Ok, you Model T guru drivers -- How do you back Model T downhill? There are several ways you might do this, but I will not try to list them so as to avoid biasing the discussion.
I ask this in the interest of safety, because of nearly backing into a fire hydrant at a car show recently...
In addition there was a recent thread on this Form about a guy who backed off a cliff in New Zealand trying to park at a car show. He walked away, but his wife had several broken bones!
I'm thinking about stalling because of the fuel not getting to the engine on a long back-up. (pre '26). A good emerg. brake would be in order.
Agreed! Here is the link to a story about the Model T over the cliff incident:
One foot on low, one foot on brake, one hand on the steering wheel, one hand on the hand brake, looking over your right shoulder, looking over your left shoulder, looking into the mirrors.
Remember that some accessory brake systems do not work in reverse.
I agree with Royce and Terry, but I would amend slowly to very slowly.
I think you should have one foot FIRMLY on reverse! The same way you would descend a hill with one foot firmly on low if you were going forward. Throttle up, spark retarded, reverse pedal firmly engaged. Let the engine do the work while you modulate the speed with a momentary stab of the brake pedal when necessary.
The way I did it when I nearly hit the Fire hydrant(!) was to have the right foot on reverse, and the left foot on low/high. Wrong! (At least for me.) What I instinctively did when I needed to stop was to stomp on the reverse pedal as if it were the brake...NOT a good idea! I wonder if that is what happened to guy that backed over the cliff in New Zealand?
The best method is to turn around and drive down like any sensible person would do. that way you can see where you are going!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To each his own, I guess...
I use the hand brake/parking brake lever to put the transmission in neutral, then use only the right foot, alternately between reverse and brake pedals.
Bill - I agree 100%! It's just that in the rare situation where you need to back up down hill, it really requires (for me at least) some thought about how to do it safely.
Maybe it is significant that both of the cases I mentioned (the fire hydrant and backing off the cliff) were situations at car shows where they wanted you to back into a parking place.
I'm with Davey D. Using only the right foot reduces possible pedal confusion. Besides, two wide shoes on adjacent pedals can lead to mixed signals. There's nothing like a crowd at a car show to add pressure to the situation.
Did you win a prize?
Yea, for being the worst driver at the show!
To end any confusion of which foot does what, I always have the brake lever in neutral, left foot on reverse, and right foot on brake where it belongs. I solved the big shoe problem with a reverse pedal extension as sold through several vendors. It really makes a difference anytime you use reverse. Your shoe never gets caught between the pedals and you don't have to turn your ankle to try and use the side of your foot.
Like Ralph said, there is always extra pressure at a car show. The normal temptation is to hold the left foot on the clutch in neutral and the right foot operates reverse. DON'T DO IT! The right foot is for brakes! Take the extra second or two to put the lever in neutral and switch your left foot to the reverse pedal. Now when you forget and push hard with your right foot, you will stop and stall the engine instead of backing into someone, or something, like a $10,000 paint job, a hydrant, or over a cliff!
Use the reverse pedal and brake. I fail to see how this is any different than descending a hill in low.
Dan, the Model T steering tends to be squirrely in reverse. That would be one of the reasons Ford dropped the two pedal/two lever controls - with one hand on the reverse lever you've only got one left for the steering wheel where a firm grip with two hands gives better control.
In tight spots such as car shows, with a Model T Ford sometimes it's easier (and smarter) to park the car approximately in the position you want it, then get out and push it into the final parking position. You can do all the fine tuning and adjustments you want by pushing it left, right, forward or backward, etc.
I think am liking the sound of right foot on the brake (just because of my tendency to slam it on when I want to stop). Use left foot on reverse and set the emergency lever in neutral.
I also think I like Jeff's idea of getting a reverse pedal extension. I am forever getting tangled up in the pedals -- NOT good!
I just confused myself. Like Jeff, I use the left foot on the R pedal, and right foot is always brake.
I think I better go back to bed. I just ran an errand in the modern. I happened to park in front of a dumpster between the bank and grocery store, and decided to get a little of the trash out of the car on my way to the ATM. Wouldn't you know, along with trash I threw two checks totaling $100 in the near-empty dumpster. I almost immediately realized what I had done.
I held the dumpster lid up with one hand while using a parrot perch from the car with the other to skinny the checks up the side. The second one took awhile. Wiped them off, and the ATM accepted them...
I can't imagine using my left foot for anything other than the low pedal.
It's probably a carry over from driving with 3-4-5 speeds most of my life but I know if I started fiddling around with my right foot where it doesn't belong I'd be asking for trouble.
I stand with you earlier suggestion. Going downhill in reverse you use gravity not the reverse pedal. I would do the foot dance with the reverse pedal backing up level or uphill, but you don't need that unsafe complication for backing DOWNHILL!
My driveway is a down slope. I always back into it then into my garage. Having the park brake in neutral and using the right foot for reverse and brake. I only use the left foot for forward. I guess it's just what you get use to and is comfortable with.
If you are going down hill backwards as Terry stated Gravity is doing it's thing, like Enos I to have a driveway into my garage which is down hill.
Initially I have to use reverse to overcome the footpath and road drain. My left foot is on the low pedal holding it in neutral, my right foot is on reverse if I need to make the T move backwards.
Once I'm rolling back I transfer to the brake and control the speed. If I need to adjust I can brake the car or just apply low and stop the car and move forward and then let the T roll back again when I need to with my right foot on the brake.
Having the left foot on the reverse means you are fighting the brake as the motor is pushing the car backwards against the brake. I also never put the handbrake on to engage neutral unless I am stopped
I was originally given my driving lesson 50 plus years ago by an old Model T distributors son who grew up on Model T's. His rules were left foot for low/high operation, right foot, brake or reverse, Hand brake off when you wanted to move, on when you decided to park.
I don't have really big feet so I can easily move between pedals but I understand applying the hand brake for neutral may help some with big boots and this would still allow you to use low and reverse.
Parking brake lever set in neutral, right foot brake and reverse pedal. Left foot only for use on the low pedal.
Actually, until you 'lose it' when you believe you are doing everything correct in reverse or for some reason think a loss of front end control is above you...you are not quite sure what to do...but the light bulb does go off once it happens and you take your white knuckles off the wheel and breathe a sigh of relief!
Having been there, I now let gravity take it downhill backwards 100% of the time. With foot on brake, set neutral, stick at high noon...remove foot from brake and tap and only tap reverse if it won't roll backwards by itself to start. From there on it is pump brakes, not drag brakes, until I get to where I want to be.
If the downhill turns into a flat before I have to go forward, I then pump the reverse pedal with taps once flat until I'm back to where I want to be. Works for me...feel much safer this way, have not even had a wiggly front since changed to this way for what it is worth.
I have rather steep ramps on my trailer and when I back off, I put the parking lever in neutral, and then tap the reverse with my left foot just enough to get the rear wheels over the top of the ramp then use my right foot on the brake as it rolls down by gravity. I have both hands on the steering wheel and move very slowly. I look behind me before I start but while backing down I look right down toward my left side to be sure I stay on the ramp. Then when the rear wheels are on the ground, I repeat the process for the front wheels. That's about the only place I back downhill and it is steeper than any road I encounter.
In addition to the above, I suggest having a spotter guide you. They can see an awful lot better what you are about to hit before you hit it.
At a car show it should not be hard to find someone.
The same way you would back down a hill in a modern car, except that all the controls in a Model T are in different locations...
HMMM, Just read the article on the T over the cliff in New Zealand. If they had been wearing seat belts they probably wouldn't be with us today... Not to start a seat belt debate, but I've heard of plenty of scenarios where being thrown out of a Model T was better than being belted in. You just never know though...