Front End Thursday

1938 -1939 American Bantam Mascot / Hood Ornament

A year after Nash used a Jarvis hood ornament to grace the hood of its Lafayette, it made its appearance on the American Bantam.  I have never had the chance to hold a Nash unit and compare it with a Bantam one, however I have heard that the Nash mascot is a bit bigger to suit the larger car.  The Jarvis 3408J is a hard piece to find in any condition these days.  Usually, they are pitted beyond recognition, broken, or bent.  This one is pitted, but a good shop should be capable of repairing it.  Interestingly, these were reproduced in the 60’s-70’s in Japan, although little is known about those reproductions.  These were used from 1938 until the 1940 model cars began production.

Click here to see the listing: american bantam mascot


1938-1939 American Bantam 15 bar grille shell

The 15 Bar grille shell was used on a large number of cars, and is preferred by many.  This one however, gives you an idea of what many restorers have had to work with.  The sides of the grille apron, where it meets the fenders are destroyed.  You need to have a good set of hands to make this grille fit a Bantam nicely again.  I think my grilles were mostly welded back together in the same area, but thankfully very skilled people came between me and the damage.  A nice bonus is that this may come with the Bantam badge, although the listing does not mention such.  This should be correct for 1938 through late 1939 cars.

Click here to see the listing: american bantam grille shell

Neat Bantam finds

I usually try to keep to a single post per marque per day.  However, these two items that showed up are quite neat.


1944 American Bantam Car Co. Annual Report:

This is just really cool, I may have to throw a bid in too.

Click here to see the listing: Bantam annual report


1930-1940 American Bantam cowl section:

These aren’t very common to find these days.  Most hot rods have had these cut off, and a lot of survivors have been heavily modified.  Except for the cut out for the battery, this piece doesn’t look to be in bad shape to provide repair panels for your car.  It even has the tabs where the inner fenders mount and some of the lower beading.  Who ever removed it from a car did so poorly, but there is a lot of meat for someone to work with.  This particular unit is most likely from an American Austin. I have a couple of these, otherwise I’d be bidding.


Click here to see the listing: Bantam Cowl

A couple of neat finds for Wednesday

American Austin or Bantam Roadster Connecting Roadster Side Curtains



American Bantam NOS connecting rods

bantam con rods

Click here to see the listing: American Bantam connecting rod sets of 4 – 1938-1939 $45 (6 sets sold!)


American Austin or Bantam Clutch Disks

clutch disks

Click here to see the listing: Clutch discs for American Austin -American Bantam – English Austin 7

Weekend Special!

The owner of a lovely 1938 Bantam coupe advertising on this website asked me to drop the car to a new for 2016 price.  From what I’ve heard, it’s a gorgeous car that will make any owner proud.  Click on the photo below to see this stunning car in all of it’s lowered price glory:



Autopsy of an American Bantam Engine: Part III

Welcome to the final installment of the disassembly.  Could the engine come apart a little more?  Yes.  In fact, the oiling system will probably need to be taken out of this engine, but everything is at a stand still until I know what condition the crankshaft and rods are in.

Remember that rear main bearing carrier I showed you a photo of the other day?  That is the last obstacle between us and the crankshaft.  Although the piece is cast iron, it has been wedged into an aluminum crankcase for decades, and beside being shrink fit into the crankcase, it also may have some corrosion between the two parts.  This is why you need a heat source to expand the aluminum to make it easier to pull out the main carrier.

First, take the two bolts you bought and thread them into the to holes in your bearing carrier.  DO NOT thread them all the way down or attempt to pull the carrier out without heat.  If you do, you will probably be experiencing extreme anger and frustration, as the carrier ear snaps off and the carrier remains steadfast in its hole.  Threading the bolts in now will prepare you for when the engine is up to temperature so you wont waste valuable time and expansion while searching for parts.

The last time I did this, I consulted the ABS’s engine manual which encouraged using an oven to expand the aluminum.  Not wanting to put anything Bantam in my oven, I spoke to a club member who suggested the idea of a space heater.  He recommended one of those radiant heaters,  however, they have gotten very hard to find.  I instead bought a stanley unit from Lowes.  Then I made a little heat corral of cardboard boxes surrounding the engine in the middle of my garage to ensure that as much heat as possible soaked into the engine before being stolen by my frigid garage.  This time, I had something better, a metal crate with wooden sides to corral the heat.  Either way, don’t get reckless, and please make sure that your heat corral is not on the verge of becoming a heat source itself.

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Aiming the heater at the back of the engine and closing it in, I set my timer for 20 minutes.  Set to high heat and high fan, I began my wait.  As I said, keep your eyes on your set up.  Here is my observation station and view:

Once the first twenty minutes has passed, check to see how warm your crankcase feels.  More than likely, you’ll need to run the heater for at least another 20 minutes at full blast.  After 40 minutes, I turned off the heater as the aluminum was feeling quite warm and began to tighten the upper bolt.  Immediately, I was able to see the carrier pulling away from the top.


You should only crank each bolt a little bit before moving to the next, hoping to remove this as evenly as possible.  The lower bolt however did not turn without a lot of resistance and the lower part of the carrier showed that it wasn’t ready to budge yet.  So I turned the heater on and set the timer for another 15 minutes.


At the end of the 15 minutes, I tested the lower bolt and as it threaded deeper into the carrier I saw it separate from the block at the seam where they are joined.  Moving between the two bolts at even increments, the carrier came out very easily and exposed the crank entirely at the rear.

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Reaching in through the bottom of the block with one hand, I carefully slid it out to my other hand.

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Here is the bounty of our efforts:


The next step is to take this crank and the connecting rods to the machine shop to see what I’m dealing with.  Although you can have the crank hot tanked, I’ve heard that you don’t want the rods hot tanked as it can adversely affect your babbit.  You should hand clean the rods with good detergents like brake parts cleaner, etc.

I will be taking this crank in and asking them to check it for cracks, straightness, and size of the journals.  I’ll also be asking them to check the rods for cracks and the size of the bearing material.  It’ll take a few days until I know for certain what the results are, but it’s always important to know that the most important parts in your engine are in good shape.  As the old adage goes, without a crank, there can be no Bantam engine.

Autopsy of an American Bantam Engine, Part II

This is the second installment in the tear down procedure.  I left off with needing pullers to get the rest of the engine ready in order for me to pull the crank out.

If you do not have a three jaw puller, you can usually borrow them from Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts.  They charge you the full price of the tool, and refund it upon return.  It’s a great service, however the tools are generally about the same quality you would find at a Harbor Freight.  So, if you decide you’re in love with the tool or it is something you will need repeatedly, it would be cheaper to buy it almost anywhere else than to keep the one from the auto parts store.


I left off with the crank pulley still attached to the crank.  Since the cover behind it is aluminum, there is no way I want to pry against it, even though it’s already broken.  The piece that is broken is very repairable.  The pulley however, is already broken, with a large chip out of it.  I believe they make special pulley pullers, but I didn’t really think about it at the time I was renting this one.

Keeping the crank engagement bolt in place, I attached the puller as you can see below.  When you do this, make sure to thread the bolt into the crank so you don’t foul up the threads, but leave room so you have where to move the pulley.  Removing the washer will help.  If you don’t provide ample room, you may not realize that the pulley is infact moving, but you are just pulling against the bolt.  This will result in breaking the cast pulley even more.  I’ll let you guess how I found that one out.

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The pulley is kept in place with a key, but it pulls off nicely.  Once it is off, removing the perimeter bolts of the cover allow it to free itself and you are then faced with the next challenge, the timing gears.  At first glance, it looks as though the right way to do this is to remove the nut from the cam to take those gears off.  This nut has been marred in an effort to keep the assembly attached.  Attempting to take the nut off ended up yielding the entire cam assembly.  This is okay for me for now.

The last challenge on the front end of the crank case is the timing gear attached to the front of the crank.  The puller and the crank engagement bolt will come in handy here.  Make sure you have the jaws engaged so you don’t damage the teeth.  (This one I didn’t learn the hard way).  You may want to soak this in your favorite penetrating fluid.  Now all of the front end impediments to pulling the crankshaft out have been dealt with.  If you look carefully, you can see more damage to this crank case, the lower two bolt holes are broken.

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The next challenge will be dealt with tomorrow.  This final step in pulling the crank out is by far the most important.  Once you pull off the flywheel, you will see 6 fasteners holding in the rear bearing carrier.  You will also see two holes that have nothing in them.  These holes are threaded and are going to be very important in getting the crank out.

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For part three, make sure you have two bolts that thread into those holes that are over an inch long and a space heater.  In part III, you see what to do with them.  Don’t touch your engine until you read the rest.

Also, this is the perfect time to say, if you haven’t joined the clubs, DO IT.  If you’re not interested in the club scene or the great people you’ll meet, at least do it for the tech information. The Austin Bantam society has a wonderful CD indexing all of the tech articles that both clubs have put out during their existence.  Among those articles is most of a great engine rebuilding manual.  The guidance of that manual and the club members have helped me greatly in this process.

Remember, when it comes to Bantam parts; don’t break them, please.



A couple of quick items:

American Austin Rim and Wheel parts:

(I believe these are front wheels as they don’t appear to be tapered or have a keyway)

Click here to see the ebay listing: American Austin Wheels


NORS American / Austin clutch linings

(2 are needed per car) Clutch linings

Click here to see the ebay listing: Clutch discs for American Austin -American Bantam $36


American Bantam Novelty shifter

Click here to see the listing: Bantam American Austin Gear Shift Knob $60

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

In the past month, there have been a few scattered items which I didn’t end up posting on here.  It’s amazing how few parts have come available.  I was going through some old emails today and found that one member of the ABS raised a very good point when I was a complete newbie.  To paraphrase, be patient, these cars and their parts are out there; sometimes there are dry spells and sometimes there are more items than can find owners.  Right now, with the holidays, people have more on their mind than working on their cars and cleaning out their garage.

The last couple weeks have resulted in my efforts slowing with the near culmination of assembling my 1940 Bantam chassis.  It needs to come apart again so I can begin restoring the bits to newish condition, but it’s nice to see something that has existed as scrap for decades become something fairly car like.  I’m trying to figure out the front shock absorbers and finalize the braking configuration.  However, even with all of these things, the car has been on the back burner.

I made a tally of cars in the process of being restored and their owners.  Currently, there are at least 50 American Austin/Bantam cars in various stages of resurrection among at least 30 owners.  So, if you’re afraid that you’re alone in your quest, rest assured that you’re in good company.

Around here, I’ve started doing some work chronicling the history of the Brennan IMP.  If you’re a long time reader, you know of my fondness and intrigue regarding that little motor.  Right now, there are a couple of old brochures up, but soon, I should have it’s 30 year history documented for those who do have them.

I hope you had a happy holiday and that you are looking forward to the upcoming ones as well.  Stay tuned for updates!





Would you like a Woody of your own?

For your consideration is a unique opportunity to own a 1939 Bantam Woody Station Wagon.  Usually, these cars pass silently between Bantam club members.  Occasionally, these cars are seen at the auctions, but not frequently enough for other collectors to get their hands on them.

These cars were designed by Bantam to be the gem of any garage.  Described by the company as being the embodiment of nonchalant luxury, and by being priced as their halo car; the Bantam station wagon was anything but a little economy car.  It was a useful, utilitarian, piece of art.  Although they were fairly popular in proportion to other models built, their survival rate has been identified as very small.

1938 Bantam Station Wagon Prototype

1938 Bantam Station Wagon Prototype

There are less than twenty of these Station Wagons known to exist at this time, although there may be a few more stashed out there.  Most often, these cars are sold for increasingly more and more with projects becoming less and less extant.  Finished, you can have something like this:

bantam woodieBantam Woody

Here is the offering for your consideration, the bones of a spartan, understated, elegant gem.  Click on the thumbnail below to learn more about this project.  Perhaps this could find its way into your garage.


1939 Bantam Station Wagon Rough Project