As much as I love driving my T, it just doesn't give me the reassurance I need to drive far distances. Even though I am new to this hobby, I am constantly finding one thing after another to fix on this old car. And to a certain extent I understand that it is very normal in Model T's. But I just cant seem to shake of this anxiety when thinking about driving further or really letting loose and enjoying this car. I guess I'm just looking for a little perspective from guys who have been driving these cars for years. Is it normal to feel this way? Currently, there is nothing wrong with the car that would prohibit me from driving, other than I have to charge the battery. But even now, I feel hesitant to drive it out longer. Please let me know your thoughts, so that I can be a little more reassured when I am on the road. Again, this machine is still new to me...
You just have to overcome that fear.....and just drive it.
If you have a strong motor, a good charging system and good brakes, that T should go anywhere, anytime.
There will always be tinkering and noises to listen to (I do that all the time when I drive)....but you can't be afraid of it.
Get in it and go.
I have been across 4 states In mine to Utah and back
I run a 35 amp alternator on my car and love the heck out of it. it charges strong and I never have to really worry about things (I have even jump started other cars with it).
Fix what needs to be fixed, check everything else and drive it!
Go through the car and check everything with Milt Webb's list. http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG93.html If there's anything you're not sure about, get Martin or one of the other experienced guys to check it out. Once you've done that, conduct a Google search and find out what tools and spare parts people take with them on trips. Then be sure your towing insurance is paid up, take your cell phone, and go. Start with short confidence-building trips to the exotic climes of Glendale and Pasadena, and work out from there. Eventually you'll be ready to take on Big Bear, then Oatman, then Parkerfield, Richmond, and Fairbanks
My T was more reliable than my MG! IMHO- I view driving a Model T as a never ending learning experience. Eventually (if you persevere)you will graduate from being a "hobbyist mechanic" to a "Model T Artiste" as having and keeping a well tuned, reliable Model T is more of an art than a science. You may think you are in control, but a Model T will forever change you...
Thanks for the kind words Clayton!
Steve, I guess your place will be my defining stop in knowing if my T is good. =)
Dennis, I definitely agree with you. Eventually, I'll learn the ins and outs of this car and you're right it'll become an art. Getting the feel of what it likes and doesn't. Thanks.
The more you drive it-and the more you learn how to fix things-the more confident you will be. Try short drives at first-like a 5 mile round trip, then a 10 mile round trip, then a 20 mile round trip, etc. Next thing you know you'll be going on a week long, 500 mile tour and you'll be helping other new owners keeping their Model Ts running. It's all about experience and practice.
Start using you Model T everyday for short trips, like to the grocery, post office, drug store. Whenever you have to go somewhere use the T. These trips will ferret out a lot of trouble and build confidence. It's like learning to swim, you have to get into the water. Mike
As a legal driver for over 53 years, I have had the opportunity to drive many cars, motorcycles and trucks, several were pre WWII. I can truly say none have scared me more than my wife's 2014 Toyota Pious!
I'd take my T anywhere. Learn your car and it's limitations then venture out.
Got to drive it!
How long have you had your T? I have had mine for about 6 years. The first year especially was a bit nerve racking. I live inner city! At first I drove it to the large city parks, and around the lakes or the river loop. The local park system is where I now get nervous, and that is where I went to learn to drive it. I have had a lot of people pull out in front of me make sudden turns, stops, etc. all in the parks, I know my breaks are not like in my Modern cars, but the other drivers do not realize I cannot stop.
Now, I drive it all over the place, including downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. It actually is quite fun. I doubt I have ever taken it more than 30 miles from home. I have never done a tour.
I would guess it took a couple years tinkering to get it all up and running nicely, and fully understand how it all works. Last couple years I have had to do very little to it.
Currently I need to change the spare tire, it blew up last spring (I have the parts) that scares me more than anything I have done so far.
I like driving it to and from work (12 miles each way), I just have to watch the weather report as I have no top.
Happy driving, just remember the T is not like any other car you have ever driven, take it easy, and plan a few steps ahead.
Echo everyone's sentiments..............Just drive it. Everyone has a cellphone should any adverse situation arise. I was hesitant for the first month but kept venturing further. There was never a fear of "getting home"
It gets better. Yes, the Model T Ford does thrive on tinkering, but once you finally get all the ducks in a row, it becomes a fairly reliable machine. As reliable as a modern car? No. Nothing is—not even a late 1970s-vintage car, brand-new off the showroom floor, could compare with today's standard of reliability.
But again, once you have all the adjustments made and have accomplished the pre-season inspection and maintenance on your Model T, there's no particular reason to anticipate break-downs. I've had my Tin Lizzie about six years, and although she's needed some serious home-made repairs by an owner who is by no means a mechanic, so far, she's never broken down on me, away from home.
To be sure, the Model T does have its issues and anytime my engine has become balky it always turned out to be the fault of that blankety-blank timer. If you have a Ford roller-type timer, keep the stupid thing clean and lubed (I clean and lube it every other gasoline fill-up). If you get sick of the Ford roller, I've never heard a bad word said about the new TW timer.
Because your car has a relatively safe top cruising speed of around 35 mph, you'd have to get up very early in the morning to find yourself broken down any serious distance away from home. If you're insured by Hagerty, buy the 100 or 125-mile flat-bed towing insurance. In the event of a break-down, the odds against your being further away from home than that are staggering.
Judging by the photo in your profile, you have demountable rims, so in your case, a flat tire would be a non-event... assuming you're carrying the right size spare.
And now, for your entertainment and to show you what another Model T newbee (me) felt like during the early days of ownership, I'll submit the following pathetic story:
Drove my first Model T for the first time. Its tank was almost empty, so there was no choice but to get some gas, though the nearest service station was a fair distance away.
So I climbed aboard, double-checked the hand lever, spark and throttle and was now ready to discover I had forgotten the ignition key in the house. Typical. I fetched the key, hopped back in, selected "battery" and she fired right up at a bare jab with my heel at the starter button—just boom, and she was running. That was nice.
As I was sitting there, some guy driving down my street slowed down and yelled out his window, "Nice car!" First compliment. I'll probably remember that anonymous passerby the rest of my life.
The brake light switch had stuck in the 'on' position and I hadn't finished wiring up the directionals yet, so I had no signals of any kind. I was a little uneasy about making the first drive without so much as a brake light, but the car needed gas and that was that.
Well, with the engine purring, there was nothing to do but do it. I stepped on the pedal, the low band groaned and we were off. I took it real easy and pulled over frequently to let traffic go by. With my practically non-existent experience and having heard so much about the brakes on these cars, I wasn't ready to try the upper end of the speed range just yet.
Of course, I took tertiary backroads and so, managed to get lost in my own neighborhood. GPS is a wonderful thing to have. Good thing I had remembered to bring it along.
It was pretty hot out and sweat was dripping into my eye and traffic was accumulating behind me and low gear was too low and high gear was too fast and just keeping the car under control was surprisingly hard work and where the heck was neutral on the left pedal? A rapidly approaching stop sign reminded me it would be better to keep my eyes on the road than on my foot. I pulled over to let a bunch of cars go by. Up to that point, I hadn't gotten the single finger salute, but nobody was giving me the upturned thumb or even smiling as they passed, either. Wow, that engine gets hot! I didn't see any steam, so I guessed we were okay. Made a mental note to get a motometer.
Well, I made it to the gas station and of course, pulled up to the wrong side of the pumps and the door doesn't open on that side. After working out the geometry in my head, I steered the requisite figure-8's and that was probably kind of entertaining to the other motorists on the apron. A brass Model T looks incongruous just sitting there, so the fat, bearded guy turning tight circles in the bucking antique car must have looked just hysterical. The gas station attendants were very curious and direct. "What did you pay for that?"
"If I didn't tell my wife, I'm certainly not going to tell you!"
They were surprised the car took regular gas.
Barely touching the starter button got the engine running again (Thank you, Lord). On the way home, my shifting was still lousy, with a lot of shudders and chattering. After a while, I learned how to get high gear engaged with just a single 'clack.'
Suddenly, I got a big breath of real hot air through the floorboards and the whole car was shuddering. Was I overheating? Better pull over. Engine quits. Oh no, NOW what did I do? Did I ruin the engine? Okay, don't rush, don't do anything stupid. Left to right cockpit check, just like in an airplane: Hand-brake, spark, throttle, ignition. Jab the starter. Just like that, she's running again. Guess we're okay (Thanks again, Lord). Maybe I just got too slow in high gear and it stalled? Man, this sure ain't easy.
When I got home I took an extra circle around my block and let the neighbors have a few squawks of the Klaxon. Got some waves and smiles. That felt good. Still, it's gonna take a heck of a lot of practice before I'm really comfortable driving a Model T.
I let the car sit and cool in the driveway before putting her in the garage and got a folding chair, a squeeze bottle of Brasso and a handful of dish towels—my will kill me if she finds out. Turns out it's not real smart to hand-polish a brass radiator immediately after driving the car. Heck with that—I got the Model T there and back in one piece, got a tankful of gas and now I can just take baby steps in my own neighborhood until I'm comfortable. From here on, it only gets easier.
You guys are awesome! Thank you for all your thoughts. I currently found a new problem this morning after I wrote this. If you can go to "Car wont start" and give me thoughts on that, it would be very helpful.
If you were able to go on an organized tour with a bunch of other T's it would give you the opportunity to put a couple of hundred miles on your car and have the support of all the other participants. Besides, it's great fun. I think a successful tour like that would do a lot for your confidence. If anything goes wrong with your car, you would have lots of help fixing it.
If you had a spare tire mounted, a T jack and a lug wrench, you would gain the confidence of not being stranded with a flat tire .
It's sort of a Zen thing. I learned while driving a TT that it was about the journey and not about the destination. Relax and enjoy!
I have had a few problems when I first got into T's. Your starting problem is an easy one. Broken driveshaft is worse. Everytime you need to fix the car, check over everything. Example, when you change the battery, check and replace the cables as necessary. When you pull the engine for one engine problem, go through and fix any other thing you can find needing attention etc. Eventually your car will become one of the most dependable on tours.
Another thing I have observed, is the closer to original you keep things, the less trouble you will have. Very few cars with generators have problems, but I have seen quite a few alternator problems. If you go to 12 volts, you will have more starter problems. If you soup up the engine, you will have more differential problems etc.
Some things are an improvement. Auxiliary brakes for instance, or turn signals. But others just give you problems. Unfortunately, almost everyone on tours will have some spare coils, or a spare timer and a few spark plugs. But if you run a distributor, you had better carry your own spare parts, because there are many different types of distributors. etc.
Well said Norman
I always carry some standard size wrenches, a screw drive and a pliers. A couple extra coils and a jack and spare tire. Any place I go I've always got water reasonably close, I've always got a spare quart of oil. My radiator's tight and doesn't leak. My charging system works good. The motor doesn't leak exorbitant amounts of oil. The grease in the rearend is where it belongs. The tire air pressure is where it belongs. The wheel bearings are maintained and in good condition. I've rebuilt the transmission, rearend and motors on my T's.
So, my Model T's are well maintained. They run good and I don't try to push them much over 36-37 mph at the most. I'd drive them anywhere I want to go regardless of distance.
If you don't have it already, get AAA and buy an upgrade package so that you have a decent distance on your free towing service. Always carry your cell phone with you in the car. With those two things, you can always get a tow home if you need one. If you need a tow, be sure to tell AAA you want a flatbed.
Do the best you can to make the car mechanically reliable, and go for it!
Steve forgot to include Lake Ozark. Feeling personally miffed. Thanks a lot Steve.
A few more things. First. Learn to ignore most odd noises! Model Ts rattle. Harmonics makes different rattles sound different under changing conditions. 99 percent of all odd rattles are nothing serious. Keep driving. Worry about it later. (Hopefully after you get home.)
Second. Never completely ignore any odd noises! Sometimes, it IS important. Listen to all of them. Get to know most of them. If you get used to most of them, it actually becomes like listening to music on the radio ("I don't know exactly what it is? But that is THAT one and has been doing it forever"). (I have actually said that to passengers in my cars several times!)
Loud, or hard metal knocking or clanging (whumping?) should be investigated quickly. Even then, usually the car can make it home.
Previously mentioned, but I will mention it again. Get good AAA or other towing insurance (preferably one where you do not have to pay first and later get reimbursed). I like California AAA with the extended mileage tow if you can get it. If you don't have to worry about how you and the car will get home? You won't worry so much about driving farther.
Also, just getting to know some of the club members and hobbyists in your area is a good idea. There are probably at least twenty people near you that have a trailer and would be more than willing and likely available to get you home ("available" is a key word). I have done that a few times for people in my area, including one I did not know that found me through a mutual friend.
Do drive carefully, and ENJOY the JOURNEY!!! W2
Derrick, i think its perfectly normal to have a little anxiety as a new driver getting behind the wheel of a 90+ year old car and hitting the open road, I certainly did. But like most things in life, time heals all wounds. I agree with everything above, especially those who suggest expanding your range of driving a little more each time till you get comfortable with the car, that's what i did. Best of luck to you, and enjoy your T.
Been driving T's and brass era cars for nearly 60 years. Always pay attention to differing noises or changes in the feel of the car driving down the road.
I suggest 2 things for newbies, a cell phone and AAA platinum towing insurance. That will ease the nervousness, and anxiety.
Then crank it up pull down the ears and enjoy the road. The more you drive the better it gets.
Drivem' till they break, then fixem' and start all over. It just don't get no better than driving down the road in your "new" model t.
George, when Derrick gets here we'll drive our T's over to the Ozarks and inflict a visit on you.
I think your feelings are pretty universal.
I get that same anxiety with cars that are new to me even after fixing after fixing after fixing not knowing what shoe is going to drop next.
I drive them for short, regular, excursions to let them prove to me they are reliable and gradually expand the scope of the outings as they prove their reliability when driving becomes fun instead of worrisome.......
Steve, Threat taken. lol
It took a while, but I am now comfortable with 25+ mile out and back rides. That means 25 miles each way. Once I replaced the rusted gas tank with one that had been cleaned and rustproofd, my T seems to be totally reliable. I would go further, but my schedule at the moment does not permit that.
I suggest you join a club near you. You have the advantage of lots of T's and lots of clubs nearby. Join one which tours and just do it. On a long tour there will be lots of folks eager to help if you have a problem and there will be a trouble truck.
If you are like me and don't like clubs a bunch you can just attend some of the tours without joining. Or maybe just join for a year or two until your legs are less wobbly.
In any case you will meet some really nice folks... and some you won't go out of your way to spend time with.
You will get all the bugs shaken out (new ones always seem to crawl in) and learn what you need to carry on a 1,000 mile trip.
I do not know why you would need a good charging system to travel, unless you are going to do a lot of night driving. That is one thing that is great about the T is that you do not need to worry about being able to start the car. Unless you have the problem I had a year ago. I came out of a meeting and went to start the car and found that I had lost my crank on the way into town, but even that was not a problem, I had our secretary (who had never driven a T) get behind the wheel and told her to stomp on the clutch pedal when I got it moving, as soon as it started I told her to let off the pedal and I had a running car.
Thank you to every single one of you for your encouraging words! It really does mean a lot!
Steve, very tempting opportunity!
Sorry to bump this thread Derrick but what a sweet roadster!
How far have you ventured away from home so far?
I certainly remember my first times in my Lizzi. Go out, come back and fix. Same thing coming real soon with the Tin Cup '18 roadster.
I gotta go down a big hill and climb back up if I wanna go anywhere...
Drive the damn thing and work the bugs out. Breakdowns are part of the hobby but if you use the car often enough you will work out the issues and wind up with a reliable vehicle. It is no coincidence that the cars that finish the tours without issue are usually the ones that are driven hard and put away wet!
When all is said and done, Model T Fords are pretty reliable machines. If you go prepared to fix just about anything that might break, probably nothing will, and you can enjoy the scenery,
You can't become "invested" in a Model T (or any other pet car for that matter) without acquiring a case of "tinkeritis". You'll listen to every little noise your "baby" makes, and the prospect of some kind of failure will make you apprehensive. It's a lot like life. Just do your best, be prepared, and realize that taking your lumps will make you and your Model T better people. You're in good company, relax and enjoy the journey ! After over 100 years, it should be pretty obvious that there ain't nothin' about a Model T that can't be fixed !
I don't want to high jack the post ,I was wondering if the assault on Imogene Pass could be reposted...I was in Ouray CO today and saw some Ts in town ...Wondering if that's where they were heading !!??
A few "basic" thoughts I have on travel ....
It's about the trip, not the destination.
It is not the smooth, trouble-free trips that make for the great adventures and memories.
It's the ones with the breakdown, the snowstorm, the long and winding roads that stick
with you forever.
The experiences of traveling in an old car are like nothing else. From the people that will
approach you, the stories you will hear, to the way the road smells, the wind in your face,
and how you become part of the places you pass through, .... unlike modern cars where
the world going by is more like sitting in your comfy chair in your living room, watching TV.
Don't be afraid to take on a good adventure.
I haven't written the story of the Assault on Imogene Pass. There are a couple of reasons for his. First of all, I am leery of telling that story for fear that others might try the same journey. While it was a beautiful and inspiring trip, it was also the closest I have ever come to buying the farm in a Model T. Regular Model T owners have no business trying to cross Imogene in their Model Ts.
Second, it is a long story. It was a day long trip, with many highlights and photographs. And there were the legs leading up to the trip across Imogene. It would probably have to be written in installments.
It is unlikely that the cars you saw in Ouray were either heading for or coming from Imogene. They may have been on the lower parts of the road, but there are only about two weeks at the beginning of August when the passes are clear of snow making the trip possible. Snow starts to fall by the end of August, making an otherwise hazardous trip truly foolhardy.
(Message edited by Trentb on September 07, 2016)
(Message edited by Trentb on September 07, 2016)
Looking at Imogene Pass photos online, it appears that a Ruckstell is a good idea.
13,000 feet. I'm from Montana and the tallest mountain we have is about that. I can't comprehend driving a T that high. Would love to do that. Where was that photo taken?
At the top of Imogene Pass, between Telluride and Ouray, Colorado.
My '16 touring had a Ruckstell with 4-1 gears in it. The lower gear ratio was also a help, and it really did not slow the car down on the highway.
Crossing Imogene Pass is not for the faint of heart, the inexperienced, or the the unprepared. While the beauty was unbelievable, and having successfully made it was exhilarating, I had to counsel a friend not to try it again until a party of three to five experienced Model T drivers/mechanics could all go together. I really did not want to see him or his friends (who had no experience with mountain road driving) get hurt.
But there are some wonderful roads that are still incredibly beautiful, but not as dangerous. Marshall Pass is one of them, and I would love to cross it again some day. Another is to take Engineers Pass from Lake City, Colorado, over to the ghost town of Aminus Forks. Then down to Silverton, Colorado. As long as the weather is good, that too can be an enjoyable trip.
Derricks problem is that his tires are really old and not the best for long distances (a couple of them have big gouges in the side wall and one has a piece of sidewall missing to where you can see the cords) anywhere and he knows it. All things considered Derrick, getting a new set of tires should be one of your priorities...or at the very least get a couple and replace the worst of the worst (I know it'll be hard to figure that out, but you do have a couple that are realllllly bad). If nothing else, put those bloody whites on and buy one new white to make the set complete...they're at the moment your best tires, even though they're a bit old, they should clean up nice and bright. Also give some thought to replacing the rear wheels spokes...those as we both know are not in the best of shape either, and the fix we did to them is only a temporary measure at best.
Once you've got that squared away, take a couple of spark plugs with you as well and an extra coil never know when 89 year old un-rebuilt coils will give up the ghost, and some basic tools and a tire patch kit never hurts too. As for your generator...I think the third brush has slipped a bit is all and needs resetting some, next time I'm out there I'll check it out.
I know you're trying to save money for your big event come next year (wedding), but the money you spend now (even though it may seem a lot) will ensure you and your car will make it to that day in one piece. I hate being the party pooper, but truth is truth and these guys don't know the condition of your car all that well.