Is it better to start my 1914 on battery or magneto? I thought I read somewhere that Ford recommended always starting the car on magneto, but I can't seem to verify that.
I always start my 1910 on battery and then switch to magneto. If you are hand cranking the motor, you want to be sure the timer is fully up in the retarded position at 15.5 degrees ATDC. I usually prime the engine with 4 turns of the crank with the choke on or the carburetor flooded and a splash of starting fluid. If I'm real luck and stop craning just after TDC, I will sometimes get a free start, even with a cold engine. Once started, I quickly advance the timer to the half way mark then switch to magneto. Make sure that your coils are adjusted properly for battery and magneto operation. I hope this helps.
Before Ford sold starter cars, he didn't think batteries were needed in model T's. Here's a factory letter from 1912 (1913 model year) prohibiting dealers from installing batteries among other accessories: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/doc12.htm
OCT 5 Acc. 509, Letter, Ford Archives
"The only equipment permitted to be attached to any Ford cars is a robe rail, a clock, and a tool box on the running board. No exhaust cut-outs, trunk racks, bumpers, batteries or other items mentioned in previous letters should be recommended or permitted to be put on Ford cars either by our branches or by our dealers; and, as previously noted, our guarantee will become void if devices of this sort are attached."
But what you want on your car is of course up to you
If the magneto is in good order, it should be easy enough to start the car on magneto. If the timer is set according to Ford, you'll have to advance the timer a few notches when starting on magneto - seems scary, but it's needed to get any spark at all for starting. There's less risk for kickbacks on magneto in my limited experience. With the switch on bat the timer must be fully retarded when starting.
Ford didn't recommend or sell a battery, but he was enough in touch with reality to provide a battery terminal on the coil box. If all is just right, starting on MAG is easy. But in the real world not everything is exactly right, and starting on BAT may be easier. I'm still trying to get my 1915 exactly right, and a cold start is easier on BAT for me. When the car is warmed up, it easily starts on MAG with the first or second pull.