Last week I picked up a 1924 Model T Fordor that hadn't run for what I think is ten or more years. After rewiring and changing out the gas and oil it was time to fill up the radiator. Let the leaks begin...some just seeps, some steady.
The radiator core itself seems fine, but the head and bottom leak at the seems. The top tank(head)has a steel connector that the hose hooks into. This piece has pin holes all over it as well as leaky seems. Other leaks were all the freeze plugs and a crack in water jacket to rear of water outlet.
Any advice on repairing the tanks and seems? Not to concerned about the block issues. Seems quite common with many remedies. Thoughts are encouraged though.
Other issue was when driving around the yard and driveway. It felt real wobbly and almost as if it were going to take two directions at once! I checked for slop in the steering, kingpins, and hub. Felt fairly tight and no odd wear pattern in the tires. Haven't jacked up to spin tires yet.
Now I must admit that the tires were not overly inflated, actually quite low. The other thing is that it has some sort of shock absorber setup. Mounted on each frame rail is a canister with coiled leather which is attached to the axle. One side the leather snapped and allows the axle to perhaps articulate more. The other side I think still works and makes it stiffer.
Check out first start and drive with wobble. Most noted while on blacktop.
Hi Kyle, If you don't already belong to a local T club chapter, you should. There is a chapter in your area, The CT Crankin' Yanks. I know several of their members: Don Liepelt in Madison, CT, Charlie Gagel in Orange, CT, and Will Revaz in Oxford, CT. These guys are all long time, knowledgable T guys and can help you with your T.
In listening to your video of the T engine start up and running, it sounds like you didn't advance the spark after the engine started, and also like the gas mixture was too rich when running.
Concerning the wobbling in the front end, this is not unusual and indicates that there's play in any or all of the front end, all the way from the front wheels to the steering wheel.
An experienced T guy can help you identify problems in that area.
If you aren't already a member of the 2 national Model T clubs, I encourage you to become a member of both of them That's right, both of them. They are both very worthwhile clubs and worth every cent of the membership cost.
Thanks Keith, I am aware of the Crankin' Yanks. They are a little too far I'm thinking. I did discover "Four Seasons Model T" which is much closer and one you could actually take back roads to.
There is a well known gentleman, George King, who operates "Connecticut Antique Engine Restoration". If I remember right you can sign up to rebuild your engine there with guidance from him. He is pretty close to me and I've seen his WWI ambulance at local shows.
When I started the engine up it was only running on 3 cylinders. Number 3 was not firing. After some cleaning of wires it caught and smoothed things out. It started on battery and would die on Mag, but after a few starts it now runs on both and speeds up when switched to mag.
The spark was advanced although it didn't seem to make too much difference unlike the TT I had which would nearly die if you didn't advance it quickly. You could be right about the fuel mixture. I hadn't messed with that yet. Although I had some oil in the cylinders if that had an effect I don't know.
Before you try driving the car again, please post some photos of the front axle. Include ones that show the front spring perches. It's sounding like you have a very common alignment issue that needs to be corrected before it's driven.
(photos needs to be under 250k file size)
I see what you mean about the wobble. Before seeing the video I thought your problem might be loose wheel bearings, but the wheels wobble in unison, which makes me suspect something loose in the steering. More likely several things loose in the steering. Those could be in the gears, in the gear case rivets, in the bracket, in the Pitman arm, in the steering gear connecting rod, or more likely all of those places. A little looseness here, a little looseness there, and you're wandering all over the road. Have your helper turn the steering wheel while you watch the front of the car. While you're figuring out the steering, also put the front of the car up on jack stands with the front suspension hanging, then grab each front wheel and give it a good shake. The car looks great, but that doesn't mean the bushings aren't all worn out. Maybe you can guess how I know that.
Both videos are striking for their sharpness of image. What kind of camera are you using?
You indicated your tires are low and they look low in the videos.
30 x 3.5 tires are high pressure and should be inflated to at least 55 PSI.
Since a sedan is a heavier car, you should probably go 60 to 65 PSI.
You can get a high pressure gauge at the auto parts store or a bicycle shop.
After seeing your video, it looks like Steve's assessment is probably a more accurate explanation of the problem. Still, would like to double check those perches.
Have you tried adjusting the carburetor needle valve a bit to get it running smoother? In your first video it seemed to be running a bit rich.
As far as the radiator is concerned, you have indicated it has several issues. You are going to be forever chasing little leaks. It would be money well spent to scrap it and buy a decent replacement. Of course, unless this is meant to be a trailer queen.
Kyle, In looking at your video it looks to me that your front axle is not oriented properly, like maybe the spring perches are in backwards or possibly a bent pan causing the axle to be back to far. Also it appeared that your caster or camber is out it looked like your wheels were spread open instead of towing in. Hope this helps Jim
Small holes in the tanks can be sealed with solder. But if the core is leaking it is better to replace the entire radiator.
Also, if you have overheating, the core could be clogged or separated from the cross fins. The core can be cleaned out, but if it is separated from the fins, it will still overheat.
A crack in the outside water jacket can be sealed with JB weld but if inside the engine you will need the help of a professional welder and or sleeve the cylinder. Freeze plugs are available from the vendors. I prefer the brass ones which don't rust out.
The front wheel problem is usually caused by looseness in one or more areas. The drag link connecting the steering arm to the right front wheel is one of the usual causes. The ball joints get loose. Another possible cause is the spindle arms. Those are the arms which are bolted into the spindle at the front and in the back are connected to the tie rod which connects between the two wheels. If the nut is loose allowing the spindle arm to move in the spindle, it will cause that kind of vibration. Also the bolts and bushings at each end of the tie rod get worn and could cause the problem. Other causes could be wear on the bushing at the lower end of the steering column. The ball joint where the radius rod connects to the lower side of the crankcase under the engine can be worn causing the entire front axle to move. Also the two nuts under the spring perches where the radius rods are also bolted to the axle could be loose or the spring shackles be very worn. The spindle bolts (king pins) and bushings in at each spindle where it is bolted to the axle could be worn.
You need to get the Ford Service Manual and the Booklet from the club Front Axle which will show you how to check all these areas and how to rebuild the axle. Actually it sounds worse than it really is, because all the parts you will need to fix it are relatively inexpensive and most of the work can be done by an amateur. Put the car on jack stands and then take one wheel and move it back and forth and look for sloppyness. You will find the various things that need attention.
Good luck. That is a nice looking car and after you finally got it started, it sounds good and seems to run along quite well.
As far as the radiator is concerned Its time to replace it.
If its an original round tube radiator it is definitely time for sure.
You may can repair it but it probably wont cool like it should.
Fixing old radiators is like chasing rabbits.
If you plan to drive and have fun with your T you need 2 things. Good tires and a good radiator that cools.
A lot of T guys like myself spent time, money and repeated repairs to finally realize radiators do finally lose there cooling capability.
Again, thanks for all the positive feedback. Not sure what my overall goal is for this Model T. At some point I'd like to put it on the road and have it be reliable as can be. I'm by no means one to have a trailer queen. On the other hand I want it to hold together and not leave a rusty trail behind it.
Tonight I moved it into my basement for winter.
Who new that Henry intentionally designed the Model T to fit through a standard double door. He must have been aggravated he would have to tear down his wall to get his first car out. Anyway I'll have more ambition to work on it where it is relatively warm.
I'll be focusing on cleaning it up now and looking into what is going on with the front suspension/steering. While pushing it in to place it looked to have excessive tow in. Would that cause it to bind? The rims themselves seem to be drawn in where the clincher bolts are tightened. Warped rim? In the pictures I've linked, you can see slop in the kingpins and tie rod ends. Note the Lincoln Balloon shocks. I do have a copy of the repair manual. Will have to crack that open and set up what you can adjust. What are the common items I should be looking at for suspension replacement?
Steve, my camera is a recent purchase. It's a Nikon Coolpix L840. Not bad for a $250 camera. I guess the video isn't bad either.
Anyway check out the link for more pictures of the front suspension and steering as requested
Your spring perches are installed on the wrong sides of the axle which will cause the steering to get wobbly. Also, the perch bushings and spring shackles are heavily worn. All pins and bushings in the front axle are probably worn out. I would remove and fully restore the front axle and front leaf spring. The front wheel bearings should also be removed, cleaned, replaced if necessary and repacked with fresh grease. The Ford service manual describes everything that should be done.
From the photos the spring perches and the bushings look quite worn. get someone to move the steering wheel gentle from side to side and then look at each connection, look for serious wear. Toe in is best measured after putting tape around the tire with a line drawn on the tape and then measure the toe in on the line.
Stephen, looking at pictures it looks like the top of the perch is supposed to curve to the front of the vehicle not the back? Otherwise it's hard for me to visually tell what the differences are.
Stephen a good simple way to see any worn and excessive movement in the front end is to jack up the front end of the car. Use 2 jack stands or something sturdy to get it off the ground.
Turn the steering wheel slowly back and forth and you can easily see where any play and looseness is.
While you have it off the ground you can remove the front axle assembly in one unit.
Check things out and replace all worn bushings and while your at it replace the king pins.
You will be surprised how much better your T will drive and react with a rebushed front end.
Kyle, the boss on the tops of the spring perches with the dimple in the middle should be towards the back of the car. When the perches are on the correct sides of the car the top of the axle will be tilted towards the back of the car.
John, it's Kyle's car not mine.
Perches should be installed with the boss toward the rear of the car.
An area I'd like to elaborate on are the front wheel bearings and hubs. Once you get to that point, inspect the hubs and bearings closely. The outer hub can develop a small crack across the hub threads and travel into the machined receiving area of the outer race. If you discover a cracked outer race you may find a cracked hub also, just a thought. I found both in my rebuild along with a chipped roller. I also found the uppermost leaf spring cracked. Just look over everything closely.
The perches being reversed can cause a lot of ill handling issues. That is because it usually gives negative caster. You need positive caster for the vehicle to drive straight properly (top of the spindle bolt leaned towards the rear compared to the bottom of the bolt).
The fact you also have spring tensioners on the tie rod ends and spring loaded ball caps on the drag link also indicated there is more than likely an issue there too. I would be willing to bet the front end is basically worn out. Don't worry, most of us have been through the same deal.
If you start putting new bushings into things, buy the bronze ones, and if you keep them oiled, they will last a long long time. Hopefully you have the service "bible" as it will help along with help from this board.
Another thing which can cause a problem with castor which is usually too much positive caster which makes it hard to turn the car. Is sagging in the center of the frame around the location where the ball joint is fastened. A very good indication of this sort of problem would be the fit of the hood. The hood will hang in such a way that the bottom gap is greater at the cowl and can even cause the front bottom edge of the hood to be forward of the radiator. I am not trying to discourage you, but unless and until you check out all the possible problems, you won't find a satisfactory solution. It can be something quite simple, or more complex. Thankfully the fix for all these problems is not impossible to do yourself and not extremely expensive for the parts.