Hello all, this is my first post. I am working on a 24, or possibly 23 Model T coupe. It has had not been run for over 5 years, since my dad passed away, and I figured it was time to get it running again.
I made sure the oil level was correct, good coolant in the radiator, cleaned out the gas line and put in fresh gas and a fully charged battery.
The good news is I got it running and was going nicely for a several minutes. I idled it down and it just stopped. The engine was hot, but didn't seem overly so. No bad noises or anything. Now it will not turn over and feels locked up tight. I tried turning it by hand and standing on the crank handle, but its tight.
I looked everything over and didn't see any problem. Pulled the plugs and don't see any obvious issues. What do I do next?
I did notice the belt was kind of loose, so I'm afraid the water pump might not have been pumping well?
It was a hot engine. It stopped. You tried the starter and it would not turn over. RIGHT?
If so sounds like the starter bendix is locked on the flywheel. Rock the car back and forth until it releases, then it should turn over. Just my guess.
Welcome, Jay. Good to have you. If there is an answer, you will find it here. Please post pictures. Jim Patrick
Check out this thread I posted started in August 2009, for a quick tutorial on the Model T as well as many interesting stories on how many of our members got interested in Model T's: www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/80257/102160.html
I think it is the starter. At my car i was lucky by just loosing the four bolts of the starter and knocking the starter. Then the engine was free. Try it :-)
Whatever you do, don't remove the starter without first removing the bendix. It will destroy your magneto coil ring.
will get you to Jim Patrick's Popular Science article on the model T.
Did you try turning the engine with the plugs out? Try that and jack up the rear end too so the rear tires are off the ground thus removing all mechanical resistance.
Same thing here bud with my Sedan. I spent weeks troubleshooting. Even removed the rod caps to see if I had a seized piston.
My last ditch effort worked-with a back wheel up I yanked the wheel counterclockwise and something, whatever it was,let go and it turned over like normal. Never knew what it was. good luck.
The above posts suggest that when you tried to re-start the engine, the Bendix gear engaged the flywheel gear tooth-to-tooth, rather than meshing. The way to free that is to put the car in high gear (brake lever forward) and rock the car back and forth. This will cause the engine to turn a little bit in each direction, thus backing the Bendix gear away from the flywheel. Voila! Problem solved.
Or, you could loosen the bolts holding the starter to the block, and jiggle it around a bit and see if that will free it. NOTICE I said "Loosen" the bolts. DO NOT remove them. DO NOT take the starter completely off the engine - you'll do a lot of damage if you don't do it right.
I have another theory, however. It's not so good news, so try the other first.
My theory is that the water pump failed - either from a loose belt or a faulty internal, or both. This allowed the engine to spot-heat to such a temperature that it seized up.
If this is the case, and you're very lucky, it will un-seize when it cools down. Or, if you aren't lucky, one or more bearings may be ruined, or one or more pistons may be seized. Either will require an engine removal and tear-down, I'm sorry to say. The only good news in that scenario is that you will learn an awful lot about Model T's, and have some fun.
Now, this will begin a firestorm, and I really know better than to say this, but when you get it running again, take the water pump off the engine, and toss it in the creek.
I know that some folks like water pumps. You'll hear from them soon. But my thinking is that you are a novice, and don't know how to check out or service a water pump. Leave them to those who like them and have experience with them.
When somebody put a water pump on your Model T (Mr. Ford did not), they also often put a thermostat in the cast iron outlet at the top of the engine, that connects to the top of the radiator with a short piece of hose. The thermostat must be removed as well.
All the parts you will need are available from any of several vendors. Check the ads on this website, and call and ask them for their catalogs. You'll learn a ton of good stuff just reading the catalogs.
Here's what I can think of that you need:
A new gasket for the upper hose connection.
A new upper hose (why not?).
A new lower hose connection.
Bolts for that connection.
A gasket for that connection.
The two pieces of hose used on the lower.
A set of new hose clamps.
The metal tube used on the lower connection.
A new, proper size belt.
Based on the new Mac's catalog that just came a few days ago, that's about $70.00 plus shipping. But I bet you'll find some other things to add to the order!
Best of luck! And let us know what you find.
I once got mine unstuck by engaging the crank at 7:00 then putting a jack under the crank and jacking the jack up. It didn't give right away, but I left it and the next morning it was loose, however, this could cause damage if there is something besides a stuck ring causing it to bind. Jim Patrick
If the starter is not stuck as several others suggested, I would next remove the rod bearing inspection cover and check the bearings to see if there was a seizure there. If the rod bearings are found damaged due to over-heating/lack-of-oil, I would suggest the oil line(s) between flywheel and front of the engine are plugged. I hope it is a stuck starter gear!
I forgot to also suggest that we have seen several cases of seized piston pins in engines built with aluminum pistons and pin-to-piston clearance too tight. If you are checking the rod bearings, also move each piston and rod enough to verify piston is capable of moving and rod is free to "swing" side-to-side also.
I believe, as others do, that your starter bendix is locked up. It's kind of common.
Put the car in gear and rock it back and forth with as much force as you can muster. It should break free. If it doesn't, remove the bendix cover, the small can, on the back side of the transmission cover, just next to the pedals, by removing the 4 small screws, (don't loose them, they're a special thread size). Once the cap is off, grab the end of the bendix and rotate it counter-clockwise, (ccw as you're facing the bendix, looking towards the front of the car). You'll probably need to rotate it with a vice-grip or similar. If it really is jammed, you'll see the bendix drive gear will be engaged with the ring gear. Turning ccw will cause the drive gear to "thread" itself away from the ring gear and towards the rear of the car.
This is the most common cause of what you're describing and also the easiest thing to inspect and try. Therefore, it's a good first step.
If the advice to clear a locked up bendix fails, I'd try doing as Dave Wells suggests. Plugs out, rear wheels jacked up (chock the front wheels), and I'd put the emergency brake lever in the "neutral" position. Then try to turn it with the hand crank and see what happens. Once you've done that, let us know how it turned out and we'll go from there.
Lots of answers. Thanks. I'm out of town a reading this on my phone, so I won't get a chance to work on the T til the weekend.
One additional piece of info. The car is up in the air on jack stands, so I'm no sure how that changes things.
I'll reread the above when I get back to a real computer.
Yahoo! You guys were right on target. It was the starter. I had to drop the T off the jackstands and a couple of light pushes back and forth and it was free.
Thanks so much for the insight.
Now I guess I have to slow down, and decide what to do next. I'll probably remove the water pump, but in the mean time, how would I go about tightening up the belt, so I can go for a ride without worrying about overheating? I'll post a picture of the engine and water pump later, since I forgot to take one today.
You will need a smaller belt.
Maybe you haven't got any cooling problems since it turned out to actually be a starter problem.
You can probably test run it some more before you have all the parts necessary to try removing the pump. If the starter acts up again, You can always hand start it with the crank in the front
The ring gear on the flywheel may be worn out in the area where the engine usually stops - there are two positions a four cylinder engine usually stops in. Changing out the ring gear is a major job, you can get by for a while by turning the engine some after it is stopped, thus the bendix won't always engage the same worn tooth..
I guess there is also a possibility the axle in the starter is slightly bent - they tend to bend if someone has tried to start with the ignition advanced - such a problem would be easier to fix.
Go to Radio Shack or some such place and invest in an infra-red thermometer. This is a hand-held device, you point it at something and it tells you the object's temperature. Use it to check the temperature of your radiator, top, middle, bottom, and also the outlet neck on top of the engine block. You'll find lots of other uses for it - some a lot of fun.
This will tell you whether your radiator is blocked, whether your water pump is working, whether your cooling system is OK, and lots of other things like that.
The Model T's original cooling system, without a water pump, is what is called a thermo-syphon system. We tend to call it a thermo-barf system.
The theory on which it works is simple -- hot water rises. That's all there is to it.
Imagine the water entering the engine through the port on the block just above the starter. It goes through the passages, where it picks up heat. It rises. It ultimately ends up at the hottest part of the engine, which is the head, and flows out of the top opening because it's HOT. It enters the top of the radiator, and falls down the tubes because it is being cooled by radiation, through the fins which have air flowing over them.
The cooled water ends up at the bottom of the radiator, where it flows up the tube into the block and starts all over again.
A couple of things can interrupt this automatic cycle. One is running low on coolant, so the system becomes air-bound. Another is rust, gunk, and trash like minerals from the water, building up to the point that they clog the passages.
Other than that, the only other problem is that when a radiator gets old and/or gunked up inside, it doesn't work well enough. A big part of that is that the water tubes come loose from the fins, and the transfer of heat is not good.
It's generally accepted, according to this Forum, that a properly working radiator, with at least a marginally working fan, is all you need to cool a Model T engine unless one of two things: One, the engine is all filled with rust and scale, and Two, you run the engine with the spark too far retarded. That means the lever on the left, that you keep reaching for to activate your turn signals, is too far up.
When radiators get dicey, or engines get gunked up, the usual reaction is to install a water pump. Thinking that more coolant flow will cool the engine better. Problem is, the ability of the coolant to cool the engine is tied directly to its ability to pick up the heat from the block, and the radiator's ability to cool it back down. Neither of these is affected very much by water flow - they are affected by rust and scale in the system, and loose fins on the radiator.
That, plus the likelihood of an old water pump to have internal failure, is why most (but not all) of us on the Forum will suggest you take the water pump off. I bring this up again because the existence of a water pump determines the correct length of a new fan belt.
P.S. The fan is mounted on an arm that can swing up and down a bit, controlled by a bolt. You may be able to tighten the belt by loosening the big pivot bolt, and screwing down the bolt that controls the arm. It's pretty easy to understand, once you know it's supposed to be able to move. Don't forget to re-tighten the pivot bolt.
P.P.S. The correct coolant level in the radiator is just above the baffle plate you can see inside. If you over-fill, which you will, the system will puke the extra water out the overflow tube, hence the name "thermo-barf."
P.P.P.S. Use the same coolant you would use in your other car. A 50-50 mixture of a cheap antifreeze and (hopefully distilled) water is the best you can do. Don't spend more on newer, more exotic antifreezes, as some of them can actually damage your system. Until you're sure everything is working OK, pure water will do just fine.
Sounds good thanks. The fan adjustment may be all I need. Its really not that loose, but the pump was a little locked up at first. It now runs free.
I started her up again today, and again had the starter seize up. This time it didn't pop out right away, and I had somewhere to be, so I check it out again tomorrow.
Here's a couple of Pictures.
If you find you need the water pump to keep things cooler use it.........unless you have $700-$800 to throw at a new radiator.
Just a guess but if the starter keeps binding it may be because the starter shaft is bent. My starter shaft had a goodly wobble to it that had to be straightened before I could use it.
As Dan suggests, you may have a bent starter shaft.
Here's the CAUTION we've all alluded to:
Before you remove the starter, you MUST remove the Bendix from it. You do this by removing the cup that covers it. It's located behind the pedals, under the floor. It's held on by some very small and unique screws, so don't drop them!!! If you're fumble-fingered like me, you might want to spread a bed sheet or some such under the area. They can't be found at a hardware store, so hold on to them!
After removing the cup, remove the bolt on the Bendix, and slide the whole assembly off the shaft. There's a half-moon-shaped key, which you'll probably drop, but it's big enough to find on the ground, unless there's grass. You might have to use a magnet, which may not work on the screws because they may be brass.
Then you can remove the starter. You'll want to be careful not to "spin" the bolt that the cable is connected to, even a little bit, because where it is connected inside the starter is subject to breakage.
If the shaft is bent, you can either send it to Ron Patterson for a rebuild, or order parts from a supplier, or try to straighten it yourself. Up to you.
word of caution: when removing the "cup" :LOOK OUT it will have oil inside: runs all down your arms, face, ears, you will swear it was gallons! ask how i know???