Quick questions... that are sure to be a long answers:
I am locking in on a 17... no electrics. I originally started out with looking at the later models with electrics, but for some reason I have always been drawn to the mag only cars. (17, 18, 19 model years)
So what to expect...
I am pretty much versed in all things mechanical but have never really dealt with a car that runs only on mags.
For those that run on mags what should I be on top off that the manuals don't touch up on when it comes to the mag system?
Do you carry any sort of maintenance checks on the mag system before and after a run?
Which tool/s would you recommend to have for these checks...
Lastly, what do you consider the 'weak' point of a well taken care off system?
Or are they pretty much bullet proof as long as the system is 'charged' and well maintained.
Thanks in advance!
"...but have never really dealt with a car that runs only on mags."
Those cars will also run on battery. The only T's that only run on mag are those with the battery removed.
"Lastly, what do you consider the 'weak' point of a well taken care off system?"
A well taken care of system theoretically shouldn't have any weak points. But, the element of the system that needs the most attention and maintenance would be the timer. (Periodic cleaning, lubrication & inspection)
Aside from the fact that you'll have no starter or generator, a '17, '18, '19 T is just like any other later version.
What I meant by mag only was that I have never had a car that you switch to run off mags once you are ready to drive off...
Okay time to do a bit of forum searches on timers!
Our '15 is a "mag-only" car, it had a rusty, dissolving flashlight battery in it when I dragged it home. After I made necessary repairs and replacements (it hadn't run in 20+ years), I used a battery charger to power the coils to start it, switched over to mag and disconnected the charger and that was that. It started right back up on mag, so I never put a battery back in it. The magneto headlights are way better than I had been lead to believe, they are yellow at low revs, but they brighten right up at road speed. It always starts easily, it has an NH carb, Coilman coils (thanks, Ron, the best money I ever spent) and it has an Anderson timer. It is a fast and strong running car and, if it wasn't for its miserable seat (depot hack) I would drive it anywhere. it has been dependable as can be for 10 years.
Robert. There really is no difference between what you are calling an electric car and a non electric car except the starter system. The non electric (as you are calling it) will "have" to be hand cranked. An "electric" car would have a starter (with a push start button in the floor) to start it with, (or you could also hand crank it if you want. Most people with a non starter (non electric) car, have a small battery under the seat that hooks to the switch and powers the coils when the switch is turned to the "bat" position. They use it for starting purposes, because sometimes it is easier to hand crank on "bat" than on "mag" Then you switch to mag after the car is started. Other than that all stock Ts are basically alike. They use the same coil system, same timer system, same basic carb system, same basic gas delivery system, same splash oil system, same thermo siphron cooling system, same trans band system, and same poor brakes .... Notice I said "stock Ts. Im not taking into account the aftermarket stuff a lot of Ts are using (for better or worse) If you do not mind hand cranking, then I see no problems for you. and the plus is that you have none of the starter system to brake down on you (unless you break your arm).... .... good luck in the search and have fun ..
In Google type mtfca: check magneto voltage. That should get you the info on how to be sure it's putting out enough juice. If it isn't, your next search is mtfca: magneto charge. That will get you a lot of reading on the various methods.
Dan Haynes' depot hack is an older restoration that carries its age well, looks nice, and is one of the nicest running Ts I have ever seen! He likes to use it to demonstrate how a mag only T should start with easy quarter-cranking. I have have never seen it fail him. With proper adjustment, every T should run that sweetly!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, the Nola!
Robert -- I recommend putting a small riding-mower-type 12-v battery under a seat and connecting that to the Battery post on your coil box, as Donnie mentioned. The car will start more quickly on Bat than Mag, especially when it's cold. Apparently Dan's car doesn't need that luxury (I can believe that ).
But one of my T buddies has a '21 which is and always has been a non-electric car and he has no battery in it. He always starts it by hand, on Mag. Most of the time it starts right up. Once in a while, the car takes a fit decides it doesn't want to start that way and he needs a push to start it. Sometimes that's convenient, often it's not. I've suggested a few times that he should install a battery for starting, but he's as stubborn as the rest of us old farts.
I don't mean to insult anyone, and God knows I've done dumber stuff. Here it is, intended to help:
If you follow Mikes advice and carry a battery, be sure to also connect the negative battery terminal to the chassis or better yet the engine. If you don't, it won't work.
A magneto meter is a nice way to check how efficient your magneto is. The magneto in each of my cars is strong but at 70 I prefer to use a small motor cycle battery for starting especially when it is cold. The big thing to look out for is end play on the crank shaft. That, weak magnets, or a combination,of both will cause a magneto to operate poorly. Other than that I find the magneto to be a very reliable and durable source of power but, when it fails, it is nice to have battery back up to get you home! As for starters, I think they are highly overrated.
You can have a perfect running model T and if you do not know how you might not get it to start on mag with the crank!! I think i had been a T owner maybe 7 or 8 years and had two T's before the forum taught me!! Bud.PS,There are many T owners who will not use the crank!!!!!! Bud.
It's mentioned here that '17, '18 and '19 are mag only years. Actually '19 is an electric year.
To run on mag, you need a set of coils that are set up properly on a HCCT or Strobospark, not a buzz box or "set by ear". That is the single most crucial thing to a car that runs great on mag. If you have a good mag and a good set of properly adjusted coils, you are 90% of the way there. You might want to have a battery to help start, but once you get the hang of starting on mag, you will seldom feel the need to use battery. Starting on mag is a source of pride. You'll be glad you got it into that condition.
Val is CORRECT!
Crankshaft main bearing wear is one of the BIG problems I have encountered running on Mag. Sure it is FUN and shows the way a lot of people drove their cars in the early days. It is fun to show off at stops that you make around when you are driving your T by cranking it. I have had a few heart attacks from age 41 up until just a few months back. It is not fun to hand crank them. Sometimes they just get cranky!!! You'll get out of breath quite quickly when this happens. Pushing is NOT fun. You can damage the cars sheetmetal especially on a touring!
YES... I have rolled one of mine downhill and let out the C pedal for high gear and they start. Fun? Yeah a little. Your T when it is warmed up if the engine is really good on it's clearances can self start simply by just moving the spark control rod (no cranking nor use of electric start) (the key must be ON). Cranking is fun to show off if your engine clearances are perfect only in my opinion. Everyone likes to brag on "Mine only takes a quarter turn of the hand crank and she's runnin".
Yeah, but there is no need for that really today.
My Brass cars do not have a later engine in them so they all must hand crank. But I like the later starter and gen engines today. Over the years MANY of the old (T) timers installed the later flywheel and housings on their early cars with a battery so they could enjoy them more. It was a favorite swap out for many.
I did NOT like those cars and what the owners had done! Personal opinion (then)... now that I am older... I see what they were doing and that too is alright!!! So I guess what I am saying to you it is strictly up to you what you do with your T Ford BUT... you may change your opinion later on too.
Do NOT rule out a good buy or a good running Ford just because it has a starter. Or a battery. It WILL RUN and DO all that I have said above with or without a battery or a starter. You can crank it 1/4 turn and off you go BUT you must have a really good unworn out T engine to do it with.
I built drag race cars for years, hot rods, Muscle cars, Corvettes, etc. It will take you 2-3 times as much more money to rebuild the T engine as it does on any of the others on a rebuild!!!!!!!
Unless you are really doing some exotic stuff to an engine. Ex: Blown, Englise carbed, Fuel injected via Hilborn or other old time driven pump type FI systems. Turbos sometimes can do it cheaper but the T takes someone who does that rebuild all of the time and has all of the tools to argue with my statement. I have built MANY T engines. They are work! Or expensive if you have them done. So are the late models to HAVE them done. It all hinges around your crankshaft condition of your mains, babbitt thrust, all of the spindles and magnets clearances, condition of your mag coil unit, coils, timer, corrosion around wiring termination points. etc.
And, YES, (I am not shouting here it is just easier to hit caps key instead of hitting parenthesis or quotations!!!!!) it is FUN to drive your T around in the dark using your side lamps lit and your Mag headlites the way it USE to be done! I even love the gas lamp parades that I use to get into during the Jose Gaspar parade in Tampa... at night of course.
So Robert, the T's all can be driven like you are talking about. From 1909 to 27. It only takes buying a good drive train T or $$$$. Or a LOT of work!
Welcome to the Forum.. Land of knowledge (and many opinions!).
Joe in Mo.
One important rule that I have learned on my 14. Don't forget to turn the switch on when you want to start it....Don't ask
I have a 17 motor, no starter, no generator.
It runs on trembler coils and an Anderson flapper timer.
The flywheel magneto is a little weak, it needs an in-car magnet recharge, but it will run on the mag.
The public seem to be intrigued by the process of starting an old car.
Crank to prime while holding the choke out. Spark lever to retard and a little throttle. Turn on the ignition and listen for the buzz.
Then, pull the choke a little, one quarter turn and it is ALIVE!
You gradually ease the choke and then race around to pull the advance and reduce the throttle, often to applause!
Ahhh, the joy of driving a T!
I start my '27 on mag and have for years. Often I'll hand crank it just for fun
When using the starter, my 26 Fordor, (with distributor, sorry), will start the first time a plug fires. Every time.
However, when someone asks about crank starting I usually step in front just to show them how it's done. Every single time, I have to crank my ass off before she'll start. It's just her little joke on me for making her run on a distributor I guess.
I have 5 Model T's without starters and 2 with starters but the only time I use the starter is if I stall out at a light in traffic. I am always nervous about getting out and standing in front of a car to start it on the road with all the idiots out there talking, texting and doing everything else other than driving. That said, I would definitely keep a 12 Volt battery on board for crank starting and as a way of getting home if the mag craps out. A six volt battery will do it also but a decent lawn mower or motorcycle battery is smaller and cheaper and the car runs better on 12 volts. Another tip is that you can make cold starting a bit easier by jacking up one rear wheel after securely chocking a front wheel. When I used to live up north I had to do that in the winter when the temperature was below freezing. Now that I am in Florida I don't bother. Also, keep the hand lever all the way forward when the car is not running and just pull it back before starting. That will squeeze the oil out from between the clutch discs and reduce drag when you start cold.
I cranked my 25 touring to start it one winter morning 1964 and the vibration wiggled the hand brake forward. the car started moving pinning me to the back of the garage!!! I was young then but it still scared me trying to climb out and fast was NOT fast enough for me. Lucky the fenders stick out just enough to keep me from being mashed! Also, if that crank would have re-engaged I shudder to think what would have happened. My garage did not have any inner wallboard just wood exterior siding then.
Yes Joseph, it can be scary. The tires should touch the wall first leaving no damage. I know it would be hard to think of at the moment but, if it happens again, try to remember to pull the choke all the way out. The engine will stall. Also, the crank will be turning in a direction that turns the handle into a harmless noisemaker.
(Message edited by 404 not found on February 13, 2015)
Especially in cold weather, use a good wheel chock when starting.
Welcome to the T world.
One other consideration when buying a pre-1919 T is the location of the wishbone on the front axle. Pre-1919 the wishbone is located on the top of the axle and post-1919 it was moved to beneath the axle for safety reasons. Pre-1919 cars can be fitted with an accessory second wishbone the attaches under the wishbone. This is strictly a safety issue and was many times done during the T-era.
Dave and Steve
That was in 1964 and was when I learned to do this stuff. I did not have the choke wire on the 25 then. Nor did I chock the tires. A learning experience then though. I see Dave you've obviously been there done that too! But the first time it happens to an owner it is not funny!
My mom helped me once by spilling hot water all over the engine and jacking up the rear tire with my T jack, on my 25 in the winter. It had snowed about 3-4 inches that night. I owned a 1956 Olds 2 door ht. and it would not start. I needed to get to class at SMS (teacher's college in Mo.) The T started on MAG! It had a battery 6v. But was cold and would not turn over the engine either. My mom surprised me with her help and what she did. She was NOT a car person nor an antique auto person. Neither was my father who was at work that day. But she had learned this back when she was a child on the farm. Watching and helping her father (Grandpa). It worked! I got to college class on time. I heard about that trip for years from the staff at the now university. SMSU where I later taught in the IET dept. I parked it in front of the old IET building Quonset hut type building now belonging to the Art dept.
They all will do what you are asking. Most 17 to 1919 cars got converted to a starter usually. NOT ALL!!!! There were die hards back then just like now!!! If it works don't fix it! So if your car is a real 17 (pure) than change it if you want it. "It's YOUR money use it when you want to"!
There is nothing wrong with leaving the 17 a nonelectric car!!! I would have done that and will (????) with my 18 probably. Again ??? I'm older now.
Joe in Mo.
I had the opposite problem with my 1912 "Hand Crank" car. I was at one of our clubs annual "Texas T Party" tour noon lunch break when a local reporter start asking me about my car.
Of course, I told him that it was hand crank only. The engine was still warm from the morning run and I had a 12V back up battery for the ignition in case the Magneto failed.
He asked me to show him how I hand crank the car. I went to the car, adjusted the spark lever and after making sure the car was in neutral, I turned the Key to the battery position.
You guessed it, the car STARTER UP. After that, I do not think the reporter believed me about the "Hand Crank Only".