Hi, I would like to put together an article or series of short paragraphs about the known safety issues or “gotcha’s” that we could share with new T-owners. New owners could learn all the lessons on their own, but I thought some of them might like to learn a few of the lessons from reading about them rather than experiencing them first hand.
There have been some great postings in the past and I plan to look up the thread “Scariest Moments in a Model T” or something like that -- and others that have had a lot of good suggestions. But if you have some ideas, comments, pictures, recommended forum thread for me to look at etc. please post and/or send them to me (my e-mail address is at the bottom of my profile at: http://www.mtfca.com/cgi-bin/discus/board-profile.cgi?action=view_profile&profil e=hap_tucker-users . For photos, I will need to track down some high resolution copies if they will be printed -- but for the forum you can post them and they will work great for an electronic version.
The posting at: My Dad’s 1917 roadster at http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/50893/69282.html?1224118574 got me started thinking about the safety gotchas. And then a posting at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/50893/69349.html?1224166566 reminded me we all need to send in some items to Jay for possible use by the “Vintage Ford.” Some of the items I would like to expand I took from the “My Dad’s 1917 roadster thead.” They are pasted in below:
4. Note the Model T was built before OSHA and there are several things that can get you hurt that would prevent a new car from being able to be marketed in the USA today.
4.a. Improperly cranking the car can result in a broken arm. At one point Fords were responsible for a large number of broken arms, commonly referred to back then as “Ford Fracture” although other cars could and did break arms in the same general location –usually your forearm.
4b. The car can run over you after it starts for any of several reasons:
If the clutch is not adjusted properly
If the clutch is sticking
If you happen to have straight 30 weight or heavier oil in the engine & transmission and the engine is not warmed up.
If the low ban is not adjusted properly
If you don’t use large enough wheel chocks or you forget and leave the wheel chocks in the tool box. (I’ve seen mine jump a small modern day 2 x 4 size chocks – although if the clutch drag is minimal those will normally work.)
If the teeth on the emergency brake ratchet do not engage properly (worn, bad spring, etc.) or someone pushes the emergency brake lever forward (that will do it if the clutch is functioning normally) but is not depressing the low speed pedal part way down.
If you happen to have straight 30 weight oil in the engine & transmission
and/or the spring that holds the pawl of the emergency brake against the teeth of the
4.c. Good news if it backfires and you are cranking it improperly and your arm is broken, the car seldom continues to run. I do not know of a single case where the person who was cranking received both a broken arm and was run over by their Ford during the same attempt to start the car. Now if you try to crank it after breaking the arm, the Ford is not sentimental and it will still run you over for any of those reasons above even if you are wearing a sling. .
5. If it does start and you drive it you face a few other known Model T problem areas. While driving:
5.a. If the front axle has negative castor rather than the correct positive castor the front wheels can go full left or right. That can sometimes flip the car and has done so at speeds of less than 15 mph.
5.b. If the nuts & studs that hold the wishbone against the engine pan are not safety wired properly, the studs (also nuts) can back out, allowing the front axle to go from positive to negative castor and flip the car.
5.c. Backing up the car – if the front axle is set up properly it has positive castor for forward movement but negative castor in the rear ward direction. If you back up too fast it is easy to lose control and have an accident.
5.d. The old style babbit thrust washers used in the rear axle tend to fail without a lot of warning. If that happens to you, then you no longer have any transmission / normal braking nor engine braking, but only the emergency brake. In a sample size of 4 used early Fords in my Dad’s garage when I was growing none of them initially had a good emergency brake. They either needed cleaning to remove the oil, needed the rods reconnected, needed adjustment, or needed brake shoes (I don’t mean they were worn --- they were just missing/not there.)
6. I’ve been playing with Ts for a little while and I had a few “oops” in my time. But knowing what some of the major “gotchas” are can help you keep the “oops” in the minor categories rather than the major categories.
7. Normally I would post reference for those safety items but I need to stop for the night so I will post what I have done and work some more on it later. The T can be a lot of fun, but like any hobby, fishing, horse back riding, etc. it has some known areas that you need to be aware of. Finding someone from a local club who is familiar with Ts can be a great help. How loose is too loose on the steering etc. If they are not willing to go for a ride with you in the car – that normally is a good sign it should be fixed before the ride.
If any one has some additional topics, suggestions, etc. please let us know. And yes -- you can even share “Don’t do it” but at the moment I think it could be helpful and also still be motivational for our hobby. Note -- please don’t post the names of actual participants without obtaining their permission. And I want to keep this positive -- so if you have some real horror stories or photos -- I would appreciate just a summary so we can prevent a reoccurrence. I’m shooting more for a “G” rated story rather than “R” rated.
Hap Tucker 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and 1907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.
This is a good overall post. 4.c had me chuckling a lot. You are very eloquent in how you explain things. I'm glad to see the Model T does not believe in double jeopardy. The last half of #7 couldn't be more true. Keep up the excellent posting.
Backfiring with no aircleaner or inlet screen will start a fire.
Having the only fuel shutoff near the carb means it will be unreachable when above fire starts.
Starting an engine in the garage when the car cannot be rolled out may result in garage burning with the car.
My article on wheel chocks has been published in "Skinned Knuckles" and the Durant newsletter, and elsewhere. You may use it, Hap.
Speaking of backfiring. It is safer to use carb cleaner to assist starting rather than ether/starting fluid. Carb cleaner is not nearly as volitale until it is compressed.
Hap - I think you have a great idea in the interest of safety. And not just for the new Model T folks either!
This is just OPINION on my part, but kind of a "pet peeve". I've actually seen this written as a safety requirement somewhere, but I've forgotton where. Included with a list of "required" safety items for participation in some club's events, it was stated that the front axle radius rod ball joint must have cotter pins installed in both castle nuts. (my wording from memory, but words to that effect)
To me, that is wrong, wrong, wrong! Those castle nuts are on studs, not bolts, and therefore, even if the castle nuts have cotter pins installed, one or both of the studs (with cotter pinned castle nuts) can work loose, or even fall out! The studs, with castle nuts, should be safety wired to each other, which will secure the nuts to the studs, and the studs will be secured to each other to prevent the studs working loose.
You could word this much better Hap, and I'm sure it's been written in several Model T manuals before, but it is a common mistake that I've seen numerous times, besides the written recommendation of cotter pins instead of safety wire.
For what it's worth,...........harold
Hap - I should have mentioned that you did address this issue in 5b., but my point was that apparently, there are some safety minded folks that see cotter pins in those castle nuts and think that that is sufficient, even tho' it's not!
When jacking up a back wheel to make the engine easier to start be sure there is a clear path ahead of the car because it is EXTREMELY likely that the wheel in the air--which is now turning twice the speed it would be at the same engine rpm's on the road--will be out of balance enough to jump the axle up and down and it WILL fall off the jack and hit the ground or garage floor before you can get around the side to slow the engine down and pull the lever. If you DO have the lever back already it will snap ahead when the wheel hits the ground. You now have an engine running at least half throttle with no driver in the car and the car in high gear. You can not run as fast as it will take off across the yard and all you can hope for is that the engine will die or it will hit something that doesn't hurt it too bad. If it is in the garage when it comes off the jack all you can hope for is that you don't get hurt and that it won't cost TOO much to fix the fenders, radiator and garage wall.
Don't ask me how I know all this.
That's why every car should carry chocks, Stan, and part of why they should be used anytime a wheel is off the ground.
Good advice, Harold. Studs don't have to be used on 4-dip pans, however. I use bolts and jam nuts.
When that thing comes off the jack or stands with that wheel turning the equivalent of 80 or 90 mph -- close to full throttle engine speed spinning one wheel -- there isn't any chock that is going to stop it.
That may be true if it were to happen, Stan, but good chocks should keep the car from coming off the jack in the first place, until you can grab the throttle.
I would like to add another to your fine list....
5.e. When equipped with a motometer, and the red line is reached by the thermometer glass bulb, you are therefore noticing an overheated condition. Do not,.. repeat,.. do not attempt to loosen the radiator cap with your gloved or rag covered hand, while your face, or any body part is near the orifice of the radiator. You will be immediately scalded by an eruption of heated water and/or coolant. I know. This is fact.
Don't touch the mag post when it's running...you'll end up (as I did) on your back in the gravel, wondering what the hell just happened!
When you buy a "new" T always check that the rear axle nuts are tight with cotter pins installed or you might find one of your rear wheels passing you........Don't ask me how I know this.
I might add don't test drive a T barefoot with the floor boards out if if it has a good mag.
Might add, don't step on the transmission door in bare feet while getting out or rest a rubber soled sandal on the Exhaust pipe, takes a while to get rid of the smell of melting rubber.
Don't crawl under the left side of the car if you overfill the radiator and let it idle for 20 min, even if it is not running at the time you crawl under. heh I never saw that coming. ooch. Make sure all the screws are in the transmission inspection door. Newbie me didn't see that the holes were all the way through. Looked like old Jed was a millionaire until I turned the engine off
I'm chuckling too hard to think of one...but boy oh boy do I think every one of these has happened to me one time or another
Be sure you know about T clincher tires so you do not spend several hours trying to mount a 30 x 3 1/2 tire on a 30 x 3 rim. Someone told me about that. I would not know anything about it.
Make sure the threads on the radiator cap are good and that you tighten it down securely. When you catch a gusty headwind and it blows off on a car without a windshield, the quart or so of hot water doesn't cool down much before it showers you. Again, I just heard that from a friend.
How about cutting the wheels when backing up, then driving ahead and finding out you have "over steered" and run into the trailer you just backed off of, or the car, pickup or tree that wasn't where it ought to be, been there, done that.
Lots of great comments and ideas-- thank you all!
For Grady, when you mentioned "over steered" did you mean turning the steering wheel so far in one direction that the pitman arm is rotated 180 degrees? I.e. it is no longer pointing down as designed but is now pointing up and the car steers backwards to what it normally would steer? I.e. when rolling forward, turning the steering wheel to the right now makes the car go left or did you mean something else?
You have a nice looking 1925 roadster on your profile and I thought it was only the early cars before they put the stop in the steering gear case that tended to have that problem. Do you remember what year car/steering gear case had the problem (early or late?). But I guess the stop could be worn or missing and it might still do that even on a later Model T. But please clarify if that is what you meant or something else.
Hap Tucker 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and 1907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.
My advice to newcomers is to fully understand what the controls do and how they work. Then go somewhere quite and just practice driving the car. Practice braking, reversing, speeding up and slowing down. Practice emergency braking to get a feel of how much the brakes actually do. So before someone goes riding in their new T around the neighbourhood near kids, they should have a couple of hours of practice.
I guess this is a safety advice item for new T owners:
It has been said that it is best to drive a T as though it has no brakes at all, that way you won't be dissapointed.
Take the keys out of the ignition before opening the tranny cover on the hogshead. Don't run the engine with the tranny cover off. Don't ever cross the magneto wire with the battery wire, anywhere on the car. 30 MPH on a back road with coils singing is the best therapy on earth.
When attempting to remove the rear wheels, and they just won't come off no matter how hard you hit the wheel puller, check the handbrake isn't still on.
a womans hair doo will never look the same at the end of a ride in an open T as it did before the ride, and no matter how much perfume she wears it will not overpower the smell of raw gas. a sunday ride in good dress cloths will end up with greese on them some where making them play cloths.