side.
Tack welded the window frame directly to the door top.
I will place a spacer at the top instead of under the frame.
15th April 2021.
Welded the frame properly to the door top.
Fitted the supporting aluminium angle and cut the 3mm Lexan sheet to size and installed.the window.
Painted the frame and angle parts. Looking fairly good now.
16th April 2021.



A few more jobs yet:
– Complete side windows
– Complete the final DPTI inspection.
– Install a fake open top on the roof to help reduce heat load on a hot day.
– Respray entire car again.


Photo of partly built hot rod, still on blocks and waiting for the rebuilt transmission to be installed.

The original doors and the body have been extended lengthwise by 150 mm because originally the body was so small I had a lot of difficulty just getting into the car.
The previous owner who had partly built the car had chopped the roof, but this also made the driving position very cramped, so the entire roof structure was rebuilt higher and longer.

As a youngster, I helped my father as he spent many weekends panel beating accident-damaged cars for extra income. That experience helped me build some compound curves in extended doors, etc.
Pity he died before his time from Alzheimer’s. Knowing what I know now I could have saved him, but at least I have managed to halt the degradation in my poor brain now before it gets too bad. All the more reason to get this project finished!

Chassis boxed with 5mm plate – gets heavier every day, but is not meant to be a race car…

GPS speedo, now tested OK. Cannot find the satellites in the shed, as expected.
Other gauges work OK, except the fuel level is in reverse – shows full when empty, empty when full. A trap for old players – I purchased a fuel gauge that expected a 90 ohm resistance, so I measured the sender unit that went from something small to around 90 ohms, so this must be right? Yes, but we should always check which way the sender has to be set up to get the gauge to read correctly!
Marine carpet used on floor.

Basic specifications:
Original 1929 Model A Ford chassis, boxed with 5mm plate, new cross-members, tailshaft loop, custom kick-up at rear.
Front Suspension:
HT Holden independent front suspension, new ventilated disks and PBR calipers, new PBR master cylinder and booster mounted under-floor, new custom adjustable proportioning valve.
Steering column:
HQ Holden.  Custom steering universal joints, rebuilt and shortened VB Commodore rack and pinion steering.
Rear Suspension:
UC modified Torana rear suspension and rear axle, new custom coil-over shocks, new brake drums, shoes and cylinders, new brake lines everywhere.
Engine: Holden Statesman HQ series 308 V8, new Quadrajet 4-barrel carburetor.
Transmission: Holden made Trimatic auto.

The Good Old Days

My dragster, around 1970, awarded “Fastest sideplate Holden in the world” by the SA Hot Rod and Custom Club.
Class D dragster at the time, recorded 10.02 seconds at 1/4 mile Adelaide International Raceway.
13:1 compression, straight methanol, 3 x SU carburetors modified for methanol injection, full race camshaft, Holden gearbox running 2nd and top gears only, custom flywheel and clutch.
Later rebuilt with Holden 186 engine, later again with Chrysler 265 engine.
Many of the old rodders still remember this car.
If I was starting again in drag racing today (and I am certainly not) I would do many things a different way.
The first thing would be to increase the ground clearance to make loading/unloading from the trailer a lot easier.

To be continued…

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