For subjects that keep recurring here, I've been making web pages so I can just post a link instead of typing the same comments over and over. This is the latest.
I agree with Steve 100%—and few have had his in-depth experience with the matter at hand. -Sure, you need your right hand to sign your name and thread a needle, but your left hand is more than dexterous enough to pull up on a big, clunky crank.
As always, the man from Kansas is spot on.
I disagree Bob - I'm a "south-paw" & I always use my right to crank !!!
It has a lot to do with the position of the hand on the crank. The crank can move very fast when it kicks back and difficult to get the hand out of the way. When you turn the crank it is instinctive to lower the hand to pull the crank again expecting that it did not start the first pull. The right hand is in the path of the spinning crank.
However with the left hand, the hand is out of the orbit of the spinning crank.
Unfortunately, a person can "always" crank without a kick, and then an unfortunate lapse and the spark was not retarded one time and KICK.
One friend turned the crank engaged until to was horizontal on the drivers side and gave it a kick down with his right foot.
The engine started almost every time.
I'm with Steve. I always have and always will use my right hand to crank my T. It's the way I was taught in 1972, by my 76 year old Grandpa who was born in 1896 and drove Model T's around the farm and on the roads of Georgia from the time he was 13 until upgrading to a Model A in 1930 and never once did he use his left hand or caution me not to use my right hand to crank with and since he was an average T owner from the day, who drove his T everyday, I am certain that the typical Model T own back then, used his right hand. It's how he taught me and is what I am comfortable with. Anyway, since I am not a contortionist, it is just too awkward and unsafe for me to crank with the left hand while pulling on the choke ring. Don't try and convince me I am wrong, I've tried it with my left and I don't like it. Jim Patrick
I'm a "south-paw" Too! And I always use my right hand to crank, it just feels more "normal" rather then using my lead hand.
I agree that it's safer to crank left handed and that has never been a problem for me because I'm left handed and my left arm is stronger than my right one. I've had a friends T kick back on me and the crank threw my hand very forcefully right out of the way. If I had been cranking right handed that would have really hurt. Having said that as long as you don't forget to retard the spark and the timer and wiring are in good shape and the timer rod is bent right it really does not matter how you crank the engine because it cannot kick back. When I start a T the first thing I do is retard the spark then before I grab the crank I look in through the windshield to make sure I did not forget. People make mistakes and forget things so I would suggest that every start their engines with the left hand if they can do it or use the starter if so equipped.
I had mine kick pretty good the other day for the first time - not because I forgot to retard the lever, but because the timer broke. Drove it home running just fine and parked it. A couple of days later I went to start it and the timer was broken. Roller style timer. The pivot pin for the roller arm somehow came out.
It has a new Anderson timer on it now!
Been starting mine for thirty years with my right hand, thumb in-line with the fingers. I always pull up slowly from the 7:00 position. And .... always retard the spark fully .. after that one time early on .. when I didn't. ;-)
If starting on mag I advance the spark about five notches and pull faster to get a better spark.
Another thing which can cause a kick is if one of the wires between the coil box and the timer becomes grounded. That coil will spark at the wrong time and could cause a kick. I am not saying that cranking right handed will always cause a broken arm or that someone might be lucky and never have it kick. But it only takes once to make a very sore arm or hand.
I join the left-handed club for two reasons: 1) a former owner of car, Kye Hellig, broke his wrist while trying to crank it and 2) I have experience to kick back because the Anderson timer roller became warm enough that it was advancing the spark and I didn't realize it as I was cranking. Fortunately I was using my left hand at the time and when it kicked back through my hand clear of the crank.
I need to fix my typos (darn voice recognition2) I have experienced the kick back because the Anderson timer roller became warn enough that it was advancing the spark and I didn't realize it as I was cranking.
If your coils and timer are properly set on your stemwinder, you'll never have a problem if you use a battery for starting, even though your car starts easily and reliably on the mag, as mine does. I use original 1914 Ford coils, a New Day timer, a Kingston 4 ball carb and original smooth Champion X plugs on my '14. I use a 12V lawnmower battery, mounted under the front seat, though my mag is red hot. Proceed like this when the engine's cold:
1. Check to see that the ignition key is in your pocket.
2. Adjust the mixture needle 1/2 turn out, or whatever your Lizzie's individuality requires.
3. Set the spark lever all the way up and the throttle about 4 notches down.
4. Hold the choke wire closed while you spin the crank five or six full turns, using the hand or foot that best pleases you.
5. Go back to the driver's compartment, put the key in the switch, turn it to battery, and she starts. Simple as that. You're nowhere near the crank when it fires.
If the engine's hot, just give the crank a quarter to a half turn with the key off, then turn it back to battery and away you go.
Ed in California, that is a neat device.
My grandpa was born in 1933, and the tractor they used for nearly twenty years was hand crank. He taught me how to hand crank engines, and he taught me to use my right hand. The trick to cranking right handed is to not close your hand around the crank. Put your thumb along your palm, but catch the crank with your fingers, not your palm. That way if the engine kicks back it will jerk your fingers straight.
The odd thing is the tractor has the carburetor on the right side, so you have to use your left hand if you're going to crank and choke at the same time. The T works the way he taught me, since the carb is on the other side. Just one of those things I guess.
I've posted this before, but it never hurts to do it again.
I NEVER hand-crank my T. If it needs cranking, I do it with my right foot.
What I do before the final crank, like pulling through a couple of choked twists with the key off, is the same as you all do.
Then I turn on the key, engage the crank at somewhere between the 2:00 and 4:00 position, stand in front of the left headlight, hold on to the radiator neck with my right hand, take one last look at the spark lever to make sure it's all the way up, and put my right foot on the crank, and mash.
A couple of scenarios make this preferable to me, both assuming the engine kicks back.
One, a good kick is not likely to knock me off balance, since I'm holding on to the radiator neck, but if it does, I fall on my big, fat, well-padded backside.
Two, worst-case, I'd rather have a leg broken than an arm. Both are big problems, to be sure, but I'm a leftie, and I need to be able to write, type, hug my wife, and operate the clicker, more than I need to be able to walk without crutches.
I've been cranking my T's with my right hand for 53 years, and never had a problem. Probably inexperience is the problem. Tell it like it is Steve!
I'm left handed as well but am more comfortable cranking right handed. Why ?
First off, my Dad taught me to crank some 55 years ago. He was right handed. The Rule Of Primacy says that we always remember best what we are taught first.
Only in the last few years have I become aware that it's safer to crank left handed. So now I'm trying to re-learn a behavior that I had embraced for 50 years.
Is the explanation that simple ? I don't know. There may be something in our physiology that makes right handed cranking more comfortable. Perhaps it involves the way we shift our leg pressure from one foot to the other through the path of the crank. Or the way we twist our bodies for right cranking versus left. One way or the other, I feel like I can get more OOMPH into the job and better follow-through using my right hand versus left.
What if the motor turned in the opposite direction ? Would we then prefer the left hand ? I think the answer might be YES.
Is there a sports physiologist in the crowd to comment on this ?
I know it's "wrong" and I'm a righty to boot but I just cannot get used to lefty cranking. It feels unnatural, I don't feel I have the power in my left and leaning on the radiator doesn't feel good either. I do Get clear after a pull though.
I can certainly see the safety of cranking left handed. However, I ain't-a-gonna! I just ain't! Am I "strong" enough to do it left handed? Yes, and I have. I won't even tell you I feel it's "safer" for me to do it right handed because it is more comfortable and I'm less likely to make a mistake. I'm gonna tell you I crank right handed because it's the way I LIKE to do it. Plain and simple. And I'm not gonna change.
Any good running Model T starts with one or two quarter turn pulls "up" on the crank once it is primed with the key off. I crank with my right hand just like my dad and his dad did.
The other day (Sunday) I took the family out for a breakfast run. After pancakes we all hop back into the T and crank her over, and over, and over, I adjusted, choked... did everything in the the book (except one thing, we will get to that later) until she stopped cranking. So out I go to the front and start turning (left hand) she would pop then die down. It got to the point where I could not crank anymore. And instead of a possible broken arm I resorted to the motorcycle kickstart.
Low and behold I realized that I might have something (rust) closing the needle so I gave it a couple of turns, choked things out a bit. set the starting handle for an easy kickstart and she started up with a few pops!
Through out the 15 min of cursing she kicked back about 3 times.... each time was because I forgot to set the timing. If I was using my right hand I would have hurt myself for sure.
So either use your left hand or a foot but never the right hand!
Heck, I 'prime' with the key ON. That way, I don't have to go back inside until I'm ready to climb in. Every now and then, it will start on a choking pull if you can turn loose of the wire quick enough. I usually do 2 pulls with the choke closed and it will usually start on the next one with the choke open. All this on MAG. And my coils are only adjusted on a HCCT. It's wonder the damned thing runs at all.
I'm with Royce & Hal,....I crank with my right hand, because I can't get used to doing it any other way, because I was taught that way back in the '50's, and have done it that way thousands of times since. As far as I'm concerned, the MAIN THING is, never, never, "NEVER" push down on the crank, and never, never, "NEVER" "spin" the engine with the crank! There is ONLY one correct way and that is to pull up on the crank, starting from approx. 8 o'clock and stopping and 12 noon! "ALWAYS"! If that won't start your "T", no need to "spin" as there is something wrong with your car that needs attention! And as far as danger of injury, yes, maybe left-handed might be slightly safer, but I firmly believe that the chance of injury when pulling up on the crank with even the right hand is very "slim chance" at best. By far,....the most dangerous thing is to push down on the crank with a locked elbow!
Well I'm a newbee and have never started a T with a crank. I'm looking forward to that day and so when I do it will be with my left hand.
Right or left, either will work and it depends on the experience of the "cranker". I need to mention something that many crankers neglect. "Make sure the ratchet is not too warn that it will not hook onto the cross pin safely". I learned that lessen the hard way with two or three "unhooks" and the back of the hand slams into the head light. Also the pulleys available (aluminum) sometimes do not have the space behind the pin to hook properly. So crank left or right but don't get hurt with the warn ratchet.
My late friend Maurice Bush down in Georgia had several Model Ts that he always cranked with his right hand. I visited Maurice one Saturday morning and was shocked to see his right arm in a sling. What happened, I ask. Maurice's reply was that Buick over there got me. Cranking these old cars has never been real safe.
I wind that sucker up like an 8 day clock, if you weigh nearly 300lbs and muscled up like me, if it kicks back it will be upside down ;-} KGB
Hal, you crack me up.
Left handed cranking and choke closed
I have got the N.O.S. piece that goes on the crank, but I need the little flipper dog that goes on the spring clamp bolt.
Does any one have just that part for sale, or one to copy?
I have got the N.O.S. piece that goes on the crank, but I need the little flipper dog that goes on the spring clamp bolt.
Does any one have just that part for sale, or one to copy?
Never have understood the fear mongering about cranking right handed. If you T is timed right and well tuned it should not be a problem. Listen to the experience here and form your own opinion. 30 years of right hand cranki8ng has served me well.
As soon as I was old enough, I started cranking my Dad's 1914 Buick. I'm guessing 40 years of cranking with my right hand. With the DU4 mag and no impulse, you need to wind the Buick, and she'll start nicely. The T is more user friendly, and I agree with what Royce said.
I've had a few kick backs from the Buick, but nothing from the T. None has ever hurt me, so I guess I'm lucky.
I agree that left hand starting is safer, but I guess I'm too old to change my ways.
Forgot to add that the more people that are watching you crank a car, the less likely it will start!
That's the truth
As I said, I crank right handed using just my 4 fingers. If you start at 7:00 and pull up hard, and let go of the crank at 12:00 continuing the upward movement of your hand, getting it out of the radius of the crank arc, there is no way that sucker can get you, should she backfire. Jim Patrick
With an "anti kick" device on a T , or any engine for that matter, if it does try to kick back, where is that energy going to go? These things look like a broken crankshaft just waiting to happen to me. I think I'll pass on them.
Speaking of spectators - when you crank your car, you know that if you do the normal two pulls to prime then switch on and another pull to start it 98.5% of the watchers are thinking "took three tries to get it started, it must be worn out."
I was wondering the same thing. I didn't look real close this time around, but going from memory, they look like they stop the engine and I could believe bad things could happen inside. There's probably a way to make something to kick out the crank, but I'm not gonna bother developing it.
I think some sort of compression release would be the way to go but that would take some serious engineering to accomplish, wouldn't it?
A related , I guess, question...Anybody ever freshen up a crank handle ratchet to reshape the "teeth"?
Yesterday I went to start the '14 with it's newly rebuilt engine. Turned on the gas, primed it with three pulls up with the choke on. Turned the key to BAT and it of course started.
Drove to the grocery store. Came out a few minutes later. Turned the key to BAT and it started by itself again.
Yesterday afternoon I decided to take the '10 for a ride. Pulled up on the crank three times with the choke on / key off. Turned on the key, the car started.
This is normal if your T runs right. You should not be doing a lot of cranking to get a T started.
Obviously, those who have been in Model Ts or antique cars for years are not going to change the hand that they crank the car with because that is what they are comfortable with, despite the logical arguments for or against which hand they use. I see the real benefit of this discussion is for the brand new owner of a Model T who has never crank the car. Based on all the comments here, a newbie should be able to make a fairly well informed decision.
The non-kick accessories don't stop the engine. They just stop the crank and force the crank to disengage from the engine. No idea how well they work.
Good to know Chris. Thanks.
Jim, you are probably right, but if I were new, and was gun shy of the thing before even getting started good, and tried cranking left handed......I'd be an electric start guy. That left handed stuff feels awkward!
I cranked right handed for 20 years, it was the only way I was strong enough to get the spin I needed to start the car. Left handed the best I could do was 90°. Then I watched Steve Jelf's starting video and refined my valve and Anderson style timer setting and adjustment so everything was right. The amazing thing is that starting became much easier on battery and on mag.
Just for giggles I tried the Ford way of left hand cranking. I found that on a properly set up and primed car that 90° worked just fine. Very quickly left handed cranking became as natural as right handed. What I observed was that with left handed cranking I keep my arm straight and crank with my leg muscles! Right hand cranking uses my arm and back muscles.
I had converted to the crank left handed only club but now, unfortunately, am in the starter button only camp due to a non-T related injury.
Another good thing about left handed cranking is that you are closer to the spark lever to pull it down as soon as the engine starts. Kind of like a left handed batter's run to first base.
IF IF IF The timing is set correctly and the spark linkage is connected and the lever is up AND the wiring is all in good order, I don't see how you can get a back-fire. Broken arms were invariably the product of a head up and locked operator or bad wiring.
Interesting comments on cranking a T. (My Story) I was taught the right hand method, by my father, some years ago, at the ripe old age of 10. I use a 12v lawn mower battery, spark fully retarded, key on. Three pulls: first-choke, second-air, third-engine starts. As I tell the audience at the car shows:
"one for choke; one for smoke; and one to run". They buy it! Through the years, I have had very very few kickbacks (mostly wrong adjustment of the spark)
It will be different now, as I just recently received the rewound coils from Mark. Unfortunately I won't be putting her back together until April. Heading south for the winter, soon.
Crank Safe, George
PS That cranking instruction I received from my father, was 68 years ago.
I have been a right handed full spinner over 50 years and never had one kick me! This is for more than Model T's.
Larry, I knew a guy who hand-propped Piper Cubs for decades; he had never had a problem and eventually got sloppy. It came within a whisker of costing him his left leg. Because something hasn't happened, does not mean it won't.
I tried the Left Arm method just today Steve! Worked pretty darn good on a cooled off engine! My '18 Tin Cup has been a tail twister as the upper engine had been redone (and is really stiff) before I got it but that's getting better real quick!
Choked it once (the NH spit the rest out) and filled the cylinders, then turned the switch.
OK, I also have to admit I tried moving the timer lever ahead about 5 or 6 notches (it's been a real BEAR starting on mag with the lever all the way up. I do get a good cardio out of that tho).
Been so spooked as I see you fellas talk AND I've been bitten by gas engines and tractors BAD before (I wear leather gloves with gas engines as the "swat" of the flywheel crank handle doesn't hurt as much)...
Side note: My Crappy Lizzhe (with a dizzy) has never bitten me and would take real nice to the Left Hand method.
What a concept to overcome tho (NOT using the right hand to crank)!
"hand-propped Piper Cubs"
Not a lot of other choices. Done it many times, but I will admit I usually did it right handed from behind the prop with my left hand hanging onto the door frame.
Gee, I hope my OT post doesn't get this whole thread deleted.
I've cranked both ways, and have had a scare a couple of times while doing so right handed.
After watching Steve's videos (how-to, and how not-to), I realize it's better for me to avoid a "Ford Fracture", and get comfortable with cranking left-handed.
After reading this lengthy thread, I just got to say, I definitely agree because I crank my Model T too !!
Steve warned "Yet".
I understand "yet".
I haven't been hit by a car while crossing the street, yet.
I haven't been elected President, yet.
I haven't had a date with Scarlett Johansson, yet.
Some "yets" (I know, that is not a real word) have a greater possibility of occurring than others.
Some of us won't change our cranking hand for love nor money. That might be akin to wiping with the other hand. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
I want to believe that we ALL can agree on a few points:
1 Don't EVER start cranking at the 12 o'clock position and push down.
2 Check the spark lever position BEFORE you even get near the hand crank.
3 Ensure that the ignition timing is correct. This is the Most Important point.
I really, truly DO NOT CARE which hand YOU use to start your car. Be safe. A bit of caution and some healthy respect should be employed when hand cranking along with the requisite amount of muscle.
I think that if someone is genuinely frightened of hand cranking any car, well, perhaps that car should be fitted with an electric starter. (saying this in a low, quiet voice: maybe they should not have a hand crank only car) I have two hand crank only cars in my care (others with electric start) and they will remain without electric start as long as I am able to crank them. When that function leaves me they might get self commencers or, possibly, new owners.
Bill, I think your three safety rules cover the problem. Good on ya !
Right hand here as taught by my grandfather. The important part is how you hold it as well as where you pull. I have cranked many different T's and have had some kick back. The worst was a kissing of the back of my fingers which hurt for a few min is all. In a case like this if your hand is not already out of the way and the crank does kiss it it will be working to close your hand instead of open it.