With the crappy weather today I decided to sit by the fire and catch up on some of my DVR shows. Caught one titled "Edison:American Experience" on PBS, and toward the end, there was a snippit of Edison, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford camping. Showed ol' Henry starting a T, his left hand grabbing the R.F. fender, right hand cranking the engine AT LEAST five times a full 360 degrees!! Then it lit off and putt putt putt. And here all this time we've been trying it on a quarter pull at 9 o'clock position, sometimes successfully, sometimes not!
I saw that too and at the time i wondered if the crank was pushed in?? Bud.
According to a casual internet search, Henry Ford was left handed.
I'm also left handed and never crank with my dominant limb !
Perhaps the footage in the documentary was flipped.
Here's footage of Henry Ford "cranking" a Model T. He's just spinning it with his right hand.
He's also making pancakes - with his right hand.
So, it appears he was not left handed.
Here he is writing with his right hand:
If you love stock footage of Henry:
Whether a person is right handed or left handed is irrelevant when it comes to cranking. It takes no fine motor skills like writing or sewing. No dexterity required. I'm right handed but I crank with my left. You can also crank safely with your right by facing left and keeping your hand on the left side of the handle. I tend to get preachy on this subject since I broke an arm with stupid cranking.
Look, we know the crank can be dangerous. _We also know that being human, sooner or later one of us will forget to retard the spark and the engine will kick back. _If, when that happens, you're using your right hand, there's at least a reasonable chance of injury because that's the only way it ever seems to happen. _We have yet to hear from someone on this forum bearing witness of someone getting injured while cranking left-handed. _That's a telling statistic.
I left hand crank.
I crank right handed. When an informal poll was done on this site a couple or three years ago, the vast majority cranked right handed. I told y'all years ago that if it ever happened to me, you guys would be the first to know. I meant it. I'll man up. But until then, I'm cranking right handed.
I did not know that you broke your arm cranking Steve. I received a good whack myself once upon a time, huge bruise, no break. I wonder how many guys on here have actually broken their arms in a similar fashion?
(Message edited by Ed in California on February 12, 2015)
Yep, I did it with stupid cranking. Trying to start a tractor I grabbed the crank with both hands and pulled up and over the top. It was that last part, going over the top, that did it. When the crank kicked back it fractured that right wrist. The pain was so excruciating I passed out on the ground. When I woke up I drove to the hospital.
My souvenirs are a bumpy wrist, weak grip, and numb fingers during the winter.
As I mentioned above, while left is best there's also a safe way to crank with the right. But I rarely see anybody use it. It's a good thing all the folks doing it wrong can't possibly forget to retard the spark.
Just my 2 cents but i retard the spark before i hit the switch!! You get more free starts,and with a Anderson timer it's a must! Bud.
We have yet to hear from someone on this forum bearing witness of someone getting injured while cranking left-handed. _That's a telling statistic.
My grandfather broke his arm cranking my dad and his brother's Model T pickup. It was their "school car" and dad says Grandpa would "wind it up," until he suffered a broken Arm. After that, the boys had to start it. He was a farmer, and this was in the mid to late thirties, so I'm sure a broken arm was quite a setback to a farmer trying to support a family of five kids during the depression.
Hello all- I am a first-time poster although I have been reading vicariously for three years now. I am an absolute new-bee. I'm a bit embarrassed to ask, but bear with me with a couple of questions/comments.
1) I have three crank start T's and I struggle with all of them trying to start them so I must not have something setup correctly. I'm expecting that I should crank once or twice and they should go, correct? I need a checklist of what I need to go over and inspect/check out to make this a smooth operation,i.e., pull all the timers, clean, replace, re-install, etc., etc.
2) I am right-handed and I find I'm just not strong enough to crank them with my left hand. (I'm 'only' 6'1" and 230lbs)Is something wrong with my cars or am I just a weakling? Should I jack up the rear ends to make things easier?
3) The fellow that sold me my 1912 commercial roadster,(he had a bit of a convoluted starting procedure admittedly, but) showed me that he started it with his foot, stepping down on the crank when it was set at 3:00 position - seems odd to me and I've never seen anyone comment on that? It worked for him, but made me nervous...
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Here's how I start my 1924 cut-off touring (now a pickup). Disclaimer - my car came to me without a magneto and with a Truefire ignition installed.
1. Pull emergency brake lever full back. Having one front wheel chocked isn't a bad idea.
2. Set the timing lever full up (fully retarded).
3. Set the throttle lever about 1/4 way down.
4. Set the mixture 1/4 turn rich from its normal "best warmed up cruising" position
5. Open fuel shutoff valve.
6. Wait a few seconds for the carb bowl to fill (this is a good time to give the front spindle and tie rod oilers a squirt of oil).
7. With key off, pull and hold the choke ring out with the left hand, pull the crank up twice with the right hand.
8. Release the crank and choke, turn the key to battery.
9. Grasp the crank with the left hand and engage the crank at about the 7 or 8 o'clock position.
10. Pull crank smartly upward, do not go "over the top".
11. My car usually fires on the first or second crank attempt.
12. As soon as the car starts, walk smartly to the driver's side and set the timing lever about 1/4 to 1/3 the way down.
13. Turn the mixture screw back in 1/8 turn lean (halfway back to the "best warm cruise" position) and let the engine warm up for a minute or two.
14. Turn the mixture screw the remaining 1/8 turn lean to the "best warm cruise" setting, close and latch the hood, remove the wheel chocks if any, hop in the car and go!
If your car has a working magneto, you can quickly switch the key from the "battery" to the "mag" position after step 12.
If you want to try starting your car on magneto, you might want to set the timing lever one or two notches down from fully up in step 2.
Welcome to the club/affliction Bill!
PM me with your email and I'll PDF you some timing instructions I got from John Regan a while back, that might help make the car start easier. Plus, have your coils checked too.
Jacking up one tire definitely makes it crank easier, especially in cold weather. Also make sure you're brake handle has the clutch in as neutral of a position as possible.
Send me a pic of your '12 comm. roadster, I have a '12 C.R. pickup! I've read about standing on the crank at 3 o'clock position too, but I'm too doppy to try it!
That was a silent film, so we don't know whether the car started. However, from the quickness the crank turned, I think it was not pushed in. It turns harder when pushed in and it would have taken more effort to push the crank down and then pull it up.
Here's how my grandpa taught me to hand crank tractors years ago. He also explained the logic behind it.
Put the crank in the ratchet at the 9 o'clock position. Make a hook of your right hand, and place the handle in your fingers. Don't close your fist around the handle, just hook it with your fingers. Give it a sharp tug to the 12 o'clock position. Repeat as necessary until the engine fires.
The idea behind hooking your fingers is that if the engine backfires your grip isn't very strong, so the crank will just pull itself out of your fingers. And because you're pulling upward quickly, you should have your hand out of the way before the crank gets around to the top of the rotation again.
The only time I'll crank the handle all the way around is with the key OFF, in an attempt to get the carburetor primed. The theory behind it is to get the pistons to start drawing fuel/air mixture into the intake and to start slinging oil around the crankcase.
OK Derek, here you go:
Now you've seen it.
Bill, see the video for how your cars should start.
1 You need compression, spark, and fuel/air to start. From the looks of the car in your profile picture, I would guess that the compression is probably OK. I won't go into all the details of checking the fuel and electric situations, but you can find lots of advice on those with a Google search of the forum. You can start by typing mtfca: followed by whatever you want to find.
2 I'm right handed too, and have no trouble pulling lefty even at my advanced stage of maturity. You don't have to be Atlas. If all is set up right, an eight-year-old can do it. Jacking up the rear may help in cold weather when the oil is thick. In warm weather it shouldn't matter.
3 I've seen the foot-starting method, and I think it's perfect for those who would rather have a broken leg than a broken arm.
Jared, I think you can get away with that if your hand is on the LEFT side of the handle. If it's on the right side, as I see most people do it, I guarandamntee you you're not fast enough to get it out of the way if the crank spins back. If it does only 250 rpm, that's a revolution in less than a quarter of a second.
I like and agree with Mark's list on how to make sure the car starts when hand cranking. I just wanted to add my experience that if the car doesn't start with two-three quarter pulls with the left hand & battery or mag connected, then it won't start with 20-30 pulls either - it's back to priming a couple of more right hand quarter pulls with the choke rod out, bat or mag might be shut off temporarily. Then it may start if the ignition works and if you have compression. Steve Jelf wrote about his experience how adding a little oil in the cylinders to boost compression helped on a fresh engine where the rings hadn't seated yet.
More modern cars with downdraft carbs are much easier to get flooded with gas. With an updraft you don't have to worry as much about flooding it
Steve: When I saw your wrist it reminded me of a late friend. A bunch of were setting having coffee one morning and I noticed his wrist was all out of shape. He was from Mason City Iowa. His Dad had bought him a roadster pick, and he would go to the farmers and pick up eggs and milk to be sold. Well this one morning(according to the story) he was going to start the car and apparently the spark lever was down and he pulled up and the engine went backward and as some know you cannot get out of the way of the crank and low and behold he ended up like you-broken wrist and he said the did not do the splint and all the re-setting like today and he had the big knob on one side. He later ended up in Califunny here in Redding. He was a great old fellow-kinda like you, and Last I saw you still had the tape measure on your bib overalls.
Have a great day and all you hand cranking T'Rs be careful with them thar cranker's as they can come back and bite you bbbbbbbbiiiiiiigggggg time.
Like the broken crankshafters don't become one of the broken wrister's!!!!!!!!!!!!!
never mind the misssuspelllled wourds
Another tip - the first thing I do after I shut the car off is to put the spark lever all the way up and the throttle 1/4 down in anticipation of the next time I start the car.
I still check them before every start, though.
Steve, show him your video of what that treacherous crank did when you didn't retard the spark! (Good thing you were cranking left-handed)
Here you go. Don't try this at home, kids.
Mark, I do the same thing when shutting the engine down. It's a good practice to do, especially for the forgetful types like me! I let it run for about 10 seconds that way too, if I anticipate a re-start within the next half hour. Almost always get a free start then.
You will never forget to retard the spark if you do it FIRST!
Since driving my first car, a '28 Model A, in high school in the late '50's, I have always had the habit of fully retarding the spark just before shutting the engine off. Always have, still do, always will. I thought everybody did that! (???) To me, not doing so would be just as foolish as shutting the engine down by closing the gas line shut-off valve and walking away from the car without turning off the ignition key!
I always retard the spark BEFORE switching off the ignition. This is especially important if you are using an Anderson style timer.
And I do check the spark lever before I start the engine.
When I was introduced to the mysteries of the Model T in 1967 at the tender age of 13 we were blessed to be mentored by a semi-retired mechanic from the local Ford dealership. He had begun working there in (I think) 1920 and had stayed on through the decades and different owners. He instructed us about hand cranking using the RIGHT hand. (Is it the right hand or the correct hand....hmmmm, semantics.) He was clear about no thumb wrap around. We did quiz Ralph about the feared and dreaded backfire to which he calmed and assured us that if the ignition timing was correct it could not backfire.
"The spark occurs After TDC, what can possibly push that piston up and cause the engine to turn backwards? What? How?" Thus sayeth Ralph Steel (RIP)
I do know of some who, sadly, have incurred injury while cranking. I do feel sorry for ALL who have been damaged in that manner.
Hand cranking doesn't need to be feared, but it does warrant respect and the assurance that the ignition is CORRECTLY timed.
And now, to inject just a bit of levity, I am reminded of the old joke:
Doc, it hurts when I do this.
Don't do that.
I hesitate to get into this "proper hand cranking" discussion, because it has come up over, and over, and over..........
However, I believe that the most important thing (besides fully retarding the spark) is to always, and ONLY EVER, start from approx. 8 o'clock crank position and pull up, and NEVER EVER go past the 12 o'clock noon position and NEVER go over the top! Terms like "winding" the crank, or "stem-winding" should not ever have been invented, because you should never, ever do it! I believe that going over the top is the main reason the practice of keeping your thumb on the same side of the crank as your fingers became a rule! Also, in going "over the top", that almost has to involve locking your elbow, and that is just "asking" for a broken arm. End of rant,....harold
Harold, it's OK for this subject to come up repeatedly. There are always new folks who don't know about it. You're exactly right. Never go over the top or wind the crank. Folks who do are asking for it.
About 10 years ago I was at the point of starting up the TT for the first time in years after having gone through all the running gear. No matter how much or how hard I'd crank it, it wouldn't start. In desperation I tried many times starting at the 12:00 position and turning it 360 degrees as hard as I could.
I was very lucky. If the damn thing had kicked me it probably would have killed me. It turned out there was a short in the coil box. Once I discovered the problem and repaired it she fired right up with no problem.
I now know a lot better and would never do now as I did then. If it won't start cranking the crap out of it isn't going to start it. Stay calm, figure out what's happening, proceed accordingly. You'll be much happier and probably remain in one piece.
I am by birth left handed and left eye, but was switched by my parents to right hand.As a result, I can use either hand for most tasks. I shoot a rifle left handed. I got my 1910 when I was 14 years old. I always have cranked right handed. This 1910 T back fires now and then. The crank has even hit my wrist. I have never been really hurt. I cup the crank handle with my thumb under the handle. I pull the crank up 4 times with the choke out. I ten turn the switch to battery. I often then get a free start.
Also a good idea to make sure your crank return spring is intact and working. Neither of mine had the spring, but the pickup has a starter on it. The doodle bug is crank only and it only took once for that to fire up with the crank still engaged. The next day I called Lang's and ordered two springs for both vehicles.
I'm with Bill Harper.
When you watch the film snippit you will SEE Mr Ford is flipping his hot cakes with his RIGHT hand. the left is in his pocket!
Joe in Mo.