Question about using the handbrake.

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Question about using the handbrake.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Conte on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 11:08 am:

I plan to move the Fordor under its own power soon. I have read here that you should not use the hand brake for normal stops and that the reason is that they used unlined shoes meaning it was metal on metal. The brake shoes are now lined so what is the problem with using the hand brake with the foot brake to stop the car?
Thanks


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 11:13 am:

No problem at all, I think it's good to use the hand brake (if lined) from time to time for stopping so the reflexes are fresh if something breaks in the drive line..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Henry Petrino in Modesto, CA on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 11:16 am:

My $.02 worth:

The handbrake (aka emergency brake) was not designed for use as a service brake. Its primary function is that of a parking brake. It also serves as an emergency brake. Admittedly the T service brake is not great, so the best advice is to drive your T as though it has no brakes at all. In this way you will never be suddenly disappointed.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Tomaso - Milton,WA on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 12:32 pm:

Henry gives good advice.

"Grabbing" for the parking brake lever in an emergency with or without lined shoes is only going to lessen the impact, slightly !


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 12:38 pm:

What Henry said!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 12:42 pm:

I mean Henry Petrino --
I tried to get and answer from Henry Ford but he didn't respond.
His email server is mast likely down.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 01:14 pm:

Henry Fords server is down...down about 6 feet.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth from NC on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 01:54 pm:

I agree with Henry P but also Roger. Even lined it's really not meant to be your service brake. However, you should go through the motions enough that you don't waste precious split seconds and feet of road while your brain fumbles to spit out "Grab the hand brake!"

I know it has saved me. I was doing about 50 mph on a 55 mph road. Clear and bright day and no cars in front of me. One car starts to come up beside me and slowly passes on the left (they are ogling the speedster) and the folks behind them were very impatient and frustrated. Finally they get up far enough that the second car cuts over a few feet in front of me and starts to zoom ahead. Well, right about then the light ahead changes. Normally it's not a problem, I'd just roll right through the yellow. We'd already passed the point where in my head I've decided I'm committed and going through the light. They both decide to stop.

Ya'll know what I'm talking about - you decide maybe 2 beats late to not go through the yellow light and you tell your passengers "Sorry, hold on." It's not a viciously hard stop but much firmer than comfortable. Well, when a modern car stops like that in front of a T . . . I'm instantly throttle/spark all the way up while grabbing the wheel with both hands and pushing the brake through the floor. My accessory AC brakes are doing a good job, honestly better than I expected, but I'm NOT going to stop in time. I can't bail out left or right so it's stop or nothing. *GRAB THE HANDBRAKE* my brain finally spits out and that lets me start chirping the tires a little and I stop with about 12 inches between me and the car in front of me. The ACs work really well - I can lock them up but try not to as I don't want to spin, but once you ride that line between locking up and just barely rolling for too long they heat up and lose their effectiveness. Thank goodness for that lined handbrake.

The two knuckle heads (yes, the people slowly easing past snapping pics with their phone are just as dumb) zoom off having no idea of the ordeal I've just experienced in slow motion. My point is if grabbing the handbrake had been more reflexive and less deliberate I could have probably stopped short with dry pants.

I no longer drive on that road if it is remotely avoidable as people just drive too stupidly. But I do make a point to make myself occasionally reach for the handbrake and use it to bring myself to a stop. The best policy is to barely need the brakes because you do all of your decelerating with the throttle. But, sometimes it doesn't quite work out like that out in the wild. =)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Henry Petrino in Modesto, CA on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 02:10 pm:

Seth,
I recently heard or read this, maybe even here:

A turtle and a snail had a race. On the far turn they crashed. When the crash crew got there the snail was crushed and the turtle was upside down. They turned him right side up and asked him what happened. He said, "I don't know. It all happened so fast!"


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dean Yoder, Iowa City IA. on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 02:22 pm:

You loose the breaking effect of the Engine when you pull the parking break.
Use your engine to slow you down then apply the break.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill dugger on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 03:14 pm:

Dean is it

BRAKE or BRAKES's


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 03:24 pm:

Here's what I would suggest that you do. First up the throttle. Same time apply the foot brake. If an emergency which requires use of the parking brake, push in the low pedal at the same time you pull back the parking brake. That way you will still be using the braking action of the engine and also the parking brake. In the case of the car with the Rocky or Bennett brakes, you would actually have 4 braking systems in action at the same time. However, it is still working on the back wheels and when the tires slide, that's all she'll do.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George_Cherry Hill NJ on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 03:30 pm:

I would not personally recommend it...if you want better braking, go to a set of externals with an equalizer...

OUAT (once upon a time...but this is no fairy tale it just happened near 40 years ago) I set up a very late '25 Fordor that had the large drum system on it to have equal 'pull' by setting the car rear on stands, and using the parking brake to get the wheels to stop equal (I bought it with gummed up clutch plates and while flushing and finding free neutral, and having added new rear linings I figured best way to find 'equal' was on stands).

Never intended to use as a regular brake, but one day when I was accidentally cut off by Elgin's Dick Petty in his red torpedo roadster while we were both moving at a good clip and he never even caught me in his peripheral vision...I had but 1 second to decide to pull on the stick or not as my foot was now already sideways across all three pedals and it still seemed to be reeling out anchor...

I pulled the stick back hard and THAT was a mistake! Apparently all it takes is a fraction of a second for one side to skip/lock at speed for a fraction of a second...and the other side goes? Twice as fast! The car power turns 90 and tries to roll! I think you'd be all right in anything other than a closed car...but THAT was the ride of my life as it came up on two wheels, finished the 90 jerk, and settled down...thus actually saving the collision...and indeed functioning as an emergency brake! :-)

I wouldn't want to put myself in that position a 2nd time...not with the fixed brake rods anyway!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By JohnH on Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 07:13 pm:

The Improved Ford's handbrake is a perfectly good service brake with its large drums and lined shoes. They wear a lot better than the transmission brake, and no doubt reduce wear on the drivetrain by using them.
It is only after 12 years of driving, steep hills usually involved, that I've had to do the first relining.
However, because of the handbrake lever being at one side of the car, the drivers side brake will come into effect before that of the passenger side.
This is not usually a problem and if I feel a swerve coming on I'll use more foot brake. Anyway, an equaliser is available if one was fussy about that.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 07:40 pm:

What Dean Yoder said and modern brakes on equipment usually run in oil!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By keith g barrier Savannah Tn. on Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 08:30 pm:

When I try and teach folks to drive a T I tell them to use the parking brake pulled back to neutral in order to use reverse and low, much easier than trying to use both feet on the pedals. Also when stopped at a light or anywhere for a short period of time, reach and hold the car with the brake rather than slipping the bands. If you are used to using the brake in this way, you will be more inclined to use it in an emergency situation. My 24 has lined parking brake shoes(after market originals) and they will hold you or stop you albeit not quickly. In an emergency you have to quickly use whatever means you have. KGB


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Thode Chehalis Washington on Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 08:50 pm:

My general rule when driving a Motel T is drive it as if it has no brakes, use the service brake sparingly and be prepared at any time to use the emergency brake for an emergency.

Think way ahead, use then engine for compression braking and always be prepared.

Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells, Hamilton Ontario on Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 09:01 pm:

Jim, I agree totally and that's exactly how I drive it too.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Barker, Somerset, England on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 05:05 am:

I have a '26 which, as others have said, has effective drums on the rear wheels. Two points:
1. If you use the drums as a service brake (either with the handbrake lever or an 'equalizer), all the car's energy will end up as heat in those thin pressed steel drums, which are bolted hard to your wooden spokes.
2. Even so, if you are descending a long steep hill, and low gear isn't holding the speed back sufficiently, the handbrake is a useful device to help matters (while keeping your left foot hard down) and takes strain off the transmission and driveline.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Partington on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 07:06 am:

If you want to use the handbrake as an additional service brake the answer is simple. My racing car has 2 levers one to disengage the clutch the other to pull on the rear brake. The unfortunate side effect is that the rear brakes do tend to catch fire at speeds over 60 to 70 MPH.However to reduce speed from above that figure I do find a few moments use of the handbrake very useful, it works like this from 90 MPH use the handbrake to bring your speed down to say 70MPH then use reverse down to 50 and then the service brake and the handbrake combined. Make sure that your hand brake lining is suitable for high heat applications. I find kevlar transmission linings will handle high heat provided you come off the pedal ocassionaly to reduce the chance of glazing the kevlar. If this happens remove the linings and turn them over ie reverse the working face and go again. Having slowed the car sufficiently then the next challenge is to turn the corner which is another story.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 07:50 am:

And people wonder why I have embarked so seriously on making front wheel brakes!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 07:57 am:

I hope I can remember all that next time I'm doing 90.:-)

I'm a firm believer in engine braking and planning ahead for stops. While both vehicles have lined parking brakes, I do not use them for service brakes during the course of normal driving. In a panic stop, would I remember to use them? I don't know. Probably not. However, the foot brake is capable of locking up the rear axle on both of ours. I'm not sure the parking brake would be of much more help. I have heard of someone locking up the foot brake and one axle continuing to turn forward and the other skidding backwards. Wheel brakes would help in this situation, but I've never experienced this. On the 2-3 occasions I've made panic stops, I left two black skid marks.

It's pretty common for us T owners to say you should drive like you have no brakes. And knowing how a T handles, I understand why we say that. I say it too sometimes. However, it may be that we are scaring newbies who may tend to take that more literal than we intend. There is no reason for the OP to feel like he will HAVE to use the foot brake AND the parking brake just because he's getting ready to move his car under it's own power for the first time.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 10:07 am:

The quick answer to your question is it's OK to do. It'll seat the lined shoes faster and after a couple of readjust you'll have some decent stopping power. For a T anyway. That being said I'd guess that after you really learn to drive your car you'll give up this "extra step" and slow down & stop as everyone else. There's enough to do as it is.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth from NC on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 10:48 am:

Yes, don't be scared newbies.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

=D Your dose of Star Wars for the day.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dean Yoder, Iowa City IA. on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 11:07 am:

Bill , You are going to be busy if you attempt to correct My spelling & grammar!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard Eagle Ida Fls on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 11:13 am:

On a long descent from a ski hill I found that alternating the hand brake and low band worked quite well. It gave time for oil to cool the low band and also time to let the engine slow down. This was with cast iron shoes and the scraping sound was a little irritating. I also used the brake pedal some but that causes excessive wear to the band. It did generate some cast iron dust in the wheel drum. It was a much steeper grade than most roads we travel and have usually found alternating high and low to be most effective.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dean Yoder, Iowa City IA. on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 11:17 am:

P.S. Thanks Bill. If you think that post was bad you should see what my I phone does with my miss spelled words! I some times wondered WHO typed that?
Dean


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By G.R.Cheshire on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 11:32 am:

I was told by the man that sold me the Model T I have "stopping in a Model T is a planned and well executed event, NOT AN EMERGENCY!"


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 11:40 am:

One other great use of the hand brake is it's ability to hold the car in neutral when 1/2 way on. Super for pulling into a garage. Especially when you're a newbie. You know how I know.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 12:13 pm:

True confession: I use both brakes for stopping. Perhaps that should be all three brakes if you include engine braking. My procedure for a planned stop is (1) throttle & spark levers up to slow down; (2) a bit of hand brake to slow down more; (3) foot brake for the final stop. By the time I get to that last step I'm going mighty slowly, so the foot brake doesn't have a lot of work to do. Why do I use the hand brake? Because I'd much rather replace wheel brake linings than transmission linings. What about heat? I cruise at Model T speed, 30 to 35 mph. With engine braking as the first step in a long gradual stop, neither the wheel brakes nor the transmission brake have time to generate much heat.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 12:18 pm:

I'm with Hal on this one..
Hoping to get to 90 :-)

OH He is hoping to remember when he gets to 90

Wait - he is talking about going 90 :-(

At least I have the 90 part right!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kep on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 05:24 pm:

Would like a speedster that would do 90. Not that i would be able to go that fast but the car could might be fun.

i use lined brakes for stopping often (like down hills and people pull out in front of me) But i'm pretty hard on the car.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 05:34 pm:

Can some one please explain how retarding the spark helps with engine braking?

Any trucker worth his salt will tell you that you never let her out of gear on a descent or slow down because you lose engine braking. As soon as you haul on the handbrake in a T, that is exactly what you do! For this action to be of ANY benefit, your handbrake must be better than your foot brake and engine braking capacity combined. If this is the case on your T, something is seriously awry.

Hope this helps.

allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Barker, Somerset, England on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 05:43 pm:

As I wrote, it can be useful to pull the handbrake on a low-gear descent - you don't lose engine braking in low.
I've never understood why retarding the ignition might increase engine braking either. And it doesn't seem to in my car.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harold Schwendeman - Sumner,WA on Monday, March 23, 2015 - 06:16 pm:

Some time last year, there was a HUGE discussion on whether or not retarding the spark would aid in engine braking. Jim Thode actually ran some tests with his car which proved that to a slight degree, fully retarding the spark does slightly help in engine braking. If you really want to know badly enough, use key words to find this "discussion", because it's much too hard to explain.

I will say this,.....I was one who said retarding the spark helps, but again it's hard to explain:

I don't think that if you're cruising along on level road at say at any normal cruising speed, and you fully close the throttle, and then fully retard the spark, you won't feel any improvement in engine braking (probably because there isn't any). But I'll tell you what you will feel,..........

If you leave the spark advanced and then fully close the throttle and let the engine brake the car as much as it will, let's say hypothetically, down to 12 mph, at which point you no longer feel that the engine is slowing the car down any more. Now, if you do the same thing on the same level road, except fully retard the spark as well as fully close the throttle, the engine will then slow the car down to say (again hypothetically) 9mph before you can "feel" that the engine is no longer braking.

Or, to say it another way, in the first case, closing the throttle with spark advanced and slowing to say, 12mph, if you then fully retard the spark, you'll actually feel that the engine will slow the car down at least a couple more mph, say down to 9mph or so. Again, the numbers are hypothetical, but the point is, you'll actually "feel" a bit more slowing by fully retarding the spark at that point.

I believe those couple more mph engine braking is worth the little effort it takes to use engine braking to the maximum, but I also think that there's a real question as to whether or not retarding the spark makes any difference during the "slow-down period from "cruising speed" down to say about 12 mph or so.

I guess there's a third way to say what I'm trying to explain, and that is that the engine will only slow the car down until the engine slows to normal idle speed. And by fully retarding the spark, you actually slow the idle speed of the engine a bit more, which slows the car a bit more.

Said this was too hard to explain (at least my "take" on engine braking) and then I tried to explain my "theory" anyway,.....sheeesh,......think I'm sorry I got into this at all, (and I'll bet you guys are too),......harold


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 05:30 am:

Thanks for your post Harold. I guess it would not apply the way I set up my carb controls. To get maximum engine braking I set my throttle so the engine will cut out if I push the lever right up. Even leaving the car with a little idle on the stop will result in poorer engine braking.

Allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 07:45 am:

Harold,

It's been a while since I actually took any measurements, but it seems like my experience was just the opposite. Retarding the spark to help engine braking seems to be more effective at higher speeds and the effect seems to diminish as the car slows.

I experimented a little with this a while back, but could not find it in the archives. I went into town and cruised at some speed (Say 30) until I passed a particular point at which I hit a stop watch and closed the throttle and timed how long it took to get to a second point on the road. There was definitely a difference in time between retarding the spark and not. I'll have to do some more experimenting sometime and record the results.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Georgetown TX on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 07:57 am:

Retarding the spark with the throttle closed going down long hills helps slow the car down. Particularly on really steep hills where you spend several minutes with the low pedal engaged. Try it, you don't have to take anyone's word on this.

Simply put, with the spark lever all the way up the ignition is too early when the engine is racing, and thus the horsepower added to the crankshaft is less. As RPM decreases the effect goes away because the retarded spark is not a factor at idle speed.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 09:53 am:

Here is the thread where the test results by Jim Thode and Hal Davis were posted: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/331880/411441.html?1388473313

To increase the effectiveness of engine braking even more, the throttle lever could be adjusted to close completely when pushed all the way up. To avoid problems with idling, a welded and filed blob on the quadrant could be placed so the engine idles when the lever is below the blob, but if the lever is pushed further up, the throttle will be completely closed = instant jake brake :-)
A high compression head would probably help both on the way up and on the way down a mountain :-)

In addition to my recommendation above to try the emergency brake and keep yourself trained in the use (to be prepared if anything breaks in the driveline) I should mention my T's are 26/27 improved Fords with large rear drums and I've never tried braking with a lined small drum.


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