I know this will come up soon and hopefully in the future we'll have more certain information about the recent failure in Kanab.
Are Wood Spokes strong enough and safe to use in our modern day driving?
I've seen the photos of Ralphs with the sliding sideways on dry pavement.
I've seen the advertisements of new oak spokes for sale.
I've seen the many threads about Hickory spokes.
I now can't stop wondering if those new hickory spokes I had done a few years ago are as safe as I thought. What are the risks and at what point will they fail?
Should there be some testing done to determine how strong they are compared to wire wheel types?
Do steel spoke wheels also fail under the same stresses?
What's your opinion or experience?
It seems like the actual car was a '14 with the over the axle wishbone without any brace. Getting off the pavement into a rut with such a setup is a risk. I remember reading in the 1955 book "Tin Lizzy" by Stern about how good old Henry himself was in an accident with such a car in the teens - with a better outcome for those who were thrown out of the vehicle. Unfortunately it took several years after that until stubborn Henry made an improvement (1919).
Any pre '19 T that is driven should have braces giving the axle stability when roads are getting rough. When the axle stays where it should, a hickory spoked wheel should also be able to take a considerable strain - remember Constantine's travel through Africa last year, his spokes were starting to get loose in Ethiopia, I think, but he was still able to continue all the way to Moscow
I think much depends on how and where you drive.The model T was 20 hp and 45mph so if another T has 40-50 hp and travels at 60? Do whatever you want with Your model T but leave Me to make My choices Myself!!! Bud.
From the white tires, I gather this car wasn't driven much, and authenticity (wishbone) trumped safety. It's time for somebody to require early wishbones to be reinforced to participate in any club tour. That would seem to be the only way to get the point across, or these accidents will continue.
RD,Do you actually know what happened?? Were you there??
We did a 3/4 roll in our 1916 touring car four years ago. The right front steer arm and spindle bent and the front axle was twisted. The wheels had been rebuilt several years previously by Noah Stutzman of Baltic, Ohio with hickory spokes. No signs of cracks or other damage to the spokes. The maximum lateral run-out of the wheels was less than 1/8" total. I pressed the hubs of the wheels and the spokes were tight.
If the wheel is creaking or clicking, or if you can feel any movement when you grab a spoke and twist, then your wheel isn't as safe as it should be. And while there's all kinds of advice out there about tightening spokes by swelling the wood with water or boiled linseed oil and shimming them with metal washers, it just doesn't make sense to try to extend the life of a marginal, possibly unsafe wheel when it can be completely rebuilt for the same approximate cost as an economy-brand tire & inner-tube. It ain't rocket-science.
You don't have to see what actually happened, Bud, to see the risk factors. Maybe you see something different than an un-reinforced early wishbone and a broken wheel?
From all your protests over the years, Bud, your '14 must not have a reinforced wishbone, and you're riding on oak spokes. Such risks are not for everybody.
All it takes it a sharp turn to have an un-reinforced early wishbone go to negative caster, making the car uncontrollable.
Oak spokes are brittle, and suffer a much higher strain than resilient hickory when subject to the same shock.
Bob Coiro got it right. Tight wheels are an absolute must. Any repair attempts are only temporary and dangerous. The cost to rebuild wheels is very low especially when compared to the cost of what can happen should one fail. When in good shape wood wheels are very safe.
While trying to make most of my roadster "correct", I'm keeping the under-axle wishbone because of the potential for collapse with the early set-up. I know such incidents are rare, but they can be mighty serious when they happen. Why court disaster?
Wood is plenty tough.
I agree with Ralph and Steve about early radius rods/wishbones. They are known to be dangerous just like babbit thrust washers. I personally feel that any early T that is driven must have a brace or later wishbone installed.
Steve is right. I can understand about compromising over things like seat belts and turn-signals, but if ever there were a place to draw the line, it's in advance of the point where loss of steering control becomes an issue. The very first thing I did when I purchased my '15 Touring was have the correct over-the-axle wishbone switched out for an incorrect, but safe, under-the-axle wishbone.
Because of oaks open grain and lack of ability to hold up to side loads I can't believe anyone would run anything but hickory spokes.
"From the white tires, I gather this car wasn't driven much, and authenticity (wishbone) trumped safety..."
That car completed the Ocean-to-Ocean tour from New York to Seattle in 2009, as well as numerous MTFCI tours. It had Rocky-Mountain brakes, and 30x3-1/2 tires on all 4 corners.
Lets have some respect for the Johnson family, and let the details about the accident come out after they've had some time to grieve.
Who says my spokes are oak?? You felt safe enough when i picked up at your hotel in my Ford!
I think any idea that the wishbone failed or had any part in this accident is false. You guys are making up stories to suit your agenda. Let's not speculate on this tragedy.
One thing you all need to consider is that Model T's are safer at the speed they were designed to operate at. Driving Model T's at anything over 35 MPH is not a good plan.
Form the looks of the car the wheel failed, plain and simple.
This is all a re-hash of old wheel/radius rod threads. In the accident refrenced there has been no evidence offered as to the spoke wood species, the quality of the work on the wheels, or if patch-em-up work was done on the wheels. From the overall beauty of the vehicle I think it is premature to suggest that someone pinched pennies on safety.
Yes we can see the absence of radius rod re-inforcement. It has been suggested that pulling off the shoulder caused the wheel collapse... maybe we can all just hold off for a bit to see what the whole scenereo was before trying to draw conclusions. Then we can apply those, or not to our rides as we see fit.
We're not the government, so I see no need to go off half cocked to mandate changes which not only fail to address the problem, but also make the car less safe. I know none of that has been suggested yet, but that is how our g'mt always handles their action.
Years ago when I bought my 1917 Briscoe touring,with wooden spokes,I was told by an older club member,that if I pulled over onto the shoulder of the road to let the modern cars pass me.That I should come to a complete stop before trying to pull back onto the road.He said that you could break the spokes in your wheel under certain conditions.
About 40 plus years ago a friend who owned a 1915 T touring,broke a wheel by driving along the shoulder & not coming to a stop,before he pulled onto the road.The car ended upside down on his wife.He lifted the car off her & luckly there were no serious injuries.
I have owned my 1913 T touring almost 26 years,& I have followed his advise,when pulling onto the shoulder to let traffic pass.
I hope this info will be of some help to others.
I can imagine the best T driver you can name going almost blindly into exactly the same situation and it's because driving a modern vehicle is ingrained into our brains and after years of T'ing you kind of forget that. The thought process involved in T driving is different from what we're used to and if you begin to drive "modern" you get screwed. Basically it's a forgotten skill and you're in a learning process when ever you drive a T. You need to think constantly about every move you make. This type of accident must have been common as hell way back when plus every bad event was hung on the driver never the car or a part failure. That wheel could have been brand new but just putting the wrong type strain on it caused it to fail. Years of T driving doesn't make you an expert in fact it can make you careless.
Thanks, Scott. That's advice I've never heard. Have you thought through the reason for this? Could it be the off road front wheel is skidding, then hits the blacktop with a sudden shock? Or could it be a jump onto the higher pavement?
I think the skidding is a possibility, I notice that my T will slide the front wheels if I turn too sharply on gravel, but as it is an ambulance, it is a bit tail heavy and that may aggravate the skidding.
Has anybody found discussion of wheel testing in any of the era literature? If there were, that would be a good place to start.
Wood is difficult to do nondestructive testing, as it yields little, then lets go with a crack once the strength is exceeded.
Steel and alloys wheels, OTOH, bend when their strength is exceeded, but don't collapse.
I would like to see a comprehensive study of wood wheels and how to test them. We have the expertise right here.
Ralph, it would be fun to test a wheel with Osage Orange spokes vs Hickory. Wheels are sooooo time consuming to make so I can't see anyone doing that kind of test.
I agree totally with Royce, the folks I've talked with that grew up with T's, say that the roads in our part of the country were so bad that you couldn't make over 20 most of the time. Tennessee in 27 according to an old map I have only had couple hundred miles of paved roads. Drive your T as you see fit, I'll keep mine about 35 tops. Besides I see a lot more of the country side at low speed and enjoy the T experience. If I'm in a hurry I drive a modern car. KB
I agree with keith and Royce.
A T was a tough vehicle that seldom went over 20 -25 mph on rough roads.
Today our smooth roads tend to make us forget that there are hazards.
Add the fact that most of out T's have original spoked wheels and mother nature has done her thing to weaken them and we have a formula for trouble - if we are not extra careful.
I was trained in drivers ed that if I went off the edge of the road I needed to slow down before attempting to reenter the paved surface because the edge of the road could throw the vehicle sideways.
Sliding sideways puts a strain on the wheel but sliding sideways and hitting a rut that stops the slide put a lot of sideways force on the wheel and even the best can break.
It is not dangerous to return to the road at speed as long as it is done correctly, but it must be done very gradually, most people who over steer try to return to the road as quick as possible, causing the vehicle to dart into oncoming traffic or go clear across the road because they have turned the wheels too far.
As far as testing spokes, it would not be needed to test a complete wheel, one spoke could be placed in a vice and apply a side load (measured) until it breaks, doing the same with hickory and oak or any other type of wood that would be of interest.
Accidents do happen in life....
"...most people who over steer try to return to the road as quick as possible, causing the vehicle to dart into oncoming traffic or go clear across the road because they have turned the wheels too far...."
happens often - read the papers...
Difference between modern and wooden wheels is that the modern steel sustains the side load better and does not break, causing the auto to climb onto the pavement and rapidly "dart" across the road into oncoming traffic. ...sometimes with disastrous results.
Shoulder oftentimes is slightly lower than paved surface...aggravating - maybe causing the problem.
Happens daily. Old car or new - accidents happen.
In some way I think, the old muddy, rutted roads might have been easier on the wheels. Softer landings, sliding a bit while turning. Yes I know some cities had cobblestones but I bet most people drove those streets at wagon speeds due to previous experience. Todays paved roads mean more tire grip which could transfer more energy to the spokes while turning. Also, every little , crack, pothole edge and sunken manhole didn't see in time could create a sharp shock load to the wheels especially while travelling at higher speeds than you want to so that the cars behind you don't run you down. This might vary depending on where you live. The streets in my city are totally neglected and are close to undrivable which is where my theory comes from.
For a newbee (such as myself) can anyone post a picture of both types of wishbones so we can actually see the difference, thanks!
I would like to see the re enforcement item that has been talked about here. Like PN: and where to get.
I have a 16 so it is the over axle design.
Here's my analysis of the difference:
Here's one thread:
For many, many discussions about this, type:
"early auxiliary wishbone MTFCA"
in your search engine box (I use Google),
and reads some of the links that appear.
Andrew (and others),
New & used ones are available -
I happen to be partial to Lang's (sure miss Trish -the rest of the gang is helpful), and I suspect other vendors will have them. John & Karen Danuser (sp?) sometimes have some.
For those unfamiliar, here are some pictures.
The early wishbone attaches through holes in the perches above the axle.
In the later arrangement the wishbone has holes which attach to the perches under the axle.
Here's Les Schubert's combination of both. I've seen aftermarket under-the-axle braces, and I've seen them home made from Ford wishbones, and I've seen them home made from angle iron.
David Dufault got it right about side load as did Royce from Texas. And, As Ralph Ricks says" You don't have to be there to know what happened. As David stated, The wooden wheel doesn't stand up to a side load. One can assume that as the car left the pavement, there was no shoulder and the side pressure broke the spokes as the car dropped down to the dirt. A modern car would have dropped down as it left the road and the front suspension and engine oil pan would have created sparks and caused a forest fire. As the Model T left the pavement the side load on the front right increased and the spokes broke allowing the car to begin its roll over due to dropping down on the right front wheel.
I am one who agrees with those above who say that the wishbone was not the failure. One of my Horseless Carriage buddies took his first time out Speedster on a Mountain area tour at the seven thousand foot level. Mountain roads do not have good shoulders for 100 percent of their length. There is usually a drop off a few inches and up to a foot where the pavement ends due to re-paving and adding another layer on top, which raises the road additional inches above the ground level.
Most mountain roads have turn-outs spaced about a mile or two apart. Most have a wider shoulder every once in a while that would be safe for a Model T to pull over into. But in extremely cramped areas as where the accident happened the road builders can't provide these features. Anyway, when my Horseless Carriage buddy pulled off to the side of the road to let cars by, his front right wheel dropped into the soft shoulder filled with large rocks but because his car had wire wheels, the wishbone failed rather than the wheel. We removed it, straightened it with a rock hammer and a big flat rock for an anvil and he completed the tour.
So wire wheels are safer than wooden wheels and a double wishbone is a good safety feature.
Nice illustration, Ricks.
A. Gustaf. As far as testing one spoke of each type wood to determine which is stronger, I believe strongly, that wood grain orientation would have a great deal to do with the outcome and accuracy of your test. In order to get the most reliable and comprehensive results the tests would need to be done with the wood grains going in the same direction on all wood type samples or the results will be inaccurate. Jim Patrick
Driving on the shoulder can be dangerous at any speed above a crawl. If the wheel were to get off of the pavement, which is often 4 to 6 inches thick, it would be difficult to get back onto the pavement again. The side force of trying to turn it back could be great, or as suggested, the wheel could actually be skidding sideways in the dirt. When it does finally hop onto the pavement, the wheels could turn hard left, as the driver has been pulling hard on the steering wheel to get back onto the road. With the wheels now hard left, tremendous side load is put on the spokes and the front corner of the car, and the rear of the car is quite possibly now swinging around, putting the car sideways and into a roll. If you have ever gotten a wheel of a modern car "hooked" over the edge you know how interesting things can get in a hurry!
In California, it is illegal to drive on the shoulder, although I see slow vehicles doing it often. If you are in a slow vehicle and there are more than five vehicles behind you, you are supposed to pull into a turnout when it is safe to do so, and let the vehicles pass. Note that you are not to drive on the shoulder, but pull into a safe turnout which usually means stopping too. I agree with Scott's advice, pull over and stop! If you "hook" a wheel over the edge at low speed or while stopped, you can pretty easily get it back on the pavement. Return to the road when it is safe to do so.
If I am pulling a hill, I won't pull over until after cresting the top, and even then not in a blind spot just over the top where other cars cresting the hill won't see me. If you do stop on a hill, you can never gain your momentum again and by the time you do get going there is already a line of cars behind you. When I am in my motorhome and pulling a trailer, it may take a while before there is a turnout in a safe spot that is also big enough to safely pull over.
As an "aside", driving on the shoulder is also a good way to pick up a flat tire too! The shoulder is where all the "junk" collects, including little bits of glass, metal, roofing nails, sheet metal screws, etc, etc, etc.
We need spring perches with a longer "bolt" so we could attach wishbone re-enforcement top and bottom and have the nut screw on far enough to install the cotter pin.
Well, I believe there ARE times where it is good (SAFER) to "Break the Law".
I was on this tour and many of the roads had really great PAVED shoulders wide enough for a whole Model T to drive on and allow a modern car to pass even when cars were approaching from the opposite direction.
Here's the problem on large tours with many T's driving at speeds as low as 20 mph or slower to crest the hill. Modern cars and trucks get backed up and do get impatient to get by. This can cause lots of unsafe passing. I prefer to motion to the driver behind me to go around me when I feel it's safe for me to run on the side of the pavement.
What does get me mad is when passing cars and trucks then tend to crowd me instead of giving a wide berth. Most drivers today have no idea how careful we T drivers must drive.
The other concern I'd like to complain about is when a modern car is following along behind the T. Other cars behind this car won't pass until the first one does and so many cars get backed up waiting their turn to pass. The drivers get impatient and this leads to unsafe passing later. Please have others in your group with modern cars following stay back far from the T's and use the side roads or turnouts to allow others to pass and prevent backing up traffic. You can easily catch back up to your T later.
We have all seen the guy in the T that simply refuses or is oblivious to anyone behind them to simply move a little to the right on a wide smooth highway to allow other T's and traffic to safely get around.
I don't Ever think it's safe to pull off the hard paved area onto a dirt or gravel shoulder unless you are going VERY Slow and careful not to need to turn the wheels. This many times happens when we see that Sign that the we want a picture of our car in front of.
Have fun and be safe touring. That's the most important thing. Don't do something you don't feel safe doing!
Another wishbone thread with pictures:
Hal, I went looking for a prior thread that discussed your issue....can't find the thread, though. From memory, (and that is dicey), the opinion was that it would not be prudent to elongate the existing perch by welding (or splicing) another piece to it.
It was suggested that there is a rather thin nut, and I believe it is the nut that secures the pinion gear to the shaft, that has the same threads as the perch. Using an auxiliary wishbone and that nut allows the use of a cotter pin - so the story goes.
Although I did look at Lang's online catalog,
I cannot decisively find that nut. Perhaps a call to Lang's expert staff will find the nut.
You can use the same nut if you modify it to look more like the later style with the chamfered bottom. Or, perhaps you can simply use the later style nut, with the chamfered bottom. However, the hole in the lower brace also needs to be chamfered the same. This retains the same thread engagement and allows you to insert the cotter pin. (Just be sure that the nut tightens against the chamfered hole in the brace before it tightens against the bottom of the axle.)
To add to Jerry's post: the very first couple of years of under-axle wishbones did not have the chamfered bottom...they were flat, and thus would NOT require the chamfered nut. If you were to locate and use such a part, then a thin, flat nut would be called for. However, for the vast majority of wishbones you will find, Jerry's advice is right on.
Another possible cause of broken spokes is: when the wheel hits the edge of the pavement, potholes, etc. The front wheels could have caught and whipped to one side, giving a perfect scenario of breaking the spokes or flipping the car, then breaking the spokes. I've been driving T's since 1975, putting thousands of miles on a number of them. Hitting the edge of pavement and potholes has happened to me a few times. I've never broken spokes, but have come very close to rolling the car at least three times, and I drive my T's below 35mph. I'm for anything that will save a life and save a T. I wouldn't drive my early T's without a wishbone support. The cars I use for tour's, high mileage, and my wife's car, I wouldn't drive without a stabilizer. What the stabilizer does is: prevent the wheels from being whipped, one way or another if you do hit something unexpectedly which makes it less likely to roll the car. The other benefit is, you can back the T up like a normal car without the wheels whipping one way or the other.
I mentioned this the last time a T flipped on tour with a fatality. Some of the respones were, if your front end shimmies, fix it. None of my T's shimmed before I installed the stablizer. Another was, it makes it steer harder. My wife never realized I put one on her car. Thats how much it affected the ease of steering. She does like how it backs up now. Then there was the comment of not liking the look of it. If you have a front license plate on the car, you have to look to know it is there. No one will ever know for sure, but it is possible if both cars had the wish bone support and the stabilizer it may have prevented the roll over.
I would rather see the stabilizer and the wishbone support than what a rolled over Model T look's like.
You have your *stuff* together, Dan. Good thoughts.
Seriously Dan you need to figure out what is wrong with the steering on your Model T. Masking the problem by hanging a shock absorber on there is not making things better.
Royce, If I understand you correctly, road hazards play no part in the handling of a T and that a well maintained T will not be affected by a pot hole or abrupt edge. Modern vehicles have better designed steering, and most use steering stabilizers, and by your logic, they are unnecessary if the car is well maintained.
I think you have a bad case of tunnel vision.
I see some good info but i also see the same old anti Ford,anti model T rant i have seen for years.The speed at which some of the assumptions were spread leaves me to question motives.Bud.
Road hazards are a fact of life. Surely you don't believe what you just typed. Of course Model T's are affected by pot holes.
Steering stabilizer's are anything but - they are simply shock absorbers that mask the effects of worn or maladjusted steering. A Model T does not benefit from such gadgets, this only provides a false sense of security.
You should make sure your steering is in good condition, and neither too tight or worn out. Toe in and alignment of the frame and axles is important. It needs to be checked any time the car is disassembled for maintenance or restoration. Bushings need to be replaced whe they are worn. Lubrication schedules need to be followed.
Wooden wheel parts get old and need to be replaced when they are cracked, shrunken, loose, or rotten.
Even more important - drive your Model T at Model T speeds.
Most folks I've talked to or read with strong mechanical backgrounds recommend the stabilizer. I don't believe it is to mask maintenance problems, but to correct what is, by today's standards, a design flaw. Considering the unique (to the T era) problems we face nowadays (texting drivers, etc.), I'm all for safety updates that don't diminish the character of the T (auxiliary brakes, bronze thrust washers, better pinon bearing set ups, etc.). A lot of water has gone under the bridge since these cars were built!
Hmm, maybe brakes that actually work changes the character of the T? (JOKE son, I tell you, it's a JOKE!)
A steering stabilizer is a shock absorber, it slows the movement of the linkage that it is attached to. I do not have steering stabilizers on most of my vehicles, but most of them will drive over a 8 inch obstruction in front of one wheel with out taking the wheel from my hands, I doubt even your Ts would do that. I do not have a stabilizer on my T either, even there are roads with ridged gravel and ruts that I drive on every day, where a stabilizer would be helpful, but that is my choice. To ridicule people who opt to use a stabilizer is arrogant. \I agree that speed is important, and seldom drive over 30 mph with mine, but most of my biggest problems have been on rough or soft roads an speeds under 10 mph. I can not believe that you really think a well adjusted T will not pull toward a wheel that is in 5 inches of soft sand while the other is on hard packed surface. For most people who are accustomed to driving modern vehicles, I believe a steering stabilizer could be a big benefit.
I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. I am not being arrogant by stating my opinion - the wheel of your T can be violently affected whether you have a steering stabilizer or not. You must take the responsibility of driving a 100 year old car seriously. You need to keep both hands on the steering wheel firmly engaged at all times when possible. If you need to make a phone call or scratch your private parts or whatever pull over, stop, and do it.
The steering stabilizer won't help you at all to be a good safe T operator. You must drive at reasonable speeds to have any chance of surviving a blown tire or a failed wheel caused by an unexpected event like a stolen man hole cover or an object in the road. Slow down and live.
There are too many self proclaimed experts out there. Model T's were safe enough the way they were built.
If the so called self proclaimed experts did not voice there opinions, experiences, or knowledge, we would not have a forum. I, for one, thank heaven for all the experts whether they are or not, for we can all learn from them and what they have experienced over their many years along the way to get to where they are. Jim Patrick
Jim, you are right, there is nothing like a good discussion to bring out all the positive and negative aspects of a subject. I tend to agree with Royce on a lot of things, although I would never let him know that, and my T is nearly stock, as I like to experience the true nature of the nearly 100 year old conveyance. The one modern ad on that I have on my T is an air filter, as that was probably the biggest flaw in the design of the car and will not operate with out a filter (other than the engine on my flying machine. what the...)
I didn't see anybody here state that they were an expert. They're just people trying to be helpful. I'm just trying too, though I'm no expert, self proclaimed or otherwise.
I am an expert at screwing things up If it can be done wrong, I probably have done it that way, except for when I rebuilt my rear end, I did not put it together backward, and I used bronze thrust washers, thanks to this forum. As for Model Ts being safe enough the way they were built, most know that is wrong, or Henry would not have bothered to move the wishbone to the bottom of the front axle.
Considering how many cars were produced with the upper wishbone, it is possible that the wishbone and perches were redesigned to lower costs, not for safety.
The simpler design of later style wishbone eliminates the following material and labor:
1) the two cast prongs at the front end of the wishbone
3) machining and threading the above mentioned prongs
2) inserting the prongs into the wishbone and then brazing them
3) machining the wishbone prong sockets and the front faces of the perches (the later perches are a much simpler casting and require less machining)
4) two nuts
5) two cotter pins
Also, installation of the later wishbone onto the axle assembly requires less time/labor than the earlier style.
On a grand scale, elimination of seconds and cents has an affect on the bottom line.
If there is anything I've forgotten, let me know.
Henry could have saved piles more labor, cost and weight by eliminating the magneto 19 years sooner...
The late wishbone may be cheaper, but more important, it's safer.
How many bent late wishbones have you seen? I can't think of one.
Larry, don't pontificate like that, very few on the forum claim to be experts, we just try to help with our honest opinion.. It is my opinion the Model T was hardly safe as built and with the passing of nearly 100 years, the safety has not improved without some changes. Three items I insist on for a "safe" car are RM brakes, lower wishbone supports and bronze spacers in the rear axle.
Note that is MY opinion, as such I cannot be wrong and I am not professing to be an expert...
I too have never heard anyone here say they are an expert on the Model T, but there are several frequent and trusted longtime posters that have earned the distinction of knowing more than the average member and therefore being classified as an expert. I won't name them here, but you all know who I am talking about. They are the posters who, when you see their posts, you read them, knowing you are about to learn something and have your question answered and for me, it is an honor to have them take the time to solve my dilemma. Some people don't care for some of them, but it is not because they don't know what they are talking about. It is because they are so dang confident in their pronouncements that they get under the skin of some, but I sure do respect them for their knowledge and wish I knew half as much. Jim Patrick
I wish somebody was on this Forum 12 or more years ago to warn me and the rest about oak spokes..
Not to rub salt but if i rember right diddn't it take a short tow bar,railroad tracks,and a 300 hp 3000 pound car before?
No, Bud, I was towing it, coming out of a U-turn at no more than 10 mph when the wheels failed to straighten out and when it went from skidding on a dirt layer over asphalt to bare pavement, the wheel collapsed. There was no ridge, no weight onboard, dead or alive, and the oak spokes broke like kindling.
I'm still thankful it happened that way, and not while driving.
Before the breakage would you have been willing to dismantle a good set of usable wheels? Hindsight is 20 20 for everyone.
Royce, I think I am psychic. I had a premonition. I knew you were going to respond and I knew what you were going to say. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the steering on any of my T's. They have all been rebuilt and aligned. I tried the stabilizer on the recommendation from two acquaintances that do massive amounts of touring in the US and Europe. It made the car more stable. One of the advantages of the "shock absorber" is it keeps the wheel from instantly whipping to one side if you unexpectedly hit a raised road edge, pot hole, etc. Especially cars with the smaller steering wheel. From your description it sounds like you keep a death grip on your steering wheel as you drive. If you had the stabilizer on, you could relax a little and enjoy the drive (still no cell phones or texting).
I knew I was going to receive flack on this but my main concern is to keep my family as safe as possible, share my experience with the stabilizer, and hopefully help prevent a future accident.
Larry, I know you, and am surprised at your statement. Maybe you are saying this tongue and cheek. In a perfect world, in the Model T era, your statement is correct. The trouble is we don't live in a perfect world. The roads are far from perfect, the people we have to share the road with, aren't even close to perfect, and some start at moron. Add up to 100 plus years of age and fatigue to our cars, and the fact that few of the remaining T's are like new, this leaves you with a perfect storm. Even Royce I believe uses Rocky Mountain brakes. I'm sure you realize if you break an axle, etc. you have no brakes.
I will try to get the 13 fastener information you requested out to you this week.
It has been written:
...."Model T's were safe enough the way they were built" which I believe to be a true statement.
When the T's were built, the "roads" were mostly paths across dirt; were rutted, muddy, bumpy, and in general such poor shape that there was no way one could "speed". In fact, in some early towns in New England forward motion was stated to be "no faster than a walk". Our town (Hopkinton, NH), was somewhat more progressive - allowed speeds in Town of 8 miles an hour. ...(According to the sign in the Antiquarian Society Building).
Now study Larry's words again....emphasis on SAFE ENOUGH and WERE.
Safe enough for the roads at the time.
Are they safe enough NOW when they (the autos) routinely attain 40 -45 mph on a relatively smooth road - when one suddenly encounters a pothole, or the occasional deer or moose - or child that darts in front of the "safe enough" T with standard stock brakes?
To each his own...let the person who owns the vehicle do what he/she wants to do with it. If the idea is a good one, copy it, if you want....if you don't like the idea, pretend it's a candy store selling candy you dislike...don't buy into it - walk away happy.
Life is short enough without fighting over these things.
Ralph, my '25 coupe had the right side of the wishbone bent when I got it. It was bent down slightly about midway between the ends. I think the coupe had been in some sort of an accident sometime in it's past, it had a low radiator cobbled up to it and the earlier pre '23 front fenders on it. I suspect the wishbone was bent then. I cured it with a few minutes worth of time and a Model T jack. Those wishbones are tough! I had all of the weight of the car on that side, and then had to bounce my 250 pounds up and down on the running board before it straightened. Dave
I've driven a club member's car here in Dallas that has a stabilizer. It adds nothing except ugliness and unsprung weight.
Rather than ruining yet another original car with an ugly steering stabilizer or incorrect wishbone, why not just drive each T according to it's capabilities? I find I can drive my 1919 Runabout in a somewhat sporty manner but, if I had say a 1918 touring car, I would slow it down just a bit until it felt safe. Same if I had a Sedan or TT truck. If I was on tour with a bunch of Ts, I would be happy to slow down to match the speed of the slowest car there. If you need to go fast, you can always get a speedster with all the period handling goodies.
How much unsprung weight, Royce, about one per cent? Certainly less than a couple of tire flaps, which you and I agree aren't needed.
The steering damper is as much help at 5 mph as at 50. In fact, the steering oscillations I've seen without a damper start at less than 10mph.
I put about 10,000 miles on oak spokes at speeds up to 70 mph. That didn't make them safe; they just weren't strained to their limit. All it took was a skid at 10 mph.
OK That's it ---
Should I stop driving my T because it is a death trap?
It sounds worse that a Corvair - Unsafe at any speed.
The brakes are poor, the rear end can come apart, the carburetor leaks gas, the front end shimmies, the wheels break, it refuses to go in a straight line, and the suspension bends and break.
Additionally, I could fall out of my hack, it might tip over, or someone in a modern car might run into me.
OH well - It is good that I'm a daredevil and willing to put my life on the line!
RD,Why don't you refresh us with your pictures?All of them please.[In fact,the steering oscillations Ive seen without a damper start at less than 10mph.] Anyone who know's my spelling know's i copyed that word for word.So RD i ask is Your car safe?? I have not seen this with my 14 so what is wrong with your car?? Bud.
Are all those trips to the Far East causing you to think like that?
You might be right
I figure that I put my life on the line every time I get in a taxi in Shanghai so the T is a cake walk.
Obviously something is really out of whack if you have steering oscillations at any speed. Instead of fixing the problem you wrongly assumed that every Model T is as screwed up as yours is.
Hey, Fred! I liked my Corvairs. They were my daily drivers for a dozen years. First was a '61 Lakewood wagon, It didn't act squirrely, but I grabbed an aftermarket rear camber compensator from a junkyard, and drove it several years without a scare. After it got broadsided, I bought a super rare '62 Monza wagon. Before I switched the camber compensator over to it, that thing was squirrely. Some of the locals here know the 405 to Lakewood north ramp with its double curve banked wrong. That's where I really noticed the back end lifting. My buddy Ralph was right and wrong at the same time.
I bought my T to be a go car, not a show car. My wife and I wanted one because we love them and we wanted to do as much touring as we can. Toward that end, I spent the first few months of ownership making the car as safe as possible. I had all new wheels made by Stutzman (whom I highly recommend) and installed another wishbone so now there is one upper and one lower. Of course, I also did other things to the front end, etc. The difference in the way the car handles and feels with the double wishbone is amazing.
I have all new bushings in all of my T's. I see no need for any modification. They all drive just fine with no wobble, shimmy or anything else. I had a '25 pickup once that was terrible when I bought it, but after I rebuilt the front end, it was fine. I use bronze bushings in the springs, perches,and spindle arms, and genuine Ford shackles, kingpins, and tie rod bolts. No problems of any kind. I would trust a good tight wood wheel any day over an aftermarket wire wheel. I've seen wire wheel problems on other peoples cars, but haven't had any trouble with my wood wheels ever, except I had to replace a rear wheel on my '13 touring recently, because after 100 years on the road, it was getting loose. I replaced it with another 100 years old wheel that is nice and tight.
Has anybody tested the resilience of old hickory vs. new?
Ricks, What does Andrew Jackson have to do with T safety?
I couldn't resist that joke, but seriously, I have learned from this thread. Expert or not, there are bits of information to be gleaned here a midst the "healthy" debate. Any machine has design limitations that can be exceeded to the demise of that mechanical structure. In the moment, on the road, to react to the unexpected, a side load can be put on a T wheel that far exceeds the failure point, even for the finest wheel, let alone an old loose one. We all should drive sensibly and maintain or cars as if our lives depend on it. I hope we all learn and continue to enjoy our model T Fords as often as possible.
He helps you pay for the safety features.
I took hold of a spoke on all four wheels and nothin moved.When i changed the oil just now everything in the steering and radius rod was tight.Going to town before chainging the oil i ran out of gas.Actually,im quite proud of myself as i proved nothing is foolprof without a rant! Bud.
Bud, I'm laughing with you. Very funny.
Steve, I have always been more a fan of Alexander Hamilton, only because it was pointed out to me that I look like him on the ten dollar bill.
Quick Quiz: which Presidents are on the ten and one hundred dollar bills?
Hickory is famous for bending without breaking.
None. Hamilton and Franklin were never President.
Andrew Jackson would be spinning in his grave if he could see his face on the fiat currency $20 Federal Reserve Note.
Jackson was not the Old Hickory we were taught about in grade school. He hated Indians with a passion.
I have a slightly different perspective on the safety of wooden spokes and wooden wheels than has been posted here so far. It is my opinion the earlier wood felloe wheels are not as strong as the later steel felloe wheels. It doesn't have anything to do with the spokes, but with the attachment of the felloe to the rim.
On a steel felloe demountable wheel, the tenon on the end of the spoke fits into a hole in the metal felloe. The rim is bolted to the felloe using 4 bolts.
On the earlier wood felloe wheels, the spokes fit into holes in the wood felloe. The wood felloe is then riveted to the steel rim with approx. 1/8" diameter rivets. There are two rivets on each side where the two halves of the felloe meet, and two more placed 90 degrees to that. Those 6 rivets are the only thing holding the rim to the felloe. Those rivets are also countersunk into the felloe -there is no head on the rim side. Over time the wood will absorb moisture and will corrode the rivets. You can't see the corrosion as it will be inside the wood - the head of the rivet will look fine. When the rivets corrode, the attachment of the rim is compromised resulting in a week wheel.
It seems to me that it would take a lot of sideways force to break the spokes - especially at the hub, if the spokes were solid and in good condition. It would take much less force to separate the rim from the fellow on the earlier wheel - especially if the rivets were corroded.
I don't claim to know exactly what happened to the wheel in the accident, but I think sheering of the rivets could lead to the same result.
Something else to consider.
David, the rims are also pressed over the felloe so friction also helps hold the wheels together not just the rivets. Of course when the wood dries out and shrinks and the rivets are rusty and weak you have a dangerous situation.
dave is on the rite track. if your 100 year old rivots that attach the rim to the fellow rust inside the wood, you can not see it, and it may give no warning. when the rim leaves the fellow, the wood has no strength at all.
Dave S brings up a good point that is not mentioned often enough. Over the years, I have seen several wood felloe wheels where rivets have failed and the wood felloe has begun to work its way out from the rim. Fortunately, I have never seen one that has come clear off.
I cannot afford to have wood felley wheels redone with all new wood and so rework my old wood wheels myself. I do quite a bit to them to preserve the remaining original strength and tighten them. I usually put a couple extra rivets in them also. I don't think very many people will notice the extra rivets, and they make me feel better.
Another difference between steel felley and wood felley wheels. The weak spot on a steel felley wheel is where the wood tenon inserts into the steel felley. Over the years, drying and wood shrinkage coupled with the pounding from the road wear the tenons a bit. Once they get even a tiny bit loose, they begin to wear fast.
The wood felley tends to stay very tight unless the felley splits. Many of the spokes I have worked with, even after nearly a hundred years, are still too tight to remove easily from the felley. More than a few, I gave up removing because I didn't want to gouge the parts with clamps and pullers.
The wood felley wheels usually have much larger tenons also. Their weak spot is the rivets. Excepting, of course, side impact.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Ralph - "The resilience of old hickory vs. new". In thinking about it, you make a very good point. Many species of trees (wood) are very strong, and as we know, shagbark hickory has some special qualities that make it one of the best (if not THE best) wood for spokes. However, when you consider that trees (wood) is a living thing, but is DEAD once it's cut down and made into lumber, and that in the case of wood Model "T" spokes, it's been dead for nearly a hundred years, how much does that resiliency (and other desirable qualities) change during all those years,....???? Hmmmmm,...........harold
Some woods get harder with age. When my house was built over 100 years ago, the heart pine boards were cut by the builders with hand saws. Now the wood is almost petrified and very difficult to cut with a skillsaw. Of course, unlike spokes, the boards in my house have never been exposed numerous times to water or the stresses involved in supporting the weight of a car and in turning corners. Jim Patrick
Same goes for the Douglas Fir in my T era house, Jim. You can hardly drive a spike in it. Also, the termites prefer the newer wood in the additions.
Yes Ralph, I know what you mean. In order to drive a nail in the boards of my house you must drill a pilot hole first and even then, if you use too small a drill (diameter wise) the nails will still bend. Those types of heart pine boards are no longer available as the centuries old, old growth pine forests have long since disappeared and been replaced by commercial pine forests that are harvested every few years. The young wood of these trees is much softer and susceptible to subterranean and Drywood termites. Jim Patrick
Ralph and JIm, spray the nails with WD40 spread out on a board and they'll go right in the lumber. John
I tried that John, as well as coating with soap and dipping in soapy water, but it was like nailing into a concrete driveway. Only the head would penetrate, then the nail would bend and I'm talking 16d coated sinkers.
I think the resin in the old growth heart pine, which is soft and sappy after the wood is harvested and able to be cut by handsaw when newly milled, hardens over time until it is hard and brittle and the wood seems to be almost petrified. Jim Patrick
I've given up on nails, as hammering just shakes the old plaster off the lath. I use coated drywall or better screws everywhere.