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Model T Era Freeze Plugs


While one of my guiding principles is frugality, I have to confess that the main motivation in this particular job was the coolness factor. Having read about some of the old timers doing this, I had to try it. That said, using coins for freeze plugs did save me a little. I paid 50 each for Model T era nickels. That’s a little over half the price of new brass plugs, and slightly more than steel. But the cost of getting new steel plugs shipped probably made the nickels the cheapest option. They’re also better than steel because they won’t rust out. Because of a design defect, a raised date that wears off, there are a lot of these nickels with little or no date and therefore little or no collector value.

By the way, I'm calling these freeze plugs because that's the common term for them. But their purpose isn't to prevent freeze damage, but to fill holes left by the casting process.



Three nickels cost me $1.50.

I found that a 13/16” socket was a good fixture for dishing the coins.



Pressing in a ball peen worked well.


I found that one of the coins was a perfect fit. Due to a slight difference among hole sizes
(think 90+ years of rust), a couple of them took a little bit of filing around the edges to fit.



Before putting in the plugs I smeared a bit of my favorite sealant in the hole.


I found that getting the coin into the hole in the correct position was easiest if I hung
 it on a strip of Gorilla tape and then shoved it in.



With the plug in the hole, the next step was to mash it with a brass drift to spread it so it would stay.


Three new freeze plugs installed.



The sealant I used was Permatex #2. [I found that it was NOT a good choice. Over time it hardened, cracked, and leaked. My next installation was with Permastex Ultra Black. So far there have been no leaks.] After letting it sit overnight to set a little, I did the clean-up. [That's probably too long to wait when using RTV.] The first part of that was using round toothpicks to scrape off the sealant that had oozed out around the plug.

Cotton swabs and lacquer thinner took off the remaining smudges.


My arrangement is one chief in the rear hole, facing forward...

...and a pair of bison facing him.


Updated 4-17-17


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