Hi Model T'ers
Learn a handy trick from the good old days how to start your Model T in cold weather...
Another good one, Mitch. My question is: Why not jack up the wheel before priming?
If you adjust the clutch properly and use a reasonable grade of oil then you won't need to jack up a wheel even in the coldest weather.
For sure if you have thick oil and / or a misadjusted clutch you will have to do this.
Suggest that you put the jack on the left side so the handle is away from the tire.
This allows you to put the jack as far outward as possible. In my opinion, it is preferable to put the jack under the casting as close to the backing plate as possible and not on the bare axle tube. This is possible with 30 x 3.5 oversize clincher tires - not sure if it can be put under the casting with balloon tires as there may not be enough clearance between the jack and the tire.
Hope the above makes sense to you.
would you drop me a note re: Torpedo pedals? For some weird reason, I could not get messaging to work on a one-to-one personal level. Thanx, Jeff email@example.com
Whenever I do this I jack up both rear wheels on secure stands, chock both front wheels and always have the brake lever forward so its locked in top gear before I prime it. The rear wheels work like a flywheel and I find the car easier to start, especially if car has been in storage for a long time.
Some interesting comments here, thankyou all for your input.
Different people tackle it differently
I found a technique that works well with my Model T - they're all different and have a will of their own...
Steve Jelf: It's just a habit I got into, it works for me
Kevin Weeds: Not sure why you'd want to go to the trouble of jacking both rear wheels, when the differential makes that basically pointless - you're not gaining anything. But if it works for your car then who am I to argue
Actually Mitch, what Kevin does would make a difference, jacking both wheels would only require the crown wheel and pinion to turn, with one wheel up, then with stiff oil you are driving crown/pinion and planetary gears as well.
Good point Frank... but if you're strapped for time (or don't own axle stands), one wheel is a lot easier than both on the ground lol - at least it is with my car... Us T owners know all too well they have a will of their own and have a mind of their own more often than not!!
Trying to crank with both wheels on the ground with my car in the middle of winter in central New South Wales, is harder than strangling a friendly dog haha
I prefer jacking both rear wheels for safety reasons. On very cold mornings I use my wife's hair drier to warm up the inlet manifold for a few minutes - works wonders.
Paul Hoogendoorn, Johannesburg, South Africa
The flywheel effect is greater if only one wheel is jacked up. One wheel turns twice as fast as it does if both wheels are turning the same speed. You might say "yeah, but I have twice as many wheels turning". Only thing is, the stored energy is proportional to the square of the speed. Double the speed quadruples the energy.
Having said all that, I'd find a new hobby if I had to jack up a wheel to get my car started. Especially if I felt I had to lift them both and use jack stands and chock both front wheels and...... No, I'll stick with my 5w30 and crank it with it sitting on all fours. Granted, it don't get too cold here. If I did have to resort to something like that, you can rest assured, it would be one wheel.
It's never too cold here but 5 or 6 years ago it got down to about 15 degrees. I went out before work that morning and mine fired up fine on 4 or 5 pulls on mag all wheels on the ground. A bit of adjusting will save lots of work jacking up a wheel. I did that too at first but I got everything adjusted right and no more jack except to change a tire.
It gets cold and stays cold sometimes. I wouldn't want to do all of that to start mine. I did start them last year below 20 degrees and they started right up. I get it some places get really cold and stay that way. I can see that making things a lot harder to start. I had a model A that had a lot of miles on it and it didn't want to start if it was in the 20s but she left and went to someone else's house. The 2 A s I have now crank after 1-2 turns no matter the temps but one has everything new or rebuilt and 8v battery and the other one looks like it should never start and run. I think it's about good wiring and carbs,starters, adjustments and coils in being in good condition on any car if it's starts good in the cold. Just my b opinion. Tim
I use 5w-30 during the winter. With the engine in tune, good coils, free neutral, and parking brakes which lock the rear wheels I do not need to lift a rear wheel to start my Ts. I have started the '14 (stem winder) in temps as low as 10 degrees above zero (F) and the coupe as low as four above.
Winter driving is a hoot.
I read this passage online, I'm somewhat concerned for anyone who would use an engine starting spray on a Model T though...
In Australia, we have a product called "Start Ya Bastard!", it's an ether spray.
"For starting in cold weather, pour hot water into radiator, preheat engine oil, leave a kerosene lantern under the engine pan and spread a quilt over the top of the engine hood. In extreme cold, jack up one rear wheel to eliminate friction and place an eyedropper of sulfuric ether into the intake manifold before cranking. Caution! Watch the position of the wrist on the crank."
I've seen people claim that starting fluid (Ether) will "Wash the oil off the cylinder walls". I don't believe it for a second. It's so volatile, that I doubt the cylinder ever sees it in it's liquid form. Even if it did, I think it would take a quart to "Wash the oil off the cylinder walls." If it's THAT dang great of a degreaser, why doesn't everyone call for it's use in cleaning parts?
I was a little surprised to see the spark fully retarded to start the engine in the video. My T absolutely will not start with the spark all the way retarded.
I think it was Ron Patterson a while back who pointed out that full retard causes spark way after TDC and wastes much of the compression. My '27 wants about three notches of advance (which is still slightly retarded) to start well. A friend's '24 likes the same.
Mitch, got a good laugh with the inscription on that can. Anyone with need to reach for that can could likely appreciate.
John, a lot depends on how the spark rod is set up. I set mine so it is just 15 degrees past TDC when the spark lever is all the way up and that works fine for starting on battery but I pull it down 3 notches to start on mag. What I am saying is that the location of the lever doesn't necessarily indicate what the actual timing is at that position. It's all how the timing rod is set up in relation to the actual timing and location of the lever.
You guys are all off base. The easiest way to start a model t in cold weather is to keep it stored in a warm heated 70 degree insulated car barn like I do. I can start my model t's in the very coldest weather with just a couple of pulls of the crank.
works for me,
If you think you can adjust the clutch for a completely free neutral you have never tried to start a T at 30-40 degrees below zero (F). (I lived in Wisconsin until 1952)
Just a quick spray of that ether wonder degreaser should fix that right up.
Hal, Well said!!! And I'm speaking as a fellow Wisconsite.