1928-1929 Model A Fitment woes

1928 and 1929 Ford Model A Radiators

Henry’s Blueprints

We make aftermarket radiators from Ford Motor company blueprints and original radiators we have collected over the years. We do our best and want you to be satisfied with your radiator purchase.  We are not rushed to make radiators and they are assembled one at a time.  We use fixtures and jigs, we use original shells to located brackets and necks and pressure test radiators to 22# for one hour.

If you have any concerns about fit after reading this then STOP.  Send us your original radiator and we will build from your dimensions a replacement radiator that fits your specific car your frame and your shell.

If however you trust us to build your radiator to Ford’s dimensions and want us to sell you an aftermarket radiator then by all means order and inspect it upon receipt. If you are not satisfied for any reason, STOP contact us to arrange a return for your money back.  The product should be returned with the freight prepaid and the radiator must be in new and resalable condition e.g. clean of fluid and not damaged.

Where the radiators were made

Ford produced 1928 radiators in the Highland Park and then switched to the Green Island Plant in early 1929. Continued success required contracting with alternative manufacturers at the Long, Flintlock and McCord plants in mid 1929.

Henry Ford was a clever businessman and constructed a popular product in the Model A.  When his business took off, design changes were frequent.

A few notes about “fit”

Inlet Height: Ford made a series of frame changes in each production year and introduced longer bolts and shims that raise the radiator. While shim thickness was never detailed in the Ford releases, the recommended bolts lengthen by as much as 1/4″. Shims may be required to raise your radiator and frame to align the inlet and water neck.  Failure to install the shims may result in a neck to fan interference.

 Water neck height: Aged cast iron water necks are notorious for cracking during the installation.  When they get replaced they may be changed from the OEM 4 3/4″ to the later Model As which are 6″.  This height variance affects the alignment of the upper hose.


Fans: The metal fans crack and may be replaced with larger 2 blade or 4 blade fans.  Better airflow can also result in interference.

Cross members: In late ’29, Ford engineers executes a series of  design changes that created a more shallow relief in the cross member. Ford compensated for this with longer mounting bolts and steel shims, along with the usual rubber pads. Many owners do not know the year of their frame and Ford engineers did not provide the dimensions of the shims.  This could impact the upper inlet angle, fan clearance and height and hood alignment.  The illustrations below may help you identify your frame “version”.  Additionally, the 30-31 frame has been found on 28-29 cars and trucks.  It is a different height and will affect your hood height and hood gap.


Lower return hose angle: Ford angled the lower hose connection down toward the ground and out toward the tire to clear the powerhouse generator that was used until the middle of 1928.  Drivers today do not always use the generator but the correct angle is necessary to align with the correct 28-29 water pipe. We locate the lower hose connection at the same angle called out in the blueprints. 

If for any reason your hose connection is problematic, please first inspect the water pipe (see below) to make sure you do not have a mixing and matching of parts.


Lower hose length: To many a water pipe is a water pipe but not all Model A water pipe connections are the same and we have seen Model B engine pipes on Model A cars. The slight differences in the illustration may seem inconsequential but this will affect the angle of the rubber hose when it joins to the outlet and could interfere with a belt.

Neck height: Ford outsourced production of Model T Bodies, sheet metal and radiator shells.  The  practice continued with Model As and AAs and as production grew so too did the supplier list.  The shells themselves lack details as to who made what but Briggs Manufacturing Company, Hayes Manufacturing Co., Budd and Murray are all listed as body and/or shell manufacturers for Ford in this production period.  Where this has significance is in the neck height.  If a shell matches all dimensional mounting points but the neck is low it could be OEM approved shell variance or an aftermarket shell.

Imported radiator shells: The shells imported from overseas that are readily available have the neck  placement hole advanced further forward.  The result is that the shell "pivots" on the neck.  These shells, can be forced into position and bolted to the radiators  If you know you purchased this shell, please CALL and communicate  this and we will position it to accommodate this neck position.

Time, use, aftermarket products and shade tree mechanics: Compounding all of these production issues, your Model A may  have aftermarket products that are out-of-tolerance, have a mixing-and-matching of parts from different years or have frame twist or frame spread.

Any or all of these factors may result in a “fit” issue on one of the 2,432,814 Model As produced before 1930.

If you have a fit issue…

If you inspect your radiator and are at all dissatisfied with your purchase, just return it with freight pre-paid for a refund of the radiator purchase price.  It must be delivered in new and re-saleable e.g. no rusty engine water, no scratched up paint, no dents etc. 

If you want us to alter the radiators dimensions to match your need please call us and explain what you are seeing before you box it up.


We build and restore radiators for Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, The Smithsonian Museum, private collectors, and frequently fabricate radiators for cars that compete for Riddlers, Dearborns, and Ameria’s most Beautiful Roadster.  Custom built radiator fabrication is not new to us but it is may be new to many Model A owners.

If you want us to make a radiator that matches your radiator’s dimensions, then just send yours to us.   We’ll build you a new one that matches your dimensions.  It may cost a little more than the production radiators because it is custom-built to fit your car but we can remove the guesswork.