I noticed a recent post about whether to use 6V or 12V...here's my 2c worth about that and a related issue.
As a principle, I always prefer my car to be like it was "back in the day"...not so much that I'm a "purist", but rather the "original" setup is often cheaper, more reliable and easier to fix. And cheap, reliable and easy to fix is exactly what the Model T was designed to be. It wasn't designed to be a luxury or sports car though it did a fairly good job of those things too.
Note though, I said "back in the day" not "as it left the factory". By that I mean, T buyers made what they considered improvements to their new cars such as a hi-compression head, RM brakes, 2 speed rear, shocks, external high tension magneto, etc, etc. And as we know there were hundreds of after-market items for a Model T available.
I can feel someone just about to jump in and say that very very few people added RM brakes or a hi-comp head to their new T "back in the day". True, but the fact remains that the option did exist and people did take it. So IMHO you cannot compare adding a RM brakes to adding hydraulic brakes, or compare adding a hi-compression head to using a Pinto engine.
I don't visit this forum as often as I used to, but late last year I noticed someone here who should know better describe major modifications (we're talking about the braking system and driveline) as "improving reliability" (or words to that effect). That's simply untrue and the wrong message for guys thinking about entering the Model T hobby. Making major modifications is fine if you want to do that; but the message to "newbies" should be that a completely stock T or one with added period accessories is perfectly reliable, and in fact more so than cars with major modifications.
Adding modern brakes will help you stop quicker; adding a OHV will help you go quicker; adding a KC Warford will give you the benefit of more gears and less engine stress (and add much weight to the car); but, they WILL NOT make the car more reliable and they are certainly not cheap.
Let me be clear; there is nothing wrong with adding an OHV or KC Warford or hydraulic brakes or anything else to a T, and in fact these can be highly desirable and even a must depending on what you plan to do with the car. To suggest though, such changes make a T more reliable I think is incorrect.
Also, if "newbies" start getting the message that "you've gotta to have this, do that, and this" in order to have a useable car they may well decide to skip a T altogether. A restored 1920s T costs about $10K while a similar Model A costs at least 60% more. Add a KC Warford or OHV to a T and you end up at Model A prices.
In the USA you have the amazing option of buying a useable, reliable, fun to drive restored T for $10K! Women love them too; hehe. That's the message that should be going out from this forum, not that you need major changes to a T
6V or 12V?
Well, you can bet your "e-timer" that you will not find a 6V in most parts of the world such as Isiolo in northern Kenya (see below).
100+ miles north-east of Isiolo I lost my Red Top 12V Optima...it fell off and is still probably being used to charge a cell phone or something (my rear fender and exhaust system fell off later in the day also). I only found out my Optima was gone when I stopped for a rest and then heard no buzzing from the coils when I went to crank start the car (no starter or generator on my car). Managed to start the car on magneto and luckily get to Moyale (which makes Isiolo look like NYC) before dark...no battery meant no lights on my car. Purchased a "Made in Kenya" 12V (still in my car) and 5 litres I think a acid (new batteries are sold unfilled). Carried one plastic bottle of acid until the border in case of bandit/lion/hyena attack.
I know that forum member Misha in Tula, Russia had a tough time finding a 6V in Russia. He only managed to track one down in Moscow.
In 12v I trust.
It is my opinion that a man who has driven a T in some of the most adverse conditions on the planet is well qualified to give advice on reliability.
Wow,those red optimas are pricey. Did you find your fender?
Can't disagree with anything you said Constantine BUT Your situation is different.6
volt stuff is readily available here at comparable prices with 12. You do what you've got to do with what's available. If 12's it well, that's that. It seems to me that a good portion of 12 volt posters here bought their cars that way and it works so their for it or not exactly against it. To tell a newcomer to change to 12 frankly I'm against for the reasons you stated. There's no reason to spend the $. At least here.
My car has a 6 volt battery, but sometimes I have a 12 volt in it, the only thing the battery does is provide power to the coils, as the head lights are magneto powered and the marker lights are oil powered. The only reason I put a 12 volt in it was for a parade, and it does run smoother at minimum rpm with a good 12 volt battery. 6 volt batteries are very common here, as many 12 volt tractors use two 6 volt in series, so for this part of the world, 6 and 12 is not an issue, but for other parts of the world, it could be very important.
I'm still in awe of you because of the trip you made Constantine!
I agree with keeping the mods to a minimum.
I have eight 6 volt cars and they work just fine for me.
The 6 or 12 volt choice is really not that significant. Either will work fine as a backup source of ignition power. The significant thing Constantine has said here is that the Model T ignition is utterly reliable with no battery at all.
Any number of "modern improvement" ignitions are actually less reliable than the original Ford ignition system, while costing hundreds of dollars to purchase.
Some people split the difference and go for 8 volts. That was enough to break my starter solenoid spring, but I had the correct size battery and starter cables.
Finding the correct and original size 0 or 1/0 Gauge battery and starer cables do a lot to enhance your starting power and mess up your starter with 8 or 12 volts from the battery.
If you opt for 00 or 2/0 that even 10 % better yet.
Well said, Constantine.
Might I also say that the same applies to any number of well-built period motor cars. I spent some time lurking in the Model A section of Fordbarn to be dismayed by the number of 'restorers' who were making major modifications to their cars in the name of reliability. I used A's for many years, restored one completely and subsequently drove it on some rather long and arduous trips. None as long, of course, as your's in the T. My total mileage would have, over the time I ran it exceeded your T, but I totally believed in that car's reliability, and never had any cause to doubt it.
I currently run (among others) a 1959 Rover. Obviously quite a different vehicle from the T and the A, but it is, after all a relatively old car. I am amazed again, by some 'restorers' seeking to 'improve' reliability. This on a car that in its day had reliability at least equal to the best Rolls Royce. My last long trip in it, with a very tired engine, covered more than 3,000 miles part of it through some of Australia's more remote areas- and no back-up vehicle.
In the T era such trips, with unmodified and overloaded T's were reasonably common and I have found no reference to a T owner completely stranded in our 'outback'.
Hi there Dane,
Speaking of Outback Australia...this is what Mr. Francis Birtles thinks of the modification and reliability issue; see below. Modifications to a FORD Model T is fine, as long as you remove rather than add. End of story.
Saw your post a while back about your trip in the Rover...great stuff. I like Rovers but I'm more of a P3 guy, as I love front and rear suicide doors.
Is that his billy on the fender just behind the front tire?
Yes, looks a super rare Ford vanadium steel billy that with the Tarrant Motors (Melbourne) "Outbackster" body style...hehe.
It is wonderful to hear from you Constantine! I quite agree with you about the modifications issue. I prefer them "era correct". My experience, mostly through misguided friends, is that the most unreliable Ts are the ones modified for reliability.
The photo of Birtles is one I do not recall seeing before. I would not have recognized the "billy" had Jim P not mentioned it (thank you Jim!), however I do know of them. Some day, I do hope to have the opportunity to "swing the billy" in a proper setting.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
OK, I'll bite. What's a Billy? I didn't see any goats nor night sticks nor boys named William, so I've exhausted my vocabulary.
Hal, a billy is what you boil water in to make Tea. Just add tea leaves to the boiling water, chuck in a few gum leaves, whirl it around 3 times and you are in business.
Allan from down under.
"And he sang as he sat and waited while his billy boiled. You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me..."
Thanks. I see it now.
"... the Model T ignition is utterly reliable with no battery at all ..."
Seems to me you once mentioned on here having a battery in your pre-electric T Royce.
Yes indeed, adding a battery gives me the ability to have a stop lamp and easier starting when cold. Also allows me to have brighter headlamps. I don't have a charging system other than a battery charger.
It also gives me the ability to keep on driving if the magneto coil develops an open circuit, which happened to me on the All Ohio tour in 2006. I drove the first day on MAG, the following 4 days (over 400 miles) on the battery without recharging.
The magneto coil was an original one, and had worked fine through the previous 20 years, so I thought (incorrectly) that it might last another twenty. I was wrong! Had to spend two days in the garage changing it to one rewound by Mr Total Recoil, Wally Szumuski.