I made a really stupid newbie mistake that I just discovered "after the fact".
I drove my T about a mile to a sunday show and it start bucking in high gear, but ran just fine in low. I limped it home and began investigation on the forum. I decided the carb needed a good rebuild and sent that off, but decided to change the oil while I was at it.
In the month I had it, I checked the oil by turning the top valve and looking for a few drips and closing it. What I didn't realize was that I was looking for a flow! I went to change the oil and discovered I had MAYBE a quart in the crankcase. CRAP!
Now that I'm punching myself in the face and waiting for a carb rebuild, I refilled the crankcase with 4.25 quarts of NonDetergent. I'm hoping I really didn't fry the engine. I should get the new carb this weekend and I'll try starting it. Hopefully all is well. Stupid newbie mistake!
Oil should not be running out of the top petcock. As long as it flows out of the lower petcock you are okay. Read the instruction manual. It's a simple and eloquent system yet for some reason nobody seems to understand it.
If you only had a quart in the crankcase, as long as you were driving at moderate speeds and the engine wasn't overheating the engine may still okay. Some Model T engines have suffered worse abuse.
I don't like opening the petcock to watch for a steady flow of oil i.e a mess. Stick a clear piece of plastic tubing over the end of the bottom petcock, hold it up as high as the top petcock, and when you open it up you will actually see the oil level.
Also, its hard to say whether you did any damage. When you say crankcase, I assume you mean the transmission flywheel housing where it is typically drained from. With the oil that low you might have splashed some around the transmission drums, but probably not your main bearings.
There is always the sight glass, http://www.modeltford.com/item/3079O.aspx or a dipstick option. http://www.modeltford.com/item/3079DS.aspx
If you had serious engine damage you would have heard it. Next time you change oil, use 4 quarts of a good detergent oil.
very nice chart, thanks! Interesting low points there to scoop up the oil. Looks like a good place to collect a ton of FOD (Foreign Object Debris).
We once had a fuel pump quit on the airplane we work on during a taxi test event. The maintainers opened up the wing and found a glove and blueprints stuck to the scavenge pump. Good thing we had 4 extra pumps to compensate!
PS: I just bought the sight glass yesterday, that's a pretty neat looking accessory
Careful with the site glass! It takes one stone hitting the glass part and you'll lose your oil. If you do decide to use it, keep the shutoff valve closed and only open it when you're checking your oil level.
Dan, What do you do with the oil that is in the tubing?
Don't knock the site glass mentioned by John and Dan. I run some cars with the site glass, some without. I have never has a site glass break. I HAVE had a stone, stick, armadillo or some road object partially open a petcock, though.
There is no thing as a stupid newbie mistake, Its a learning experience. The only thing that's stupid is not learning from it ( or admitting that you did it.) Your in here with the best of us, Welcome to the club.
Rion- Close petcock and empty it into a container. The difference is I find that the surface tension causes the oil to run along the side of the petcock if you do it the other way.
John - Not knocking it, just exercising caution. If you have had something turn a petcock handle, there's not enough spring tension on the handle. It's more likely due to vibration than the other things you mentioned.
I have a shut off between the oil sight gauge and the sump. Open it to see the exact level of the oil in the sump, start the car and then close it. The magneto splash system is so effective that it sucks the oil right back in the sump leaving the sight gauge clean and ready for the next check.
When you put oil in your modern car, do you bring the level into the top of the "safe" zone on the dipstick, or do you fill it only to the middle of the safe zone, or even to the bottom of the safe zone?
Maybe I'm nuts but, I fill to the top of the safe zone or, in other words, till it's up to the "full" mark. I do the same with my T. True, anything between the petcocks should be fine and, after I bring it to "full", by seeing oil run out the top petcock, and drive it several hundred miles, that's in fact where my level is, between the two petcocks. Now, when you drive the same distance, but begin with oil just coming out the bottom petcock, (and how much more than that you do not know), what will your level be? Below the bottom perhaps? Not enough oil.
You wouldn't begin any long trip with half a tank of gas or a half full coolant system or a half dry battery. Why would you then choose to drive with half the recommended oil?
Nobody is suggesting that you fill past the top petcock, just up to it, as evidenced by a thin, continuous stream of oil or, many small drips, (more than 2 or 3, which any petcock will hold within its own housing).
Jerry - The way I do it,.....I have a "dedicated" coke bottle with a small funnel in it that I put under the petcocks. Then I put in four quarts of new oil, and while then checking the open top petcock, I add as much additional oil as necessary for a steady stream of oil to run out of the top petcock and into the coke bottle. When that stream of oil coming out of the top petcock dwindles to a slow drip, I close the petcock, put the coke bottle of oil back up on the shelf and use later to add if necessary or to lube shackles, etc. I think most of our club "T" guys around here do it about the same way,.....harold
Sounds like an excellent system.
Here's my version of the sight gauge Dan described. I leave it on the car. It's cheap, so carrying a spare in case it gets knocked off is no problem. Note that both petcocks are closed, so if it gets knocked off no oil is lost from the engine. I prefer this to the brass gauge which replaces the bottom petcock. If that one gets broken or leaky, you lose your oil. And yes, that does happen. VOE.
Some people refuse to believe this, but liquids seek their own level. That means that when both petcocks are open the oil level in the tube will be the same as the oil level in the engine. To read your oil level, just open the petcocks. After you read it, close them. Very simple.
That is a great idea I learn something new every day
I put in a clear plastic hose per Steve's tip. Seems to work great. I also close the petcocks .. and added small hose clamps just to be sure it stays on .. cuz it was a buggar GETTING on. :-)
Steve, as always your ingenuity blows my mind. What size of hose do you use for that?
That is a really good idea. Even I can make it, with my no mechanical ability and attention deficit disorder. I should be able to bring that job in as done on a little less than a 6 pack! Or maybe just under a 12 pack...
You'd think that adding oil to the crankcase would be the easiest thing in the world, but it seems Mr. Ford designed such ambiguity into the system that people have come up with a myriad of techniques for what should have been such a simple act. Guess he missed an opportunity to save some dough on two petcocks when he could have had Charlie Sorensen design a quarter-inch opening into the crankcase casting and use a cheap strip of metal, curled over at the upper end, for a dipstick.
So, I'll throw my hat into the ring and add my own method which involves pouring in all but the last quart of oil, then having a cup of coffee while the oil settles down to the bottom, and then, ever so slowly, adding that last quart, a dash at a time, until it begins to flow out the open top petcock. At that point, I stop and close the petcock and figure that any minor settling of the oil above that level won't hurt anything.
From lurking around the forum, I've learned that the front crankshaft bearing tends not to get enough lubrication when going uphill and though I have an external oil line to address that deficit, there's still that little Exxon-angel on my shoulder whispering that I should pour the oil to the absolute maximum allowable level.
How much settling occurs in the amount of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee? How 'over full' would a Model T be if one were to just pour oil into the filler until it started running out the upper pet cock, then close it?
Might make an interesting experiment. I might just try that. Pour it out of the bottle at a normal pour rate until it comes out the upper pet cock. Quit pouring. Close the pet cock. Let it sit a while. Open upper pet cock. Collect what runs out and measure it.
Not to sound "negative" Hal, but there are a few "variables" that could complicate the experiment. What viscosity oil is being used, what brand of oil, what's the weather temperature, is the engine cold, hot, or just warm (I like to change oil with the engine hot). Probably a few other variables too that I can't think of. Knowing a bit about this bunch of "T" guys on this forum,.....oh yeah,.....we could make a real controversy out of your "experiment,....ha,ha,.....harold
Actually Hal, and now I guess I'm starting to sound like a real "nit-picker" here, but seriously, I really do have several reasons for changing oil the way I do it,....(overfill and let excess drain out of upper petcock). I admit that I am by far not "the brightest bulb in the marquis",...but I have never quite figured out how to watch where I'm pouring the oil and the top petcock at the same time. So I just keep pouring that 5th quart until I know the crankcase is overfilled. I guess a guy would have to either make it a two man job, or set up some type of mirror arrangement to watch the top petcock as you're pouring! I guess this is a case of what should be a very simple job that can be as complicated as you want to make it, huh? Okay,....I'll quit "muddying up the water now,....harold
I believe that the Ford 'official' way was 1/2 way between...and probably from car #2 everyone said 'yeah right...you gotta be kidding me!" and just filled them to the top petcock...saved them from stopping 25 miles down the road and adding more
Anyway...the last time sight gauges came up under a 'great debate' drift...I went and played with a real era one I had laying around and found something interesting as to the 'does it read right'? question.
This one had a petcock at the bottom of the sight gauge body and apparently, you opened it until the glass cleared of 'darker', then closed it and magic time...the level comes back up slowly, very slowly to the level inside! There is an orifice in the part that goes into the tranny, yet free flow almost through the lower petcock!
Thought to share that just for info for the next time the 'great debate' sparks.
I've thought about putting a sight glass on my car, but I've always wondered about air getting trapped in the glass and not allowing the oil to fill it properly. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but Steve's hose idea should put my paranoia to rest.
What happens if there's too much oil in the crankcase? Would it damage anything if you were less than a quart over the top petcock?
I hope we haven't opened a Pandora's Box on this subject, but it seems like there are as many trains of thought on Model T's as there are Model T's sometimes.
I think if I put in too much oil it would just find more places to leak out quicker! Maybe more oil would end up getting past the rings and burning there. It would likely cut the little horsepower we have by adding more resistance for the rods/flywheel,drums to run through. I haven't looked, but is the level of the top petcock above the level of the inspection pan? The tranny shouldn't care if there is too much oil for those spinning drums.
The clear tube between the bottom and top tap, with or without the valves sounds like a good idea but may have a fatal flaw. If the oil level is higher then the top tap or lower then the bottom tap, the viewer will not really know which. You really need to see the level inside the tube for the system to work.
It is easy to understand why the level would be below the bottom tap but why would it be higher then the top tap? It seems to me that the oil level will be higher then the top tap every time the oil is changed or the oil is topped off. When the engine is stopped, oil is added and brought up to the top tap. At this time all the pan dips are filled to the top and over flowing. Then the engine is started and probably most of the oil in the dips is kicked out by the rods. So now when you stop the engine there is not as much oil in the dips and the oil level is higher then the top tap. Just by looking at the tube you really would not know if the oil level is higher then the top tap or lower then the bottom tap. If the level is lower then the bottom tap and you think it is higher, the results could be catastrophic.
With the original system, by opening the petcocks you can always know what the true oil level is. Is it higher then the top, between the top and bottom or lower then the bottom petcock.
1 Liquids seek their own level. If the oil in the pan is lower than the bottom petcock, all the oil in the tube will flow into the pan and the tube will be empty. This tells you to add oil.
2 When you add oil, pull the tube off the upper petcock. Open same. Add oil until it starts to run out of the upper petcock. Leave the petcock open until it stops running—then close it. Reapply tube.
3 When you want to check the oil level, open both petcocks and look at the tube. Liquids seek their own level. The level of the oil in the tube will be the same as the level of the oil in the pan. If the tube is full the pan is full.
4 Page 3 of the Ford manual says: Pour oil in slowly until it runs out of the upper cock. Leave the cock open until it stops running—then close it. It does not say you should run the engine to kick oil out of the dips and then reopen the upper petcock and drain out the excess. Apparently the small difference between full dips and oil-kicked-out dips is too small to matter.
The problem may be that you may not be able tell if the tube is completely full of oil or completely empty. Especially after the tube is used for awhile and starts to darken from age and contact with oil.
I have a similar plastic sight tube on a tractor fuel tank and if the fuel is above the top of the tube or below the bottom of the tube, I can't tell if the tube is completely full or empty without opening the cap and looking in the tank. We don't have an option of looking in the sump on a T to confirm the level if in doubt.
The total volume of the dips in a four dip pan is nearly 1/3qt but I don't know how much of that is kicked out with the rods. I do know that if I fill just till the top petcock just drips then it will run out with a good stream after it is ran and stopped. I should measure how much comes out of the top petcock after it is ran, just for the fun of it.
I won a sight gauge as a door prize. I used it for a while, but one of the fittings on it became bad and the gauge kept dropping down. I took it off. I always keep drip pans under my Model T's when they are parked at home, and before I drive them I just open the petcock and a little oil runs out. If no oil comes out, I run a small wire in just to be sure it is not plugged up. If there is still no oil, I add oil. I close the petcock while adding the oil 1/2 quart at a time and open it to see if oil runs out. I fill until it runs out the top and add when it stops running out the bottom. On
As to your car with one quart in the sump. You also have some oil in the dips which don't drain into the sump. As soon as the flywheel turns, it will start the oil running down the pipe to the front of the engine which will then fill the dips which the rods will throw up inside the engine and oil the rods and mains as well as the cylinders and the camshaft. I don't think you have to worry about it, but don't do it again!