6 October 2016

Swap to Street 2016: A model day for the Model A

Hagerty’s “Swap to Street Challenge” started with a real downer on Day 2, but after a member of the support team fixed his backwards t-shirt (and was appropriately chastised … and yes, it was me), the rest of the day went about as smoothly as could be expected.

“It was another good day for us,” said Davin Reckow, who is leading four Hagerty employees in a race against the clock to build a 1930 Ford Model A in four days at the AACA Hershey (Pa.) Fall Swap Meet. “We had a few ‘stucks,’ but they were unstuck pretty quickly.”

At the midway point of the four-day challenge, the team is in high spirits, and it’s no wonder. Among the wins, the fuel tank was tested for leaks and received a clean bill of health, and the car’s four-cylinder engine is close to being fired up. We hope.

“Normally, we would have tried it by now, but since we’re on the clock we’re going to put the body on and the gas tank in first,” Reckow said. “Of course, we know full well that doing that could sink the ship (if the engine doesn’t start), but we’re feeling confident.”

The day started by taking inventory of everything included with the 1931 Model A sedan body purchased on Day 1, and there were some surprises. “We searched for a body mount kit yesterday, then we found everything we needed in a box here,” Reckow said. “That was a big win.”

There was also a patch panel included, exactly what we needed to fix a rusted out area in the rear. “That was the worst spot from a structural standpoint,” Reckow said. “Everything else is cosmetic.”

In addition to the welding that was required, Reckow said teammate Brad Phillips “has been killing it on the doors,” although Phillips joked that it was actually the other way around. “Every single one of the doors was more deficient than the one before it,” he said, referring to missing parts that were all eventually found on the show field yesterday. Phillips installed the glass and prepped the doors. “It’s amazing really how little the technology changed over the years,” he said. “The mechanism to roll the windows up and down isn’t much different on the Model A than what you’d see in a car from the ’50s and ’60s.”

Meanwhile, Randy Clouse and Brett Lirones focused on the engine and brakes. Clouse said he was relieved to finish repairing a broken head stud that brought engine work to a screeching halt on Day 1. “That was weighing pretty heavy,” he said.

Plenty of sanding was required on the brakes, and Lirones said the emergency parking brake spring gave him fits. “It was my biggest hurdle – and my biggest win.”

The four-man build team received an extra pair of hands when Ben Preston joined the fun for an experiential story that he’s writing for TheDrive.com. And a couple of car celebrities stopped by, Corky Coker of Coker Tire (and reality TV) and author Tom Cotter, host of “The Barn Find Hunter” YouTube series.

Another highlight: Reckow asked one of the bystanders what he was working on in his own garage. When the spectator said his latest project was a Model A roadster and he was looking for windshield brackets, Reckow walked over to the work bench and returned with exactly what he needed. “Here you go,” Reckow said with a smile. “We don’t need these for our project, so you’re welcome to have them.”

Priorities for Day 3 are mounting the body onto the chassis, locating a wood kit (or build an alternative) for the roof, pad/upholster the seats and, of course, firing the engine.

For updates on the team’s progress and for more details on the vehicle, visit www.hagerty.com/swaptostreet. If you’re in Hershey and want to stop by and see us, we’re located on the Chocolate Field near the pedestrian bridge. Those of you who want to watch from home can subscribe to the livestream at www.YouTube.com/Hagerty/live.

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