Frequently asked questions.

1. What is my, my uncle's, my dad's, etc., car worth?

Value can be determined in several ways. What is it worth to the owner/seller, what is it worth the the buyer, and what is it worth to an insurance company? Best way to determine value is to call your insurance agent and ask for them to recommend an appraiser to appraise the value of your car. For insurance purposes, your insurance company will accept the appraisal as to the car's value. For other purposes, i.e., buying or selling, it gives you a negotiating starting point.

2. My engine overheats. What can be wrong?

In no particular order, things to look for and correct when your flathead overheats.

1.  engines be sure that thermostats are installed in the hoses just above the heads. 190 degree rated should be fine.
2. Be sure that the thermostats are not installed upside down. The bimetal strip or wax plug should be facing the heads.
3. On 1948 and earlier engines be sure that the hose clamps keeping the thermostats in place and the hoses attached to the heads are not too tight, preventing the thermostats from opening and closing.
4. Be sure that the radiator cap is the correct one for the system you have. Pressurized or non pressurized. If its pressurized, replace it with a new cap of the correct rating.
5. Be sure that the water pump belts are tensioned correctly. Too loose, and the pumps will slip and not draw enough coolant around. Too tight and you prematurely wear out the bushings/bearings in the pumps.
6. Be sure that the radiator core is clean. Shine a light through. If you can't see the light, clean the core out at the carwash with the high pressure spray nozzle.
7. Be sure that the radiator hoses are not kinked, preventing coolant flow.
8. Back flush out the coolant until you get clean water. Refill with a 50/50 mix of glycol antifreeze and water mixture.
9. Be sure that the water pumps are not worn out (loose shaft or leaking)
10. Check to see if the bottom of the radiator is plugged with years of rust and scale (remove the lower hoses). If so, remove the radiator and have it re-cored at a radiator shop.
11. Be sure that the ignition timing is correct. Timing that is too far advanced will cause the engine to overheat. Retard the timing to within specs (and don't do that with the engine running on a pre-1948 vehicle unless you're prepared to loose a few fingers).
12. If the engine is coated with years of grease, oil and dirt, clean it at a car wash.
13. Be sure the brakes are not set too tight as dragging brakes make the engine work extra hard to move the car.
14. Be sure that the tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure creates more work for the engine and wastes fuel as well.
15. And if the gauge still shows its overheating, but visually it doesn't appear to be, the gauge could be reading wrong, or the temperature senders could be defective. Some flatheads only have one sender but most have two; one in each head with the wires joined together before heading off to the gauge. Try disconnecting one or the other to determine which one is defective.

3. What is the firing order of the Ford flathead engine.

4. Where can I buy parts.

You should join a car club in your area. Clubs are great resources for advice, locating parts, car show and shines, and swap meets. Additionally, you may find that you cannot insure your old car at lower rates without being a car club member.

You can also:

See this page for parts sources in the USA

See this page for parts sources in other countries

Pick up a copy of the monthly Hemmings magazine

And I highly recommend that you join The Early Ford V-8 Club of America regardless of what country you live in. If you have a flathead Ford, you need to be a member of this great organization.

5. Where can I find books to help me restore my car?

See this page.

6. Are there any magazines on the old flathead Ford?

See this page.

7. How much do I charge for a (fill in the blank) part?

I don't sell parts. If you are looking for a vendor who sells parts, see #4 above.

8. What is the difference between a flathead and a side-valve?

There is no difference except in terminology. A side-valve and a flathead are the same thing. Side-valve terminology tends to be used in New Zealand and Australia and refers to the fact that the valves are in the block next to the cylinder. In N. America we refer to the engine as a flathead because of the flat slab like appearance of the cylinder heads. The correct but seldom used name for this type of engine is L-head.

9. I've removed the bolts on my water pump and I can't get it off the block.

Did you remember to remove the bolt inside the outlet? Look inside the water pump and you'll see it. Chances are that it is badly rusted and you can't get a socket to grip. In that case you'll need to drill the head off the bolt and remove the remaining stud with a pair of gripping pliers after the pump is off. When replacing the pump, use a stainless steel (rust free) bolt  inside the water pump to facilitate easier removal in the future.

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