I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience using a towbar on a T ?
I have used a tow strap on a T (attached to the cross member), but with the T's poor brakes, it's just asking for trouble.
A towbar could be a good answer, but I don't want to reinvent the wheel if someone's already done it.
I'm sure you would have to build it from scratch.....
You could adapt a VW towbar. I had this one made.
Here is the towing setup on my Model A. Perhaps you could do something similar.
I think I misunderstood the first post.
You asked a similar question at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/411944/454343.html?1403393230 so you already understand that in general, unless you have a good way to obtain a real free neutral in the car (old style auxiliary transmission with a real neutral etc. ) you should not tow a Model T very far or very fast. And if you do not have a real neutral pulling the plugs and putting the car in high gear will ensure the engine/transmission is lubricated. (If you are just pulling it to start it – that is not an issue.)
Another alternative is the one where you replace the Model T rear wheels with a hub that allows you to install a free wheeling trailer hub. See: http://antiqueautoranch.com/montana500/may2004/index.html for details about that.
If you still want a tow bar for a T – there is a good discussion at: http://www.fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90466&showall=1 and yes you could adapt the VW bug tow bar (they come up on Craig’s list etc. or also available new). The VW bug tow bar slips over the VW round tube front axle beam (the 1971-79 super beetles did not have that beam but all the regular beetles did).
You could also adapt one of the many accessory “convert your old T chassis to a wagon” tongue that turns the front wheels when you turn the tongue of the wagon. I’ve successfully used one of those (a little heavier duty than the one shown at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/44229.html?1199249897 ) but the car tended to hunt just a little – and I was pulling a Model A with a free neutral.
And my personal favorite tow bar was a take apart that would fit in the back seat floor board area of my Model A. If needed it could be assembled quickly and it used “U-bolts” to bolt onto the front axle. It was similar in appearance to the one at: http://www.carid.com/curt-trailer-hitches/curt-couplers-2155165.html?gclid=CPLkj dGEu8ECFUMV7Aod1jQAwQ That one could also be adapted – by making some brackets for it to attach to the T.
Another caution for a tow bar a T – the wood spoke wheel were not designed for high speeds. The folks that I have seen towing Ts at modern highway speeds are using non-wooden spoked wheels on the T. If a front wheel failed at speed and the steering went hard over (which I would guess it probably would do – it could cause loss of control of both the T and the vehicle towing it). So in your case with the wooden spoked wheels – I would recommend a trailer – or purchase some wire or disc wheels for towing at highway speed. (Note the did run earlier racers with wood spoked wheels at high speed – but they were younger than I am now.)
Good luck with your project – and be sure to discuss it with others to make sure it will be safe.
Hap l9l5 cut off
(Message edited by Hap_tucker on October 20, 2014)
Ricks & Andrew
Thanks for the pictures - they were a big help.
Thanks for you detailed answer. I had forgot I asked a similar question earlier. That one was oriented towards "could it be done", this one, more towards "how to do it". ;o)
I guess what I don't understand completely is the free neutral thing. I use 5w-30 oil in my T and can easily push the car on level ground. The engine does not turn over when pushing and I can push it by hand easily and quickly. I would probably not tow over 35 mph (this is an emergency "get the car home" thing) and probably not more than 20 miles. I think the wood spoke wheels shouldn't be a problem at those speeds and I'm sure the engine wouldn't turn over. I guess there could be some heating of the clutch disks ?
Of some concern was whether the T's caster is great enough to tow stably. But apparently Ricks has been doing so without a problem.
Am I missing anything else ?
Thanks again, all!
Tow at 35 MPH?
That is about as fast as my T goes down hill with a tail wind.
Bud, the reason for not towing a T isn't the wood wheels speed abilities (I'm crazy & drives 50 mph + at times with my 88 year old but good Hickory wheels) - it's the fourth main and the clutch that won't get any oil when the engine isn't running. It's like more modern cars with an automatic trans - those without any oil pump driven by the output shaft should also be towed.
And you shouldn't turn the T around and lift the rear wheels while towing - then there's a real risk one of the threaded outer bearing races in the front wheel bearings follows the rotation and tighten up the hub until it breaks.
Flat bed towing is the way to go if you need to tow more than half a mile or so & haven't got any accessory trans with a free neutral.
Overfilling the engine with oil until the oil goes all the way up to the clutch plates and towing really slow might work? - I just don't know how much oil would be needed?
Get a trailer and avoid probably damage to the car.
Summing up: Beetle yes, stock T no.
The old-timers I've talked to all say to NEVER tow a Model T for the reasons Roger Karlsson mentioned above. The possibility for catastrophic damage is very high! Use a trailer.
My T has an aux tranny with true neutral.
You should not even consider towing a Model T more than perhaps a few blocks using a tow bar, and then you should stay under 25 MPH.
It is not safe, and Ralph had a serious incident that could have been far worse. Just rent a trailer or call a flat bed wrecker.
Were you there, Royce?
The front wheels didn't track after a really sharp U turn at 10 mph in the dark. Instead, they skidded across dirt, and the red oak spokes in one wheel shattered when the tire hit pavement. Good Hickory spokes would not have failed.
I wrote up the experience and posted it on the Forum in Nov, 2003. At the time, Lang and Snyder were selling oak spokes only. They never replied to my letters, but started selling hickory spokes, and dropped oak spokes. That was a good thing.
Yes, that accident could have been far worse, like Brent Terry's 1915 Touring full of kids that flipped over after an oak front wheel collapsed.
The reason the wheels didn't return to forward after the sharp U turn? I later found the front spring wasn't centered in the frame.
I haven't had reason to tow the T in a long time, but wouldn't hesitate. You see RVs do it all the time.
I see RV's towing cars on a car dolly all the time. You could tow a Model T backwards on a car dolly if the steering wheel was locked in a forward position somehow. It would not be as safe as either a flatbed wrecker or a trailer. I recommend against it simply because it could easily be screwed up and cause you to damage the T or hurt someone in the process.
I have a tow bar that also attaches to the tie rod and steers the car as you tow. My dad used it once, many years ago, to tow our Touring that had a blown rear end. In other words, the driveshaft was not turning so there was no threat of damage to the transmission.
If you had a Layne Warford, that can be shifted to neutral, meaning nothing is turning in the T transmission, such a tow bar should work.
That being said, if anyone wants my tow bar they can have it, free of charge. However, I won't ship it.
"You could tow a Model T backwards on a car dolly if the steering wheel was locked..."
You really shouldn't, it can cause the front wheel bearings to thread in tight and lock up a front wheel and probably also ruin a hub. Seen it happen, big mess.
I see RVs flat towing cars.
I totally agree, there are just too many risks and trailers are super cheap to tow something as light as a Model T. I've got an open trailer with trailer brakes and five new tires I would sell for $750.00
I've towed my T thousands and thousands of miles with a tow-bar and free wheeling hubs in the back. I prefer it over a trailer (which I have and use on occasion). The tow-bar set up is nice as it is easy on the tow-rig and you don't have a trailer to store when you get to where you are going. Just throw the tow-bar and hubs into the trunk. Some cons are that you cannot back-up and it takes a little longer to hook up than a trailer does. I only can use it on my wire-wheeled T's as I haven't devised a set-up for wood wheels. I've towed my T this way to most of the tours and Montana 500's that I've attended dating back to the 1970's. Several of the members of our local T club have made hubs and now tow their T's this way.
Bud, I guess the real question is how far do you plan to tow the car? I can see towing short distances, like if you're very close to home and it would be easier to tow it than to call for wrecker support.
Another question would be whether or not you had help in the operation. A tow bar would be handy if you had to tow the car by yourself, like if you were close enough to home you could walk back and get a truck or tractor. If you have someone else who can pull you very slowly back home, or at least to a place where you're out of traffic and can wait for the wrecker, a tow strap would be easier to fit under a seat or in a toolbox.
So it seems to me there are a few things to consider. If you think a tow bar is a wise investment of time and money, go for it. Be sure to let us know how it works out, because sharing knowledge is what this forum is all about.
If you are not driving your Model T and it is moving ...
It better be loaded on a trailer going down the road ...
Looks like there are those who do it and like it; a few curious ones; and then there's the rest with preachy opinions but no real experience.
Ricks, how fast do you tow your T?
I cant speak from experience,the thought of it just scares me.I think the main point is the auxiliary transmission allows a safer tow than without.The trailer for 750 with brakes is a bargain.
I don't tow it as fast as I drive it, Mack. Calif law is 55 max towing a trailer, so my max towing is 60.
A trailer with a high CG and fishtailing is downright dangerous. Flat towing is much more stable. Sudden avoidance maneuvers are easy.
I've towed trailers, too, and they're just waiting to bite you.
Ralph, I've noticed that many people on this forum tend to make up their mind, then disregard anything that doesn't conform to their opinion.
I towed my T about 20 miles with a home made tow bar but I ran the engine at idle for the trip. It did not like sharp turns. In some cases I had to stop and help the steering when turning sharp, a second person helps for the sharp turns.
You need two things to make your trailer safe. One is trailer brakes which will be applied whenever the truck brakes are applied. That will keep the trailer from pushing the tow vehicle causing a jackknife. The other is that the weight distribution should be forward of the trailer wheels. That will prevent fishtailing.
I would recommend the trailer unless you are going a very short distance at a very slow speed for all the above reasons.