I have the car running now. It starts up easily, and on flat ground it drives well. The problem I'm having is that it will not go up any sort of hill. The car will make it a few feet on momentum and then stop. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for the help and happy thanksgiving!
Here's an updated picture. I am getting some '15 fenders, a 15 cowl, and a 15 windshield to put on it.
When it stops does the engine die? Or, is your clutch or low speed transmission band slipping?
How much gas do you have in the tank? The cars with the tank under the seat need to be nearly full or they will starve for fuel.
If the fuel level is not the cause, you might try adjusting the spark and fuel mixture.
Model T's only have about 22 hp so they are quite slow going uphill, but should go up a 6% grade in high at about 22 mph. Anything steeper would need low.
I am in low gear attempting to go up my driveway. I did fine going down, but going back up is another story. My tank is low, that could be it but wouldn't the fuel in the fuel bowl take up a ways? It loses momentum, pops a couple of times and the dies. It does the same thing trying to go up in reverse.
What is your engine compression?
I don't know. How do I test that? I rebuilt the motor and have standard pistons and standard bores.
Just a check, where's the advance? Did you pull it down after starting? PK
I tried playing with the spark advance. I think it might be the fuel tank. It would make sense to me that it loses fuel pressure as soon as I start going up hill.
Maybe dirty fuel system. Sounds like it's an engine running problem not a clutch or band issue. If it's your short driveway that stops you and not a long hill I'd bet on a gas flow problem or dirt in carb. Check on your "hill" stop in neutral and the engine should still be running good if its a tranny problem. If you haven't cleaned your tank and carb I'd look to that.
Let us know
There's no question we lose fuel pressure as the level in the tank drops. -Gasoline weighs six pounds per gallon and when your tank is full, your fuel pressure will be quite a lot more than when you have, say, three gallons in the tank.
The actual height of the fuel level comes into play also, because liquid will seek its own level and with the car pointed uphill, the carburetor (which on level ground is normally at the lowest point of the fuel system) will be raised while the fuel tank is lowered.
Filling your tank is an easy fix if that happens to be your problem. Another easy check is to briefly disconnect your fuel line from the carburetor to check for that healthy stream we hear so much about on televised prescription commercials for men. -Needless to say, don't smoke or have anything burning nearby when performing this test.
Adjusting your fuel mixture is easy: With the spark lever about two-thirds of the way down, adjust your throttle for a fast (but not too fast) idle and then adjust your mixture knob to the point of highest RPM. -Now you're in the ballpark. -The Model T carburetor lacks an accelerator pump, so with the mixture adjusted as described above, the engine may stumble on hard acceleration because in that regime, the engine requires a richer fuel mixture. -Compensate for that by twisting the mixture knob at least 1/8th, but no more than 1/4, counter-clockwise turn from the present position. -For now, consider that your "home" setting and mark it with a magic marker dot on the knob (For cold starting, enrich 1/4 turn counter-clockwise from this setting and then, when the engine is warmed up, return the mixture to your "home" setting).
A slightly less easy check is for the strength of your spark. -Get your engine idling normally and turn it off by shutting off the fuel either at the carburetor valve (if so equipped) or at the sump valve under the gas tank. -As this test involves slowly cranking the engine to the point where each coil buzzes in turn, you don't want any of the cylinders to fire, and that's why we're shutting down the engine by starving it for fuel.
Now, disconnect all your ignition cables from the sparkplugs. -With the ignition switched to "battery," slowly turn the hand-crank until you hear one of the coils buzzing. -Now, find the live ignition cable by touching the shank of a screwdriver to the cable's terminal and bringing the tip of the screwdriver very close to the engine's head. -When you've got the live cable, you'll see a spark. -If you can get the spark to arc the length of 3/8ths of an inch or more, that's a really good spark. -A quarter of an inch is acceptable. -An arc of 3/16ths of an inch would be considered weak. -Repeat this test with the remaining three cables. -Having done this, you'll have a fair idea of the condition of your ignition system and whether it's a contributor to your lack of power.
The remaining easy test is compression. -Buy a compression tester and, if necessary, a sparkplug adapter for it from Lang's. -If your car has an electric starter, just follow the manufacturer's instructions. -If it doesn't have an electric starter, you'll need to release the compression on the three cylinders into which your compression tester is not screwed. -Do that by unscrewing those three sparkplugs. -This is to make it possible to hand-crank the engine at a speed that will give you a useful reading on the compression tester (A muscular friend would come in handy for this). -A good compression reading would be 45-50 pounds. -A reading as low as 40 pounds would definitely be a contributing factor to your lack of uphill power. -A reading as low as 35 would be the cause of it. -You want each cylinder's compression readings to be within five pounds of the others.
A low compression problem probably means you'll be needing a valve-job.
If none of the above appears to be the culprit, you may want to order a carburetor overhaul kit and a carburetor manual from Lang's.
Excellently written Bob and great advice.
When your gas tank has three gallons in it, it is fine for level ground. On any kind of hill the tank needs more gas than that. Try again with five gallons in the tank.
A lesson I have found on my cars is to pull up the floor boards and look at the fuel line, if it is copper tubing,(usually 1/4" O.D.) first drain the tank and remove the line, then go to Napa and buy a 40" piece of seamless steel brake line of 5/16" O.D. cut the double flares off each end and then bend to fit between the tank valve and the carb. At this time I like to add a shut off valve at the carb for convenience. What I have found is 1/4" line starves the engine for fuel, 5/16" solves this problem. And oh by the way do this outside the garage in the yard... as one of our fellow members says, "don't ask me how I know this.." JMHO
To add another hi tech method remove #1 plug (or all plugs) and insert a popsicle stick, crank the engine up to TDC, mark the popsicle stick with a felt pen at TDC then place another mark about 1/2" down, reinsert popsicle stick and crank piston up to lower mark and stop, now adjust spark actuator until it buzzes at that position. This will give you a ball park idea where the actuator should be when running.
Daniel, Royce's advice is sound, easy, and economical. Try adding gas before anything else.
I, too, live on a steep hill. When the engine goes dead on the climb, either turn around to go back down or coast back down slowly w/your foot on the brake.. I found out the hard way that a T doesn't steer well going backwards. Quick & jerky. Uncontrollable at 10-15mph or faster!
A little detail on the compression test: All the compression gauges you'll find at the local auto parts store are made for modern high compression engines, with a dial that goes up to 300 PSI or more. This can make it hard to tell the difference between 35 and 40, or between 45 and 50, on a low compression Model T engine. A tester with a dial that only goes up to 100 PSI or less is better.
I'm a devotee of estate sales and farm auctions, where old gauges for $2 or $3 are sometimes among the stuff I buy.
A tire gauge measures air pressure too, so I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work for checking compression.
(Message edited by steve_jelf_parkerfield_ks on November 27, 2014)
No reason your tire gauge wouldn't work fine as a compression tester. The only difference is that most compression testers have a check valve to hold the pressure from the pistons upstroke.
Sometimes the check valve is in the gauge and sometimes in the attached hose.
I should have mentioned that. You can use the modern hose/fittings with check valve and put the old gauge on it.
While we're on compression testing, I believe you're supposed to test first with the cylinders dry, then put in a little oil for a second test. If the compression is much improved on the second test it indicates leaking rings.
Do the compression test with the engine warm, all the spark plugs removed, and the throttle blocked wide open. Steve is correct, test it first, then if one cylinder is a lot lower than the others, try squirting a little oil into the spark plug hole. This will temporarily help the rings of that cylinder seal better. Give the oil a few seconds to spread around the top ring before you test that cylinder again.
If the pressure on the oiled cylinder comes up close to the other cylinders, then the problem in that cylinder is associated with poor ring sealing. If the compression stays low, then the problem is likely due to a burned exhaust valve, or a valve that is bent or adjusted too tight and is not seating properly.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Do not let your coils buzz without the sparkplug wires being grounded. Letting your coils buzz without a ground will ruin the coil. The spark will find a ground on its own through the path of least resistance. That path will most often be internally in the coil, most times through the secondary windings, burning through the fine wire in the secondary.
A quickie test for compression would be to leave the car in high and jack up one wheel. With the switch off turn the engine over with the crank. There should a significant increase in torque as each cylinder comes up on the compression stroke and each cylinder should feel about the same.
Thank you all for taking the time to give me advice! I am first going to fill the tank up and play with the spark and fuel mixture. Anything fuel related is either brand new of I went through it and made sure it worked well. I have a hunch that it is just starving for fuel when it gets to an incline. If that doesn't work then I'll try the other suggestions. Happy Thanksgiving!
If you are still using the buzz coils, get your engine running at a fast idle then gently push down on the bottom point to get one coil to stop sparking. You should notice a decrease in engine speed. Then try another and another. It should slow down when each coil is pressed. If so, all coils are producing spark and it is running on all cylinders. If one or more makes no difference, that cylinder is not firing. This could be caused by bad coil. A way to verify is to switch that coil with another which works. If the coil was bad, the misfire would move to the other position where you placed the coil. If it is still in the position where you first noticed, check your timer , the wire between coil box and timer, the spark plug or the coil box itself. When you rebuilt the engine, did you place the front crankcase bolt which is below the timer with the head up and the nut below? That one bolt should be placed with the head up so that the end of the bolt does not come in contact with the timer. If it does come in contact, you will have a constant buzzing on one coil which would cause a misfire.
You say you rebuilt the engine. How was the taper on the cylinder? Did you use a hone on the cylinders before you installed new rings? If you install new rings in glazed cylinders, they will either not seat or take a very long time to seat. If the rings are not seated you would have low compression. I have found that after an engine rebuild, it takes a few hundred miles to develop maximum power due to tightness of the parts and low compression from new rings. As you drive the car, the performance should increase.
I have also found that new rings in worn cylinders will not fix lack of compression. Several reasons. one of which is the rings do not fit the cylinders. Another is the ring grooves in the pistons wear allowing compression to leak between the rings and the pistons. I just rebuilt an engine which had some of your symptoms. It was very slow going uphill. I had taken the cheap way the first time I had it apart. It knocked and had loss of power. The pistons were too loose and the cylinders were too worn out. I had the block sleeved to standard and replaced the pistons and rings. Unfortunately, even though the crankshaft bearings were good before the block was sleeved, the process ruined the bearings and I had to have them re-poured. If I had done the right job the first time, I would have saved money in the long run. With your standard size cylinders, you could bore to 30 thousandths oversize and install new pistons and rings. That would cost considerately less than to sleeve the cylinders.
I probably gave you more information than you need, but all those things need to be checked until you find out the actual cause of the problem. Just start with the easier ones such as the ignition system and fuel system. Next thing would be to check compression. It should be nearly the same on all cylinders and around 50 psi. If it is lower, drive for a few hundred miles and check again. If one or more cylinders is very low, you have a problem in that cylinder. Low compression could be either rings or valves. Usually a few drops oil in a cylinder with low compression will raise the compression. If that happens, your problem is in rings. If it makes no difference the cause could be in valves. It might be low just because it is not broken in. If it doesn't come up, then would be the time to do more extensive work on the engine. I would suggest you find a local friend with experience to help you. The problem might be a very simple one or it could be more complex. I wish you were closer to me so I could personally help you.
Only thing I could add to Norm's excellent step-by-step advice would apply to the valves, if in fact a wet/dry compression test indicates one or more leaking valves:
I mention this because you said you rebuilt the engine. Whether or not you put in adjustable tappets, it is critical that you provided enough valve lash (clearance between tappet and valve stem when valve is closed). I'm thinking .010 for intake and .012 for exhaust but I'm not sure without looking it up. Purists would "cringe" at this, but frankly, .015 on all valves wouldn't hurt; just a bit more noise.
One further thought in this area. If you happened to adjust the valves a bit on the tight side during your rebuild, it is possible that the first few miles after a "valve job" could result in refaced valves running on newly cut or ground valve seats "pounding in" a thousandth or two, which could result in a valve leaking due to not seating quite tight when hot.
However, all of Norm's excellent advice and the bit I added might be all "moot" if just more gasoline in the tank cures your problem,.....FWIW,.......harold
I honed the bores and had new rings on my pistons so I used them. (The car was completely disassembled) I also lapped in the valves. I think I found the problem though. I watched the coils and several of them have super weak sparks. When I replaced those with other spare coils the car made it three times as far as before when climbing the hill. I think that I have bad coils and had even worse coils in it yesterday. My gas tank is full now so I think that the next thing I should try is putting new coils into the car.
Once I have new coils in it I will have a completely new and rebuilt electrical system to go with my new tank and fuel system. If the coils don't fix the problem then I'll dig into troubleshooting the motor. Thanks for the help!
You don't have to get new coils. You can have yours rebuilt. Depending on which new coils You were to buy, rebuilt ones may be better.
Ron the Coil Man will make them good as new. Better, maybe.
What is the difference between buying new ones and having some of mine rebuilt? Thanks
Any you buy will be rebuilt. The difference is a core charge of $30 each.
Ok I understand. I have cores though so I think I will just buy some rebuilt ones. I really appreciate all the help I've gotten by posting on here.
Actually there are at least two companies making new Model T coils. The new coils are like any Model T reproduction part - not as good as originals. Some of the reproduction coils are made so poorly they cannot be repaired by a highly skilled specialist. Click here for more information:
The best coils you can get are those rebuilt by one of the Model T coil rebuilders who use original Ford coil "innards. Brent Mize, Ron Patterson, John Regan, and RV Anderson come to mind immediately, but there are others, and they all produce a quality product.
Click here and scroll down for contact information:
I have a set of rebuilt Patterson coils, beautiful and running perfect.
After swapping emails with Bob Coiro he asked me to post the contents of my email here in the interests of all. He is a true gentleman.
I just read your fine post on the forum trying to help the new fellow get his T to climb the driveway. I agree with the intent of everything you posted except one thing you advised I find troubling and respectfully ask you to consider. What damages most individual T coil units is they eventually get carbon tracking inside of them that is similar to the carbon tracking of the main coil box wood. It is always a bad idea to power up a T coil without a suitable gap of 1/4" or less connected to the coil. What happens is that when one powers up a T coil and there is either no gap or very wide gap (greater than 1/4") for the spark voltage to jump, the spark will always jump "somewhere" and with no external gap that is less than the internal parts spacing inside the coil unit, the voltage will arc inside the coil and lay down carbon tracking in there. Eventually if not immediately, the coil will now have a lower resistance path for the spark to travel that is inside the coil and the arc will occur there and not at the plug. This is not repairable since once this happens there is no way of knowing where it is and most likely it is between windings which is then fatal to the coil. Please reconsider your advise to new folks and warn of the dangers of which I speak since model T coils can last a very long time if they are not damaged by being powered up with no gap or too wide of a gap. While a good coil most likely will spark across 3/8" it proves nothing to do that and if it does not jump that gap, it will be jumping instead inside the coil unit and that can be fatal to the coil unit. 1/4" is plenty wide since the plugs are gapped at 1/32" normally and even under compression the gap equivalent is only about 1/8" thus 1/4" test gap tests the coil safely. Disconnecting all plug wires and then turning on the battery power is not a good thing to do.
If I buy the rebuilt ones from Lang's or Snyders are they rebuilt correctly?
I would guess theirs are done by one of the coil specialists, but why not go directly to the source? Then you'll know they're done right and guaranteed. Contact Ron Patterson or Brent Mize.
I bought four new coils from one of the vendors. I asked them before ordering if they were set up correctly and was told they were. When I got them, they had almost one quarter inch point gap, so no, they are not right. I would go to one of the specialists you see here. They will be perfect and reliable for many years.
Ask around the local T club. Someone in your area should have a coil tester or Strobospark. Even a "buzz box" is helpful. The point gap should be set first, then the spring tension adjusted for spark at 1.3 amps. When these adjustments are correct, and depending on the condition of the actual windings inside and the condition of the condenser, it should give you a good spark. I'm sorry the coils didn't arrive in correct adjustment.