It's taken me a while, but after several years of finding the right carb, mixture, spark setting, throttle setting and how to hold my tongue, I have finally reached the point where my T will start on the first crank 98 times out of a hundred.
So .... out of curiosity .... about what percentage of the time will your T start on the first crank ?
1. Priming cranks with the ignition key off don't count
2. Stemwinding counts as multiple cranks.
3. Free starts count as a one crank start.
4. All attempts at starting count, whether in cold weather, hot weather, engine cold or engine warm.
Before the rebuild, my 1915 roadster usually started on the first pull, warm or cold. Now it starts on one pull when warm, but may take four or more when cold. On the plus side, it now starts on MAG, but didn't before.
The 1923 touring usually starts on the first pull when warm, but may take three or four when cold. No engine work yet, so no MAG start.
My '14 speedster starts on the first crank darn near every time. Like you say Bud it's not 100% (especially when she gets shy in front of a crowd) but it's pretty close.
The only exception is when it's cold. I can feel that 10w30 being a little thick if it's cold like in the 40's or below, so sometimes it takes 2-3. Mostly because I don't really have to crank her with much effort when warm, I forget and give her a weenie crank when cold. If I remember and crank her over a few times to get things moving before priming then she starts on the first crank without much fuss.
When hot she'll crank right up on 1 as long as you don't choke first. Just don't mess that up or you're in for a marathon - or just walk around for a few minutes.
When warm, either of mine will usually start on the first pull. When cold, I richen 1/4-1/2 turn, do one pull with choke then I usually get a "Try" on the next pull after that.....then several pulls of NOTHING.....until I choke again. Perhaps I should start giving it two pulls with the choke on, but I have flooded one before, so I am apprehensive. This is all on mag, mind you.
BTW, Congratulations on getting yours to hand crank so reliably. It is a rewarding experience isn't it?
Mine takes at least 2 cranks warm but will crank cold every time. She is a strange one.
Here is a video of a normal start. Based on your question Bud the normal count for me is zero.
Royce, that's a jpg.
Hmmm try again.....
Not sure this actually counts, as my 1919 Speedster has several non-stock items involved; Rajo head, Stromberg RF carb, distributor, and electric fuel pump running at 1.5 pounds pressure. But FWIW, when cold, I choke full, switch the key on, and crank until it starts (about 6 pulls). When it's warm, one pull only, almost without fail. Never choke it when warm though.
I think every T may be slightly different. For me, I crank the engine over 3 quarter turns with the choke out, and then hit the switch.
Two pulls with choke, starts first pull with key on (Cold). Relentless free starter when warm.
When cold, below freezing, my '26 is difficult to crank start. It will start when warm on the first few cranks. It has a starter, and I usually use it when I'm impatient or it's really cold.
A friends '16, without a starter will free start almost every other time. Crank starting is the only way with this car and starts very well.
Obviously, it is important that the engine and supporting equipment be in good shape. A poor ignition on any car will cause poor starting and running. Personally I think that, all else being the same, the compression of the engine has a lot to do with it. My friends engine has about 28# on each cylinder. This makes it easier to spin by hand and it will continue to spin farther with inertia. Where as my '26 has 55# of compression and is tougher to spin. My 2¢, Mike
Not clear whether we"re talking about starting using a battery, with the switch on Battery or on MAG? Either of my 12 engines will cold start on MAG with no Battery when I choke it and give it (2) cheater pulls (sometimes).....can take anywhere from 1-6 pulls with the switch on MAG. Typically cranks right over with switch on Battery, but I suspect this is not what we're discussing here?
Battery for me, not MAG
A engine usually stops in one of 4 places up against compression thus it is in the right place for free starts! Myself i think a free start is when you pull the lever back,check the spark,set the throttle,set the mixture,and turn on the switch.I think a free start involves no cranking hot or cold.Of course i think priming before ignition is good whether you do it with the crank or retard the spark before stopping the engine.I think with a Anderson timer you must retard before stopping the engine! I always check my spark before cranking!!!!!!!!!!!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Model T's prior to 1919 were normally hand cranked started on the magneto. (there was a provision on the coilbox for a battery connection, but Ford did not publicly acknowledged or recommended it's use) For easy magneto starting the ignition coils have to be properly adjusted. This also required (Ford recommended) advancing the spark lever 2-3 notches so the coils could fire on the magneto current pulse that occurred at 4 degrees ATDC.
|timing diagram PDF|
Magneto Fig8.pdf (48.5 k)
My cars usually start on the first crank warm or cold but I jack up a rear wheel for cold starting.
Do you mean "Cold" as in the first start of the day on any given day, or do you mean "Cold" as in first start of the day in the dead of Winter in a cold climate?
I've heard a lot of folks say they do, but I've never had to do it. We have relatively mild Winters here and I do use 5W-30, but even with 10W-30 I've never had to do anything other than turn it over a few times to loosen it up before trying to start it.
I neglected to point out the starting instruction shown above are from a Ford publication dated 1917.
My '14 starts like Royce does his. I count that as 1.
However, I don't choke the Kingston four ball but do open the mixture about an 1/8th turn and pull 3 quarter turns. Turn switch on bat, it fires off and I set the spark and throttle then return the mixture to its run position right away.
The car usually free starts on bat if it is less than half an hour or so since it was running. If it doesn't free start, I go magneto with a pull. That's less work than 3 cranks and bat.
If I pull it five times, or more, on purpose, it is out of gas! That did happen to me in January. The starter wouldn't even get it going! (I do have a real starter too)
Senility does have some advantages at times but a gallon of gas on the running board is better. It was dark and I was running on acetylene and kerosene lights. Like they say, timing is everything.
Ken in Texas
Hal, I mean cold, first start of the day. I have a bad back and still run straight 30W oil. I tried multi-viscosity oil but got tired of wiping it off the floor. I used to live in NY and on those mornings where the temperature was below freezing the oil was like molasses and even before my back problems cranking under those conditions was a strain. I live in Florida now and probably don't need to jack up a wheel but with the back problems I have It is a lot easier than putting in a starter.
Got it. Thanks for clarifying.
Last summer my starter was bad, but since it always started on second pull and there always was somewhat showtime every time, I did not fix the starter back then.
I went probably two years with a dead battery in my TT. Well, dead enough it wouldn't turn the engine over. I finally replaced it when it wouldn't even buzz the coils.
I have one of those Texas carbs, which I think is off a Kohler. It takes a lot of pulls to get it started. A lot of choke priming and then switching key to battery and pulling once for a small sputter. It takes me a lot of time to get it going. But after that I will get a few free starts or pull a couple of times and it starts right up. If I could find a good T carb in Utah I would buy it. We do not have a lot of carbs around here. And what we have is usually junk, just good for a few parts. Does anyone have knowledge about the new HN that the dealers are selling?
Fast idle,retard spark,count to 5 and turn off switch your engine is primed.
I prefer to crank it wildly until I am winded and worn out and my hand hurts !
Four quarter turns with the choke fully open, wait a moment, turn on the coil switch "chunk", one quarter flick turn on half choke and it's started!
Hold the choke for a bit and then hurry around to advance the spark. Then it settles down and runs well on reduced throttle.
This still works after a month of no activity.
Stock standard Model T (except for the SureMike period counterbalanced crank, aluminium pistons, Stipe 250 cam, adjustable followers, stainless valves and Z head) but standard on the outside!
She is just reliable and, if not pushed too hard, never fails!
I took my model T to a meeting for the local gas engine club. Which by the way is a good place to be an ambassador for the hobby. I have several guys saying that they want to Getonetoo. (Did I do that right?)
I was showing the car to the guys and anticipated a free start, which I did I believe 15 times in a row!
I was accused by one of them of having a starter hidden on the car somewhere.
We live in the California Central Valley, so our winters are mild compared to what some of you contend with. Having said that, our '18 TT has a '23 engine. It had a starter that never worked right, so I removed it and blanked the holes. Therefore, cranking by hand is our only choice. Also, I NEVER spin it other than priming with the key off.
For the first start of the day with the key off, the spark lever all the way up and the gas lever at about 1/3 down I'll pull the choke and give it 2 full 360 degree turns. Then I turn the key to the battery position. About 1/3 of the time this results in a free start. If not, it nearly always will start on the first 1/4 pull.
Once it's been run subsequent starts rarely require more than 1 or 2 pulls.
Usually one pull when cold. Even after sitting a couple of weeks at a time I can just turn the key on, set timing and gas, no choke and it starts first pull. I attribute that to the Stromberg OF I have on it.
Occasional free start when warm.
I used to give a few pulls with the choke on first but i was not giving Lizzie a chance. For years now i pull the lever back,check spark,adjust mixture,and turn on switch.Every now and then Lizzie will surprise you with a free start after several days!!!!!!!!!!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Excuse my neophyte ignorance ... "free start" ????
A "free start" occurs when the engine stopped in just the right spot with a cylinder in firing position with gas/air in the firing chamber. When the key is turned on to the battery position the plug fires and the engine starts. No hand cranking. No starter. Only happens with a battery.
Burger. A free start doesn't cost anything and does not put you at risk of injury.
Some people call it a compression start.
It happens when you prime the motor by cranking it with the key off and the choke closed, then turn the keey to battery.
If a cylinder is close to TDC the plug will fire and the motor will start.
Since I make sure the spark is retarded before I do anything I will sometimes entice a free start by moving the spark lever down a bit after turning the key on.
If it does not start I make sure the spark lever is up before going to the front and crank the car.
I get a free start about 80% of the time with a cold motor because I jack up a wheel with the brake handle in neutral.
I gets free start about 20% of the time when the motor is warm and the wheel is on the ground.
I wrongly said it was compression start for years but once when the T started free after chainging all the spark plugs i have to admit i was wrong!!!!A true free start requires no prime with the crank,the engine just has to stop in the right place with a charge in the cyl's.Retard the spark at a fast idle count to 5 your engine is primed!! I jack up the wheels when i wash,grease,or have a flat!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
What percentage of the time will my Model T start on the first crank?
0%. I got smart and put a starter on it! With a 12v Larry Becker starter, and a 12v Optima Battery it starts with one crank every time!
In all honesty, I am not strong enough to crank start it anymore anyway. It has about 100 psi in all cylinders.
I have a 27 with Vaporiser.
Cold - Key on, choke full out 4 or 5 1/4 turns it splutters, choke in it starts.
Hot - Once in a blue moon 1st crank but normally takes about 30 1/4 turns...very frustrating hence I have knicknamed the car "Gym". Too much compression to do 360 crank.
Its 12v and 1 or 2 goes on the button and it fires...it just doesn't want to be cranked!
I've tried different mixture settings but I guess its the vapouriser causing this?
Kevin - There are those that would argue this point, but I think that while the vaporizer is a good carburetor as long as it is in perfect condition, but even then, I believe they are not noted for easy starting! I know that the one on my '27 sure wasn't and that's why it now has a Wilmo combination manifold and an NH Holley. Two quarter pulls on the crank choking with ignition off, third quarter crank with no choke and ignition on and she pops right off, every time!
Yes its a shame as otherwise it performs fine. Its in good condition from what I see and starts fine on the starter. I did an economy test the other day and got about 17 mpg (us mpg) the other day with 3 stops so I guess thats about right. Shame to change carby for the sake of cranking
Right or wrong or just luck on free starts. 90%
of the time I shut it down with the spark at
normal. Turn key on retard spark = bingo. Sorry
I can't crank it I busted my back but as fast as
I hit the button its a runnin just like a V8 flattie.
Kenneth W Delong thanks for the great tip, retard fully at fast idle for about 5 secs before turning key off.
Tried that today with engine hot, got out and it cranked 1st start.
So I ran it for a few minutes then done same trick. I Left the car for 10 mins this time before trying again and it cranked 1st start again!
Bloody fantastic! normally takes about 30 cranks...cant wait to see if it was a one day wonder or it will work again tomorrow.
Interesting comment - I guess we'll all be trying it soon !!
Keven,It was thought to me by the Canadian assembly team but please remember to check your spark before cranking.I think/hope everyone checks their spark before cranking but for some that is not enough!!Bud in Wheeler,Mi. PS/BS,Hard to grasp but our 14's best is 16 days just turn the switch to batt!!!!!!!!!!!! It seems within the last couple of years the engine fires maybe twice and then quites?? Hard to start if i lose my prime! Bud.
Yes I always check my retard before cranking as i hate kickback. I have a 52 series one Landrover that binds up when turned off and I used to crank to move ring gear around so starter would work and boy can that bite! I now just rock it in gear (much safer). My T has never looked like kicking back, due to the retarding I guess and thats exactly the way I want to keep it, so I hope I never forget to recheck.
Just so I fully understand: you fully retard the spark at a fast idle for 5 sec and then switch off?
How about your spark and gas lever positions when next starting ? (When your trying to get a free start)
Bud,Yes fast idle count to 5 and shut off switch.At least that is what i was told and i think it works but it's not perfect.Some used to say to richen the mixture and some said to pull the choke before stopping.With a early car pulling the choke is not a option so i used the spark lever.I make sure my spark is at full retard and 1/3 to 1/2 open throttle,turn on switch.To buzz i will wiggle the switch then wiggle the spark.At my oldest Grandson's first birthday party i astounded everyone with 25 or 26 free starts in a row.Last year at the OCF we made 7 or 8 but often as soon as i try to show it Lizzie will either make a fool out of me or let me do it on my own!!!! I think i need my linkage adjusted for a more free neutral!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Doing that makes the car sound really cool too. I'll have to try it to see if it starts better.
Sorry,I should have said no buzz!! Bud.
I use this method every time I turn car off now, never try free starting but it sure makes hot starts quicker.
Keven,Your car never tries to free start or you never try it?? If your car is adjusted right it should free start often? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Megadittos to what Bud says - if your car doesn't get free starts the timer is adjusted wrong. You just need bend the timer rod to the proper place.
Your timing is set improperly. You need to bend the spark rod to set the timing properly. With the timing control set all the way up and key on "BAT", the coil should buzz just past Top Dead Center, with the piston just beginning to move downward and both valves closed.
Warning: To avoid damaging a coil the spark plug should be connected when you perform this test. The spark plug base should be laying on a head bolt so that the coil's spark can reach ground.
You can see the valves through the spark plug hole with a flashlight. I use a plastic drinking straw through the #1 spark plug hole to detect piston movement, but any object that is 8" long and won't scratch metal can be used if it fits through the spark plug hole.
I have a '13 roadster that has been sitting for almost a year. Yesterday after doing much work installing a Ruckstell and real Rocky Mountain Brakes, it was time to start. I gave it the usual three quarter turns, turned on the switch to battery retarded the spark, and it didn't start, so I gave it a quarter turn on battery and it started. Doesn't get much better than that, especially on an engine with less than 200 miles on it.
Bud, It has only free started once but I always neglect to try this, probably only tried 3 or 4 times.
I should make a point to try each time when hot. Whats the exact procedure I should use considering both levers ar all the way up when the car is parked?
Do like Royce said and make sure your timing is right,and also your mixture. Are you getting a coil to buzz when you hit the switch?? I wish others would tell you what they do as Lizzie often makes a fool of me!!Bud in Wheeler,Mi.Try it whenever you start hot,cold,or even after a few days!! Bud.PS,Farts don't count!!
Yes almost every time I turn to key to Battery I get a buzz (about 9 out of 10 attempts), I'm usually trying to crank and if it doesn't buzz it dose after first crank.
So...if I get into the car, the key is off and both levers are up "exactly" what is the order of things to try for a free start?
Pull the lever all the way back and open the throttle 1/3 to 12 turn switch to batt.A buzz with no start might mean you do not have enough fuel mixture in your engine?? Keep trying and Lizzie will respond when you get it right.Good luck! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
1. first I pull advance all the way down.
2. Pull throttle 1/3 down.
3. Then turn key to batt
So I dont need to move the timing lever after that?
NO,The lever is the e brake neutral high lever! Leave The Spark Retarded!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! Bud.
If I understand those last two posts correctly, I'd say no to #1. I think "all the way back" means up. Spark lever all the way up means the timing is retarded to prevent a kickback. I have no idea what 12 means.
Me either,I missed a key on the keyboard! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Ok I'm fully confused now
Kevin - The hand brake on your left side on the floor should be pulled back all the way for the rear wheel brakes to be fully on to hold the car in position. A chock in from of a rear wheel would also not be a bad idea. The throttle lever on the right side of the steering column should be down about 1/3 of the way. The timing lever on the left side of the steering column should be ALL THE WAY UP, which is fully retarded.
I hand crank my 22 mostly because people somehow are just entranced by the fete of somebody cranking the car. Hell I've had people come up to and ask if I use the crank or not and when I tell them that's how I start the car, they want to try it. After I get the car ready and show them how to do it safely, I let them start it. Get great big grins every time and them saying "that's so cool" and me telling the "now you can say you've started a Model T Ford, something not many people can claim" which usually ends with them going for a ride around the parking lot.
The only time my car didn't start on the first pull, was when I forgot to either turn on the gas or reconnect the battery.
Guys we seem to be missing the point here. Dave ...I know where the levers are meant to be to start the car normally, I have only owned my T for a short time but it is my daily driver, every day of the week, at the moment the only car I drive.
It starts easily via the starter plus I crank (or try to) 9 out 10 starts. Its a 27 with Vaporizer and its stubborn on the crank (Not like yours Martin) but always no problem when using the starter...frustarting.
The point is The above q's are "soley" relating to free starting!
Today each and every of the 8 times I started the car I had a go at free starting, none of them worked. This is the process used today -
1. Handbrake on
2. Throttle 1/4 down
3. Move the Advance/retard all the way down
4. Turn key to battery
5. Slowly move retard lever up.
Most of the time the coils dont buzz until the retard lever is within the last 10 notches from the top. But thats all that happens, just a buzz and no attempt to start.
I would like to know if I'm doing something wrong?
You are just missing gas in the cylinders.
On 4 you should crank the engine four times over compression, When cold use the choke when warm just crank it over.
5. turn the key to battery
6. slowly move retard lever up
7. free start.
Works for me 9 of 10 start ups.
good luck and keep it safe
Thanks Andre, I'll try that.
By the way guys I still retard for 5 sec every time I turn off but the 1st crank start only lasted for one day, its back to 30 odd spins or until I give up whichever comes first.
Been trying that Andre but hasn't worked yet. Probably another side effect of the vapouriser
Kevin, when I was running an NH on my '27 I would get easy cold starts and free warm starts almost all the time. I never used the starter. Then, like a fool, I decided to switch to a Vaporizer because it was correct for the car. Now The car is almost impossible to start with the crank when cold and free starts when warm are a rarity. It does start right up with the starter when cold but is erratic when starting warm. Sometimes one pull on the crank will do it and other times I have to resort to the starter. I have been through three different Vaporizers so far all of which were professionally rebuilt and I am giving up at this point and going back to the NH. I might add that the car runs nicely when It finally starts although it clearly has less power with the Vaporizer. The frustrating thing is that I know people who run them with no issues but for my money they are just not worth the trouble.
Brilliant Val thats what I have been feeling and I'm pleased to read your comments. I do have an set of manifolds that came with the car so I might go that way.
Clearly you have had luck using a NH, how can I tell if a NH will match my inlet..Is there different inlet manifolds to suit the earlier model carbs?
I think I can find a NH that will need overhauled.
Kevin, the intake manifold will work off of any earlier T without a problem. The issue is the throttle linkage. The cars equipped with Vaporizors do not have the hole in the web between # 2 and # 3 cylinders and the valve cover does not have the hole for the linkage either. Some of them have been opened up in the past by others who decided to switch from a Vaporizor to an NH so that is the first thing to look for. My car does not have the open web or the hole in the valve cover and I did not want to modify the block by punching out the web so I set up a system that allows the linkage to work without doing that. I would post a picture but the car is 1,500 miles from where I am now and I won't have access to it for another month. I am sure there are others on the forum who can supply a picture of the set up if you want to go that way.
Earlier forum post on doing that over the cylinder head linkage to the carb.
And here is another forum post with pictures of conversions:
Val that sounds ideal would love a pic next time you have a chance.
Dan & Roger those links show several different styles which is great.
What I'm thinking is see if I can source a carby first, then I'll fit it to the car without linkages and see if this allows me to crank hot and cold.
let you know......
I have hand cranked other Ts, but my '27 likes a fair amount of spark advance in order to stay running long enough for me to get from the crank to the levers. I have been reluctant to hand crank this particular car.
Kevin there is no way that you won't be able to crank start your T with a NH carburetor as long as the coils are adjusted correctly and the car is properly timed with a good commutator and properly gapped plugs. Six of my T's have no starters, I have a bad back and am almost 70 and have no trouble starting any of them. Even after a rebuild when everything is tight I could start them after the initial run in. Free starts on compression is another story. Some of my cars will do it regularly, others sporadically, and one of them almost never. Why? I have no idea as they are all set up exactly the same way. I suspect that the tighter the engine the less likely they are to start on compression. The one I last rebuilt will cough like it wants to start on compression when the switch is turned on but that is all.
Val - I think you are correct when you say that "the tighter the engine the less likely they are to start on compression."
My 19 motor that produces a free start on a regular basis has never been touched other than having the head off and carbon removed in the 50's.
It helps to jack a wheel and place it in neutral when cold to lower the drag because of thick 10-30 oil.
I took the plugs out the other day for the first time and checked compression while i could. My tester read 90 psi on all four. This is high if my tester is accurate and from what your saying could be the reason for no free starting?. I tracked down a previous owner in NY 2 days ago who restored the car in the early 90's and was surprised to hear he only done the body, never touched radiator, motor, trans diff at all. He said this was done way back in 1960's by a previous owner. You know it never looks like running hot, I'm lucky with that considering the time frame.
I have heard some people used Mustang pistons back then, maybe that explains the high compression?
(Message edited by Rata Road on April 09, 2015)
He never touched the diff' at all. What colour is the diff oil? Does it have chunky grey stuff in it yet?
To be honest I havent checked the inside of the diff yet, might remove the bung and have a dig..let you know
The reason Kep asked about that is here: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG79.html
I might check that today!
Ok guys just checked the diff. Being a 27 the bung is below the half way point but I was surprised the level was just half an inch from the bottom.
The car been out for two runs today but had been parked up for 3.5 hrs and diff didn't feel warm.
The good news is the oil/greasy mixture is very clean, I took several samples and had a good feel around, found no lumps or white material plus had it a pleasant smell. The bright picture is using a flash.
I know theres an issue with the grease not showing up but what would you guys do?
Cleaner than my oil except darker.
The lack of debris in the oil is a good sign. Apparently the thrust washers are intact. If they're bronze, they'll stay that way. If they're babbitt, they won't. Unfortunately, I don't know of any way to find out what they are other than to open up the rear axle and take a look. This is SOP whenever you get a new Model T and don't know whether the rear axle has been rebuilt. Get the MTFCA axle book so when you get into the rear axle you can measure everything and replace anything that's not up to specs.
Wasn't there something about the 26-27 models having bronze?
I'll start a new thread on this topic and see what gets posted, Thanks guys