Model T gurus go to work

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May 6, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Casey Diver knew he had a problem when he serviced his 1926 Model T sedan and the oil came out gray.
That’s a sure sign water had leaked into the block’s oil chambers.
A common cause is a blown head gasket, which permits coolant in where it isn’t supposed to be.
Saturday morning Diver and several members of the East Central Kansas Ford Model T Club changed out the car’s head gasket. The group held its monthly meeting at Model T Haven, Mark Freimiller’s headquarters south of Gas.
Diver had had the four-cylinder engine’s head planed, on the assumption it might had become warped.
Being around a group of car fanciers and an expert in vintage automobiles, some other concerns arose.
Freimiller has rebuilt more of the antique Ford four-cylinder engines than he can remember, which prompted him to point out head bolts sometimes don’t seat completely, resulting in it not being as snug as it should atop the block.
That comes from “gunk” falling in to bolt holes and cushioning bolts torqued in place.
“You can have the right amount of torque, but the bolts aren’t tight enough,” Freimiller pointed out.
He illustrated by inserting a drill bit into each hole and withdrawing loosened dirt. Compressed air finished the cleaning process.
Freimiller raised another possibility.
“Lots of these old blocks are cracked,” he said, which would let coolant ooze into the oil.
He recommended Diver change oil a couple of times after repairs, once to completely clear the oil system of water and a second time to make sure water still wasn’t present.
A handful of the club’s 62 members, including spouses, were at Freimiller’s .
“Before, we’ve usually just sat around and talked and ate,” Freimiller said. “We decided we’d try something different and add some mechanical stuff, have a hands-on session.”
Bud Redding, Waverly, and Lowell Chambers, Emporia, helped replace Diver’s head gasket.
The club dates to 1991 and in addition to monthly meetings, members take occasional tours to show off their vintage Fords.
“Having a car is nice, but not as important as being a club member,” Freimiller noted. “Mainly, it’s about our common interest in old cars.”
“And we all love to eat and have fellowship,” said Redding.

FREIMILLER, 55, is a source of information like few others.
He restores cars, mostly older ones, in a large shop on acreage that also includes a huge bone yard that often produces needed parts.
About 100 vehicles a year exit his shop ready for the street. Many are antiques, such as 1923 and 1927 Model T coupes nearing completion, but also newer vehicles.
“I’ve been doing a lot of 1940s Chevy pickups lately,” Freimiller said.
The 1927 coupe was found at Kenesaw, Neb., and was a pile of parts, having been taken apart during World War II with the intention of restoration that never got started.
“Just about everything was there except headlights,” Freimiller recalled.
The 1923 coupe came from Clay Center and was the project of a man who died before its completion.
Beside those two vehicles is a Model T frame, with front and rear ends salvaged from Freimiller’s scrap yard, that he found under a farm wagon in western Nebraska.
He has been rebuilding cars since age 13 and has done so full time since the early 1990s, after losing his job with PC Boards in Chanute.
While original parts are a portion of cars he rebuilds, many reproduced components also are used.
Freimiller allowed it would be next to impossible to find all original parts, especially wooden spokes for wheels and wood framing for bodies.

FOR THOSE who wondered whose red Ford touring car was parked outside St. John’s Parish Hall during a fundraising for Iola High’s history team and is seen about town occasionally, it is Freimiller’s.
“It’s a 1911 four-passenger,” he said, and pointed out that some of the brass parts, polished to a high shine, are original.

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