I wished I had front disc brakes on my T the other day. I was on a 4 lane highway with a median, I was in the right-hand lane. Speed limit is 45 mph, but I'm doing about 30 mph as I've just recently turned onto the road and started to accelerate. Very light traffic, the cars I saw to my left when turning on the road were WAY off. I'm approaching a light and as always mentally note a spot where "once I pass here I'm just going through the light" I've made it to about 35 when the light turns yellow.
No problem, a little bit more throttle and I'll be well through the intersection LONG before the light actually turns red. I had passed my "spot" about a half second ago.
Except this idiot who apparently was FLYING passes me on the left and jumps in front of me, followed closely by two more cars to my left - the Suburban who cut me off decides he really needs to stop for this light. Without pictures it's hard to describe, but I and probably 2 more cars behind me could have comfortable passed through the yellow (and ordinarily would have) because we were so close and it had just turned.
I slam the throttle and spark lever up while stomping the brake and finding the sweet spot for neutral with the clutch. I'm working on it but reaching down and pulling the handbrake isn't second nature yet. Thank goodness I have accessory AC brakes hooked up to the brake pedal.
I know I can't go left around the Suburban in front me (he almost chirped the tires he stopped so hard, it was crazy) because of the other cars and I'm really not liking the idea of turning right off the road - there's a big curb but then rain has washed away a ton of dirt on the other side. I'm pretty sure if I had decided to try and hope the curb the axle might have been caught on the curb because the drop-off was that much deeper than the wheel.
All of this happened in the space of about 3 seconds but I distinctly remember thinking "There's NO way I'm going to be able to stop" with the speed and where I actually applied the brakes, I would have thought that panic-stopping in the center of the intersection was possible, but definitely not a large vehicle short of the line. The Suburban stops completely in front of me and I've reached the point where I'm pumping the pedal so that I'm just barely locking up the wheels every few feet. The brakes are doing marvelously and I know now that even if I bump into the back of the Suburban it's definitely not going to hurt his car and most likely it won't damage mine either.
Somehow, miraculously, the T comes to a complete stop (and doesn't kill the engine) about 3 feet short of the the Suburban's back bumper. Normally I don't get that close when I can help it but at this point I'm calling it a major WIN. I reach down and pull the e-brake and just sit back, glad I didn't hit the guy and FURIOUS about the way everyone around me is driving. I even notice that the driver of the Suburban gives me a little wave like "My bad." and then the light changes and they all race off. I immediately get back in gear and pull into the next parking lot and get out and just let the frustration flow before continuing on to my destination.
All of that to say a few things -
1: I installed the AC brakes because of my Warford transmission, but they saved the day. I'm 100% confident I wouldn't have been able to stop with just the transmission brake.
2: I really need to make use of my lined emergency brake - but this is why I hooked the ACs up to the pedal, it's just not in my reflexes yet.
2b: I doubt I could have stopped any shorter as sliding the tires wouldn't have been more effective than feathering the line between wheels still turning and occasionally locking.
3: people driving are idiots. I wouldn't pull in front of somebody in a modern car the way this guy did with me, much less someone driving an antique.
4: I HATE driving on roads that have 2 lanes in the same direction. I avoid it as much as possible. MUCH much better to be on a single lane where folks just have to wait on you.
Anyway, rant over. I really enjoy the T experience, and other than my sealed beam headlights in my gas lamps, all of the accessories on the car are from the teens and twenties. However, if something like yesterday happens again, I'm likely to start figuring out what I need to do in order to go to a setup like I saw on Becky's Yellow 1911 with the front and rear discs.
Glad things turned out alright. Sounds like you need to buy your Guardian Angel a beer.
gosh I cringed reading that, i fear that cutoff/slowdown situation the most. Glad to hear you are ok.
Lol Jay, at least Larry Sidmore will get one if I am ever out towards California or he's out towards Carolina.
Been there done that(not in a T), Me-1 car-0 I was at a gross wt. of 105,500 lbs. car driver no speeka the English. Not even big things can stop when stupid happens by others. O ya her NEW car was totaled and I went on my way. I know your feeling.
Glad you and the car are ok.
And people wonder why I have worked so darn hard on the front brake thing!!!!
There is the swoop and stop game that some folks play. They get in front of you and the other guy blocks you so you can't turn out of your lane, The deal is that they are trying to make you run into them and then they collect the insurance. They know that a person driving a "special" car has deep pockets and good insurance. Sometimes there is a cash settlement because you don't want it on your record. They keep on getting dents until someone finally pays off, or they get a settlement , don't fix it and do it again.
Your explanation of the "set-up" sounds like an insurance scam. Was the S.U.V. in good shape or was it a thrasher with some dents already. They get you to fix all of them and you plead guilty. It's a game !
Seth, That's why Ralph and I promote driving out here in SoCal on the freeways instead of the all the cross streets. I too have to watch and be ready at a moments notice to start braking or gassing to get thru the lights. One thing to consider when choosing a 4 lane is that you also have another surfaced lane instead of taking the ditch which we know might be bad.
Sure glad it turned out good for you!
Remember you can always hit the reverse pedal for a bit and also the low pedal alternating instead of the neutral to give some additional braking.
Les, you may have seen the pics of the front brakes that I copied from the McNearny / Big Four that were available in the 20's for the T and installed on the front of my Torpedo.
SUV looked to be in good shape. No dents that I noticed. I was just glad that I stopped a LOT sooner than I thought I would be able to.
I've found that dealing with yellow lights is one of the most challenging things about operating a Model T. When a maniac SUV driver is added to that situation, the margins get shaved down awfully close and when they do, experience, judgement and good equipment are the difference between getting aggravated and getting hurt. You saved the day because you had "The Right Stuff."
I do it pretty much the same way as you. When approaching a green traffic light I slow from 35 to 30 or a little less (assuming a 40-mph speed limit) and pick out a "Go/No-Go" point beyond which I cannot comfortably stop without entering the intersection. Past that point, I throttle up and bring the speed back up to 35. If the light turns yellow in advance of my Go/No-Go point, I double-check the rear view mirror and if nobody is riding my tail, I stop the car. If there's a tail-gater in my mirror, I charge ahead and hope not to clip the red light and get my picture taken (or worse).
There are times when the sneaky traffic light times it perfectly, turning yellow just as I'm crossing my Go/No-Go point and most times I'm spring-loaded to charge ahead, but occasionally I hesitate and muck things up with a real screecher that comes to rest with all or part of my Model T past the cross-walk. I hate that. Sometimes, the driver behind me will have sufficient common-sense to leave a little room for me to back up. Sometimes he won't.
Then, there's this stretch of road where two traffic lights are just a short block apart and they change color simultaneously. If I have a tail-gater and the timing of the situation is such that I have to charge through the first yellow, the second one becomes very tricky and in the heat of battle, it's difficult to find the "sweet-spot" of neutral with the left foot.
There are no two ways about it; traffic-jamming with a Brass-Era car is hazardous for any number of reasons. We who accept that do our best to manage the inherent risk by keeping vigilant and properly maintaining the car.
There's also a "Catch-22" involved: The more you practice and gain experience and judgement, the greater your exposure to danger. Last week, the weather was so good, I drove my Model T to and from McDonald's every day (9 miles round trip on Jericho Turnpike). By the end of the week, I concluded that the odds would eventually catch up with me if I continued that daily habit and some hat-backwards, maniac driver would get me in to an accident.
That said, I think anyone who wants to improve their braking system is doing a good thing. My Rockies get the job done nicely when they're adjusted right, but, as everyone here knows, they don't stop backwards and they don't work when wet, whereas disc brakes don't suffer such problems. Because of the expense and physical hassle of installing disk brakes, I'm very unlikely to go that route, but if I could push a magic red button that would instantly change my Rockies to disks, I'd do it.
I often hear guys say "if you would just plan ahead, stopping would be no problem". BS. Yours is the perfect example. You can plan ahead BUT you can't always plan ahead for the other guy.
I try not to get upset, because the Mom in the car ahead of you has NO idea how a T handles. She thinks every car on the road can stop just like her. No excuse, but that's probably whats going on.
Oh, on the disc brake thing, if you really can lock up those wheels with the AC brakes, disks won't stop you any sooner. They may not fade as much or they may work better when wet ... but they won't stop any quicker.
Now ... front brakes, that's different.
I'm really lucky to be in T country out here. Drivers like Seth's are mighty few and far between; I pass Amish buggies more frequently than autos; usually have the roads to myself; when folks do share the road with me and pass, they go slow and always wave friendly-like; no traffic lights for many miles; here in the foothills of the Alleghenies the mountains are only 20 minutes away and the scenery is gorgeous; last, but in no way least, I can buy ethanol-free gas.
Out here, a ride in the T is relaxing, not nerve-jangling. I know there are many more places like this but I'm sure loving what I have.
So what about your brakes when driving in those Alleghenies RV?
What about them? They work. Just like the rest of the car.
I am so glad it turned out well. It sounds as though you have reached the point of "Master of the Model T". When I did many thousands of miles per year for work, I had that sort of thing happen often. I have had "a few" occasions in antiques where it was very close.
I know what Frank H says is true. The "swoop and stop" as he called it is common in Califunny. It has been tried on me several times, but I always managed to stop in time or make a lane change. I credit my driving antique automobiles with my being able to handle such things so well in my modern car.
Congratulations Seth! Ya done good!
And thank you for sharing this with us. We all need a reminder now and then.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Seth did start this thread by saying "I wished I had front disc brakes on my T the other day".
Planning ahead does not mean anything about planning for the other guy.
You just gotta drive slower in a T so when a situation like Seth got into comes up you are going slow enough to not have a panic stop.
Front brakes of any type are the real answer.