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Model T Timing Belt And Crank Position Sensor Question

Will the complexities of today’s cars cause the extinction of driveable antique cars in the future?

57 years from now will you be able to buy a timing belt to fit a 2010 car? How about a MAF sensor?

Look at how many different timing belts and sensors are on all the different car models now.

Not including the actual engine, there must now be more parts surrounding the engine in an engine compartment than there were in an entire Model T.

The Jay Leno of the future may be able to have replacement parts fabricated, but what about the common collector/ enthusiast?

Will the cars we’re driving now become extinct and never emerge as “classics” or “antiques” ?

There will be some that become collectable and someone will squirrel away parts and someone will make parts. Of course they parts will be expensive, just like buying parts for a Model T today.

As long as there’s eBay, there will be a source of parts for just about anything…

Any mechanical component will always be available at your local machine shop. It’s the electronic components that will be difficult. Cars made over the past 20 years have computer and control boards made from custom ICs. When the chips are no longer available you are out of luck – no one can make one or two. For high volume production cars salvaging the junk yard will not be a problem. For low production cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc.) it could be an issue.


Do you know any common collectors/enthusiasts who own cars from the Model T era? Do they actually take them out on the road or do they only use them for parade duty?

The city of Fort Myers, FL keeps some of Edison’s old Model Ts and Model As running, and they bring them out for parades.

True to a point, but I suspect that they will be able to make new chips with the same function much easier than trying to do it today as they will have years of advanced electronics.

It might be difficult to make a Pong game today using the original design and custom chips, but it would not be all that difficult to duplicate the function using modern parts.

I don’t think there is a problem in being able to make electronic parts, the question is whether anyone will be INTERESTED. We lived in Asia for 5 years and there is a whole re-manufacturing industry making bogus Mercedes, BMW. Volvo and other parts. Because import duties on luxury cars are high (an E Class Mercedes costs as much as my 1200 square foot apartment there)they keep Mercedes cars from the early 80s on running in an affordable manner. Volvos 240, from the mid seventies on are also quite common and completely rebuilt.

Unfortunately, in North America and Europe we have very high wages and strict environmental standards, and relatively low car prices. Whereas an Asian team migh jerry-rig the emission controls with an aftermarket piece to make the car run smoothly, we can’t do that here. But, if asked, any Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese elctronics firm can build these modules and sensors if there is enough demand for them.

But you are right, cars are becoming a disposable commodity, and keeping a very old vehicle street legal in the future will be extremely difficult. Mercedes and Volvo (and Rolls Royce, of course)are the only two companies, to my knowledge, who will stock parts for older cars. But at a hefty price.

The local Chrysler dealer has a parts clerk who takes great delight in telling me that a part for a car older than 10 years is “obsolete”, as he calls it, and they don’t stock it. He even smiles when he says it. In other words, buy a new car.

In the appliance business, stoves and fridges used to last forever becuse they were cheap to fix. We had a GE stove dating from 1968, and just 3 years ago we were told that the clock could no longer be replaced! However, on the newer and more electronic units, GE stopped supplying electronic parts at age 8-10 for these units.

"Any mechanical component will always be available at your local machine shop."
I don’t think that is going to be true for many of the complicated plastic pieces on the engines (plastic intake manifold for example).

McMaster-Carr carries a good selection of synchronous belts also known as cog toothed timing belts. Otherwise it would not be that difficult to convert a cam drive to chain that would use a simple automatic lubrication device, good enough for a parade or a Sunday ride.

As for ECMs, I can envision that someone will come up with a universal auto engine controller with a minimal number of inputs and outputs but enough to run an engine while ignoring emissions that would use a universal program on a laptop or PC if you have room in the trunk for that. Otherwise the entire system could be one unit. Given enough demand, someone will do it.

Another option, at least for supplying fuel is a conversion back to a carburetor. How about an old fashioned distributor driven from a camshaft end and with battery and coil ignition?

Engines that run pistons directly in treated aluminum can have steel sleeves installed if a rebore is needed.

The question remains, will someone have the desire to restore one of today’s transportation appliance cars, many of which, in my view, have no soul, not unlike my washing machine, dryer and dishwasher.

anything that cant get replaced, will get hopped up. that pretty much would leave a camry for dead.

If you’re talking about 57 years down the line, the biggest issue might just be getting gasoline.

If Israel makes a nuclear first strike on Iran it wont matter, so many more issues to worry about but back to the question.

The slope of the line of what was made when and what parts are avaible now is not linear. What I mean is you cant say that since Model T parts can be found now that 2009 corvette parts should be around in 2099. The rate of change is going to be much more accelerated than the previous century. That is if we there are people left on Earth.

Another point I suppose you could make is that they made millions and millions of Model T’s and they went for years and years without any changes. Car makers by and large don’t make single models in huge numbers like that any more, and so that makes long term parts support a lot harder.

That’s part of why getting parts for a 50 year old VW’s is easier than getting them for many 10-15 year old cars. If I was going to bet on a car that you’d be able to buy parts for indefinitely, I’d bet on the old VW’s.

Only a very small % of the cars of yesterday survived and became collectable. Most went to the junk yards. So it will be with today’s cars, only a very few will survive and most of those will be unique in some way to add to the collectable value. Perhaps my '04 T’bird will have collectable value in 2057. I’ll be over 100 then and I don’t think my problem will be finding gas or parts.

There may be some nostalgia for cars that made noise and pollute the air in 2057. At that point all cars will be virtually silent and hum as the transport people. I suspect they will be pretty bland people movers and most everyone will play with electronic gadgets as the people transporters silently take the passengers to addresses punching into the navigation system. The driver will have no function at all as long as the electronic systems work properly.

Never fall in love with something that can’t love you back…Today’s transportation appliances are not going to create much excitement 20 or 30 years from now…

Why would anyone WANT to restore a car that required a rubber timing belt or depended on complex electronics? “We are having our Prius restored. It’s cost us $35K so far and we haven’t even picked out a paint color yet!”

For starters, most of the electronic equipment in cars are there for smog. In mosts states other than CA, smog checks aren’t required of cars past a certain age or miles driven/year. If smog checks become a non-issue, there aren’t too many computerized components that couldn’t be swapped out for either mechanical componentry, or aftermarket electronic componentry.

The question W/R/T classic cars is “period-correct.” Currently, a clasic car with all “period-correct” componentry is most highly desired. It remains to be seen if, circa 2057, anyone will care about a “period-correct” catalytic converter.

The idea that a component that is good for reduced emmission is also good for basic engine management just cant be imprinted on a lot of people.

Electronics were the best thing to ever happen to the IC engine. Low emmissions/big horsepower a match made possible by electronics.

Its those darn 70’s smog control systems that gave many the idea any system that was on the car for emmissions purposes was a a performance degrading,reliability stealing no good for nothing system and it was true in the 70’s but times changed.

I’m not denying the desirability of ECUs and that; I’m trying to answer CSA’s question regarding if electronic componentry will make it impossible to keep current cars on the road.

For instance, my '98 Contour is an OBD-II machine. If I wanted to run it exclusively off-road (or if I just didn’t care about the laws), I could retrofit a carb and magnetos and make it run. Granted, it wouldn’t run as well, but it would still run.

That is one of the two possible ways to make a turn-of-the-millenia car run 50 years’ hence. The other (and, IMO, more likely) method would be to adapt future engine management systems to run these cars. Assuming the internal combusiton engine survives the next 50, that should be doable. Right now, I have the option to upgrade my '72 CB350 to CDI in place of its breaker-point system.

The question is whether a 2009 car running a 2050 engine-management system will be less desirable than one with the period-correct silicon. (I suspect it will be, if only because of the scarcity involved.) I think–especially if the ICE is soon phased out in favor of electric/whatever–that current cars COULD be desirable, in much the same way that many aviators have a warm place in their hearts for the Lockheed Constellation and others of the “big piston” transports: the final refinement of a bygone propulsion system.

Well on the subject of pre WW2 classics,scrap metal canvassing claimed a lot of them and neglect and Joe Corrosion claimed a lot of them-then came “planned obslescence” anyway when someone builds the"Macgruder Extruder" you wont have anything to worry about-Kevin

Plastic is E-Z.

Take the old part, coat in a non-stick substance, and form fiberglass around it. Once the glass cures, remove the mold (old part).