A group of members of the First Model T Ford Club of Argentina, we planned from next April 16 to 20, a tour to Abra el Acay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abra_del_Acay), considered the highest point of a regular route (our mythical national route 40): 5,000 mts. (16,400 feet).
We will be four models T: a speedster, two touring and a sedan.
Given the altitude, we will add oxygen´s cylinders, and, because water boils at 70º Celsius (158 ° Fahrenheit) at this altitude, auxiliary water tank.
I drove El Caminante, my 26 touring, two times at 3.400 mts. (11.154 feet), but now is 1.600 mts more:
Would like to know if anyone has experience in transit at that altitude, if can advise us other precautions or preparations.
If anyone is interested in participating, you are invited
I think oxygen is a bit extreme unless you all normally live at sea level or have health issues and plan on making the trip very quickly. Also, your temperature of boiling is a bit low, I think that you will find that it is closer to 185F or about 85C. It sounds like a great trip, I wish I could come.
Opps, I mistakenly read the altitude as 14,600 feet, 16,400 is a bit higher. Temperature would be a few degrees colder and oxygen would be a good idea for emergencies.
Far from an expert but you seem to have the 2 things I'd be thinking about covered. Oxygen and over heating. Good Luck.
Oxigen´s cylinders are for the cars (8 m3)
Doesn't adding oxygen cause the intake manifold to explode? Nitrous oxide might be a safer way to add oxygen.
At 16,000 ft you are at risk of ACute mountain sickness if ascending rapidly from sea level. You experience headaches, nausea, a little shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, etc.
Anyone who heads to the ski slopes may have noticed this.
Slower ascent will help a lot - and if anyone in the group has medical issues , I would give thought to this.
You can take a little diamox as you ascend and that may help with symptoms. However, it will ruin the taste of your beer. :-)
I wouldn't think the car will mind 16,000 ft. Piston driven, non turbocharged airplanes do this - although performance is a bit lower. I would skip the whole idea of oxygen.
Just my .02 with some expertise in this area.
Wow, do I envy you. I would love to do that trip. The most I have done is 14,264. We did it with 6 Ts one time. No one had any trouble. We put on a National Tour one time with a base motel at only about 10,000 and a gal from Australia had to be taken to a Hospital in Denver with altitude sickness. I drive to 12,830 regularly in the summer with other Ts and no one seems to have any problems with the Ts or with altitude sickness. I tend to go up about every other week or so. I live at 5,000 feet so the altitude does not seem to ever bother me.
half way to the top (two miles plus)
Near the top (12,000)
On a HCCA tour a couple of years ago we did Pikes Peak and a couple of people were taken to the hospital with altitude sickness.
raveling to the top was one of the most challenging tour days I have had in 25+ years of touring Model t's and other antique cars. It was also the most rewarding.
One of my favorite memories was the initial decent the fog was rolling in pretty bad, and we followed a modern car's tail lights for the first two miles or so until it cleared. My wife just sat there and when we could see road again, she quietly asked me " please tell me you could see something" I pretended I never heard the question.
Coming down I left the car in low ruckstell high gear, and never really had to apply the breaks all that much. I would time the switchbacks so I could cut the corner tight into the other lane and avoid hitting the breaks. I wanted to save them for an emergency that never came.
We climbed Mount Evans in Colorado several years ago. We were in the area for an MTFCA national tour and on one of their easy days we followed some locals up the highest paved road in North America. Parking lot is at 14,130 and the summit is the 14,262 that Dave mentioned. I felt fine but my wife was uncomfortable and stayed in the car rather than walk the 1/4 mile trail to the top. This was not a great surprise as she had experienced difficulties at altitude when we were hiking in Europe. We were both fine when we got back down to the tour host motel. We had been at 8,000 to 12,000 feet for 4 days before going up Mt Evans so I thought we would have been reasonably acclimated but what works for one doesn't work for all. Everyone should listen to their own body and be prepared to go back down if they encounter a problem.
Drove a Toyota pickup to Mt. Evans. The wife didn't want to go up Pikes Peak, so I said, "We'll go up Mt Evans. (I didn't tell her how high it was). The truck didn't run very well and I found that if I shifted to first gear and went very light on the gas it would continue on. We got all the way up, and she was very uncomfortable. The only thing I noticed was I felt light weight and it was easier to move around! We went down and then somewhere near Green River, we had the same problem on the interstate. We limped into town and found a NAPA dealer. I bought both a fuel pump and a fuel filter. I didn't know which was at fault, but after I replaced them, I had no more problems as long as I had the truck. Good thing, because I had a Ruckstell in the bed of the pickup which I had bought from Dave Huson.
I don't know about needed oxygen for people or the engine but for the engine it will have to be leaned out quite a bit at that elevation without any added oxygen. At 16,400 ft there is about 55% of the oxygen as sea level. It also follows that the gas needs to be cut down 55% and the power output will be about 1/2 of that at sea level. Will 10 HP pull you over the top??
Here is a chart:
Daniel, you will have to keep us posted on your adventure.
Be sure to take warm clothes, It will be very cool at that elevation. I see people on top all the time shaking and complaining about how cold it is. The didn't know any better than to drive up top wearing shorts and a T shirt. I don' know about Argentina but in Colorado it can snow any time in the summer when you are above 10,000 feet.
I keep hearing that you need to lean out your carb at higher elevations but I never do. I think that just lessons your power.
Altitude bothers some people a lot, and some not at all. One of my uncles couldn't stand Denver, which is only a mile high, but the few times I've been up to 14,000 feet + didn't seem to affect me at all. I'd love to make the trip up to Abra del Acay. Espero las fotos.
The adjustment of the mixture to compensate for differences in elevation is a basic procedure for piston engined light aircraft. For most autos it is not much of a concern but where you live and especially for the 16,400 ft elevations in this thread it really makes sense to follow the lead of aircraft operation. It is just basic physics.
For a good description of the why, when and how of mixture adjustments see:
Taking another idea from light aircraft, the use of an exhaust gas temperature (EGT) gauge would give a very good visual indication of what mixture is best for any condition. It would be interesting to have an EGT gauge on a Model T.
i'm afraid your chart is incorrect. the percent of oxygen at all those altitudes is equal. the percent is the same whether you are on top of mt everest or at sea level. this is a very common misconception. what is different is the partial pressure of the oxygen. that is, there is less pressure of ALL gasses at those higher altitudes.
hope this helps in understanding....
i would also note it is likely to be 32 degrees c colder at 16,000 ft than at sea level. the normal temp lapse rate is 2 degrees c per 1000 ft gain in elevation. I would not be too concerned with overheating
This is a great thread!
I never touched my mixture as I never felt the need to. The car never complained. I did notice less power, but nothing that was objectionable or caused an issue.
When we did it, the temperature at the bottom was 96 and it was 45 at the top. I actually removed the hood due to the fact that I started getting hot because I was in low gear so much. After the first third of the climb, it never was an issue again.
My girls enjoyed counting off the mileage markers all the way up. After each one they kept encouraging me. Kind of a great memory also.
We would love to make that trip but be a ride along or follow in our regular vehicle.
We lived at 9000 feet just outside of Cuenca before moving to 5,000 feet in the Yunguilla Valley. I didn't have problems sleeping, just moved slower walking up hill or doing stairs. We occasionally drive into the Cajas National Park with the highest point at 14,000 feet. At about 12,000 feet, I start feeling nauseous and headachy. It seems to get better each trip.
Keeping well hydrated (starting days before) will lessen the symptoms of altitude some folks have as noted above.
The the chart is correct. It show the % of oxygen compared to sea level and not the % of oxygen in the mixture of air. You are correct the make up of air is about the same (about 21% oxygen) at any elevation but there is just less air at higher elevation.
If that's the case then I don't see how thinning your gas proportion is going to help your power any. It just seems to me that when I try to thin the gas I just have less power at higher elevations. But you may be right, I have heard and read about thinning the gas many, many times.
You need to lean out the carb as you ascend to maintain the optimum fuel/air ratio. If you don't, the mixture will get progressively richer the higher you go.
Because of the thinner air, you will lose power as you ascend, even if you maintain the optimum fuel/air ratio.
I suspect that you right about leaning out an airplane carb as you are an Aerospace Engineer.
However what I am saying is that I have owned many model Ts and driven more than I like to think about at the highest elavations in the US and leaning a carb DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. In fact I think it actually gives me less power. I learned many years ago to leave my spray needle alone, except when I am starting a T. Its you T do as you want in the higher mountains of Missouri and I won't arque about it.
Dave, thanks for sharing your personal experience. In theory, you should get better results by progressively leaning your carb as you climb, but in practice, you have found that not to be the case for you.
Somebody recently posted a quote from Yogi Berra regarding theory and practice, if I recall. I've been an engineer long enough to know that Yogi is right, practice trumps theory, so keep doing what you're doing if that's what works for you.
Most carburetors don't automatically compensate for increasing altitude (although some of the later ones did). In theory, the density altitude effect is pronounced enough that the better funded drag racers use portable weather stations to give them the local density altitude and rejet their carburetors accordingly during race events, see the attached technical article from Hot Rod magazine:
Note that the article talks about two effects, the density altitude effect and the ambient temperature effect. Rising altitude tends to lower air density, whereas colder temperatures tend to raise air density. In theory, there might be a combination of the two that would result in equivalent air density, which would mean that no carb adjustment would be required for that case.
Again, if you find it unnecessary to fiddle with the mixture, then keep doing what you're doing!
Just like aircraft it may make sense to run a little richer when pulling hard up hill. The engine will run a little cooler with a richer mixture. However going down hill it would decrease the chance of fowling spark plugs if the mixture is leaned out to the ideal mix.
In theory the decreasing temperature tends to offset the effect of increasing elevation. However is actual practice the change in temperature does not come close to compensating for the elevation change.
For example, if you started at 5000 ft elevation at 90°F in Denver and drove to 11000 ft in the mountains, the temperature would have to drop to nearly -60°F (that below 0°) to equal the air density at Denver. Here is a chart that shows the temperature/elevation relationship.
On April 17, at 4 pm, three of the four vehicles that faced the challenge, reached 16,060 feet, the highest point in the world of regular route: Abra el Acay, over route 40, in the province Salta, Argentina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLdh1ghE7Qs
The map of the route: http://bit.ly/Sfzxzd
Gallery of pictures: http://bit.ly/R5Uk7n
Sedan fordor 26, of Hector Gentile
Spedster of Claudio Di Rosa
Touring 20 of Jacinto Druetto
"The Walker", touring 26 of Daniel Bollo
Was crucial to the supply of oxygen to the engines during ascent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU7lXosh2ns
As a joke, at "The Walker" we add an old forge´s fan as a turbo. It produced no change in engine performance
The blog: http://fordtalasnubes.blogspot.com.ar/
That's how to get high in a Model T. Some great pictures there. What was the temperature at 4895 m?
Thanks for your excellent report of your trip. You are to be commended for meeting the challenge of the very high elevation.
For folks like me, here is an English translation of your blog:
Airflow through the carburetor at altitude is less due to the lower density of air at altitude. This causes a lean condition in crude carburetors such as the typical Model T Ford has. Often the carburetor is able to function better at altitude by opening the mixture until best running is achieved. That is what we noticed at the Estes Park tour.
Congrats to the Model T Club of Argentina! Nice drive! I have flown over the area many times where you drove. It is a strange and wonderful part of the world.
Wish we could have been a part of it following behind in our modern. Congrats
What Royce says is backwards of everything I've heard or experienced. Less oxygen means you need less fuel to maintain the correct air/fuel ratio.
Tom, theoretically you are correct. I think what Royce is saying is that many of the primitive carbs of the T era (where the air kind of wafts over a puddle of fuel) pick up proportionally less fuel as the air density drops than that required to maintain the correct fuel/air ratio, hence some may need to be adjusted in the richer direction to compensate.
Aside from the fuel issues,
I would say Rocky Mt. Brakes,
or lack of them could be a major issue !
Mark, yes, that is what Royce said, but I'm sure it is wrong. Possibly the reason the T's may have needed richening in his experience was from a lowering of temperature at increased altitude.
Congradulations, I wish that I could have done it with you. I really enjoy high altitude driving.
I've been on a couple of Colorado tours, and I've found I need to lean out the carburetor about 1/4 turn. I'm talking 6,000-10,000'
The trip was during Holy Week , Catholic celebration . The weather was excellent and the temperature at 5000 meters high was 10 degrees celsius.
At this point , there are three problems with a traditional aspirated engine: temperature , air pressure and oxygen.
Temperature: at 5000 meters high, the boiling point of water is 85 degrees celsius . There was not a major problem for us, because we had the radiator panels of new type (flat ) and the temperature was not high. We should replace only half a liter of water.
Atmospheric Pressure : The amount of air entering the cylinders is smaller, being less air pressure, so, the compression ratio is much lower than that achieved by the engine at sea level. Could be compensate with a turbo. Ours was a joke.
Oxygen: At 5000 meters, its level is approximately half of the existing sea level, so that combustion is reduced and should close the fuel needle to maintain proper air-fuel ratio. We compensate with input from pipes. In my case , it was enough 2 cubic meters , providing only when it was imperative
To complete the post, this summary video with subtitles in english
Great video, thanks Daniel!
Daniel, Well done and congratulations! Without the supply of oxygen do you think you would have still reached 16,000ft?
Love it! WTG!