While the steering is going to be taken completely to bits it would be a good time to convert my 1923 Runabout steering to the 5 to 1 ratio. The question is, should I?
I like the stock steering in the very few miles I did before the car had to come apart. I had no issues with it as it was but have some thought that the lower ratio might prove to be safer should a road wheel drop in a pothole or something of that nature. It seems that the steering wheel might be easier to hang on to in a tough spot.
Opinions? Is this worth doing? Is the car easier to drive or safer?
Vintage Paul, pondering . . .
Paul, I think it is somewhat safer to have the later 5:1 steering, but more a personal choice. The 4:1 steering is not that hard to turn or to control just more of a personal choice. Remember that if you plan on converting to 5:1 you not only have to change the gears in the gearbox but you will also have to change the shaft. Just my opinion.
If it ain't broke don't fix it..... But any safety improvement is always a plus. Let common sense be your guide.
I've driven both and like the 5:1 better personally . Always hold the wheel at 3 & 9 when possible regardless of ratio .
I converted the Speedster to 5:1 early on, but still had a death grip on the steering wheel at speeds 50 and above. In 2001, I installed a modren (1937) Ford steering gear and made the pitman arm for 10:1, which turned out to be just right for me.
Stock 1937-48 Ford steering is 18:1.
The conversion kit runs something like $300 US shipped so this is not something to do without good reason. At the city speeds I experienced, the quick steering was fun, sorta like a like a go cart. I've never really tried driving a T at 45 or 50 mph and wondered if that might be where the lower steering gears might shine . . .
Vintage Paul, slowly gettin there
I know some people have their cars ginned up to do those fast speeds, but there are two good reasons for a 35mph limit.
1 High speed in a stock T is too scary.
2 High speed increases wear and tear.
At Model T speeds the 4:1 seems OK to me, but I haven't driven the improved car to compare.
Steve, I kinda agree that 35 mph is a pretty good guideline for a Model T in most cases. I enjoy slowing down and savoring the world at T speeds. There are cases (such as our California desert roads) where there is no reason not to wind her up and let'er roll if the car is comfortable doing so. At the ripe old age of 60 I'm no racer anymore but I do make exceptions!
The 5 to 1 ratio was to provide ease of turning with the "balloon" tires which have considerable more tread on the road compared to either a 30x3 or 30x3.5.
I've driven both types and it's true that the 5:1 ratio steers nicer than the 4:1 ratio. Is it a night and day difference? Nah.
Making the switch-over can be problematic. The previous owner of my car, who had decades of Model T experience, did the work for me as part of the purchase deal. The problem he encountered was that the aftermarket parts simply didn't fit. To make it work, he had to graft a 1926 steering case onto my 1915 steering column (and strip the nickel plating off the brass case so it would match the brass on my car).
In theory, this should have been an easy switcheroo and had the after-market parts been made to original specs, such might have been the case. If you make the decision to switch over to the 5:1 gearing, it might be a good idea to you Murphy-proof yourself by getting an assurance from your parts dealer that he'll refund your money if it turns out the gears won't fit.
Isn't some of the magic gained by having more leverage from the larger steering wheel too?
Well,I converted mine and I love it because of my weak left arm.It makes a little improvement.I found old,rusted,pitted 5-1 columns from the 26-7 cars and used the gear box,and shaft and such.The outfit on my Ton truck is a little worn but it is from the old messed up column from what is now my speedster project.At 18 mph I dont notice the wear that much.
It was beyond repair because of saw marks and rusted in 2.Just unrivot the gear box from the old column,carefully knock it out of the column and then clean it all up and install it with new rivots.It helps to have somebody hold the column for you so you can peen the new rivots.
A T above 40,I dont care what is in there for steering,I would be skeered!
I converted both the 1915 speedster and the 24 coupe.
I did the speedster because Carolyn complained her arms were tired after driving a typical days speedster run of 150 miles. It was fairly easy, just the three gears and the center shaft from a 1927 steering column.
The coupe was more difficult as I couldn't get the old center rod out as it hit the coupe roof. I did the coupe as it was heavy with the 4.5" tires. Eventually I had to remove the column, make the changes and put it all back. Again is was easy, I never ran into the problems you often read about on the web.
As an aside, I wonder how future generations will react to our modifications? Will they read the McCalley books and decide he was wrong because they have a 1924 coupe with 5:1 steering and Bruce indicated it was introduced in 1926?
Tony, Bruce said it was in late calendar 1924, early in the 1925 model year 5:1 was introduced.
First on balloon tire equipped cars, later on all cars.
"OCT 30 Acc. 1701 Model T Releases, Ford Archives
T-5044B1 steering gear assembly, L.H control, 5 to 1 gear ratio adopted for use on T chassis with 21 by 4.40 tires."
Guess future owners will have to learn about popular upgrades in late 20:th century/early 21:century restorations just like the experts in the antique roadshow has learned about typical modifications and materials used in recent centuries for furniture repair
I changed over my 23 project to the 5-1 with good used parts. Even using old parts I had to timesaver the gears and housing to get everything working smoothly. Some of the gears I tried would not even go in the gear case so I suspect the repo parts could have to be fitted likewise. Of course you will have to use the 26 27 housing, well worth the effort in my opinion for the difference in the ease of steering. KB