An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Ford Flathead V-8 Engine Rebuilder Shop Tour Part IV

We return to the Ford Flathead V-8 Engine Rebuilder photos today to finish up this series with Part IV and take a look at two machines used for testing rebuilt carburetors and engines at Titus Manufacturing Company, located in Tacoma, Washington.

In Part I the lead image contains a Ford tractor and trailer Titus used for delivering engines in Washington and possibly surrounding states. Today’s lead photo shows Phil Martin, of the Titus Motor Company (the parent company’s Ford dealership in Tacoma) with his van used for delivering “Genuine Ford Parts” to commercial accounts in and around the City, he also dropped off rebuilt engines with this truck.

Titus had a number of stand alone departments which rebuilt various internal engine parts and also fuel, water, and electrical components. Here we see a combination wet carburetor and generator tester with a batch of rebuilt fuel-mixing devices being inspected.

This machine is a dynamometer used for testing finished engines and its operator posing for the photo. The exhaust pipes are not installed yet, and the cooling system and the exterior drive for the water pumps are only partially hooked up; note the shop fabricated water-cooled exhaust manifolds used for trial runs.

Finished engines in the shipping department minus oil pans and intake manifolds, the end user removed them from the exchange motor and installed them on the rebuilt unit. Some overhauled engines used to be shipped open like this which in itself is not a good practice. Dust and dirt particles that cause engine wear can easily get into the lower and top ends during storage and delivery.

Phil Martin once again with his van demonstrates how exchange engines are loaded and unloaded upon delivery to the local installer or retailer. Two of the units were stored during transit in a rack behind him, the trade in cores were usually picked up at the same time as the delivery.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photographs courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library.

14 responses to “Ford Flathead V-8 Engine Rebuilder Shop Tour Part IV

  1. Despite the 1947 tag, I suspect the first and last photos date to 1948, because it looks like there’s a validation sticker on the windshield of the Vanette. I know later (1950s) Vanettes were built on the F-series 1-ton chassis; is that also the case for the 1940s models?

    • Yes, the 1939 and 1940s Van Ette (through 1941) and Vanette (1942 and later) bodies were mounted on the one-ton Ford chassis. The standard Ford truck bumper has been replaced with a more robust bumper in the photo above.

      James Wagner in his book Ford Trucks Since 1905 stated that Ford terminated the reconditioning of engines at the Rouge factory in 1946 (see page 221).

  2. When one sees the scope of such an operation to replace worn, froze, or blown engines? One should see why so many collector cars do not have their original engine.
    While “matching numbers” may be important in certain areas of car collecting (most notably muscle cars and a few European exotics)? In many areas of car collecting, expecting only original engines is not all that reasonable. Many cars manufactured before 1930 did not have “matching numbers” when they left the factory to begin with. And replacing worn engines was common in later years and affects so many ’30s/’40s/’50s cars . This in part due to so many miles of dirt roads, airborne dust resulting in cylinder wear and premature failure.
    Such engine rebuilding companies were common all across the nation. When I was growing up in San Jose Califunny during the ’50s and ’60s, there were two such companies in town. One went out about 1960, the other went for many more years. Engines were available off the shelf for most of the popular makes and models going back about twenty years. Less common engines could often be special ordered.

    Just another piece of our automotive history!

    Thank you David G.

  3. Whats a carb “wet test”
    And what are the gauges measuring on the test bench please.
    Some of these pics remind me of my childhood

  4. I have a question about the swing -up device just to the rear of the driver’s door. I’m not familiar with this even though it is in my time line. Anyone know what it is used for ?

    • I think you see a “trafficator” or “semaphore,” pre-cursor to electric turn signals. Usually operated by a lever and or cables.

      • The semaphore signals were also common to smaller trucks including farm trucks half, one ton etc. Prior to the semaphores arm signals were used which of course required having the window open. A pain in the winter. This was solved by simply opening the door half-way for a right turn signal and all the way for a left turn. Innovation reigns supreme, eh? Vin.

  5. To Chris: A “WET test” is SEEING & testing & adjusting the Flow of Air & Fuel mixture to verify that: Idle speed jet(s) , Accelerator Pump discharge(s) , Main- jet(s) and Power circuit(s ) are all functioning and equal, “side to to side” — of the carburetor(s) as the Stromberg 81 Ford V-8 60 HP and the Stromberg 97 85 H.P. Models are actually: “2 Carburetors in One” each “Barrel” for 4 of the engine’s 8 cylinders. Sometimes, the Throttle shaft has a slight twist, “side to side” which has to be adjusted or replaced for proper Synchronization for each set of 4 cylinders ! It is also called: A “Carb. Flow Bench” . This is critical in determining equal balance of main jets, AND throttle plates, so 4 cylinders aren’t Lean! It is also critical if the engine is slated for High Altitude which requires leaner Main jets. Last but NOT least, is the critical verification of float level and Float valve seating . Many Rebuilt carburetors are better than Factory carburetors, IF done by a quality Rebuilder or Master Mechanic. Edwin W.

  6. In the final photo, in addition to delivering rebuilt engines, the van appears to also carry a nice selection of spare parts in the cabinets and shelves seen behind the driver. The photographer has tucked a light just out of sight in the front of the van to show them off. Not sure exactly what is intruding into the upper right corner tho – maybe a hat??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *