Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | September 5, 2011

A 1954 Ford V8, Part 2

During the early years of our marriage I loved to work on and tinker with cars which, when you have very little money, is a worthwhile hobby to cultivate. Owning a six year old Ford V8 meant every junkyard in town had parts for my car and this was years before cars would turn into the computerized electronic marvels we have today.

The major focus of my repair efforts had to concern the engine and transmission; the only exception to that was the one “repair” I made to the body. This was a repair which any shade tree mechanic, do-it-yourselfer would have been proud.

It involved the floorboard of the back seat; the problem was a hole there so you could see the pavement passing beneath. Since that was where the boys sat, seat belts were still future at that time; we felt the hole should be covered over somehow.

Being an experienced shopper at junk yards, I decided to branch out and shop at a scrap metal yard. I found a small square piece of stainless steel which I was able to attach to the floorboard using black roofing cement. As it played out that became the finest piece of metal on the entire car.

The next memorable moment came late one morning as I was leaving class at DTS; as I pulled out I noticed a puddle of water under the engine. Now that is not a good sign so I immediately pulled over to check the water level and sure enough there was almost no water in the cooling system.

I filled the radiator up and made my way to the nearest Sears Auto Repair and sure enough the water pump on the driver’s side was bad and needed replacement. When the price for doing the job was quoted it was clear we did not have enough money to get the job done by Sears. I parked the car there on the parking lot and went back in and fortunately had enough money to buy a rebuilt water pump.

I had a big problem though, I had no tools with me and Sears’s policy prohibited them loaning tools to anyone; so I had my replacement part but no tools. Finally a mechanic had pity on me and loaned me some basic tools sufficient to do the job.

I moved the car to an area below a parking lot light and proceeded to start the replacement of the water pump. One of the major challenges facing anyone who needs to replace one of the two water pumps on a 1954 Ford flathead V8 is the fact that the water pumps are part of the engine mounting; in other words the engine must be disconnected from the frame to replace either water pump.

Removing the old water pump was not all that difficult, but installing the new one turned out to be the greatest challenge to my patience that I ever experienced before or since. Rather than go into too much detail, suffice it to say it took me around 8 hours to finally get the water pump installed and operational.

It was dark before I finished the job and I was dirty and exhausted. The problem had been supporting the weight of the engine with one arm and moving it around ever so slightly trying to align the frame with the engine so the bolt would catch the thread and screw it in with the other arm. Fortunately I finished the job before the mechanic came for his tools; it was getting close to their closing time.

It was one of those occasions where failure was not an option; I had to stay there and work until the job was successfully completed otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten home that night; as you may guess that experience is still firmly engraved in my memory.

Although on balance the old Ford got us where we needed to go, I was grateful when we were finally able to trade it in. Other cars we’ve owned are largely forgotten but that 1954 Ford will be part of my memories as long as I live.


Responses

  1. David, I had an early 50’s Ford as well. I remember loading several jugs of water into the trunk as eventually I would encounter “vapor lock” on a hot summer day.

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    • I’ve heard about the vapor lock problem on those cars but don’t recall ever having that particular problem with our 1954 model.

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  2. I can’t believe you were able to fix the water pump. You have had more determination and patience than anyone I’ve ever known. Yours is a real testamony of how the Lord is always there to help, even in the most difficult of situations. Praise God for His faithfulness!

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    • Amen to that!
      As I look back it becomes easier and easier to see the Lord’s helping hand guiding me in ways I never imagined.

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