A nice piece arguing the benefits of the Ford planetary gear transmission. I think the publication date is 06-05-1906. A Model K transmission is shown:
Too bad they didn't take that to heart in 1927.
Probably half of all drivers in 1927 had not shifted gears with that mechanical crime. A 3-speed planetary would have bridged to the fully automatic.
In retrospect, there are some interesting things to consider Ralph; eventually, there were a lot of 2-speed planetary Ford-O-Matics and, especially 2-speed planetary Chevrolet PowerGlides built, and we are now up to,.....what is it,......9-speed automatics nowadays? All of which are of course basically planetary! That bridge just had about a 20 year "gap" in it!
Of course Ford was right, especially when the planetary eventually got to be enclosed in the model T.
How was the clutch designed in early Fords? Looks like fewer discs than the T in the drawing above. Were the clutch discs in steel? Were they working in grease or more or less dry? Do early Fords have a tendency to creep when started in freezing cold conditions like model T's?
I believe there were three fibre discs and two brass discs in the clutches. Perhaps Dean will see this and refresh my memory. (I saw the parts, he actually did the work.....).
I know Cadillac had a three speed planetary about this time, however I don't know if it was successful? It didn't last long (model years) so maybe it wasn't a viable option at the time.
I've wondered, how would it have worked with a two speed only (no reverse) transmission mounted at the differential (in combination with the engine mounted planetary)? It would have been used similar to a Ruxtel, and been a smaller canister than the transmission due to only two speeds (no reverse)?
The thing to remember when using early Ford transmissions (and I presume all early separate planetaries), when the car is in high (direct drive) gear there is no "wear and tear" on the transmission. The entire "canister" containing the transmission is turning, locked together. This is also when the least oil/grease loss occurs, for the same reason (the drums are "locked" together).
I think the free nuetral has less drag than on a Model T, possibly there is more room and longer throw due to the transmission and engine not being joined? I don't know if this is true, just a question.
To quote someone who was there in 1906 and was directly involved with Ford racing and testing of the Model K:
"The transmissions weren't no good".
It's understandable that Ford would attempt to mitigate the Model K's poorly designed transmission with a press release.
You can't blame the problem on the planetary design concept. The planetary concept works fine if the parts are strong enough. And indeed, the planetary design worked fine in thousands of Ford Model NRS and T.
The problem was only with the under designed Model K planetary transmissions. Here's what John Wandersee said when asked about his remembrances of the Model K.
Direct link to John Wandersee's testimony:
Sure works good for the two Ks out on the road (soon to be three). Just speaking from experience.
I do enjoy reading quotes by Ford employees who were there, saying "The Model K was a very, very up-to-date-car. It was the best car in the country."
To rehash old information, I find it interesting (and gratifying) that Ford Motor Company chose to compare the Improved Ford transmission to the Model K in 1926:
This advertisement ran in major newspapers throughout the U.S. in February, 1926:
closeup of the Planetary Transmission section:
The triple gear pin design on the model K looks like it's stronger than model T, since the pins appears to be supported in both ends in the drawing above.
Roger, one thing that surprised me is that the Model K has a wider brake band than the low and reverse. Evidently Ford recognized a need for proportionally better stopping power on the larger faster car.
Ford publicity departments constantly published fraudulent, misleading, wrong, and deceitful pamphlets, articles, and press releases. They remain interesting and entertaining Rob.
One must take them in the context of reality or one can find oneself falling for the bullshit.
John Wandersee was there. Was the transmission the worst part of the Model K as he says? I believe him. He has no reason to try to mislead anyone.
Enclosing the trans of the T really improved reliability. Everybody who wanted to run more than a day with their Model T's learned to check the oil in the engine often and refill if needed - if not, they didn't run very long. That helped the transmission too - they ran in the same oil. There were early Fords that ran long distances, most likely they had owners that read the owners manuals and filled their transmissions with liquid grease as it leaked out. Most owners likely treated their transmissions as most model T owners treated the spring shackles and other oil points - that's not so often. Mostly we find such parts worn out today.
Today's K drivers knows to service their cars as babies - and Robs new 6-40 was likely well serviced by a full time mechanic who the first owner had the economy to keep.
So my thinking is that both are right in a way - the K transmission will break if you don't carefully monitor the grease inside the drums, but will work for a long time if you pamper it. Maybe many regular users back in the day didn't give it enough care to keep up with the grease loss in the trans, resulting in the bad reputation of the "K" trans. Likely the NRS was much the same, but lower power in the engine and lower speeds gave it more time until the problem appeared (ok, the lack of a three point mounting of the trans frame in the car frame certainly was a problem on bad roads)
Still, the survival rate of Model K's is higher than the competitor cars of the era. Likely Fords vast service organisation helped there.
I agree service is crucial. I suspect it was for any transmission, then or now. I also know the The other pre 1915 cars we owned demanded as much attention as our K regarding servicing (and leaking).
One thing in the K's favor, as soon as one is in high gear, there is no wear and tear on the transmission, except at the input and output shaft surfaces. And, with the torque of a six cylinder engine, the time spent in low gear is minimal.
I like the planetary, some people don't. And, as you noted, the Model K, for whatever reason, has a very good survival rate compared with it's peers of the day. I think a car with an inherent weakness in the drive train could not have survived in such numbers, but that's just my opinion.
I've been accused of only reporting races the Model K won. To attempt to rectify this (because of course Model K did not win every race they competed in), I'll post this competition I just came across. It was a $1,000 race at the 1907 Missouri State Fair. The bad news, the Model K was defeated by a Stoddard Dayton. I doubt the transmission had anything to do with the defeat, but one never knows.
The good news, the Model K defeated a Stevens Duryea, Thomas Flyer, Mitchell and Buick.
Always enjoy your posts, but this one has me wondering, If I have been asleep at the wheel.
In your opening post, you say you believe that the article presented was dated in 1906. In it it states that "in more than 6000 automobiles ....." Quite a sum of autos for a three year company, isn't it
I think there's a little "inflation" going on. If I'm close on my math, maybe around 4,000 Fords by this time?
Rob's mind is a little addled at this time. He was in a car accident this AM. He thought deer hunting started this weekend, so he hit one. Ummm - venison on the table. The article above does state 6000 cars and appears to be dated 6/5/06 unless that number means something else.
I'm agreeing, my guess is there are about 4'K Fords by this time. About time for a therapeutic adult beverage.....
Been a rough day. But could have been a lot worse. I and we are glad that you are okay.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
LOL, I can't wait to show my Model A friends that they have a transmission that is "a mechanical crime".
In that 1922 ad, I was surprised by the pricing. While the closed cars went down in price as usual, the open cars actually went up. I wonder why?
As for the K transmission, the older the car, the rougher the roads and less owner maintenance knowledge as well. I'm sure that transmission is more than adequate in Rob's hands on today's roads.
While I consider the articles Ford "spin" the telling thing about the planetary (at that time) is the fact that no other manufacturer attempted to come out with their own version of a planetary type transmission. When the Hydra-matic came out they saw a good thing and bought rights from GM to manufacture it under their own name brands. Yeah, it's part of a T but others thought it wasn't worth copying.
" I think a car with an inherent weakness in the drive train could not have survived in such numbers..."
In all fairness, I believe most Model K's running today have brand new transmissions made by Gene Kristoffy. He has done quite a few in the last 50 years or so. Sadly, his eyesight keeps him from making any more.
I can't speak with first hand authority on Model K transmissions, but as a mechanical engineer, and one who has rebuilt a Model N transmission, I can tell you that they were not a strong design and most original ones are worn beyond belief.
Not trying to "pick sides" or stir any pots, just adding my .02 cents.
Almost 110 years ago people were Gee&Haw and Whoa!! I think the Planetary was right for the times!Bud.
The planetary transmission was not a Ford design, and it was not exclusive to Ford. It was less popular than sliding gear transmissions in makes other than Ford. The Model K planetary was poorly designed and frail - a fact.
These are opinions, not fact. Facts are irrefutable. Opinions are based on the best evidence, analysis and judgement (or lack of) by the person expressing their opinion.
My opinions are based on experience driving, handling, working on, and reading about those who have experiences with the car. My opinions are also a "moving target." They constantly change as I learn more, and give more, or less weight to "facts" as I find them.
A few "facts:"
Other cars of the period did use planetary, two speed and "gearless" transmissions. They were in the minority, but did use variations of the planetary transmission (or no transmission)..
Examples for 1907 of more powerful, expensive cars using planetary and/or two or less forward speeds include:
50 and 30 horsepower Buicks, listing at $5,500 and $2,000 respectively
Cadillac, $2,500 30 hp
Marmon, $2,500 24 hp
Hammer, $2,500 24 hp
Crown, $2,250 24 hp
The two most notable (expensive and powerful):
1907 Hewitt - V8 engine, two speed planetary transmission, 50 hp listing at $5,500
1907 Gearless - Two speed transmission, based on a friction system:
And, for the 1909 Model Year, Sheffield-Simplex offered a six cylinder two speed car:
The Sheffield-Simplex competed with Rolls Royce, however I don't have a list price for the car (or chassis). I presume it was comparable to the Rolls Silver Ghost.
Quote from the "Sheffield-Simplex" website: "Many vintage car aficionados will tell you that, from the Edwardian era, the Sheffield-Simplex was arguably the best there was."
As my experience with Model K grows, so does my respect for the attributes of the car. We've now gone into three engines, and two transmissions in my almost four years dealing with the model. I believe the transmission of our touring was original (as were the pistons, and all other components of the car, except newer style rings). Also having had our N transmission apart, I can say the pure size difference is impressive. The Model K transmission weighs significantly more, although similar in construction. There is one noticeable difference between the NRS and K transmission (besides sheer size) and that is, I believe why Ford Motor Co. in their 1926 advertising campaign promoting the Model T, reported the improved T transmission was patterned after the Model K. Because, just as with the improved T, the brake drum and band are wider.
I don't know how many Model K (nor NRS, or other 1908 and earlier transmissions for that matter) have been rebuilt. I do know at least two "K" transmissions were built "from scratch" because the owners began restoration with the engine only. I do know, if kept properly lubricated, the transmission of the Model K performs well. I also know, as a result of having owned them, that other pre-1915 transmissions required frequent service to add grease due to a lack of "modern seals."
I do know of at least three Model K that used the original transmission for years, apparently with little or no trouble. Of course, I don't know to what degree they were, or weren't repaired or rebuilt during that time.
A Model K at Ponca City OK was reported to have over 220,000 miles by the early 1920's. Our "new" Model K Roadster was said to have had over 100,000 miles prior to restoration, probably sometime in the 1940's.
And, this "testimonial" by a 1906 model K owner, in the Kansas City newspaper, June, 1907:
And Ford stood behind the transmission, as well as the rest of the car, as the stated guarantee in this Ford Motor Company ad states:
I'm not sure why I feel compelled to defend the Ford planetary transmission to this crowd? However, it gives the opportunity to discuss a unique and mysterious pre-T model. We'll each develop our own "opinion" about the car and transmission. However, opinions are not facts.
Later I'll let a few people "who were there" present their opinions of the transmission.