It's a four cylinder single overhead camshaft unit
constructed from lightweight cast iron. Displacement is
2.3 liter / 140 CID and horsepower is 88 HP
(compared to 200 CID and 40 HP for the real Model
A). It runs on unleaded gas (recommended octane
rating is 91.) It's very, very reliable. A good number of
London taxis have switched to it. It's even still being
made for the '99 Ford Ranger pick-up. There should
never be parts availability problems, nor of mechanics
which can fix it. Maintenance can be done at home
using the Chilton or Haynes manuals on '80 Pintos or
Mustangs. Those manuals are more and more difficult
to find, though. The Pinto was rated 33 MPG on the
highway and 23 MPG in the city. However, these
figures relate to a car weighing about 2,400 pounds,
as the Shay weighs only 1,850 pounds (compared to
2,000 to 2,500 for the real Model A). However, the
Shay is also somewhat less aerodynamic…

Since the engine compartment isn't as well insulated as
a Pinto's, it does let out more engine noises than would
a modern car. At idle, the engine sounds specially Â

The camshaft is driven from the crankshaft by a
toothed timing belt, which also operates the auxiliary
shaft. (Timing belt-equipped car engines can be
classified as either "free-running" or "interference",
depending on what occurs if piston/valve
synchronization is lost due to a failed timing belt. An
"interference" engine usually sustains damage if
synchronization is lost as the valves will then collide
with the pistons. This could result in very expensive
engine repairs. Happily, the Ford Pinto/Mustang 2.3
liter engine of 1974-85 are classified as "free-running".
Although belt life may vary, depending upon driving
and temperature conditions, usual recommendation is
to change it at least every 60,000 miles.) The auxiliary
shaft drives the oil pump and distributor, and operates
the fuel pump through an eccentric. Tension on the
drivebelt is maintained by a preloaded idler pulley
which runs on the outside of the belt. A separate V-
belt is used to drive the coolant pump, fan and
Firing order:    1 - 3 - 4 - 2

Capacities when used in a Pinto:
Engine oil:   5 US quarts with filter change
Coolant:    8.6 US quarts
                                                                               WHEELS & TIRES

The specially made spoked wheels have four lug holes and are usually painted black. Diameter of rims is 18 inches. The
wheel lug nuts are modern Ford with thin chrome plate that scratch and can rust easily. The rims are not heavily painted
and can also rust easily. The spokes are welded to a central hub and radiate to an ¼ inch thick outer ring to which they
are also welded. This ring is then dropped in the slightly larger diameter wheel rim which, before being welded to this
ring, is similar in design to a Model T rim. Keep an eye on the welds joining the outer ring to the tire rim. For esthetical
reasons, they were done only on the inner side of the wheel assembly. There are reports that, maybe after 40,000 miles,
those welds start to fail and the rims become wobbly. This is why you might find modern (Pinto) 13 inches rims and tires
on Shays that have more mileage. As soon as you suspect such a crack in the welds, you should have all your wheels
rewelded on both inner and outer sides at a shop specialized in wheel repair. The mechanic should be careful that the
heat he'll apply doesn't warp the rim. I didn't take any chances on such a procedure coming out right or wrong: I bought
an entire set of New Old Stock wheels as spares.

Tires are 5.50 x 18. Although this is an odd size, there is no worry about availability since they are also used on '32
Fords. Those tires are wider and thicker than the ones that real Model As use. Recommended pressure is 28 PSI. Of
course, handling is more squirrely than modern radials and special care should be taken in curves when this is combined
with the high center of gravity of the Shay. Tire life is only between 10,000 and 15,000 miles. Owners looking for 5.50 x
18 tires might contact
Coker Tire . They have new tires in black and whitewalls that are original replacements for '32
Fords. These tires require inner tubes. Radials do not exist for 18 inch tire size.

Since the Pinto used 13" rims (which gives a tire circumference of about 72") and those big 18" have a tire circumference
of  about 88", each turn of the wheel has to move the car about 22% farther without the transmission's gear ratios having
been modified. You can understand why starting from a full stop is a bit slow. You have to be a bit more delicate with
the clutch in order to avoid the engine balking. At the other end of things, you only have to shift into fourth gear if you
plan to ride at more than 40 MPH on a level road. Read an interesting discussion on this subject

The Shay's wheelbase is 103.5 inches and its track is 56 inches, just like the
real Model A.


Mike Danielson put his Shay on the scale with a full fuel tank. Here are the results he got: Total Weight: 2148 lbs. /  
Weight Per Tire: Left Front 591 lbs. Right Front 573 lbs. (Front 54.2%) Left Rear 502 lbs. Right Rear 482 lbs. (Front


Long life lubricant (Ford #ESA-M1C75-B):
Front suspension balljoints
Power steering control valve ball-stud
Transmission linkage
Front wheel bearings and hubs
Clutch cable connection (both ends)
Clutch pedal to idler lever rod (both ends)
Clutch release lever - at fingers (both sides and fulcrum)
Clutch release bearing retainer

SAE 10W-30 engine oil:
Brake pedal pivot bushing
Clutch pedal pivot bushing


Thanks to Jack Kelly, here are a few links listing the recalls applicable to pertinent Pintos and Fairmounts, the
mechanical parts of which were used in the construction of our Shays:

1979 Pinto Recall and Technical Service Bulletin List

1980 Pinto Recall and Technical Service Bulletin List

1981 Fairmont Recall and Technical Service Bulletin List
2) The transmission case is connected to the bell housing by 4 bolts, of which you can only see the ends as they are screwed to the case from inside of
the bell housing.
These 4 bolts sometimes come loose because of the vibration. Their ends should protrude about 1/16 th of an inch (about 1 mm)
from the transmission case. If they are only flush with the case or recessed, you are likely to have loose bolts. You have to remove the entire
transmission, clean them and re-torque them with Lock-Tite.)
See illustration.

The driveshaft was lenghtened so the rear wheels could be mounted in a more realistic position. Differential is solid
between the two wheels.
If your differential cover has EIGHT bolts, you have a 6.75" rear end. It comes in only two flavours: 2.73 or 3.08
ratios. We probably have the 3.08 ratio differential. The sad part about this is that this 6.75" rear end is very rare and there are no new replacement
parts available. Furthermore, you can't change the ratio with a different set of ring gear and pinion, although legend has it that a 3.55 ratio existed in
the 1974-75 4 cylinder Mustang II 6.75" rear end. If we had a 7.5, 8.8 or 9 inch rear end, we could easily switch ratio up to 4.10 and even higher,
which would lower our speed when parading on idle and allow for much faster starts.

Lubricant capacities:
Type C3 automatic transmission:    8 US quarts of Automatic Transmission Fluid
4 speed manual transmission:    2.25 US quarts of Manual transmission lube
Rear axle of the integral carrier type (6.75 in):    1.1 US quarts of Hypoid gear lube

Gear Ratios:
4 speed manual transmission:    1st = 3.65,    2nd = 1.97,    3rd = 1.37,    4th = 1.00,    Reverse = 3.66
Rear axle (when on a Pinto):     2.73:1  or   3.08:1


It's of the rack-and-pinion type and was moved forward, under the radiator, in order that the front wheels be in a more
realistic position. Column is a Ford Fairmount/Mercury Zephyr which really doesn't look realistic. Because of the longer
distance between the steering wheel and the rack-and-pinion, a few additional links and universal couplings had to be
used. This makes for a little bit of slack (about ½ inch) in the steering wheel. Turning radius is 11' 5".

Lubricant capacities:
Manual steering gear:    7 oz of Hypoid gear lube
Power steering gear:    8 to 9 oz of Power steering fluid


Front is two coil springs which have been slightly cut down. Rear is two sets of multi-leaf springs which have been
lightened to accomodate for the Shay's lighter weight. Without the driver, weight distribution is 59% at the front and
41% at the rear.
There are disc brakes on the front wheels. The disc brake assembly
consists of a ventilated disc and a caliper. The caliper is a single
piston, sliding caliper design and mounted on an anchor plate which is
attached to the spindle arms. Self-adjusting drum brakes are at the
rear. The rear drum brake system is a single anchor, internal
expanding and self-adjusting brake assembly type. To expand the
shoes, a dual piston single cylinder is used. The automatic adjuster
operates only when the brakes are applied while the car is backing
up. A dual master cylinder braking system is used. The parking brake
operates the rear wheel brakes through the use of cables.

All hydraulic, a nice improvement over the real Model A's mechanical

However, it is possible that the rubber hose leading to the front
calipers be almost stretched to its limit. Try not to turn the steering all
the way to the stops to avoid straining it further. This rubber hose joins
the steel line at a «L» bracket mounted at the frame's front end. If
you think your Shay is so designed, please submit this situation to a
qualified brake mechanic. It is important to relieve any strain on the
rubber hose or it might become blocked resulting in loss of braking in
one or both front wheels.
Please note that from August 1979 to September 1980, Ford Pinto
engines and drivetrains were used on the Shay production line. Then,
because Ford had announced it was discontinuing its Pinto, Shay
announced in mid-September 1980 that he was switching to Ford
Fairmont engines and drivetrains (end of Shay Roadster production
was in March 1982). Regarding the engine, this probably has minor
importance to Shay owners since this 2.3 liter engine was common to
Ford Pinto, Fairmount , Mustang, Bronco II, Ranger, Mercury Capri,
Bobcat & Zephyr. I expect that only small differences should be
found between early and late-model Shay engines, if any. However, I
am not as certain of that regarding the other mechanical components
and the drivetrain.
Cockpit heater (and radio speakers) is located under the front seat. It has
a dash operated two speed fan  (controlled by one of the 2
dash-mounted black pull-switches at the left of the steering) and is very
efficient (providing the top isn't down!). Hot water cut-off is a brass
screw-valve (see picture on the left) located on one of the hot water
rubber hoses (5/8-inch inside diameter) going from the engine under the
firewall on the passenger side. You will have the impression that this valve
is never completely shut off during summer. That is because there is no
insulation between it and the nearby muffler. The latter inevitably heats up
the cockpit and rumble seat floors as well as the heater and the liquid
within it.

Instrument packages can vary. There are two main types: Some Shays
have a 1-gauge intrument cluster that seems to come from
a Jeep CJ-5
dash. Others have a 2-gauge arrangement consisting of separate
speedometer and gas gauges. Please note that a lot of indicator lights are
integrated in both types of instrument packages: malfunctioning charging
system, low oil pressure, high coolant temperature, etc. An optional and
more deluxe package of instruments included ammeter, coolant
temperature and oil pressure gauges.

To get an idea what you're getting into if you plan to remove the
see here.

The battery can be found beneath the driver's feet, under a
screwed plate (see right).

However, some owners have successfully relocated the
battery under the hood (see below right). The important
thing to remember is to use very large washers so that the
bolts you use are not simply pulled through the fiberglass
firewall in the long run because of the weight of the battery
and the vibration it will be subject to.

Each wiper has his own one speed (slow) motor. They are
more amusing than efficient.

Owners having had to replace wiper blades report having bought
replacement blade ANCO # 20-9. However, they had to adjust the blade
arm in almost as far as it will go. This seems to work better than if you
just replace the rubber, being not as loose.
Standard cowl lights are not as deep as the deluxe model. They are very efficient as parking lights and flashers. Tail lights
also come in two varieties: standard (black body and one-piece red plastic lens) and deluxe (chrome body and chrome
lens rim and split lens like the real Model A). They too are very efficient as parking lights and flashers.

Headlights came in two varieties: seal-beam diameter with chrome shell or enlarged variety (same diameter as the Model
A) with chrome ring and black shell. In both cases, the shells are deeper than the real Model A's. They also sit slightly
higher in relation to the top of the radiator shell. The reason for this is that the "knuckle" which allows the headlight beam
to be ajusted by pivoting the entire assembly is on the outside of the Shay headlight shells whereas this "knuckle" is
situated inside the real Model A's headlight shell allowing the latter to sit nearer to the crossbar.

Horns have a correct «ahooga» sound but are a bit less muffled than the real Model A.

The chromed plastic reproduction gas cap on the cowl actually hides the windshield washer spouts.

The frame was custom made to receive the Pinto components, the fiberglass body and the bumpers. It is well made.
However, the paint is not thick on the frame and you should attend to it in order to avoid rust. Ground clearance is 7

The gas tank is not the standard rear-mounted exploding Pinto type. It was custom made and contains 10.5 U.S. gallons
(8.4 imp. gallons or 38 liters). It's mounted inside the frame, under the floor beneath the front seat. The filler neck comes
out the driver side quarter panel.
Click on these manuals to find one for sale!
Click here to see which type instrument cluster you might expect depending on the VIN.

The fuel level sender that works with the 2-gauge instrument cluster is of the "240 ohms E - 33 ohms F" type.
This sender unit is basically a coil of resistance wire wrapped around a card and a "wiper" connected to afloat
moves across the winding to change the resistance. The higher the fuel level, the lower the resistance. With
less resistance, more current flowsand the gauge reads higher. The correct type must send a "Empty" signal at
240 ohms and an "Full" signal at 33ohms. If you have a 1-gauge instrument cluster, I don't know what type
your sender has to be (
read here to find out more).
Three quarters of Shays have a manual four-speed
transmission. The others have the optional automatic

(Several owners have reported the following loose

1) Where the shifter arm connects to the transmission
case, there is a kind of "mason jar lid" through which the
arm passes. When this "lid" becomes loose, the arm can
simply unplug from the transmission. Check and tighten
it periodically.
Picture courtesy of Ron Handy
Here is a picture of the "Z" metal part that blocks the secondary barrel. You can see that one of the choke butterflies is
black [being used] and the other one closest to the valve cover is like new and not being used. If you look inside of the
carburetor top open when the throttle lever is wide open [MOTOR OFF], both throttle plates should be open. If the
one next to the valve cover is not then you have the block still in place like in the picture. Loosen the bolt a little and turn
the “Z� metal part 90 degrees out or re-move it. You may have to spray carburetor cleaner on the parts to get
them to work good again because they haven’t been working for many years.
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