Redline Rebuild: Reviving our Ford Model A for the second time

The Redline Rebuild treatment is not just reserved for post-war, big-cube engines. Since Davin likes to keep things interesting, the project he picked to follow an awesome stream of V-8s isn’t even a new addition to the Hagerty garage. The 1931 Ford Model A from the Swap-to-Street challenge back in 2016 was languishing in a corner, largely forgotten. No matter what our plans were for the four-door as it collected dust, we knew we’d have to deal with the 200-cubic-inch four-cylinder’s penchant for puking its oil out on the pavement.

Before yanking the engine out, we thought we might as well cut loose a little. A few quick donuts on the way from storage to the garage were a salient, snowy reminder that this Murray-bodied Ford could be seriously entertaining. A small crew assembled the sedan in just four days from parts purchased at the Hershey fall swap meet.

The trip home revealed that the engine enjoyed pumping all its lubricant to the ground as efficiently as possible. The tired engine needed love… The kind of love a Redline Rebuild would give.

“I wouldn’t say we ever forgot about it, but the car certainly sat neglected for a while,” said Davin. “When brainstorming future projects, I remembered the Model A and thought it would be great to have it driving again.”

The engine came out—and for as simple as the engine looked, it went under the same process as the more powerful engines that have graced Davin’s engine stand. Parts came off, and once Davin was down to a bare block, the parts were loaded up for a road trip to Ron’s Machine Shop in Ohio. There new bearings were poured for the block and connecting rods, and the crankshaft got balanced and counterweighted.

“The goal was to create a smooth-running and reliable engine. We also put on a high-compression head and upgraded camshaft, but the goal wasn’t performance on this build, but drivability.”

Once assembled, it was time for the first start-up and break in. For this the engine test stand stayed in the corner. Rather than a static break-in, Ron’s Machine Shop gave specific instructions that seem quite strange at face value.

Davin explains how the advice isn’t as strange as it seems: “The bearing clearance is near-perfect fit when first assembled, which created enough friction that the starter won’t even crank the fresh engine. Ron’s told us to pull start the car and then immediately drive it to wear in the critical tolerances.”

With a handful of slow-speed miles under its belt, the Model A is no longer a cobwebbed piece of art in the garage. This sedan gets to live a second (or third, maybe even a fourth?) life starting with that tug from the tow strap. Where it’s headed next is unclear; stay tuned to Hagerty’s YouTube page to get the latest updates on all the cool projects our wrenches are working on.