I work for GREAT Theatre in St Cloud, MN and we are working on building a golf cart into a Model T for our first show this fall, Ragtime. We are building it based off of a golf cart partly because we need to be able to fit it back stage, but mostly so that we can drive it indoors. Anyway, we have run into an issue sourcing wheels, and I was hoping somebody could help me out. The hubs on the golf cart are 4 lug and we are trying to do this relatively inexpensively. We found some trailer tires that are a little bit small for scale, but will bolt on. The problem is they don't really look like a Model T wheel. Any suggestions? And for anyone that is interested, here is a timelapse of the work done so far: https://youtu.be/_yYH95JiCcY
How about making a set of hub caps to hide your trailer wheels? Just black painted disks with fake spokes and hub on them to pop over whatever you already have.
Neat project, but why not contact a local Model T club and ask one of their members to use one of their cars in the show, like Steve Thum did at the Muny Opera in St. Louis?
I think the idea is electric cart would be 0 exhaust and small enough to move around back stage.
While it has worked out great a number of times, there have also been a few times when things didn't work out so well. Details discussed heavily on this forum a few years ago (I still have not heard the final outcome). Without knowing for certain that the theater and staging would lend itself to a real car really well, I would hesitate to offer any car I cared a lot about. I think a golf cart could be made to look very good. Some years ago, a very good friend of mine lent extra parts and helped put together a model T mock-up. That worked out very well also and it looked great!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
If you Google Ragtime "Model T," you can see all kinds of clever and very simple ideas regarding building a prop Model T.
Personally, I would skip the golf cart and make a non-motorized prop. It doesn't need to be fancy.
https://www.google.com/search?q=ragtime+%22model+t%22&client=safari&rls=en&sourc e=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=rt6RVYCUGImdygSkl4k4&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1240&bih=686#tb m=isch&q=ragtime+musical+%22model+t%22
Tim - I think hubcaps are the direction that we are leaning, but we are trying to make this a realistic as possible so just thought I would see what I can find. I've got family in Thunder Bay. Know any Rubins?
Mark - I would love it if we could fit a real T on stage, but we just don't have the room. The stage that Steve Thum had is probably twice as big and we don't have much storage space or an easy way to load it in. I would be too nervous that another piece of the scenery would run into it and damage it. The other issue is running a gas motor inside. The theatre is small and has poor ventilation. The audience wouldn't be too happy.
Erik - Part of the motivation behind making it drivable is that we want to be able to drive it in parades in the future. If we can get this really figured out, our wish is to build it so that we can swap bodies. Grease will be our last show of the season, so it would be great if we could lift the T body off and replace it with a greaser (hopefully that's not too sacrilegious in this forum The other issue is getting it to move around stage without it looking like it broke down and a couple stagehands are helping it out.
In my opinion, less and simple is better.
Even if you are performing the play at the Paramount Theatre in downtown St. Cloud, stages are small and having a motorized vehicle can be dangerous. Golf carts are heavy and clunky.
Build a simple and lightweight rolling prop that can be easily moved by the actors or stage hands. Certainly you could choreograph the play so that Coalhouse Walker, Jr. or some of the extras could roll it around when it needs to be out of the way or off stage. I doubt that will turn off the audience because part of attending a play is the audience imagination.
Look at Youtube and see what other small production companies have done with Ragtime.
If you want an antique car to drive actors around in a parade, contact the Pantowners and see if any of their members would be willing to do that for you.
Just my two cents…..
Erik in Minneapolis
Here is a T golfcart
Erik - The play is at the Paramount. We plan to dial down the power of the golf cart by running the 36 volt motor on either 12 or 24 (we'll have to see how it performs).
I've done extensive youtubing and googling already. Everything that I have found, either a real Model T was used or the design of the piece was either goofy looking or too simplistic. I'm just the builder, not the designer. Trying to reconcile actuality with the designer's dream is how we came up with the golf cart idea. I just want to build this so that even you guys will say "hey, thats kinda neat".
Ed - I've seen that picture before. Looks nice, but way too much like a golf cart. We're shooting for more real Model T with just the undercarriage of a golf cart. Probably my favorite picture I found was of this one: http://www.tbucketplans.com/this-t-bucket-electric-golf-cart-is-the-real-deal/ Not as classic a look as what we are going for, but still pretty cool
When the University of Michigan did RagTime a couple of years ago we rented the Model T from the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. They have a 1917ish Model T sportster that they removed the engine (But left the oilpan) and hook a golf cart motor directly to the universal joint of the car. This allow them to use the electric motor and brakes from a golf cart to go and stop the vehicle. Because it was a sportster it was fairly small.
Good Luck with your project.
Theatrical Properties Director
Jon, if you want to go right off the deep end you could make a set of scaled down wooden spoke wheels. There are enough articles on re-spoking real wheels that you can get a feel for how they go together and go from there. Since the car will be at a reduced scale, would 20" bicycle rims be about right? You would just want to choose tires carefully so it doesn't look like you're ready to go off-roading.
Speaking of bicycle rims, you could also lace a set onto some custom hubs if you know a machinist willing to make the hubs up. I would say try and get a high school machine shop to do it but that won't be available until September now. Wire spoked wheels actually look pretty good on a T, you could end up with something like this:
Have you chosen an approximate body style or year for the car? The earlier you go the simpler the lines are.
Last but not least, as a transplant to Thunder Bay I don't think I know any Rubins but if you're ever up visiting them feel free to pop in and say hi, just PM me first so I know you're coming.
Patrick - We tried to source a local Model T to do the same thing, but came up empty handed. Still would have been pretty nervous about one of the crew running another set piece into it and damaging it.
Tim - Thought about building our own wheels, but they would be fairly time consuming. And I'm not sure the drum brakes on the golf cart would mesh well with new wheels. I think we are going with the trailer tires and then we'll paint a hubcap to go over the top. The year for the car is roughly 1905-1910. It will probably wind up being a hodge podge of design anywhere from a Model T to Model A. It will have a single bench seat and convertible top. I get up to Thunder Bay a couple times a year. I'll drop you a line next time I'm headed that way.
Jon: How many "purists" in the audience would notice say that your prop T has a set of easy to get wire wheel hub caps on it instead of spoked wooden wheels? 1%? Don't worry about trivial items just because you know what a T should look like. The vast majority of them will enjoy the fact that you have a moving car. Years ago my Son was in the play Grease in high school. We volunteerd to build a prop car. We literally built half a car on casters. Looked great from that one side which was all the audience would see. Even put a battery & head light on it. During a race scene they shoved it across the stage and the people went nuts. Great fun.