I am writing to see if anyone out there has any sage advice for a new 1925 Model T Ford owner. Particularly, how do I get the thing started?
The last time the car ran was 10 years ago. It does not start now. When I put the key in, and turn, nothing happens--no chiming of coil vibrators. Nothing.
I was hoping for some advice on how to begin troubleshooting problems. Where should I start? The electric system?
I've attached some photos of the engine. The wiring in the electric system looks like its been modified. What do you make of this? I know it ran while wired this way.
I've picked up the Victor Wilfred Page manual, "The Model T Ford Car." Are there any other books I can read that are helpful?
Any advice at all you have for a new Model T owner would be greater appreciated.
Thank you for your kind help,
Here's a link to a checklist for taking a T out of mothballs:
Your car has been modified by the addition of a distributor and a water pump. That white ceramic thing on the firewall next to the coil is a '60s/'70s Mopar ballast resistor.
In addition to Milt Webb's checklist that Mark posted (also here: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG93.html), once you get the car running you should check this: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG79.html.
The answer to your last question is yes: http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG80.html.
As we always say, welcome to the affliction. It's a wonderful pastime, but beware. Once you have one, they tend somehow to multiply.
The first thing I'd do is get it re-wired correctly, and preferably with Ford coils and a timer. Only then can you start the process of elimination.
I agree with Larry, get the car wired properly with 4 proper coils, drop the distributor and the water-pump, and drive the car like it was meant to be...Believe me, you will be much happier.
Guys I've ever run stock system but if it has a distributor etc that would mean no buzz coils in the system? So nothing should happen when the key is turned.
Leave the distributor alone...make sure it is working...lots of articles on distributors. Switching to coils, timer, etc. would be a setback. Then fuel...I am too lazy to expound on that.
The wiring looks like a mess, but might work for a test start..
The starter button sits on the floor behind the left heel of the driver. Engage the handbrake before trying the starter - it's also the neutral lever. If the starter doesn't work, you can try hand cranking the engine. When trying to start you must always have the spark lever fully up, that's retarded timing so it won't ignite before the piston is up on the compression stroke - that'll give a kick back that may break your hand or bend the starter shaft.
I would pull the plugs first, put them on the head connected to the wires with ignition on and crank to see if they spark. If they do and if you have fresh gas coming to the carb and if there is oil pouring out when you open the lower petcock in the oil pan by the flywheel, then you may try starting it.
For a quick read on how to drive and care for a Model T begin with the manual:
New wiring for a model T is very cheap compared to all other cars. Consider changing it out when you fix up other items - another good read is the catalogs from the vendors, they give a good overview on what's available and some hints - but the best advice comes free here at the forum
Just want to clarify one thing Roger stated, better to have oil coming out the upper petcock than the lower.
Here is my view:
First, ignore all the advice you have been given above. Many of those recommendations may be helpful later, but if you are not familiar with the Model T's you will only become hopelessly confused. The Model T is unlike any other car you may have been involved with and you have to forget most of what you know and start leaning the Model T way.
Second, check the MTFCA and MTFCI chapter listings and find the nearest local Model T club chapter and ask if there is a knowledgeable who is willing to get together with you and help you. Model T people are usually very helpful.
Ron the Coilman
John, if it pours out of the upper you have too much oil, the proper level is in between the two petcocks - that's why I like Steve's plastic tube connecting them
When opening both you can see where the level is exactly - then you close them and start the engine.
Welcome aboard! It is a fun hobby with lots of great folks many of whom have strong opinions in opposite directions on many of the subjects. But they all agree Model T Fords are a lot of fun. Please let us know if you are familiar with cars in general, a shade tree mechanic, or a master mechanic etc. That will help folks know how to better respond to your questions.
I would strongly suggest contacting the Model T Club nearest you. For a list please see: http://www.mtfca.com/clubpages/chapters.htm and http://www.modelt.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=15
If you have someone knowledgeable about Ts come over (or take the car on a trailer to them) there is a good chance to get it running with a lot fewer questions posted on the forum and a lot less frustration for you.
If the car was running good 10 years ago and if it was stored in dry place and the engine turns over when you engage the hand crank or the starter (be sure the ignition is off until you have a chance to confirm which way to push the spark lever to retard the spark. If it is set up like most T's you push the spark lever up. For some distributor set ups they have an automatic advance and are not connected to the spark lever. On other Ts with a distributor they may have set up the retard position "backwards to normal" just to make it work temporarily -- so I would check it before I tried to start it. Note when you have the spark plugs out as Roger suggested above you can easily check to see when the spark plug fires by removing the plugs. With the gas OFF (if it doesn’t turn off – don’t break the handle trying to turn it off – just keep a fire extinguisher handy and be outside of the garage etc. ) turn the engine over by hand until the #1 cylinder starts coming up on compression. Be sure the ignition switch is OFF and you can put your thumb in the spark plug hole and feel the compression build as you use the hand crank to turn the engine. Stop, remove thumb, push spark lever full down, turn ignition switch on, turn hand crank slowly and see if the spark plug sparks. When it does – push the spark lever full up – which for a T that has been set up in a standard configuration (most of them) will retard the spark. Now put a full size pencil or something else about that length (or order the part #3021SK from Lang’s see: https://www.modeltford.com/item/3021SK.aspx that does the same thing) that will move up and down in the spark plug hole resting it on top of the piston. (Be sure it is long enough NOT to fall in and you have to figure out how to get it back out. You could also cut a wire coat hanger etc.) You want to see if the piston is still coming up and that it just starts back down when the spark plug fires as you slowly turn the engine. (Remember – don’t turn too much or the pencil will fall in – not good.) In the retarded position which is what you want when you start the car, the spark fires just after the piston is over center and has just started to go back down. That way it will not back fire. If you notice you got a spark but not the second time try it the other way. How to get back to the compression stroke easily? But the emergency brake forward and back the car up pushing one of the wheels about ¼ to ½ turn. (recommend remove pencil first). Or you can use the hand crank and go around until you get back there again. All that to make sure your distributor is also retarded when you push the spark lever up. And also that it is retarded so that it will fire after the piston passes Top Dead Center (often called TDC). If it does – you are safe to crank away.
I would have to respectfully disagree with those who say you should first put the original coil ignition back in order. Why? Primarily because you said it was running. IF they installed the distributor because the magneto was removed or the field coil has a short etc. – then to put it back to the original configuration you would need to pull the engine, remove the transmission etc. That will take a log longer than getting the distributor system to work “ok.” Note if they switched to the distributor because there was ling build up on the mag pickup post (a common problem) then cleaning the post, getting the correct wiring installed, getting a set of good coils (yours may or may not be in the box and if they are in the box they may or may not be good). But there are also cases where a minor effort would restore the original ignition system. Not some people would never use a distributor on their Model T – but it actually runs fine with them. And I don’t recall any dirt track racers back in the day that were running the heavy Ford magneto and that were winning against the folks running the lighter distributor. But let the ones that do know of a successful 1920s or later dirt track racer that used the stock ignition please post their links and references. (Note the very early dirt track racers may have used the stock system but it would not have been long before accessory magnetos etc. were fitted to save weight and some would think better spark control.) One ref for the distributor – Noel Bullock won the 1922 Pikes Peak hill climb. He used a distributor and if he had wanted the original set up I’m sure he would have used it. Ignition was Bosh battery ignition powered by an airplane battery (lighter weight) ref page 21-22 “Model T Ford in Speed and Sport” reprinted from the 1922 Ford Owner and Dealer. Want to know more about Noel’s car please see the article at: http://www.nwvs.org/Technical/MTFCA/Articles/1405PikesPeak1922.pdf Nice photos also. [The Bosch and other after market magnetos were also used – see the article on the 1922 Wikner Ford Specail at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/The_Wikner_Ford_Special_1922_Story-2 88434.pdf ]
Ok -- back to where most of the rest of live – a more stock T and not as famous.
Recommend you take lots of photos of the wiring and label things before you take anything loose. It is very easy to swap the wires and then things don’t run well. And the faintest of ink on the tag is better than most memories after a short while.
And – be careful. There are some know safety issues with Model T Fords. It can be good servant but if you hand crank it with the spark advanced (even if it was set up backward to a standard T) it can break your arm. Recommend you check out the safety information on the thread at:http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/506218/541535.html
Note there are also other free “how to books” on the internet see: Ford Service at:http://mtfci2002.readyhosting.com/manuals/Model_T_Service_Manual/mtsm.html and does include the starter equipped cars and even the 1926 -27 “Improved car” features.
The owners/instruction manuals are at: http://www.mtfca.com/books/bookmenu.htm and the 1921 would work great for your 1922 car. Also the Ford Instruction Course on that same page the link is:http://www.mtfca.com/books/Course.htm
Have fun with your Ford and welcome aboard.
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Thanks for the check list. Being new to the "T"s it is was a great help. I am an old Model A owner. just gave my 31 to my son.. I bought it in 1956. I was surprised to see that the battery in this 26 I am working on is neg. gnd. I learn something new every day! Another one of those "It ran good when parked". At least 10 years. And it was running on #3&4 at the time! LOL. I dropped the dipper tray and cleaned the sludge out. Found no compression on any cyl. Valves were stuck and some seat damage. it's getting a complete valve job as we speak. new wires and switch on the way.. Question.. Where does the horn switch mount on the steering column? it has none now.
"Run what you brung". Keep the distributor. If you know nothing about either coil or dist.systems I'll guarantee there's a lot more modern guys that know that system than a coil set-up. Plus you're looking at a 4 to 500 $ investment for the needed conversion parts PLUS what Hap said about concerning a change over. It sounds like you need some help so maybe a local T club member near by is an answer. It's a rather strange car even when compared to the Model A which followed the T. The guys here try to be helpful but you can see there's differing opinions on almost every subject which tends not to be helpful to a new owner. I'll say it again: Get help. Up close and personal. It'll save time and $.
The horn button clamps on the left side of the steering column. It makes a handy perch for a bike speedometer.
Thank you for all you excellent posts and advice--more than I could ever have asked for.
I look forward to sharing photos of my T once it is up an running.
Thank you again!
Considering we don't know why the distributor was put in to begin with, either the person not knowing or wanting to deal with the stock system, or as Hap said maybe a bad mag, my earlier comment was probably some bad advice. Get it running the way it is and then you can better diagnose the electrical system and then you can decide the path you want to take.
I would be careful about listening to all the blather from the *experts* and stick to the principles. Your objective seems to be to get it running. In this regard, there are two things...ignition and fuel.
The ignition system is non-T and acts similarly to any normal ignition system. It is probably timed correctly and problems involve cleaning the points and chasing the bugs out of the body/cap. I notice that it has an in-line resistor suggesting that it may have been run on 12 volts. That is another issue...6 volts is fine. But to get it running, 12 volts will get it going.
Fuel system...make sure fuel is flowing freely from the tank to the carb. Pull the bowl off the carb and chase the bugs out and check for any rust,debris. If a lot of corrosion, remove carb and clean..jets, etc. Yes there is a lot of information about adjusting the carb which will be useful.
Beyond that, when running, deal with water leaks.
Since you have already dropped the inspection plate and cleaned out the “goo” and removed the head to work on some of the valve seats, I would recommend spot check a couple of the easy to get to bearings (center main, rods 1,2,& 3 (your car originally came with a 4 dip inspection cover. If that is still the case then rod 4 also). You can check the clearance and adjust if needed. If they look usable– great. If the babbitt is cracked or worse – then you don’t need to try and get it running – but if they check good then the others likely are ok also as they lived in the same environment. Note Steve Jelf’s book recommendation included the “MTFCA Engine Book” available from the vendors https://www.modeltford.com/item/RM3.aspx as well as from the club at http://modeltstore.myshopify.com/products/service-manuals Also many of the local clubs have a lending library that contain books/pamphlets like that one.
Ref your comment about getting a new switch – what kind? Ignition, starter or other? There is a good discussion on starter switches at: addresses solenoid http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/411944/435656.html?1396624312
and the better reproduction starter switches work well – the earlier less expensive ones did not see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/136134.html
The good reproduction available at: https://www.modeltford.com/pl.aspx?t=s&v=5014RE&page=1
The pro’s and con’s of 6 to 12 volt is discussed nicely at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/259557.html All of them agree that the 12 volts is harder on the bendix than the 6 volts [note there is one starter that is new and is 12 volt and that probably does not apply to that starter].
Caution: One major difference between the T and A is you have to remove the bendix on the T starter BEFORE you try to remove the starter. If you do not do that you can damage the magneto field coil and cause the magneto to no longer work. The fix is to run on battery, install a distributor or accessory magneto, or pull the engine and repair/replace the original magneto field coil that is located between the flywheel and the back of the engine block. Note – some of the other basic things are the same – adjusting the engine bearings, front wheel bearings etc.
And Milt’s excellent article on how to have a good 6 volt starting system is located at: http://milttheinstructor.com/Six-Volt_Battery_Performance.pdf
Again welcome to the forum.
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Oops my BAD! There are two different folks – Davey and David
First Davey Jules who started this thread with questions about his first T a 1925 that he recently purchased and which had been running 10 years ago. Hopefully it just needs some minor work to get it started.
Second David Waddell Sr. who has a 1926 T and I believe is also new to Ts. And is new to the forum with his first post. Welcome David Waddell Sr! He has been around Model As for a long time and he had the head off his T to work on the valve seats.
There is actually a third Dave -- Dave DuFault who was kind enough to e-mail me a note saying “There were two different Dave’s on the thread.” Thank you Dave DuFault for gently pointing out the error of my ways and helping me see that. I missed it completely. And yes Dave DeFault is correct, my last posting above should have been addressed to David Waddell Sr – who has his car’s engine head off for the valve seat grinding/repair and not to Davey Jules who is just trying to get his assembled engine started.
I apologize for the confusion. Note Dave DeFault’s personal quote on his profile page is "too err is human...to forgive is Divine." I’ve got the “err part” down and I hope the rest of you can do the forgive part…
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Not to worry. us "Daves" had it figured out!
I also belong to the Hudson Essex Terraplane club and in our Orange Blossom Chapter there are no less than FIVE Daves!
While I have Y'alls attention.. This 26 Roadster PU has no choke or mixture parts. Just a wire to the choke with a knob on the end. No mixture adjustment from inside the car.I remember seeing that setup on another 26 I worked on years ago. Where would one obtain that assembly?
Lang's, Birdhaven, Bob's, etc. I expect any of the parts dealers will have it.
I hope I didn't hijack the thread....Thanks for the help guys. it's great that a poster doesn't have to be a member of the club. I'm sure some take advantage of that, but then again there are guys like myself, who are not "T" owners and probably never will be BUT we do get involved helping the mechanically challenged owners! Not to mention restoration shop techs that don't have the specific knowledge of these cars. Thanks again... one of the daves
For David Waddell Sr. –
Note a 1926 model year car could have come from the factory with one of three different carburetors [ref: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/C-D.htm#Carb1 scroll down to 1925-26 ] using two basic set ups. The NH & Kingston L4 both used the “U-joint” needle valve that connected to the choke pull rod that went inside the car. The other style carburetor was the Holley Vaporizer and it used a similar choke pull rod set up, but I do not know if it is exactly the same or not. It would have been a little more forward than the NH and Kingston L4 set up as both of those were set back towards the firewall a little more as compared to the Holley Vaporizer that was basically aligned between #2 & #3 cylinders.
Both styles are shown below and from the Lang’s part catalog it looks like that while the needle valve changed, the part 4132 Adj rod sleeve and 4132 universal joint were the same on the Holley NH and Vaporizer. The need valve is different. Any way – be sure you get the right parts for what system your customer has. I.e. the parts for the NH may in some cases be a little different from the NH Vaporizer part. You can also just ask them to send you all the parts for whatever style carburetor set up is on the car. But not the earlier non-U-joint carb will need a U-joint needle valve to work like the original set up.
Above is the Holley NH on a 1926 and below is the Holley Vaporizer on a 1926 or 27. Both from page 34 of the Nov-Dec 1980 "Vintage Ford" used by permission to promote our club and hobby. (Thanks Jay!)
And of course over the years any combination of parts from 1909 to 1927 could be adapted to fit the 1926 engine. So you may just need to order a few parts or you may need to order additional parts to make it all line up properly. I like Lang’s for the photos etc. see their carburetor section for what you need. Top link to their web site is: https://www.modeltford.com/ paste in NH Carburetor in their search area.
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