They help to make a nice picture, but I used up a couple of dozen matches getting this shot. The slightest breath of air movement will blow them out. I can't imagine they actually serve any practical purpose.
Worse yet, the doors won't stay shut when lit !
Steve, i run mine at full ramble and they never blow out. Maybe its the mixture of what oil and wick you are using? I use a non-paraffin smokeless lamp oil. Also sometimes adjusting the baffles on the top of the lamp so they are not fully open to the front also seems to help to keep it from blowing out.
We've used our sidelamps on several of our cars, at speed, and with similar wind conditions (Nebraska blows, Kansas sucks..... sorry, couldn't pas it up), with no problems. As mentioned, I wonder if a short wick, too much air leaking through, or some other issue is causing the problem.
Now our tail lamp is a different story.......
These work fine at all speeds. Many I've seen on "restored" cars have had parts left out when made to look pretty. Make sure you have all the parts there and that they function as designed.
Funny, my side lights never blow out (I put electric bulbs in)...they'll be my turn signals.
A good wick is important and the type of oil. I have better luck with a lamp oil rather than kerosene. I had my lights lit one time when I loaded the T on a trailer in Salt Lake City, and was half way home before the second lamp went out, the first only made it a few miles on the free way against the wind. Both were out of oil when I checked at home, so they can do rather well on the road.
Was not the point of cowl lamps to serve as backups, should the acetylene or electric lamps malfunction ?
Steve, Are your side-lamps the correct 1915 style with the holes around the bottom of the chimney? I am just curious. I have heard the earlier type with the holes were worse about blowing out. I wonder what I am in for when/if I get my '15 going. One could consider adding a piece inside to block the vents.
Great picture of the car by the way!
I guess the obvious solution to yer problem Steve is to drive backwards ...
The sidelights are parking lights and are there to indicate when your car is parked on a dark road at night.
I don't believe they were used when rolling.
The 1915 - 1918 lamps blow out at about 5mph. They are parking lamps.
What is the difference between a 17 and say 24 sidelight?
Agree they shouldn't blow out. Especially at low speeds so there's probably something wrong or something you're doing incorrectly. (type of oil, ect.) Also agree the general consensus is "parking lights" as in standing still. There was and is some whack laws out there so that's a possibility too.
100+ years ago when the modern Ford was using mag lite's i would have thought they were used for more than parking?? Bud.
Because of the brass tops and doors I've always assumed these are correct for 1915. The encyclopedia shows a very similar lamp, but with a door that opens from the side, not the top.
I believe Royce on this. It also applies when the car is sitting still and the air is moving at 5 mph.
Opp's,Well over 100 years ago when the Ford used gas lamps,did they stop and add more carbide and water on the road when the lite's went out?? Did they switch Presto lite tanks on the side of the road? If only to me it seems as if they might have lite the side lamps and went on?? Think sets of 5 so they must have been important? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Air is fed through the small holes then it travels between the reflector and outside case to feed the flame at the base of the wick holder. The slots at the top are the exit vent. Even if the housing is plugged up you should be able to light them. Must be the fuel or your not turning the wick up high enough to light. Are the wicks new and not charred yet or were not given enough time to soak up the fuel?
We had to drive 20 miles using the side lamps after the magneto bulbs blew out. There was some moon light but it was definitely dark. My wife and two children and I were on our way to Grandma's house and it got late. We were in our '15 Runabout so it was kind of cramped. The lights didn't light the way but but made us visible to traffic. We did pull over and slow down when vehicles passed. I'm sure this happened many times back in the day. It gave us some more insight on those days.
The extra row of holes is in the chimney through about 1918. They were eliminated then, and that made the lights stay lit when you are moving.
In some areas the law required parking lights when the car was parked. They also serve to let someone else see you if your headlights go out. You might even be able to see a little of what's under the hood, in case you need to fix something at night.
I never use them myself. They are ornaments.
Both side and tail lamps are made to be used while driving at speed. The side lights are not just parking lights.
Both the square lamps (side and tail) 1914 and back and the round lamps (side and tail) introduced in 1915 are a hot blast type kerosene lamp with intakes at and around the top.
It seems the lamps introduced in 1915 had the problem of too much fresh air coming in due to the "ring" of holes around them just above the lamp chamber and Ford dealt with that in the 1915 bulletin as follows:
Apparently the felt rings Ford supplied were inserted in the lamp door and restricted the air flow enough that the holes were OK. Probably the reason the holes are only on the first year or so. Seems like a gasket around the door would be the answer as it was 100 years ago.
I saw this same issue being discussed a year or two ago and bought a round lamp last year to see if I could get it to blow out. When I received it, turned out to be NOS and I didn't have the heart to mount and light it on my cars.
However, I can assure you that 35 mph+ into a headwind will not blow out the square type kerosene side and tail lamps or acetylene gas headlights. The lighting system was designed to run at speed.
Ken in Texas
As I recall, back when I was a kid, the first click of the pull-out switch on the dashboard of our family's '55 Pontiac Star-Chief activated not the headlights, but the "parking lights." _I wondered why they were called that as nobody I knew turned them on to park the car.
I asked Dad about it (He had owned a Model T Ford during the tail-end of her heyday, just before WWII) and according to him, the kerosene lamps were also referred to as "parking lights." _That was because in some parts of the country, there were once local laws regarding the parking of carriages (horseless and otherwise) on public streets which required that such vehicles be kept illuminated after dark. _I'd never heard of such a thing.
Anyway, the point I'm making is that perhaps the kerosene lamps might not have been primarily intended for use while the car was in motion. _Of course, I could be wrong—happens all the time—just ask my wife.
Though sort of unrelated, this jogs the memory of other 50's-60's associated gadgets like the springy-sproingy curb-feelers which married men affixed to the rocker panels of their cars, and the clear, amber-tipped thermometer-looking thingies installed so as to mark the front corners of the same vehicles. _Back then, it was thought that women were pretty much helpless around machinery of any kind—a quaint notion indeed, considering so many "Rosie-the-Riveters" had just recently built countless jeeps, trucks, tanks and aircraft for the war effort. _Nevertheless, my Mom did the veiled pillbox hat, white gloves, hi-heels and scared-of-bugs thing, as did most clever women, which got them out of dirty jobs they really could have done just fine and fed the naďve egos of their husbands—an arrangement which, for decades, kept everybody happy. _Oh, for the days!
Early days those gas powered head lamps were TOO bright for town and city driving. Were fine for open road. In towns most law officials frowned on running head lamps. So the side lamps were used. And of course some city laws required night time parking lamps.
Originally the coal oil lamps were carriage lamps, marked the side of the carriage and kept some lights on the horses too.
Have run my '23 side lamps at road speed and no blowing out.
NYC 1903 article on law against running headlamps
Maryland state laws 1911
1922 adv for parking lamp and mirror combo, noting laws for having a parking light at night.
Never had a problem keeping the lamps lit on my dad's '17 touring. We use lamp oil. He also has a supply of NOS wicks which must be at least 90 years old.
The round lamps '15 and up use the 3/8-inch wicks. The square lamps on my '14 use a 1/2-inch wick and regular K-1 kerosene from Lowes. My John Brown 110's & 115 will burn for about 8 hours on the tank of fuel.
Ken in Texas
(Message edited by drkbp on May 26, 2016)
I have never had the side lights blow out on my 14 and I drive it a lot around my small town at sundown. The absolute pleasure of driving a car with acetylene head lights and kerosene side lights is one of life's simple pleasures that needs to experienced and somehow makes the days work bull$hit go away. I also have a Speedster with 15 side lights on it and they will not stay lit at any speed. Guess what car I drive more?
(Message edited by paulmikeska on May 27, 2016)
My side lights seldom if ever blow out. The tail light is more prone to blowing out, but since I switched to Ultra-Pure Lamp Oil, it stays lit most of the time too. None have a felt gasket around the door, but I might just try that. I don't think it could hurt. The only down side of the Ultra-Pure is that it will solidify at low temps, so you guys in cooler climates might have a problem with it. It's never been a problem here in South Georgia.
Just reading all of the testimonials makes me wonder if Steve's lights are missing one or more important parts, are there wind baffles or some other internal features that his might be missing?
Steve's lights are normal for 1915-'17 lights with the extra holes. Should work better with the fix from the March 31, 1915 Ford letter cited above.
I have a 1918-23 kerosene tail light on my primitive pickup and it'll blow out even at slow speeds
I may try some type of packing around the lid (will it stand the heat?) or maybe I'll try the 1923-26 Model "O" tail light I recently found - maybe the 90 degree tilt helps?
What if you adjust the chimney vents to allow less air flow through the lamp? There must be a reason that is adjustable.
You are so right. There is nothing like a Model T all lit up by original equipment and it's safer too. Oncoming traffic probably can see those acetylene lights for a mile. Especially on high beam.
Also, I have found the lamps will tend to smoke if you have too much air coming in around the door or base. If you have a smoker, a gasket on the door may help.
The John Brown 110 & 115 lamp base needs to be "closed" correctly when you twist them shut. Outside air coming in at the base or locking slot of the lamp will make them smoke. I don't have any E&J's so not sure about them.
Too much air coming in the round lamp doors should make them smoke too.
T kerosene lamps are made to have the air come in the top, go down the lamp next to the flue to be heated, inside the double wall of the lamp chamber to the burner at the base. Hence, they are a hot blast (pre-heated air) lamp.
They burn brighter about a minute or so after you first light them as the air gets heated going to the burner. I set my wicks to the "hot lamp" height and put them out by opening the door and a quick puff of air. Makes a relight quick because they are already at the hot height.
If you can blow out birthday candles, you may be a good kerosene and gas lamp runner. More info than is needed but the lamps are really a lot of fun.
Ken in Texas