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Bert's Model A Center, part 1


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Posted 02 November 2014 - 09:31 AM

After missing out on visiting Bert's Model A Center on Friday due to arriving in Denver after they closed, on Saturday morning Bert's was our primary destination after chowing down on the really good comp breakfast (omelets to order!) at the Best Western Denver Southwest where we are staying.
 
One of the posters over at Ford Barn had suggested we were in for "shock and awe" at Bert's and that was a gross understatement as it turned out.
 
I am embarrassed to admit that Bert's was not on my radar as far as Model A parts houses are concerned, but the reason seems to be that they don't do a lot of advertising as compared to the dozen or so other Model A parts vendors in the US. They seemingly don't have to do much advertising, as word of mouth is clearly sufficing. When we arrived at their facility in downtown Denver near the airport about 10:30 AM, the place was jumping with customers coming and going. With another salesperson on vacation, Tim Cunningham at the sales counter was a little stacked-up and it was almost an hour before I could get to the counter to order a handful of small parts. I was fully occupied in exploring the premises so the wait was meaningless.
 
When first arriving at Bert's, it just looks like an old industrial building and in fact, there's not even a sign proclaiming the business name on the outside, just that familiar blue oval.
 
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But go inside, and there are more Model A Ford parts than you would have found in the biggest Ford dealership anywhere back when the cars were current. As well as a service area full of Model As, a machine shop devoted to rebuilding and modifying Model A motors to the highest standards, parts stacked in every corner, in fact more than the mind can fully grasp. The pictures will tell most of the story.
 
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Here's proof that it isn't only gray-haired old geezers who are into these great cars.
 
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Sort of a museum case back in the shop area. Didn't have time to peruse this and the other two showcases closely and wish I had been able to do so.
 
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Every variation of Model A carburetor used during the four-year production run, as well as examples of some of the aftermarket carbs. Most of these are Zenith carbs, but a few were made by Holley.
 
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The service area, with one car awaiting its new engine and other a new rear axle.
 
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The brass car is a 1908 or so Ford Model R, a predecessor to the Model T, and the black truck is a 1927 Model T roadster pickup. Under the plastic is a late '20s Cadillac (based on the bumper I can see) being restored for a well-known postwar parts vendor in Florida.
 
Then there's what I will label the Bert's boneyard out back...
 
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Some of the most interesting work being done at Bert's is the internal motor mods being overseen by Dan Lander, who runs the Bert's rebuilding side as I understand it.

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It might not be obvious but this shot shows how Bert's re-engineers the Model A motor for better performance and more durability. Note the counterweights welded to the crank to improve engine balance. Also shown on this engine is the conversion to insert main and rod bearings, replacing the poured babbit bushings used originally. The rear main cap at the left is converted to use brass thrust bushings instead of babbit; one of the two new brass thrust bushings is shown in position. The connecting rod on the right is new, as there isn't enough "metal" on original Model A rods to machine for insert bearings. Modified in this manner, with some other bits like a high-compression head, the Model A motor goes from 40 HP to something like 60 HP.
 
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Here's a newly-rebuilt insert motor ready to be installed in a car. As it sits, this is close to a $5,000 mill.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap





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Posted 03 November 2014 - 10:38 AM

I'll add a few more shots from Bert's taken while we were finishing up the car yesterday.

 

Here's a better shot of the counterweighted crankshafts Dan Lander is making at Bert's.

 

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And he's making them in quantity, too.

 

cshafts.JPG

 

Here's a further pic showing just how many Model A parts Bert's has on the shelf. Need some pedals? Or a front motor cover? I believe Bert's can help...

 

pedals.JPG


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap






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