What is the Baltic Classic Rally?
The Baltic classic rally is an adventurous 2-week rally that weaves through Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland before finishing in Berlin. Along the way, the ERA organised competitive special stages on wide gravel roads, as well as special tests on private land in between winding through scenic routes through Europe and around the Baltic Sea. Read on to discover our preparation process!
The car that we prepared for this rally was a 1928 Ford Model-A four-door phaeton. The Model A is fast becoming a popular choice for vintage rally enthusiasts, as they are renowned for their strength, affordability and reliability, not to mention the huge resource of new/old components available. The four-door phaeton is a great mix of open-top motoring that includes space for the whole family and spare parts needed for rallying!
The car was in need of a lot of work to ensure that it would not only be safe, but successful throughout the arduous rally across Europe. Steering, brakes, suspension and the engine all needed attention to preparing the car. The owner also wanted some creature comforts fitted to make their experience on the rally more enjoyable.
The steering box was fully overhauled with new a sector shaft and worm including all new bearings, seals and bushings that were machined in house for precise and smooth steering. Of course, to eliminate play and achieve ideal steering, all ball caps were replaced and even the steering arms as the balls were worn, and in one case welded! A common issue with many Model A’s – be sure to check yours! Also, to aid steering and prevent the car from wandering on open roads, a rear panard rod was fitted as well as a front torsion bar. These greatly improve the experience when driving Model-A’s, especially when covering long distance. We would highly recommend this modification!
The brakes were incredibly poor when we initially tested the car in the safety of our yard. Upon closer inspection, all brake shoes were contaminated with grease/oil and the inner drum faces were scored and/or warped. We had the brake shoes re lined in a modern friction material that grips the drum well and doesn’t require a lengthy bedding in process – a great alternative to the much harder friction material equivalents. New brake drums were purchased as the original drum walls measured too thin to be machined and reused. (The minimum wall thickness (for steel drums) is 0.120”). After setting the brakes up and short a running in phase, the car stopped very evenly and promptly, and stopped even better with the help of new rubber on the wheels!
All suspension pins and kingpins were replaced with new. We used our in-house machine shop to perfectly ream and suit the bushing for the pins, which eliminated all wear and ensured perfect function and safety! To meet rally regulations, the single plain glass windscreen was replaced with a laminated equivalent, using the old screen as a template to ensure precise fitment. This is a great safety precaution, and we would advise all to do, regardless of entering a rally or not. We also fitted side wind deflectors to prevent rain and wind entering the very open and exposed cabin! After this work and extensive testing and servicing, the car was ready for it’s challenge! The customers thoroughly enjoyed the car and were pleased with how successful and reliable it was.
“Joe and the rest of the team at Tim Walkers did a fantastic job getting our car ready in time for the Baltic Classic Rally.”
“The most enjoyable part of the rally was the extensive gravel roads. It suited the Model-A perfectly, gently drifting from one side of the road to the other between the pine trees at 50 miles per hour trying to conserve momentum and speed.”