My name is Tim and after a long time of interest in Model Ts I finally came across an opportunity to acquire a 1926 Speedster.
Being a mechanic my entire life, I've always been intrigued by the simplicity of them. I also have a huge amount of respect for them because of their robust nature.
I purchased the car from the estate of the previous owner, so information on it's condition was limited. After getting the car home and safely in my shop I put the battery on the charger as I went over the rest of the car. Seems that it was stored properly. Coolant was completely drained as it was in a heated garage. Fuel tank was also dry and carb was drained. So far so good. Closed petcock and filled with 50/50 mix, put some fuel in the tank and ran the fuel pump for enough time to pressurize system and checked for any leaks. The oil level was good. Next I slowly rolled it over by hand a few times to make sure there wasn't any binding and get some of the lubricant I put down each of the cylinders moved around.
While the plugs were out I checked and made sure they were all firing.
Looked like we were good to go!!!
Parking brake set. Check
Spark advance set to retarded setting. Check
Throttle and choke set. Check
Ignition on and coils buzzing. Check
I took a deep breath and pushed down on the starter. To my surprise after just about half a revolution she fired right up!!
I wasn't even ready for it. Expecting to have to crank it for a while.
I let her run for a while to warm up and burn off the oil in the cylinders. After a few minutes the exhaust cleared up and she was puttering away.
Now that is see she's a runner I will address a few issues I found. First is it seems that someone has the electrical system hooked up as a positive ground. I will switch it back to negative. Then i will sort out the oil leaks I found and get some fresh oil in it. Lastly will be a new pitman arm to get rid of the slack in the steering.
A question I have is that it seems that at some point the magnito has been removed entirely from the car. Will the car run reliably on just the battery as long as it is charging properly?
Welcome to the T world!
You can leave it positive ground, coils, starter and for that matter the generator doesn't care. If it has a gen. you will need to polarize it if you change to negative ground. Yes you can run off the battery for good long time but you will have as good a top speed as off magneto.
A Model T will generally run a little better on MAG than on BAT, but apparently battery is good enough for a lot of folks, because there seem to be quite a few of them with the magneto removed.
That's not the only alteration on your car. The stock T has no fuel pump. Are there any other modifications?
Welcome to the affliction!
The car will run on battery power only, but it will run far better on Magneto. The battery is used for starting, then the ignition is switched to "MAG" because the coils operate better on 26 volts AC than they do on 6 volts DC.
If it were my car I would operate it as is until the engine comes out for service. At that time you can reinstall the missing components, if they are indeed missing.
Have you checked to see if the magneto is actually missing? Maybe it is simply disconnected?
Thanks for the replies,
There seems to be quite a few mods to the car.
The electric fuel pump, an intake manifold modified to a downdraft with a 2bbl Holley carb. A cool exhaust header and pipe running along the right side. Rear is fitted with a two speed.
The mag post has been replaced with an oiling system, so at this point I'm going to assume that the magnets were removed. Although I will take Royce's advise and wait until I have to take things apart in the future and worry about it then.
Once I figure out how to post pics with my iPad I will get them on here.
Welcome to the forum and to Model T Fords! Speedsters are a lot of fun and in general the lighter the Model T with everything else equal the faster it accelerates (ok it isn’t as slow to accelerate) and the steeper a hill it will climb in high gear.
I would recommend checking out the local Model T clubs near you. Please see: http://www.mtfca.com/clubpages/chapters.htm and http://www.modelt.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=15 and check out the states close to you – yes Oregon but if you are close to the border, there might be a club in the state next to you that is closer. Also since you have a speedster, I would recommend that you also check out the Northwest Vintage Speedster group at: http://www.nwvs.org/ their home address is Portland, Oregon but they tour over the Northwest. A local club can give you a lot of support and you can also be a support to them.
Some Safety Items [if you are still young and bullet proof you may not need these but if you have a family they can help keep you and them out of harms way. Don’t panic people have been driving Model Ts safely for years. But there are some known issues that you can learn first hand or you can read about them and learn from what others have experienced.
If you had a stock T updraft carburetor I would caution you about the T carbs tending to leak gas. Since your car has a down draft carb with a fuel pump that probably will not be an issue. For the updraft carbs that are gravity fed, if the float sticks or there is trash in the needle valve they can empty an entire gas tank into the garage. Not good if you also have an ignition source. File that one away for the next T you obtain (they tend to multiply). Several homes, garages and cars have been lost when a gas hot water heater was near by and the car leaked gas.
Since you purchased the car at an estate sale you may or may not be able to find out if the rear axle had bronze thrust washer installed. Perhaps someone in the local club knows if it was rebuilt with or without the bronze thrust washers? Please see the posting at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/295678.html?1339633408 for details on why you want to do that earlier rather than after they fail and the transmission brake no longer works.
Note with a two speed rear axle or auxiliary transmission you will want to make sure the car has auxiliary brakes. A properly working Ruckstell rear axle will not get stuck in neutral, but they can and have malfunctioned and caused accidents including fatalities. I.e. “if” they get stuck in neutral you will not have the normal service brake on the transmission. My Dad used to tell the story of his uncle getting the Ton Truck stuck in neutral as the accelerated down hill. Fortunately the road continued and did not T and they were able to coast to a slow enough speed to get the truck rear axle back in gear.
Back up slowly – if the front axle is set up correctly with 5 1/2 degrees positive castor then when you are backing up it has 5 1/2 degrees negative caster when going in that direction. The front wheels will want to go full left or full right by themselves. Backup slowly and hold the wheel so you can stop it if that should happen. Note many speedsters have modified steering and if you have a later VW, Vega, Ford F-1 etc. steering box that is not as big a threat to you. With the stock planetary gears under the steering wheel – it can jerk the steering wheel out of your hands if you back up quickly. Sort of like the front wheels on the shopping car will spin around if you pull the car backwards.
Probably not an issue for your speedster – but for stock Fords before 1919 they had the wishbone located above the axle. It was relocated below the axle during 1919 production. Please see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/227348.html?1312341538 which includes the story of why Henry Ford decided to move the wishbone below the front axle.
For photos of examples also please see:
or http://www.ebay.com/itm/Model-T-Ford-front-dual-radius-rod-support-clamp-11-18-/ 380513227980?pt=Vintage_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&vxp=mtr&hash=item58985b14cc for one option of adding the dual wishbone.
Other safety items (again do not panic – just be sure none of them are looking for a chance to bite you). http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/154102.html
Again – they can be driven lots safely lots of miles and bring you and others lots of smiles.
For posting photos – one of the common issues is the site says the photo size must be 200kb or less. I have found that 190 kb or less works better for me. Sometime if my computer says it is 199 the site says it is too large.
And it sounds like you have already gotten past the “Take it out of mothballs” stage – but a good checklist is located at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/15776.html It may mention something that you will also want to check.
For information on how to drive it see http://www.mtfca.com/books/bookmenu.htm and scroll down and the 1921 instruction manual at: http://www.mtfca.com/books/21manual.htm they share more than you may need at first -- but it was given to new Ford owners -- along with a how to drive from the dealer. A quick 10 minute check out with someone will save you lots of time.
Jim Patrick posted : www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/80257/102160.html. This thread contains an article from the July, 1963 issue of Popular Science, entitled, "Any Dope Could Drive a Model T", which I first read as a nine year old boy and saved until finally obtaining my own Model T at the age of 16 in 1970. In the days before the internet and Model T clubs, this article taught me how to drive my Model T. It is all I had and it served me well. I hope it helps you as well.
And Steve Jelf has some recommend books for a new T owner and those are an excellent choice. See his site at:
Again welcome aboard.
Hap l9l5 cut off
I have a little variation on Hap's picture posting theme. I find that pictures resized to 194KB or less invariably pass muster. If I go to 195KB, sometimes not. Oddly, after I resize pictures my software often identifies them later with a number well over 200KB, like 238KB or 242KB. That doesn't matter. As long as they were 194KB or less when I resized them, they work. I suspect this may be true for my software and may vary for you if you're using something else.
A couple of points on the magneto situation. I haven't tried this, but I suspect that looking through the mag post hole, which is 3/4", you could see if the magnets are still there.
I wonder if your mag post is really gone. That's possible, of course, but an outside oil line that runs off the mag post is a very popular accessory, like this:
You mentioned that the car has a starter. You can find out if the car has a magneto by removing the starter bendix cover. look inside and you will see the magneto coil ring. And the flywheel will have magnets on it. If the ring is gone and the magnets are gone, you don't have a magneto. Sometimes the car will have a magneto, but it does not work.
You don't need to do anything with the battery polarity if the generator or alternator charges it the way it is, leave it alone. A 12 volt battery will run the car better on coils than a 6 volt battery, but the magneto works best.
Sometimes the magneto will be removed from a speedster because the lighter weight flywheel without the magnets will pick up speed faster than it will with magnets.
I think it would be easy to pull the 6 screw's in the trans cover and check your mag,bands,screen,and a general look at a lot of things!Welcome,and i like to retard the spark before shut down after a quick count to 5.You might be suprised!! Bud.
You can check the screen and the bands through the trans cover, but not the mag. The magnets are on the other side (front) of the flywheel.
Thanks for all the input. This will keep me busy for a while.
I have the trans cover off right now. I'm going to replace the bands . Not so much because they are bad, but I just want to know they are new when I start to use the car. I will take the starter out also to replace gaskets so I will look for the magnets then. I may even pull the hogs head too. I have a feeling it wouldn't hurt to replace that gasket and seal around the block. I would like to replace as many gaskets I can. The underside of the engine and trans are very wet so I want to dry it up as much as possible for an 80 year old car. With the weather starting to cool off here in central Oregon I will have plenty of time.
Make sure you take the bendix off before you try to remove the starter. Welcome.
When your replacing gaskets to stop oil leaking the Best sealant many of us here have found is called "The Right Stuff" you can also use Ultra Black both are made by Permatex. Different than black RTV, much better stopping leaks. Also if your thinking of removing the hogshead that would be the best time to change the bands. Study up on some improvements you could make to limit some oil leaking at the shafts and be careful about dropping anything in the tranny. Use the dental floss and stuff rags around the sides. I'd make sure to drive the car a lot and learn what the priorities are for your plan then start.
Thanks again for all the info.
Now for an update on everything.
Magneto is completely gone, so I'm going to have to do something about the ignition system. With only the 6v power supply it just doesn't run as it should. I did a little experiment today and wired up a 14.8v hobby battery to the mag post of the ignition switch. After starting the engine and switching to mag it runs much better.
Looks like my options are to convert to 12v, or install a distributor and 6v coil.
Although I wonder if it can run for any length of time on the hobby battery safely. What is the amp draw of the coils? If it is not much more than a few amps, I think one of these batteries could run it for about 1 hr.
I'll have to play around some more with this.
Other issues addressed:
Replaced valves, springs, adjusters and retainers.
Head cleaned, magnafluxed and milled.
Replaced bands in tranny.
Replaced pitman arm, drag link cap and fixed leaf spring problems.
Exhaust and intake powder coated.
Rebuilt carb and rejetted.
Welcome to the hobby also known by wives as our addiction - no known cure. To your question about the coil power. The T coil is an extremely low powered device and since only one of them is running at any one time and half the time there is nothing running (when the timer is between cylinders and off contact). To make it simple the entire coil box system will draw about 2/3 of one amp when the car is running and 1.3 amps when just one coil is buzzing when you are sitting still with the engine not spinning. So a garden tractor battery with a typical 18 amp hour rating if fully charged will run your T for 18/.65=27 hours. Figure about 20 hours to be safe but remember you could also always get home on the 6V battery. Yes 12V battery will operate your coils nicely and actually there is nothing gained by going much higher since that only heats up the coils more when they are buzzing. Just be careful not to let the coils sit and BUZZ on 12V power. When the engine is running the duty cycle is so low that no harm to coils is likely from 12V.
Welcome to the addiction and be careful... Model T's are know to reproduce!