Has anybody ever measured how far up a hill one can go in a Model T? I know this would depend on grade, speed as you begin ascending, weight of vehicle at the time, etc. I'm just wondering what the hill climbing ability is, and whether or not some of those accessory "hill climbing tanks" are necessary. Sometimes I look at them and think they're more of a pain than they'd be worth. Sometimes I think they'd be worth having on my car. What are your thoughts, guys?
My wife and I drove across the USA with a stock 15 Runabout, which, of course, included the Rockies and other steep grades. The car made it.
We have some steep hills here in Tennessee, so far I've made it over all I tried. KGB
I've climbed and descended hills that are scary steep with 5 gallons of gas or more in the tank. I try to never let the tank get any lower in driving where real hills are going to be encountered.
Royce is correct, above 1/2 a tank and never a problem.
In the for what it's worth category, my wife and I drove our 1909 Model T up Pikes Peak in July 2012 in conjunction with the HCCA 75th Anniversary Tour. Although I occasionally wondered while driving up the mountain whether or not we were going to encounter a fuel delivery issue I didn't worry about it as I was carrying a few extra gallons.
Although fuel was never an issue, we did encounter a couple of other obstacles, which my wife lent a hand in overcoming. At the summit, others on the tour nicknamed her "Saint" Joan. But that's a story for another time.
When I first got my car, I drove for about 200 yards up a hill that was about twice as steep as the picture above with less than half a tank. It ran out of fuel feed near the top and I had to struggle to get turned around and drive back down to a gas station. Now, just like Royce said, I always run at least half a tank if I think hills are in my trip. There has never been a problem since.
The Picture above was taken on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Dave Huson's back yard. Summit is 12,183 FT.
There is a hill in Death Valley called "Dante's Viewpoint". It has about 1/2 mile of 10% or more grade. I climbed it in a 26 Roadster. I used Ruckstell with low pedal all the way up and all the way down. I also have Rocky Mtn brakes. None of the other T's tried to climb the hill. I have a similar hill here in Alpine about 1 mile from the house. I can climb it in both of my 26 T's but have never tried it in the 22.
I would have to say it all depends on the car and the load on the car. There are round tanks and oval tanks. There are also tanks under the back seat, or under the front seat, or behind the front seat and also some behind the firewall up high. So it would depend on the location of the tank, and how much gas is in it and also the weight of the body and load. Of course an after market fuel pump or pressure tank could change things too.
We were on a Bud Scuder tour in Kentucky and he took us down into a place where more than half of the Model T's could't climb out of it was so steep. We were pulled out with a 4 wheeler. Gas wasn't the problem.
I have experienced NO trouble since I installed a 3/8 inch gas line. My touring use to stumble on the flat at full throttle. With 3/8 inch line I burn the tank dry ,any grade.
LOL I went on a tour through Campbell County KY with Bud one time, we went up a hill and Ron Miller couldn't make it and had to back down. He had about a gallon in his tank! Someone gave Ron some gas and he made it up like everyone else.
For a frame of reference…let’s ignore that many can run to bone dry in the tank. Let’s listen to those that spit and sputter even on flat-land when they get down to about 1” in the tank. In a gravity flow system, their need for the 1” ‘left’ is because of line/fitting/sediment bulb filter friction that is lost between the tank and the nozzle/ball in the carb.
Figure out that geometry and the fuel ‘flow’ from that 1” level in the tank to the nozzle/ball in the carburetor is about 14.6% rise/run.
Said another way…the fuel is already flowing through a 14.6% ‘grade’ and needs that 1” to get there!
So now I take my T and I charge at a 5% grade! Daunting a bit…but oops…my spit and sputter point now is…14.6% minus the 5% grade = 9.6% in the relationship to my carb nozzle ball. Cough/wheeze/sputter because this car, in its’ state, has already proven that due to line losses it MUST maintain the 14.6% minimum.
So…with a 5% up grade, and a 14.6% net natural choke point…I guess the relationship of the top of the fuel in the tank to the carb nozzle/ball has to be GREATER than 14.6% PLUS 5% or 19.6% before I even ‘charge’ or I’m going to be in trouble.
Golly gee wampum…that just so happens to work out to be a new low limit of….1/3 of a tank! So all of the wise warriors who just say ½ tank minimum works for me on any hill…even those who have the 1” minimum tank requirement…are in fact wise…you need it for the ‘law’ of ‘level’.
now...why does a HILL TANK just do so many seemingly neat things?
1. the tank is full and it didn't matter how long it took to fill it.
2. The tank/manifold is downstream of any filter in the sediment bowl
3. The length of pipe from the hill tank to the carb is almost nothing.
4. The line losses are virtually nil
5. When you go to add throttle and say it now has guts...guess what? Your carb is in fact getting the flow of TWO feed lines...which I haven't done the math on but is also the reason why Dean and his 3/8" gets better umph even with 1/4" fittings!!
What do I know as to actual experience...nothing...I live in South Jersey where the highest South Jersey Mountain is 200 feet above sea level... and I live at about 100 But...we do have one point where the grade is in fact steep, near 50% for 1/4 mile as actual grade changes go and when that road was built 1/2 way up that hill they designed in a turn-around and back the rest of the way 'box'. Must have had many Model T's around that couldn't do it
From Estes Park to Grand Lake, Colorado is 43 miles. Going west to Grand Lake on 34 the first 24 ;miles is ALL UPHILL (NO GAS STATIONS). Going from Rustic Colorado to Cameron Pass is 40 miles, ALL UP HILL, I have been up Cameron Pass with 85 Ts and no one has run out of gas.
Stopped to take a picture above Cameron Pass.
Just below Cameron Pass.
One of the reasons I bought my '24 coupe is that it was set up for hills (it was a San Francisco car). It has lots of gears to choose from, brakes, and a hand pump to pressurize the tank as well as a gauge to know how much pressure you have. My driveway is fairly long and steep (at least for my measly acre). The driveway begins above my two-story house in front of the house and ends up below the house behind the house.
When I first got the car, the pressurizing system leaked, badly. With about three gallons in the tank, it MIGHT make it over the top of my driveway. The driveway levels off a bit near the top, and if I eased off the throttle in time, it would start coughing like it was ready to die just before the gas would start to flow again. Since I fixed the leaks, it does fine, in any of the three lowest gears.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I wonder if inside the tank there is a stand pipe
like a Ford tractor
A while back I climbed Mount Druitt & Rooty Hill in a single trip although I did stop in at Rooty Hill RSL to refuel.
There is not a stand pipe in a Model T tank.
Did anyone ever make an accessory consisting of an air intake with a longer vertical neck (say, 2") to lower the carburetor so there would be more of a decline between the underseat fuel tank and the carburetor fuel inlet? If not, there must be a reason why not, because it would be an obvious way to eliminate the problem discussed above. Jim Patrick
I think the 1915 Centerdoor sedans had a special manifold that lowered the carb to improve fuel flow from the rear seat mounted tank.
Unless there is some engineering reason for keeping the length of the standard intake as it is, it seems like one of our talented members could cut a 2" section out of an old intake and splice it into another to see if it works. if it does, there may be a fairly lucrative market for it. Of course it would involve modifying, relocating, or removing the passenger side engine splash pan, but many don't install it anyway. Jim Patrick
George from Cherry Hill has given some good mathematical evidence, along with everybody else's anecdotal evidence, against the need for a hill tank. There is one thing about George's diagrams that has me puzzled, though. In his diagrams, the fuel line is nearly horizontal. According to this Service Bulletin diagram:
T2909GasolineFeedPipeInstallation-4986.pdf (106.5 k)
One cannot always arrange for your fuel level to be where you need it to be when encountering a hill, especially when on a tour or long a drive in unfamiliar territory, where the fuel stations are not where they need to be prior to unexpectedly encountering that long hill, with the next gas station located somewhere down the road on the other side. Jim Patrick
Jared, unless I missed something in some Physics classes I took some years ago, the dip downward will not do any harm. The dip upward could cause a problem.
Yes, as long as the dip is no higher than either end it is of no consequence in this respect. It is there to help eliminate air bubbles.
Then there's the unsubstantiated Clymer story of a salesman selling a T to a customer who lived on a steep hill. On the demo he realises she's going to quit about 1/2 way up and swings into a side road to complete the climb in reverse. Of course he tells the prospect "I can even climb this in reverse". When the buyer found out he HAD to do that it took him a while to cool off.
I have heard that a T was designed to run up a ±20% grade with a full tank, above such point the fuel stops flowing, the oil stops flowing and the engine doesn't produce enough power to go up anything steeper. It all makes sense when you think about Ford's logic.
My '14 had enough gas to climb a hill. It didn't have enough power to climb the hill.
I wasn't sure if there would be any difference, but then again I didn't get to take physics in high school.
I've heard about pressurizing tanks to combat low fuel levels. Anybody had any experience with that?
Norm made a good point that cars like the Torpedo or speedsters with a high round or oval tank have a real advantage with head pressure to the carb.
If you remember the climb to Whitefish condos was pretty steep and some didn't drive it with their T's. One day my Torpedo sputtered a bit going up so guess I was nearly out of gas. We made it and it of course fixed itself especially after going back down for gas.
Jim Patrick: I have seen an add for the "drop down" you are inquiring about, but have no idea what book it was in.
As an aside to this discussion, if you have a coupe with a rear tank, take lots of gas. On the Mo. tour last year we crawled up a hill behind a very slow TT and finally stalled. After the Vulture Wagon hauled us to the next stop, we discovered we had about half a tank left, but we were going so slow and so steep it would not feed. I know we could have made it to the top had we had normal speed.
I've driven my T to Steptoe Butte, Wa many times, This one particular time I forgot to top her off. I drove up the butte one summer and about half way up the T started surging before it completely died. I spun the car around and immediately went into fuel economy mode; 11 miles to Oakesdale, Wa. I drove down to the pump and had a splash of fuel in the tank. I figured I had less than a gallon in the tank when going up the hill. Steptoe Butte has an average grade of about 5.5% it rises out of the ground 1000ft. I was driving my 1924 Roadster.
Purchase a gasoline tank vent kit from one of the vendors. Instead of routing the vent line as per the instructions, route it thru the passenger compartment so that you can access the end of it. When the engine starts to sputter on a grade a light puff into the vent line will pressurize the tank (don't over do it), place your finger over that end of the tube to hold the pressure. This is cheap,simple,it works and can be removed at any time with out a trace.
Neat idea, Donald! And for those that don't like blowing into a gas vent tube, you could adapt one of those squeeze bulbs from a blood pressure measuring cuff to pump up the tank.
I think the response time would be too slow,plus the potential to over pressure the tank. You don't need much pressure.
One time on a tour on Fidalgo Island at Rosario Beach, I forgot to fill the tank and the drive up from the beach has a short steep grade, my estimation of near 10%, that starts on the level at a stop sign. The gas in the carb. bowl got me about 50 yards before I reversed ends to back up the rest of the hill. There was about 3 gallons in the tank.
It's a big problem for folks who have not driven their T very much. I've been to the rodeo and got the T shirt. You don't need to modify your T. If you are a real nervous person carry a couple extra gallons of gas in a can on the running board. Sheesh.
Yup Royce, that is the real answer. I typically carry a gallon of fuel in the turtle deck... if I remember to top it off after using it.
I just had my tank boiled out, put a new sediment bowl on with the additional filter stuck in the top of it. Didn't think of it at the time, but will this affect the hill activity?
Gravity is gravity Carl. As long as the tank is 1/2 full you're good to go.......
Jared, I have a 1919 Speedster that my grandfather modified in 1927. He installed an old Cadillac hand air pump that was connected to a copper line that was soldered to the top of the fuel tank near the filler. Also had an air pressure gauge mounted in the dash. Usually kept between 1 - 2 pounds of pressure in the tank to insure gas flowed to the Stomberg RF carb, which was mounted a bit higher than the stock carb (about mid-piston height). As long as there was pressure, gas flowed to the carb and we had no problems. Of course, when the tank was full, we'd need to pump more frequently since the level would fall and the need for additional pressure would be more frequent. After the tank fell below half full, additional pressure would be needed less often.
Front of the Dash
Rear of the Dash
Carb location. You can see the carb is situated just below the exhaust manifold ports. It's about 9" higher than a stock carb location.
Interesting thread, and it makes me realize one more reason why the set of three Boyco cans were a common accessory during the "T" era, especially the red one for gasoline.
Another thought,.....I'm surprised that none of the California guys have explained the "exhaust pressure" system that has apparently been very successful when installed properly.
Also, nobody has mentioned one other fuel system "arrangement" that was very common on other makes automobiles during the Model "T" era, and that is the vacuum tank,.....???
One more thought, and then I'll "shut up"! When reading here about the 2" extension to lower the carburetor a bit, it occurred to me that "Henry" and his team of engineers could have done this very cheaply (as compared to other solutions) to improve or eliminate the fuel starvation problem, HOWEVER, Ford chose to change to the higher and further forward COWL TANK for the new/improved '26 - '27 Model "T" and continued the cowl tank for the entire 4 year period of the Model "A". I have to believe that Ford considered all of the suggestions (as well as others) that have been discussed on this thread, however, apparently, they thought this was the best solution. Makes me think that just leaving well enough alone makes the most sense if you just make an effort to keep the tank as full as possible and mount a set of running board cans for gasoline, oil & water.
It does not appear that running out of gas was ever such a big problem that it was necessary to change things during the Model T's life. Gravity is as simple as you can get. As noted by several if there are hills on your trip fill up the tank.
Normally hills are not so steep that a car can't climb them, even one cylinder cars are geared so they can, if the car can't it is usually due to poor power, excess weight or the original ratios being changed (such as changing to 3 to 1 ratio).
Except for the "you can go up in reverse if the gas is low" Ford never thought it was such a problem, and the tank in the dash was probably to remove the need to fill inside the closed cars as well as helping with the gravity to work better that it was adopted.
Each day when travelling I always start with a full tank as one never knows what form the road may take, usually I do it the night before.
Only if I travel more than 200 miles in the day do I check the level in the tank during the day. In hilly country I check at lunch time and may top up in case. I also carry an extra gallon.
I ran out of gas twice in 10,000 miles. Both times due to strong headwinds in the afternoon but I was only a short distance to a supply and I used the spare can.
One point for Harold, the early enclosed cars had a longer inlet manifold because of the tank being moved from under the seat back further so Ford did make changes if they were needed. I have only seen one of these cars and somewhere I have a photo of it. It put the carby well below the chassis frame. Does anyone know more about this difference?
Exhaust pressure has been covered before, it works well, my speedster has it.
Vacuum systems were common on Australian Model T's as designs had low seating and they then placed the tank at the rear. In good condition that system also works properly.
Hmmm,.....thanx Peter,.....sure didn't know about the slightly longer intake manifolds on the early enclosed cars! "Course,....lotsa' things I don't know!
I know gravity is gravity, but with the accessory filter on top of the sediment bowl ( I didn't really measure or scrutinize the uppermost intake level), to what degree does this affect the angular accessibility of the fuel to get to the carburetor?
p.s. in the event you are gettin' near the bottom of da barrel
I have the accessory filters on both of my cars. My guess is it only leaves an extra cup or two in the tank that is not usable. Not enough to concern yourself with.
Dave, your profile picture looks great.
Another person enjoying life, as it should be