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Sources for obsolete automobile parts


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Where do y'all find an array of parts for early cars that are less common, not cars like Model A Fords or Model Rd for which Snyder's and Bratton's exist?  You can search eBay but you had better know your stuff.  Most parts listed as being of a certain model year and make aren't even close!

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You didn't specify NOS, NORS, used, rehabilitated etc; there are profe$$ional obsolete parts dealers---enine/mechamical parts, electric, accessories etc--plus rebuilders of parts--electrical, water/oil pumps etc. Many show up on Google; a fair list to start with is on the  vendors and restoration services list on justoldtrucks.com...

It's important to remember when inquiring of professional dealers that they are usually looking to acquire parts to replenish inventory, so if they don't have what you need today, they may well have ir next month. and should be rechecked until you find---or fabricate---what you need.

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There are junkyards, too, that specialize in

antique automobiles.  Some are very specialized,

having, for example, only Imperials or only Buicks.

 

Joining a club dedicated to a specific marque

will help to put you in touch with parts specialists,

whether they have junkyard parts or new-old-stock parts.

Parts suppliers advertise in the clubs' magazines.

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2 hours ago, mrcvs said:

Where do y'all find an array of parts for early cars that are less common, not cars like Model A Fords or Model Rd for which Snyder's and Bratton's exist?  You can search eBay but you had better know your stuff.  Most parts listed as being of a certain model year and make aren't even close!

Do not ever count on the Ebay stuff to be correct without verifying it other ways. LOTS of folks put stuff on there and call it something without having the slightest clue as to the real identity of the part.

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For certain cars, there are clubs and club members who may have compiled a stash of the more tough to get parts. Depending on the make, there are some reproduction parts out there to be had. This forum is a GREAT way to find parts and information for a lot of obscure makes and models.

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This search for parts is very much like any other discipline... You must learn and gain experience. Perhaps the best way to do that is to seek guidance and support from people who have been there-done that for the same car. Clubs are your first step.

 

Keep in mind that folks who already have a vehicle like the one you are considering have learned LOTS of valuable lessons about it, including repairs, sourcing parts, etc. And generally speaking, they are quite pleased when a new owner of the same type vehicle will ask for their advice, and give them a chance to share their acquired knowledge with someone who will listen and appreciate it. 

 

If you are considering the purchase of a particular brand of vintage vehicle, do yourself a huge favor and do some research before you buy it. Are there any clubs around for that vehicle? Are their online articles about them? Are there companies advertising in HEMMINGS offering parts or services for them? 

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The short answer for many 1930's and older cars is that once you get beyond ignition parts, brake parts , gaskets and bearings there simply are no parts.  Things like rear axle shafts, differential and transmission gears, ring and pinion gears, oil pumps , king pins, steering linkage and so much more will have to be custom made.

 Not cheap at all and part of why older orphan vehicles are so expensive if you actually drive them rather than keeping them as exhibits. It's definitely part of why fewer and fewer pre war cars are seen at shows and other events these days.

 

Greg in Canada

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Depends of course on how specialized we're talking. Clubs are the go to for me. I don't have lots of disposable income, but I don't mind paying to support several clubs I value. If you have the part you can consider getting them remade. Knowing how to ID your part is huge too. Many folks find parts and sell them without knowing what they are. I needed a one year only exhaust manifold for my '54 Ford and found rough ones on ebay for $150. I went through pile after pile at Carlisle and found the right casting number in good shape and the guy had no clue what it was, and said $10. He didn't have to load it back up and I got rewarded for my time, and enjoyed the search.

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Keep pictures of everything you are looking for including casting numbers or other marks if a cast piece and ask EVERYBODY.  You never know who has something that they have no idea what it is or fits.  I heard some friends talking about SS Ford valves.  I asked how I would know if a Ford valve was SS.  They told me SS in non magnetic.  It turned out I had seven of them that came in a mixed box that I had bought decades earlier. 

 

If you are asking by make model and year make sure your information is correct.  Make sure the components on your car are the correct ones id you are ordering by make model and year or else know what you are replacing came from.

 

Remember many car manufacturers bought electrical, brake, carburetor, clutch,  transmission and differential assemblies from other suppliers.  For example the interior parts if a Delso starter that fit a '29-'31 Pontiac also fit many WPC and other vehicles right up until they did away with the step on starter.

Another example is many parts from Bob's Automobilia also fit Fisher bodies used by other GM divisions.

 

Always know the dimensions dimension even when you have the number off the old bearing.  Check prices, I needed a two row ball bearing for my differential.  The only one I could find was a poor change up light duty bearing for $275.00.. My transmission and differential shop found a exact modern replacement for $135.00 including their markup.

 

Don't start out by asking about a part by year, often putting the old part on the counter and asking for a replacement gets you a part that is in stock.  I put my worn out clutch disc from my Pontiac on the GM parts counter and asked for a new one.  The partsman went in the back and came back with a replacement from a mid 70's Camaro that was a perfect fit. 

SBC manifold to exhaust pipe seals are different looking but are a perfect fit for split head Pontiac engines.

Pinto fan blades (if you drill different mounting holes) are a perfect fit for split-head Pontiac engines and are visually the same when installed.

 

Belts: know the dimensions, length, width and Vee angle.

 

KEEP a LOG BOOK of everything you replace, noting original number and all change ups up to the current replacement part.  KEEP this book in the CAR AT ALL TIMES.

 

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2 hours ago, keiser31 said:

For certain cars, there are clubs and club members who may have compiled a stash of the more tough to get parts. Depending on the make, there are some reproduction parts out there to be had. This forum is a GREAT way to find parts and information for a lot of obscure makes and models.

 

This is very true of the Pierce Arrow Society.

I constantly see members stepping up to part with items they have held onto for years just to help out a fellow PAS member in need.

PAS members also reproduce hard to find parts and sell them to other members most often at cost.

Members also provide plenty of advice and leads for parts when asked.

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2 hours ago, keiser31 said:

Do not ever count on the Ebay stuff to be correct without verifying it other ways. LOTS of folks put stuff on there and call it something without having the slightest clue as to the real identity of the part.

 

This cannot be repeated enough.

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With regards to a car like a 1917 Maxwell just look at all the factors against parts making it to the present day. The car was already obsolete by the depression, the car was long obsolete by the WW2 scrap drives.

Then came Korea and Vietnam scrap markets. It is in ways a wonder any cars / parts from the later teens other than the odd Model T Ford escaped the furnace.

 

Greg in Canada

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Were you the fellow walking around Hershey with Maxwell parts wanted sign? If not then at least you're not alone in that regard! I'd bet Maxwell is slightly easier than some of the orphan makes. Technically they survived but I think I'd rather have a Good Maxwell (okay that was a little later) than a modern Chrysler!

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One attribute that is required to enjoy the antique car hobby is patience, There is no catalog of Maxwell parts to order from - but the search is a lot easier today than it used to be.

Back in the early 60's when many of us got our start parts for early Fords were abundant - even Sears carried them in a separate catalog. Others were JC Whitney, Montgomery Wards, Obsolete Ford Parts, and the list goes on. There was a large junkyard in Pennsylvania that had hundred of Model "A"'s - you could buy parts or a whole car.

Other cars were much harder to source parts for back then. Remember - everything was done by letter. Daytime long distance phone calls were a luxury - night rates were more reasonable but not cheap. We had a 1933 Pierce Arrow - our local source of parts was Elmer Bassage. He had very few Pierce Arrow parts but he knew people and would use the teletype to try to find things for us. When the headgasket blew the best he could do was one that was "nearly identical" between the cylinders and could be used to patch our existing head gasket. We kept it under the back seat and it came in useful when it blew once again coming back from the Pierce Arrow meet in NH in 1961. Yes - we milled the head after that.

You will have to do your own legwork for a lot of parts, that goes beyond just asking questions on forums. It will be time consuming - for many of us that is part of the "experience" .... but it does require patience and work.

 

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A lot of club members are huge help.  As a rule if it is bad on your car it is bad on probably everyone else's too.  It just depends on what you have for a car and what you need.    Also, for certain cars there are no parts supply or you missed the boat on when the three or x number core ones were restored 20 years ago.  And, for certain cars the parts are going to be egregiously priced, others reasonable, and others are like a field day for those of us who are use to serious challenges  - ex Ford Model A & T's (but the rare and choice stuff still is at a premium - I have seen 1K paid each for a perfect Model A spark plug).   Swap meets are fun too - and always good to see people you know.  And I spend a lot of time visiting my favorite machine tool shop.

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A word should be said here for sellers of individual or batchs of parts...

We tend to assume that everyone's as familiar with cars as we are., and most are not....a seller may well advertise mechanical or body parts from a 23 Kratz his father dismantled in the garage and never got back together again, but doesn't realize Krats put out two different models that year, all mostly from off-the-shelf suppliers but different ones for the different models...and may unknowingly, with the best of intentions, send a part to someone who funds its not right for his particular car...

As stressed above, buyers must be careful...

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Caveat Emptor

 

The doctrine of caveat emptor or “let the buyer beware”—is based on the notion that purchasers must fend for themselves, seeking protection by express warranties from the vendor or by independent examination of the premises. If they fail to do so, they are often without recourse.

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22 hours ago, Tinindian said:

Keep pictures of everything you are looking for including casting numbers or other marks if a cast piece and ask EVERYBODY.  You never know who has something that they have no idea what it is or fits.  I heard some friends talking about SS Ford valves.  I asked how I would know if a Ford valve was SS.  They told me SS in non magnetic.  It turned out I had seven of them that came in a mixed box that I had bought decades earlier. 

 

If you are asking by make model and year make sure your information is correct.  Make sure the components on your car are the correct ones id you are ordering by make model and year or else know what you are replacing came from.

 

Remember many car manufacturers bought electrical, brake, carburetor, clutch,  transmission and differential assemblies from other suppliers.  For example the interior parts if a Delso starter that fit a '29-'31 Pontiac also fit many WPC and other vehicles right up until they did away with the step on starter.

Another example is many parts from Bob's Automobilia also fit Fisher bodies used by other GM divisions.

 

Always know the dimensions dimension even when you have the number off the old bearing.  Check prices, I needed a two row ball bearing for my differential.  The only one I could find was a poor change up light duty bearing for $275.00.. My transmission and differential shop found a exact modern replacement for $135.00 including their markup.

 

Don't start out by asking about a part by year, often putting the old part on the counter and asking for a replacement gets you a part that is in stock.  I put my worn out clutch disc from my Pontiac on the GM parts counter and asked for a new one.  The partsman went in the back and came back with a replacement from a mid 70's Camaro that was a perfect fit. 

SBC manifold to exhaust pipe seals are different looking but are a perfect fit for split head Pontiac engines.

Pinto fan blades (if you drill different mounting holes) are a perfect fit for split-head Pontiac engines and are visually the same when installed.

 

Belts: know the dimensions, length, width and Vee angle.

 

KEEP a LOG BOOK of everything you replace, noting original number and all change ups up to the current replacement part.  KEEP this book in the CAR AT ALL TIMES.

 

 

I put my notes in a slightly different place than a book in the car: I migrated it all to a database back in the 1990s. And then when I set up my "vanity website" I put it up there. So it is free for anyone to look up what I know, or think I know, about cross referencing early Plymouth parts (which given Chrysler's "badge engineering" often helps for other Chrysler products as long as you know the original Chrysler part number). The database is at https://www.ply33.com/Parts/numeric You can search by name, part number or part type code. Or you can browse through the various pages of the virtual parts book. No, I don't stock or sell any parts, this is for information only. And I am always on the look out for new cross references and newer cross references for the ones I have.

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