Memorial Day. Fine weather, blue skies, not a cloud in sight. The wife and I take the Speedster to have a coffee downtown. Very little traffic, I can go into Ruckstell high. Approaching a red stop light, I have to shift down, then hit the brake . . . but there was no brake!
I had to make an instant decision on hitting the car at the red light, doing a U-turn at about 25mph and roll the car, or find an escape route. I chose the latter but when hitting the curb, the car jumped to the left right into the tree.
We both were expelled from the car, the wife to the right and me to the left, missing any obstacles in the way . . . thank God!
Wife is bruised up and still in the hospital, my left knee hurts like crazy and my right leg is badly scraped. But we will be both alright.
Although the damage looks minor, the frame has been bent all the way to the rear axle. Initially I thought it's just a small damage that I don't even have to report to the insurance company, but it looks like that's not going to work now.
My guess is that I got stock in neutral,and without Rocky Mountains, I got freewheeling.
I will keep you guys updated tomorrow.
Wow- glad you both will be alright- that's the main thing...very scary!
So sorry, Bernard.
Go to the hospital and stay with her around the clock, Bernard. Intensive care is a family member present and watching. More people die from accidents in hospitals than on the roads.
I have dozed many a night and day in a hospital room chair. My wife would have died at age 30, had I not seen the large puddle of blood under her bed.
All the best to you and your wife.
I was once riding in a poorly figured speedster / contraption that had been lowered and the driver announced, "no brakes" and we went through a two-way stop. Nobody coming, fortunately. Once we were able to get out and look it over, we found a radius rod, or some such, whacked the linkage and knocked the Ruckstell into neutral. Immediately prior to the stop, we had hit a big bump and thought nothing of it. The car was not built by the driver and was loaded with other quality issues too numerous to mention. It was soon dismantled and parted out for better uses.
Sorry to read about your accident. Sad that your car is damaged, but sadder still that you and your wife were injured. Fortunately, though, you did the right thing by avoiding hitting anyone else. Take good care of her, and maybe she will forgive you and will again ride in a Model T.
Norman, did you forget to add,"if you get outside brakes"?
Once you get resettled, I'd be interested in details leading up to the accident.
You said you were traveling in Ruckstell High? I assume that means the Ruckstell engaged, and the transmission in high? When you said you "shifted down", does that mean you disengaged the Ruckstell?
I have a Ruckstell that gives me lower gearing for climbing hills. I still fail to see what people mean when they say it's in "neutral". To me, it's either engaged, or it's disengaged.
Too bad... So sorry. Glad you will be OK.
Sorry to hear about your accident, but glad to hear you and Mrs. Paulsen are basically okay. Feel better.
Bernard, Thankfully you both survived. I hope & pray you and your wife's recovery goes quickly. Just reading about your mishap brings back a flood of memories from Memorial Weekend 2004 where I lost my wife in a speedster mishap.
Dan B, I've had Ruckstell's, even with spring loaded shifters, that have a "spot" between high and low where there is a neutral, but it takes some finesse to find it. It sure makes it easy to push the car around in the garage, but could be difficult to stop when rolling down the road without alternate brakes. They are a must for aux trans, or two speed rear end equipped T's, and a good idea for stockers.
Ralph is right, when you are in the hospital you need an advocate in your corner.
I am glad you both will be okay.
I hear of people all the time saying that a Ruckstell has no neutral. Wrong ! I can't find it while running or moving but if the car is shut off I can sometimes find the in between area to move the car in the garage too. Put a new frame under it and put some brakes on that thing.
Ruckstells shouldn't be shifted down unless the engine is pulling with power applied.
I hope you both have speedy recoveries... could have been worse.
Years ago I had a 1913 with a Ruckstell. I had Bonar accessory brakes added on because a worry-wart friend said to me over and over that a T needs accessory brakes with a Ruckstell.
Now we all know that a Ruckstell can't go into Neutral... well going down a hill at Clear Lake, CA. on an HCCA tour I pulled it down for low... "neutral" happened, no low or reverse! No service brake... but a little brake from the 8" Bonars... and me pulling the brake lever as hard as I could... she slowed and stopped. Once I got it back out of Ruckstell "neutral" into direct drive I didn't touch the Ruckstell lever again until I rebuilt the unit. I'm mighty glad I listened to the brakes friend, I had my wife and two daughters in that car.
On another tour a friend pulled his '24 coupe into Ruckstell low and found neutral... he plowed into my car at around 50 mph... I was doing 35+ and was able to stop his car (which had only transmission brakes... with really questionable parking brake which didn't get used).
Please anyone who drives a T with altered drive line, add real brakes. Anyone who drives a T with stock drive line please add real brakes also.
I know it can't happen... but it seems to keep happening over and over!
Not good! But as long as you are both going to be okay. Do take very good care of her right now.
The car can be fixed later. (By yourself if you chose, I would)
Some added braking is important. Lined inside shoes are "adequate" IF they are properly set up and adjusted, even for the small drums. Two totally independent braking systems are important also. Usually, I prefer the service brake how Henry made it except for maybe tougher linings. Even there, I usually use cotton linings. However, I make a habit of using the transmission brake and the brake handle both for sudden or hard stops. Be in the habit of grabbing that handle so that you don't have to think about it in an emergency.
Many will comment about not using the brake handle for stopping because it disengages the engine and you lose the engine's back compression. That is very true. However, the engine's back compression becomes of less value the slower your speed is. Much under 20mph it adds almost nothing to slowing you down, unless you turn off the ignition or downshift. And the handle brake (IF properly set up and adjusted) can add a lot.
For now, take care of you and your wife.
Just be okay. W2
Truly sorry about the accident. I hope your wife and you both will be 100% again real soon.
Here is another victim of an aux. transmission going to neutral without aux. brakes. He was at the top of a hill when it happened and came barreling down backwards until he lost control near the bottom and flipped. Both were hurt here too.
Ouch! Bernard, I hope all turns out well, keep us posted.
I am appalled by the accident that has happened. I hope you and your wife will soon be healed and that Ford can be repaired.
With my wife and son, we also had an accident with model T Ford last September, then know that we think very hard on you and wish you courage.
Bernard, so sorry to hear on your misfortune. Also thank you for telling us about it as maybe it will stir some of us to add secondary brakes--talking to ME and others too.
As you have stated, wife Very important, Model T Toy not even close. Good luck & speedy recovery to you both. Joe
Thank God your all right.The car can be replaced.
Family is more important at this time. Be with your wife 24/7, get help with your pain, you both will be helping each other through the recovery. Machinery is replaceable, not life.
I’m so sorry to hear of your accident and your injuries. We will be praying for a speedy recovery for both you and your wife. As others have pointed out – having a second family member at the hospital can be a big help. Not only from an encouragement stand point but also “no one cares as much about your wife as you do.” You can spot things the doctors or nurses may miss or not notice until later.
I have one minor question for you to consider after all the dust settles and your wife is out of the hospital. You commented that “when hitting the curb, the car jumped to the left.” That could easily happen on any T. I.e. on a Model T if I grab the front wheel I can easily turn it left or right. And the curb could have done that to probably any T with stock steering. But on the Fords after the T, I cannot easily turn the front wheels just by pulling on them. I looked at the photo, but when I zoomed in I could not tell if you have the above the axle wishbone, below the axle wishbone, or a double wishbone. When things slow down, would you please let us know more about what type of wishbone set up you had? Was it found bent after the accident? Did you feel like the steering wheel was jerked out of your hand or not – i.e. did the steering go hard left when you hit the curb?
Thank you for sharing about your accident. It hopefully will help others avoid a similar one. For anyone new to T’s – don’t panic. Like the faithful horse it replaced, your T will serve you well but if you mishandle it, it can bite, kick, or throw you. With a little precaution (not years of -- but a little time learning about your car and checking to make sure it and you are both up to speed) you can have years of enjoyment. There are some known safety issues with Model Ts and some known suggestions for how to minimize them. The need to add auxiliary brakes when a Ruckstell or auxiliary transmission is installed is one example. But any failure in the driveline (sheared axle key, broken u-joint, failed babbitt thrust washers, etc) can result in failure of the normal service brake or engine braking. Some sort of emergency brake and/or auxiliary brakes can minimize that risk – as well as having the driveline parts in good serviceable condition. While the T was not designed to meet OSHA standards, with proper maintenance, care, and an experienced driver a Model T can provide years of safe driving fun. So if you are new to Ts or possibly considering them please see the posting at http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/154102.html which has several of the items listed that you can avoid or minimize. For a lighter look at some safety items please see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/50893/69429.html And of course if you search on Safety many more threads will show up.
Bernard – again thank you for posting – it may be the posting that will help someone else avoid that type of accident in the future. Take good care of your wife – everything else can be replaced. You and your wife will be in our thoughts and prayers.
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Very sorry to see this. I hope both you and your wife are healed completely soon.
One thing that troubles me is that you mentioned "Approaching a red stop light, I have to shift down". I think this might be part of the cause for the accident unfortunately.
The Ruckstell is meant to be a means to achieve a lower gear ratio that gives the ability to pull steep hills, and also to descend same. It is not intended to be used as an intermediate gear ratio for acceleration or deceleration on a constant basis.
A Ruckstell has a finite number of shifts before it needs to be rebuilt. It needs to be left in Direct for normal operation. Constantly shifting up and down is a recipe for short Ruckstell life.
Boy I hate to see accidents in a T!
This is another reminder that we have to remember that a T is NOT modern machinery.
When I drive mine I have to change my mindset from my 2010 Toyota Tundra to a T!
Call me old or not but stock T's don't have REAL brakes and we need to remember that.
I am sorry to hear about your accident. I hope both you and your wife are 100% better soon!
Speedy recovery to you and your bride and quick, easy, CHEAP fix to the speedster!
Fast recovery and hope all is well soon.
Only question: did you pull the Emergency Brake?
I can lock both rear wheels and leave skid marks pulling mine in a panic stop. First thing I learned driving a T and always have my hand ready to pull in case of the unexpected.
Even with the Ruckstell in "neutral" they should work.
Call me a "weenie" but I never shift my Ruckstell while driving faster than a bare creep. If the Model T is moving at a snails pace the shift is extremely smooth compared to standing still. I also have the spring in the shifter set a bit tighter than necessary so that when I shift a audible "clank" is heard. Going up and down steep hills I shift at the top of the first hill before the down slope. Probably overkill on my part but better safe than sorry. Pad lined '26-'27 drum brakes though it is a 1919 Touring.
Speedy recovery Bernard!
So sorry to hear. I hope you two both have a speedy recovery.
I have had to pull my emergency brake in a panic stop before, thankful that I had some lined brake shoes installed because it locked up good. Hope your wife and yourself feel better soon.
PS- If you had been in a inclosed Model T I wonder if the physical injuries to you and your wife would have been less or more extensive? Looks as if where you two landed could have been a lot more trecherous
Get Well soon to both of you. It should certainly make everyone think and also do some checking of their own cars to make sure they're safe to drive.
I've read here so many times advice to drivers to make sure one has an aux braking system when using an aux tranny.
I hope others read this and learn from your misfortunate accident.
Thanks for sharing and glad your injuries were not worse!
Cars can be replaced....you only get one life.
From the pictures it appears to already have large drum brakes that should be able stop the car in an emergency situation.
Glad that you and your wife are more or less okay.
If you had been doing 35-40mph rather than 25mph...
Model Ts are fun cars but you don't want to have a crash in one.
I would suggest that anyone who uses a Model T on public roads should seriously consider having aux. brakes fitted regardless of whether the car has a Ruxstell or Warford because driveshafts can and do fail.
I'm overwhelmed by your kind responses. It what makes owning a T such a rewarding experience. We are really a community of like-minded people, and while sitting up I should perhaps give you a few more details.
My default gears in town are Ford Low, Ford high, and only in cases where I have plenty of runway without any obstacles I shift up to Ruckstell high to putter along at about 40mph. I have a 1:3 rear end. One reason I shift to Ruckstell high under such conditions is that at higher RPMs, the engine gets noisy. It may need the connecting rods adjusted, but since I haven't done that yet, I try to stay out of higher RMPs.
Yesterday, I was in Ruckstell high when approaching a red light. If the revs go too low the engine sputters to get rolling again, so knowing it would go slower from the red light on, it was time to shift down from Ruckstell high to Ford High for good.
Trying to make the shift, perhaps still being a bit too fast, it made a crunching noise. I repeated the shift attempt and at that time I was only 300 feet away from the red light when I hit the brake and had nothing. I closed the gas and put up the ignition to full retard and at that time I realized that I would not be able to stop before arriving at the red light.
I was driving in the right hand lane, and there was a car waiting at the red light in my lane. In the lane left to me was a Smart car, but no car at the red light. Not wanting to hit the car in front of me, I signaled to the Smart car that I needed to get over and he let me, but since the cross traffic started to approach the intersection, my only way out was to go to the left where a U-Haul place had an entrance, so no high curb, just about an inch-and-a-half. My plan was to exit on the opposite side where a pretty empty 4-lane street would allow me to do something to stop somehow. When jumping up the curb, the car must have jumped to the left, right into the tree.
We were both expelled from the car kind of sideways, me to the left, the wife to the right, and our injuries are similar. The left frame rail really went straight into the tree, and the force was enough to bend the left frame rail downward all the way to the rear axle. At this time I do no want to worry about the car; it's insured for $15K and even if it wasn't, it's irrelevant on the scale of things.
What I thought about last night is two things:
(1) What could I have done differently, and (2) what if I had not been a Speedster with opens sides but in a car that would not have allowed us to be thrown out into the grass?
Clearly, my inexperience in driving a T, not being able to react automatically contributed greatly to this accident. Had I turned the key and pulled the brake lever back, who knows. Had I pushed down the clutch and forced the Ruckstell into gear, same thing. I didn't react like a Model T driver; I reacted like a driver or a "normal" car. As with many things experience matters, and that's what I didn't have.
But even if I hit the tree at only 15 or 20mph straight on and had not been able to be thrown out, most likely I would have met the steering column first, then the monocle windshield,then the tree. So after all, I got lucky, and although I have a broken knee and small toe, and the wife has two broken bones in her right foot, we got lucky. I try not to blame myself; I didn't speed, didn't show off, didn't try to do something stupid; I just found myself in a situation I wasn't able to master due to my inexperience with Model Ts. I need to heal and see what to do, but I know one thing already: I will never drive a Model T without accessory brakes again. I still have a '23 Runabout in need of some work, and buying brakes will probably be number one of my list. Even in a normal situation somebody can pull in front of me and hit the brakes, and that's equally bad.
I'll give you updates when I can.
Thanks again ya'll!
Well I THINK I learned something. If the Rukstell finds "neutral" then the pedal brake will stop the transmission drum, but the rear wheels will freewheel? Am I right? I continue to see the importance of auxillary brakes.
I think we need a tutorial on T brakes that is repeated monthly, or more often.
You are correct, if the Ruckstell inadvertently goes into neutral the drive shaft can still be stopped by the brake pedal but the rear wheels are free wheeling at that point. A properly adjusted and shifted Ruckstell in "theory" will not get stuck in neutral, but with wear and tear or damage it may occur.
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"In retrospect, we plan for the future."
Anything that creates a disconnect in any part of the driveline from the center of the transmission brake drum on back, will result in total loss of all braking type functions that come from the engine or original service brake. This means NO pedal brake. No engine Back compression which means nothing you do with the spark, throttle, or ignition will have any effect. No low band. No reverse band. Nothing in front of you will do any good at ALL except for the steering wheel. Actually, Bernard P, it sounds as if in that, you did quite well. The problem was an unexpected shove to one side because of just the way model T steering is.
For somewhat "era correct" model Ts, whether you only put in lined brake shoes or add outside brakes, GET USED TO GRABBING THAT BRAKE HANDLE! Practice it. Make sure you can lock the rear wheels even though you really want to not lock them for skid reasons. Practice trying to "just almost" lock the wheels.
You don't have to use the handbrake for every stop. Some T owners do, but that is a choice based upon maintenance preferences. Just be ready to grab it automatically when something goes wrong.
Two wheel brakes can only do so much. Some people prefer to do the modifications necessary to put full pedal four wheel brakes on their car. For some, it makes good sense based on where they live. For others, they just like to feel more secure. For me, I want my antiques to be antiques. I like driving them the way they were, or at least some were way back when. I do like my old auxiliary brakes.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Again I'm so glad you and your wife both survived and are on the mend.
Thank you also for sharing some additional details about the accident. In a previous job I was fortunate to work in Flight Safety in the Air Force. Some of the interesting things we learned is the need for "time in the aircraft." That was needed for folks to become comfortable, safe, and begin to become proficient in the airplane. They had several accidents where the pilot did something that was the “correct” action in the previous aircraft but the “wrong” action in the new aircraft. And of course Model Ts are not nearly as complex as jet aircraft. But they used the illustration of many “baby boomers” learned to ride a bicycle with a single coaster brake on the back wheel. Pedal backwards and it engaged the brake. After years of not riding a bike many of them purchased 10 speed bikes. They would be riding along and have a need to stop quickly – to avoid a car, etc. They instinctively would pedal backwards trying to engage the coaster brake and impact the object etc. before they figured out that they needed to squeeze the hand brake handles on the 10 speed handle bar. Their study discovered on average about 50 hours on the new 10 speed and the previous “coaster brake” operators would remember to use the hand brake handles on the handle bars rather than trying to pedal backwards in a panic stop.
So yes, it is an invitation to drive your T and get those 50 hours behind you so you can be safer. Remember it is the 50 hours of stopping and going not the 10 trips of 5 hours each that will give you the practice. But the training can also be sped up by putting some thought process and eye hand coordination exercises into the training time. For myself even with my modern car (a 1970 VW) when I pull out of our neighborhood I check the rear view mirror. I already know the first driveway is 20 feet from my street and is the first place I will pull off if a speeding car comes around the blind curve too fast. And when driving my Ford – I plan my stops to use minimal braking – i.e. driving as if I do not have brakes. And while I do not practice panic stops in my T while I am driving it – that is a little harder on the car than I would like to routinely treat it – I do go through the motions while it is sitting still. And I have practiced actual panic stops – locking up the rear wheels (technically not the shortest stopping distance) as well as slowing down as much as I can without locking the rear wheels. And if you have not ever done a panic stop in your T – I would suggest try it out in a safe area – empty parking lot etc. You will be surprised at how long it takes to stop a T compared to a normal car with four wheel brakes. You can also sort of simulate that by using only the emergency brake on your modern car (not recommended for the cars with the foot actuated emergency brake handle but fairly easy to do with the handle mounted between the seats). Again a clear parking lot is a good place to practice that. And similar to the general aviation pilot that is taught to always have a plan for where to land if the engine should quit – it is good to be thinking about where you will go if someone pulls out in front of you etc.
We are not looking to remove all danger. We would not drive our modern car either if that was the only goal. But instead we want to manage the risk so it is an acceptable level and we are still having fun with our cars. A properly functioning T, driven appropriately, and in an appropriate location (for example in general I would avoid rush hour traffic in my town) is a lot of fun and can be done safely.
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About five years ago I helped a guy get a '26 tudor running he had sold.
We had the engine out and changed the starter ring gear on the flywheel and gave it a valve job and vaporizer overhaul.
We took the car for a test drive with me driving.
After 3 blocks we came to a red light, I stepped on the brakes and it killed the engine but the car kept rolling.
I said, "We broke an axle"!
The light turned red and cross traffic was crossing in front of us.
I made a HARD right turn joining in with the traffic going to the right.
We rolled another half block before the car came to a stop.
It was then that I figured out that the Ruckstell had popped out of gear and was stopped half way between low and direct.
We found it would do that on deceleration.
I do not know why I didn't pull the handbrake.
I can only guess that I had always had it in my mind that if an axle or drive shaft broke or the ruckstell got stuck in neutral you'd have no brakes.
No Brakes is No Brakes.
But that is not altogether true, the hand brake will still work and it is a brake.
One has to think about those things and practice doing what needs to be done if an emergency should ever arise.
It's called sycho-sybernetics.
You can do it even in bed, just think about an emergency and what you have to do to save the day.
Bernard, is that Ventura High School in the background of your picture?
Don't beat yourself to death over this, (That's easy to say in the abstract, I'd be doing the same thing under your conditions).
That emergency brake handle is your best last minute friend. The foot brake on a T, even on a Speedster, is almost a joke even with the entire driveline intact. At least it is on a big, heavy 27 Tudor, like mine.
How did you make out with Ventura PD over this? I hope all you got was a lecture from some 'kid' who wouldn't know a Model T from a Prius.
Good luck, Brother.
Hope you are both healing well. As a Doctor I am amazed by what the human body can and can not take. I have attended many accidents . I have seen people thrown from cars at 60 miles and hour and who have sustained only bruises. Conversely I once saw a sedan which hit some gravel and did a lazy spin off the road and bumped against a tree .The vehicle had a dent the size of fist in the rear fender and was otherwise completely unscathed and drivable ( I later drove it away for the Police) despite this all the occupants were dead (broken necks). I guess it's all luck!
I am new in the Model T game having had my 1913 for a few months and owning a 1918 briefly a few years ago. While I can drive it fine with no problems I think it will be quite some time before I instinctively do the right thing in a "T" emergency
Once again wishing you both a speedy recovery
Coincidentally, on Monday afternoon an Infinity struck a curb on Jamboree Blvd in Newport Beach, and ran into a tree. The car was split in half with the rear half burned to a crisp and the front of the car was just scattered parts, with the engine all by itself. All five high school students died.
Hey Bernard, do you have a steering stabilizer on your speedster? I ask because based on your explanation the biggest problem happened when the car jumped left after hitting the curb.
My car runs straight and true without any shimmy before I installed the stabilizer, so I'm not using it for anything other than making bumps and pot holes easier to navigate.
Snyders sells one as well but it has a different setup to connect it to the car. I really like Lang's version because it's extremely low-key and most folks don't notice it.
On the HCCA spring tour in Wallace, NC I got to see a lot of people driving all different years and body-styled T's. On more than one occasion there'd be a rough spot or hole in the road that virtually everyone hit. I don't know who all had stabilizers or not but I did notice several cars develop a vicious shimmy or jump hard one way or the other. No one went out of control but a couple of folks handled it better than others. I haven't driven thousands and thousands of miles in my T but what I have driven I've never had any issues with either jumping or developing a shimmy and I think part of it is due to that stabilizer I have.
Not saying that it would have saved you or kept you from hitting the tree. But maybe it would have helped. Especially in an emergency situation where you are trying to work the controls with one hand and steer with the other. I've noticed a few times that I've hit a big limb or odd hole in the ground with only one hand on the wheel and while it surprised me it's never been a problem. They don't cost very much and the Lang's version requires no drilling and takes maybe 15 minutes to install. It's also less visible than auxiliary brakes.
Speaking of those, I'm definitely going to get some since I'm installing a Warford. However, I want some anyway whether I get the Warford in or not. I've been trying to work on conditioning myself to rip the hand brake if anything goes wrong, but it's just natural yet. Some brake pedal activated auxiliary brakes will probably be a much more natural reflex. I have some lined brake shoes that will lock the tires if I pull the hand brake hard enough, the pedal just seems like it will work with my brain better.
Sorry about your accident and I'm glad everyone seems like they are going to be ok. Get that T fixed and get back on the horse!
You've geared your car with 3:1 gears so it can achieve 60 MPH speeds.
Your brakes are safe up to 30 MPH.
Your Ruckstell is not designed to be constantly upshifted and downshifted each time the car accelerates and decelerates.
The brake pedal clamps a small diameter, fragile, 1 1/4" wide fabric lining around a cast iron drum that is connected to the drive shaft.
If your Ruckstell becomes disengaged, or the U joint fails , or the rear axle falls apart, or if a drive key shears in one of the wheels, or if the pinion drive key shears, the foot brake doesn't work any more.
These are only a few of the failure possibilities, all the parts of the rear axle including the Ruckstell were designed for 20 - 30 MPH speeds. Going faster than that is possible in any Model T, but the safety factor is rapidly decreasing the faster you go.
It is a Model T. Drive it like a Model T so no one gets hurt.
"My default gears in town are Ford Low, Ford high, and only in cases where I have plenty of runway without any obstacles I shift up to Ruckstell high to putter along at about 40mph. I have a 1:3 rear end. One reason I shift to Ruckstell high under such conditions is that at higher RPMs, the engine gets noisy. It may need the connecting rods adjusted, but since I haven't done that yet, I try to stay out of higher RMPs. "
It sounds like he was only in the mid 20s when the accident happened, so aside from shifting the Ruxtell on the fly is looks like he was following your rules. It sound like lack of experience (not thinking to grab the parking brake) and bad luck to me. All of which he mentions.
Your post does serve as a reminder to us of the limits of a T when modified.
Oh yeah, Royce please don't take that the wrong way. I meant it like a checklist. Nope, nope, well maybe, nope. Figuring out accidents like this can help us all avoid them for ourselves. Can't tell tone of voice over the aether.
Chris & Bernard :
You are one of the latest to "gain" Royce's rath... just of his way of beating a dead horse after the smoke clears from the gun.
Most of the educated are aware of the limitations of vintage iron, he his one to preach his gospel.
The accident happened at 20-25 mph, T speed.
Shortly after buying my 1919 Speedster, the Warford got knocked into neutral and I had only the 'parking brake' for brakes. I yanked the handle all the way back. It didn't even slow down. I was fortunate to be able to miss the cars stopped ahead of me, and rolled uphill to a stop. I had new linings in the drum parking brakes.
Scared me so much, that I immediately started laying-out plans for rear disc brakes.
That was about five years ago, and they have saved my miserable hide innumerable times. I won't drive without them!
God bless, and get well soon.
I am not making a joke, I am a big man, 6 foot & 300lbs and in my 25' Runabout grabbing that hand brake is not so easy. Any suggestions besides dieting :-)
Hey Nowell, there's a nice handbrake extension available.
It's a little expensive but if it makes reaching and using the handbrake easier it's worth it.
Since this thread has drifted, as they all do:
You'll have to buy my new book, Nowell, "The Mystery Diet." I haven't written it yet, but I should; I've lost 36 pounds in 36 weeks, and will be down to my supposed ideal weight of 180 by the 4th of July.
The mystery? I'm not yet sure why I began losing this weight last Sept. I've been borescoped from both ends and had lots of blood tests. Turns out I'm pretty darned healthy.
Henry Ford's idea of keeping it light means less strain on the brakes, tires, etc.
The tranny brake will stop you in a straight line every time, while uneven traction on wheel brakes can spin you around. That said, there is no substitute for wheel brakes, and rear brakes are no substitute for front brakes.
I can't imagine being able to pull the handbrake near as fast as mashing a pedal in a panic. Even the motion of pulling while your unbelted body is being pushed forward by inertia is awkward.
Think about this: stomping the tranny brake while the driveline is free wheeling will kill the engine. Then there's no way to get an aux tranny back into gear.
Stop. . End of game. .
Thinking about this accident and the injuries suffered when thrown from the vehicle, I can't help but wonder about the issue of seat belts.
Sort of hesitant to bring up this subject but I do think it is relevant to this thread. I know many Ters don't believe in them but modern day accident reviews have shown it's Normally best to stay inside the car and away from the dash, glass and other hazards that are outside the car.
I do believe it also aids in the ability to operate the car safely when secured behind the wheel.
Just a good time to consider and rethink the issue about seat belts again.
In an open car, it all depends on the type of accident as to whether they will save you, kill you, or make no difference. What type of accident do you plan to have?
I've chosen not to add seat belts, my choice. You are welcome to do whatever you choose. If you do add belts, please plan carefully for where and how they are attached.
My hope is that the lawmakers won't start telling us what we MUST do in order to enjoy our vintage cars.
When you see someone who went through a 1/4 plate glass windshield at 30-35mph then you will be a believer in seat belts and good brake.
That's fine until the seat belt keeps you strapped to the car when it flips over and crushes you. This is especially true for a speedster. Being ejected before or during a rollover is the lesser evil.
When you see some who went through a plate glass windshield you will be a believer in safety glass. Has nothing to do with seat-belts or brakes.
Several years ago two very good friends were in an accident with their speedster. Both were ejected, she died from her injuries, he had injuries to his shoulder and ribs as well as scrapes and bruises. No seat belts. Had they been belted in, both would have died in that accident as the car rolled/flipped a couple of times. Different circumstances would have produced different results.
Plate glass should never be used in a car and I'm a serious believer that steering and brakes need to be improved whenever a Model T is set up for higher speeds than Henry anticipated. My speedster has 4 wheel brakes and more modern steering, my stock T's have stock (5 to 1) steering with improved brakes and safety glass windows.
Kind of like seatbelts in boats and motorcycles.
There's about a 50% fatality rate when people are thrown from cars. It's worse than riding a motorcycle.
Rollovers have to be the exception with Speedsters, especially lowered ones.
The Problem is with seatbelts is what do you attach them to. Logically you would think that the frame is the best anchoring point and it is However the seat(and body) you are sitting in are attached to the frame by a few bolts. Should the body bolts shear in an accident then the body (and you) are propelled forward and the seatbelt stays where it is => a signifigant probably fatal seat belt injury resulting. For this reason the New Zealand Law requires after market insertion of seat belts to be certified by an engineer . I actually think that this is an over reaction as any force large enough to shear bodybolts is probably going to be lethal in any case -Karl
I have my belts attached to the seat. Makes it kinda' like a jet fighter's ejection seat.
Many years ago, a friend of mine and his brother were going too fast, down a long hill, in Warford overdrive (you can see where this is going). He tried to downshift (mistakes he made, let me count the ways), missed the shift, and rolled it multiple times. Both were thrown from the car and received cuts and bruises all over. But no serious injuries. Lucky? You bet! There was hardly a straight part on the car. If they had been belted in, both would have been killed.
Plate glass really should be replaced, for many reasons (a rock flipped up by another car's tire being one). Windshields should especially be replaced.
I really like what Walt B said. "What type of accident do you plan to have?"
Bernard P, I am just glad that you are going to be okay.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
So by reading these posts it must be that MOST of the Model T accidents that have happened the body came loose from the frame?
I don't believe that to be true. You also have to consider how many mishaps have happened that we haven't heard about. Mostly what we have seen here are the major ones and I think maybe not the norm what ever that is.
I can't repeat the story exactly but I recall a local club member telling about driving his '10 touring and something caused him to quickly swerve to the right and the car ran into the ditch. This caused him to fall out and luckily he held onto the wheel but also this turned the wheel and the car jumped out throwing him again until he was able to get the car stopped.
To hear him tell the story is a real treat because he was not hurt and should have been on camera. The point is he was unable to control the car because of not being behind the wheel.
I know everyone will make their own decision about this topic. Drive safe, look out for the other guy.
I am not an engineer or an automotive expert, but I think I agree with someone in the long discussion after Ken Meek's accident. Ken and Marge rolled twice in a 1915 Touring. Marge was thrown out of the car as it did the first roll. Ken was held in the car by a combination of the steering wheel and the fact that he was tall and kind of cramped behind the wheel. He stayed in the car for the double rollover. Marge survived. Ken didn't.
The upshot of the discussion was that, in a rollover accident, being belted in was probably good in a closed car but not in an open car. In an open car, it was felt that being somewhere else as the car rolled was better than being under it.
Bernard like everyone else we all hate to see people hurt and T's damaged. Hope you both get well soon and accident's will always happen. cheers
I notice Bob Jablonski is accusing me of somehow being mean for suggesting that safety should be considered when you operate your Model T. That seems rather shallow, but I've come to expect it from Bob.
A Ruckstell is a small, fragile device. Many people have been hurt over the years, some killed, when their Ruckstell or other accessory transmission ended up in neutral and they didn't have brakes.
Please treat the Ruckstell with care and you will find it lasts a long time. It cannot be upshifted and downshifted every time you depart a stoplight and stop at the next one.
Always install auxiliary brakes if you have any kind of aux transmission.
Drive slower and live longer.
I always take your expert advice in the proper context, and it's great that we are using this accident to discuss it. If there's anything positive about this, it's that we can reflect on safety, errors made, and how to avoid them in the future.
There are accidents where belts can be beneficial, and there are accidents where they can be detrimental. In this case, the hit probably occurred a 20 to 25mph straight onto the tree, and my seat was ripped out of the anchors. Both I and my wife thus escaped hitting the tree with our bodies. With an enclosed body or anchored to the car with belts, my upper body would have met the steering wheel, and my face would most likely met the monocle windshield. The belts may also have caused injury in the lower extremities. You just never know what kind of accident will happen, so there's no right or wrong approach to this.
Sorry to read about your misadventure. How's your wife now? Back from the hospital, I hope.
The hand brake lever can be a little difficult to reach in a speedster, some have used a second cross shaft to move the lever closer to a lowered seat. With the 26/27 improved 12" lined brakes, the emergency brake should be a lot better than nothing - but still, accessory brakes are preferred in a modified T on today's roads. Hopefully the frame can be straightened - if not, frames from the black era are still easy to find & cheap.
Bernard just read the thread. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to you and your wife. Glad it wasn't more serious.
Using an accessory steering system and not using "original style" bicycle steering may have helped. What do you think guys?
Using an accessory steering system and not using "original style" bicycle steering may have helped. What do you think guys?
I have a sprague steering accessory. Still in a box. Maybe I should use it on the '14.
Royce- I agree with your last sentence from your May 30 post.... drive slower-live longer. Gotta remember these machines were designed to drive 35 mph, not 45, not 50......
Perhaps Gary but, accessory steering is not correct. Wouldn't it be more enjoyable to keep the car original and drive a little slower? I mean at some point, these mods get to the point that it's no longer a Model T. Often people over modify a car because they are bored. At that point, it's sometimes better to sell the car to a true enthusiast and move on the something "exciting".
It is an authentic correct period accessory. I still remember the time I was backing up the hill at this Mansion in Saratoga, California. The steering wheel whipped around a bit. It is that one in a million time that one needs better steering.
Bernard, you are very brave to have posted this, and I thank you for it. A lot of good discussion, I think.
Tim, I have a problem with "drive slower-live longer." It's a nice thought, but there is a time to go slowly and a time to drive with traffic. Going too slowly on highways is very dangerous in a T. I've known folks that were hurt badly and killed from getting rear-ended while driving a T slowly on the highway. It happens quite often, far more often than uncontrolled stopping accidents, to my observation. Rather than say "go slower - live longer" I would say "be careful, be smart, be vigilant, live longer." Go slowly when it is appropriate, faster when it is appropriate. Don't turn off your brain. Insist on maintaining a following distance, leave an out, make sure your equipment is up to snuff. Don't be afraid to drive your T, but be cautious.
Well said, Tom.
Era accessories belong on a T just as much as Ford original. In fact, era accessories are an almost wholly ignored archaeology.
A 100% original T belongs in a museum, which is next thing to a mausoleum.
Don't drive a Model T at highway speed. Unless you've upgraded steering, suspension, brakes, and tires to some higher safety standards.
A stock Model A Ford is safe at 55 MPH, but not 65 MPH. A stock Model T Ford is safe at 30 MPH.
Related: If you are driving a Model T, stay off highways. Highways are for cars that drive above Model T speeds.
My opinion, and I am perfectly aware that Tom is now going to attack me for driving my car the way it was intended.
I think Bernard has learned enough from the accident, and is very fortunate to not be seriously injured. Let's stop lecturing him for his mistakes. We all learn by experience. What he has learned is reinforced by the hurt and pain, than by any "chewing out" he might get from this forum.
I wish Both Bernard and his wife a speedy recovery, and the car as well.
To Norman, or anyone else - I wasn't trying to lecture or chew out Bernard, although I could see how it could be taken that way. My post was directed toward Tim, - as you can see by the first word in that paragraph. The purpose was to disabuse him of what I considered dangerous information.
First - Bernard - I am happy that you and your wife were not seriously hurt. Get well soon.
Second - Bernard and all - thanks for sharing your knowledge. It is important that we think of problems as opportunities in work cloths and learn from them.
Third - Norwell - like you I am a big man. After moving the seat back in my hack so I could get behind the steering wheel I found that I could not easily reach the brake handle when it was all the way forward. After a bit of head scratching I attached a rope to the handle so I could pull it back to neutral. I also made sure that the pawl worked so the handle did not fall forward.
By the way - when I use the car in a parade I place a block of wood in the handbrake slot so it will not go into high gear