Hello all, I am new to the Model T hobby/obsession and need a little help. My grandfather assembled a 1923 Roadster back in the sixties from parts he ordered/found all over the country. He sold it when I was just six years old in 1987 and I found it in Alabama and bought it back home. I have got her running and driving without too much fuss, and surprisingly it runs and drives pretty good. What has been challenging is it appears the motor and tranny are from a 26/27 because of the shape of the pedals and magneto post. So ordering parts is tricky as I am not sure what is 23 era and what is 26/27....So back to my radiator question.
I want to use the car for parades and some around town driving. It gets hot down here in South Georgia, high nineties with 100% humidity. I am concerned about overheating. The radiator on it has a brass filler neck with round tubes. On all the replacements I have looked at they all have nickel plated necks or chrome. Why does mine have brass? I ordered a moto meter to check temperature, I have not boiled the radiator over. But overheating is a concern. Any help you can provide on the brass neck is appreciated. I love reading the forum and wish I had a fellow Model T'er close to home.
What is important is the material the tank is made of. If the tank (part below the filler neck) is brass, then its a brass radiator and if you want to keep the looks you need a radiator from brassworks, about $1200.
If the tank isn't brass then you get away cheaper, but you must determine if you have a "high" or "low" radiator, they came in 2 sizes. I think Ford went to their high radiator about 1923 or so.
Measure the height and check with a vendor, or Bergs or Brassworks for a new radiator.
Thanks for the reply, the remainder of the radiator is black except the filler neck, I assume it was painted. I will measure and see what I have.
Bob, the plating on the filler neck ,most likely has been worn off over the years. I have some evidence that the first 1917 filler necks may be plain brass. By the way, all the radiators are brass and is no indication of the years. If your radiator has a removable ,painted cover it is not from the brass era.
I looked for T club chapters; The North Florida Touring T's in Jacksonville might be closer to you than the north Georgia T's in Fairmount.. http://www.modelt.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=15#F L
There ought to be a non club T'ers much closer, though.
The filler neck was nickel plated originally. When still soldered to the radiator it's much easier to polish off tarnished nickel remains down to the brass metal than to replate it in factory nickel - it'll still look good & not many will notice
Post a few pictures & many here can tell what's '23 and what's '26/27 on your car. 26/27 engine/transmission is not necessarily bad - they were called the improved Ford for a reason
Gurgling in the radiator after a drive is normal + the coolant will find its level if you overfill. There might be a problem driving slow parades in hot weather - just try it & you'll find out if there really is a problem. Just advance the spark & try adjusting the carb needle for best running
Good luck with your roadster
A 1923 would have had a nickel plated filler neck. The nickel would have been plated over brass. Most 23's would have had a low radiator but you would need to measure to be sure because they did make the change to the high radiator in late 23. If you want to make sure that you have years of trouble free driving go with one of the new flat tube radiators, the flat tubes provide more cooling surface and you will never over-heat.
That makes sense for the nickel to have worn off.
A few things to know about a T radiator...
If your carb is set a little lean, you tend to overheat...all else set right
If your tires are more than about 3-4 pounds underinflated, you tend to overheat...all else set right
If you run just a wee bit retarded on needed spark, you tend to overheat...all else set right
You have any combination of the two off, you go about 1/4 mile
Some thermo-syphon systems seem to run 160-170 degrees, I've seen some that run as high as 185 even on a good day. Doesn't leave much room.
#2, You can't overfill a Model T radiator It will always find its own desired level whether it had to perc out the overflow tube or up thru the cap threads. This is not boil over, simply finding its necessary place...remember it for the future.
#3, Even with all in order, when you shut it off you may hear it tin-canning and gurgling within for about 3-5 minutes. That is not an overheat as the water temp in the radiator stays pretty much where it was, it's just the heat in the head and the block burping off hot water.
You may want to get a small meat thermometer at the hardware or grocery store. Check your new moto-meter against it. The moto-meter measures the air temp above the water unless burped on, the meat thermometer actually sees the water temperature.
As for measuring your radiator to know what you have, if the filler neck fits as to height, and the hood fits decent front to back, just measure the height of a hood side in front. The boys here can tell you what you have real easy from that.
Here are a few pictures.
And here is the pedals (which make me think the motor and tranny are from a 26/27). Unfortunately I lost my Granddad in 2008 so he's not here to ask!
I have definitely made it past a quarter mile, the other day on my first road test I drove about 5 miles into town, with no boiling over or steaming that I could notice. When I shut it off is saw a small amount of steam but no boiling sounds, but some gurgling as you described. The radiator may be in good shape, but it looks rough! I will tell you one thing on a hot Georgia day the heat coming by the pedals on the floorboard is HOT! I think I could roast hot dogs down there. Wearing flip-flops for the drive was a poor choice!
1917 through 1923 model years are low radiator.
1924 model year and later are high radiator.
Your car has a high radiator.
Your radiator looks old, shot and worn out. The fins have probably separated from the tubes.
In addition to what George wrote above, motor oil is also a coolant. Make sure that you have the proper oil level in the crankcase.
If your car is overheating during normal operation, my guess is that most likely you are running your car with the spark retarded and that is causing your overheating. Make sure that your timer has been set up correctly.
Many times, old radiators are packed with road dirt between the tubes and fins. Take the radiator off the car and take a garden hose and nozzle and power wash the dirt out of the fins. You can also take something thin like a wire or hacksaw blade and clean the dirt out between the tubes and fins.
Erik makes a good point. Even cleaned out/rodded older radiators may become very inefficient due to wear and tear. The constant expansion and contraction of the fins to tubes, and vibration, eventually forms microscopic cracks between the fins and tubes and the heat transfer gets lower to the point that optimal cooling no longer exists. All in all you will just have to practice on some back road driving extremely slow, as if in a parade, and see just how hot the system might become.
I think the best solution is spend the $800 on a flat tube modern radiator. I have seen lots of good reviews on Brassworks so that's who I plan on using. Thanks for all the tips. One of the first things I did before ever trying to start the car was completely rewire it, and all new coils/plugs/timer. I flushed the radiator, which looked like it was basically filled with mud and refilled with 50/50 antifreeze/water. The adventure continues...
You wrote: "the other day on my first road test I drove about 5 miles into town, with no boiling over or steaming that I could notice. When I shut it off is saw a small amount of steam but no boiling sounds, but some gurgling as you described. The radiator may be in good shape, but it looks rough!"
From that I conclude it's not urgently necessary with a new radiator - but keep on driving & checking the car out, you may find other areas where you really need to spend your $$
Did your grandfather restore the rear axle? Old babbitt thrust washers is a safety concern, they may crumble without warning and let the pinion gear slip teeth when you brake with the transmission brake. Lined shoes for the parking brake would be a worthwhile upgrade if not already there & for a larger "radiator size" investment you'll get rocky mountain external accessory brakes.
Good question on the axle, honestly I have no idea. He sold the car when I was six, that was 27 years ago. So its a miracle I found it at all since it went though five different owners since then. So I don't know who did what, and the last owner I got it from just like to "look" at it and would have died before trying to drive let alone start it. What's the fun in that? So, I have ordered all the MTFCA books and dvds, and have been taking my time and checking one thing at a time. It was my understanding before I got it, it set between 5 to 7 years without being run. I would definitely like a set of rocky mountains for safety alone. Is there a way to drain the oil out of the rear axle without splitting the two halves? I checked the level and it has oil but it looks questionable.
I think you are on the right track. If you need to replace a worn out radiator and improve the cooling even over the original radiator, a flat tube radiator is the way to go. A round tube radiator that is in good condition and operated correctly should work well even in hot temperatures but a flat tube radiator will out preform the original system.
You mentioned the South Georgia high humidity, however even though the high humidity has a negative effect on people, it has no effect on the operation of your radiator. It is just the air temperature that makes a difference. Just don't forget how hard your are working the engine, the ignition timing and air/fuel mixture and you will be fine.
You'll have to suck the oil/grease out from the rear axle with some type of pump to change it. Do it after a drive so it's hot and flows a bit better. If you find anything suspicious like babbitt pieces in the oil it's best to overhaul the axle..
Will Babbitt stick to a magnet? That way I can kind of tell if things aren't so good when I draw out the oil.
No, babbitt will not stick to a magnet but if you get a bunch of material you may be able to tell if it is steel/iron or babbitt with a magnet.
One more question all, I have read several forums on the clutch adjustment. When going from low to high, I reduce the throttle and push the hand brake from neutral all the way forward (into high) and the clutch engages and the car goes. A few things happen in the process, one the motor acts as if it may stall, due to the lower RPM, but high gear engages. The drive train or tranny seems to stutter a little bit, so I'm wondering if the fingers need adjusting. I have checked to make sure it fully engages, but I think its slipping a little. If I throttle up in high gear speed increases but it still has a little stutter. A slight jerk jerk jerk. I am thinking it may be slipping and might need some adjustment. If this has been addressed previously please direct me to the forum. Again, thanks for all the helpful hints and reply's.
Try retard the spark too momentarily when reducing the throttle? Maybe it'll make it pull better from low rpms? It's different from changing gears in more modern manually shifted cars - it's more like shifting directly from first gear to fourth in a four speed manual, so some minor jerking can be expected at times - try find another T'er locally who can determine if your car is much different than other T's.
I also had a problem with the engine sputtering as if it was going to stall when shifting into high gear. Turns out that I was likely driving with the spark too far retarded. Setting and keeping it at least half-way down on the quadrant cured this problem as well as my over-heating woes.
You will not be sorry if you purchase a new radiator.
I can also second the comment above about the oil level. Check it twice a day on tour, in the morning before you leave and at lunch time. The oil is a second source of cooling. I learned this the hard way.
I've been driving T's for 35 years and just last summer had my 1st functional Motometer--I love it! It's on a bone stock 15 I built, and it's caused me to really fine tune how I drive. Even with a new radiator you can run hot if you don't do things right. You can watch your temp and adjust before it gets too hot, and watch the red come down. Since I have other T's with overdrives, Model A cranks, oilpumps, etc, I'm not used to relaxing and taking it easy like I need to do in my 15. I have a tendency to go too fast for too long, but, when I see the red rising in the motometer, I back off and it starts slowly dropping. You will learn things like when to retard the spark and adjust the gas to climb a hill. Once your T is running, you don't just "set it and forget it", you have to be in touch with the car and frequently adjust the gas and even the spark for optimum performance. Like operating most equipment, there's no substitute for seat time. Where are you at in GA?
Auto parts stores have suction guns that look like grease guns that you can use to suck out the rear end oil. They're not expensive and as you get into things like aux trans, etc you'll find many more uses for the tool. Just my 2 cents!
I am in Fitzgerald, GA. I have taken it out on a few short drives just to get a feel for it. I just don't want to do anything to damage it.
Regarding your engine - the pedals are 26/27 but it's hard to tell if the whole engine/trans assembly is 26/27 since the fan assembly and the water outlet on the head is of the earlier pre 26 type. If you check the engine # above the water inlet on the LH side or remove the floor boards and check if the hogshead is bolted with two bolts to the rear of the cylinder block, then we know if more than the hogshead/trans is 26/27. If it's a horn on the LH side of the engine, I guess you already know it looks a bit modern for a T
Rob- what you need is a Model T friend with experience, because experience is the best teacher. I know many T owners in your neck of the woods and maybe one of them will be kind enough to offer a little assistance.
It sounds like you got a good car that has a few little problems that just need tweaking.
You are correct, I do need some assistance and experience. If anyone is close by please let me know!
I sent you PM.
The horn HAS to go! I will be getting a repop as it sounds as bad as it looks. It appears the hogshead is not bolted to the rear of the cylinder at the top, so I'm guessing my engine is pre-26/27. I took her for a spin late this afternoon (all this forum talk had me wanting to ride) it was 85 degrees plus, no boiling or steam, I was cruising along in high gear. Does the 26/27 tranny have the quick change bands? I removed the inspection cover and they look pretty rough, so I'm guessing some new ones will be needed in the future. Its hard to tell much since I have never heard any other model T run and drive but this one, so I don't have anything to compare.
Learn how to shift without using the brake lever. Using the brake lever is involves a lot of unnecessary choreography and a lousy way to drive a Model T.
I'd agree with Erik here. For a newbie getting use to things leaving the stick vertical is a good idea as it keeps all in low and helps you to find where neutral is on the pedal position (pedal up while handlever is straight up is pedal in neutral position.)
Learn to balance your foot in this position, then push the lever forward and then use the pedal for your low-neutral-high until you stop it, then lever back, foot off pedal. You might learn you need your left hand for the spark lever anyway. Spark sort of depends on the car itself. Some start it up, pull it down and leave it down all the time and get away with it. Others find there are given spaces for given speeds and 'power' without lug (back to the overheating retarded comment earlier).
While it is definitely not the same as playing with someone elses or having them teach you further...there are youtube videos that will show what you are trying to see, learn, and hear.
Another word of advice, best way to drive a T is to not feather low in, and not try to slip it into high. Best practice is almost a 'dump' in both directions, using throttle and if necessary spark to find yourself in concert. And the stick position adjustments to get you there.