Antique Car Help, Service Manuals not to Detailed


I see old antique cars, pre 1960, service manual is not to Detailed. Digital one doesn’t exist on databases like AllData or ShopKey. However original paper manuals exist which have been digitized. However it seems that these manuals are for like “all models” so for example there would be a 1952 Ford Service Manual that is supposed to cover all models. Looking through these service manuals, I can’t find for example the step by step procedures how to do a brake job or what torque the bolts should be, something I’m used to for modern day cars. How do I find torque for such bolts? Am I really supposed to measure the length of the bolt, look at the grade, and then look at a table to see proper torque values? I don’t need the torque for every bolt, but for important ones like suspension fasteners, kind of important. I also cannot find recommended mileage intervals to do routine maintenance. Furthermore, it seems OEM manufactures no longer makes parts for such old cars. So what do I do if I need a part and I can’t find an aftermarket vendor who makes it? I also can’t find part diagrams showing how the parts are assembled and the part numbers like they do for modern cars.

Let me know, and let me know.

The service manuals back then were not as step by step detailed because it was assumed mechanics knew how to take things apart and put them back together and were not as obsessive about torque values like you.


I see what you mean and was what I thought. So you really have to look at a table to see torque for specific bolts? Like suspension ones?

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No, a “really” mechanically inclined person develops a “feel” for when things are tight enough. I’ve never used a torque wrench on anything but cylinder heads. I do have a torque stick for my impact gun and use it for lug nuts.

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Yes, that is what you need to do. They didn’t use torque to yield fasteners so the old elbow torque wrench works fine.

Oil changes at 3K miles, grease every oil change, trans fluid every 30K, points, condensor and plugs every 3rd oil change, carb and timing adjustments with each plug change.

You search Hemmings or Ebay to find New-Old-Stock parts (sometimes for months or years) or you MAKE the part you need.

Figure it out on your own with no instructions. Suck it up, sometimes mechanics is hard and there is no one to hold your hand.


Do you even have an old vehicle ? A 1952 Ford was probably put together by people who did not use torque wrenches . Brakes on a 52 Ford were drum so the only problem was installing the springs with out having one fly back at you.

Your facination with torque sounds like somethink that therapy could help with.

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Suggest to purchase a CDROM version of the best-rated repair manual, usually that would be the manufacturer’s repair manual. That’s probably all you need. It should list the important torques. For the non-torque-rated fasteners, judge by how much force is needed to remove and by the fastener markings. The most confusing torque values seem to be for the valve covers, which are usually much lower than for other fasteners. Sometimes these are shown in inch-pounds, and diy’er think they are “foot-pounds” and turn their valve covers into oil-leaking- pretzels … lol .

My parents had a 62 & 69 Ford sedans, and a 68 Ford truck. And only one repair book, “Fix your Ford”. Fords in those days were mostly all the same, only a few differences, so one book basically had all the info needed. Charts are provided in the book which show the important differences. Sometimes I’ll still double-check the “fix your ford” book for my 70’s Ford truck.

For a newer car you need a make/model/year specific manual. Partly b/c the wiring diagrams have grown huge. Even my 30 year old Corolla has a nearly 100 page wiring diagram. My 70’s truck, 5 pages. For your antique cars, keep it simple I guess is my advice. Antique cars are supposed to be fun, and sometimes it is more fun when you don’t know for sure and have to figure it out by experiment.

Well? back before the internet, these are what mechanics relied on.

These provided enough information to service vehicles of the day.

These didn’t provide torque specs for every nut/bolt in a vehicle.

Only the important ones. Like head bolts, intake manifold bolts, flywheel/flex plate bolts. clutch pressure plate bolts, etc…

But iI never torqued shock absorber bolts, ball joint bolts, tie rod bolts. pitman arm bolts, etc…

Each of these manuals has a unit repair section in the back. And these provided the basics of brake , starting, .charging, ignition systems.

So, if you want information on older vehicles, you need older manuals.

Or, find a mechanic that looks like this.



I’d go to a used book store, see if they had some of @Tester 's Chilton or Motor’s car repair manuals.

George, I don’t know of any CD roms for '52 Fords. Do you?

I don’t care what year or make a vehicle is I don’t want John Smith ( or Yoshi Moshi as I think they are the same person ) anywhere near any vehicle I have.


Heh heh. I’ve got a motors manual for the 50’s cars. Pretty much includes what was needed. I don’t recall many pulling out torque wrench’s for routine jobs like brakes and ball joints. Just by feel. Maybe for engine overhaul. I dunno, the book is on the top shelf so just not going to get a ladder to take a look. Really though cars of the 60’s I wouldn’t really say are antique. Mechanicals are very similar to today without the electronics. Now 1932 would be antique. One thing, if you are concerned about parts, get a subscription to hemmings motor news.

And, don’t forget to change the coolant/antifreeze every year.

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You forgot swap meets. Lots of them. Searching for hard to find parts is part of the adventure!

To this day about the only time I pull out a torque wrench is for head bolts and unitized wheel bearings…


And you might be surprised by what shows up on Rockauto. Plenty of tune up parts for a ‘50 Ford.

You’ll be surprised by the amount of info that’s available to you through the website of a local or nearby public library. It’s not always obvious how to get to these resources but just now I did get into something called the Chiltonlibrary through the local library and found some pretty good info. Not step by step, but at least a starting point. If this is the sort of thing you want, maybe call or better go to the library and ask.


This has (or should have) your name on it.


A great one will be at Hershey, PA in October.


Find a forum for your vehicle and look around on it, they will have hints for junk yards that have your flavor of vehicle and or NOS (new old stock) pars for sale… They will also most likely have buy/sell/needed etc sections you can look through…

If you have to ask how tight a tapered wheel bearing has to be then you probably need to stick to later model hub bearing vehicles, cause like already said most of it is a feels about right torque method…

Before starting with ANY Antique/Classic/Low Production car it’s imperative that you FIRST locate a parts supplier and sources of repair information or you’ll stand a good chance of ending up with large lawn decoration.

That being said, if you already have the vehicle, a search for your Vehicle’s Owner’s Group should be your first step in locating the necessary information and supplies because chances are that someone has already encountered and solved the problem.

Good advice!

Examples; 1955 Chevrolet, lots of parts… 1934 Packard, much more difficult…1929 Willys Whippet… nearly impossible!

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