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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Newbie
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By chris pelton on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - 03:31 pm:

Just sayin Hi, before I bombard the forum with newbie to T's, pretty handy with a wrench and paint gun...

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - 05:20 pm:

Welcome to the affliction!
Looks like a pretty good T for a starter car. And that can be taken two different ways.
Drive carefully, and do enjoy it! W2

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Wrenn-Monroeville OH on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - 07:38 pm:

Welcome Chris! And start planning on the next one! They multiply like rabbits! Other more seasoned veterans will chime in here, so I'll let the space go to them. There's lots to do initially just as a "peace of mind" safety-type checkout, particularly with the infamous rear-end thrust washers. In most guys eyes, and mine, that's almost first and foremost. A quick weekend job to open 'er up and check 'er out and go from there.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - 08:45 pm:


Welcome to the forum and to the Model T Ford hobby. There are lots of T folks in Michigan. I would recommend you contact one of the local Model T Ford chapters that is closest to you. See: and The local club members can be a real source of encouragement and help you as you learn to maintain the car. And if you have a question about your car, it is so much easier if someone else has a similar car or part that you can actually see rather than just talk about or see a few photos of.
This has been a good month. I think this is the 3rd time I’ve posted my recommended safety items for new owners to review. As a teenager I was bullet proof and didn’t need to read any of these. Yep, my guardian angels must have been working over time – because I’m still here in spite of the lack of caution etc.

Caution for those regular forum reading feel free to skip reading the safety items ( I would not recommend skipping doing them – but reading them again – you probably don’t need that).

I would encourage you to ask the previous owner if the Babbitt rear thrust bearings were replaced with bronze thrust bearings in the past. If he doesn’t know – I would highly recommend that you check and confirm what they are made out of. There are also some roller bearing thrust washer/bearings. I personally would recommend the bronze – but the main thing is to make sure they are not the original Babbitt thrust washers. When they fail – they tend to go quickly and you no longer have a transmission brake, or low or high or reverse gear. You are free wheeling because the pinion gear is no longer making proper contact with the ring (also called crown gear). Those rear axle thrust bearings if they are babbitt (originally bronze in the 1909-1915 cars and then switched to babbitt on the cars during 1915 ref: see part number 2528 ) can fail with minimal warning leaving the driver without the normal transmission brake (the main regular brake on a stock Model T). See the discussion at: If you loose the brakes and you are on a flat area with minimal traffic – it is not nearly as bad as loosing them while going down hill towards a busy intersection. See the rear axle babbitt discussion part way down in the following thread: With the 1926-27 larger rear emergency brake drums, if they are working well and you pull the lever back quickly – you are better off than the 1925 and earlier cast iron emergency brake shoes against an eight inch brake drum.

Below are some additional safety items and links that are helpful to a new T owner. While they may be common knowledge to the T owner of 70 years ago, many folks today have not grown up around Ts and are not aware of many of them. Many of the items below are issues from a part being repaired and then installed incorrectly (such as the front spring perches – which can cause the T to be a wild ride and even turn over. )

There are some known safety items about the Model T that you should check out before you start driving it. (If you are driving slowly on a farm where it doesn’t matter if the brakes fail, the spokes fail, car turns over, etc. – then you can ignore them all). I would encourage you to review them so you learn about those safety issues second hand rather than by first hand experience. Getting an experienced Model T person to help you learn about your car can save you lots of frustration and possible expense. For example if you fail to retard the spark and you push down on the starting crank at the front of the car to start the car, you could easily break your arm. That is a known safety issue with Model Ts. And it isn’t dangerous as long as you understand what causes it [spark lever advanced [that is the left hand lever on a left hand drive car or the right hand lever on a right hand car] should be pushed up], commutator adjustment rod installed wrong or bent improperly so that even with the spark lever up, the spark is still too far advanced, shorted wire on the commutator, etc. . And if you use the electrical starter that your car may have – if the spark is advanced and the engine back fires – it can damage the starter and/or bendix drive. For additional details please see:
and there are other related threads.

Some other safety related items:

And be sure the car is in safe working order. An engine that burns oil is not a critical safety issue (at least not in my book) but the front end castor if it is set up negative can flip the car. Those and similar items are well documented "oops" for the T. But if you have never been around one -- they are probably new "data points" for you. Some of them are listed below – not to scare you but to let you learn from others rather than discovering all the lessons on your own.

Safety Glass is nice:

Use safety wire and not lock washers or cotter pins on the two studs holding the wishbone to the underside of the engine. Why? Because even if the nuts have cotter pins there have been cases where the studs back out. That allows the wishbone to be loose and the steering can become useless.

Lots of safety items

Over center steering – shouldn’t happen on the later Ts (Ford added a stop inside the steering gear housing. The change was approved Oct 28, 1921 and would have taken a little while to be put into regular production. Ref: )– If the steering gear is original to the car – that can also be used to establish it was before or after that change. Note there would have also been a period of overlap when both designed were used as the old stock was used up. If someone replaced the steering gear housing or rebuilt it without the lock pin – or installed the wrong length drag link etc. the over center steering might happen: as well as:

Types of safety wire:

Example of loss of brakes caused by drive shaft failure:

Top T tips – many of them are safety related also:

Tour safety check list:

And if you have a gas hot water heater in the garage – be very very careful. The float in a Model T Carb will sometimes stick (or trash in the valve) and the carb will leak gasoline. Not too bad if there are no sparks. But several homes, garages and cars have been lost when a gas hot water heater was near by and someone started the dishwasher etc. that caused the hot water heater burner to turn on at the wrong time. Note gas fumes tend to be heavier than regular air …. so they tend to hug the floor. If you adjust your garage door to let the mice in and the air out – that is a temp work around. But replacing the gas fired hot water heater with an electric heater or having the gas one relocated away from the garage is the best thing. Note there are also gas/propane fired hot water heaters that are supposed to detect the presence of gas fumes and not light their burner. I’m old school – I would not want to trust the computer technology to work perfectly every time….

Even with a perfectly good and properly adjusted front steering system – if you back up quickly, the front wheels can go full left or full right and pull the steering wheel out of your hand – so remember to back up slowly. It is caused by the caster of the front wheels similar to the casters on the front of the shopping cart – designed to be stable in one direction but not so stable in the opposite direction. If someone rebuilt the front axle and it is was really difficult to keep the car going straight they may have inadvertently swapped the front spring perches. There is a left and a right spring perch that tilts the axle so the bottom of the axle is slightly ahead of the top of the axle (5 1/2 degrees positive caster – although there is some discussion that it is a little less but still positive for the balloon tires). If it has negative to neutral caster it can cause a wild ride and also could cause the car to flip even at a slow speed see: that shows the spring perch installed incorrectly and how the front axle looks then. Also see: Note even with the spring perch installed correctly a bent or shortened wishbone could cause neutral to negative caster.

With your wire wheel you don’t need to worry about the wood spokes. If you decide you want the car to look older – wood spokes work fine – but they need to fit tightly, not be split or wood rotted, made of quality wood (pine is not a good choice and yes some folks have offered pine spokes for sale) and the bolts etc. need to be tight without too much wobble in the wheel. see:

Again a T is a faithful servant but it has some known issues that the driver needs to be aware of and to take proper precautions about.

Steve Jelf has an excellent set of books he recommends for new owners on his web site at: with the T section at: and the recommended books listed at:

Note there are also free “how to books” on the internet such – see: 56bbT2W68C&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tdpWVMi4PMOjgwSAhoC4Ag&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=fa lse and there are others – on the net. And the Ford Service is online at: and does include the starter equipped cars and even the 1926 -27 “Improved car” features. The owners/instruction manuals are at: and the 1921 would work great for your 1923 car. Also the Ford Instruction Course on that same page the link is: And to help you with parts identification etc. I like Lang’s Old Car Parts on line catalog (you can also down load it as a PDF) available from: 16 mb so on a slow connection start the down load when you are going to do something else. Many of the photos are in color. Many but not all of the part numbers are the same as those used by Ford. They also have some helpful tips in the catalog. They are also great folks to deal with.

Also if you may want to review Milt Webb’s excellent “How to remove a T from mothballs” see the posting at: and scroll down to Tom Mullin’s posting the third posting from the top. While it was written for a T that had been stored for a long time – running the checklist on any T can help you know what to look for.

Also Milt has a great article about how slow cranking may be caused by poor 6volt electrical maintenance see Milt’s Six-Volt Battery Performance
Have lots of fun with your new Ford and welcome to the forum.

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chad Marchees _____Tax Capital, NY on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - 09:07 pm:

Welcome!!! Don't let Hap's post scare you off. It has a lot of great info that will answer some questions for you. I swear every time he posts it, it gets longer, but it is very complete.

I lasted a little over 8 years before my second one showed up. Working on a few other T-based items currently. Find a local club if you can.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By chris pelton on Thursday, October 08, 2015 - 06:50 am:

Damn, closest Chapter is Detroit....maybe we need a mid Michigan one??

Like I said, this is the first T...far from the first old piece of iron...I am big into the 2 wheel kind also....and our garage is already overflowing!!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Thursday, October 08, 2015 - 07:07 am:

Chris, did you check the MTFCI list of chapters too? They have quite a lot in Michigan: I

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