My father and I recently inherited a 1915 that hasn't been started in almost 50 years. My grandfather accidentally backed in into the barn and put a large dent in it and refused to take it out ever again. He drained all of the liquid (gas, water in radiator) out and kept it out of the elements. When he passed, it was given to us and I was hoping to get her running for my wedding this June. I've regularly referred to this forum for tips and advice and for that I'm incredibly thankful!
As far as reviving her goes, we've put in new coils, wiring, fan belt, spark plugs, and are working on cleaning up the carburetor now.
I have a few questions that I've researched answers for but just wanted some more personal (or recent) advice on.
How hard should the crank be to turn? I've read that the oil might be too heavy but are there other bigger issues that may be to blame? It does have a little bit of compression but I've watched videos and it seems like it should be much easier to turn over.
We're not getting any buzzing when we turn the engine over. We've cleaned up the contacts on the timer (it's a New Day timer) but still nothing. The connections are all good and we can get them to buzz when we touch a 12V battery to each contact inside the timer. I've read that the timer may just need replaced but wanted to know what other problems we should check first.
Are there any other tips on common problem areas to check?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Try jacking up the rear axle, maybe the clutch plates are sticky of old oil after such a long period?
The brush isn't grounding the timer contacts for some reason. You can check with a test light if there is any connection from the brush on the cam shaft end to the frame or wherever you're grounding the accessory battery. You should have 12 v to the bat connection at the coil box, then it's the brush that's supposed to ground the coils, one at the time.
You need to drain the old oil first, regardless of what it looks or smells like. Flush out the crankcase with a gallon of fresh oil. Then pour in a fresh gallon of the cheapest 5W-30 that you can find.
With the battery installed you should be able to measure battery voltage under each coil inside the coil box when the key is on "BAT".
You need to remove the spring retainer on the timer and inspect it, then lubricate it after a good cleaning. Click here for a how - to:
Also, bear in mind that some of the "new" coils being sold are new but bad. Click here for more on that:
Does your '15 HAVE a battery? '15s do not require a battery to run, provided the magneto is good. So, it could be possible that your grandfather may have not even used a battery.
Regardless, the easiest way to start one that has been sitting for a long while is with a battery wired to the coil box. You do need to be careful with batteries for many reasons. Not the least of which is that connecting a battery incorrectly can damage the magneto. That, you could possibly have already done by checking the coil buzz by touching 12 volts to the timer. The best thing for starting the car for the first time in many years may be to disconnect the magneto completely, then connect a battery temporarily to the coil box. After you get the engine running, and decide that it is well enough to drive, do a more permanent install of a small battery somewhere. Then you can better check out the switch (a major cause of starting problems) once you know the coils and engine work okay. Also, with the engine running on a battery (temporary or permanent install), it will be easier to test and see if the magneto works okay.
Good luck! And please post pictures if you can!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thanks for the quick responses! I've never heard of the thrust washer issue Mark, so we'll definitely look into that before we get on the road.
We'll invest in a test light and check the ground before replacing the timer, thanks Roger. I've heard that jacking the back up can help so we'll give that a shot as well (we'll probably put in fresh oil like Royce advised as well which may help).
Royce, we went with the plastic case coils from Mac's and got the coil tester and they all test correctly and give the right voltage. Have you seen any other problems with those?
Thanks for your help!
Some Plastic case coil information:
It doesn't have a battery at the moment but we've considered installing one in the future. Since the magneto has been sitting for so long and probably has never been recharged it may be bad already if we didn't kill it (there is some magnetism though because we've placed a compass on the head and watched it flip polarity as the engine turns). We'll disconnect it for now. Thanks for the tip! We may try the battery hookup so we can limit the potential problem areas until we get it running.
Check all the wiring to be sure that maybe rodents or whatever haven't chewed through any of them too. Also clean all connections. That's a lot of sitting around in humidity causing corrosion.
The plastic case coils seem to have inferior windings. As such, it is not the plastic case that causes the problem. It is what is inside. They give a weaker spark than a good Ford or KW coil. They can be OK if in good condition and adjusted properly, but they don't come from the manufacturer adjusted properly for operating on MAG.
When there is a choice, go with original parts if possible. With a few exceptions the original Ford parts are superior to reproductions or so - called "modern" parts.
It's difficult to give general advice about how to awaken, from long hibernation, a particular individual car with particular individual issues. _There's no doubt but that you're going to spend some significant legal tender on getting this great old machine on the road, and I think the first fistful of bucks would be well spent on this 3-DVD set which instructs on the subject of "Taking a Model T Ford Out of Mothballs."
Mark Strange already pointed out some excellent written material on the same subject which can be found on Steve Jelf's website, so getting some print-outs of that would also be a great start.
Tools to buy would include at least one pair of good-quality jack-stands and a solid floor-jack. You can get them at a good price at Pep Boys (or Walmart or Harbor Freight, etc.). Look for combo deals and online coupons.
As you're going to have to drain out the old oil anyway and rinse the engine's innards out with a gallon of oil—and then screw in the plug and add (my personal recommendation) 5W-30 detergent motor oil, you'll want to pour all the new, clean oil in through the top of the transmission, over the bands and everything else in there, to help free up whatever might be stuck together. _When you remove the six big screws and the access panel they hold in place at the top of the transmission, MAKE VERY, VERY CERTAIN NO FOREIGN OBJECT FALLS INTO THE OPENING. _That means, among other things, that you should not leave your key in the ignition. _If you do, it will joyously jump out of the keyhole of its own accord and swan-dive into your transmission while screaming, "Geronimo!" (and you will reply with very bad words.)
The engine will be very difficult to crank over unless you have the floor lever in the neutral or full-back position. _It's possible you're not getting a good neutral and that means doing some adjusting. _It wouldn't hurt one little bit to spray some penetrating oil in through the spark plug holes to help free up the rings and whatever else might be varnished together.
I think i would [after i removed the key] pull the trans cover 6 screws and have a look as to what is inside of your engine.Drain the oil and when i refiled with oil i would pour it over the bands.With good help,i would not hesitate to slowly tow it? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
I "woke up" a 14 T about 9 years ago that had been sleeping for about 20 years. It wanted to sleep. Change the oil. Pull the drain plug and let it drain for 24 hours before refilling it. Jack up one rear wheel. Pull the spark plugs and add a little oil to each cyl to help lube the rings and raise compression. Leave the plugs out while trying to get the ignition system working. There should be an unused terminal on the passenger side of the coil box under the hood. This should be the battery terminal. I use a small 12v battery that was rescued out of a back-up power supply. You don't need much of a battery.
When you are troubleshooting the coils, don't walk off and leave a coil buzzing. They don't like that. The more you crank the engine over the better. It will help loosen up stiff parts like valves etc.
Make sure the fuel system is CLEAN. The smallest amount of rust or dirt can drive your carburetor crazy. On the first attempt at starting, the low compression from lack of exercise may hinder you. I had to prime each cyl on my car with a bit of fuel to make it fire. It sure smoked up the garage the first time it started!
Tanner -- I see from your profile that you're in Indy. I'd recommend that you contact Jack Daron, who lives near Brownsville, just north of Indy. Jack is very knowledgeable about Model T's and could offer lots of advice.
This response has been amazing! Thank you all so much for your advice. It seems like a consensus that we should change the oil so that will be a top priority. Thankfully, our T doesn't have a key so we won't have to worry about it making a dive into the transmission.
Looks like we've got a lot of reading and watching to do! Thanks for the resources (including individuals we can contact). I'm still impressed by the great community of people who still enjoy this amazing machine.
I'm in college right now so unfortunately I can only get home on weekends to work on the T. I'll check back in as we make progress and definitely ask for more advice.
Thanks again everyone
Isn't there a slot for one on the front of your coilbox?
A key makes it easy to switch between BAT & MAG.
Replacement key that I purchased:
but there are two others, depends upon your coilbox - can you post a picture of your box?
Better yet, take a picture and send it down to Steve at Lang's and perhaps he can tell you which one you need.
A 12v lawn more bat will work fine to start it with and even run it if the mag is dead. When using a bat, be sure you are able to switch off the mag so only the bat is firing. If you run a bat back into your mag, that's Not good!
I think that I missed something here....- which is not all that unusual.
"We're not getting any buzzing when we turn the engine over.
And just recently you wrote that you had no key.
How - or why - would your coils buzz if there is no key to turn on?
Sorry gentlemen, I guess I had my terms wrong. There is a "key" but not like the modern variety I think of. I've seen newer T's (1920s+) with keys that you can take out and work a lot like modern keys that start the ignition and what not. I didn't consider the switch on the front of the BAT box as a key (which we do have). I didn't even know it could come out!
Hope that clears it up!
Yes, it does.
Would you consider looking here:
then look under Indiana, and find a chapter close to you....then get in touch with the contact person and attend a chapter meeting - and hopefully make contact with a member who lives close to you. An hour or so spent with a knowledgeable T person will allow you to get many questions answered in a relatively short time....and you may even get answers to questions you have not even thought about asking !
Just a thought to further your understanding of the car quickly.
Tanner, how's the T coming? :-)
We were able to change the oil out (the drain plug wasn't happy to be removed after sitting for so long) and tried cranking with the rear axle up. It by no means turns easily but it is a slight improvement from before.
Like Bill and a few others recommended, we hooked a 6V battery to the passenger side terminal on the back of the coil box. Sure enough, when we crank it now we get the coils to buzz in succession like they should! We're still not sure why they won't buzz on their own without the 6V hooked up though. Unfortunately, we're still waiting on a new float and gaskets for the carburetor so we weren't able to see if she starts up quite yet.
Since we're waiting on that, we started polishing our brass (I've learned that it can be quite a workout). Any suggestions on how to seal it so we don't have to polish as often? I've combed the forums and saw that there is a lot of debate over what polish to use but haven't seen much on what to seal it with afterwards (or should we just get used to polishing?).
We've also started the process of putting in new upholstery (a mouse decided to make a nest in one of the seats and the others have seen better days). I've watched a couple of videos on how to do it and the new covers came with a guide but was wondering if there were any secret tips or tricks?
Thanks again for all the help and advice everyone and Happy Easter!
Where in Indy are you located?
The Indy500 Club has some very helpful members. I live north of Indy but would be glad to come give a hand if you would like
I'm from the Westfield area North of Indy. My dad and I were hoping to make it out to one of the meetings but with me in my last year at Purdue and various wedding events, I'm not sure we'll have a free weekend for a while. Thank you so much for your offer! I'm never sure what days I'm able to make it home to work on the T, but I'll keep you in mind if we get stuck on something!
I am up in Tipton so not far away. Give a pm and I will send you my number